INTRODUCTION~The Coastal Environment
It seems that everyone wants to live at the beach, or close to it. The narrow fringes of land that define our coastal areas are a wealth of natural and economic resources and are among the most developed parcels of land in the nation. Making up just 17 percent of our nation’s land, the coasts are home to more than half of the nation’s population. There is no question; everyone wants to live at the beach!
From 1980 to 2003, the population of our coastal areas grew by 33 million people. 23 of the 25 most densely populated counties in the United States were coastal counties. What’s more, the growth and development of these coastal areas is only increasing.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We all want to be close to the sand and the sea. However, if we want to enjoy our homes in this beautiful environment, we had better respect that living on the coast is not like living anyplace else; there are environmental challenges that don’t exist in inland communities. Unless you understand and factor in these environmental challenges when buying, building, or maintaining your coastal home, it can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs, replacement costs, and property values. You will find yourself like Mark and Patti, bemoaning a dream house that has become a nightmare.
The ocean is a wonderful attraction. The sand and surf are compelling reasons to live close to the shore, but the salty environment causes significant corrosion and pitting—destroying metals and other materials that would remain pristine in a different environment. Wind-driven rains, tropical storms, hurricanes, nor’easters—the coast has weather patterns and environmental conditions that prove to be a challenge to coastal homeowners who want to keep their homes looking and functioning as they should.
A challenge, yes, but one that you can accomplish. Smart planning, smart choices, and attention to detail will prove invaluable in adapting your home to the coastal environment.
In the following chapters, we will explore the best choices in construction methods and low-maintenance products, which will save you time and money—not to mention many, many headaches!