How Do You Raise A Beach House?

Elevating beach houses to the minimum required flood level has become increasingly essential. Especially in areas where floods are imminent, have occurred, or the risk of increased water levels is high. The first question then arises, how do I raise my beach house?

After completing the planning and design, disconnect all utilities before the whole house wooden structure is lifted from the base and slid to the side on rail rollers. Next, drive the new elevated pilings into the ground, and the house is raised again and slid back onto the new foundation.

Your house is the most critical asset that you will ever purchase in your life. Therefore, deciding to take care of and protect that asset should be equally important. It is then in all beach house owners’ best interest to assess the risk factors, as most disasters in the US are flooding.

The 7 Steps To Raise A Beach House

Set the planning phase in motion after you decide to raise your beach house. Although the goal is to increase the height of your home, detailed planning also needs to include outcomes. Outcomes will include any new or redesign options as part of the project.

Step 1PlanningPlan all the steps from inception to completion and ensure you have a rough budget estimated and approved
Step 2Project teamProject to include participants and role players
Step 3Site inspectionFirst site inspection to collect all details
Step 4PaperworkComplete all related paperwork, such as permits and designs
Step 5PreparationComplete all prep work before D-DAY
Step 6RaisingAction all steps to raise the beach house to completion
Step 7AftercareActivities to follow the elevation process

Step 1. Planning For The Project

Planning forms the most significant part of any project and requires the inclusion of as much detail as possible in the plan. For example, include what activities are necessary and how they will be done, what the result should be, and every little step in-between. Be sure to have a budget and stick to it as far as possible.

Step 2. The Project Team

The project team should consist of a contractor with enough experience and adequate insurance cover for any unforeseen problems. Next, a structural engineer will determine the proposed elevation technique, and similarly, he will design the elevation method. Finally, an architect will advise and draw up all design functions that may be required.

Step 3. First Site Inspection

The first site inspection will enable the project plan to be populated with all the necessary details. The type of structure and foundation, specifically beach-related, will determine the available elevation technique options. Assign all tasks and times, and durations to the plan. Ask questions, get advice, and address any grey areas during this time.

Step 4. Paperwork To Be Completed

Complete all paperwork related to the project before the actual core activity of raising the house by obtaining the necessary permit from your local authority and sign off any architectural and design documents if applicable. Ensure local flood rules and guidelines are adhered to and respected.

Step 5. The Preparation Phase

Always attempt to eliminate or minimize all risk factors as far as possible. Preparing to raise the structure consists of disconnecting utilities such as gas, plumbing, and electricity. All house contents are to be removed or secured for movement. Prep all surrounding landscapes and remove attached structures such as staircases.

Step 6. The Day Of Raising The House

D-DAY starts with a milestone session, ensuring the completion of all related pre-steps. Next, the house is raised by releasing the floor and structure from its base, then rolled sideways on rail rollers enabling new pilings to be driven deep in the ground. Finally, the house is lifted again and moved back onto the elevated pilings foundation.

Step 7. The Final Phase

After a successful house raise activity, the aftercare section of the project plan kicks in. First, inspect the structure for any cracks or damage and rectify it accordingly. Next, re-attach the previously removed frames. Finally, reconnect all once disconnected utilities and test for functionality and safety.

Additional Interior And Exterior Design Changes

Begin working on any other external design adjustments, such as new structures. Any detachable constructions, such as staircases or garages, should also be attached. If needed, change the storage and crawlspace parts, then finish the planned garden and landscaping jobs.

According to the project plan, continue and execute any new interior design improvements, such as painting and flooring finishes. Then, finally, relax in your new, safer, raised beach house.

Pros And Cons Of Raising A Beach House

ProsCons
It costs less than building a new houseCosts are involved
Resolve the flood risksRisk of structure damage
Save on insuranceRisk of Unforeseen problems
Possible assistance with costsImpact on your life during the project
Keep your property 
Property value increase 

Different Techniques Used To Raise A House

The technique will depend on the house’s foundation and structure. Different procedures apply to various buildings and foundations. That is why it is imperative that a structural engineer, and optionally an architect, be included in the site inspections. The chosen technique will determine the cost, duration, risk factors, and overall plan. 

Technique Used To Raise A Wooden House

It is easier to raise when the slab forms a significant part of the floor and foundation. Seeing that the house and foundation are attached, it can be moved as a unit. It is then possible to build a new elevated foundation below the slab before lowering the house and slab again. Most wooden beach houses fall in this category.

Techniques Used To Raise A Brick House

It is more complex, riskier, and costly for brick and masonry houses. One option is to leave the house on its original foundation, remove the roof, extend the wall, replace the roof and construct a new level within the home. If applicable, another option is to abandon the ground floor and move upstairs.

