Some reminders from veterans for whom this summer's escape -- and escapades -- are still fresh. Before joining a beach house next year, ask about:

* Guest policy. Some houses charge a nominal fee for guests who stay the night; some ask for voluntary contributions of beer, wine or food; some have limits on the number of guests you can bring or on the number of times the same guest can visit.

* Bed space. It's usually at a premium, which can prompt a Friday-afternoon race for the master bedroom. There are houses with 11 members who are happy to share only two bedrooms, but if a good night's sleep is important to you, make sure there is a bed for each member. There will be weekends when they all show up.

* Who's in charge. Someone has to collect the checks, pay the rent and utilities and get the garbage disposal fixed.

* Where it is. Not as dumb a question as it sounds. All beach houses are not, by definition, on the beach. If you want to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, don't join a house that's next door to the Jolly Roger amusement park.