Commonsense Siting

Just square the house off with the street. How many times have we heard that? Too many. This was the way we built it in Florida, will it work in Maine? No. I’ll just order some plans, they look so good in the magazine. Have we lost our minds? No, just the commonsense portion. Some quick points for the morning:

  1. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, universally, on this planet. If you want morning light in the bedroom, better respect the compass. The low western sun into a glass facade on the west is going to BAKE you.
  2. Get the site first, then the plans. I had a client come to me in the 70’s for a solar home design. North sloping lot, oops. Took a lot of gerrymandering to ignore the lay of the land and develop what was originally one of those cushions you sit up in bed to watch TV as the model. No cupholders. The northwest wind was deflected around a perimeter buffer of pantries and closets. Root cellar below.
  3. Rearrange the windows to suit the site. Develop overhangs and fins to shade from summer sun. Still one of the handiest tools, which I first saw at one of Ed Mazira’s workshops is the reverse sun dial. Paste the curves on the model base, stick in a gnomon toothpick and go outside on a sunny day and look at what the sun will do in the actual building during all times and seasons. (I can’t believe the rocketĀ scientistsĀ at NASA spent millions building a solar tracking simulator with high intensity “solar source” to do what you could do with the reverse sundial for less than a dime: xerox and a toothpick.)
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