OWNING A home on the coast shouldn’t be a lesson in dreams gone wrong.
For Wayne Higson, the coastal environment offered peace, serenity and a place to get away from it all – until corrosion, wind and water created a nightmare in vacation homeownership.
“People don’t really know how bad things can get until they own a home in this type of environment,” Higson said. “You realize there’s no Yellow Brick Road to follow to get help.”
Higson, 58, of Greenville, N.C., built his dream vacation home in Emerald Isle, N.C., and soon realized the standard construction materials were not faring well in the weather.
He got tired of replacing exterior lighting every few months, and major costs kept creeping up, including repairing the corroded air-conditioning unit.
“Most people don’t know it, but water can run uphill on the Outer Banks,” he said. “Those high winds and water in every direction mean it has to go somewhere.”
For his years of hassle, hardships and heartache, Higson documented his efforts in a recently published book, “Coastal Homeowners: The Complete Photo Guide to Coastal Maintenance” (DWH Publishing LLC, 2011).
The book has more than 300 color photos, each illustrating problems and solutions that promise to help save time and money. Chapter highlights include hardware fasteners and nails, doors and windows, exterior siding and trim, winterizing coastal homes and hurricane preparedness.
“People have to remember that no matter how pretty the day is outside, the weather is taking a toll on their house,” Higson said. “The best thing to do is be prepared and know how to handle maintenance.”
Higson, a general contractor, started his quest in 1992 when he built his vacation home. For more than 10 years he collected information and 4,000-plus photos documenting his work.
“You can go to the store and buy a toaster that comes with directions in different languages, but if you buy a million-dollar home, you are on your own,” Higson said. “That’s just not right.”
In addition to advice and helpful tips, Higson also created a list of 110 manufacturers who sell, use or create coastal-friendly products. Their contact information is included.
“It’s so important to address these issues before they become a problem,” said Dave Barber, who works with Carolina Casual Furniture in Point Harbor and Kellogg Supply in Manteo, both on the Outer Banks, and owns Willington Grill Co.. “Rust is what kills a grill. If people know that before they buy, then they can choose a superior product. This book will help homeowners be better informed.”
Higson said he is already working on a second edition. He has taken more photos and logged different problems that he hopes to highlight.