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Coastal Castle

A beachside property view is a luxury of its own. Simi West speaks with Graeme Alexander, founder and owner of Graeme Alexander Homes about the pros and cons of building a coastal property, and how to make the most of the bountiful views when living by the seaside.

Images courtesy of Graeme Alexander Homes

There are many advantages to building your very own coastal kingdom. For the project pictured, Graeme Alexander Homes received a brief to make the most of the site and views, with a pitched roof and a long workshop underneath. The owners – a retired couple – had previously lived on a large farm and had recently downsized, so ensuring the design maximised space was very important. The team at Graeme Alexander Homes took full advantage of the sloping block and the gorgeous views over the Mornington township, harbour and bay to produce this stunning project that the owners will enjoy for years to come.


Living near the beach offers a range of health benefits. The natural setting of the beach is an excellent motivator for regular exercise. Even an activity as simple as going for a run or a stroll along the beach improves your mental and physical health. While the sound of waves has proved to have a natural calming effect on the mind and the body, the scent of saltwater also has many beneficial health properties. Salt is a natural substance with antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties which naturally cleanses toxins from the body, effectively strengthening your immune system, so it’s no surprise that the benefits are exponential.


Many builders and architects know the importance of a view, which is why so many coastal homes feature large windows. “You can enjoy the beach or harbour lifestyle by just being part of the sea environment and basking in all that it brings,” Alexander explains. “Larger windows, sun protection and suspended outdoor fans create a unique opportunity to create a more relaxed, informal home.” Future coastal homeowners should also keep their neighbours in mind, Alexander says. “The skill is not to design too high. You will always get a better view by going higher, but you don’t really need to do that as it creates disconnect with your site. It is also more difficult to get approved, as neighbours view lines need to be protected,” Alexander adds.


Coastal properties have significant benefits but building close to the sea also comes with its challenges. “These [sites] are often smaller, often sloping and more crowded,” Alexander says. “Designing and building your dream seaside home can be made simple, if you choose the right people to work with. Building in all locations has its different challenges and not all seaside sites are the same.” When building your dream home near the beach, it is important to be cognisant of the rules and regulations pertaining to building. “All seaside locations are sensitive areas, there are many rules and guidelines that are specific to location, and council control can often take time,” Alexander says. If you are building or renovating a beachside property, researching the area is imperative. This will not only help plan your budget but will also give you an idea of what kinds of tradespeople you need to complete the job and their future availabilities. Being aware of the accessibility of the site is also important, as well as council regulations you will need to adhere to, such as building height and site coverage.


When orientating a coastal home, Alexander believes there is often a need for two outdoor entertaining areas. “One is directly in the view and the other is protected by the home, so transparency through the home to the view is paramount,” he says. Having your home in a coastal location can also mean that your home will deal with some extreme wind conditions. Coastal homes are frequently exposed to harsh elements like excessive sunlight, strong winds and saltwater corrosion. “As the view is facing the sea, it creates wind and sun problems,” Alexander says. Certain types of materials will withstand the unique conditions of a home that is situated by the sea. “Simple brick, render, rock, aluminium etc are maintenance free but on their own aren’t aesthetically pleasing,” Alexander says. “Allowing some timber, such as a post can help soften these harder finishes,” he adds. There are also some practical inclusions to keep in mind, as Alexander explains. “Depending on floor lines, for example if the majority of the living is upstairs to gain view lines, then all outdoor areas often need to be suspended, such as decks and landings with additional sun protection, like eaves or pergolas.”


Outdoor showers and mudrooms are also excellent practical inclusions when designing your coastal home, as Alexander explains. “A mudroom or, in a beach side home, a wet room, is often situated near the laundry that may have an outdoor shower nearby, so you can come home from the beach and drop all wet, salty items before entering the main house. Having the kitchen serving directly onto an outdoor space can eliminate the need for an alfresco kitchen. Outdoor showers and other practical beach lifestyle additions can help with design interest.” Alexander adds.

There will always be difficulties to building by the ocean, but the stunning view and beach lifestyle outweigh the limitations. If you have meticulously checked your local regulations and are aware of the extra maintenance that will need to be performed to keep your coastal kingdom in prime condition, then you can be sure you are on your way to a brilliant future in your new home, situated by the beautiful seaside.

Images courtesy of Graeme Alexander Homes

Images courtesy of Graeme Alexander Homes