Building Your Beach House

By August 28, 2015 Coastal Building Tips, Coastal Home Design, Coastal Life
Beach House Construction

The idea of building a house at the beach is, let’s admit it, very exciting! Once completed, your new residence gives you entry into all the beach life offers: long walks on the beach, quicker and easier access to boating, beautiful views, your area’s best seafood restaurants, cooler weather in the hot summer, warmer weather in the cool winter and easier access to fishing, paddle boarding, surfing, kite boarding and more. Whether your new beach house will be an investment property,  second home or primary residence, as the owner you gain entry into the exclusive “beach life” club.

Some folks fret about the extra steps needed to build a house at the beach. It’s true: you’ll probably have to build a home with an elevated foundation and additional bracing for wind load requirements. While the construction may differ somewhat from subdivision built homes, understand that the process is not difficult, just different.

Making your beach home dreams a reality begins with choosing a house plan. There are many misconceptions about the suitability of any given home design. We receive calls all the time from folks wanting beach house plans that are “engineered and ready to go.” The reality is that every plan has to be tweaked to suit the conditions of your specific lot. This is true whether a plan is custom drawn or is pre-drawn (stock). At some point an engineer will need to adjust EVERY plan so that it is works for your specific lot. Even if you use a plan that your future next door neighbor utilized, the plan will need to be reviewed, tweaked and stamped*. The house across the street from your property can have a completely different set of engineered specifications based on differences in 1) soil conditions, 2) flood zone designation and 3) base flood elevation requirements. I have a builder friend who owns lots on the opposite sides of the same street. On one side he is allowed to build a design on crawl space. On the other side of the street he is required to build elevated designs with pilings driven 30′ deep. The difference? The piling side of the street is directly on a marsh and was previously a dump site for construction materials (different soil conditions and different flood zone).

An efficient elevated beach house plan

Sprig Tail Cottage

The truth is that ANY design can be modified to meet the requirements of ANY building site. While it may not be cost effective, you could convert a subdivision style home plan so that it could be built on a lot located in a high wind, flood zone. Doing this would require drawing up a new foundation (typically elevated) for the plan. There is additional cost involved, but typically, even with modifications, the total fee is considerably less than what a custom design would command. Ultimately, the total cost to get your permit ready design is what is important. To illustrate the point, we’ve created three typical scenarios for obtaining a house plan that would be suitable for a coastal lot.

Beach House Plan Specs

Square Feet: 2,000

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 2

Foundation: Elevated


Three Plan Design Scenarios

1) Custom Design

Design Fee:  $6,000 – $25,000+

Timeframe: 6-16 weeks

Engineering Fee:  $0 (Cost built into design fee)

Total: $6,000 – $25,000+

2) Stock Plan (No Modifications)

Design Fee: $700-$3,500

Timeframe: 1 week

Engineering: $750-$2,500 (depends upon degree of changes needed)

Total: $1,450 – $6,000

3) Stock Plan (Modifications Required)

Design Fee: $700-$3,500

Modification Fee: $250-$2,000

Timeframe: 1-4 Weeks

Engineering: $750-$2,500 (depends upon degree of changes needed)

Total: $1,700 – $8,000

The total cost for handling the design portion of your project will depend on a number of variables, but ultimately, if you can find a stock plan that is to your liking that needs minimal modifications you will realize significant saving in time and money. These concepts only address navigating the design cost of your project. You will also, when choosing a beach house plan, need to address factors that impact cost to build. That’s a topic for another blog post! Stay tuned.

*Most states now require that at least the foundation of your building plan be reviewed by an engineer licensed in your state. In some states architects are allowed to provide the engineering on the plans that they draw (but would not be allowed to provide engineering on plans they did not draw). In practice, a great many architects for residential homes hand off the structural requirements to a licensed engineer.



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Fresh New Coastal Design

By October 24, 2013 Coastal Home Design, Coastal Life
Coastal Home Plan - Lighthouse

Sherbourne Light

Suggestion for members of Congress: take a break, get away for awhile. Things seem to run better when you aren’t “working.” Maybe build yourself a little lighthouse on a remote piece of property?

The Sherbourne Light design would work perfectly. Preview this cool coastal design here: Sherbourne Light House Plan

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Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Increased to the Highest Level Since 2007

By February 16, 2012 Uncategorized

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that their membership is gaining confidence in the single family housing market. In the report released today (2/15/12), the Housing Market Index (HMI) from NAHB/Wells Fargo rose from 25 to 29 from January to February. This is the fifth consecutive month the index has risen and is now at the highest level since 2007.

Chief NAHB Economist David Crowe believes the numbers are encouraging, but points out that the HMI number is still low. The index gauges builder perceptions about how single-family home sales will fare in the upcoming 6 month period. Any number about 50 indicates that builders view conditions as “good” and with numbers below 50 viewing the outlook as “poor.”

NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, FL, stated “Given the recent improvements in new home starts and the increasing number of markets included, this consistency suggests that the housing market is moving toward more sustainable growth.”

To read more go to: NAHB News – Builder Confidence Increases for Fifth Consecutive Month in February

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15 Secret Beaches

By December 20, 2011 Coastal Life, Coastal Places, Uncategorized

We love living in a coastal town, but sometimes we like to take a break to see a new beach. Here’s a look around the globe at a few beach destinations that might need a visit in 2012!

15 Secret Beaches



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Guide to Building on the Coastal

By September 1, 2011 Coastal Building Tips

Building on the Coast

For a collection of helpful articles and resources for preparing to build your coastal home check out our page for Building on the Coast at:

Coastal Home Plans: Coastal Building Info

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In Search of Big Waves

By March 22, 2011 Coastal Life, Coastal Places, Uncategorized

Looking for a place to relocate to on the coast?

For most of us the criteria we use to choose the ultimate coastal place to live revolves around natural beauty, amenities, cost, etc. For some, however, the ideal coastal “place to be” moves according to where the best surf is happening. Check out these fascinating articles and videos (links below) that chronicle the wild world of big wave surfers. Deploying equal parts athletic prowess and “death wish” courage, this strange and amazing group of surfers lives for the adrenalin rush that can only come from dropping down the face of a mammoth (often 40′ and higher) waves. Crashes and injuries are an almost certainty – which is, I suppose, why we can’t resist watching. 🙂

The Wave
In Search of the 100′ Wave
by Susan Casey
Sports Illustrated

Laird Hamilton takes on Teahupo YouTube

Riding Giants – This is the Sea YouTube

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Walking with Rosie

By January 7, 2011 Coastal Life
rosie_960x575 copy

Enjoying the simple pleasures at the beach

The thought of walking with your girl on the beach should be enough to entice inlanders to bust a move to the coast. Think about it: a beautiful winter night, cloudy and cool with a mist settled over the beach. The lights glow softly over the beach houses as a couple boats twinkle in the darkness seaward. My regular girl (and wife) has opted for the warmth of our beach house, but Rosie, our golden retriever is up for a walk. And so am I.

In the summertime Rosie will make a straight line for the water, eager to cool off or chase a sandpiper or seagull. You would think that she would at least test the water in the winter deciding if the water is too cool to flop in. Somehow she knows without dipping a paw: it is cold. Instead she instantly focuses her olfactory attentions to the high tide line. In the winter, that is where the action is – clumps of marsh grass hide curiosities worth checking out.

Read More

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Simply Irresistable Beach Snack

By July 22, 2010 Coastal Life

A day at the beach requires sustenance in the form of great snacks and cold beverages. A new potato chip from Utz may just be the perfect snack food for beach-goers. 

Utz’s “The Crab Chip” offers up a BOLD treat for your taste buds. While the name “crab chip” may have you thinking seafood, the chip is actually spiced with Chesapeake Bay crab seasoning. Think Old Bay seasoning and you’ll be on the right track. A bag of these bad boys is so tasty that our local Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in the Charleston, SC area are having a hard time keeping them in stock. While you may think it obsessive to actually go to three separate Piggly Wiggly stores trying to hunt down this prized snack, I can only tell you that these chips are worth the extra effort to find!  They are so good they are instantly addictive.

Utz (rhymes with nuts) snacks have been around since 1921 and are available all along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to South Carolina. We highly recommend you pack a bag or two for your next beach outing.

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Glass House by the Sea?

By April 21, 2010 Uncategorized

We have the pleasure of receiving phone calls from folks all over the world who are looking for just the right house plan for their coastal property. This morning I spoke with a gentleman from Canada looking for a “glass” home design. We have a good many designers and architects who incorporate walls of windows, doors and sliding doors to open up sight lines – but I’ve never had anyone looking for all glass. Does anyone know of an architect or designer who creates ultra modern all glass designs?

Check out Philip Glass’ iconic Glass House design – still cool 61 years later!

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Home Buyers Tax Credit Extended and Expanded

By December 1, 2009 Uncategorized

The federal government extended the popular first time home buyer’s tax credit that allows for an up to $8,000 tax credit. To take advantage of this tax credit, a buyer must have a contract in place before May 1, 2010, and must close before July 1, 2010. In addition, a $6,500 tax credit was added for homeowner’s who have owned their residences for five years or more.

The tax credits are intended to spur on home sales as the housing industry continues to struggle. Joe Robson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. says “Now that Congress has wisely moved to extend the tax credit into next year and expand its eligibility to more buyers, we hope and expect that this will have a substantial stimulative effect on home sales and help keep the housing market solidly on the road to recovery.”

To learn more about how these tax credits can help you get your coastal construction project started, click on the links below.

Video from National Association of Home Builders explain new tax credits:

New website provides detailed FAQs addressing new federal housing tax credits:

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