Remodeling my home in Australia. Goal: more natural light, nicer facade, better set out

Hi guys, I have been living in this home for several years, and it’s a solidly built home; however, it’s poorly designed and laid out. The issue with the house other than the aesthetics is:
1.It’sDark in Winter
2. It has hard surfaces everywhere
3. is not a relaxing environment
4. It’s getting dated, so I want to future proof the design if possible

l, Iike every builder I suspect, don’t enjoy working on my own home, and like every designer, I struggle to be as creative on my own home as I would on customers homes. I that just me?

I am happy to get feedback or constructive criticism if you have any yet I also thought it would be helpful for others to see my workflow so I’ll try and take shots as I go.

So first, I modelled up the home from a set of drawings provided by the estate agent.
Here is a screenshot:

The model is basic at this stage, and I did it in about 1 hour using PlusSpec.

I did not bother measuring up 100%, I’d say it’s 98% accurate, which is sufficient to do a sun study and quick floor plan layout, make alterations or add an extension/outdoor area. No doubt in the future, I will kick myself I should not have been so lazy, and I should have measured everything 100%; however, at this stage, the design might not meet Mrs Dwight’s liking or be feasible, so I’ll press forward


So guys here is my dilemma and partly why I am not exactly sure how to proceed.

It is frustrating and difficult to understand why the home was designed at 45 degrees to the optimum view and solar aspect solution.
I have a few ideas, which will be trial and error, yet before I do this I must :

  1. Download the Nearmap aerial imagery. ( I won’t need a contour survey as the house is already built).
  2. Geolocate the model on the site and adjust the north point and maps to ensure the project stays on Sketchups default axis

I will make a video if I get a minute as this is a common question I get asked by new designers.

I’d welcome any feedback on ideas. the house is well built and too good to knock down, yet frustrating to live in.

Can you please clarify some points…

The 2d plan shows north approx to the top-right.
I guess the sun is at its highest at around mid-day, directly North… irrespective of the time of year - but lowest in your winter [June]
The sun still rises east-side of that line…
The current shadow you show is projected as if the sun is off to the left - i.e. ~SW sunset on the longest day [~21 Dec?]

Windows with views don’t always need massive areas of glass - frame the view in an appropriate way…
Windows with massive areas of glass will admit massive amounts of solar energy if getting the sun at any orientation…

Sensitively designed and positioned verandas, blinds, pergolas etc can ‘break’ the sun’s affect [see “brise soliel” in FR]


The 2d plan shows north approx to the top-right.
I guess the sun is at its highest at around mid-day, directly North… irrespective of the time of year - but lowest in your winter [June]
The sun still rises east-side of that line…
The current shadow you show is projected as if the sun is off to the left - i.e. ~SW sunset on the longest day [~21 Dec?]

well picked up Tig I am yet to geolocate the model, so far I have only drawn over the plan and have not set the Sketchup models geo-location or sun axis.

Currently, the homes window locations do a pretty good job of encompassing the view and verandahs, they also work well for Summer shading and they catching a cool summer breeze so in this aspect, the home works well.

The main dilemma that I am having is maximising the sun in winter and blocking it 100% in the hottest part of the days through summer (10 am to 5 Pm). We are in a similar climate to Hawaii with hotter more humid summers and milder winters than say Sydney where I came from originally.

I believe that I can create the perfect roof/window overhang to allow the lower angel winter sun, the actual problem is: to do this the roof will be off-axis to the building and engineering and aesthetics will be the next challenge.

I designed and built several homes that took advantage of the sunlight all year round I designed and built this one in NW Sydney, I know I can’t achieve this, however, this is the type of style I am looking for.

North facing, 6-metre overhang on the west Warm in Winter and the overhang shaded the double glazed, thermally broken, argon-filled windows in Summer.

I’m just about to geolocate my house I will do a quick video for anyone looking to do this type of work.

Working off-axis is the biggest mistake I made in all my time using Sketchup.
This video shows my correct workflow for orientating projects to work with Solar North while retaining the model axis for future alterations. If you have any suggestions on getting light into this house or having a better workflow, let me know.

I tried uploading the model yet it did not work. It is 35 meg, I assume that is too large?

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OK, so I spent a couple of hours on the roof. I have Winter sun in the kitchen-living and I have eliminated Summer sun from the outdoor area. I will need to sleep on it.

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Like the house you did in Sydney a lot. What can we say if you can do that? Looking forward to seeing your result! Thanks for sharing.

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Maybe, you could get some PreDesign @corney or Sefaira @niraj.poudel help?

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I have a set of similar issues in my own house ; its on the exact same orientation as yours… and (hate to say it) it’s taken me 2 years to design the remodelling! I have a sea view to the south west, but that also gets the evening sun shining straight into the room (beautiful, but blinding).

You’re doing a pretty big remodelling by the looks of your 3d model!
In that case, the place to start is:

  • Forget the geometry for a second; what functions are important to you? working, studying, lounging, media, outdoor entertaining, dining, sleeping, etc, etc.
  • how do you want those functions to connect with each other (proximity, separation),
  • for your main functions, which are the very best areas of the house to place them? Maybe it’s the garage?! maybe you dont even have 3 cars?
  • with your view…I like to think about where the coffee table goes - this orients the focal point of the room (not the tv)…

I like to open the end up to the view, maximise living space…put the utility rooms at the back of the house, or minimise them. I dont mind having a smaller bedroom if it means a bigger kitchen. A quick sketch…

  • Push out a big gable roof facing the view - bifold doors to the outdoor spaces to maximise flow. Doesnt have to be decking out there, maybe some trees for shade (& framing the view?). Could have a bar leaner along a window next to the kitchen.
  • Louvres/pergola over the patio to control light.
  • Vent windows & gable vents in upper parts of the room for through-flow.
  • Not sure why such a large overhang on the garage…protecting cars from hail?
  • Flat roof also means less R value?
  • Big skylights are good, or a light well. Small amount of light to a dark space gives surprising contrast that our eyes respond well to.

I like your idea @AK_SAM,I also like looking at the view when I wake up.

Cool - how about swapping the master bedroom into where I put the office?
Then you get morning sun & nice view & not too hot at night…?

Then, some people hate morning sun…

That’s the good thing about remodlleing and why it takes us so long to make decisions.

I can design a decent house layout in a few hours for a client, but I spend YEARS on my own homes, fine tuning it to exactly my needs. Enjoy the process :smiley:

Sorry guys I’ve been called away, until Sunday, it’s a 50th Birthday party for friends on the gold coast.
Sam thanks for putting so much thought iand effort nto it mate, you’ve got some great ideas there, I will respond properly when I’m back in the office behing desk top. My eyes need stronger glasses to type and work on phones these days.