There are seven common mistakes that people frequently make when designing their home. These mistakes are often reinforced in home design magazines and television shows. Explained below are the seven most common mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
This article has been written from an Australian perspective. If you live in North America, Europe, or elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, reverse the north/south orientations mentioned below.
1st deadly sin: Not orientating living spaces north
This is the biggest mistake most people make when designing their home. There is nothing worst than living in a home that is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. But you can have both.
Ideally, orientate all bedroom & living areas to face north. This will provide perfect sun penetration to every room in the house. But realistically this is impossible for most homes that are restricted by the average suburban block. The following rules generally apply for typical suburban blocks.
Locate all living areas on the north side of your floor plan. The floor plan shown here has good northern sun penetration through northern facing windows and was created using the Planit2d 2D Floorplan creator.
It is preferable to locate the kitchen to the north/east so you can enjoy the beautiful morning sun while sipping your cup of tea.
The main bedroom is preferable on the north/east if you are a morning person and will also be totally protected by other internal spaces from the brutal western summer sun.
All bedrooms should be protected from the western afternoon sun in summer as much as possible – buffer the bedrooms with the laundry, store rooms, the garage or a heavily insulated walls face west.
Window overhangs and shading – 900mm roof overhang is the optimal roof shading depth over windows to the north, on home sites with excellent sun penetration (if your site is shaded by trees or neighbouring house you will need to vary this accordingly).
Avoid having any windows and doors on the west side of the home, unless a small high window is necessary for ventilation. If western windows cannot be avoided (due to views etc) consult a building design specialist.
Insulate all external walls, ceilings and roofs. Ceiling and roof insulation are two different items and you should have both to ensure your home is thermally comfortable throughout the year.