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Site Selection for Your Home - Part II

Situating your home- First determine the exposures of the land.  You want to know the direction of winter winds and summer breezes.  Where are the best views?  The least desirable noises?  Try to position your floor plan accordingly.  You may have to alter your plan somewhat to accommodate a site you like; stop to ask yourself if this is worth the extra design cost.

Some like to place their home as close to the street as possible.  This way the backyard is large and private, as are the views from inside.  You will save money with shorter utility hookups.  Others like to place the home far enough from the road so they do not get any of the traffic noise.

A southern exposure on the length of the house is energy efficient.  Fuel bills in a sun-warmed home can be substantially smaller in winter.  In summer, the sun arcs higher in the sky; if a house is constructed with exposure in mind, adequate roof overhangs and tree shading will assure that southern sun will not increase warm weather air-conditioning bills.  Of course, in hot climates a northern exposure is decidedly preferable.

The size and location of the driveway are important features of daily life in a home - particularly if you are responsible for snow removal.  It is essential for traffic safety that a driveway not be too steep and there should be no hazards at the junction off the street and driveway.  This brings us to terrain.  

Terrain, topography, and landscaping- An expert should examine the property and advise you further, but you can judge many of the land's basic physical characteristics yourself.  What obstacles have to go - rocks or trees on foundation site, buried utility lines, existing structures and at whose expense?  What would you like to keep?  Older foliage tends to soften the appearance of a new home; retaining deciduous trees particularly on the north and west sides will contribute to energy conservation.  Keep in mind, though, that excavation on the site may do damage to the roots of some trees.  Also look into flooding and land sliding by talking with experts or the county clerk.

Look at the condition of the soil.  Is it sandy, in a region prone to erosion?  Is there sufficient topsoil to grow a lawn and garden, trees, and shrubs?  Test may need to be done to see if the land will hold the weight of the house.  Experts can tell you whether grass will grow and how much topsoil you will need.  

Since finished landscaping costs are billed to you, it is advantageous to keep as many trees as you can.  You will want to discuss with your contractor on what needs to stay and what can go.

Here is a home where the owners have a nice view and are shaded by trees.


To be continued in the next post - Legalities.  

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