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Pint-sized Perfection

tiny lot above Buzzards Bay

Photo by: Dan Cutrona

“We did some sketch-up models, which helped the client see the project in three dimensions,” says Coutu. “With small spaces especially, it is so hard to visualize and understand how things are going to work.”

Sudbury Design is fast establishing a reputation for amassing a considerable amount of knowledge about Cape Cod’s extensive—and sometimes necessarily byzantine—conservation permitting practices. The firm recently opened a staffed office in Cataumet. Coutu knew that he needed to “cross every T and dot every I” if the project was to move ahead on schedule.

“I warned the homeowners that this project had challenges in terms of permitting,” says Coutu. “We carefully went through all the proper permitting procedures with conservation and the planning board. To do any project within the coastal buffer zone, you have to install mitigation plantings on the bank itself. We decided to plant bearberry, bayberry—all the plants had to be indigenous to the area and able to withstand extreme salt and very substantial winds.”

One of the most important improvements requested by the homeowners was actually getting to the beach itself. “They had to get to the beach through a neighbor’s property,” says Coutu, “so access to the beach was one of our key design ideas.” The design team created a handsome 150-foot boardwalk that needed to move down the bank and across the dunes. The required pool entrance fencing was built with the ingenious choice of copper that will weather and soften the affect of the material against ocean views.

To minimize the effect of erosion on sensitive seaside areas, the crew designed an innovative drainage system serving the hardscape area, including the pool and built-in irrigation systems for in-ground plantings and large pool-size planters. “We decided to install small drains throughout all those areas that are hidden,” says Coutu. “The system is designed to put water back in the ground, rather than out on the beach.”

With the permits firmly in hand, the construction crew, which included several experienced stonemasons, began to excavate the pool area in late fall. “One of the main difficulties was that we had to remove everything that was already on the site previously, including a terrace, a lawn and some steps coming off of the house,” says Coutu. “All of that, and we had to lower the grade enough to construct what we needed to construct!”

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