Rain on Your Parade

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

By the looks of harsh winter weather conditions across the Cape Peninsula, good orientation is all about gravity and less about view, for rich and for poor. Design and construction experts are testimony to the fact that, the drier the experience, the greater the relationship between practicality and gravity, irrespective of views.

In particular as glorious Cape summers are notorious for blanking out memories of cold wet winters. And when questioning residents across different social, income and lifestyle groups, as to what exactly represents good geographical orientation during winter, most answers affirm a dry as well as bright location.

When searching for a new home, an understanding of the impacts of regular storms, accompanied by vast measures of rainfall every winter without fail, goes a long way in optimising the desired lifestyle. Seasoned property investors, aware of the perks and complexities of spectacular views, know their target market in terms of affordability related to structural engineering and construction.

While new buyers, many from upcountry who are seduced by breathtaking surroundings during bright summer periods, have little understanding of possible landslides and subsidence, when living in coastal and possibly ecologically sensitive areas. Urban design and municipal plans shed light on potential environmental impacts of different areas. Knowledgeable agents, through knowing the history of areas, are able to provide information on low lying beach properties at greater risk of flooding, due to close proximity to rivers and lagoons, or steep mountain slope settings, each presenting different sets of complexities.

Perhaps not a commonly fact when choosing views over slippery slopes, is the inner textural beauty of mountain settings on fossilised sand dunes. Reason being that such locations, usually within close proximity of beaches, show greater resilience to heavy rainfall as well as erosion, due to the more effective drainage and compacting properties of sand. Although only an indigenous gardener’s paradise, buildings there are able to expand and contract without necessarily causing structural damage, as compared those set in mud and clay.

Building processes of houses on slippery slopes are notorious for being interrupted, when findings of trapped water pose potential risk of mud slides, also where speedy remedies are costly but avoid future subsidence.

The property development industry in Cape Town, from urban designers to architects, structural engineers and construction companies, are well versed in dealing with issues related to both low lying coastal and elevated sloped settings. All which require solid building methods and effective drainage, moisture management, damp protection, insulation and airing.

But, for some the enjoyment of views and long daylight hours, as commonly found along the Atlantic Coast, where sunsets can be seen all year round, remains a priority. As opposed to properties nestled against mountain slopes, where deep dark shadows determine the duration of direct sunshine on a property, such as along the False Bay Coastline. Warmer orientations are popular, in particular of north facing positions with sunlight from early to mid day, are preferential to only seeing direct sunlight from noon, despite these residents enjoying at least two more hours of daylight.

When the need arises to predict what a Cape winter would bring while planning to buy, build, or doing alterations, professional advice is the best option. Not to underestimate what efficient implementation at municipal level would do, to alleviate the plight of residents of informal settlements located in low lying areas near rivers and wetlands, constantly flooded during winter.

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