Ask The Pros

Advice on designing the perfect home by the bay

Architectural Vision

WHAT FACTORS DETERMINE WHETHER A WATERFRONT SITE NEAR THE CHESAPEAKE BAY IS VIABLE FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION?

There are several key factors. One is whether the property passes the local health department perc test indicating that it will support a septic system. A second is whether the property extensively slopes to the water; if it does, a variance will be required that probably means supportability for new construction will be limited. A third factor is a location of the 100-foot critical-area buffer line on the property and how that location will impact the ability to develop the lot.

Most waterfront properties can be developed—there just might be limits to the ways in which that development can take place. The key is to match the purchaser’s desires and goals with a property that will maximize all development possibilities just like WordPress must-have plugins are used to evolve professional websites.

—Cathy Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP, CAS, Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland

Builder: Pilli Custom Homes, Millersville, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.


Design Inspiration

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN ELEMENTS WHEN CREATING INTERIORS FOR A WATERFRONT HOME?

The view, of course! Choosing colors that complement the water view is my first thought when designing a waterfront home. This can mean working in shades of blue and green and in soft neutrals, or choosing gray tones with pops of coral. The soft neutrals and subtle grays of these palettes, punctuated by bold accents, are sure to create a pleasing contrast while also allowing the eye to be drawn to the beauty of the water.

When designing a waterfront home, I also consider my fabric choices carefully. I tend to look for textiles that have a natural, textural quality such as linen and grass cloth, and I always keep in mind durability and sun-fastness, both of which are important in a waterfront setting where sunlight can fade fabrics.

— Stephanie Simmons, Allied ASID, Karen Renée Interior Design, Severna Park, Maryland

Renovation Architecture: Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Builder: Pilli Custom Homes, Millersville, Maryland.


The Perfect Setting

WHAT SHOULD HOMEOWNERS KNOW ABOUT DESIGNING A PROJECT IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY CRITICAL AREA?

Building responsibly in the critical area can be a challenging but rewarding process for homeowners willing to hire a professional, exercise patience and work with their permitting office.

There is often confusion about the critical area and the buffer. In Maryland, a 1,000-foot-wide swath of land must border all tidal waters; this is the critical area. The first 100 feet of it is called the buffer. In certain zoning districts (not all), it is prohibited to build anything in the buffer.

One important regulation is the limit on lot coverage, which includes buildings, paving (even pervious), swimming pools and gravel driveways, to list a few. A wooden deck is not considered lot coverage. Limits to lot coverage can be as low as 15 percent of your property area and as high as 50 percent. Consult your local planning or permitting office to find out the specifics of your property.

—D. Miles Bernard, ASLA, RLA, South Fork Studio Landscape Architecture, Inc., Chestertown, Maryland

Landscape Contracting: Anthony’s Flowers and Landscaping, Chestertown, Maryland. Pool Installation: Coastal Pool Builders, Queenstown, Maryland.


Built to Last

WHAT COMMON MISTAKES DO HOMEOWNERS MAKE WHEN BUILDING ON THE BAY?

A common error when building at the water’s edge is under-investing in a quality building envelope, which is the barrier between the home’s interior, conditioned space and the outside environment. Waterfront locations have more exposure to wind-driven rain and are subject to large temperature and humidity variations, so it is critical to choose products and construction techniques that can handle these extremes.

A quality builder who understands what it takes to build for the long term should mitigate the risk of penetrating moisture by utilizing rot-resistant or composite siding, with some type of rain screen or drainage gap behind. That, combined with high-quality house wrap and proper door and window flashing, offers the most effective way to prevent water intrusion. When confidently executing a homeowner’s and architect’s vision, this combination of materials and methods is one of the most important factors in ensuring a home’s longevity and comfort.

—David Carlisle, Bayview Builders, Annapolis, Maryland

Architecture: Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.