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BYO House: A peek over the fence at the latest property trends on the Northern Beaches

Nervous to buy and sell in a dramatic property market, and reluctant to leave the street they love because of a house they hate; a growing number of Northern Beaches residents are choosing to knock down and rebuild.  It is a trend proving particularly strong in North Balgowlah, Seaforth and further north in Avalon, according to local homebuilding stalwarts GJ Gardner.

Contrary to expectations, knock down rebuilds have been growing during the pandemic, with very little market knock-on effect from the various stop and start lockdowns.  At least, that’s the story the family behind Northern Beaches home building stalwarts GJ Gardner tells us, and they have some fair proof to back up the claim. This will be their busiest year yet with a record busting 30-37 homes slated for knock down rebuild on the Beaches alone.

Gj Gardner is a home building business that’s operated on the Northern Beaches – now in Brookvale – for a touch over a decade. Owned by Horst and Melissa Lueckl with the whole family involved in the team, the busines has a reputation for high quality builds, flexible designs and experienced staff to make the process of building your dream home in the Sydney Northern suburbs come to life with minimal hassle. Their piece de resistance is a multi-award winning knockdown rebuild display house in Robert Street Freshwater that’s so divine the Lueckl’s move in whenever its closed to the public.

Freshwater rebuild: before shot

The property any Robert Street Freshwater before the knockdown rebuild.

Freshwater rebuild: after shot


Before backyard

Before Backyard at Freshwater.

After backyard


Project Manager and Lueckl daughter Daisy Lawler said the team had just built their 200th home since they first came together in 2011.

“We can do a knock down and full rebuild of a home on the Northern Beaches in about nine months and for around $750,000”, Daisy explains.

“We are in a very sought-after area, and there’s value in our property. So people are opting to stay in the street that they love and opt out of the home that they don’t love.”


We had a peek over the fence and see what the new home trends have become over the last 36 months in the area.

Before shot facade of a home on Monash Pde in Dee Why.
After shot facade of a home on Monash Pde in Dee Why.

New home trends

“We are seeing a distinct shift from the celebrated Hamptons facade to what can be referred to as the Palm Springs facade – this is a nod to the mid-century style that dominates the Californian desert – think Slim Aarons,” Daisy explains. Don’t worry, we googled most of those terms too.  In essence it looks like this:

Though, Daisy adds, the Hamptons façade still has a strong showing in the area and is one of their specialties.

What’s the typical home like?

“Most of our homes have been built on the Northern Beaches, with North Balgowlah, Avalon and Seaforth being our busiest hubs.  We seem to appear in ‘waves of activity’ in areas and this ebbs and flows as time goes on.  Average house size is 300 square metres which is usually a 4–5-bedroom, 3–4-bathroom home.”

Do people just pick a house out of a brochure?

“No,  we don’t do any project homes, everything we build is custom,” Daisy explains, pointing to the difference between what they work on and what the project home builds are like further out on the city fringes.

“Those builders are building on evergreen fields, which means there’s nothing there. So they can plot and play however they want. We don’t have that luxury because we’re in a built-up area. We create something bespoke for each different block of land. And we now have an amazing team of designers who can work out a bespoke interior too.”

Before shot of the facade of a property in Central Road Avalon.
After shot of the facade of a property in Central Road Avalon.

Pick any colour, so long as it is black or white…

‘So what are the trends at the moment? I mean, is everything grey?’ I ask.

“Everything is white actually! Well monochromatic, so either a white house or a black house. People are really loving either the stark contrast of a black house with white detail or the reverse.”

A black house sounds terrifying in the context of climate change, I suggest, but I’m reassured that it isn’t much of an issue if one insulates correctly – which they always do.

“We always go over and above the national standard for insulation in the roof and also in the external walls. So really, paint colour doesn’t matter.”

Other trends

Almost every house has plans for a pool and an open plan kitchen has become a non-negotiable, Daisy explains. “People are also really keen to try to fit in a butler’s pantry now too. And many like to add one big pop of colour in the front door.”

Also, solar is king. “Solar is massive, it’s particularly big at the moment with the government rebate system that’s in place. Especially if you’re getting a solar system that has batteries, you can pay it off in no time.”

But isn’t there a trades shortage?

“Because all of GJ Gardner’s tradespeople are local and work almost exclusively for us we have not had much of a shortage or delay in getting work done – but one issue has been procuring steel,” Daisy explains.

That goes back to before COVID hit and we lost a lot of homes to the bushfires and the timber stores were burned down. That, combined with government grants that encouraged construction of new builds has meant huge demand for supplies in an era for “supply chain” issues.

But GJ Gardner seems to have weathered the changes with relative ease, it’s the goldilocks level of size – not too big to be wiped out by global chaos and not too small to lose access to valuable local labour.

“We think we’ve got the balance just right.”

Check them out for yourself at https://www.gjgardner.com.au/


Article sponsored by GJ Gardner