The Tree House

The Lowcountry is hot, humid, and prone to hurricanes, which requires special attention to the design and detailing of the building. The existing grade, at eight feet, is well below the required base flood elevation of fourteen feet.  

The house was designed to slip between the live oaks without cutting down any trees. The great room was angled to maximize the long view to the northeast down Broad Creek. The house was raised out of the floodplain. Hydrostatic vents and breakaway walls were incorporated to prevent the foundation wall from collapsing during a flood.

The lot was the last waterfront site in the development and was considered un-buildable because of the location of the majestic trees on the site. The three oaks in the center of the lot are forty and fifty inches in diameter. Other large oaks are closer to the edge of the creek.

The long spectacular view to the northeast looks down Broad Creek. The view to the northwest overlooks the neighborhood marina.


Hurricane Ready

Best practices for building in a hurricane-prone, hot, humid climate have advanced over the past twenty years. The first requirement: keep the building from blowing away in a hurricane. The building is tied together from the roof rafters to the foundation with continuous “Go-bolts” and structural ties. The building is designed to withstand the wind shear associated with a 140 m.p.h wind. The windows and doors are impact-rated to protect from flying objects and all finishes are securely fastened to the structure.

The next goal is to keep the rain out. The 30” roof overhang protects the walls from rain. The windows and doors all have the necessary design-pressure rating and particular attention was given to the flashing. There is a secondary roofing membrane under the roof shingles to protect the roof if the shingles blow off. There is a rain screen behind the wall shingles to allow the walls to dry when they get wet.

Finally, the building must be protected from flood damage. The first floor is raised one foot above the base flood level of 14’ A.M.S.L. The house is built on piers with a continuous footing for structural support. The crawl space is enclosed with breakaway walls between the piers that will collapse during a flood. The garage has engineered hydro-static “Smart-Vents” that will allow water to enter and exit during a flood. All materials in the floodplain are either masonry or pressure treated wood to withstand flood waters.


Sustainably Engineered

The high-efficiency house was designed for our hot, humid climate. Polyurethane foam insulation was installed at the building envelope. This allowed the HVAC equipment and ducts to be in conditioned space. By eliminating penetrations between conditioned and unconditioned spaces, the design prohibits mold and mildew growth. The engineered high-efficiency HVAC system is easily accessed for maintenance.

The Advantech Zip-Wall system was used to enhance the weatherization of the walls and roof and prevent envelope leaking. High-performance windows were used; they are impact rated with argon-filled, smart sun, double glazed glass. Every room is flooded with natural light to reduce the need for artificial light during the day. Ninety percent of the lighting is LED to reduce the heating load. The deck material is thermo-treated ash which is environmentally preferable to a pressure treated material. Silt fences were installed at the creek’s edge during construction, as well as tree protection. The storm water is retained on-site in a rain garden to protect the creek from additional run-off.

open floor plan
Frederick and Frederick did an outstanding job designing our home to take advantage of the lot with unique water views, while saving our huge oak trees. They listened and the design was creative and met our every need. Their construction management service, especially Tom, ensured the building process met the design details, giving us confidence while we were not present for extended times. They were quickly responsive to our every question and detail. We would highly recommend Frederick and Frederick for any high end project, especially one requiring creativity and total “beginning to end” services for the entire project. Thank you for a great job!
The last waterfront lot in the neighborhood was for sale and the Getchells decided it was for them. The challenges were great. The one-half acre lot was full of majestic live oak trees. Three of the largest trees were in the center of the lot. The Getchells wanted to keep their massive furniture from Santa Fe. Our task was to design a house that would connect them to the site, preserve all of the trees, provide a view of Broad Creek and the trees from all of the rooms, while graciously housing their furniture.
Jane Frederick
Managing Principal