Friday, December 19, 2008

1: Just The Right Spot

Placing or positioning a house on the site is more important than you might ever imagine...and it probably won't cost you much, if anything, to take as much time as you need to do so. I first spent a couple of years visiting my property in different seasons and noting things like where the sun rises and sets throughout the year. Then as the actual design of the house took shape I started imagining the views I would have from doors and windows. I even went as far as using inexpensive surveyor's tape from the hardware store to outline the floor plan and experiment with the position of the house on the ground. It was a really useful exercise. I could literally stand on the plan where a window would be and imagine how the sun would enter the house...asking myself questions like, did I want my bedroom on the east side of the house to wake up at the crack of dawn? During the darkest days of winter, what orientation of the house would give me maximum sun inside? Should I give guests in the guestroom the distant mountain view (which I might someday lose with tree growth) and keep the (protected from potential neighbors) view across valley for my bedroom? There are hundreds of details you can imagine and questions you can ask yourself at this point with simple tape outlining the floor plan on the ground. As fortune would have it in my case, one week before we actually broke ground on the house, I realized that the entire floor plan needed to be flopped from left to right, because I wanted the back service door of the house to be on the same side as the driveway, which I didn't want crossing in front or back of the house. At that point, it was a few simple clicks on a computer keyboard to make the change. A few weeks later it would have been much more complicated...if not impossible to get it right.

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