Building a Dream: Our Vacation Rental Property Series #2

Continuing our journey for finding a vacation rental property, we had a whirlwind weekend of seeing about 8 houses across the Outer Banks towns of Duck, Corolla, and Southern Shores.  We had seen a house that we liked very much but the current owners couldn’t tell us much about its history, things like the last time the HVAC was replaced, how old the roof was, if the pool pump had been replaced etc.  That was a red flag for us, but not totally surprising as a lot of homes change hands frequently in this beach community.  I think many people idealize the concept of owning a beach home but then the reality sets in that owning a rental home is a lot of work, homes near the beach require so much maintenance and the older the home is, the more work is required and accordingly the more money necessary for upkeep.  It’s not all relaxing in the hammock and pina coladas at sunset.  Therefore, some people give vacation rental home ownership a go for a few years and then throw in the towel.

We were having a heck of a time finding a home that met our requirements.  Most homes were disqualified due to location, either lack of proximity to beach or too close to major roads.  As we searched we did see a plot of land about a quarter mile closer to the beach than the aforementioned house.  This piece of land got us thinking that perhaps we should build our beach house.  Certainly, there would be benefits to building; we would be able to get exactly what we want and have a brand-new home requiring little maintenance and we could finish and furnish it to our liking rather than falling in on old dilapidated furnishings.  However, there would be disadvantages to this approach as well; total end cost would be higher, would require work to find a builder and architect to design the home from scratch resulting in a longer wait time.  No matter the disadvantages, we decided to look at several lots that met our requirements for flood zone, location, and neighborhood, while we still kept an eye on other homes coming on the market.  We also simultaneously embarked on the process of researching local builders.  There is a pretty large selection of builders of varying degrees of experience across the small Outer Banks community.  If we had known anyone who had built in OBX previously we would have asked for a recommendation, but since we did not, we initiated our own research.  Of course we started our search just like many other super important searches in our lives, with our best friend, Google.  Through Google we came upon the Outer Banks Home Builders Association and read about their annual OBX Parade of Homes Competition.   The past winners of this competition rose to the top of our potential builder picks.  I’ll discuss more in the next installment about how we went about choosing the best builder for our dream home, but we did make that selection WHILE we were still searching for a lot and that was probably one of the best decisions we made.  Our builder even came out to a few potential home sites with me to debate their positives and negatives, which was immensely helpful as he was able to comment on things I was not smart on.  For example, one site was completely wooded and significantly “gullied” in the center.  Our builder pointed out that we would need to bring in tons, yes tons, of fill dirt to make this lot buildable.  In the end, after significant searching, we settled on a wonderful partially wooded, mostly level, half acre which was only about 1400’ from the beach.








We’ll pick up the next installment talking a bit about how we successfully negotiated a great price for our land and how we selected the best builder.


Coastal Maine Design

Coastal design is one of my favorite styles.  I’m not talking about cheesy ship’s wheels coupled with seashell printed duvets and lighthouse figurine collections.  Good coastal design evokes the feeling of the beach through use of sea, sun, and sand inspired colors, textures, fabrics, art and light.  There are a ton of different “beachy” kinds of design.  A room inspired by southern California will have a different look from one inspired by the Caribbean which will look different from a Charleston, South Carolina coastal design.  I’ve visited a lot of beaches but recently had to do a bit of research when a client requested that her home look like coastal Maine.  I’ve never been to Maine.  I could conjure other nearby coastal ideas, like the looks of traditional New England coasts such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.  But does Maine have the same look as those other iconic New England beaches?  I didn’t know.  So naturally I consulted my best friend, Google.  I learned that Coastal Maine, is a bit New England, but also woodsy, rugged, and natural.  Here are some of my selections for a casual Coastal Maine sunroom.


  1. Santa Barbara Navy Settee
  2. Montagna Rustic Bay Floor Tile
  3. Norfolk Island Pine
  4. Buffalo Check Curtains (DIY)
  5. Borrby Lantern
  6. Jerseyville Navy and Coral Ikat Fabric
  7. Rens Sheepskin Throw Rug
  8. Newmanstown Cable Knit Throw Pillow
  9. Buffalo Check Pillow (DIY)
  10. Spicy Orange Velvet Pillow
  11. Oversize Seagrass Basket
  12. Hannah Rug 
  13. Wood Slice Coffee Table
  14. National Parks / WPA inspired Prints
  15. Painted Canoe Paddles
  16. Hemp Rope Doorstop
  17. Celerie Cotton Knit Throw
  18. Rainman Ceiling Fan
  19. Boston Fern
  20. Rope Hanging Planter
  21. Wingback Slipcovered Swivel Glider