Types of Beach Houses

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Beach houses come in various shapes and sizes.
Beach houses come in various shapes and sizes. (Image: beach house image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com)

Learn about styles of beach homes for vacations, retirement, second homes and rental properties. Houses built on shorelines offer the advantages of outdoor living and typical features include large porches, sun decks extending out over the water, outside rooms and piers for tethering your boat. Types of beach houses, also described as coastal and waterfront homes, range from simple one-story cottages to modern multistory homes.

Stilt, Pier and Platform Beach Houses

Structures built on steeply sloping terrain next to water present a special challenge to architects. To protect the house from unusually large waves and high tides, beach houses are raised at least 8 to 15 feet above the lowest land level; state building codes vary as to the precise height. Before work on a structure is begun, builders make a platform or pier from materials that include steel I-beams, concrete columns or pillars and timber piles, posts and frames. Examples of this kind of beach house are found in areas like Galveston Island, Texas, where the Gulf Coast suffers from hurricane tidal surges. These bases also serve to anchor houses to the underlying ground during harsh winter storms with high winds.

Weatherproofed Year-Round Beach Houses

To survive harsh winter storms and the hurricane season in your beach home, choose a house which is specially constructed to withstand a variety of hazards, including falling trees, high winds and floods. The aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita revived interest in older construction techniques, such as post-and-beam construction. Examples of these types of beach houses are seen in the barns of farms in New England. Structures built in this manner survive events such as earthquakes and a heavy build up of snow that weighs down the roof as they are constructed from large, heavy wooden beams which bolt together to form the frames. A refinement of the traditional design features an octagonal house with a low roof. This design withstands high winds easily, because the force is directed down onto the roof and around the sides of the house. Beach houses with gable end roofs are more vulnerable to high winds which get under the eaves and lift the roofs. Careful choices of materials also affect the sturdiness of your beach house; strong softwoods, such as yellow pine, are preferred over hardwoods because softwoods under stress bend slightly, rather than break. Storm windows with high-impact safety glass complete the list of options to make your beach house a home to live in, all year-round.

Luxury Beach Houses

Luxurious beach houses with as many as six bedrooms and features like swimming pools, guest houses and extensive gardens make attractive bed-and-breakfast establishments and spacious holiday homes for large families. These types of larger beach houses require larger plots of land because they have larger footprints; they tend to spread out horizontally, rather than vertically, with few rising higher than two stories.

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