For many, having a home by the ocean is the embodiment of a dream come true. For condominium managers and board members, though, there is also the responsibility of caring for and protecting these homes from the added wear-and-tear caused by the ocean itself. With the proper planning and maintenance, however, those problems can be minimized and potentially eliminated, restoring peace of mind to seaside living.
So what does an oceanside condo face that other inland homes do not? While most inland homes are protected by trees, hills and other structures, most seaside residences face the ocean unprotected with nothing to disrupt high winds, fierce storms or unrelenting sunlight. “These homes have to endure more,” says Matthew Coulsey, a projectmanager with Noblin & Associates Engineers, based in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. “They get more sunlight, more wind and more wind-driven, horizontal rain. A building out in Framingham [Massachusetts] won’t have those types of issues.”
Comparing wear and tear between oceanfront properties and their inland counterparts, “you can go a mile inland from Boston Harbor and the materials you use might hold up for a year. Get closer to the ocean, and they might last three to six months,” says Peter Seoane, vice president and general manager of Stuart Dean, an architectural restorationand maintenance firm located in Boston, Massachusetts.
Among the many problems that can face seaside homes, wind can be one of the most severe, driving moisture into buildings, tearing off shingles and, in very heavy storms, doing significant damage to roofs. “When wind passes around buildings, it creates a vortex,” says Bob Burns, principal of Burns Associates - Engineers of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “It creates a negative pressure within the living spaces, whichcauses a vacuum.” Water or mist outside the building then gets pulled in through that vacuum, potentially causing damage to the home later on.
Taller buildings can also face more potential damage from wind. “The taller the building, the more surface is exposed to the wind,” Burns says. “The further you get from the ground, the worse it is.” The ground itself offers friction that can help reduce wind speed.