One of the most rewarding places to live is on the beach. Although developing in such a coveted area comes with its challenges. So you’re going to build a beach house? We’ve compiled this information based on our firsthand experience and study when designing homes on the North Carolina coast.
We always recommend working with a local architect or designer and local engineers who have experience building in coastal regions to ensure you get the most value out of your investment. These experts will be able to walk you through creating a beach house and are knowledgeable about beach house best practices and design possibilities.
This initial investment will be reflected in your home’s overall value.
ZONING AT THE LOCAL LEVEL
The Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) is a federal program that governs coastal development in government-protected regions. Every coastal town has its own set of zoning regulations. If your property is in an AEC (Areas of Environmental Concern) zone, you’ll almost certainly need to apply for a CAMA Permit (Coastal Area Management Act). CAMA and local setback regulations will apply to most beach and waterfront properties, with the most rigorous requirements taking precedence. This will decide the size of your building footprint, how broad and deep your home can be, and how close you can build to the water.
If it hasn’t already been done as part of your due diligence by the real estate agents engaged in the sale of the property, we can assist you in starting this vital early investigation. Dealing with local government officials and engineers can take many weeks.
ZONES OF FLOODING
In flood-prone areas, there is no margin of safety other than elevation. Thus it is critical to understand your flood zone and requirements. These will establish whether or not your home has to be elevated to avoid floods. If your property’s flood zone is AE 16, your first floor will need to be elevated to at least 16 feet above sea level.
Here is a great place to start to determine your flood zone with the FEMA Flood Zone Map Website:
Flood Zones in North Carolina:
Zone X: Floodplain with a moderate risk of flooding, typically between the limits of 100-year and 500-year floods. (Flood Risk: Moderate to Low)
Zone AE: The base floodplain, where Base Flood heights are specified, will impose certain first-floor height limits. (Highly Dangerous Area)
Coastal locations with a 1% or greater likelihood of flooding and an additional danger associated with storm waves are classified as Zone VE. For a 30-year mortgage, these neighborhoods have a 26% probability of flooding. Base flood levels resulting from extensive analyses are shown at chosen intervals within these zones. For the first floor, there will be some height limits. (Highly Dangerous Coastal Areas)
3. MATERIALS SELECTION
Aside from flooding, the corrosive characteristic of sea salt is another worry for coastal houses, and it can influence many external material choices. Here are some things to think about while choosing these materials:
Choose materials that can sustain exposure to sea air and are naturally resistant to harsh weather, such as decay-resistant woods or composite materials that require little or no care.
While metal is a strong and durable material, it is sensitive to salt air if left exposed. Cedar and concrete are both excellent choices because they are durable and water-resistant while also attractive.
Non-wood composite materials like fiberglass or non-cellular PVC plastic, which are more weather resistant, should be used for all external trim and siding.
Standing seam metal roofs, while more expensive, can provide better wind and corrosion protection. They also give off a strong architectural appearance. Standing seam metal roofs are eligible for discounts from several house insurance companies.
Let us know in the comments how do you feel about living on the beach…