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Residential architects who specialize in the hot, humid, southern climate

Should you stay or should you go?

There are some great properties in Beaufort County with houses that are way past their prime. These houses often include; dated kitchens, small unfunctional bathrooms with ugly tile, mean little windows overlooking a great view and rooms built below FEMA’s base flood elevation. Maybe you own one of these properties or are considering buying one for the view. Homeowners of older properties often come to the point where they have three options: 1. Renovate and/or add an addition to the existing house, this might include raising the house, 2. Tear the existing house down and build a new house on the same property, or 3. Move.

     To help you decide whether you should stay or go, consider the following:

     Do you love the location?

     Do you have a great view?

     Is the house built above FEMAs base flood elevation requirements? If it is below you are  limited to spending 50% of the value of the house on the renovation or the house            has to be raised.

     Is the house built behind the current OCRM coastal or municipality river buffer setbacks? If your house is in the setback, you are not allowed to add any additional square          footage in the setback but you can keep what is there which might be an advantage.

     Will current zoning laws allow you to add onto your house?

     Will you over-build for the neighborhood?

A few years ago, we had clients who owned a beach front house in Port Royal Plantation.  The property was in foreclosure when they purchased it at a great price, but it needed a lot of work. The question was should they tear the house down and build new or renovate the existing. As collaborative partners with our clients, we listened to what they like about the house; besides the great location, they liked the feel of the spaces, the flow of the rooms and the relationship of the rooms to the ocean. Two other positive conditions were the first floor was above the required base flood elevation and the zoning allowed us to add the needed square footage. It was apparent that renovating the existing house and adding a small amount of square footage was the right approach. The project turned out beautifully.

Tearing down a house and starting over is a big step. The cost analysis of what is salvageable compared to the desired result is a good place to begin. Sometimes it is not obvious what the best path is at the beginning of a project or the conditions might change. For example, current Port Royal Plantation clients’ initial project was redesigning the windows in the great room. While documenting the existing conditions we discovered some structural beams in failure. In consultation with our clients and structural engineer we decided to reinforce the foundation. Then Hurricane Matthew hit, there was water damage throughout the house and the roof and foundation were compromised. After considering the amount of work to repair and renovate compared to starting over – our clients decided to build new. A big advantage in this project is the new house is placed to enhance the views of the sound.

The skills and expertise of your architect can help you in your decision to renovate, rebuilt or move.

On the Boards

We are excited to have a multi-family project on the boards! The community will be affordable housing with an emphasis on energy efficiency. Here are some drawings of the preliminary design. The three apartment buildings are dogtrots, with a outdoor passage through which provide ventilation and an outdoor living space. The remainder of the buildings are single family cottages with either one or two bedrooms, which center around a common space with a Chapel and a Pavilion.

Solar panels on every south-facing roof!

Why Now is the Best Time to Build Your Hurricane Resistant South Carolina Home

Even as our ability to design and build houses that withstand hurricanes has gone up, construction costs haven’t kept pace. If you are thinking of building a home in South Carolina at some time in the near future, this may just be the perfect storm.

There is a perception that everything is cheaper in South Carolina but we’ve seen that is not the case. This is especially true when it comes to building a quality home that can endure hurricanes and earthquakes, yet provide decades of enjoyment as well.

True, our gas taxes are cheaper and our property taxes are cheaper. Construction costs are higher than newcomers expect them to be.

Building in a Hurricane Zone Poses Special Challenges

 

Many people relocating from other parts of the country do not consider the additional cost of building in both a hurricane zone and an earthquake zone and what this means in terms of design and construction materials.

The requirements to mitigate both of these hazards add additional strength and durability to the building … and additional costs. Some of the necessities:

  • Building the first floor above FEMA’s base flood elevation, which adds to the foundation cost.
  • Structural Engineering fees in order to design code-compliant structural systems.
  • Connecting the roof through the walls to the foundation and footing with threaded rods, go-bolts, hurricane clips or other code approved methods. This adds to both the material and labor costs.
  • The shear walls required for lateral stability are more expensive than sheathing options available in other parts of the country.
  • Window and door openings must be protected from windblown debris. Impact rated windows and doors can cost up to twice as much as non-impact openings.
  • Our designs usually have big window walls, which require steel frames to meet the wind loads (and the views are worth it!)

Design & Construction Ensure House & Budget Weather Storms

We recommend and use several best practice options that will cost more initially but will save money on your home insurance or your utility bill.

