We Provide Innovative Design Solutions for Awkward and Difficult Blocks
If you have a difficult block that you want to build on, it can be frustrating trying to find a design that will suit your property. Depending on the difficulty of the block, it is probably going to be impossible to get a cookie-cutter house design that suits the site, let alone a design that suits your individual requirements and lifestyle. Some of the issues you might be facing may include the following:
Narrow blocks are generally the result of the subdivision of a larger block. In the Perth metropolitan area they can range from 10 metres to 6 metres in width. The biggest problem with narrow blocks is that adjoining buildings have the potential to cause considerable overshadowing to outdoor living areas and courtyards.
Getting natural light into the home might also be a problem. However, this can be overcome with clever planning and the use of roof lights to allow natural light into the home. Building on the boundary may also be required in order to maximise the width of the block.
The zoning and the minimum open space requirements (as per the R-Codes) of the block will determine the maximum ground floor area of a house allowed on the block.
This is very important if you want to build a single storey home. If the block isn’t large enough to accommodate the size of your new home and the minimum open space required, then a single storey solution may not be possible. Your only option may be a two storey home, which is considerably more expensive.
Homes on small blocks need to be designed well to maximise the limited space available and to ensure they comply the required setbacks (ie minimum distances from boundaries as required by the R-Codes and council policies).
Steeply Sloping Blocks
The slope of a block may cause problems with the type of home you want to build. Usually sloping blocks may require additional siteworks such as retaining walls and sand fill, which will add to the overall construction cost of the project. Alternatively, you might be able to avoid the use of retaining walls by designing the home to suit the slope of the land.
This may involve having several levels connected by a series of steps, with each level being a different zone of the house. If the house slopes across the front face of the block, you could incorporate the garage at the lower end and have a split level home.
Awkward Shaped Blocks
Many people get a standard off the shelf house design and build it on an irregular shaped block. Unfortunately, the design doesn’t take into account the specific shape of the block and the result is a home on a property with lots of wasted space.
This doesn’t need to be the case if the house is custom designed to suit the block. Rather than wasted space, those awkward corners or angles can be incorporated as outdoor courtyards that have a direct link to the inside of the home. Building on the boundary might be necessary to take advantage of all the available space as well.
Poorly Orientated Blocks
Good orientation increases the energy efficiency of a home, making it more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run. With good orientation the need for artificial heating and cooling is reduced, resulting in lower power bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Orientation for passive heating involves using the sun as a source of free home heating, where the winter sun is allowed in and the summer sun is kept out. A block can have good passive solar performance if it has the right characteristics. Ideally, a block should have north facing daytime living areas and outdoor spaces.
With regards to planning, it’s best to place living areas along the north façade and bedrooms along the south façade. As living areas and the kitchen are the most used areas of a home, it’s important that they are passively heated. Utility and service areas such as bathrooms and laundries are used for short periods and generally require less heating. If you don’t have a block with good orientation or limited solar access, your Architect can still design an energy efficient home to suit your needs. Again, clever planning and the use of roof lights can ensure that northern winter light can still penetrate the home where it is required.
Ultimately, your home will need to be custom designed by a design professional, to not only overcome the above mentioned issues but to also to meet your specific needs and lifestyle. It’s important to note that good, clever design can overcome all of the above issues. In fact, the more limitations a block has the more interesting the final design outcome. If you would like to see how we can help you with your difficult block please contact us to arrange a free consultation.
Perth Home Design Guide
We have developed this unique home design guide for people wanting to build their perfect dream home. The guide was developed as a result of 30 years of expertise and experience designing new homes for clients all over the Perth metropolitan area.
Please feel free to download the guide.
The Perfect New Home Design Guide