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Built on character

Built on character

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
In any building company, loyalty and respect always lead to better results. Just ask South Coast Constructions – its team supported its future managing director during his most difficult time.

Kerryn Ramsey

Content Writer

Whenever Jamie Knott talks about his company, South Coast Constructions, you can hear the pride in his voice. It’s not just because it gave him a role within the firm and a career that would eventually add up to over 20 years. It’s also not just because South Coast Constructions is an award-winning firm based in the idyllic town of Victor Harbor, South Australia. There’s another reason – Jamie considers the building company as his home and family.

And just like a family, the company stood by Jamie when he went through one of the most challenging and stressful journeys of his life.

Hard times ahead

Back in 2006 at the age of 34, Jamie had really found his feet. His career was shining as he moved up the ranks into a supervisor role at South Coast Constructions. He had three young children, and had just bought a run-down house, which was going to be rebuilt and sub-divided. But you know what they say about best laid plans.

‘I was working onsite when I got a call from my doctor,’ he recalls. ‘He said, “We think you have leukaemia; you’d better come in straight away.” My whole world just stopped.’
When the diagnosis was confirmed, Jamie knew he needed to make some hard decisions. His current house was so run-down, he moved the family to a rental and stopped the redevelopment.

‘I was in hospital for nearly two years. Apart from all the health fears and physical pain, I was also worried about keeping my job.’

As it turned out, his fear of unemployment was unfounded. Alan and Kathy did everything in their power to support him. ‘I’d become very close with Alan through work – he was a bit like a father figure to me,’ says Jamie, smiling. ‘I was overwhelmed by his loyalty while I battled leukaemia. In turn, I gave my loyalty back to him by being part of South Coast Constructions in whatever capacity he wanted.’

After two years, Jamie returned to work tentatively. His treatment had beaten the leukaemia, but it had taken a toll on his physical strength. He decided to try his hand at estimating and soon became South Coast Constructions’ estimator. He started by working just one day a week but, eight months later, he was back to full-time work. 

‘I didn’t want to sit at home doing nothing,’ Jamie says. ‘I wanted to be involved. I wanted to support the company. I wanted to give back.’

Winning it all

It’s been 17 years since Jamie was diagnosed with leukaemia and he’s certainly come a long way. Fit, healthy and energised, he’s taking South Coast Constructions to new levels.

One of the business’s major achievements was winning the 2023 HIA Australian Display Home award. This impressive display home in the seaside town of Port Elliot evokes a Scandinavian barn style, guided by the firm’s designer, Matt Parker. The expansive single-level layout stretches across the landscape, with bedrooms adorning the wings and the centralised living spaces connected under soaring, pitched ceilings and double-glazed windows.

South Coast Constructions designed and built this Scandinavian barn-style home in Port Elliot
The Ashton won the 2023 HIA Australian Display Home award
The centralised living area features soaring, pitched ceilings and double-glazed windows
Energy efficiency and solar passive design were key elements of this display home

Shapely, character-laden features, from the enormous stone walls to the French-laid travertine tiles, contrast with the dramatic kitchen island, charcoal joinery and American oak dining bench. Above left lies an incredible mezzanine level, considered by the HIA judges as one of the home’s most outstanding elements. Not part of the original design, this feature provides ‘unbelievable views’ out to sea and over the fields – although it required a fair amount of engineering to complete.

Outside, Jamie’s team selected reclaimed timber from old railway sleepers for the decking in the entertaining area.

‘This adds authenticity and originality,’ Jamie says. ‘It’s one of my favourite elements.’

With energy efficiency and solar passive design being key elements, lead designer Matt selected a concrete base, double-glazed windows and travertine tiles. ‘We insulated the daylights out of the house,’ Jamie says. ‘The sun heats the tile floor during the day, then the heat is released at night. This helps with energy bills as the house remains a constant temperature throughout the seasons.’

The mezzanine loft offers views over the surrounding landscape on the 1.2-hectare property
Reclaimed timber from old railway sleepers forms the decking outside
A charcoal island and joinery contrasts with the American oak dining bench
Character-laden features include stone, travertine tiles and floating timber stairs

One of a kind

Set on a 1.2-hectare block, the display home build took three years to complete due to favouring other projects ahead of this one. ‘Every home is unique,’ Jamie says. ‘We haven’t built the same house twice. I like the challenges and the differences of not working on the same project.’

During construction, there was no power, water or sewer on the block. ‘Originally, it was to be standalone power and water, but the cost wasn’t viable for this project, so we opted to connect to mains power and water. We had it put to the block as soon as possible. It was actually cheaper that way.’

According to Jamie, Stratco was an important partner in this project. ‘Rather than choosing a corrugated roof, we decided to use Stratco’s Hiland Tray,’ he explains. 

This is a modern architectural roofing and walling profile with concealed fasteners, providing a clean finish with smooth, uncluttered lines. To complete the look, the designer added the moody Monument in matt black from Colorbond for real impact.

Jamie decided to call this impressive house ‘Ashton’, after his first grandson. But he now has a dilemma. His first granddaughter, Darcy, is expecting the next house to be named after her. 

‘I might be able to do the Darcy one day,’ he says.

'We haven’t built the same house twice. I like the differences [that come from] not working on the same project’
‘Rather than choosing a corrugated roof, we opted for Stratco’s Hiland Tray’

The Barn at a glance


South Coast Constructions


Matt Parker


Clipsal by Schneider Electric


Port Elliot, South Australia


2023 HIA Australian Display Home


First published on 4 August 2023

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