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Why Don’t Beach Houses Have Gutters?

Coastal areas typically have more rainfall, so I find it really interesting that so many of the beach houses I have seen do not have a gutter system. Surely, they would benefit greatly from this simple solution rainfall collecting in the wrong places around a house.

Several reasons are suggested by various sources as to why many beach homes are without gutters. I have looked into each of the most popular suggestions to determine their probable validity. I will present each theory to you and explain why it is likely true or likely false.


Likely reasons why beach houses don’t have gutters include the cost of installation and the unsightliness of the system. There is also often no good area to divert the water in beach house gardens. Some may find gutter upkeep too much. Some beach houses may be built on slabs (less vulnerable to water damage).

Gutter Upkeep Is Too Difficult in Salty Air

Perhaps one of the most common reasons provided for why beach homes are gutter-less, is the idea that gutter upkeep is too difficult in the salty air.

It is true that humid, salty air can cause the rapid corrosion of your metal gutters. This would certainly increase the amount of maintenance required to keep the system functional and looking good.

Corroded and leaking gutter

This might be reason enough to do away with these metal pipes for some coastal homeowners, but I would not say that it is unanimously the reason because many would consider the benefits of gutters to outweigh the more intense maintenance requirements.

Rainfall Is Too Heavy for Gutters to Cope With

Some people claim that the heavy rains associated with coastal regions are too much for gutters to handle. This reason is most likely false.

Gutter companies working in coastal areas know that there are heavier rainfalls and can install wider and deeper gutters, which are more than capable of catching and diverting more water.

Think about all the problems that humans have been able to solve over the course of history. Think of the ingenuity that has led to us carrying hand-held computers in our pockets and sending people into space. With these things in mind, the thought that making gutters big enough to handle heavy rainfall is too difficult a conundrum to solve is fairly ludicrous.

Can these regions experience rainfalls so heavy that they overwhelm the more heavy-duty gutter systems? Very likely. But there is no reason to accept all the issues associated with not having gutters in areas of high rainfall (compromised foundations and walls, soil erosion, etc.) just because the gutters would overflow or be damaged by heavy rainfall every now and then.

No Basements Mean Foundations Are Less at Risk

Beach houses tend not to have basements. This might have something to do with the soil or the lifestyle (who’d build down into the ground when building up gives you a beautiful view of the ocean) it the lack of basements is often stated as a reason why gutters are forgone.

two story white concrete house and a pool in front of a beach

People say that if you don’t have a basement, your foundations are less at risk from gathering water. I am pretty confident that this is not true. You still have foundations; they’re just more limited in depth. Water pooling around the base of your house will still be sitting against the foundations, weakening them.

Let’s not dismiss the theory altogether, however. There is a way that makes this reasoning more sensible; all you have to do is add one more step to the train of thought.

Perhaps the reason why many beach houses don’t have basements is actually that it’s safer to build them on concrete slabs (less susceptible to shifting, sandy soil). This would mean that there are no traditional foundations. Slabs are less susceptible to water damage, so gutters may become less necessary in these cases.

Because a lot of coastal homes have no basements, there is less chance of the bathroom flooding if water begins to pool around the house. Being built on a concrete slab, also means that the foundation is stronger and less likely to be impacted by water.

Ground Slopes Away From Most Beach Houses

Beach houses are typically built on ground that slopes downwards in the direction of the beach. For beachfront houses, this slope can be quite steep and water running off the house would not collect at the base of the house on the beachside.

However, before we say that this reason is true, let’s head around the house to the other side and you are likely to find a flat piece of ground or even one that slopes slightly towards the house. Rainwater can still collect here and cause problems.

There are also beach houses that are not on the beachfront and don’t slope so sharply downward.

When the sand erodes, it can impact the stability of your foundation. Gutters help to limit this problem as they dispel water in different directions, thus protecting your foundation and ultimately the land around it.

I would say this is not a sufficient reason not to install gutters on beach houses in general.

Hurricanes Make Gutters Dangerous

If you live in a state that is prone to torrential rain, high winds, and hurricanes, gutters may pose a danger. Strong winds are capable of tearing them off your house and flinging them around. This can damage your house, but it also poses a risk to people and animals.

red broken metal gutter

When houses are compromised by the violent removal of gutters or when these metal pipes then wedge themselves in other parts of your home, you get issues like ruined plaster and paint, broken windows and roof tiles, and even holes in the roof.

I don’t think that I need to tell you how flying or flapping metal pipes are hazardous to us and our pets!

But is this a reason not to install gutters on beach houses?

It might be in the coastal areas that suffer from such extreme weather conditions, but not all do.

Contractors Cut Costs by Eliminating Gutters

Here we come to a reason that I believe is highly probable. People suggest that beach houses don’t have gutters because they are not required by law and it’s a way for contractors to save costs.

Gutters can’t be installed until the rest of the house is finished and inspected. If you have ever worked with a contractor, you know that their projects overlap. They do all the big stuff on your project, and then when all that remains are the finishing touches, they move the bulk of their crew (and attention) to the next project.

It can take months to get everything finalized and coming back to do the gutters may just be a cost the contractor isn’t willing to pay. You may pay for the gutters to be installed, but their time and manpower are likely more beneficial to the new project.

You might wait so long that you stop following up and your beach house gutters fade into the distant recesses of your mind and the mind of your contractor.

Perhaps it’s not negligence on the contractor’s part. Perhaps forgoing the gutters means getting the house built within budget. It’s also not just the contractors. When the only thing standing between you and a lovely beach home is the cost of some gutters, you tell the contractor to cross them off the list and proceed without!

Nowhere for Water to Be Diverted Safely

Beach houses don’t typically have big, lush yards. The beach and ocean are your garden. Furthermore, the soil that is near the coast is often sandy.

blue house in a beach with sandy soil

The water collected by gutters has to be deposited somewhere it will not cause swampy issues. When you don’t have a big garden, your choice of drainage spots is diminished and when the soil is sandy, the chances of creating a swamp in your yard are high. This collection of water may still end up affecting your house negatively.

Having the rain fall more “evenly” around all areas of the house may be less damaging than having it pool in one section of the yard.

I would say that this reason for beach houses not having gutters is likely to be true.

Gutters Can Negatively Affect the Look of the House

The appearance of gutters is not always attractive, particularly if they are in bad condition. As we discussed, this happens quite rapidly in coastal regions. The unsightliness of gutters is likely to be quite a driving factor when it comes to installing them—or rather, not installing them.

Beach houses are popular and prime real estate, which means you don’t want them to look unappealing. Many homeowners buy this prime property as an investment opportunity. They can live in their home for most of the year and then AirB&B it for a few weeks with almost guaranteed guests.

These properties are also a bit of a bragging piece, making looks quite important to the lifestyle representation.

Sources

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/092915/economics-buying-beach-house-read-you-buy.asp

https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/wettest-states.php

https://donerightfoundationrepair.com/how-to-prevent-soil-erosion-around-your-homes-foundation/

https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/86b9vz/eli5in_florida_why_arent_gutters_a_standard_for/

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