Building (Part 1)
List My Property
Waterfront Building (Part 1)
 
Interview with John Gower:
 
John Gower is the founder and principal designer of Vancouver-based BC Mountain Homes and John Gower Design Ltd.. His office offers a range of design services from carefully crafted, modestly sized stock home plans, which can be modified to suit any client or site condition, to full custom design solutions. More info below.
 
1. What would be, in your opinion, the attributes of the perfect waterfront  building site?

BC is blessed with an unsurpassed variety of shoreline landscapes, from the gently pastoral to the wildly rugged. As a designer of rural homes I am most often approached by my clients after they have purchased their lot, and as they embark upon the exciting process of creating a home design together. When we begin working together prior to the purchase of the property, there are (setting aside the absolutely pivotal issue of affordability for the moment) a number of characteristics we look for, which, if all are found together, would constitute an ideal site.

squiresmedWhether high or low bank waterfront, the first characteristic should be a good sense of connection with the water. This is why we're here, after all, and to be obscured from the water by dense tree cover in a way defeats the purpose.

• From this it follows that we would also look for a view - whether  an intimate, close-in view of a nearby point or islet, or a long view of open water and distant mountains.

    • Ideally, the shoreline would run approximately east-west and the lot would have a southern aspect - perfect for passive solar heating and year-round comfort.
  • We would hope to find a degree of privacy from immediate neighbours. This is a function partially of lot size, but can also be achieved by topography or vegetation.
  • We would want the lot to have an adequate amount of terrain suitable for a septic system, without having to resort to an expensive treatment plant or disposal field, and some way to get building materials and equipment onto the site without resorting to a helicopter.

All of the above are important attributes; however, as a home designer I am also looking for something else: what I call a strong spirit of place. A site with a strong spirit of place is unique. As in a Japanese garden, there is a harmony between the parts and a grace to how they occur together. It is beautiful, has distinctive features, whether trees, rock outcrops, a stream, natural vegetation and it inspires a strong architectural response.

2. What are some of the important aspects to consider when planning the placement of a house on a building site?

Once you have found that unique place, it deserves a special design response. Ideally, the home should be designed to be in sync with the spirit of place, and take advantage of the natural gifts the lot has to offer. One way to preserve these beautiful and unique features is by building in the least special and least attractive location on the lot.

Imagine looking at your home from the water. If your home will be vacant for long periods and beach access is easy, you might not want to make your home an appealing target for trespassers, and thus might consider moving it back from the water's edge.

You cannot control public use of the area below the high water line. Oyster and clam harvesters, recreational boaters and even hikers have legal access to this area so make sure your privacy is protected.
 
Consider your view. If you have a water view lot, investigate the codes in your neighbourhood to find out about future development. Is it possible that a multi-level apartment could be slated for construction in front of your home? Look at the trees on the properties located in front of your lot. In ten years or so, could these trees obscure your view? Is the forested ridge on the island across the straight a designated park or privately held land slated for logging? 

  

John Gower is the founder and principal designer of Vancouver-based BC Mountain Homes and John Gower Design Ltd.. His office offers a range of design services from carefully crafted, modestly sized stock home plans, which can be modified to suit any client or site condition, to full custom design solutions.

johnpic1His homes can be found throughout the BC South Coast and Islands, the BC Interior, Southern Alberta, and in many locations throughout the USA and overseas. See their comprehensive Web site http://johngowerdesign.com to peruse a collection of unique cottage and home plans, read up on the details of rural property development or explore the option of having John Gower Design work with you to create a custom design that will truly "fit you beautifully."
  

Featured Waterfront Realtor

Susan Forrest
Team Susan Forrest (Royal LePage Parksville Qualicum Realty Ltd.)

Susan has lived in the Oceanside area (Parksville/Qualicum/Nanaimo) since 1975 and has been a resident of Nanoose Bay since 2002. Susan started her Real Estate career in 2001 after coming from a (...)

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