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North lot so Front of home will face south, help

Love stone homes
6 years ago

Our lot, in perfect neighborhood and price and hard to come by, unfortunately faces north. Backyard is north, south faces the street.

we want lots of natural light and want to take advantage of the southern exposure.

We will bbuild single level home, open concept.

we want the principal living spaces great room/ kitchen in the back of the home so we can access and see back yard and pool etc. So these rooms will be on north side of the home.

i have been reading about having house no more than 2 rooms deep. How many feet deep per room is recommended? I'm thinking of a great room about 20x20, for example.

No formal dining room.

We hate skylights as they do no good in winter covers in snow. Lol

any ideas re getting the sun into this future house.

yes, we will b talking to pro designers.

thank you

Comments (34)

  • handymac
    6 years ago

    Sun Tunnel or equivalent. All the advantages of sky lights and fewer problems.

    Love stone homes thanked handymac
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Handy Mac. Thank you that is one option for sure.

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  • One Devoted Dame
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What do you think of a U (or L, or H) shaped house, where your great room/kitchen/etc. is at the bottom of the U (or horizontal bar of the H)? That way, you get both northern and southern exposure. :-)

    That's only one option, though! I'm no pro; I'm sure a residential architect will have a lot more to say than just my simple little idea.

    Love stone homes thanked One Devoted Dame
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    How large is your lot? Where is it located?

    Love stone homes thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    One devoted dame....we are thinking about that too.

    Virgil. The lot is 100x700. With 32' setback on the width. It is in Ottawa, Canada. Flat lot.

  • worthy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    There are on average throughout the year 2.38 hours of non-cloudy or unobstructed sunlight a day in Ottawa. So it seems it's not sunlight but the ever fleeting daylight that the OP seeks to capture.

    *

    Love stone homes thanked worthy
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Worthy...so cool, thank you,. So does that mean orientation is not as important as I thought it was,. I have been reading so much about the southern exposure and was feeling rather disappointed about the north at back of the house.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    Well, your lot is exactly backwards for southern orientation and lots of sunlight. My suggestion is to orient the major public spaces to the south (living, family, kitchen and all the spaces where you will spent time during the day) and place your house as far from the front of the lot as possible in order to maintain privacy, not only for your indoor spaces, but also your outdoor spaces which are frequently used. Hopefully, you will have existing or new landscaping which will help enable the necessary privacy for your house.

    Love stone homes thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • worthy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    does that mean orientation is not as important as I thought it was

    My non-architect's feeling. Here in TO, the banana belt of Ontario, daylight seems always a fleeting memory October-March.

    place your house as far from the front of the lot as possible

    Check your zoning restrictions.

    For example, in TO and the GTA, there is typically a depth limit of the new house measured from the minimum front lot line setback. So say, you have a 600-foot deep (front to back) lot with a 24 ft. setback for your front yard and zoning permits you a 55 ft. deep house. In other words, you're allowed to build a 55 foot deep house starting from that 24 ft. setback. Set it 10 feet further back for "privacy" and your house is now 45 feet deep.

    If you're a fan of modernism, you might by inspired by the late James Stewart's "Integral House" cascading down a Rosedale hillside. Even if you're not planning for a traffic flow of hundreds of people into your private 150 seat concert hall.

    Integral House, Toronto, Shim-Sutcliffe architects.

    Love stone homes thanked worthy
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    The "ideal" lot in the northern hemisphere has the public spaces with the large windows/glazing oriented to the south, where the southern sun may be controlled during the summer and allowed to enter the house for passive warming in the winter. If one is in the southern hemisphere it's vice-versa.

    The other consistent issue for site selection, site placement and house configuration and orientation is privacy vs. usable indoor-outdoor spaces.

    In general, most folks don't want passers-by to be able to case their house to see if they are home or not, and don't want the uninvited visitors to roll up to the front of their house and see everything going on inside. In other words, the street-front side of the house is usually the "private" side of the house.

    Then, it follows that with the street-front side of the house as the private side, the side opposite the street-front is often the "public" side, with the public spaces of the house (living-family-kitchen, et al) oriented in that direction and the indoor-outdoor spaces oriented in that direction as well. In other words, the portions of the house with the largest windows/glazing, and the connections to indoor-outdoor living are best located on the side of the house opposite the street front.

