A Builder’s Guide to Bringing Your Coastal Dream to Life
When it comes to creating a home that complements a coastal lifestyle, it pays to consult an expert. We spoke with Jeremy Magee, director and co-founder of Eco-Essence Homes, who pride themselves on building eco-friendly, modern and affordable houses, for some firsthand industry tips and insights on how to bring your coastal dream home to life.
The story behind Eco-Essence Homes:
We [Magee and his business partner Wayne Kelly] started Eco-Essence Homes five years ago. Eco-Essence Homes was brought about from a need to give people a choice to live in a home that was designed and orientated correctly. It’s all to do with slipping into its environment properly so it has the right orientation for winter sun, keeps summer sun out (because of the climate we live in) and to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Coastal living defined:
A common theme among most of our clients seeking a coastal style home is that they want to blend the indoors/outdoors, so the theme will flow from the inside of the home to the outside of the home. They also want some really strong characteristics of a quintessential beach house. It’s also important to all our clients that they are able to select the right products to create the right kind of beach home look.
I think people tend to be attracted to coastal-style homes because of the relaxation, to be honest. I think when they go home, home is actually home. It’s a peaceful calm place. They link that with the feeling you get when you go on holidays. Therefore if their home is like a holiday, they are more inclined to be happy across their life. I think that’s the link and what pushes people to want something more than what’s normal.
For many Australians, building a beachside home is the great Australian dream. Eco Essence Homes brought this dream to life with their Australian take on a Pacific Island-style bungalow.
Coastal home essentials:
One, orientation is paramount in a coastal style home. You’ll always look at the breeze for good cross-flow ventilation. That way you’ll always get cooling breezes moving through your home. That’s a big part of an essential beach house.
Two, it has to be aesthetically pleasing. So it’s important they look right. This is done through the use of materials like Scyon™ Linea™ boards and other low maintenance products. That way, clients don’t require a lot of maintenance and upkeep for their homes.
These are the two key principles that come up, time and time again, and that we get asked for by every single client.
In terms of building materials for coastal homes, we use a lot of Scyon Linea. We also use a lot of James Hardie Easylap™ panel and, really, the whole range of the James Hardie fibre cement products. It depends on the house and the type of look the client wants. Linea is extremely popular in a beach environment because it is the quintessential beach house look.
Resistant to moisture damage Scyon Linea gives this home the classic weatherboard look without the upkeep of timber weatherboard.
The benefits of these building materials:
Maintenance is a big plus, as is the lifespan of the product. That’s probably the two key factors that we find, being fibre cement composite, we don’t have any long-term maintenance issues with these materials.
It also doesn’t have a heat sink in it like bricks do. Bricks have a lot of embodied energy and they hold a lot of heat from the sun, so that heat radiates back into your home, whereas the fibre cement products won’t do that. They actually work against the heat load and help the effectiveness of your home.
The ultimate Eco-Essence coastal home:
I think for the ultimate coastal home we would bend the rules and turn it right upside down. We would have an internal garden in the middle of the house and we would have an external bathroom with no roof on it. That would be a good start. We do have one house we designed that we are building very shortly that is going to have that. The client came in and said, ‘Yes I want it, let’s do it’. So that house is a true expression of Eco-Essence Homes, and who we are.
It would also have lots of operable spaces. For example, the whole wall of your house should be able to disengage. So if the whole wall is removed you can sit on a couch and not be sure whether you are inside or outside, because you’re next to your garden in the middle of the house!
An open plain design with plenty of natural light makes this beachside home a calming, tranquil space to live by the sea.
As a builder, my advice to anyone considering building a coastal style home would be that customers can afford to ask for more and to not just settle for what they are shown on a piece of paper. They don’t have to say, ‘Hey, I am happy to have that home’. Ask the right questions – about heat loading, about thermal mass, about cross ventilation, about winter sunlight into your house; ask about all of those things.
I honestly think the best starting point for clients is to ask more questions about these things of your builder. Then you’ll get an idea of how good your home actually is. They are the important things in the long term. Are you going to be comfortable in your home in summer? Are you going to have high energy bills? Or high water usage? That’s all stuff that stays with you for the life of the home.