House on the Marsh

Project Description – Initial Site Conditions and Challenges: The existing site is a 17 acre parcel of land, most of which is marsh and federally protected. There is an existing one room cottage on the site with running water from a well, but NO bathroom, just an outhouse over a hole…yes, literally. The land does not Perc, which means you cannot put in a traditional septic system. To complicate matters, the site is zoned as seasonal, which means you cannot put in a tight tank. As if that weren’t enough, the well has never been tested or permitted. All of the above makes building a challenge.

Note: For background on all this, see my blog post on non-traditional septic systems.

Solutions: In order to build on this site, we have to first get the property zoning changed from “seasonal” to” residential.”

Once the zoning is changed, we can apply for a permit for a tight tank to deal with waste disposal. However, to get the approval for the tight tank we have to get the house design approved, and it cannot, by law, be more than a one bedroom house if we want to use a tight tank, which is our only option. In short, we have to rebuild, at least in terms of bedroom designation, what is already there. Anything more would be considered “new construction” and tight tanks are illegal for new construction.

Final Home Design:

Building footprint – 24′-0″ x 24′-0″

Total Square Footage – 864sf including loft

This is a one bedroom, one and one-half bathroom house that has a master bedroom suite that overlooks the main space. The building envelope is more than 50% glass, including the entire end gable that faces the marsh, capitalizing on the views, natural light, and property’s isolation. There is a deck cantilevered off the main lower level, and the doors can be fully opened to extend the space outward. The full height ceiling and the glass wall make the space feel much larger than the minimal square footage would imply. Furthermore, because of the wall of glass, the entire space is bathed in natural light and graced with views of the serene marshes.