By Lacey N. Howard
September 27, 2005
Jean Allsopp

As a custom builder on the Virginia coast for more than 25 years,Jim Sykes knows that a house on the bay needs to be solidly builtin order to combat water, wind, and salt air. "We start with a woodframe of No. 1 Southern Yellow pine, then cover it with plywoodsheathing," he says, "and we hand-drive nails. We feel like thatmakes for a much stronger house." After the waterproofing layer isadded, Jim says he has a rigid diaphragm that will be extremelyresistant to wind.

With the basic structure in place, the design team choseproducts that will hold up in the corrosive coastal environment.Composite siding promises not to rot, warp, or split like wood. "Ilove the shingles," Gerrie says of the fiber-cement product. "Theyhold paint for a long time." Fences, columns, cornices, andbeaded-board porch ceilings made from cellular-PVC material willalso resist rot. "This has become the product of choice forexterior applications," says Jim. "You can glue it, nail it, cutit, and it holds paint well."

On upper-level porches, in the cabana, and on the ground,burnished amber composite decking will hold its rich, rain-forestmahogany look without the need for protective sealants through manyicy winters and 100-degree summers. "It looks much like naturalwood," Jim says. Because it fights insect infestation and rot fromstanding water, it's perfect for ground-level decks andwalkways.

Landscaping also must stand up to seaside elements. To ensureits survival, Doug took cues from native flora. "We tried to use asmany plants that are indigenous to Norfolk as possible," he says.Sheltered from the beach, the backside of the house features a fewless-hardy varieties. "But the salt and wind tolerance increases asyou get closer to the bay," Doug says. "We planted long-bloomingperennials to come up at different times for a mix of colors."Ornamental grasses such as pennisetum and miscanthus, leopardplant, and black mondo grass give the garden natural form, whilegardenia and ginger lily bring fragrance.

Order a CD image gallery from thisIdea House for only $10.

Checks may be sent to Coastal Living, c/o Mamie Walling, 2100 Lakeshore Drive,Birmingham, AL, 35209. Please specify which version and write"NorfolkCD" in the memo line.

Call 205/445-8654 for more information.