You’ve found the perfect piece of land and are ready to plan the build of your new custom log home. But what is the best site plan or layout for placement on the site? Through the years on occasion, we have had clients ask us to walk their parcel to make suggestions as to where on their land should their home be located. Once that is determined, which way should the home face? Placement of your house on your property is one of those decisions that once it is in place, there is no turning back.
Put Glass on the South Facing Wall
I learned early in life that paying close attention to those who came before us can save a lot of grief. Better to learn from somebody else’s experience than to strike out blind on our own. Take a look at early farmsteads and how they were situated on the land. For the most part here in the northeast, you’ll find them tucked into a south facing hill with the most glass on the house facing the south. The wood lot on the property would also be located on the hill to the north and west of the house. This provided them protection from the prevailing northwest wind and allowed for passive solar gain on the south side of the house. Remember in those early
days, there was no insulation, no central heat, and thermal pane glass was not even thought of yet. How the home was situated had a big impact on how comfortable it would be on cold winter nights. Blocking the wind from the northwest and placing glass on the south side made sense then and makes sense now. We did the same when we built our place over 30 years ago and have never regretted it. Now on the other side of the coin, we’ve watched some new places get built on ridge tops with great views but no protection from the wind. The views and the breeze may be very pleasant on a summer afternoon but not so much in the winter. A strong northwest wind with nothing in between you and Lake Ontario on a sub-zero day in January gets old in a hurry not to mention the added cost to heat. Nobody stays too long in those places. The only one that benefits are the realtors because those are homes that sell pretty often.
How Do You Determine the Best Site Plan?
Take a look at the property at different times of day to see where the sun starts and finishes the day. Depending on the time of year that you do this, think of where that sun angle will be at different times of the year. Passive solar gain through glass on the south side is a free benefit for life. Today’s modern argon filled windows (referred to as Low-E glass) allow heat in with low sun angles (as we have in the winter) but reflect a lot of that heat back when the sun angle is high in the sky. Having a good number of windows on the south and if possible, a windbreak to the north and west, will not only save on energy costs but also make your home much more comfortable in the winter. Speaking of windows, we have also installed insulated shades on all of our windows. They help keep the heat out in the bright of the day in summer and when closed at night help keep the heat in.
Site Plan For Your Driveway
The layout of the driveway when sighting your home is also an important consideration. Where we live in upstate snow country, it doesn’t always take big snow to close in the driveway with drifts. If you can orient the driveway to run in line with the prevailing wind (typically northwest to southeast) you can reduce snow drifting across your driveway to a large degree if you’re in open country. If you’re in a wooded area then this isn’t quite so much of a concern.
Site Plan For Your Garage
If you’re building a garage take into consideration also what makes the most sense for plowing snow. Years ago when we plowed snow as part of our business we had a great customer with a beautiful home that had two garages. The overhead doors were at 90 degrees to one another. As you pulled in the driveway, the big garage was on your left and the second garage was straight ahead. Making matters worse, these two garages were very close to each other. There simply was no good place to put the snow. I often did a lot of shoveling there in addition to plowing in my younger years. Planning ahead with garage door placement and driveway layout will make snow clean up a lot easier.
Many of our clients tell us that they are building their “lifetime” home. With some thoughtful advance planning, you can reap benefits for as long as you stay there. We are always available to help with every stage of planning. We can work through the details of your home design and also provide fixture and amenity suggestions, etc. as well as of course siting your home in the best possible location. Our goal is to add each new client to our growing family of satisfied owners of their Classic Post and Beam or Northeastern Log Home.