While enormous progress has been made over the last four years, the impacts of the Hurricane Sandy are still being felt in many communities today as the long recovery process continues. Construction crews became a familiar sight in coastal communities, and this stands true today in Monmouth Beach, N.J., where Bill Meyer has recently laid the foundations for his new home.
“The next flood is just the next flood, but it’s no big deal because we’ve had this before.”
Living in a flood plain poses unique challenges to building design and construction. For as long as Mr. Meyer has lived in Monmouth Beach, he has dealt with flooding. Having a property with one of the lowest elevations in the neighborhood, it was common for Mr. Meyer to find water in the ground level of his home, and over the years his attitude towards flooding has become quite nonchalant. As he states, “the next flood is just the next flood, but it’s no big deal because we’ve had this before. I had high water marks in my home from the last floods, and Hurricane Sandy was a new high water mark. When the tide goes out, the water goes out with it, and then we mop up.”
The opportunity to rebuild allowed Mr. Meyer to incorporate new design strategies to avoid damage from inevitable flooding. In this instance, his top priority was to increase lot elevation by three and a half feet and elevate the house an additional eight feet and seven inches. Where previously the ground level of Mr. Meyer’s home included living space and utilities, the new design contains only garage, storage and elevator spaces for accessibility at ground level. All of the living levels have been significantly elevated above the base flood elevation level. Raising the living levels and meeting flood plain requirements set by FEMA and HUD qualifies Mr. Meyer to receive both federal and state grants. Conversely, local zoning requirements limited the maximum height of the project. Sandwiched by these two height restrictions, square footage was maximized by sizing the area of each level nearly up to the minimum setbacks required by local zoning ordinances.
Another design priority for Mr. Meyer was to maximize the utilization of outdoor living spaces on multiple living levels. An expansive curved deck facing the Manahassett Creek has access points from all major living spaces and provides sun shading with a curved canopy. Upper terraces and an ample roof terrace take advantage of even more daylight and views. Materiality was thoughtfully taken into consideration – porcelain tile on the decks retain less heat and will therefore be much more comfortable to walk on with bare feet. The tile will continue inside, bordering rooms adjacent to deck areas. This strategy allows for an accessible and level door sill, and also will act as a buffer to protect interior flooring materials from water infiltration.
In the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, communities found a need to protect against future storms by rebuilding for resiliency. Unique zoning and environmental clearances posed many design challenges for the Meyer house, which in turn initiated thoughtful design solutions to rebuild smarter and stronger.
This is the second in a series about the Meyer House, to read the first post follow this link: The Meyer House: Feature Series