Project Overview

When you’re developing a narrow block design it’s important to achieve the maximum amount of client ‘wants’ as possible. In this Swanbourne residence we had a real challenge put forward as the home was on 2 corners with only one common boundary to a neighbouring home under construction. We considered all the factors during the client design brief to give us the best opportunity to get the home design right.

This was a brand new subdivision and while most blocks were vacant, the (only) adjoining neighbour had already begun construction on their home which revealed they were building a large boundary parapet wall 2 stories high and extending back a long way along the boundary. This gave us an opportunity to create a design that nestled into the block taking advantage of the parapet wall location instead of making that boundary wall an unattractive sight.

Clients Wishlist

General Notes;

  • Overall building budget including site costs under $400,000 (excludes pool and finishing costs like carpets, main floor coverings etc…)
  • Views to the front of the home (aerial shot using NearMap)


  • Block is elevated from front street level with limestone retaining and steps leading up to proposed front entry/decking area
  • Elevation Style; Client likes more modern elevation/style than contemporary or traditional. Would prefer flat roof if budget allows, if not pitched roof is OK.
  • Also, the home should incorporate some splashes of nice bright colours both inside and out – not all neutrals or white. IE: A red entry door would be nice as a colour statement.
  • Green Smart – Where possible get as good a rating without over the top costs. May be difficult with the pool on the western side – will need some cover solutions for any larger windows looking over the pool.
  • Grey water ready, solar panels ready
  • Definitely no void areas to the first floor!
  • Cost efficient design where possible.
  • Neighbouring home has a large parapet boundary wall (refer above image)

Ground Floor

  • 31c ceiling heights
  • Bed 1 – 3.5×3.5 minimum with large 2.5×2.0m WIR or with robe area behind bed head wall
  • Ensuite  off Bed 1 – large shower area and double vanity (no bath required)
  • Powder Room with access from Ensuite and main areas
  • Open plan living areas – Kitchen/Meals/Family. Living areas to front of house with Alfresco and deck area. Incorporate a fireplace to the open plan living – will consider this if it comes within budget.
  • Theatre or second ground floor living area NOT required.
  • Sliding doors between Family/Alfresco
  • Swimming pool to the western side of the block (minimum internal dimensions are 3.5×5.5). Note: There is retaining on the western boundary so survey is required to see extent of backfill behind retaining which may increase pool offset. Discuss after survey received.
  • Study/Bedroom for guest. Note; no ensuite or bathroom required.
  • Laundry area – functional but doesn’t have to be huge. Better to have additional storage space than bench space.
  • Desk nooks to Living/Kitchen – enough room for 2 x PC’s. Note: can be 2 separate nooks if design allows.
  • Double garage with storage area 3.0×2.0
  • Trampoline area required with grass underneath.
  • Covered portico which may be incorporated with the alfresco/decking area
  • Storage area under stairwell stairs for cellar (not sunken)
  • Internal Balustrade to be brick with MDF capping
  • External Balustrade to be powdercoated aluminium with glass infill panels.

First Floor

  • 30c ceiling heights
  • 2 bedrooms with double door robes. Min size 3.0×3.0
  • Activity area at least 5.0×4.0
  • Balcony to front elevation off Activity area at least 4.0×4.0. This will be used to entertain guests on occasions and needs to be big enough for sitting area/small BBQ area (note; will be free standing BBQ, not built in).
  • Bathroom with 1650 bath, single vanity and std shower
  • Separate WC (NOT powder room)
  • First floor linen to be at least 3.0×2.0 for storage.

Additional notes;

Client currently has 3 good storage/linen areas (2.0×3.0) and would like similar in new design.


We were pretty happy with the way the first concept came together and when we presented the concept to the clients, they loved it! Unfortunately, after some consideration they decided that the home was too big as it was the same size as their current home and they really wanted a smaller home to reduce cleaning time and clutter (or filling up with junk just because they had the room – as they put it).

So we sat down and discussed some other options and ways we could revise the home design to really achieve what they were looking for.

When we presented the revised plan to the clients, BINGO – we’d done it. It addressed their main concern of overall home size and we also brought the study/office downstairs making the transfer of books etc.. from the garage to the home office much easier.

The home captures the important views to the front with the main living areas all having views both upstairs and down. The swimming pool is a central feature of the home and can be seen from most areas. We’ve achieved fantastic cross ventilation for solar passive design as well as protecting the western elevations with screening and cover.

The front style of the home also creates a cube effect which the client loved. We minimised costs with canti-levering the projections by adding piers beneath and setting them back slightly and suggested the used of darker colours to make the white cube more pronounced.

More important than anything we achieved, the clients are absolutely rapt with the custom home design as it meets their design brief fully.

So how did we go with the building budget I hear you ask? Well the building prices were really competitive and actually quite close in price compared to some of our other jobs. The prices submitted were $361,642, $386,780 and $382,255.

Swanbourne 6