An oceanfront home on the California coast brings so many benefits. There are the beautiful ocean views, the glorious sunsets, the fresh coastal air, and the refreshing water in which to splash. Yet for property owners along the coast, including Santa Cruz County, remodeling and maintaining an oceanfront property has its unique challenges, from planning departments and building codes to climate.

Good news? These are easy to fix or avoid, with some careful planning and forethought. If you’re going to remodel a property by the ocean, then the following seven considerations will help you make the best decisions regarding materials, refurbishments, and maintenance.



Building PermitBefore you make changes or additions to your seaside home, it’s crucial to check with local planning and zoning departments and building codes. In Aptos and Santa Cruz County, coastal permits are required for certain remodeling projects and can sometimes take over a year to be approved. Therefore, it’s wise to plan ahead and gain some guidance from local, experienced contractors.

The right construction partner will ensure your particular project meets all local requirements and will help you figure out whether you need a Coastal Development Permit (CDP). In some locations, there may be limits as to how many changes or additions you can make. Sometimes simply being on the opposite side of the first public road from the ocean or near the mean high tide line can make all the difference, either way.



Oceanfront properties need durable siding. With the salty sea air, high humidity, and the penetrating sunshine, the climate on the central California coast can wreak havoc on exterior walls. Choosing the most suitable materials for your home’s siding is essential.

Using a rainscreen product in your exterior wall assembly will extend the life of the siding material. This product allows moisture to move easily through the assembly by evaporation and helps reduce hot and cold air as well as thermal movement through the wall.

Cement-based products such as stucco or James Hardi siding are ideal for the Santa Cruz County region and fulfill WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) requirements. These materials are fire resistant and termite proof and hold paint very well.



Metal Roof A majority of homes in the United States use asphalt shingles as a roofing material.  This material can be used at the coast if you choose a 40 year or better material.  A better alternative for coastal applications, is metal, in the form of painted aluminum or copper. These metal roofs are more expensive than aluminum or copper but will last much longer than asphalt shingles.

These metals are strong and durable and better at resisting rot, salt corrosion, mildew, wind, and termites than just about any other form of residential roofing. Metal roofs also reflect the sun, which can lower the cost of cooling your home by up to 30%.

If your roof is flat or low-sloped, metal is not a good choice.  A PVC roof is the best choice for this type of roof condition as it is strong, durable, and easily repaired if something should puncture it.  It’s always best to talk to your trusted design-build remodeling partners for guidance on the best roofing options for your property.


Exterior Paint

If you have a house on the ocean, it’s like living in a boat. With the wind, sand, saltwater exposure, you can expect almost triple the maintenance. Buying quality paints for your home’s exterior is therefore crucial.

Oil-based paints were the go-to-choice for exterior projects for many years, but the recent technological advancements made in water-based paints make them the better choice. The reason? Oil-based paints tend to crack and yellow over time, especially when used on wood siding, which expands and contracts with the weather. Oil-based paint also traps moisture and causes mildew and mold to form.

Acrylic paint, a water-based paint, is the better alternative. It’s more durable, long-lasting, flexible, and able to withstand fading from the sun or damage from rain and other elements. The water-based paint is also easier to use.

It’s always important to apply a strong finish to painted sidings and other surfaces and enact a regular maintenance routine (recommended every six months) to fix any initial signs of damage or wear.


Windows and Doors

WindowsWhen it comes to exposed metals on windows and doors, stainless steel hardware is an ideal choice. A beachfront property is exposed to a lot of salt that can quickly corrode certain metals. If your property is within one mile of the ocean, then it’s sensible to upgrade to a salt-resistant metal option as standard. Fiberglass is another excellent alternative to painted aluminum and stainless steel, with all the same benefits.

High-thickness windowpanes and shatterproof glass are essential considerations for beachfront homes as well. Strong winds, albeit rare, can cause a lot of expensive damage, so it’s wise to invest in robust materials from the outset. In addition, impact-rated windows will help prevent potential injury from flying debris during storms.

For general maintenance, windows should be cleaned weekly with a fresh water rinse or a lime remover to erase the salt particles that accumulate.



Santa Cruz County typically has high levels of humidity and moisture in the air, which can cause wood to warp. One way to protect your hardwood and seal out the moisture is to use closed cell insulation. This is a spray foam that creates a dense zone of material that acts as an effective barrier against water vapor, air, and sound.

The spray foam can be applied beneath floors – particularly in attics – and in between walls to form a protective layer around the interior of your beachfront property. As a general maintenance strategy when using spray foam, it’s good practice to ensure your home is adequately ventilated.



DeckingThere’s little that’s more beautiful and relaxing than watching the sunrise or sunset from the deck of your beachfront property. Good decking is visually attractive, kind to the skin, and durable, with green and renewable options also a plus.

Composite materials are a popular choice for decks across the nation. These outdoor flooring solutions are designed for wear and tear, together with various weather conditions, and come in the form of attractive pavers and tiles. That said, in hot conditions like in California, some PVC materials can expand during the day, causing issues over time.

Stone is an excellent alternative and can be installed on pedestals over a PVC membrane roof deck. You can use this method on a waterproof deck over a living space to create a beautiful and easy to maintain deck.  This method, when used over a deck with a patio below, will prevent water from dripping down under the deck.

As previously mentioned, your regional design-build contractors will help you select the best options for your waterfront home.


Oceanfront Property Remodeling Professionals in Santa Cruz County

Oceanfront homes are a rare commodity in our community. Here at Talmadge Construction in Aptos, we are dedicated to preserving these homes and carry out expert remodeling to fit families’ lifestyle changes. We’ve been doing so for 40 years, and we’d love to help you as well.

As a community-focused design-build firm, with a passion for eco-friendly design and local education, we are committed to exceptional customer service, quality workmanship, and complete integrity. Looking to remodel or extend your beachfront property? We’ll be with you every step of the way.

To arrange a free consultation with one of friendly team, call us today at 831.689.9133.

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