What Challenge-tunities do You Have in Your Business?

September 6, 2016

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I can feel fall in the air and I am definitely squeezing out every last drop of sunshine and summer. I call this time of year not just back to school but also back to business. My clients are considering how they wrap up the fourth quarter to have a winning year while planning forward to 2017. In some cases, that means an office update or relocation to accommodate growth.


Since I am not quite ready to give up summer, I thought I would take you through the starting steps of a beach house design project. There have been some learning curves partly because my zone of genius is office spaces and partly because it’s not located in the tri-state area. I am pretty familiar with building code here, but not so much in the little town of Fenwick Island, DE. And then there are the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) regulations.


The challenge-tunity, as Stacey Martino (a good friend and client), calls them is building within both the FEMA regulations and the local building code. In some ways,  they clash. There are strict height restrictions in the town. And if you don’t meet the height and freeboard requirements of FEMA, your insurance rates will increase.


The town states that the bottom of the very first joist must be 7 feet up from a certain point in the road. Don’t ask me I will have the surveyor and builder figure out that point. FEMA measures from a certain point on the water which comes up to a certain height on the ground then to the height of the bottom of the first joist. Is your head swimming yet? That’s ok. Mine is too.


Imagine squeezing a nearly 3 story house into a 32 foot height maximum. Easy you say – 8 foot ceilings times 3 and you have plenty of room to spare. But you have to take into account the slope of the roof – a 5:12 would be ideal but we may only be able to have a 4:12. Why do we worry about the slope of the roof in a beach community? Because seagulls drop shells that can clog the gutters! Then you have to subtract out height for the interstitial space – a big architecture word that means the open space between the below ceiling and the floor above to run HVAC and other mechanicals.


Now I bet your next question is why aren’t you working with an architect or structural engineer on this home? And the answer is of course I am working with both. Partnering with other professionals in the business makes for a much better design solution.


This is why I LOVE what I do! Because every day brings something new and different to learn. Today could be about flooring and tomorrow about building code in a little beach town.


What challenge-tunities do you have in your business? How can I help?


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