    Simple, really, when one takes the time to think about it.

    Combine the best orientation of natural light (southerly), with the need for both "private" facades and "public" facades of a home, and one quickly sees that land which one enters from a northerly direction and which faces a southerly direction is the ideal land for most homes.

    If one can't achieve that, then come as close as possible! :-)

    Love stone homes thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • gregbradley
    6 years ago

    "There are on average throughout the year 2.38 hours of non-cloudy or unobstructed sunlight a day in Ottawa"

    Sounds positively uninhabitable. I would be desperate to take advantage of any natural light available.

    Love stone homes thanked gregbradley
  • PRO
    Architect Jeff Whyte +Assoc Inc
    6 years ago

    Oh it would be fun to work on this one. There are actually many great solutions to this problem in history. I just returned from Paris where I saw Masion de Verre, a great modernist house that struggled with the same problem. Their solution may not be for you, but a good architect will know a variety of methods and how to combine features to get the right package for you. My best advice is to seek out a local architect that costs more than you think you should pay. What you'll probably get is someone that has a high level of skill when addressing your needs, construction efficiency, and good esthetics. Most clients that do this discover in the end that the money was actually very well spent because the results are noticeably better. Best of luck.

    Love stone homes thanked Architect Jeff Whyte +Assoc Inc
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    Nothing creates more natural light in a house, for a longer period each day, than a south facing exposure. Just do a sun diagram to see the number of hours of sunlight from early morning (south east sun) to noon (south sun) to late afternoon (south west sun), which a south facing exposure receives.

    That said, windows on more than one exterior wall, dormers, monitors, clearstories, etc., and the orientation and configuration of a house can work wonders for the introduction of supplemental natural light, even for a south-facing orientation. This is what creativity and imagination are all about!

    While we're on the subject, it's worth a brief mention of the importance of house configuration. It's the rectangular-esque (I made it up), very deep house which has natural lighting problems. These are the "fat" plans, which are typically 3-5 rooms deep, which challenge the imagination, and construction technology, for getting natural light into houses. These are the sorts of designs to avoid, if at all possible, if natural lighting is important.

    Designs which are only 1-2 rooms deep are not only more adaptable for the introduction of natural lighting, but the scale and proportions are often much more desirable. If one has doubts about this, compare many of the historic styles of architecture to today's McMansions.

    And while it's probably not a very good idea to pre-conceive house configurations (for a variety of reasons), starting with an "L"-shaped concept, rather than a rectangular-shaped concept, often may allow for avoiding "fat" plans and for more opportunities for the introduction of natural light, plus improved zoning for public vs. private spaces in a house. An "L"-shaped plan also begins to connect the indoor-outdoor relationships and provides flexibility for either an attached or detached garage. Just a thought, and I'm sure the mileage will vary for some folks.

    Love stone homes thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Virgil...thank you, yup unfortunately lots in our desired location, price etc are virtually non existent. So of course we bought it. I'm not too worried about privacy as he will have cedar hedges, and trees surrounding the house which will ensure 100% privacy. This is very common in our area, even in neighborhoods with 50' wide lots.

    This is a view from our deck into our neighbors home/yard. Lots are abt 59-60' wide

  • bpath
    6 years ago

    South-facing clerestory windows can help bring in the winter light. Also, someone up thread mentioned solatubes. We had solatubes in our last house in an interior bathroom, upstairs landing, and stairwell, and even in winter they brought in so much light we no longer had to turn on the lights until after sunset. In summer we didn't turn them on until dusk!

    We don't get as much snow in Northern Illinois as you do in Ottawa (did you know there's an Ottawa, Illinois?) but in the weeks when it did pile on the roof, light still filtered through the solatubes.

    Love stone homes thanked bpath
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hi again Virgil...when you say 2 rooms deep, how many feet per room? And yes, definetly configuration will b discussed with the designer,

  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Worthy...yup setbacks, building restrictions were reviewed prior to purchasing the lot. No use buying a lot and not be able to build on it.

    The lot is in an older neighborhood I.e. 25 yrs old. Homes were built on 3-4 acres lots. And some homeowners have severed their property.

