Property Advice

The aspect effect: What does your house orientation mean?

Is north-facing really worthy of the reputation bestowed on it by real estate agents? From west to south, here’s everything you need to know about house orientation

When you’re on the hunt for your dream home, one of the first things a real estate agent is keen to point out is the property aspects — especially if it’s north-facing. But, what does a house orientation actually mean? Wondering what the best aspect of a property is for your new home? We have the guide for you.

For those who live and breathe property in New Zealand, having a north-facing home can seem like the holy grail of house hunting.

What this means is that the main living areas and/or the garden of a home are north-facing (not necessarily the front of the home), these spaces can maximise natural light as the sun moves from east-to-west. This access to sunlight can also dramatically affect the temperatures within your home throughout the seasons.

Here’s how the direction your property faces can affect your home:

North-facing house orientation:

North or north-east facing properties are considered the most desirable because they get the most direct sunlight through the day, especially in winter when the sun is at its lowest. In the middle of summer, too, this means your garden will be away from the sun’s full force. In an urban area where sunlight is at a premium, this can make a world of difference.

Tip: Consider the wind as well as the sun! The summer nor’easters on the East Coast may be great for drying your laundry but you may have to tie down your outdoor furniture.

East-facing house orientation:

East-facing homes might enjoy lovely sunrises and full morning sun but that will be over by noon. In summer, mornings can be uncomfortably warm and in winter you won’t get much heat from the sun at all.

But remember, if you’re in a built-up area you might not be getting a lot of light anyway, so it’s really down to how you manage the light you do get. An architect will be able to help!

Tip: You can bet any open house is timed to coincide with the best time of day. Visit a house at other times, such as when the sun is going down, to get a good overview of the light.

South-facing house orientation:

You won’t get much sunlight at all from a southerly aspect. Without careful management, your house will most likely be dark, with condensation becoming a potential issue that can cause mould and mildew. But sometimes you have to make this work.

If you have water views to the south, for example, you’ll want to find a compromise so have a look at how you can pull light through from the north side.

Tip: Placing generous windows at the rear of your home or installing skylights throughout your home can mitigate the effects of certain aspects.

West-facing house orientation:

West-facing houses (even more so apartments) get the booby prize for aspect. The afternoon sun comes in at an almost horizontal angle and can be intense, particularly when also reflected off water, which can make for a very uncomfortable summer.

The sun from a low angle is especially hard to manage as most awnings and shade devices are designed to stop sunlight from penetrating from above. So a Western aspect is best avoided but if you are determined, just make sure you have a good architect on speed dial.

Tip: Internal glass doors can also allow natural light sources to travel further within the home.

Photography by: Hannah Puechmarin, David Wheeler & Nikcole Ramsay.

For more property advice, to rent or buy, click here.


Create the home of your dreams with Shop Your Home and Garden