The technique is similar to frames in wooded homes for houses built on basement or crawlspace foundations. First, steel beams are placed under the house construction, enabling hydraulic jacks to raise the house slowly. Then, create the new foundation below before the house is lowered again on the newly constructed foundation.

How Do You Raise A Beach House 01

The Cost Of Raising Your Beach House

Raising a beach house is still very expensive, but it has become less complicated and, therefore, less costly with modern technology and new methods. However, numerous factors influence the complexity of raising a house and thus directly impact the project costs.

Wooden structured houses are regarded as the least expensive to raise as their floors are generally attached to the house structure and, therefore, can be presented as a unit. In addition, set the foundation on pilings that can be replaced or raised at a much lower cost than other foundations.

The risk and complexity increase exponentially with the raising of brick houses because their foundation types are with floors and structures attached. Detaching the frame from the foundation would require costly additional specialized equipment and impact the project’s overall duration.

To raise your home to above the flood level would typically require a height similar to one house level. On average, the measurement of a house level is about 10ft. The costs will increase as special reinforcing for additional support will be needed if a higher elevation height is required.

In many cases, homeowners may decide to include additional design changes while embarking on a project of this magnitude. It effectively hits the proverbial two birds with one stone and is disrupted only once but completing two projects in one session. It will have an impact on the total cost of the project.

Below are some variables that may affect the costs negatively.

  • The footprint of the house
  • The shape of the house
  • The height of elevation
  • The technique used
  • Design and finishes
  • Additional reinforcements
  • High and sloped foundations
  • Additional material for other structures
  • Brick structures
  • Concrete foundations

Pricing values are never cast in stone, and therefore challenging to quote actual pricing figures in this article because of material and labor cost variables. However, for indicative purposes, raising wood structured beach houses could cost between $20 000 and $80 000, depending on their footprints. A brick house with a concrete foundation could escalate tenfold in price.

Guidelines To Keep In Mind When Raising Your Beach House

These projects require extensive information gathering and not trying and attempting the technical know-how on your own. Instead, include a structural engineer and architect for specialized advice and guidance.

Make sure you familiarize yourself with the flood regulations and recommendations in your area as prescribed by the local municipality. Then, obtain the necessary permits and acquire professional advice before taking any actions.

Determine the required height distance and add, if it can be accommodated, add an extra level in the space below. For example, a thumb-such height of a house level is about 10ft. Instead of leaving the area open, utilize the space for storage or crawlspace.

Most regulations require living areas and essential services above the floodwater level. Ensure that your heating, air conditioning, and gas connections adhere to these rules while planning to raise your house. All properties close to rivers and lakes can be at risk, not only beach properties.

While you are busy, and if you choose to redesign the old raised level or design a new lower level, make it as environment-friendly as you can by updating or upgrading appliances and energy sources. Consult your local area laws for guidance and legal restrictions.

As a beach homeowner, you know that beach property is subject to harsh weather conditions and erosion. So choose the materials to be used accordingly. Apply this principle to the exterior and all interior materials and fittings. Get advice from experts and plan accordingly.

Why Not Just Buy a New Beach House?

Most families have grown so attached to their property and possibly the location that it is not seen or considered as an option to part with it. The only option remaining is to make the needed alterations for protection against nature. First-time beach buyers are encouraged to ensure that they purchase an already flood-protected property.

Why Are Beach Properties Raised?

Requests to raise beach properties are increasing yearly and can be directly related to the rise in severe weather with sporadic flooding and storms. As a result, Beach properties are most vulnerable and what would have been safe a few decades ago are no longer safety guaranteed.

In some cases, the decision to raise the house structure is for repair, replacement, or purely for more view or extra space purposes. However, a steady increase in property values and market prices has convinced homeowners to protect their most valuable assets as adequately as possible.

When Should I Raise My Beach House?

When to act is always a personal decision driven by either managing risk or design changes. First, determine if you live in a high-risk flood hazard area and the flood level guidelines—plan for the unforeseen or inevitable.

Are Only Beach Houses Flood Risks?

Natural disasters can occur anywhere. Therefore, flooding is not only related to coastal areas and applies to rivers, streams, and lakes as well. As the risk of flooding increases with the increase in natural disasters, planning to protect all affected assets in flood hazard areas is essential.

Conclusion

Raising beachfront homes is not a relatively new phenomenon. It was around long before weather patterns increased the flooding risks. Owners of homes in high-hazard and flood-risk areas have two choices. Move to a higher location or raise your house to compensate. However, it is not all doom and gloom. When you increase your beach house level, you gain more benefits while the cost incurred is the only negative.

Climate changes cause changed weather and rainfall patterns resulting in many areas experiencing higher tides and more regular and more intense storms. As a result, the flood risk is ever-increasing, and so are building costs. Therefore, it may be a good idea to consider raising your beach house sooner than later.

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