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Gulf Shores Alabama Small Italian Style Waterfront Guest House

Three Tropical Storms
 we had in 2002 here.
2004 Hurricane Ivan Photos
See how well we survived.
2005 Hurricane Katrina Photos
See How well we did ..again


For such a small house, we have had TON of media coverage.

Our House was on Pensacola, FL WEAR TV, 10 pm news, after Hurricane Ivan

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We used DAC-ART pre-cast architectural components on this self-contracted waterfront home. Step by step construction details are on this site. We have spent about 1 1/2 year on this project, doing much of the work ourselves.

We chose Dac-Art Building System for this hurricane prone area of the gulf Coast. We wanted a residence that was extremely low maintenance, incredibly strong, visually striking, well insulated, easy to build with & requiring the minimum number of sub-contractors.  Hopefully, this small residence will be a guest/pool for a later larger residence (shown below).

small italian house
We have built this phase now

Below is a sketch  viewed from the road of the completed home as designed by Ted Dial, inventor of DAC-ART.  The architectural concrete block house, on Little Lagoon,  is elevated 9 feet above sea level as required by code. Since the lot was filled before it was illegal to fill wetlands along the Gulf Coast, the floor is just 4 ft. above ground level. We had thought we might add the pool next, at the upper porch height.

italian style interior

See additional recent interior photos here.

Our vacation home plans are to build in stages.Our vacation home plans are to build in stages.
This early sketch by Ted Dial looks good, but ultimately we went with a different design. Shown is one vision of the completed project. This sketch includes Phase I and 'come-later' Phase II. Notice that we have tried 3 different looks on the roof-top terrace balustrade. Specialty moldings, like those above the windows, are no problem with DAC-ART. The decorative  sections are not 'stuck-on', as in most building systems, but are molded into the face of the stone like concrete blocks. It does not take a highly skilled worker to build highly decorative effects with DAC-ART. This is not the plan that we have decided on now that we are ready to keep building. See the new Phase II here. 





NOTE: Now in Nov 2005, we are working with Ted Dial on Phase II plans. Ted is preparing drawings and we wish to begin construction of the second phase of building here as soon as we can.

The progress on 2007-2008 Phase II construction will be on 





waterfront small italain house

italian style shutters and windows

small guesthouse and studio

These photos that show our functional hurricane shutters. We have a gravel driveway and parking area and originally used centipede and St. Augustine grass sod out to the bulkhead/seawall.

Later after the hurricanes, the sod had to all be replaced, and we used all St. Augustine.

Due to the incredibly large number of curious visitors to our home, House  showings are by appointment only, and please read the DAC-ART Client page first:

Home Construction Journal

Our Italian Vacation Home Construction Begins~~Step by Step Photos:
Modular homes can be built using DACART decorative concrete building materials.The color in DAC-ART is not concrete stain but a solid colored concrete building material.
Unlike most building materials, DAC-ART does not need to be protected from the weather, so we were able to let our concrete blocks with the styrofoam liners just sit on the lot until we were ready for them.

Keep in mind that I did not yet have a digital camera, every day I took photos and ran up to the drugstore and had one hour photos made, I ran back and scanned them with my el-cheapo scanner and posted them on this website for my friends and family to see. I mention this so You will know why they tend to be fuzzy photos. 

Our vacation home plans began here with the concrete foundation. DAC-ART blocks look like natural stone.
The slightly oversized foundation has rebar sticking up over which the first two rows of foundation blocks are placed. We are using a Bobcat to place the first rows of DAC-ART. They are too heavy for lifting without machinery, but the built in steel handles & a chain or bar, are perfect for the lifting & placing process.

The slight variations in color give a natural stone look.
The first two rows of man made stone blocks which form the raised foundation are ready for the concrete core fill. The DAC-ART you see will be the exterior AND the interior finished walls with no additional surface treatment, except interior waxing. These first two rows that will be backfilled with sand will get us up high enough to meet the local building code requirements for waterfront property.   Some people who have built with DAC-ART have chosen to use sheetrock or other wall finishes on the interior walls, but this is not necessary, and in our opinion, hides the beautiful finish old world look.

Concrete stain is used later after the slab is cured.

These building materials of modular concrete components give the look of natural stone for the Gulf Shores Alabama area.

