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Updated: Sep 28, 2022

So here we are in Australia, the biggest island on earth, with some 50,000kms of coastline and 10,000 beaches. Even though we might fall short on freshwater rainfall there's no shortage of beautiful beaches and waterways.

For many of us it’s a life long dream to one day own a waterfront property, whether it be a beachfront, lakefront, riverfront or be up on a hill capturing just a little glimpse of the sparkle beyond. The allure of it’s cool breezes, inspiring views, water sports and relaxation keeps the bulk of Australia living near its shores and many of us seeking a way to further incorporate it into our everyday life.

There's no two ways about it, these places are some of the best places to call home in the entire world, but putting up a building in these environments is the work of experienced professionals. Some things to consider from the get-go:

- it is going to cost more than building on a conventional green field site

- your build is going to have greater exposure to the elements (possibly salt, wind)

- the build is generally more visible to the public eye

- the build is generally of greater financial value when (if) it comes time to sell

With these points in mind the design and construction of these building is something you want to get right the first time and having the necessary experts involved from the outset is of the utmost importance to avoid headache & costly mistakes later.

FBC Design have numerous projects undertaken on waterfront / beach front sites and are well versed in the design possibilities / constraints, the council requirements and build requirements - with good relations with a number of high quality builders . We offer inspiring design that captures the natural beauty of these places and is always balanced with well considered pragmatic functionality and day to day operation of these buildings.

We offer the below tips as a starting point, but by no means is it an exhaustive list.

If you have a project you want to discuss and need honest, experienced advice from a highly qualified team please give us a call or email and we would be privileged to assist.


Foundations: This is a big one that can be overlooked by novice designers / builders. These sites often have very specific geotechnical / structural engineering requirements and generally require piling (timber pole, steel screw pile, or concrete bored piers), the time and cost of which needs to be factored into the overall build budget / program.

Materials: You’ve got to choose the right materials in marine environments, specifically salt water ones. Exposed steel should be mininised but where necessary should be a high grade 316 marine grade stainless or galvanised steel with an epoxy paint finish. Otherwise use low maintenance / easy cleaning, non-rusting, generally raw materials to keep the building looking and performing it’s best across its lifetime. If upkeep of timbers isn't your thing there are also many timber-look aluminium products now available, that are getting better and better every year, so although not the real deal they can make for a lower maintenance alternative and still look nice when used in the right application.

Style: There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the style of these homes, however the most successful designs seem to share a common thread of capitalising on the views, relating to the environment (this can be through sympathetic form or even intentionally juxtaposing form i.e the box house), materials that are suited to the environment, outdoor space where you can enjoy the water view / access during favourable weather but also outdoor space which provides refuge when the weather isn’t favourable – the wind plays a big factor in the usability of outdoor spaces on waterfronts even during otherwise sunny days.

Glazing: Large glazing panels are great for capturing views but there’s a few things to consider before turning the entire eastern façade into a wall of glass.

- Glass is not a great thermal performer. You may need to up-spec your glass to double glazed or similar if you want to keep the heat out during summer and heat in during winter

- Glass is clear. If you can see out during the day chances are people can see in at night so be mindful and strategic in where you place windows – areas that will pick up vistas without constantly having to draw the blinds for privacy

- Glass and salt spray. There are coatings you can apply to the outside to assist with cleaning but generally try to ensure the glass can be reached for cleaning or at least be hosed down

- Framing - predominately aluminium or timber. Aluminium is generally the preferred choice for maintenance, and a commercial (chunkier) section frame is recommended for rigidity and longevity. Timber can look fantastic but there will be some added maintenance over its lifetime and it is subject to more movement (shrinkage, swelling) than aluminium.


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