Staley house, Collaroy


Ulrika Saar, of
Peter Stutchbury Architecture

Jennifer and Russell Staley

This is the second house that John and the Bellevarde team have built for us.

We find working with them a truly collaborative process. Right from the beginning it was a tight team of architect (Peter and Ulrika), builder (Mike, Lloyd and John) and client. The building team didn't change through the whole project. 

On a weekly basis, the team would review every aspect of the build—the design as it unfolded, the timings, the options, the costs, the upcoming challenges, everything—then we would have full discussion and make our decisions. All of us shared a passion for building our house as well as it could be done. Everyone contributed and we all learned from each other.

We have taken up John’s offer to provide regular inspections and maintenance through the Bellevarde Maintenance division. It is perfect for us because they built the house, they love it and they understand every aspect of operating and maintaining it.

A good example: In our first summer we realized we needed to add an awning over a north-facing window. The team designed a folded plate awning that is perfectly in keeping with the overall design of the house. Matt had it fabricated, painted and installed while we were overseas.

One final thing: John and his team are all well-disciplined cost and construction managers. Everything is thought through, laid out clearly and in detail, so that wise and informed decisions can be made in good time.

And should Bellevarde make a mistake, they raise the issue and pay for it. No questions asked. 

We just love our home—and we obviously enjoyed the construction experience, because with John and Mike and the Bellevarde guys, we are about to embark on building a holiday house on the North Coast.

Ulrika Saar, of
Peter Stutchbury Architecture

One of the joys of building the house was the collaboration between us all, and the mutual respect for each other’s skills.

This was important, as the location offered great design opportunities along with significant challenges. We wanted to create something beautiful—a response to the landscape and the setting, which would also perfectly suit the lifestyles of Russell, Jennifer and their family.

Together we were committed to the creation of something out of the ordinary, which would stand the test of time in a coastal environment.

The most striking element is the zinc-clad roof, which starts at ground level on the southern and western sides, encapsulating the ground and upper floors. It is visually dramatic, and orientates the house towards the superb northerly views of Collaroy Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The roof gives the house privacy and shelter against the cold southerly winds as well as the hot westerly sun, while allowing natural ventilation throughout.

From a visual perspective, we wanted the roof to appear both elegant and effortless. The shape is part of a sine curve, and the leading edge is free from any structure tying it down, despite potentially powerful and damaging winds. The engineer, Max Irvine, was heavily involved from the conceptual stage with all the structural challenges. As soon as we had approval to proceed with the design, Bellevarde was closely involved to ensure that build ability, timing and costs were met. It required all of us to collaborate and to gain a deep understanding of the design, engineering and construction trials as they evolved. 

Mike Faulks, the site foreman, and John always brought any issues to our attention. Apart from the weekly site meetings, we spent a lot of time with them resolving details and problems as they occurred. Their attention to detail was wonderful. Together with Lloyd, the site administrator who facilitated the flow of information between the parties, the Bellevarde team was fabulous to work with.

Jennifer and Russell’s involvement was essential. Throughout, they remained open-minded, thoughtful and adventurous—pushing us to ensure their home combined practicality with outstanding style and quality.

It was a wonderful experience to work as a team to achieve an outstanding outcome—and for Peter and me, highly rewarding.

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