Whether it’s a weekend retreat, a place to chill out for a midweek break, or even a tempting work-from-home setup with a water view, the small but sumptuous Bungalows at Kiawah River, near Charleston, S.C., offer buyers a turnkey option akin to a luxury hotel suite—one that's also an investment that can generate rental income.
“From a development standpoint, we saw this small parcel of waterfront land as a great opportunity to do a test drive on an unusual proposition,” says Chris Drury, director of sales at Kiawah River for The Beach Company, the project’s Charleston-based developer. “It’s not typical to build a one-bedroom house for sale, which makes it a little risky. But all 11 bungalows sold out before they were built, so clearly the buyers saw the value in owning a weekend waterfront home.”
Project Specs: The Bungalows
Location: Charleston, S.C.
Size: 508 square feet
Lot size: 2,400 to 2,700 square feet
Architect: Heather A. Wilson Architect, Charleston, S.C.
Builder: Phillip Smith General Contractor, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
Developer: The Beach Company, Charleston
Interior designer: Amanda Lindroth, Charleston
Landscape architect: The Beach Company
Photos: Keen Eye Marketing, Folly Beach, S.C.
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Compact Size, High-End Living by the Water
Kiawah River, a 2,000-acre new community with 20 miles of shoreline about 20 minutes from historic Charleston, will eventually have 1,300 to 1,500 homes. Approximately 150 single-family homes have been built so far and are primarily permanent residences.
“This little section of Kiawah River is zoned for short-term rentals, so the homes are designed to be perfect for two or three-night stays,” Drury says. “These are high-end homes, sold fully furnished. A designated broker handles the short-term rentals, so the owners just collect the income.”
The homes all face south with views of the river and Kiawah Island. They’re located adjacent to the water for quick access by boat or kayak and next to the swim and fitness facility, which also hosts weekly happy hours.
Each bungalow is elevated 12 feet above ground for flood protection, which also provides the benefit of a maximized water view along with space for a garage and an outdoor shower. The bungalows have 500 square feet of interior space, plus 300 square feet of covered porches. The open floor plan includes a small kitchen and dining and living area, and there’s a central bedroom and a luxury bathroom with a walk-in shower and a freestanding tub.
Bungalow Living With Award-Winning Design
The project earned a Platinum award in the National Association of Home Builders’ 2022 Best in American Living Awards’ Single Family Production category, garnering praise from the judges for its style, use of space, and land use. The market seems to agree.
“Each home is designed almost like a high-end hotel room, which we discovered is something people want,” Drury says. After initially selling the homes for $650,000 to $750,000, he’s anticipating resale price tags estimated at $1 million … that is, if any of the owners wanted to sell. “Many of the short-term visitors ask to buy one, so we’re designing some two-bedroom bungalows and then will likely build some more one-bedrooms, too.”
Michele Lerner is an award-winning real estate journalist in the Washington, D.C., area.