Winter-proof your waterside home

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

Well-maintained waterfront homes have for centuries been the envy of admiring passersby.

A newly-acquired interest in rowing has enabled me to view magnificent waterside properties from water, as opposed to on land, and has highlighted the beauty of good winter maintenance programmes.

World-class waterfront homes

Impeccably maintained waterfront properties along the canals and yacht basin across Table Bay at the V&A Waterfront create an impressive viewing. They reflect the efficiency of maintenance committees appointed by owners through a body corporate of sectional title units. Peter Womersley of Ronnie Matthews Estates in Camps Bay says: “Each apartment complex is managed by a body corporate that is appointed by members and maintenance both short- and long-term, is paid out of levies collected.” He says the V&A is a world-class environment that is kept in pristine condition by an army of maintenance people. “What is left is for each owner, is to take care of their own section including balconies, which in winter can cause irritation.” Although most apartments have store-rooms, he says outdoor furniture is usually chosen to withstand the Cape’s winter months.

Rising tides on river edges

Great demands are also made on maintenance budgets to keep southern Cape coastal and river-frontage areas free of damp and mould during wet winter months. The low maintenance building style that is often seen in coastal towns, although criticised by architects for lacking aesthetic value, seems motivated by a practical approach to short, seasonal stays.

The efforts, however of many an owner and handyman perched on top of roofs and boathouses was witnessed while floating along 35km of pristine Breede River frontage. All-year maintenance at tidal locations was highlighted when anglers and boaters gained access to the river from all points around the Witsand River mouth, and en route to the country village of Malgas.

Residents here make no secret of the fact that jetties, decks and porches are soon put to the test when, in extreme conditions, rising tides take large volumes of debris and mud downriver at rapid speeds. Heavy wind and rain also necessitate consistent maintenance of outside storage structures, which are usually positioned in low-lying areas to allow access to boating equipment.


Minimise flood damage by checking that outdoor enclosures, such as gates, fences and garage doors, are in working order. Check mechanisms of internal doors located close to external water connections near gutters and drains. Ensure that all electrical equipment and outlets are safely covered, and that that dry storage space is available. These steps are especially important in terms of your building and property insurance policies.

Waterside residents the world over agree that winter maintenance is well worth the unbeatable summer lifestyle along rivers and coastlines.

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