The foundation of your home is one of the most important components of your home’s structure. When it’s built to last, you’ll be able to enjoy a myriad of benefits:
- It’ll offer protection to the entire home
- It’ll help in retaining the value of your property
- It’ll resist common foundation issues, such as settling and shifting
- It’ll be resistant to changes in the soil around and beneath the home
Admittedly, waterfront properties are highly desirable for many reasons. After all, who can argue that the experience of living on the water isn’t uplifting and relaxing? That said, waterfront properties also pose issues to a home’s foundation.
The following are some challenges and solutions you may want to consider when your home is near a lake.
1. Building Code
Before broaching the exact risks to lake house foundation stability, the legality of building a home in the area must be explored.
Different local governments will have different requirements in regards to building codes near bodies of water. There may be more restrictions if the water body is part of protected land, a national or state park, or a natural habitat to threatened or endangered species. In such cases, you may need to perform an Environmental Impact Assessment.
In addition, there may also be laws in regards to how near a home foundation may be built to a body of water. Some homes may have had their foundations built before the enactment of certain building codes. However, for pre-existing foundations, it’s paramount that homeowners follow the stipulated laws.
Flooding can damage your home’s foundation in two main ways: one, it can damage it through the water seeping in and causing or widening cracks on the foundation. And two, it can damage it from the force of fast-moving water.
So, before building a house on a lot of land or buying one located there, make sure you’ve made use of a FEMA flood map. Flood maps use important metrics such as 100-year floods to assess the likelihood of a flood happening in a certain area.
The first thing you should do when thinking of building a home in a flood zone is consulting with a contractor, and for good reasons. For one, there may be restrictions against new buildings. And two, your home may not get insured.
Water collected by drainage from a nearby body of water can cause foundation issues. If you build your home near a water body, then you should consider the runoff.
An Environmental Impact Analysis map may be able to give you insights into how runoff may affect your home. Alternatively, observe how extensive rainfall affects the soil. Does water pool anywhere in the land? If so, then you may need surface and/or french drains.
4. Water Table
The water table is a term that hydrogeologists use to describe an imaginary surface that exists underground. Water pressure and atmospheric pressure are equal at this boundary. It tends to follow the ground surface, falling at valleys and rising under hills.
A water table is formed when water infiltrates the soil from aquifers, water bodies, or precipitation.
Naturally, the depth of a water table will rise the closer you get to a water body. That’s because the surface water seeps through the soil and causes the ground closer to the topsoil to saturate. Building a home foundation in a high water table area has the potential to cause a myriad of issues.
In some parts of the country, a firm foundation is one that’s built on multiple layers of gravel to account for drainage. Make sure to check for this when buying a home near water or constructing one to ensure the structure will be stable.
Erosion is a common problem near lakes, especially if a large river drains into the lake nearby. Erosion can gradually lead to the collapse of a foundation or even the loss of a piece of land.
If you’re building your foundation near an erosion-susceptible area, consider adding the following elements to prevent soil erosion:
- Grow some vegetation. The root system in the vegetation will help give the soil some structure
- Install a French drain and/or a surface drain. A French drain is a pipe that collects and directs water. The pipe is wide and perforated and helps in collecting excess water, driving it away from the affected area
- Install foundation piles. These are deep foundation elements that support vertical and horizontal loads in regard to tension and compression. Foundation piles are driven down to the load-bearing strata or the bedrock later to offer firm support to a home
- Construct a retaining wall. A retaining wall is a structure that helps in holding and retaining soil behind it. From rocks to treated timber to poured concrete, there are many materials that can be used to create a retaining wall
How to Identify Foundation Problems in Your Lake House
Perhaps the most common sign of a foundation problem are cracks. As a homeowner, you shouldn’t downplay them as “not a big deal.” If a dime can fit in the crack, then it’s probably something that warrants concern.
In these cases, it’s crucial to inspect the foundation. Foundation cracks can also be of any size and happen anywhere along the foundation of a home.
Aside from cracks, you should also be wary of other problematic clues such as:
- Musty odors
- Mold growth
- Buckling floors
- Difficulty in closing doors
- Gaps under your window
- A sloping foundation
- Pooling of water around the base of your home
- Separation of chimney from outside of the house
How to Repair a Damaged Foundation
Do you have reasons to believe your home’s foundation may be compromised? If you do, then you should address them as quickly as possible. With foundation problems, the longer you wait, the more serious the problem will become.
Granite Foundation Repair is a trusted foundation inspection and repair company. We have been helping property owners in Dallas and the surrounding areas restore their homes’ structural integrity for 18 years now.
Seeing water is great, but not when it’s in your home. The foundations of lake houses pose an extra risk when it comes to keeping them stable.
If you’ve noticed signs of movement or any other foundation issue for that matter, give Granite Foundation Repair a call. Our team is dedicated to ensuring the process for long-lasting repairs is as smooth as possible.