  • A secondary roof under a metal roof ensures water tightness if the roof is compromised during high winds.
  • A U.L. certified lightning protection system will add $7,000 to $10,000 to a 2500 s.f. house but will protect your home and electronics from lightning strikes during our many lightning storms.
  • Spray foam insulation, more expensive than fiberglass insulation but a far superior product. It stops air and moisture infiltration, will not sag, keeps dust and pollen out and reduces capacity requirements, maintenance and wear of heating and air conditioning equipment.

A Secret We Want to Share with You About South Carolina Construction Costs

There’s one more cost consideration that you will want to be aware of because it can save you money.

Our firm’s historical data of residential construction costs show that the current average new home construction cost is about the same as the few years before the great recession.

Now is a good time to build, before construction costs rise again.

On the Boards

Factory Creek House

Here's a new house on the boards that overlooks Factory Creek. The owners wanted  traditional lowcountry style, but we went with a more contemporary feel in the rear with a lot of glass to take advantage of the incredible view. 

Hilton Head House

These clients originally hired us to help with a window replacement. Unfortunately, Hurricane Matthew cause significant damage to their existing house and they have decided to tear it down. Here's the design for their new house.

Tile trends, 2017

The latest trends in tile, from two local tile purveyors, Tammy Nold at Tileology and Will Dukes at Creative Interiors.

What were the most popular tile trends in 2016?

Tammy: Any type of subway tile is still hot hot hot. I do notice more people wanting to get a larger size to have less grout though, and more of an undulated finish versus the basic smooth surface. 
Will: Wood looks and porcelain tiles featuring natural earth colors (and grey, grey, grey) continue to be popular, a trend I see continuing for the foreseeable future.  Wood look tiles are now available in a wide variety of sizes, allowing for interesting patterns including herringbone installations.  The porcelain printing techniques employed by the mills have also continued to improve and many of the new reclaimed/distressed wood look tiles are so realistic that they rival the look of real wood.  For those wanting a little more pop, the sea greens and cobalt blue glass and porcelain tiles/mosaics can really add a coastal vibe to a Lowcountry interior.

Which do you think will continue in 2017? 

Tammy: Only because of our location I’m sure the subway will continue.  Porcelain brick tile floors and back-splashes is also gaining momentum.     
Will: We really see more wood looks continuing to expand across the industry in 2017 and beyond.  Not only are we seeing more variety in the available sizes, colors, and textures of wood look tiles, but customers are becoming bolder in their use and placement of these tiles.

Is there anything new on the horizon for 2017? 

Tammy: Tile manufacturers keep coming up with porcelain marble look-a-like tiles, and all kinds of funky shapes; i.e. elongated hexagons.  
Will: We anticipate more wood look tile installations on walls and showers as customers seek to create a more natural and soothing “woodsy” feeling in their baths.  We are also seeing a lot of hot new brick look porcelain tiles that will allow for the retro look of a brick floor without the headaches and costs associated with the installation and maintenance of real brick.  Finally, we are seeing more 3D tiles with lots of folds, wavy ridges, and profiles that literally jump off of the walls.  These textured tiles can make a great statement wall in a shower or really make a great first impression on a prominent wall in the foyer.

What trends do you think will or should retire in the upcoming year? 

Tammy: Elongated glass and stone lineal mosaics for back-splashes and borders in showers….SOOO over that.
Will: We continue to see the evolution in the style from old world chiselled edge product to tiles with much cleaner finishes.  There is a decrease in decorative bands or borders in showers as clients seem to more and more go for a bold statement with a decorative glass or mosaic feature wall in their shower.

Fripp Island Renovation

Our clients needed major renovations at their Fripp Island home, but because their house is below flood elevation, the scope of work is limited to less than 50% of the value of the house (read more about the 50% rule on our blog, here) So, up it goes! Wolfe house movers raised the house so it is safely above flood elevation and ready for renovations.

Check out the video, shot and edited by Benjie Morrillo.

Below are our drawings of the house, post-renovation. We will keep you posted as this project progresses!

Under Construction and Recently Completed Projects

Long Cove Club House

Construction on our project in Long Cove Club finished up recently. The house looks great and our clients are very happy! We will have professional photos taken, but in the meantime, here are a few we snapped.

The cedar shingle exterior blends nicely with the landscape

What a lovely deck, the perfect place to enjoy the view and a cup of coffee!

We love this shot of the water feature at the front entry.

