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Building Modern on the Florida Panhandle

by David Reich last modified Apr 01, 2006 08:13 PM
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Building Modern on the Florida Panhandle

Posted by David Reich at January 04. 2006
Building simple, modern, and affordable on the Florida panhandle

The time has finally come to begin a blog at on our pursuit to build what we have come to invision as the modern Florida cottage. For over 3 years now, my wife and I have envisioned something different for our small, very funky, beach neighborhood on the Florida panhandle. This is the "redneck riviera" ya'll and probably one of the most unlikely places to find modern architecture. But what better place to begin?

We presently have several build sites in the community secured and are ready to move forward. This neighborhood, known as Laguna Beach, was developed in the late 30's as a vacation retreat for folks mostly in Alabama and Georgia. It was sub-divided into lots of 50x65 and 50x150 for the most part.

The original homes were the raised "Cracker" style. Later in the 50's and 60's came the concrete block homes. Then came the mobile homes, many which still exist. Now, a real estate hotspot, many have turned to the faddish post-modern style homes. These, to me at least, are cheap beach home versions of McMansions. Most are poor take-offs of the very successful Seaside, FL community. They generally are stick built and generate at lot of waste during construction, have little architectural merit, and are more about being inside than out (oh yea, did I mention the beach is across the street?) And lastly, they ain't cheap! (excuse the slang)

Enter the modern approach. For more than 3 years I have focused on what made this area successful and what the "would have been" natural progression of architecture to be. These homes were always modest in size, affordable, and made good use of functioning as a beach cottage. They held up to the beach environment and connected the inside with the outside to take advantage of the mild climate. And this has become a new passion for me - to recreate this simple, affordable, functional beach cottage.

We are concentrating on costs vs construction methods. Much has to be learned regarding the present status of materials and labor costs and what will meet the coastal codes and still be affordable. We have begun the designs with CMU block in mind but are open to other methods such as SIPS, AAC block, and so on. Our architect friends are taking a very methodical approach to this project as a learning process with a clean slate. We have just submitted our first drawings to the local engineering firm for review and are looking forward to their response. There are challenges ahead without a doubt to build modern in this area, especially in selecting a builder, but we will continue this push forward and will keep you abreast along the way.

Re: Building Modern on the Florida Panhandle

Posted by David Reich at January 04. 2006

I have added a few images of the preliminary schemes we are working toward for the modern beach cottage.


Re: Building Modern on the Florida Panhandle

Posted by David Reich at January 04. 2006

Another preliminary scheme (A) of the MODest House for our Florida beach cottage


Re: Building Modern on the Florida Panhandle

Posted by Jill Black at February 24. 2006

I love the design! I am hoping to do a Modern Sustainable 6 unit housing project in an area about two miles from downtown Ft. Worth.

We are a long way from the beach, but I certainly want to add a major element of the inside/outside living.

My company is Urban Dwellings, Inc. and you can see photos of my first project at . My first project was townhomes and this time I want to do single family homes so that families who want the Urban experience of being able to walk to local restaurants and have a short commute to work can benefit from the major growth we are having in the area.

Can you give me any kind of estimates on construction prices that you are targeting? Are you preselling the homes? What have you found to be the most economical exterior materials that fit with your modern design?

Re: Building Modern on the Florida Panhandle

Posted by Jake Bailey at April 01. 2006

I just moved to Biloxi, Mississippi last May, and can relate to being in a redneck rivierra. Since Katrina, the new urbanists have come with all sorts of ideas, and renderings.. mainly renderings. I'm excited about the prospect of a more walkable community, but I'll be surprised to see even a few houses as good as the renderings you posted.

What were you planning to use for structure? Nearly the only things that stood up to Katrina along the beach on the Mississppi coast were cast in place concrete.

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