Building Tips

Find essential info for building on the coast from installing an outdoor shower to keeping storage dry.

Outdoor shower

Photo: Brian Vanden Brink

Shower Power

Cooling down outside is the hottest thing in coastal home design. Consider five ideas when planning your outdoor shower.

Home Maintenance Checklist

Home Maintenance Checklist

Spring cleaning isn't just for closets-prepare for a stress-free summer by completing a few crucial tasks now.

Carpenter vs. Contractor

Carpenter vs. Contractor

Both carpenters and contractors know the nuts and bolts, but they perform very different tasks. A good carpenter can help in countless ways, from building a bookcase to raising a house frame, but don't confuse a carpenter with a general contractor.


Photo: Tara Donne

Building a Dock

The days are long gone when a few tool-savvy friends could help a do-it-yourselfer put in a wooden or metal pier. We've compiled a list of questions you can use when you sit down with a contractor to discuss adding a dock.


Exterior Trim

Photo: Terry Pommett

Tips on Trim

Attention to detail will yield tidy trim jobs, and when it comes to trim—the old ways are the best ways. You want to hire a carpenter who knows how to use a hammer. For some jobs, nail guns are the tool to use, but not always for trim. Guns drive nails so fast and hard, you lose the ability to selectively snug a board up against a particular surface.


Photo: Jean Allsopp

Versatile Screened Porch

It's only natural to want nothing between you and the coastal view for which you're paying a premium. Until, of course, summer bugs arrive. Then you're ready to get the contractor back to screen in that open porch. You can have it both ways. With the modular approach, you put in screens whenever you want them.

Deck materials

Photo: Terry Pommett

Deck Details

A little thought goes a long way when planning your deck. Keep our tips in mind to help improve the look and longevity of your outdoor space.


Photo: John O'Hagan

Keeping Storage Dry

Living by the shore can take a toll on items stored outside, but the coastal climate can prove just as punishing to possessions you keep inside. Follow this advice for safe, dry indoor storage to prevent problems and avoid costly repairs.


Photo: Terry Pommett

Cabin Style

Those of us in the design and building trades enjoy having clients rely on us. But trusting your architect, designer, or builder is not the same thing as abandoning your dream to them. I've seen dreams become nightmares when homeowners had one idea and the people they hired worked in different directions. Building a house is a collaborative affair.


Photo: Terry Pommett

Start Smart

Here's a tip contractors usually don't give you until it's too late: Get a lawyer.

My experience from three decades of building and remodeling homes in stringent Nantucket has taught me it's never too early to check regulations on what and where you can build. The penalty for ignorance—or for being obstinate—is paid in time and money.

Drainage system

Photo: Terry Pommett

Keeping Water Out

Soil tests can predict flooding around your home. But common sense helps, too. Does water collect and stand on your property? Do your neighbors have leaky basements? If it seems water might be a problem, assume it will be a problem, and design in a drain system.


Photo: Lisa Romerein

Professional Help

The remodeling world is full of confusing terms. (Did you know that MDF stands for “medium density fiberboard”?) Before you initiate a renovation or home improvement project, learn who does what, and how they can help you.




Photo: Terry Pommett

Building a Fireplace

In coastal construction, old ways often really are better ways. But it's nice to talk about a category that's improved by new approaches. Early masons didn't have the advantages of weather-sealing products, concrete blocks, and specially designed flue liners. Yet some time-honored considerations remain.

Printed from: