How to Build a Home on Kiawah Island

How to Build a Home on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is a natural wonder with miles of bike paths, a glorious beach, a tranquil river, and a marsh. It is a fantastic place to build a new home and we have had the pleasure to work on many on the island. It is a highly sought-after destination, and the process to build a new home can be tricky to navigate. Below I will walk you through a summary of how to build a home on Kiawah Island.


1. Select a site

Kiawah Island Real Estate is a great resource for selecting your Kiawah Island property. They will pair you with an agent who can familiarize you with the island and its resources. You can tour existing homes, clubhouses, and golf courses. A Kiawah Island Club membership is something to consider for your property as not every property has a membership tied to it. There are different levels of memberships that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with and an agent can help you with this process.


3. Meet the Architectural Review Board Requirements

The Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board oversees the design and renovation of homes on the island. You will need to follow the “Designing with Nature” guidelines for the design of a new home or the renovation of an existing home. Any construction and site work will need to be approved through a permit process with the ARB before any work can begin. For a new home, there is an extensive review process that involves multiple meetings with the board to review the progress of your design. Reach out to the Architectural Review Board for any questions that you may have about this process. The website has all of the guidelines posted as well.


3. Select Your Design Team

Drawings sealed by a licensed architect and landscape architect are required to submit for the Architectural Review Board approval. The Town of Kiawah Island also requires that you work with a Contractor licensed in the state of South Carolina. There are building code adoptions specific to the Town of Kiawah Island that you will need to adhere to. It makes it helpful to work with a builder and design team who are familiar with working on the island. You can confirm the full requirements within the Town of Kiawah Island Ordinances.


4. Design with Nature

Once you have selected your design team you can begin following the Designing with Nature guidelines to design your new home. There is an emphasis on the island blending with the natural surroundings. The Architectural Review Board encourages colors that blend with nature and it is best to avoid high-contrast colors. The goal is to keep as much of the natural beauty of the island intact with your new build. This means limiting the number of trees removed and working around key natural features, like Grand Live Oak trees.


5. Submit a Building Permit to the Town of Kiawah Island

After you have received your home design approval from the ARB you and your builder can apply for a building permit. The building permit is submitted to the Town of Kiawah Island. Kiawah Island has adopted the 2021 IBC and 2009 ECC. There are other specific code adoptions that your builder, architect, landscape architect, and engineers who are familiar with working on the island will know. Once you have received your building permit approval, your builder will confirm they have met all of the requirements by the Town of Kiawah Island, Encroachment, and the ARB to begin work on your site.


Design Your Home on Kiawah Island with Habitable Form

At Habitable Form, we have had many successful projects on Kiawah Island and we would love to help you with your new build. Our philosophy is to design in harmony with nature, what can be more suited for Kiawah Island? Please reach out to discuss how we can work with you on your Kiawah Island home. Check out our latest project on Kiawah Island, the Victory Bay House. The Victory Bay House recently received the 2021 AIA South Carolina Robert Mills Residential Award.

AuthorChelsea Anderson

Award-winning architect Chelsea Anderson is the founder and lead architect of Habitable Form and lecturer for the Clemson University Graduate School of Architecture at the Clemson Design Center Charleston.

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