Coastal Property Guide

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The Rhode Island Coastal Property Guide

Rhode Island’s coast is a vital part of the state’s identity, and draws residents and visitors alike. However, with the beauty of the waterfront come hazards that threaten human activity and development along the coast. Here’s what you need to know about living or building along the water.

Ten Questions You Should Ask About Your Coastal Property


  1. What kinds of coastal features are on or near the property, and what setbacks or regulations apply?
  2. Are there restrictions on the property due to the adjacent CRMC water classification?
  3. Is the property in a flood zone according to FEMA maps?
  4. If I am in a flood zone, do I have to obtain flood insurance? How can I find out what my flood insurance premiums will be?
  5. How will erosion and sea-level rise impact the property and surrounding area?
  6. Can I install structures along the shore to protect the property and buildings from erosion or flooding?
  7. How will coastal storms and flooding affect the property and structures? Will I be allowed to rebuild in the event of a flood or storm that partially or completely destroys the building?
  8. How do I determine if the buildings on the property meet the current design and construction standards for the flood zone?
  9. What kinds of septic systems are permitted in the coastal zone? Can I repair or replace a damaged septic system?
  10. Can I make the existing building more resilient? How do I build a new resilient structure?

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This website has been prepared by the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant for the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council as a guidance resource. It is not intended nor should be used to give any legal advice nor to supersede any state or federal statutory or regulatory language or interpretation of such language. This website refers the reader to various regulations and policies adopted by federal and state regulatory agencies; the reader is encouraged to review the specific regulation and policy.

Rhode Island Coastal Property Guide Credits & Acknowledgements