We next added a row of 'water table' concrete blocks. The water table works as the 'form'. The slab actually pours down into the cavities of the foundation DAC-ART blocks. Notice, no slab forms needed!   Scott, our concrete contractor gave us a slick finished slab for me to do a special concrete acid stain finish.

Concrete stain application gave us a marble look floor. Concrete stain and scoring is a perfect floor in a hurrican proof house.
Our concrete slab was prepared for an concrete   acid-stain color and scoring treatment.  We penciled on the score lines before the acid stain was applied. The copper in the Miracle-Grow that we sprinkled on the concrete reacted with the acid stain and gave us a wonderful deep aqua speckle on the aged copper colored background on the portion of the slab to be the interior. The porch also received a concrete acid   stain, but in an olive green color with soft brown mottling and aqua Miracle-Grow speckles.

The porch has green concrete stain applied for a hurricane proof finish.

The stenciling around the edge of the porch is a band of various shells and actually will be very subtle on the finished house. OK- here is a tip. I used rubber cement, thinking it would work as a resist in keeping the acid stain from reacting with the concrete under my designs. What actually happened was that the acid combined with the rubber cement to form a sticky gooey layer instead,..the carefully stenciled shells are just barely visible in the finished product.... 'Live and learn" See this page for many suppliers and concrete acid stain ideas.

floormeasuring.jpg (37636 bytes)

Make sure that your custom home building plans include natural stone looking DAC-ART.

Scott & Darryll cutting the grooves in  the concrete floor. After staining, both the porch and main room were shallowly scored with a saw blade and the blue floor got a stenciled shell and green tint added to the small squares.


Concrete floors are perfect in vacation home plans.

I used a concrete acid stain from Superstone, a Florida company for this DAC-ART house. It was very easy to apply and preformed as expected. I did do some test pieces first to judge the intensity of the color. You can either cut your score lines first and use them to assist you in laying out various designs or stain before you do you cutting. I think the fact that the stain will 'puddle-up' in the score lines if they are cut first gives the floor a less authentic tiled look. I prefer the look of natural grey concrete score lines, so all staining would be done first followed by any scoring.

Originally, I had contracted with an individual who represented himself as being in the concrete stain floor business to do our floors. He was nowhere to be found on our scheduled days, so by default, I did the floors myself after consulting the Internet and info from Superstone, the stain manufacturer. It was not difficult. What has been very difficult is recouping the deposit paid to Mr. Fred Cook who did not show up to stain and score our concrete floors. Beware!

Expect to pay about $35 U.S.per gallon for the acid stain.  You will need to do two coats. It can be shipped UPS, but the shipping costs run almost as much as the product. You will want to also seal the floor with either a satin or gloss acrylic clear coat from the same manufacturer as your stain. Concrete acid stained creates a durable and attractive floor finish, perfect for an all concrete home, especially in a hurricane zone. See a larger photo of the finished aqua floor on the next page.

More info on our experiences with : Concrete Acid Stain


Our inspiration & reference manuals:

book-venetian-palazzi.jpg (6028 bytes) This reasonably priced large format book has wonderful photographs that show great details of interiors. The text is in 4 languages. I love this book.

Click on the illustration for more info

book-venetian-palaces.jpg (6721 bytes) I do not have this book, but wish I did. It is rather pricey, but the reviews of it are very good.

Click on the illustration for more info

book-rust-paint-house.jpg (9242 bytes) Graham Rust ...260 color illustrations showcasing a true master painter and illustrator's classic work in Europe and America homes.

Click on the illustration for more info

book-rust-dec-design.jpg (8012 bytes) Decorative Designs: Over 100 Ideas for Painted Interiors, Furniture, and Decorated Objects
More Graham Rust...household objects...divine inspiration.

Click on the illustration for more info

If you are thinking of painted decorative effects for your interiors--there is no better book of inspiration that these two by Graham Rust. I consult them frequently for inspiration for all sorts of projects. The photos and illustrations of Graham Rust's work make my heart flutter and  skip beats. Absolutely breathtaking.

The Gulf Coast area is the perfect location for DAC-ART architecture. The incredible strength is there for hurricane season, and the salt air will not be a problem. Italian architecture, European architecture, and Old World style house plans are a natural with DAC-ART. Architectural concrete is basically maintenance free, so it is perfect for a vacation home and the foam inner core insulates well in Gulf Coast temperatures. When thinking about plans for your home or vacation home, consider  timeless architecture with DAC-ART Building System.

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