Beauty and the Beach

Builder Dick Dobson isn’t one to waste an opportunity, especially with his own beach vacation home

August 01, 2002


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Builder Dick Dobson isnÆt one to waste an opportunity, especially with his own beach vacation home. Its waterfront setting on Roanoke Island, N.C., provided the chance for dramatic views of Roanoke Sound on three sides. And from the widowÆs watch pub that serves as the homeÆs uppermost floor, he can enjoy a panorama that includes a view of the Atlantic Ocean.


This charming, five-story beach retreat on Roanoke Island, N.C., provides Virginia-based builder Dick Dobson and his family with just the right environment for rest and relaxation. While the 6,053-square-foot house includes plenty of entertaining space as well as accommodations for overnight guests, there is no office. "I wanted this to be a place where I can get away from that for a while," Dobson says.

The five-story homeÆs distinctive appearance is based on the Outer Banks vernacular and includes shingle and Craftsman detailing, says residential designer Mike Florez. ôThe origins of this style come from the original Coast Guard stations that were built in the area in the 1800s.ö

Florez specializes in designing vacation and second homes for custom clients in a variety of resort locations across the country. ôLike the Dobson house, most vacation homes are designed for sites that have something spectacular about them, such as water, views or mountains,ö Florez says.

With its proximity to Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic, this homeÆs location promises the homeowner exceptionally long view corridors that will remain intact virtually forever.

ôThis is a house of windows,ö says Dobson, not exaggerating a bit. It features 117 windows, including a combination of geometric, picture and double-hung styles. The homeÆs main view orientation is straight out the back, so windows cover the rear of the house.


Making the most of the siteÆs view potential was the primary design goal for this project, residential designer Mike Florez says. Nowhere is that more evident than in the great room, where ceiling heights soar from 10 to 22 feet and a wall of windows provides an unobstructed view of Roanoke Sound. The interior features a nautical design theme.

ôIt was not only capturing the water views that was important,ö Dobson says. ôThe weather is also a major focus here. Even when it is bad, it is really very pretty. The storms that come through here are so dramatic that we love to watch them.ö

Beautiful though they are, the storms, the sun and the saltwater spray can wreak havoc on a home inside and out. Dobson says he was careful to select products and finishes that would be up to the challenge, including fiber-cement shake siding; energy-efficient, maintenance-free windows; and low-maintenance decking.

Dobson also installed electrically and manually operated roll-down hurricane shutters to cover nearly every window. Not only do they offer protection during foul weather, but they also create a thermal barrier and provide added security when the family is not home.

Coastal homes such as this one also require larger amounts of steel in their design for strength, Dobson says. Generally, construction codes require that coastal homes be tied down from the footings all the way up through the rafters.


"We loaded the home with windows to take advantage of the water views," Dobson says. The ground level includes a large recreation room, garage and storage space. In addition to a fiberglass pool and spa, this level also has an outdoor kitchen where the family prepares fresh fish, shrimp and crab caught off the private dock adjacent to the property. "Outdoor space has always been important for this market," Florez says, "but today there is much more demand for careful planning of it."

For this home, constructed on pilings driven 16 feet into the sand, Dobson used significantly more anchors and steel strapping for the wood-frame construction than would be necessary for a conventional residential project inland. A specially treated wood skirt surrounds the foundation and minimizes erosion.

The homeÆs ground level is dedicated to garage space, including room for three vehicles and storage space for personal watercraft and fishing, boating and diving equipment. It also has a ôkids-onlyö recreation room that includes a pool table and a media center. Outside, the home features a fiberglass, in-ground pool; a waterfall spa; and an outdoor kitchen.

The focal point of the homeÆs interior is the main-floor great room, which features a window wall, a 22-foot ceiling and a fireplace. Nautical accents are used throughout the home to reinforce the water-oriented design theme.

The main floor includes the primary master suite, one of two suites in the home. This spacious retreat includes not only a large bedroom and sitting area, but also a luxuriously appointed bath with a corner spa tub, a separate shower and his-and-her vanities.


Reflecting the home's relaxed, vacation-oriented character, the kitchen opens directly into the great room and functions as an extension of the entertaining area, says Florez. "The emphasis is on public gathering spaces because in a vacation setting people tend to want to congregate." This kitchen features top-of-the-line finishes, including custom cherry cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and white oak flooring.

The secondary master suite is upstairs and includes access to its own mini-kitchen. ôHaving two master suites is not uncommon in vacation homes,ö Florez says. ôMy clients often have special guests, like parents or other couples, who come to visit. They want to provide them with really nice accommodations and give them plenty of space, privacy and a nice view.ö Two additional bedrooms, a study and laundry facilities are also on this level.

The fourth story is actually a landing that doubles as a reading loft and leads to the fifth-floor widowÆs walk. From the landing, guests are treated to a dramatic look down into the great room.

Florez is quick to credit the success of this project to Dobson. ôHe was the most hands-on client IÆve ever had,ö says Florez. ôAnytime that I would visit the site, there he was up on a ladder himself, working with the crew. He really made himself an integral part of this project.ö


The main floor also features the primary master suite, which includes a sitting area, deck access, and a private bath and dressing area with two large walk-in closets.

Style of Home| Beach transitional

Location|Manteo, N.C.

Total Square Footage| 6,053

Market Value|| $1.5 million

Hard Costs| $180 per square foot (excluding land)

Builder|| Dobson Construction, Newport News, Va.

Residential Designer| Florez & Florez Designers, Point Harbor, N.C.

Major Products Used| Appliances: Bosch (dishwasher), SubZero (refrigerator), Thermador (oven), Scotsman (icemaker), General Electric (washers/dryers) | Cabinetry: custom by Colonial Kitchens | Countertops: granite | Doors: custom white pine | Exterior Finish: James Hardie Building Products (Hardishake) | Paints/Stains: Duron | Fireplace: Heat-N-Glo | Flooring: tile, white oak, carpet | Home Controls/Automation: Trane, ITI Security Pro (security system), NuTone (intercom system and central vacuum) | HVAC: Trane | Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler | Roofing: Timberline | Windows: Simonton | Patio Doors: Andersen | Decking: Trex | Hurricane Shutters: Alucraft Atlantic


From here, residents, friends and family are virtually surrounded by the home's spectacular setting and can enjoy views that literally will go on forever.


"This is a work of art in itself," Florez says of the circular staircase that winds from the fourth-floor reading loft up to the overlook incorporated into the home's apex ù its widow's walk pub room.

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