Palmetto Bluff House

Construction is coming along nicely on the main house, and the owners have decided to build a carriage house too, so we are working on that design.

Here's a sketch with the carriage house shown.

Sea Pines Renovation

We enclosed a deck to create a screen porch. The adjacent zen garden is beautiful, not to mention very low maintenance!

The kitchen remodel yielded a more functional and stylish space

Berkeley Hall House

The Berkeley Hall House is about 3/4 to completion, and is looking great! 

The Great Room

Revitalization of Southern towns

Big ideas can transform a city with the right public-private partnership and the commitment of the community and elected officials. Chattanooga’s River City Company transformed a post-industrial downtown full of empty warehouses and factories into a vibrant, pedestrian friendly, destination downtown. It started in 1986 with a 20 year riverfront and downtown redevelopment plan; the first project was a 13-mile linear park that stretches along the Tennessee River. Now 30 years later the vision is realized in successful projects including the Tennessee Aquarium, Nightfall Concert Series, multi-family housing, Creative Discovery Museum, AT&T Field, Bijou Theater, Coolidge Park, new public schools, waterfront redevelopment, and Renaissance Park. The most recent project is the Tomorrow Building, an adaptive reuse of the former Ross Hotel into 39 micro-unit apartments.


One of the most ambitious and exciting projects currently underway is the Atlanta Beltline Project. The first railroad to Atlanta was built in 1845 from Augusta, soon Atlanta became the railway hub of the southeast. As industry grew and warehouses were erected outside of the city center, spur rail lines were built in a circle or belt connecting the many rail lines. Twenty-two miles of railroad were constructed around Atlanta between 1871 and 1908. In the 1970’s the industries along the belt lines closed and the railroad deteriorated. 


In 1999, Ryan Gravel, a Georgia Tech student, envisioned the Atlanta Beltline for his joint master’s thesis in Architecture and City Planning. By 2005, Gravel’s grassroots efforts had grown and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin created the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership. Led by the PATH Foundation, the first segment of the West End trail opened in 2008. The PATH Foundation is also heavily involved in The Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort.


The Atlanta BeltLine project has become a comprehensive transportation and economic development project for the city. It will ultimately connect 45 in-town neighborhoods, create new in-town housing, both affordable and market rate, parks, public spaces, and a light rail line. Currently 4 trail segments and 6 new parks are open. The work will continue in phases with completion planned for 2030. The Atlanta BeltLine is building community by connecting neighborhoods that were previously segregated and isolated from each other.
Another southern city, Greenville, South Carolina began their revitalization in the mid-1980s when the Carolina Foothills Garden Club initiated the idea of removing the Camperdown Bridge that crossed the Reedy River directly over the falls. In 2002, the bridge finally came down and the 20 acre Falls Park was constructed. The park was the catalyst that has changed Greenville’s downtown from abandoned storefronts to a thriving central business district.
In planning our future – let’s think big!

 

Before and After : Shrimp Pond Master Bathroom

After completing an addition to the Shrimp Pond House last year (see the Shrimp Pond Studio), the owners hired us again to renovate the master bathroom. We designed the original house about 15 years ago, so the bathroom needed a facelift! We think it turned out beautifully, here are the before and after photos.

Friday Fun!

Every Friday afternoon, we spend a hour or so on a fun activity or project around the office or community. Sometimes we provide community service, sometimes we sketch around town, or tour a museum....sometimes we play Pokemon Go! ;)

Angie`s Birthday!

Last Friday was Angie's birthday. We celebrated with a Chocolate Ganache Cheesecake, party hats and party horns! It was a gorgeous day to sit outside and enjoy the view.

Spanish Moss Trail Cleanup

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The Spanish Moss Trail is a great asset to our community. All of us in the office use it frequently for running, biking and walking. There are a number of people that use the path to commute to work by bike. After Hurricane Matthew, the trail was littered with downed trees, marsh grass, sand, and trash. Many areas were not safe to bike on or impassable. We spent a couple hours with rakes, shovels and brooms and cleared a section of the trail. 

Thanks to Kim Gundler and David Gorzynski for leading the effort, and to Carl, who was biking by and stopped to help!

Factory Creek Fishing Pier 

A few weeks ago, we walked down to the Factory Creek Fishing Pier and picked up all the trash in the Open Land Trust Park. We really know how to have fun!

Benjie is pleased with the result! A clean park for us all to enjoy!

Stay tuned to see what fun activity we come up with next! We are always open to suggestions too.