In a Q&A interview, Arnold Boyle, AIA, of Walters Architecture, a division of the award-winning development company, Walters, talks about design and construction challenges of coastal home building at the New Jersey shore.

Q: How does a client benefit from the team approach comprised of an architect, Realtor and builder?

Boyle: The creativity and expertise that these professionals bring to the table can have a significant impact on the financial bottom line of a project. I am able to fine-tune the building costs by getting direct feedback on my designs from the builder. And with input from our realtor we can determine the final value of a home. By looking at comparable homes we can determine if we are underdeveloping or overdeveloping a site. In the end, the client can make an educated decision on how to proceed with the size and style of a home.

Q: When you first meet a client, how do you ensure a project gets off to a good start?

Boyle: Before meeting with me, clients are vetted by the Walters sales team to ensure that we’re a good fit. Initially, I always ask for a survey of the property to discuss their vision, as well as their lifestyle needs and wants. To further provoke some thought, I ask clients about their family scenario, such as whether they like to entertain or spend time at the beach. It’s important to determine how the house will function in the future. Is it going to be a full-time or summer residence or an income property? If it’s a summer residence or income property, for example, then they might not care as much about an eat-in kitchen or big closets. If it’s a full-time residence, then they probably need all the amenities.

Q: How do you integrate home design with the local landscape or seascape?

Boyle: Orienting a house to take maximum advantage of the views is a priority. For example, Walters is building two spec houses which are a good example of this approach. One of the homes is oceanfront and the other is one house off the beach on 84th Street in Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island. The homes were designed in sequence to have unobstructed views of the ocean. As a result, the oceanfront house is positioned so that it doesn’t block the second house’s view. In the long run, that decision will benefit property values and it’s one of the benefits of working with a Realtor.

Q: What are some of the design trends that we should expect to see at the Jersey Shore?

Boyle: Many clients are discussing quality of living and don’t necessarily want the biggest house they could build on a property. As far as home design, I’m seeing a change from the traditional to more modern beach home in areas like Harvey Cedars and Loveladies on Long Beach Island. It’s an area that has seen the most change especially when it comes to oceanfront home designs. In 2019, I believe we will continue to see a trend toward simplifying.

Q: Considering the harsh beach environment, how do you incorporate resiliency into your coastal home designs?

Boyle: It’s my job as an architect to work with Mother Nature. More than ever, resilient design has become a crucial factor. I have to consider such things as flooding, salt corrosion, hurricanes, etc. When designing for the coastal climate, our focus is on structural design as well as the products we choose to detail the house. For example, we design oceanfront homes with a steel frame to allow us to maximize the doors and windows and combat the heavy winds and rain that the home will experience. All of the homes are ENERGY STAR® certified to help reduce the operating costs for heating and cooling the home. In addition, all of the exterior doors and windows exceed the building department’s requirements for wind speed and design pressure.

Q: What are some of the new designs that Walters Architecture is working on?

Boyle: Our team is creating some exciting new home designs which can save clients time and money. Many times, ready-made house plans are a great starting point. Instead of a client describing what they want we can look at our existing plans and see the costs associated with a particular design. We are also using BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology to create digital designs, which in turn allows clients to make informed decisions concerning the details of their house plans early on in the process. The software allows us to be more productive and collaborate more effectively.