Beach architecture may vary depending on the location, the materials used, and the architect’s perspective. Beaches are the short, gently sloping strips of ground along the edge of a river, lake, or ocean. They can be sandy, rocky, freezing, or tropical and are created due to weathering or erosion through time. The materials left behind on beaches include sand, pebbles, rocks, pieces, and seashells. One of the most satisfying places to live can be in a beach house. But certain unique issues come with developing in such a desired area. Local zoning, flood zones, material selection, windows and doors, and hurricane and wind protection are only a few factors.

Local Zoning | Beach House

The zoning regulations change in each coastal town. You will probably need to apply for the necessary Coastal Area Management Act Permit if your property is in an environmental concern area. Government-protected areas along the coast are subject to CAMA’s regulation of coastal development. Most beachfront and waterfront properties will be subject to CAMA and local setback regulations, with the strictest standards gaining precedence. Your building footprint, or how broad and deep your house can be, as well as how close to the water you are allowed to build, will be determined by this.

Example: The Beach Neighborhood, California

Design Guidelines: Beach House - Sheet1
City planning_©GoogleEarth

The main goal of these design standards is to ensure that development is contextually compatible. Context is defined as the environment in which a structure resides, including the project site, properties next to it, and the greater neighbourhood in which it is located. A variety of factors influence the sense of compatibility, including building scale and massing, how the building is presented to the street and its surroundings, and architectural style. These Design Standards apply to the Beach Neighborhood Planned Residential Development Zone District in Subarea 1.

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Subarea 1 houses_©Compass

Flood Zones

Understanding your flood zone and needs is critical because there is only one margin of safety in flood-prone areas except elevation. If your home has to be lifted to prevent floods, it will be based on these factors. For instance, if the flood zone for your home is AE 16, the first floor must be elevated to at least 16 feet above sea level.

Example: Scilla, a town located between Sea and Mountain

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Pocket Beach, Marina Grande_©GoogleEarth

There are certain difficulties with buying a beachfront home. Coastal homes are frequently exposed to abrasive elements such as moist air, direct sunlight, powerful gusts, and corrosion from saltwater. You need to utilise the right building materials and procedures to construct a strong house that can withstand Mother Nature’s wrath, such as

Framing: You must consider the risk of seawater corrosion while selecting a framing material for your house. While building your home, it’s crucial to utilise corrosion-resistant materials like concrete and treated wood because salt can cause catastrophic harm to some materials. 

Siding: At Sea Island Builders, we advise using brick, Hardie-plank siding, or a composite material resembling Azek for most exterior applications. 

Roofing: Metal roofing is significantly stronger and better able to withstand rot, mildew, wind, and termites when compared to asphalt shingles. Up to 30%, thanks, may reduce the cost of cooling your home to  roofs’ ability to reflect sunlight.

Insulation: The high levels of humidity and moisture that are characteristic in coastal regions might cause the wood to distort. Coastal homes should always have closed cell insulation beneath the first floor to safeguard hardwood floors and keep out moisture. A spray foam substitute for fibreglass, closed-cell insulation has a thick structure, making it an excellent barrier against air and moisture vapour.

Material Selection | Beach House

Along with flooding, another issue with coastal properties is the corrosive nature of sea salt, which can influence many choices for external building materials. Here are some suggestions to take into account when choosing these materials:

  • Choose materials inherently resistant to severe weather and can sustain exposure to sea air, such as decay-resistant woods or composite materials made to withstand coastal elements with little to no upkeep.
  • Metal is a resilient, robust substance, but it loses its strength when exposed to salt air. The resilience and water resistance of cedar and concrete, while maintaining their visual appeal, make them both excellent substitutes.
  • Non-wood composite materials, such as fibreglass and non-cellular PVC plastic, which are more weather resistant, should be used for all external trim and siding.
  • Standing seam metal roofs, albeit more expensive, can offer superior wind and corrosion protection. For standing seam metal roofs, certain homeowner insurance companies provide discounted rates. Moreover, they give buildings a crisp appearance.

Example: Wild Dunes, SC

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Beach Front home in Wild Dunes_©SeaIslandBuilders

Windows and Doors

The weakest areas in a building can be its windows, doors, and other openings, which makes them vulnerable to flying debris and strong winds. For beachfront residences, keep the following things in mind when choosing windows and doors:

  • Impact-resistant laminated glass can endure powerful winds and flying debris while boosting the stability of your house.
  • In hurricane-prone areas, install windows that have been tested for 150 mph. Installing outside plastic windows is an option, but you should ensure they are securely fastened for added security.
Glass windows_©Photographer Matthew Momberger

Hurricane and Wind Protection | Beach House

  • Ensure that your design is structurally engineered and approved by a qualified individual who will review your home’s wind load calculations during the design phase. This will guarantee that your house can handle the local wind loads.
  • To lower wind loads, consider low slope and hip roof designs. For these kinds of roofs, several insurance companies give savings.
  • Install shutters on your windows and doors, or provide a system, such as a track, that will allow you to install shutters quickly in case of an incoming storm. This will add additional protection for your windows and doors. Proper structural fastening systems are crucial since roof structures are prone to heave during heavy winds.
  • Make sure to check your gutters and downspouts to make sure nothing is preventing the water from flowing during a storm.
  • Reinforce your garage door to avoid more serious damage. Under windy circumstances, the fact that most garage doors are not braced results in significant pressure.
  • Create a hurricane household plan for the affected areas. The threat posed by hurricanes can materialise suddenly. Within days of a hurricane’s landfall, mandatory evacuations may occur. Due to the large number of individuals departing the region after an evacuation, leaving can often be challenging. Saving time and stress can be accomplished by planning your route and destination.

Hetvi Jadia is an architecture student and a dancer, born and brought up in Surat, Gujarat. She started developing interest in writing since a long time.