Builders own passive solar home

Nat moved in around the corner from us and made more friends in the first 5 minutes than I did in 20 years. He’s a jovial fellow and a sharp as a tack builder. I think building is actually harder than designing buildings. It’s so much harder on the ground with trades and mud and materials and so many things that can go wrong and cost money. I’m grateful for the builders that manage all the details and see through to the real world the fanciful pictures I make from the safety of my screen. Any architect who doesn’t admit their reliance on builders is getting a bit ahead of themselves.

Anyway, Nat was busting to finally build a place of his own after doing it for others for so long. He had a pretty good idea of what he wanted, so I helped draft it up with some design feedback on passive solar and the like. We drew a line marking the bushfire level zone boundary, another showing the street setback and another, the existing driveway. These lines described a wedge shaped square, which is not ideal for passive solar but workable.

The owners wanted a house with privacy and community, focused around family activities and not TV. This starts with a big deck with a roof and used like an outdoor room. The forest to the east is private and scenic, and a great vista from the deck. Fortunately, a large roofed deck to the east is compatible with passive solar. It precools the summer nor easter before it enters the house and doesn’t interfere with precious northerly winter sun.

Although the living area faces north, it is so deep, the core of the house would be rather dim. In response, the deep interior has solar access through a series of clerestory windows. Skylights are cheaper but because they directly face the summer sun, overheating is a problem. The amount of westerly glass in two of the bedrooms would be a problem without substantial external shutters or a pergola.

The house is under construction now and I’d be surprised if when it’s finished, you find a speck out of place.