Questions You Should Ask Before You Buy a Coastal Property

Surfside, Watch Hill, RI

The following interview was excerpted with the permission of A.W. Hastings.

What are the three most important things to look at when you begin a coastal project?

First, we look at the regulatory issues including FEMA regulations and local codes and ordinances. If these are not addressed, the rest doesn’t matter. Then, we view the property from the water, thinking about the home’s image from all angles. It’s interesting that the client often considers the water side to be the “front,” but in reality, coastal homes have two “fronts," one of which is the water side. A lot of the images we put forth are from the land, but some of the most impressive are from the water – and you never see that from a car. The character of the water side is important. And finally, we consider the materials that go into a project, in terms of the weather conditions that a coastal location may face.


  • The Dining Porch - Watch Hill, RI

Talk to us about "working from the outside in" as you describe it on your website.

It’s about the way that the coastal residence gracefully transitions from outside to inside. The more gradual and eventful that transition is, the richer the architecture is. We draw our floor plan with the entire site in mind, working with critical exterior features including trees, landscapes and views, and then transitioning to the inside, with all season rooms and porches offering a “skirt” to the main structure.

  • Ocean view from the master deck - Watch Hill, RI

As a part of doing business on the coast, you offer a service called "Coastal Property Analysis," tell us more about this.

We developed this service that attempts to answer questions about how the proposed site will influence the build and design process. It’s basically a careful examination of the feasibility of the site.

There are big questions that we can answer with this analysis – and to do that, we pull in resources from the locality and site engineering as needed. It’s not expensive, but it’s well worth the effort. With a designer’s approach to the site, we ask technical questions and put it in a report, providing value to the end user. We talk about realistic options, cost, time for approval – and we subsequently build the buyer’s confidence in the purchase. Even when our analysis tells us that the site will not be feasible, we find that the prospective homeowners are very grateful to have the information.

To read the entire interview go to Hastings View: