Northern Beaches architect buyers guide


Brett - Northern Beaches

Before you start your Northern Beaches property search, there are a few things you need to consider… especially if you plan to build a new home or renovate the home you buy.

At Playoust Churcher, we’ve been designing homes for the Northern Beaches for decades. And we know the common traps that many of our clients have fallen into when buying beachside properties.

No matter the challenge, we can help you navigate it through clever design and a deep understanding that only comes from our years of experience designing on the Northern Beaches.

Playoust Churcher Managing Director Brett Churcher talks with our clients every day about Northern Beaches property purchasing decisions. He combines both his architecture and valuation qualifications to be the secret weapon every homebuyer needs.

North-facing property

Mind the view


We all want the north-facing property with a spectacular view of the ocean… but that doesn’t mean you should scrap every other home from your list to search for the holy grail.

Brett explains that when it comes to aspect and view, there are two key things to be aware of:

“North-facing is, of course, the ideal aspect for a home… but you can still look at a south-facing site. You just need to be conscious of getting enough warmth and sunlight into the house. We achieve this through different rooflines and window sizes. It all comes back to our good design philosophy.

When it comes to views, councils are very cognisant of view sharing. So even if you find the perfect location, you may not be able to build your dream home to your desired specifications. Even if the home technically complies with requirements, the council can still challenge the design to question if you have done everything you can to not obliterate the view.”

It’s not a simple, clean-cut answer. The key is to never make assumptions.

Steep site complications

Steep site complications


Steep sites are just par for the course with Northern Beaches renovations and builds.

At Playoust Churcher, we love the opportunities that a steep site brings to be innovative with design and think outside the square.

However, the steeper the site, the more the construction costs start to add up.

Moving equipment onto and around the site, additional costs for excavation, difficult access for builders… these can significantly add to your total budget.

As with aspect and view, a steep site shouldn’t rule out a property… but you do need to be aware of how the site can impact the bottom line.

Money down the drain

Money down the drain


When you are in the excitement of your Northern Beaches property search, drainage isn’t usually a consideration that is top of mind. But if the property doesn’t have an easement and you are planning to build, you could find yourself up the creek. As Brett explains:

“If the property is located on the low side of the road and doesn’t have a drainage easement, you will either need to apply for one from your downstream neighbour or look for alternative stormwater design solutions such as dispersal trenches, storage tanks and possibly charged systems.

The soil absorption capability can also complicate matters to the point where the size of the building, terraces and hard surfaces may be restricted.”

The simple solution is to engage your architect and drainage engineer early, before proceeding with the purchase.

Cost contingencies

Cost contingencies


At Playoust Churcher, we are very good at managing dream home builds to a budget. We take a practical approach that starts from our initial conversations around concept and design.

When you are working out your budget, you do need to allow for contingencies such as a sloping site or drainage issue.

Costs need to be factored on a current assessment of the site, the brief and a thorough assessment of the risks.

Research the neighbours


We aren’t recommending you ask around about whether the neighbours have loud parties – although, that’s probably not a bad idea – this is more about looking at the surrounding properties and determining how they will impact on your home and its value. Brett explains:

Research the neighbours

“I always advise our clients to look into a number of different factors when it comes to the neighbours:

1. Are the neighbouring houses renovated or not? Depending on the answer to that, are you going to be overcapitalising? How will you be impacted if they decide to renovate down the track?

2. From a design point of view, are the neighbouring houses bulky? Do their windows look into your yard restricting your privacy?

3. Are there any existing DAs for new houses or large renovations that might impact your view? Are you paying a premium now for something that may not be there in the future?

At the end of the day, we want our clients to be able to make informed decisions. We always seek to future-proof our designs so we will build contingency plans into every design… but knowing these kinds of things upfront can make a huge difference.”

Expert guidance every step of the way


We are experienced Northern Beaches architects with decades of experience designing for the beaches from Palm Beach to Manly. We combine our passion for good design with a practical approach for future-proofing our designs to partner with our clients on their dream home build.

Contact us to speak with one of our team of experienced architects to help navigate the Northern Beaches property market on the journey to your dream home.

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