Is Beachfront Property Maintenance Worth The Cost?

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A beachfront home can be “a dream come true” during summer vacations. It can be a place of retirement, or your main dwelling. To keep this dream from turning into a nightmare, proper maintenance for this valuable piece of beach property must be done regularly.

If you’re considering a coastal home, for starters, ensure that the structure is sitting on solid ground. And that means it’s time to get a professional inspection. The inspector will determine if the entire house is supported by the soil foundation beneath it. An inspection report will also contain further details about the status of the foundation and soil. It is important to determine whether the soil is eroding or the ocean water is too near your home. Beyond that, there are other risks to consider before deciding to buy a beachfront home.

Winter Storms & High Tides

Extreme weather can place coastal homes at risk. Hurricanes, tornados and winter storm tides all have the potential to cause significant damage to beaches and homes. Some older beach homes may need additional foundation protection or other enhancements, which should be built and installed according to the present building codes in your area. Especially in storm or hurricane-prone areas, building codes may have been drastically modified due to the more frequent occurrences of natural disasters.

There are flood-resistant materials that can help reduce the risk of high tides and flooding. For a material to be declared floor-resistant by FEMA, it must be able to withstand direct and prolonged contact with floodwaters for at least 72 hours. Lumber that is pressure-treated or naturally decay-resistant such as redwood, cedar, some oaks and bald cypress are several options.

Concrete should be a durable mix with a sulfate-resisting cement. Contact the American Concrete Institute International for more information. Structural steel elements should also be coated to resist corrosion. All insulation, plastic, synthetics, and closed-cell foam, used in or on the beach house should also be approved by local building officials.

beachfront property maintenance costs beachfront property maintenance costs

Salt Air, Sun & Corrosion

Coastal and beach environments are quite conducive to metal corrosion and moisture damage. Termite related decay is also a prevalent problem in these areas. Metal corrosion will be most severe on homes within 3,000 feet of the ocean.

Most states and counties require metal building hardware to be hot-dipped galvanized steel or stainless steel. Some local codes require additional coatings that are thicker than off-the-shelf- products. Reinforcing steel should be protected from corrosion by sound materials such as masonry, mortar, grout, and concrete. Avoid beach houses that do not have these materials as part of their construction.

One maintenance measure you can do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis is to clean all the exterior surfaces of your home. The sun and sea breeze causes soil particles and salty residues from the ocean water to stick to surfaces. As these minute particles accumulate, windows, walls, doors, and roofs are tainted. Clean them regularly or hire a cleaning crew.

Wind Damage To Roofs

Wind is another element of risk for the beach house homeowner. Coastal wind gusts are sometimes in excess of 90-mph. Better constructed coastal homes should include: shingles rated for high winds, double-hemmed vinyl siding, wind-resistant glazing for windows and garage doors.

Mold Issues

Molds thrive in damp coastal areas and wherever moisture collects. Coastal climates are an ideal environment. Once mold settles in a home, it can grow on wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, paint, carpet, sheetrock, and insulation. Water leaking into the coastal home is the most frequent culprit. Once mold invades a home it is difficult to remove it.

To prevent mold:

  • Stop all water leaks.
  • Increase air circulation within the home. Ventilate with fresh air from outside.
  • Clean and dry and water damaged carpets, bedding, and upholstered furniture.
  • Vacuum and thoroughly clean the home regularly.
  • For small infestations of mold, scrub affected surfaces with a mild detergent solution. Then apply a solution of ¼ cup bleach to one quart of water.
  • See Removing Mold &Mildew

Estimating Beachfront Property Maintenance Costs Most home maintenance and repair costs range from 1.5 to 4 percent of the home’s original cost. Costal homes will be at the higher end of that range. And, for beach houses priced in the millions, this can be a significant annual expense. The cost ranges above are anticipated for long-time coastal or oceanfront homeowners.

Owners of those properties should also employ regular monthly inspection. An annual check up for the entire home would be preferable to prevent expensive major repairs.

Beachfront homes offer many benefits that are unsurpassed by inland homes. Advantages of cool coastal breezes, a great environment for raising kids, fewer insects and pests, and activities such as swimming, walking, and jogging.

On the other side of the equation there is: high premium prices for land and homes, expensive insurance, additional maintenance, and high traffic and congestion during the summer months. Is it worth it? Only you can decide.

Last Updated: May 13, 2012
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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