July 17, 2014

Waterfront Property Laws

Luxury home construction and improvement brings with it many unique challenges. Often, contractors are tasked with making improvements or additions to a client’s waterfront home. Jake Morin, Construction Program Manager with ProSight Specialty® Insurance, says that it is critical to be well aware of the many complex legal issues, as well as logistical considerations, present in such a situation.

With the current public awareness of the environment and our impact upon it, local legislation of shoreline and wetland protection has reached unprecedented heights. Not only is this maze of regulations and restrictions difficult to navigate, it is evolving and changing at such a pace that no project should be undertaken without expert consultation with someone who is intimately familiar with local ordinances.

A typical example of a restriction is undisturbed vegetated buffer zones adjacent to aquatic areas, commonly referred to as a setback. Even within a specific county or region, the requirements can differ for saltwater, freshwater, and river sites. Piers or docks must conform to a complex set of location requirements, including total length, total surface area, property line setbacks, etc. Even mooring buoys will have specific limitations on their distance from the ordinary high-water mark.

In addition to complex regulations, local building codes play an ever-increasing role in waterfront improvements. Current best practices for seawall or bulkhead construction, pier or dock foundation materials, or even home deck construction must be considered. In this area more than most, relying upon licensed, bonded, contractors familiar with the local legal and logistical intricacies will prove to be a valuable resource in minimizing your exposure to liability or risk.

For more information about ProSight Specialty Insurance’s coverage options for luxury home builders working on waterfront properties, please contact Jake Morin