Living and Renovating in Albany, WA

Known for its spectacular surroundings, historical heritage and strong community spirit, Albany is a city many renovators are proud to call home.

Stunning bay view in Albany Western Australia
ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas

Located on Western Australia’s Rainbow Coast, a little over 400km South East of Perth, the port city of Albany is small (the population was nearing 31,000 at the time of the 2011 census), but has a big heart. Originally home to the Menang Noongar people, its magnificent natural environment embraces pristine golden beaches (including national favourite, Middleton Beach) as well as four national parks. Albany’s place in Australia’s history books is assured – the first European settlers to set foot in WA disembarked here and our ANZAC soldiers sailed for Gallipoli from its port.
As you’d expect in a city of such historic significance, there are plenty of older style properties here. These include Australian Colonial, which were built from the early years of settlement until the 1890’s and are typically single-storey buildings with simple floor plans and verandahs.
Old style property in Albany Western Australia
The gold rush and rapid port expansion fuelled the building boom of the late 1890s (late Victorian era) to the early years of the 20th Century. Homes built around this time had more sophisticated floor plans and verandahs with higher and bigger roofs. Exterior details such as bargeboards, finials, bay windows, ornate gables, cresting, stucco and brickwork detail became increasingly popular too. 
The early 1900s were quiet building years as the port lost trade to Fremantle, but after 1906 activity increased again until the 1920s. Homes built at this time were similar to those of the 1890s.
There were plenty of bungalow-style homes built in the 1930s and 40s. Generally simple in style, these houses sometimes had front porches rather than verandahs and lead lighting came into vogue for windows. Asbestos sheeting was a popular building material at the time – renovators should be aware of this when considering purchasing a property from this period.

Designing for Albany

Period properties are perennially popular with renovators. You can see – and read about – some stunning examples on our website
The City of Albany also has some great explanations and examples of characteristics featured in period homes. 

Choosing the right property

Buying a property to renovate and live in yourself is quite different to renovating for profit. If you plan to do the latter, make sure you are clear about who the buyers are in your area. For example, The City of Albany says “A great place to raise a family’ and highlights the fact that in 2011, 28% of households in Albany were made up of couples with children. The city’s reputation as a safe and friendly place with good schools, and vocational and tertiary education opportunities, means it is likely to be popular with families with children of all ages. Don’t rely on desk research though – be sure to check with several real estate agents in the area to find out who their clients are and what they’re looking for. Renovating with a particular type of buyer in mind, whether it’s families, young professionals or seniors, will make it more likely you’ll achieve a good price when you come to sell.
Modern renovated kitchen with red seats and bright lighting

Designing for Albany’s Climate

Albany enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summer (generally milder than those in Perth) tempered by cooling sea breezes in the afternoon and evenings. Winters are typically, but not always, wet but mild.
According to YourHome, Albany’s mild temperate presents ‘cost-effective opportunities to achieve carbon zero or positive outcomes because (it) requires relatively simple design adjustments to achieve low or zero heating and cooling energy use.’
This is good news for renovators as it helps keep energy bills down and is even better news for the planet.

How to use less energy

YourHome says minimising heating and cooling energy use should be a primary design objective and recommends a number of ways to achieve this including:
- Analysing a property’s individual site and location to determine whether heating or cooling is the bigger priority.
- Minimising heat gain through appropriate use of windows and glazing (size, location and type should all be considered). Overuse of glazing should be avoided.
- Ensuring homes have adequate cross-ventilation and minimising solar and ambient heat gains with shading and insulation.
- Installing passive solar heating on sites with north-facing living area.
- Minimising external wall areas (especially east and west-facing).
- Using convective ventilation and heat circulation.
- Using roof spaces to create a thermal buffer zone and minimise summer heat gain (through ventilation) and winter heat loss (by sealing them).
- Using thermostat controlled fans or ventilators that can be closed.
- Installing adjustable shading to allow greater sun penetration on cooler days.
- Insulating elevated floors.
- Including ceiling fans in all living and sleeping spaces.
- Choosing light coloured roof materials.
Renovated living room with long couch and fireplace

Be fire aware

Landowners and occupiers in Albany have clear responsibilities when it comes to preventing the bushfires that can be a common occurrence in WA over the summer months. For example, The City of Albany’s fire management policy states that all properties must have a firebreak to allow unrestricted access for fighting fires. A firebreak is a strip of land three metres wide with four metres’ vertical clearance that is ploughed, cultivated, but or slashed to a maximum height of 50mm in order to prevent the outbreak or spread of fire. Overhanging trees, bushes and shrubs in the firebreak area must also be trimmed back. For more information about firebreaks including exemption criteria and how to create a building protection zone visit their website.

Rules and regulations

Local building regulations established by State Government, but local government is responsible for administering them and ensuring compliance with Australia’s Bulding Code, relevant town planning requirements and local building laws. For more information about rules, regulations and support available for those renovating in Albany, visit their website. 

Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project

If you would like to discuss options and ideas for renovating in Albany, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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