7 things to consider when building a coastal home
With the right design and building materials, a coastal home can weather well and deliver an idyllic, vitamin-sea-infused lifestyle. But, with the opposite also being true, it pays to know what to consider early on. Here’s some food for thought.
Given the nature of Australia’s landscape, more than eight out of 10 of us live within 50 kilometres of the country’s near 50,000 kilometres of coastline, whether it’s Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Alkimos in Western Australia, Brisbane’s Redland Bay or somewhere in between.
But some of us get even luckier, having the chance to live right on the coast or just a few short kilometres back from it. If that sounds like you sometime soon, and you’re also considering grabbing the chance to build a new home on a coastal land lot – exciting! (And frankly, um, jealous!)
Still, there’s also no denying that coastal homes come complete with their own unique considerations (that you’ll want to be aware of ahead of time) and opportunities (that you’ll want to plan wisely for, in order to take full advantage).
Here are seven things to consider when you’re planning a coastal home to ensure its design and specifications end up being a, ahem, ‘shore thing’.
Land lots on a coastline or in a coastal environment may differ from a more ‘central city’ or inner-suburban location in terms of the soil type in the area. And while it’s possible to build on any soil type, some can make it more expensive to get a home off the ground. Similarly, how steep a coastal land lot can also increase costs and time in a build’s budget and schedule.
One solution is to choose a house and land package in a masterplan community that calls a coastal location home. This not only ensures the land where a new community will grow and thrive has been carefully chosen due to its credentials for building on, but also building costs for a specific lot of land are transparent up front and the house design has been carefully selected by the builder to suit the site, too.
That sounds obvious, of course, but hear us out. Lots of land close to the coast – even if they’re a good few kilometres away – are often exposed to high concentrations of airborne sea salt, which means one thing: yep, corrosion. As a result, Australia’s National Construction Code outlines required standards for the building materials that can be used, particularly for externally located building elements, to protect against corrosion as much as possible.
And it’s not just corrosion that needs to be taken into account when you’re building by the sea – constant exposure to salty air can also accelerate how quickly exterior finishes, including paint, fade or deteriorate, as well as compromising the integrity and effectiveness of sealants, over time. Depending on the exact location of a land lot and how well it is – or isn’t – shielded from the elements, a higher level of wind-loading protection may also be required to meet Australian Standards.
The simplest and most headache-free way to ensure your yet-to-be-built house will feature the best building materials to withstand coastal areas is to hire an experienced architect or builder who understands both the Code’s requirements and the environment’s features. House and land packages specifically designed for coastal locations can also provide a stress-free building experience in terms of building material selection and use.
All homes need some degree of ongoing maintenance, but it’s important to know that even when the ‘right’ building materials are used to construct a coastal home, regular maintenance will still be required to preserve them. This typically includes regularly pressure cleaning the exterior to help avoid any salt-related issues, as well as establishing a regular ‘check and re-seal’ routine for sealants if you notice signs of damage.
If you’ve got great views from your lot of land, it goes without saying that you’ll want a house that’s designed to show them off from as many rooms as possible. But for both lifestyle and comfort-of-living reasons, the floor plan of a coastal home should also allow for plenty of natural light as well as inviting sea breeze indoors, to help reduce the cost of staying cool when it’s warm ￼outside – consider things like oversized sliding doors and windows to allow for this.
Choosing a house design that has a sympathetic aesthetic to a land lot’s surrounds – in other words, so that it blends rather than blares – is important. In addition, considering one of the reasons you’re probably keen to move to the coast is to enjoy being close to nature, a house design that looks out for the environment is a natural fit, too. In a nutshell, that means designing a house with energy-efficient and sustainability features, ones that work to protect and preserve environmental resources as well lowering your energy bills at the same time.
If another reason you’re moving to a coastal community is to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, there’s a good chance that might include coast- and water-based pursuits, like bike riding, kayaking and surfing. Fun! But it also means equipment – which means you’ll need a place to stash it all. It could be a garage with assigned space or a carport with an enclosed area at the back.
The main draw to coastal living is simply being able to enjoy the outdoors. And while having plenty of wide-open spaces close to home to do just that is the obvious attraction, creating space at your place so you can do the same thing without stepping foot outside your front door will be the icing on your coastal cake.