Design Ideas – Structural Concrete – Updated

Design Ideas – Structural Concrete In the Keys, newer construction is using concrete rather than wood pilings or columns. The concrete specification for a house in a high salt climate can have additional additives to prevent spalling. Other additives can aid the concrete pour by making the mix slippery, to insure all areas inside the ICF blocks are filled. Fixing areas of visual concrete corrosion (spalling) is an good-sized industry in the Florida Keys. One person I talked with said…

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Design Ideas – Site Work

Site Work The FEMA requirement for structures in this area to be above the flood level, is +7.1 feet above sea level. Our average lot elevation is about +3.5 feet above sea level. We are allowed to start the total height of the structure at the highest street elevation of +4.93 feet above sea level. Currently 37′ is new height limit of the structure. So the total house height can be +41.93 feet above sea level. If the CC&Rs are no longer valid…

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Hopes and Dreams vs. Budget

I would love to build a house without budget considerations. But reality is a cruel mistress (the only one I will ever get!) We could not afford a waterfront lot and certainly not a very large house. There is an elasticity between amenities and cost. More goodies, the higher the total cost. We have basic requirements; walls, roof, floors, indoor plumbing, etc, the City of Marathon has requirements; structural loads, roof wind resistance, minimum elevation for the house, permit fees,…

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Hurricanes, Wind and Flooding

Hurricanes, Wind and Flooding After living in California all of our adult lives, we are (mostly) nonplussed by earthquakes. We have experienced small ones barely noticeable, to those that damaged San Francisco and caused elevated highways to fail. Our current house is wood construction, which reacts well to moderate earthquakes. We accept that we cannot predict when they will happen. We hope we are prepared with food, water and shelter. Hurricanes on the other hand, we have limited experience. I…

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Design Ideas – House Style

House Style The Florida Keys are known, somewhat, for a tropical style. Most homes do not express a particular style. Older homes were usually constructed on the ground. The new regulations require home to be built on piers, above grade. The higher above grade you build the “safer” you are, and the cheaper your flood insurance will be. I have seen different styles such as Bahamas style, Bermuda style, Caribbean style, Mediterranean style, Victorian style, contemporary style and everything else.…

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The Planning Approval Process

The Planning Approval Process The planning approval process was mostly a blur, as we started about 11 years ago. At the time most real estate transactions were handled by attorneys as well as real estate agents. I was a very nervous buyer. There were CC&R’s (covenants, conditions and restrictions), many local, county, state and federal (FEMA) approvals, including environmental and biology approvals or waivers. The attorney was important to me. Back then I did not have much confidence in Florida…

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Our Lot

Our Lot There were four lots available at the time of “get it now or else!” I chose the corner lot. It was a little farther from the state park beach but close to a large lagoon (connected to the Atlantic) and is more amenable to stealing views from at least 2 directions. If we built up as high as possible, we could see over the existing houses of the neighbors as well.   As you can see from the…

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The Search

The Search Some of the lots I looked at were canal front, but in areas without neighborhood amenities. I did not think we would want to be on the road every time we needed something. The only road through the Keys is Highway 1 (the Overseas Highway). Basically; one lane in each direction for 100 miles. Most accidents are head on collisions; a bigger car is part of the agenda, too. Other lots were at lower elevations, yes; lower than…

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Getting Started

Getting Started I never took the initiative to talk to a real estate agent until the market got hot in 2004. I woke up early one morning and decided I would walk into the local real estate agency, Coldwell-Banker Schmitt in Marathon, to ask a few questions. I bought into the “better get it while you can” story. I did go to different parts of the Keys to speak with other real estate agents to investigate other opportunities. I tried…

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Design Ideas – Interior Walls and Insulation

Steel studs are standard in the Keys. I do not want wood in the house structure, or walls or floors. We want to protect against bugs, termites and mold living since we will be living in a damp, high humidity environment. I want to use US made “paperless” drywall and fiberglass tape. Mold and bugs like the glue used on paper covered drywall. Some imported drywall products caused extensive health issues for some home owners. Finishing walls with “paperless” drywall and fiberglass tape can be…

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