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A Unique Blend of Textures

Posted by Paul Ackling 14th Jul 2014

North Curl Curl is a wonderful Northern Beaches location and this particular block with a wide frontage, northerly rear aspect and ocean/city skyline views, is truly unique.

This blog post is an account of the journey taken by our client and also some of the particular inclusions of the finished home that make it so special. These homeowners had started planning their new build some 5 years ago after buying a “knock down” on the headland in North Curl Curl late in 2009. They hired the services of an architect, a family friend, who had recently completed his own impressive build. The design phase was exciting with all of their ideas and more being taken on board – the result was a large 3 storey home with a 4th storey roof terrace. Unfortunately, the initial excitement proved premature as builder quotes came in way higher than anticipated and the local council rejected the initial plans.


It was back to the drawing board with the architect whereby a design that was smaller in scale and 100% Council compliant was submitted and subsequently passed. By now it was the end of 2011, and even though approval was through, a new round of builder quotes were received with the disappointing result of being still beyond the client’s budget. Both considerable time and money had been invested into what appeared a fruitless outcome and the owners gave serious consideration to building a project home, as a viable alternative, and even selling the block with council plans approved.

As a last attempt at trying to build using their approved plans, the homeowner was attracted to a Peninsula Homes advertisement “we can use your plans and build at a fixed price” and gave us a call on the 14th of August, 2012. We chatted about what we could do and then set up a meeting to discuss their options. We talked through a wide range of possibilities and then settled on the following brief as the best way forward.


The objective of the proposal was to reign in the build cost of their project while still using the core features of the existing plans.

A significant reduction in the cost of materials was achieved by replacing what was vastly a concrete structure to a lighter weight alternative, being timber framing and masonry fibre cement cladding. Only the eastern wall of the building was constructed using steel posts and double brick.

The most important consideration when trying to reduce the cost on a project is that the home retains it original character and soul. Our client’s love of various textures and exposed structural elements dictated that these aspects must be retained as much as possible. Our task was to incorporate these elements in a stylish, practical and cost effective way.

To best achieve this brief, we set a workable budget with the client and set about redesigning the home and building up a list of specifications that were important to them.

The main focus of the re-design works were:

  • reduce the lower ground floor area to save on excavation
  • remove the roof top terrace
  • reconfigure the floor plan to limit wasted space
  • create separate living areas that could be closed off when required
  • move the lift from the centre of the home so that is was not a focal point
  • review all windows to reduce sizes and simplify specifications
  • incorporate the structural elements into the design to provide cost effective style

The ensuing design work took 12 weeks to complete before a modified submission was lodged with council. The changes to plans and specifications resulted in an approximate 40% reduction in build costs!


Construction works commenced in March 2013 and were completed on time for the client to move in during April 2014. The finished home reflects the client’s desire to incorporate some industrial style, while still maintaining clean modern lines and inclusions. These industrial finish ideas needed to be carefully balanced with simple functionalities so that costs were kept in check and so that the finished home had the expected level of refinement one would expect. Some of the key finishes used that have provided this home with such unique style are:

Recycled Bricks From an Old Warehouse Building

Originally, these were only to be used for the eastern external walls of the home. However, the clients showed great faith in us when we put forward the idea of using these bricks in the stairwell. The bricks added warmth and texture to each level of the home and the end result is stunning. Our clients requested during the build that the featured brickwork be extended into their master bedroom, also yielding impressive results.

Recycled Barn Oak Timber

This material was used to create feature points throughout the home adding an authentic, industrial feel. These timbers were incorporated into custom made steel doors. One set of doors opens from the main bedroom to the brick stairwell and this maximises views from the kitchen as well as connecting areas with additional natural light and air flow. The second door closes off the entry hallway and the rumpus room. This door, a magnificent 2.4m x 2.4m structure, is not only functional in separating the rooms but when open is a wonderful talking point to have in the entry of the home. To tie these two elements together, this oak timber was also used on the fireplace/TV unit, stairwell walls and posts.

Polished Concrete

Polished concrete was used throughout the main ground floor level. The structural slab was given a light grind to smooth the finish and also to bring out small areas of aggregate/stone. The rear alfresco area and entry porch & steps are also polished concrete which creates a seamless indoor/outdoor transition.

Concrete Benchtop

The owners first preference for their kitchen island benchtop material was concrete. As their kitchen is located on the top floor of the timber framed home, a poured institute, solid concrete benchtop was not a workable option due to its extreme weight. We were required to think outside the square to achieve this desired result. This lead us to a Western Australian company that manufactures fibre reinforced concrete benchtops. The end result is a 100mm thick concrete benchtop with an integrated double concrete sink. It is certainly an authentic result and the owners love it.

Green Home

Sustainability and running costs were also a large consideration for this home. A 19 panel, 5kw solar electricity system was installed, which included monitoring applications that will be used to set the house up to run to optimal efficiency.
The polished concrete slab was fitted with heating elements to provide warmth that will radiate up into the first floor area. This heating system was divided into 6 zones to allow maximum usability and energy efficiency.

To keep this wonderful radiant warmth inside, earthwool insulation batts were used throughout the home. They were fitted to all external and internal walls as well as ground floor and first floor ceilings. The underside of the heated concrete slab was also insulated with 50mm silversided polystyrene.

Cooling the home during the summer months will be quite literally a breeze. Extensive use of large louvre windows and sliding doors to the front and rear will provide maximum cross-flow ventilation. Timber sun awnings were used on the northern facade to shade the windows from the high summer sun. A high efficiency, automatic ventilation fan was also installed to dissipate any heat build up in the roof frame cavity.

All of our homes are greatly satisfying for our team to build as they all carry a unique blend of the client’s tastes and desires; this project even more so as we were able to effectively turn things around for the client. Taking them from where the project was in doubt of going ahead to seeing many of their dreams realised was a wonderful experience for all of us. The coming years will see this home really settle into its own skin and with the textures and materials used, it will only get better and more appealing with age.


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