Waterfront Building (Part 3)
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Waterfront Building with Residential Designer John Gower (Part 3)


5. When planning the location of a home, should our buyers be concerned with wind and sun exposure?
Given current demand for coastal real estate, new waterfront lots are sold almost the moment they hit the market. The most important thing to keep in mind in the rush to get your offer in first is that not all of these lots are created equal. At our latitude, location is everything! The Gulf Islands and South Coast of BC are full of examples of homes built in dramatic locations, close to the water, where it is unbearably cool in all but the hottest, stillest weather.
The difference between a sheltered, south-facing property and an exposed, north-facing one can mean as much as six or eight months of additional comfortable outdoor living. For year-round comfort, the best situation is to build on a gently south-facing lot on a protected bay with a windbreak of trees, hills or other homes on the north, east and west sides.
At the other extreme would be a north-facing lot, with a lot of high trees to the south and little wind buffering. Both sites can be equally dramatic but the latter will be much more enjoyable from inside the house!
In any location, the best solar orientation for the long axis of a house is within 20 degrees of East-West to maximize solar gain in the cool months and minimize in the summer. Remember that if you plan to use the home in the winter months that at our latitude the sun will be only 15 or 16 degrees off the horizon at midday. Any tall object that lies to the south of the building site can potentially block out the sun.
Sometimes even a perfect southern exposure is not enough. Dramatic, rocky and open sites such as found at the extreme south ends of many Gulf Islands have terrific spirit of place but almost always feel 5 to 10 degrees cooler than elsewhere on the same island.
Our Southern Gulf Islands tend to lie with their length in a northwest-south east direction. Almost invariably, properties located on the "inner", southwest side are much more temperate than those on the opposite "outer" side. To moderate the effects of the climate in those outer areas it is important to create sheltered outdoor living space on the landward side of the home and to maximize the amount of south-facing glazing.

johnpic1John Gower is the founder and principal designer of Vancouver-based BC Mountain Homes and John Gower Design Ltd.. His office offers a range of design services from carefully crafted, modestly sized stock home plans, which can be modified to suit any client or site condition, to full custom design solutions.

His homes can be found throughout the BC South Coast and Islands, the BC Interior, Southern Alberta, and in many locations throughout the USA and overseas. See their comprehensive Web site http://johngowerdesign.com to peruse a collection of unique cottage and home plans, read up on the details of rural property development or explore the option of having John Gower Design work with you to create a custom design that will truly "fit you beautifully".

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