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What It’s Like to Live in a Waterfront Home

Homeowners share their insights on living by oceans, rivers and lakes.

For some waterfront homeowners, living by the water means 24/7 access to sun, sand and surfing. For others, waterfront living equals a quiet place to connect with nature. Whatever lifestyle you’re looking for, there’s a waterfront property to suit your needs.

Owners of oceanfront, riverfront and lakefront homes share the pros and cons of their experiences and reveal how waterfront living stacks up overall.

The Oceanfront Experience: Beauty and Convenience

“Even after having been there for almost a year now, it’s still breathtaking,” says cardiologist Arthur Crossman of his oceanfront home in Ormond Beach, Fla.
In a luxury home with “every feature you could possibly ever want” located on a private beach, Crossman, his wife and his two daughters have all the amenities of the ocean at their fingertips. Crossman had previously lived on the river in Florida but now enjoys the convenience of oceanfront living. “The problem in Florida with living on the river is that you can’t just jump in the water because of oyster shells,” he said. “On the beach, you can just walk out your door, walk up and down the beach, and jump in the ocean.”

Proximity to the ocean also means easy access to water sports. Crossman has enjoyed waterskiing in the past and says he would like to purchase a sailboat. When not taking advantage of the beach, the family can still enjoy the ocean breeze while staying protected from the elements on the home’s patio.
Crossman advises potential oceanfront homebuyers that there are issues to be aware of, such as the possibility of damage to the home from hurricanes, tropical storms and nor’easters. In the event of inclement weather, Crossman has equipped his home with automatic hurricane shutters and a generator.

“As long as you go in with that understanding, you’re never going to be disappointed,” Crossman said.

Choosing the right siding for your beach house

Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding
We wanted to provide some of the pros and cons associated with vinyl versus fiber cement siding. As the number of people, choosing siding for their beach home is on the rise, questions are also rising as to the best type of siding to use. The good news is that today, you have far more options to consider than ever before although it is still important you choose wisely.

Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is one of the most popular choices due to cost. Actually made from polyvinyl chloride, this type of siding material offers a number of advantages to include low maintenance. Other benefits are that vinyl siding expands and shrinks, meaning this material works well in a variety of issues. Vinyl siding is also great in that color penetrates so it never has to be painted. However, the most important aspect of going with vinyl siding is the installation. If not done right, you would likely experience gaps, expansion, and an unsightly home.
A new type of vinyl siding is known as cellular, which is more expensive but also higher quality. This particular type of vinyl siding looks like wood and with it being thicker than traditional vinyl or wood siding, it holds up better and has a nicer appearance. Regardless of the type of vinyl siding you choose, you will find that it offers tremendous advantage associated with air pollution. Finally, the only other consideration is that if you want something highly energy intense, aluminum is generally a better choice than that of vinyl.

Fiber Cement
In addition to vinyl siding, you could also go with fiber cement siding, which can dramatically enhance the appearance of your home. Of all siding, fiber cement offers the most beautiful textures and realistic wood grains. You will also find that fiber cement siding comes in a wonderful selection of colors, as well as shapes. Therefore, if you want something unique and impressive, you cannot go wrong with fiber cement.

Other benefits associated with fiber cement siding include long-term durability and a much better interlaminate bond strength, making it a great choice for high wind impact zones as well as protection against harmful impacts, daily wear and tear, moisture, and more. Fiber cement siding is so strong and durable that most manufacturers offer a 50-year limited warranty, one that is even transferable.

Without doubt, fiber cement siding will outperform every type of siding on the market. If you want to spend your hard-earned money on something consistent and reliable, this is it. The technology of fiber cement siding makes it stands out from all other materials when building in high wind zone areas. Providing strong resistant to insects that bore through wood, as well as having a class 1 (A) fire protection rating show you just how incredible fiber cement siding is.

SandCastle Coastal Homes specializes in coastal elevated and high wind impact building design that will meet or exceed local and state codes

Improving Construction Efficiency and Productivity using Modular Construction

Storm Surge


Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. In the past, large death tolls have resulted from the rise of the ocean associated with many of the major hurricanes that have made landfall. Hurricane Katrina (2005) is a prime example of the damage and devastation that can be caused by surge. At least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.

Storm Surge vs. Storm Tide

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.

Storm Surge vs. Storm Tide

Factors Impacting Surge

Storm surge is produced by water being pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds moving cyclonically around the storm. The impact on surge of the low pressure associated with intense storms is minimal in comparison to the water being forced toward the shore by the wind.

Wind and Pressure Components of Hurricane Storm Surge

The maximum potential storm surge for a particular location depends on a number of different factors. Storm surge is a very complex phenomenon because it is sensitive to the slightest changes in storm intensity, forward speed, size (radius of maximum winds-RMW), angle of approach to the coast, central pressure (minimal contribution in comparison to the wind), and the shape and characteristics of coastal features such as bays and estuaries.


