Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our roof

Aggh. I've lost the start of this post three times. Still getting the hang of this software.

So last time I wrote about our design brief. Here I want to write about what we're getting. Or rather, what we think we're getting ... I thought all the big structural decisions were made, but yesterday we got a call from our project manager to say that they have realised that the tracks for the floor to ceiling doorway between our stair well and living area - which I had been picturing more as a moveable wall - won't be able to be set fully into the ceiling cavity because the joists are running the wrong direction. Sigh. So now we are trying to decide between dropping the ceiling in the whole living area to 2630mm (from 2700mm) or having a discontinuous ceiling line. :(

I am plugging for continuity. Rodney is keen to have his 2700mm ceilings. This is pretty much our first serious disagreement about an aspect of the design, which is not bad given we've been doing this for three years. I think we may yet flip a coin.

I am hoping to post the plans for our house, but I need clean them up a bit first as they have all sorts of instructions from the engineer all over them and they're a bit hard for novices to read.

For now, a brief description will have to suffice ...

First the block, so you can get your bearings. Ours runs east:west. It's roughly 11.6m wide and about 30m long. We have a 5m setback and an easement along the back fence. Fiona's block is to the north, and she is planning to build only a small house - probably about 12m long.

Our house is sited as far south as the building regs would permit, to maximise our solar access from the north. Technically, it's a loft, because the upstairs is built into the roof cavity. Functionally, it's one and a half stories.

One of the things I love most about our house is that it has a curved roof. This is a lovely aesthetic outcome of a decision made on principle. Way before we started designing properly, I happened to have a conversation with an acquaintance who had recently had her gorgeous winter sunlight blocked out by her neighbour's extension. The construction was all completely within the building regs, and her neighbour was fully within his rights. But perhaps not very neighbourly?

So we decided that we wanted to keep as far away from the outside edge of our southern building envelope as possible, whilst still maximising our own solar gain. Whilst the current house to our immediate south has only tiny northern windows, it's a tumbledown place that's clearly going to be knocked down sooner or later. When that happens, we hope whatever replaces it will be designed along passive solar lines - obviously that can only work if we don't overshadow the whole block.

It felt unethical and unneighbourly to not give any consideration to our future neighbours' needs.

The roof line got reworked several times as we tried to find a curve that gave us sufficient head room upstairs as well as reasonable solar access to the south. As next door's block is similarly narrow, they will need to build well back from the northern fence, but that should be okay. They, like us, will need to foot the bill for swapping their driveway from the south to the north, but I reckon that's a small price to pay for a place that is significantly warmer in winter and cooler in summer! I hope they see it the same way. }:

Thinking about our neighbours also influenced our choice of roof colour. Part of our cladding is zincalume and we were planning to use the same for the roof. But we after seeing the potential reflection off that product, we decided to go for a less reflective roof, just in case there is eventually a two story house to the south. The curve would mean that there wouldn't be that much glare, but it could be an issue. We chose Colourbond Shale Grey, which I desperately hope will look okay with the zincalume cladding on the southern and northern walls.

Hmm. Best stop here. I wanted to give a basic overview of the rest of the design, but this is looking a bit long so will do that in a separate post.

I am delighted to know that I have some readers! Please let me know if you have specific questions or priorities ... happy to help out if I can.



Chris said...

Sounds very interesting - looking forward to seeing the plans.

We have a east-west 16m wide block and have put all the living areas in a long thinnish slice down along the south side - just in case the neighbour to the north decides to built a two storey place we want to make sure we still get the winter sun.

Louisa Sheedy said...

Ohh~ A curved roof, you say? Care to share some of the pictures you have of your house? Some of the visitors here might be interested in seeing it~