In the United States, nearly 40% of the population lives in a coastal county. For anyone who is building a beachfront home, it’s important to think carefully about the design.

While designing any kind of home can be complicated, there are some special challenges to designing a coastal home. If not planned out well, a beachfront home can face a lot of problems. 

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the biggest challenges of designing a beachfront house.

Local Regulations

When designing a beachfront house, one of the first things that you’ll want to think about is what local regulations you’ll need to follow.

There are many local zoning laws that may influence how you should plan the design of your home to ensure that it’s up to code. You’ll want to check with your local government to find out what will be required as part of your design.

There may be regulations for the way your home needs to be designed and built. This could include specific details regarding how close to the water you can build, how wide or deep your home can be, and more.


When designing a beachfront home, you’ll also usually need to pay attention to flood zones.

Waterfront homes will be at risk of flooding, so you’ll need to understand what the flood zone requires and should plan your design accordingly. For example, your home may need to be on stilts and elevated in order to prevent potential problems.

Be sure to learn more about zoning and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations. There are various flood zones and each has different needs. You’ll want to take the specific flood zone into account when designing a beachfront home.

Salty Conditions

One of the things to consider when designing a beachfront home on the ocean is the materials that you’ll build with. Since the home will be built close to salt water and salty air, it’s important to have materials that will withstand salt well.

Decay-resistant woods, concrete, copper, and composite materials such as fiberglass that are designed to withstand the salt and humidity from the ocean will be necessary to ensure that the home will be durable and won’t deteriorate over time.

Using the right materials can help to prevent problems. Doing so will increase the weather resistance and is an essential aspect of designing and building a seaside home.

Extreme Weather

In addition to protecting a home from salt, another challenge to building a waterfront home is extreme weather.

Extreme weather is common in coastal towns, so you’ll need to make sure that your structures are designed in such a way as to be storm-resistant. Hurricanes, high winds, flooding, and shoreline erosion can all cause major problems if your design isn’t well-thought-out.

You need to be sure that you plan for a sturdy and durable foundation and that you’ve taken measures to guard the home against the dangers of erosion. You may also need to add windows and shutters that are storm-resistant and add structural components that give more strength to a home, allowing it to withstand high winds. 

Window and Door Choices

As part of preparing for inclement weather and high winds, you should also ensure that all windows and doors are designed and built with high wind conditions in mind.

You need to be sure that high winds and debris can’t cause damage to the windows and doors of the beachfront house. You should ensure that they can withstand the pressure. Install storm-resistant windows that are reinforced and made to withstand hurricane conditions and winds of 150 mph or more.

Designing a custom home to include shutters is also useful. This will help to add even more protection against extreme weather conditions.

Steep and Narrow Lots

Many beachfront homes are also built on particularly steep and narrow lots. This can cause some difficulties when attempting to design a great home.

It’s important to think carefully about the floor plan when designing a home that is built on a steep site. Ensure that stairs aren’t too steep and that the navigation between levels isn’t too difficult for those who live in the house.

It’s also essential to prioritize stability in the home. You’ll need to have a clear strategy for the use of stilts or any soil leveling solutions that you’ll use.

Designing a home on a steep beachfront home lot requires careful planning, so be sure to keep this challenge in mind.

Lifestyle Choices

One of the challenges that you’ll face with beachfront home design is keeping the lifestyle that the residents will have in mind.

If the owners of the home will be going to the beach often and coming straight back, for example, it may be worth planning for an outdoor shower or a home entry room that helps to prevent them from tracking sand into the house. A beach house may also require more recreational spaces that can be used to entertain others than a typical home would.

It’s also important to think about the views of the home as well. Ensure that there’s a great way for homeowners to look out at the beach and get the most out of the views that will be around them.

Thinking carefully about a family’s lifestyle is essential for designing an amazing beachfront house.

Understanding How to Design a Beachfront House

If you want to design an impressive beachfront house, make sure that you understand what your challenges will be. Remember to keep local regulations, weather conditions, and the landscape in mind when designing a coastal home.

Need help with your custom home design? We have decades of experience designing coastal homes and have some magnificent beachfront properties in our portfolio. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.