Other factors which can impact storm surge are the width and slope of the continental shelf. A shallow slope will potentially produce a greater storm surge than a steep shelf. For example, a Category 4 storm hitting the Louisiana coastline, which has a very wide and shallow continental shelf, may produce a 20-foot storm surge, while the same hurricane in a place like Miami Beach, Florida, where the continental shelf drops off very quickly, might see an 8 or 9-foot surge. More information regarding storm surge impacts and their associated generalizations can be found in the FAQ section.

Adding to the destructive power of surge, battering waves may increase damage to buildings directly along the coast. Water weighs approximately 1,700 pounds per cubic yard; extended pounding by frequent waves can demolish any structure not specifically designed to withstand such forces. The two elements work together to increase the impact on land because the surge makes it possible for waves to extend inland.

Although elevated, this house in North Carolina could not withstand the 15 ft (4.5 m) of storm surge that came with Hurricane Floyd (1999)

Additionally, currents created by tides combine with the waves to severely erode beaches and coastal highways. Buildings that survive hurricane winds can be damaged if their foundations are undermined and weakened by erosion.

Beachfront road and boardwalk damaged by Hurricane Jeanne (2004)

In confined harbors, the combination of storm tides, waves, and currents can also severely damage marinas and boats. In estuaries and bayous, salt water intrusion endangers the public health, kills vegetation, and can send animals, such as snakes and alligators, fleeing from flooded areas.

Damaged boats in a marina

Notable Surge Events

  • Ike 2008 (SLOSH Historical Run)Hurricane Ike made landfall near the north end of Galveston Island as a Category 2 hurricane. Storm surges of 15-20 feet above normal tide levels occurred along the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas and in much of the Galveston Bay area. Property damage from Ike is estimated at $24.9 billion. More…
  • Katrina 2005 (SLOSH Historical Run)Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of the United States. It produced catastrophic damage – estimated at $75 billion in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast – and is the costliest U. S. hurricane on record. Storm surge flooding of 25 to 28 feet above normal tide levels was associated with Katrina. More…
  • Dennis 2005 (SLOSH Historical Run)Dennis affected much of Florida, and its effects extended well inland over portions of the southeastern United States with the maximum amount rainfall of 12.80 inches occuring near Camden, Alabama. Storm surge flooding of 7-9 ft produced considerable storm surge-related damage near St. Marks, Florida, well to the east of the landfall location. The damage associated with Dennis in the United States is estimated at $2.23 billion. More…
  • Isabel 2003 (SLOSH Historical Run)Isabel was the worst hurricane to affect the Chesapeake Bay region since 1933. Storm surge values of more than 8 feet flooded rivers that flowed into the bay across Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Isabel was the most intense hurricane of the 2003 season and directly resulted in 17 deaths and more than $3 billion in damages. More…
  • Opal 1995 (SLOSH Historical Run)Hurricane Opal made landfall near Pensacola Beach, Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm caused extensive storm surge damage from Pensacola Beach to Mexico Beach (a span of 120 miles) with a maximum storm tide of 24 feet, recorded near Fort Walton Beach. Damage estimates for Opal were near $3 billion. More…
  • Hugo 1989 (SLOSH Historical Run)Hugo impacted the southeastern United States, including South Carolina cities Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Hugo was responsible for 60 deaths and $7 billion in damages, with the highest storm surge estimated at 19.8 feet at Romain Retreat, South Carolina. More…
  • Camille 1969 (SLOSH Historical Run)Camille was a Category 5 hurricane, the most powerful on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with maximum winds of more than 155 mph and storm surge flooding of 24 feet that devastated the Mississippi coast. The final death count for the U.S. is listed at 256. This includes 143 on the Gulf coast and another 113 from the Virginia floods. More…
  • Audrey 1957 (SLOSH Historical Run)There were 390 deaths associated with Audrey as the result of a storm surge in excess of 12 feet, which inundated the flat coast of southwestern Louisiana as far as 25 miles inland in some places. More…
  • New England 1938 (SLOSH Historical Run)The Long Island Express was a fast-moving Category 3 hurricane that struck Long Island and New England with little warning on September 21. A storm surge of 10 to 12 ft inundated the coasts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, southeastern Massachusetts, and Long Island, NY, especially in Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay. Six hundred people died due to the storm. More…
  • Galveston 1900 (SLOSH Historical Run)At least 8,000 people died when hurricane storm tides (the surge plus the astronomical tide) of 8-15 feet inundated most of the island city of Galveston, TX and adjacent areas on the mainland. More…

Surge Vulnerability Facts

  • From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32% in Gulf coastal counties, 17% in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16% in Hawaii (U.S. Census Bureau 2010)
  • Much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level
  • Over half of the Nation’s economic productivity is located within coastal zones
  • 72% of ports, 27% of major roads, and 9% of rail lines within the Gulf Coast region are at or below 4 ft elevation (CCSP, SAP 4-7)

A storm surge of 23 ft has the ability to inundate 67% of interstates, 57% of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area (CCSP SAP 4-7)

Seawall Maintenance Program in Punta Gorda

The City of Punta Gorda has a unique seawall maintenance program which benefits property owners in their municipality. This is typical of the sort of enhancements and programs instituted by many cities in Florida to help waterfront property owners.

