Q and A

Bellarine Peninsula-based builder David McDonald looks at how beach houses have evolved during the past few years.

Q.  Beach housing has seen a lot of eye-catching design during the past 10 years.  What is driving this trend?

A.  I feel this trend is due to a number of different factors, including baby-boomers relocating from the sprawling home in the suburbs, and the younger generation being influenced by the sea-change factor.  People are electing to live away from the cities, commuting to work and social activities, working from home via the internet or finding new careers in the surging coastal economies.  Rather than build within the confines of a surburban block, people are building interesting, well-designed homes that use the natural aesthetics of the coastal environment.

Q.  Why do coastal/beach rather than surburban/city houses tend to lead the way in many areas of the housing innovation?

A.  Coastal living is more relaxed, so the houses tend to reflect this element, with an emphasis on leisure time and creativity not seen in the city.  Casual open-plan living, kitchen and dining zones linked to spacious, sun-filled outdoor entertaining areas, incorporating natural building materials and high-performance glazing are now at the forefront of the more creative and innovative designs.  Coastal houses have to intergrate with a wide variety of environmental factors including salt air, coastal flora and extreme weather conditions.  The absence of special restraints, so evident in the city, allows for more free-flowing, expressive designs.

Q.  How careful should we be with coastal development?

A.  Coastal housing on the whole is a reflection of our increasingly environmentally aware communities.  Natural building materials are incorporated into many new coastal homes.  These homes also retain local fauna.  They also have well-ventilated windows to help cool down the coastal home.

Coastal development has had a large impact on many towns.  Many now contain increasingly strong and vocal civic associations, and they are increasing the pressure on town planning.  The evidence of this is the stronger state and local planning controls now in force.  And should we tread warily on the coast?  Definitely yes.

Q.  What major trends to you see emerging in coastal housing during the next five years?

A.  The 5-star energy-efficient house will continue to influence coastal designs.  There will be greater integration of high-performance glass, double glazing, solar hot-water systems and modern water tanks with recycled-water systems.  There will also be modern electrical wiring, compatible simple music systems, internet zones, as well as telephone dial-up control of heating, lighting and appliances.  We will see well-planned, expressive, individual homes, integrating various manufactured external materials with timeless natural tone and timber.  These will complement each other.  Other trends will be covered timber/paved external cooking and entertainment areas.  Easy to maintain houses and gardens will be the order of the day.

Publication: Herald Sun Home
Date: January 27, 2007
Author: Andrew Brasier

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