    Re integral house...love the setting. But no way, could I ever live in it....even if I had 19mil to spend. Give me Victorian, Georgian, cape code and even century homes quintessence Ottawa valley homes. :)

  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    JDS. We have just started the process of finding such a talented pro. One has already made suggestions about Windows etc with the goal of bringing in as much natural light as possible.

  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Greg...uninhabitable, unfortunately, this is the case for many areas in our country...Vancouver and even Seattle are sorely lacking in sun,. No wonder people move to Florida. Lol

    Yup our goal is trying to get all the natural light as possible into our humble abode.

  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    PBat home...no I didn't know there was an Ottawa, Illinois. Clerestory Windows will definetly be considered. Just a bit unsure about solar tubes due to leaking etc...tho not as bad as skylights. We don't see much of them in our area.

  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hi Jeff...I am definetly looking for creativity in a pro.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    PG wrote, "...Hi again Virgil...when you say 2 rooms deep, how many feet per room?..."

    I don't know if the exact number of feet make so much difference (although if each room was 50-feet deep each, that could certainly be a problem), but rather the opportunity to get light into important interior spaces from more than a single direction.

    The angle of the sun at its highest point (summer solstice at noon) varies with the latitude. For Ottawa, on June 21 at noon, the sun angle is about 68-degrees. If you're good at trigonometry you can figure the sun penetration based on the various heights of window heads above the floor. The higher the window head the greater the penetration. For an 8'-0 window head, the penetration of direct sunlight is approximately 3.23 feet! The rest of the year the sun is lower and the penetration is greater.

    The other issue is that the deeper the rooms, the larger and higher the pitched roof will have to be to cover them.

    Probably the best answer is to look at a variety of house designs--their plan depth, the opportunity for natural light and the scale of the roof forms--to see what is appealing and what is not.

  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    hi JDS thank you again, just spoke to a couple of architects, actually, they are architectural technologists. ( in usa they don't have 3 yr programs as they do in Canada ) yes, they do have actual degree programs, here too.

    some of his suggestions, 9' ceilings, transom windows to the rafters, dormers, home 2 rooms deep, clerestory.

    as for privacy, trees which grow like weeds, here, will take care of that.

  • JDS
    6 years ago

    Since architects learn a little in school and much much more working for and with other architects so it what would be more important to me is a designer's resume and past work.

    Of course you can always post the design here and we'll keep it on track.

    Love stone homes thanked JDS
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    jds exactly, that makes sense...we will be meeting him and perhaps 2 others and then go from there. I have read up on questions to ask an architect...and for me, I am looking for creativity or suggestions that appeal to me.

    and what a nice offer re posting my design on this forum....its so hard to believe people such as yourself, would offer this opportunity...

  • PRO
    Architect Jeff Whyte +Assoc Inc
    6 years ago

    At the risk of sounding argumentative, I couldn't disagree more with JDS. Architects learn a lot in school and a lot after school and a lot throughout their career. Investing in a house is both a monetary investment and and investment in your family (since they live there). Trusting this effort to someone with relatively little education and seemingly little experience in buildings as a whole, is risky. The opportunities that lay before you are grand and exciting. Buildings are more than the sum of their parts. They are not plug and play. You as a client will never understand how the mixture of elements combine synergetically to create a great house to live in. You're not supposed to, nor are you supposed to know how to do surgery or win a law suit. Being an architect is an ancient profession because people for generations need those with the skill to help them achieve their goals. It takes dedication for years to hone a professional level skill-set. Well, I've probably said too much. But if you're smart enough to come here and start seeking out advise, you're probably smart enough to understand what I'm saying. So at the very least meet with at least one real architect, a good architect. Maybe then you'll see the difference. Best of luck.

    Respectfully,

    Love stone homes thanked Architect Jeff Whyte +Assoc Inc
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    hi jeff Thank you for your comments. Your point is well taken. The old adage and argument of education vs experience, and how much education is long standing in Canada. Just for your information, here in Canada , regardless of the profession, be it architecture, engineering and even nursing, the argument pertaining to 3 yr diplomas vs 4 yr degrees as to which is better is ongoing. However, over the years some changes have occurred within certain professions, wherein one cannot practice or work in the profession without the degree...As for law and medicine the road of education is indeed long...

    Some of the technicians in architecture have worked under well known architects, and I most lilkely will take your advise into consideration and contact their mentors. it will be an interesting experience.

