Building a beach house on 30A is such a blessing. But as with most blessings, it comes with many trials and challenges that you may not encounter while trying to build in other places.
I want to start off by emphasizing that Building a Beachouse on 30A IS NOT for the faint of heart. It is a constant roller coaster of emotions. We just went thru two weeks of nail-biting wondering if we would be allowed to continue building- (this was added on 10-19-22). Read below for all the details.
My first piece of advice would be to not be impatient. You need to be prepared for it to take 2 years from the time you close on your lot for your house to be completed.
While it may be a little difficult I am sure that once we are done we will realize that building a beach house on 30A is totally worth it.
This will be an ongoing post and I will update regularly. So check back to see our progress.
Last updated 10-17-22
This post is all about our experiences building a beach house on 30A.
How It All Started
In April of 2018 we bought a condo on Miramar Beach. We had never really been to the Destin area. We just drove thru on our way to Disney World one year and ended up buying a 2 bedroom condo site unseen. Having no idea what to what to expect, we set it up as a vacation rental for the summers. During the off season we tried to spend 10 days each month visiting. We completely fell in love with the area and began looking forward to our relaxing visits there each month.
It didn’t take long for us to venture over to 30A for dinners, hiking, and shopping. We quickly realized that 30A was where we wanted to be.
Found Our Little Piece of Heaven
After nearly 2 years of searching for the perfect house in the perfect location, we decided to buy a lot and build.
We actually bought 2 lots and as is typical for land near the beach, part of our lot was in the wetlands. And while this can sound pretty intimidating, it really isn’t. It just means you have to spend an extra 6 months and $25,000 to get the permits. So you definitely want to plan that into your budget and timeline. Also, there really is no guarantee that you will get your permits. So you will want to do your own research.
Once we made it thru that process, we began to work on our plans. Architects in the 30A area are amazing but they are just so busy that it is often times months before they can get to you. We decided to go with an architect that was local to us in Texas. We had worked with him before on other projects and he also had a lot more availability.
After a couple of months of revisions, we finally have our plans pretty finalized. We changed a few of the windows in the primary bedrooms but for the most part, this is it.
Our house is 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. We will lock off one of the primary bedrooms and bathrooms for our use exclusively, so we will rent it as a 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom.
Advice for Building a Beach House on 30A
First Piece of Advice
My first piece of advice would be, don’t get impatient. You need to be prepared for it to take 2 years from the time you close on your lot for your house to be completed. Depending on the environmental hoops you have to go thru, it may not take that long. But I would encourage you to be mentally prepared.
Life on 30A is a vibe. Everything moves at an incredibly slow pace. And this applies to the building process too.
It’s not that no one is working or getting anything done. Its more a matter of everyone is so incredibly busy that sometimes you have to wait 2-3 months in line to get your survey, or permits, or clearing.
Biggest Piece of Advice
My biggest piece of advice is to make sure that you choose the right builder. This can quite literally make or break your project.
We actually had to change builders just before we actually started breaking ground. It was a very difficult decision at first. But once we made the switch, we knew it was the best decision and were extremely happy and excited about working with our new builder.
You want a builder who is good at communicating. I realize that he, like everyone in the building industry on 30A, will be busy. But if your builder isn’t responding to your texts and calls in a timely manner before you start your project, its not likely to change after construction begins.
You also want to make sure that you meet with several builders before you choose which one to work with.
This was our issue with our first builder. We met him before we even bought our lot and we really liked him a lot. So, we just decided to go with him without meeting with any other builders.
It’s also very important that your builder be very organized. Especially since most people who are building a beach house on 30A are going to be doing so remotely, it’s nice to work with someone who is on top of things.
One reason we chose our builder is because he is apart of a program similar to Facebook for builders. Basically 3-5 times a week they will post photos of our house and let us know about the progress they made that week.
Designing Our Beach House on 30A
We knew, when designing this house, we would probably never live here full-time and that we were planning to rent them as vacation rentals in the summer.
So, designing a house that will be used as a vacation rental as well as a vacation home for us is very different than designing a house you will live in.
Designing for a vacation rental
No one will be living in this house full-time so we made the closets much smaller than you would in a typical house. Most people will only be there for no more than a week. So rather than put square footage and money large high end closets, we decided to focus more on the living areas and amenities.
In my opinion any house that you are building as a vacation rental, should have bunk room of some sort. One of the most fun about several families staying together in a large house is a place for the kiddos to hang out in. And a great bunk room with a nice tv is perfect.
We decided to put all the bedrooms downstairs so that there would be plenty of living area on the first floor. We debated about this for quite a while but ultimately decided that we didn’t want the living areas to feel cramped and small.
We really struggled with where to put the utility room? The second floor kind of made sense, since it is in the middle of the house. But, we finally decided to put it on the first floor. One, incase of a leak. We didn’t want it to cause more damage to floors below. And two, we felt like with all the towels from the pool and beach, It would be better for the laundry room to be on the first floor for easy access after swimming or beaching:)
I will update as more starts happening.
9-17-22 Today added: usb popups in the kitchen, Braker box can’t be in the garage, 220 plug for Tesla.
10-1-22 Building a Beach House on 30A
We finally got all our plans submitted to the planning and building department. Now we just wait 2-4 weeks to see if everything is approved.
I haven’t been able to blog about this because it was just too upsetting. About 10 days ago we got a call from our builder telling us that the planning department was asking for the water and sewer plan. When the builder called the company, they said that they don’t service our lot.
Without water and swerer we would not be able to build anything on either of our lots.
We were so close to beginning and now all ordering of materials was stopped until we could figure this out.
The utility company said that they would not service our lot because of the wetlands.
We explained that, first off we had all the permits for wetlands and that the utilities would not need to cross any wetlands on our lot.
Our environmental engineer emailed them the documents showing that the utilities would in fact not impact the wetlands. We were told that they would have a meeting about it in 5-6 days and let us know what they decided.
These 5-6 days seemed like an eternity. Especially knowing that someone else is in control of your outcome.
Searching for Solutions
In the meantime, we started exploring other options. One of which, was putting in a septic system and drilling a well. This was not something we really wanted to do. But, if it is the only way, then that might be what we have to do.
We contacted our environmental engineer to see if that would be a possibility and what we would be able to build if we decided to go that route.
She sadi that we could do that but we would only be able to build a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house with a maximum of 1,200 square feet.
That was a far cry from the house we were hoping to build.
Solving the Problem
After and excrusiating week of waiting for a decision, we were told that they would service our lot but that they did not have a pipeline connecting our lot to their main line.
We would be responsible for digging the trench and laying the pipe to their main connection.
Our builder thinks this should be an easy fix. We will have to get an extra permit for the trench and that should only take about 2 weeks.
In the meantime, once we get out permits from the planning committee, we can start clearing the land.
All of this stress and we haven’t even started building yet.
I do feel like we have this situation solved. But this whole experience has me a little apprehensive about future issues.
I can honestly say, without hesitation, that the main reason this was handled quickly is because of our builder. If we hadn’t changed builders when we did, I don’t think we would have started our project for another 6-8 months.
He and his office were so helpful in getting us thru this.
11-9-22 of building our 30A beach house
We finally received our site permits and they are clearing the land today – knocking down HUGE trees. It should take a few days to get it finished and then we are hoping to get the sewer and water attached.
I received the lookbook of the interior finishes from our Interior Designer! I absolutely love everything and can’t wait to see it come to life in the houses.
This Post is all about our experience building a beach house on 30A.
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