Five Considerations for Designing Ocean-Front Properties

Ocean-Fronting House

For many people, the idea of owning a home next to the ocean is a dream come true. Aside from the high costs of ocean-front property, a lot of other considerations must be accounted for if you are planning on building a home next to the coastline. Coastal locations place properties at a higher risk of damage due to flooding, severe storms, and high winds and increase the risk of wear due to rust, erosion, and mold. For these reasons, beachfront homes must be carefully designed to preserve their aesthetics and integrity. 

Below, we’ll take a look at five important design considerations when building a home next to the water:

1. Opt for a Stilted or Raised Home in Flood-Prone Areas

Not all beachfront locations are prone to flooding, but most are. If you are building a home in a flood-prone area, you simply can’t afford to take the risk of a flood causing severe damage to your home. Fortunately, there is a relatively simple solution that enables homeowners to construct homes in flood-prone areas in a way that eliminates the possibility of damage. 

By opting for a stilted or raised home, you can essentially lift your home’s structure above the ground so that the base stays dry even in serious flooding. These stilted or raised homes are widespread in beachfront locations and can be built in a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing designs. 

2. Select Flooring that Can Withstand Exposure to Salt and Water

While water can damage the integrity of a home’s flooring, saltwater is especially troubling. In addition to typical damage caused by flooding such as mold and rot, saltwater can also ruin your flooring’s finish. Since the coastal elements are notoriously harsh on a home’s flooring even without major flooding being calculated into the equation, it is essential to select flooring to withstand exposure to both water and salt. 

While raising your home so that it is less exposed to ocean water will go a long way toward protecting it, choosing a water and salt resistant flooring such as tile, vinyl, or real hardwood, will, too. 

3. Install Storm Windows and Shutters 

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of building a home next to the coast is the prospect of having your home damaged by a tropical storm or hurricane. While there is no such thing as a home that is completely protected against storms, given how powerful they can become, you should build your home in a way that is meant to minimize the damage incurred by the high winds that hurricane and tropical storms create. One excellent option is installing storm windows and shutters. 

Storm windows are designed to be much more robust and less prone to breaking than a traditional window. Storm shudders, on the other hand, add an extra layer of high-integrity protection that can be employed if you know that a hurricane or tropical storm is on the horizon. Since your windows are the part of your home most likely to incur damage due to high winds, protecting them in this manner is a must for anyone living in an area prone to hurricanes and tropical storms. 

4. Don’t Build Too High

The physics behind why it isn’t a good idea to build tall structures in an area vulnerable to powerful storms is relatively intuitive. The more elevated your design is, the more likely it is to topple under the force of high winds. For this reason, many coastal areas have restrictions on how tall a building can be. These laws can often be challenging to navigate, especially if you want to raise your home on stilts to protect it from flooding. However, they are imperative for minimizing the risk of severe damage to your home in the event of a high-wind storm. 

5. Work With Experienced Structural Engineers

Perhaps the most important advice you could follow if you want to build a home next to the ocean is to work with a structural engineering consulting firm experienced at building oceanfront structures that can stand up against coastal elements. 

When you hire a structural engineering firm to oversee your home’s construction, you can look forward to working alongside a dedicated team that can highlight any potential problems and create innovative design solutions. It’s the simplest way to ensure the integrity of your expensive investment and a service that anyone who is building an oceanfront home should consider.

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