Building a dream family home in 13 weeks? One couple did just that with this beachside beauty…


Who lives here: Photographer and stay-at-home mum, Hannah Daish; her husband, Clyde, a builder; their children Charli, 11; Jesse, 9; Ryder, 7; and Carter, 2; plus Tinkerbell the cat.

Style of home: A modern Australian five-bedroom beach house in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Timeline: The renovation took 13 weeks to complete.

Completely renovating your family home by gutting the existing dwelling and adding another floor, all within a 12-week deadline. Impossible? Not according to Hannah and Clyde Daish. The couple did all this with the creation of their dream home in the Northern Beaches suburb of Narrabeen.

Hannah and Clyde purchased the house, originally a timber-framed fibro cottage, in 2009. The pair could see the cottage’s potential but the attraction was more the location: smack bang in the middle of the street with the beach at one end and the lake at the other, perfect for their family of then five. They didn’t feel the need to start the renovation straightaway, though. “We purchased the home with a vision to renovate or knock it down after three years,” says Hannah. “Three years turned into six! We discussed and worked on ideas for five years whilst living in the original house before settling on the final design.”

A huge advantage for the family is that Clyde is a builder, so he could consider every detail in the planning stage. “Strict planning was essential as we were staying with family for the 12-week build and did not want to overstay our welcome,” says Clyde. Attention to detail was the key to sticking to the timeline and budget. All materials and products were ordered well ahead of time so Hannah and Clyde didn’t encounter any unwanted delays. “The double-glazed windows were ordered from overseas six months in advance; the structural steel frame was two months; the rough sawn ply cladding one month and all materials arrived on site exactly when needed,” says Clyde. “The planning and quick ‘on-the-fly’ detail resolution were key to the speed of construction.”

Hoping to echo the beachy feel of the original cottage, the pair decided to keep the ground level floorplan virtually the same with three bedrooms, kitchen, dining and living areas. However, with a growing family to consider (Hannah was pregnant with baby Carter), Hannah and Clyde knew the only way was up so a top-floor extension with a parents’ retreat and an additional bedroom was included in the renovation. “Now, we have a place to escape the madness downstairs and chill,” says Hannah.

Downstairs, the kitchen is at the heart of the home connecting to both living areas. It features an especially large American oak kitchen island benchtop at nearly five metres long, built by joiner and furniture designers Mr & Mrs White who also crafted many other timber features throughout the home, from the living area coffee table to the bed in the master bedroom. “Nathan [from Mr & Mrs White] was great at transforming basic design briefs into quality joinery to exact dimensions,” says Clyde. Using the local brand’s signature raw and chunky timber pieces helped capture the contemporary coastal lifestyle the family love.

Sticking with a natural, authentic and pared-back design style, Hannah wanted the finishes in the home to be simple and streamlined with a raw feel. For the bathrooms, a less-is-more approach was applied with concrete surfaces in each space instead of tiles. “We were after a raw and clean feel throughout the house,” says Hannah. “We managed to eliminate all tiles from the house, and kept the bathrooms open and easy to maintain.”

With four kids and a cat, having different open-plan zones throughout was also an important factor for Hannah and Clyde. The home’s flowing design allows each family member to have space to do their own thing, yet still be linked to what’s happening in other areas of the home.

The kitchen, dining and living areas reflect this design decision and have a quintessentially Australian indoors-outdoors feel. Sliding doors on either side of the back living space open up to a grass area on one side with a courtyard on the other side connecting to the breakfast bar area off the kitchen. “We open up the servery window and large sliders early as the sun comes in strong in the morning,” says Hannah. “Breakfast is usually served outside.”

The sliding doors were one of the very few things that took a little longer than expected, despite Clyde’s detailed planning.  Other delays were mainly due to slight design changes part way through the build. “I ignored parts of the existing building that I thought could remain untouched but I was dreaming,” says Clyde. However, these challenges didn’t affect the timeline too much with the family moving back into the home in July 2015, allowing a few months to settle in for the warmer months of spring, so they were ready to resume their active outdoor lifestyle.

For Hannah and Clyde, having their family home situated in their ideal location with mornings spent at the beach then relaxing in the afternoon sun on the back deck is an everyday dream. “In the summer, ending the day with a paddleboard session on the lake to watch the sun go down is a real treat!” says Hannah. 

Hannah & Clyde’s tips for a successful renovation:

+ Plan everything thoughtfully and carefully before starting.

+ Have the plans, layout and design details drawn up as accurately as possible. A sketch of every detail helps.

+ Create a detailed program that is discussed and consulted with the team with quotes agreed upon.

+ Have a schedule of all materials that can be called in at three stages to eliminate time wasted on last-minute material runs. Lock in and schedule critical items such as windows, steel, joinery and glass earlier than anticipated.

+ Try to eliminate ‘design as you go’ thinking where possible. This holds up progress and can add to costs.

+ The more familiar you are with the process, the more planned and organised you can be, and the quicker and better the outcome will be.

Take a video tour of the home here, thanks to Toyota Prius v:

For more info about Clyde’s company, visit

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