Building at Sea Level

From the day that the Hotel Del Coronado was founded in 1888, the world knew that Coronado would be one of the most desirable beach towns in the United States. Soon after, thousands of houses were built on the 32.7 square mile man-made island, which was expanded to accommodate the United States Navy. Despite the great difficulties posed with building structures on the low lying land, the breath-taking scenery and prestigious neighbors could not stop development.

Today, the land in Coronado is being treated very similarly to that of large metropolitan areas, where there is a high demand for space where none is available. However, unlike New York City or Chicago where people build up towards the sky to utilize space, some residents in Coronado are building down, despite the uncommon use of basements in California. California has very few worries about hurricanes and tornados, but the luxury of basement space is undeniable. Our current project, a beachfront custom home in Coronado, is taking full advantage of their land by adding a garage, media room, wine room, recreation room, and workout room underneath the home. While a typical goal for a waterfront property would be to raise the home as far above sea-level as possible, these residents brought their California basement way below the level of the ocean. Without the sophisticated technology currently underway on this project, the groundwater would flood the basement floor by three feet.

The condensed population and building restraints on Coronado Island make the building experience quite interesting. Coronado’s city constraints restrict our project from being no taller than three stories. In addition to the basement work, there are unusual property lines with three preexisting homes surrounding the property. Further, the architect has to keep the house a breathable distance from the other houses, work around fully grown trees, and fulfill the dream of a swimming pool surrounded by an open landscape. With all of these quality features in such a defined space, the architect has to be creative with the placement of each wall in relation to the next. This creates an even greater use for the basement by strategically utilizing space that is not affecting the strict restraints above ground.

In order to keep the cars and luxury movie chairs dry in the basement, the home site revealed seven wells to drain the entire lot of ground water. Thus far 1,839,590 gallons of water have been pumped from the surrounding area. That’s 26,279 gallons a day, 1,094 gallons an hour, and 18 gallons per minute! For further protection from the water, the entire foundation was lined with a waterproof material which will make the home act as a boat. Water will be able to soak into the surrounding ground and leave the home perfectly livable, comfortable, and dry. I would not trust the home to safely float away in case of the Great Flood, but living underneath the water level is revolutionary, and in this instance very possible.

Smith Brothers Construction is a full service architecture, design & construction company based out of San Diego, California. Ready to build your dream home? Contact us today!


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