When you own a house on or a few blocks from the beach, you’ve probably considered raising its foundation. This isn’t typically a question of “If?” but of “When?” and “How high?” Elevating your home when it’s that close to the ocean is certainly a wise decision. Here, we give you seven tips for raising your beach house to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Research Foundation and Pier Options
You’ve probably seen a variety of piers or beams under beach houses that have been lifted or built up. There are a few choices for your home, and depending on your needs and your budget, you can have your pick.
Many beach homes are lifted on concrete beams, especially if they’re not a beachfront property. If your home is on the shoreline or has very sandy soil, your lifting contractor might suggest helical pilings. These are piers that are screwed deep into the ground, providing exceptional support even in unstable soil conditions—like shifting beach sands.
Have a Home Inspection
Home inspections are crucial any time you decide to lift your house, but they’re especially important when you’re lifting a beach house due to the harsh weather conditions these homes endure. Before you have your home lifted, have an inspector come out to evaluate your home’s structural integrity. This will help ensure a safe, uneventful lift.
Utilize Your New Space
If you’re raising your beach house a foot or two to protect your home from high waters, think about raising it a few more feet. Instead of giving yourself a couple of feet of flood protection, why not give yourself an entire story to work with?
Lifting your home 10 feet or more off the ground provides you (or potential renters) a place to park cars, room for an outdoor shower, extra storage space for beach toys, or even an outdoor entertaining space. Raising your beach house can essentially provide an entire story of recreation space underneath your enclosed living space, adding value and practicality to your property.
Know Your BFE
All homeowners, not only beachfront property holders, should know their home’s Base Flood Elevation, or BFE. Your BFE is the base line where a flood hits during a big storm. FEMA offers a helpful tool that gives you your BFE.
Knowing your BFE gives both you and your lifting contractor a better idea of where storm surges might rise, and that information can inform the level to which you lift your beach house. Most homes are raised at least four feet above the BFE. Many waterfront beach homes are raised to this height, but if your home is even just a few blocks from the water, the foundation might be at ground level. If that’s the case, determine your BFE before lifting so that your home lift won’t be in vain.
Hire a Land Surveyor
Go one step further than determining your Base Flood Elevation and hire a land surveyor (or an engineer.) They can determine the highest levels of ocean tides and if those tides usually rise that high. This information will be helpful to you and your lifting contractor, because you’ll have a professional giving you the actual numbers and measurements of water levels near your beach house.
Anytime your raise your home, you’ll need to make sure you consider how you and your guests will access your living space. Think about if you’ll simply have a staircase built, or if you’ll choose to install elevators. Additionally, you’ll need to consider how your vehicles will access the space under your home. Will you need to pour a new driveway? Or if you’ve only raised your beach home a couple of feet and want to utilize your pre-existing garage, you can make use of earth fill and an elevated driveway.
Plan for Wind Damage
If your home is lifted ten feet or higher than it currently sits, the oceanfront winds will wreak havoc upon its exterior. Wind damage is something to consider and plan for when you’re raising your beach house. You’ll want to ensure that your siding, windows, doors, and roof are all in good condition and, when possible, are retrofitted with wind-resistant materials. These days, you have access to a variety of windows and doors—and more—that are made specifically for homes in high-wind areas.
Raising your beach house, especially if you’re raising it a full story, can seem overwhelming. But working with an experienced and professional contractor makes the process easy and safe. You can leave the heavy lifting to the pros, but if you utilize our seven tips listed above, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and a seamless process both before and after your beach house lift is complete.