Interview with Rob Hyde

(Builder & Mgr. Portrait Custom Homes)

Click above to listen to Rob Hyde talk about this build.

This North Fremantle house is a protected heritage building. We completely rebuilt the inside and refurbished the front facade, including the original jarrah board work. A brand new, modern home made from an old Fremantle house.

They made the original facade from jarrah boards. The boards were removed, stripped, and repainted. A lot of the old paint was lead-based, so the stripping process had to be done properly.


There’s an atrium in the middle of the house.

This gives us the feeling that this home is environmentally aware. The outside seamlessly melds into the inside.

north fremantle family living area

Raw brick & polished concrete

Polished concrete floors, raw brick and paving give the house a natural feel.

main bedroom north fremantle

Some building materials came from over East, but we sourced most of the building materials locally (in WA).

north fremantle bathroom

Raw Porcelain Tiles

We shipped the raw porcelain tiles from Italy.

It’s also quite normal to import high quality sanitary wear (taps, sinks, bathroom appliances) from Europe.

north fremantle laundry

Raw Porcelain Tiles

Some of the internal cladding on this project is called paper rock.

Paper rock is paper with layers of resin and paper – dark black with a glossy finish.

We also used a lot of raw steel. The stairwells and balustrades are raw and galvanised steel. Those were polished and given a sealer.

We used rammed earth in the undercroft – again – to give a natural feeling that has its own beauty.

north fremantle roof
north fremantle heritage front

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Nature & Home Design

Trees and plants work like evaporative cooling systems.

They absorb heat during the day and in the evening they lose moisture with the evaporation from leaves.

This cools the surrounding air. This works well in a courtyard – or the atrium (pictured)

north fremantle courtyard

The tree in this courtyard is deciduous. In summer it will bush out, giving lots of shade in the hot summer months and in winter when the leaves drop, it lets the sun through.

Also, with North Fremantle being so close to the sea, the atrium provides a natural area that isn’t shaken by the elements. It’s wind free.

You can keep your windows and sliding windows open all the time.

north fremantle home entry

Construction Materials

We use natural raw materials inside and outside the home.

Accoya (wood) cladding throughout gives the home a nice, raw feel.

north fremantle living room

Locally sourced materials

Today, there’s more of an environmental push towards using local materials. An added advantage of using local products is that you can get things quicker.

north fremantle custom build back elevation
north fremantle courtyard

Granite & Marble stone tops

Specific, coloured granite or marble stone tops come from overseas.

We usually import tap ware from Europe. It’s not economical to make these items in Australia. Whilst there’s a transport cost, the scale of production keeps the costs down.

Rammed Earth

Rammed earth is popular in SW Western Australia

Rammed Earth is very much an Australian thing. It’s used in the Southwest of Western Australia and Margaret River in particular. It provides a simple, quick and easy way of building structures.

It is a fantastic insulator which works well in climates (like down south) where there are big temperature differences. It can absorb heat in the day ready to release on a cold night.

Supply Issues due to COVID-19

Currently, there’s an issue with aluminium and powder-coating aluminium. In the old days we just used a silver mill finish, but everything is mostly powder-coated now.

The biggest wait was for Equitone – a dense, fibre cement. When used as part of a ventilated rain screen cladding system or rear-ventilated curtain wall facade, Equitone panels allow air to circulate behind the cladding, keeping moisture, mold, heat, and frost away from the building.