  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    A little tough for me to follow Jeff Whyte's thoughts but there's a reason here why I rarely use the term "architect" and instead use "person of talent". I've said here before I know architects personally (yes, the ones with all the education, credentials and 15 letters after their names), I wouldn't trust to design a house for my dog. We're no different than any other profession, there are great architects out there as well as poor ones, education not withstanding.

    And back before I semi retired and had my big firm of 16 people including 6 architects, we had a guy who started out as the office boy when he was in high school and then went full time after graduation. Very creative guy with just a lot of raw design talent. By 25 he was one of our two lead designers. We always encouraged him to go to school but no interest. He's a "person of talent".

    And as far as formal education vs. experience, like we encouraged the person above to get some formal design education because it is of significant value, at the same time there's nothing like experience. I think a colleague of mine, Bob Borson in Dallas summed it up well.... "Architecture is not a trade, it's a craft, and to get any good at it you're going to have to get it wrong for a while".

    And while I'm waiting for the Sun to come up to go out for a run, let me forward to you a thought about the key ingredient needed in your relationship with a person of talent. And that ingredient is trust. In lieu of a massive retype, I wrote about how critical it is here, (scroll down to my 5/13/16 post, my second one) http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3887104/what-should-i-expect-from-my-architect-long?n=22

    And good luck with your project! An exciting adventure lies ahead!

    Love stone homes thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Mr Whyte has entirely missed my point. I simply meant to point out that a formal education is no guarantee of the talent and skill that a homeowner should expect of a house designer.

    My bach. degree in architecture required 3 1/2 years in graduate school after a 4 year college degree in art and design. During that time the design of houses was not discussed beyond perhaps the villas of Palladio. I learned to design and construct a house by building one myself and discussing the design of it at great length with more experienced architects and contractors. I also bought every book and magazine I could find on the subject. I did that for 5 years before I felt competent to design a house for an unsuspecting relative.

    So, in this day and age a resume is less relevant than experience and it is easy to see the results of that experience online. Talent is where you find it and you can find it if you are diligent in your search.

    I know nothing about Architectural Technologists except that it is a terribly inappropriate title for anyone with design skills.

    Love stone homes thanked JDS
  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago

    Most people here know of my design process that relies on a charrette process where a house is conceptualized in a process that lasts four or five hours.

    It only took me 35 years to be able to do that.

    Love stone homes thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Architect, JDS. So true and thank you for your insights. For s person of talent at least 1 piece of paper is required (aka diploma/degree) in order to get a job. There are those that soar and do great things with minimal credentials, and there are those with numerous credentials etc who stagnate and fail miserably.

  • robo (z6a)
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm Canadian and have a South facing front facade so I feel your pain. Here are some things that add to the livability of our house:

    * Lots of windows on three sides of family room in back E/N/W keep it feeling pretty bright.

    * Kitchen is in a bumpout on the side of house with windows that face South (the street) and patio door facing North to deck. We also have skylights and I agree it's dimmer in winter but lovely in summer.

    * We have a formal living room/library to the front of house with a big picture window onto the street and a west facing side window. Although this is not how we would have chosen to build a home as we are also fans of open concept, we spend a lot of time in this room because it is very sunny, cosy and bright. It also serves the function of an "away"/"adult" space in our home so it is where we entertain company. (Our back family room is messier and has records/videogames/etc.) We have window treatments for privacy, but because it's a formal living it generally looks pretty good anyway.

    * Think about keeping your house fairly low to the backyard and making a hangout spot (patio/deck) toward the back of your yard to capture some sunlight outside of your house's shadow. Think about your lifestyle (morning or evening people?) and situate your deck/pool to the East or West depending on your lifestyle. Our house towers over our backyard and it's a problem as our backyard is completely shaded all but 2-3 hours a day. But our deck is on the West side so we get good sunlight on the deck in the afternoons and evenings.

    Love stone homes thanked robo (z6a)
  • Love stone homes
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Robo. Thank you for your ideas...your home sounds lovely. I have been thinking about placing the kitchen toward the front. Until now, I have been totally opposed to that idea, but am slowly coming around to thinking it might be ok.

    i just don't want that the first thing u see and walk into is a messy kitchen