The City of Punta Gorda Canal Maintenance Assessment District is responsible for maintenance & repair of all seawalls which relieves the homeowner from the worry and financial burden of seawall failure.

There are two canal districts within Punta Gorda. One is called PGI (Punta Gorda Isles), the other is BSI (Burnt Store Isles). PGI has approx 50 miles of canals (or 100 miles of seawalls), while BSI has approx. 15 miles (or 30 miles of seawalls). PGI was constructed in the late 50’s through the mid 70’s and BSI was constructed in the mid 70’s.

The accompanying manual provides valuable information which will help you understand the Punta Gorda seawall program & answer any questions you may have.

Click here to view or download your copy

Pinellas County Home Replacement

I recently looked at distressed waterfront properties in the Pinellas County to see what the cost would be to build a 3000 sq ft home with 6 car garage underneath. It would have to meet all the elevation and wind requirements under the new construction guidelines. I wanted to compare similar homes in the area to see if it made more sense to purchase an existing home that met the new construction standards and codes set by FEMA. What I found out absolutely blew me away!

I found a condemned house close to Madeira Beach on the bay side. The lot size was 90 x 115 with a simple dock and no bulkhead. It was sailboat water with no bridges to the gulf. It would make a great place to live and enjoy Florida living at its best. The selling price was $199 but the bank would entertain a bid of somewhere around $175,000 to get it off their books.

I worked up all the necessary rough estimates with a modular design that would blend with the look of the neighborhood and fit the setbacks on the site. The estimates are below.

$6000 – demolition, removal

$8,000 – Permits and impact fees

$45,000 – Garage foundation (6 cars)

$180,000 – 3000 sq ft home well equipped stack porch

$20,000 – drive, flat work, utility, deck work

$10,000 – miscellaneous, custom work, etc

$175,000 – land cost

I looked at all types of building techniques comparing price, speed of completion and design. The most cost effective process was using modular construction. It would be made up of 4 sections with stacked porches on the front and back of the home. The time to complete the project once permits were obtained was estimated at 100 days. Considering the time factor when using modules and comparing the all the cost against stick by stick building the end results was at least 20% less across the board.

The total came in around $444,000. That 148 sq ft for the complete project. Comparable properties less than 3 years old were pricing around $600,000 these homes would have sold in excess of $1,000,000 in 2005.

If you ever wanted to live on the open water with your boat in the water behind your state of the art home but wasn’t sure you could afford it then think again. With rates as low as they have been in decades a beautiful waterfront home built to the latest and safest codes could be in your reach.

Elevated Coastal and Waterfront Homes on the Florida Gulf Coast

Waterfront construction for single family homes is booming on the west coast of Florida.

Although the housing market in Florida has suffered over the last 6 years due to a much needed correction the custom waterfront single family homes is the best value out there.

Bargain hunters and investors alike are picking up old 1000 sq ft homes on the beach, bay, river and canals up and down the west coast of Florida. They are a steal at 40 to 60% of their value just 4 years ago.  They are tearing them down and building new homes to new flood and high wind codes at a faction of the cost that it cost to build in the 90’s

Vacant waterfront land is also a real bargain today for investors and regular Joe’s that have always dreamed on sitting on their balcony and watching the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico. What was a dream because of the high cost to own a beach or waterfront home is now in the reach for the first time in a decade.

There are many reasons why these properties and vacant waterfront sites are affordable for so many people that live in Florida or are considering moving here.

  • Foreclosures are at an all time high due to the economy
  • Taxes were very high but have fallen to a normal rate
  • Building costs have fallen due to supply and demand
  • Building technology has improved and new applications are creating more value for less money
  • Elevated homes are built to never flood and withstand up to 170mph winds in some areas
  • Prefabricated homes speeds up build times and saves money

Thousands of homes are being knocked down and new home building technology is replacing them at every price level. You can get a beautiful elevated home built for as little as $100 sq ft that meets all flood and wind codes.  They can come with fully enclosed 6 bay garages, tiki huts, and concrete bulkheads and boast docks to maximize the lifestyle that you are looking for.

If you have always wanted to own a property on the water in Florida, now is the time. Find a company that specializes in these building techniques for coastal homes. They can show you just how easy and affordable it is to live the dream

SandCastle Coastal Homes is the leader in affordable waterfront custom homes in Florida. They are experts for these applications and use the most technologically advances building systems available today.