Remodeling and Home Design Remodeling and Home Design Remodeling and Home Design Remodeling and Home Design Remodeling and Home Design Walter Powell in Halfmoon Bay, BC on Houzz Walter Powell in Halfmoon Bay, BC on Houzz

By Walter Powell, MAIBC


The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia is a somehwat secret paradise of beautiful properties so close to Vancouver that you can be downtown in about an hour.

If you are looking for a fabulous property, with privacy, spectacular views of the ocean and incredible sunsets then you should hop the ferry at Horshoe Bay for a 40 minute ride to the Sunshine Coast and explore the opportunities on your doorstep.

What you will find are beautiful homes, family retreats and an abundance of amazing building lots available for you to build your family dream home, cottage or retirement paradise.

There are building lots on the ocean with rocky or sandy beaches, there are building lots in the forest with amazing sunshine filtering through giant cedars, there are building lots high up on rocky cliffs with views of the ocean and the setting sun, there are building lots with views of snow capped mountains and pristine lakes, there are builging lots in hidden coves and secret waterways, there are building lots in wild flower meadows with miles of trails and there are building lots in remote, secluded areas only accessible by boat, not to mention private islands for that family retreat like no where eles in the world.

There are hundreds of magical places to build, whether your idea of paradise is perched on a rocky cliff with a fabulous ocean view and amazing sunsets or tucked away on a private island, secret cove or inland lake with a sandy beach and a private dock.

Once you start looking for that perfect place to build your dream you will find that these lots do not look the same as lots you find in the city. To the untrained eye, some of the most beautiful lots look raw and rugged and even intimidating. Rocky outcrops, giant trees, cliffs, bluffs, and tricky access can appear quite daunting and there may seem to be numberous obstacles to build anything.

The real secret is that often what seem to be difficulties actually offer incredible opportunities for interesting access, better views and creative building options that result in unique homes on spectacular sites.

To the experienced designer there are many ways to take advantage of natural site features and work with them to create a home that exceeds the client's dreams without breaking their budget. And the coast has many expert builders that can build anything you can imagine and a few things that you haven't even dreamed were possible.

Narrow Access and Steep Slope:

One example is the following project that at first glance may appear to be pretty much impossible to build on. The site had a long and extremely narrow access which opened up to a rocky bluff oriented at a strange angle to the view.

The challenge was how to access the site from a very long narrow entry and where to build on it with just a rocky bluff and a 250 foot drop off to the ocean below.

Image of Site Plan

Site plan for Cliff House.

The Solution:

The secret is to take advantage of the unique site features and see them as opportunities rather than obstacles. In this case we used the long narrow entry to create an interesting driveway that allows for landscaping to shield the home and create a very private residence.

With some simple blasting to knock the top off the little bluff, we then used some of the rock for landscaping and the rest to level a site area oriented to the view. It then became pretty simple to step the house down the cliff taking advantage of the natural rock.

The resulting project provides a landscaped private entry, spectacular, sunset facing, views of the ocean from every room in the house, large covered decks, patio areas and a private garden.

Cliff House Under Construction

This simple solution takes the site from difficult to distinctive and provides the owner with a unique home that is a comfort to family and friends and a haven from the city of Vancouver, only an hour away.

See more pictures of this project at


Call me, let's talk about your project.

Walter Powell Architect AIBC