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Flood designed homes can still feel traditional and beautiful. Photograph courtesy of Jim Fiora Photography )
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A true expert in coastal resilience design and planning, Point One Architects based in Old Lyme is a trusted resource when renovating and building along the shoreline. When buying a home, and especially if you plan to renovate, it's important to know ahead of time what you can and cannot do. Many people don't realize that renovating a coastal home presents numerous challenges and costs.
Today, even if a small corner of your home is in a designated flood zone, you may need to make design concessions to be compliant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and town flood-plain ordinances. These concessions range from the amount you can spend on renovations to potentially raising your home and filling in basements.
"Sometimes people buy a house, yet realize afterwards that they can't renovate the way that they envisioned," says Rick Staub, partner with Point One Architects. "Oftentimes, a major kitchen or bathroom renovation may require that the entire house be raised up due to FEMA/NFIP's 50 percent rule.
"If the construction cost of your renovation is more than 50 percent of the appraised value of your home (the structure only), then you need to bring it up to federal regulations," he explains. "In many cases, this means raising your home to meet flood requirements. For many, complying with the regulations is not within their budget and they may turn around and sell their properties."
Point One Architects' team of experts is skilled at navigating this very complicated endeavor, making the process easier and a little less stressful. In fact, the company recommends bringing an architect to the coastal property you're interested in buying before signing on the dotted line.
"It's important to bring us in at the very beginning because this is our area of expertise," Staub adds. "We know where to turn and know very quickly whether a client can renovate or not. This way you're not wasting your time and you have the answers to your questions upfront. Half the battle is educating yourself and working with knowledgeable experts such as architects and shoreline realtors that know the different towns' regulations and the rules for each town."
Once you know that you can renovate, the fun of creating the home you imagine begins.
"Coastal shore homes come in all shapes and sizes," notes Staub. "A home can be designed very modern to traditional shingle style, as long as you use materials that are contextual and shapes that are familiar to the surroundings."
The company listens to clients, helping to round out their vision for both the outside as well as the interior of their home.
"Trust empowers the creative process," Staub notes. "It gives clients the confidence for us to make their home a little different from what they might expect."
This information was written by Jennifer Carmichael and provided by Point One Architects, located at 101 Shore Road, Old Lyme. For more information on the challenges of purchasing, building, or renovating a home on the Connecticut coast, contact Point One Architects by calling 860-434-7707 or visiting
www.pointonearchitects.com. Look out for the company's continued Coastal Resilience seminars this summer.
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