DESIGN VOICES – Autumn

Carefree Coastal Construction: A Look at a New Waterfront Home

By KLAFFStyle Editorial Staff
Photography Courtesy of Alan Kun

Award-Winning Builder Arnold Karp on Key Things to Consider

The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, and the still-vivid memories of Super Storm Sandy may give those of us who live in a coastal area some concern about living on the water.

KLAFFStyle turned to builder Arnold Karp, principal of Karp Associates in New Canaan, Conn. for perspective. A longtime KLAFFS client, Arnold was named 2017 Builder of the Year by the Home Builders and Renovators Association of Fairfield County. He knows a thing or two about, as he puts it, “…building for the ages.”

Karp lives in a waterfront home he built and said that he wouldn’t trade the lifestyle, describing it as relaxing and tranquil. He also told us about a waterfront home he recently completed in the prestigious Lucas Point private beach association in Old Greenwich as an example of what you should consider if you’re seeking to buy or build on the coast. The property won the Connecticut Home Builders Association’s coveted HOBI Award for Best New Construction Home of the Year.

The original house on the .31-acre lot was built in the 1920s, and had outlived its useful life, according to Karp. It was no longer compliant with FEMA, Connecticut Coastal Management Plan and local town regulations for waterfront construction. It had to come down. In its place, there’s now a totally new home from bottom to top – built to resist flooding and stand the test of time.

Construction started with new pilings – 70 of them — that support the house above. The technology and materials for setting pilings have evolved, Karp said. In addition to raising waterfront homes on pilings, it is essential to obtain a Flood Elevation Certificate by a qualified third party, he added.

According to a FEMA document:

Knowing your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood helps determine your flood risk and the cost of your flood insurance. An EC documents the elevation of your building for the floodplain managers enforcing local building ordinances, and for insurance rating purposes.

If you make substantial changes to your building in a high-risk area—for example, you make an addition to your home or convert the garage to living space—you likely need a new EC to reflect the new building characteristics and Lowest Floor Elevation.

Building code requirements might change over time as flood risk changes and maps are updated. If you are remodeling or rebuilding, consider elevating to lower your flood risk, which, in turn, can lower your flood insurance rates and reduce the financial impact of the next flood.

Karp strongly recommends that whether you’re building or remodeling, make sure you have a knowledgeable, experienced team in place. He also stresses that you should, at minimum, comply with national, state and local regulations, and, even better, exceed them.

“We were recently engaged by homeowners who thought their previous builder had provided an elevation certificate. When we went to do additional work for them, we discovered that they did not have an acceptable cert and that the property did not meet regulations. This was a serious and costly defect.”

Unfortunate tales aside, it’s viable to live comfortably on the coast and weather any storms that may blow in — given the right design/build team.

Karp’s case study for how to build waterside is a perfect example. You can arrive at the Lucas Point property by car – or, by boat to its own private dock. Once there, the 13-room, 4000-square-foot home offers four bedrooms and four baths. There are sweeping water views from all three floors of this open flex-floor-plan home with multiple decks.

For even more convenient access to outdoor living, the exterior kitchen and family room wall is a folding glass system from NanaWall. There’s also an outdoor shower, an elevator, radiant heat, two fireplaces and a generator. Finishes throughout are of the highest caliber – a Karp Associates hallmark. Materials were chosen for sustainability and for durability in a waterfront environment.

The property is on the market for $5,400,000. For more information or to schedule a showing, contact Penne Weicker at 203-972-3366 or at pweicker@karpassociatesinc.com, and mention the Karp home in Lucas Point that you saw on KLAFFStyle. 

“The house is thoughtfully designed and ready to move into,” Karp said. “It’s like going to live at a spa full time. And we’ve saved the buyer two-plus years of planning, approvals and construction. All-in-all a very relaxing opportunity. And by the way…many of the items used in the baths and elsewhere are from KLAFFS, our go-to supplier for many years.”

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