Over the years, foundation requirements have changed in coastal zones classified as “A.” Many coastal areas now require any new structure to have open foundations (pilings) and for good reason – they allow water to pass through, easing the pressure on the home.
You’ve seen the photos after hurricanes have passed. A stilt home will be standing next to a demolished foundation home. It’s due to storm surges which can cause extreme damage to structures. Water levels can rise from four feet in a minor hurricane to over 20 feet in larger storms, especially when coupled with high tides. Now factor in that our coastal areas typically are less than ten feet above sea level, and well, you get the picture. Stilt homes are safer in coastal areas, but they still need post storm inspections and possible maintenance to remain structurally sound.
After a hurricane or strong storm has passed, it’s wise to have a foundation specialist come out and inspect the integrity of the structure. It’s hard to believe the amount of pressure the storm has placed on structures. Winds typically have pressures in the tens of pounds per square foot. Water, on the other hand, is far greater. For instance, a two to three-foot wave can wield pressure in the tens of thousands of pounds per square foot. That’s why a home that is on stilts above the storm surge can come through much better than foundation homes.
Inspect your home and look for these danger signs:
- Floors aren’t level. Place a ball on the floor and see if it rolls on its own.
- Doors don’t close properly. See if the door doesn’t fit squarely in the door jamb.
- Sliding windows and partitions don’t slide easily.
- Sagging areas. This may be easiest to view from the ground looking up to the structure.
These are just a few things that you as the homeowner can quickly check. But remember that some danger signs won’t be visible or obvious. A foundation specialist, like Heavenly Foundations, will check the cross beams, girder and joist connections, underground portion of the pilings, and a number of other technical areas. Have this inspection every year after a hurricane has passed through and you’ll always be ready for the next season’s storms!