This challenge renovation in South Bethany, Delaware was both structurally and legally. The zoning regulations in town are very comprehensive, but this client came to us with a unique home. The house was a small cottage on a corner lot. The homeowner wanted to expand vertically to capture views, but the home was inside two setbacks.
Being set inside of the setbacks, our first step would be to get a variance to the zoning requirements. We had to request permission to build above the existing footprint. These beach towns tend to be strict when it comes to zoning laws, so we had to assemble a pretty convincing case. The day of the hearing, we had a hurricane hit town and they shut down highway access. We added over an hour to our trip with the backroads and flooding. Then we ended up being a half hour late. This was not a great first impression. We also had to address objections from five neighbors. Luckily, we prevailed in a 3-1 vote with one abstention. From there, we were able to start designing.
The program was to turn a 3 bedroom home into a 6 bedroom home with adequate living space and outdoor balconies to capture views. The major concern was that the size of the house was strictly limited by the zoning code. Fitting all of these pieces together without exceeding the limitations was going to be a challenge. The addition on the second floor came together nicely in the end with two bedrooms with private balconies to the ocean view. The new kitchen has windows that look over the beach access where the view will never be blocked.
The final challenge was to build this addition overtop of an existing home set on wood pilings. We partnered with a local structural design firm to modify the existing girders and insert new beams in the ceiling to support this one and a half story addition overtop of the original home that we left mostly intact beyond the stair and kitchen addition on the side.
In the End
All of this hard work led to a house that was extremely functional. The views the client wanted to capture were there. The bedrooms they wanted and the house has enough living space and outdoor play spaces to keep everyone happy on their beach vacations.