The view from up here – a guide to planning a second storey addition that you’ll love to spend time in.
Is one of your goals in adding another floor to gain amazing views? This guide is for you. We’re going to take a look at aspect (the outlook from your home) vs orientation (the direction your home is aligned to) and how to plan around getting the most from both.
Enjoying the view
A great view can add hugely to your enjoyment of your home (and its value should you ever want to part with it). Whether it’s water views, city lights or an outlook over nature, we all love a great view and are willing to pay for it. It creates the wow factor.
Designing to your orientation however, is what maximises liveability – by making the most of natural light, harnessing the sun for winter warmth while keeping it at bay for summer comfort.
So how do you strike the right balance between views and liveability? What do you do if your aspect doesn’t match your orientation? Let’s take a look at the four corners of the compass (if that’s what they are!) to assess your options:
A northerly aspect
If your aspect is to the north to north-east, you’ve got it made. With your living areas to the north you’ll be able to enjoy natural light year-round, and through good design you can limit heat gain from midday summer sun while letting it all in for warmth in winter. A good design feature here is deep eaves above high windows to block scorching summer sun while allowing the lower angled winter sun full access for warmth. Having high level opening windows will also allow hot air to escape while drawing in cooler air from below.
A southerly aspect
With a southerly aspect the big challenge is letting in enough light. As the living areas are likely to be in shade most of the day, the risk is the double downer of darkness and damp.
Well-designed additions can get around these challenges in many cases with features like north-facing clerestory windows, skylights and light-filled stairwell voids.
Sometimes however it’s best to place utility rooms, home offices and bedrooms on the south side for soft, even light and stay with the northern side for your living areas.
A westerly aspect
Living areas facing west are challenged by the hot, horizontal afternoon sun, and can get unbearably hot. This is where shading is essential, be it internal blinds or external features like shade sails or awnings. Smart plantings can help too – deciduous trees are ideal for blocking summer heat while letting in the winter sun.
Designing for ventilation can help a lot too – if your addition captures cooling southerly breezes, those hot summer afternoons will become so much more bearable. These can be maximised with cross-ventilation, operable clerestory windows, adjustable louvres and other similar features.
An easterly aspect
An easterly aspect is great for morning people, but as the early sun is horizontal it can cause glare and heat issues in summer months. Shading as covered in the westerly section above can be beneficial here, especially if it’s of the easily operable type to allow for quick adjustment according to weather conditions.
Many additions we design have both easterly and westerly living areas and/or decks – allowing the families to choose where to hang out depending on the time of day or time of year – the best of both worlds.
Still not sure?
If you’re not sure how to make the most of your views and your orientation, feel free to give us a call. With over a thousand home additions and extensions under our belt over the last 30 years, we pretty much know Sydney living inside-out! We’d be happy to chat.
For further info on designing for orientation, visit www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/orientation