How Do Waterfront Conditions Affect Your Foundation?

How Do Waterfront Conditions Affect Your Foundation?

Owning waterfront property can offer up a scenic view of your surroundings, but it also might take a bit more upkeep to make sure that your foundation is a solid as it should be. There are a few different conditions to consider when thinking about your foundation from environmental hazards to the type of foundation that you have.



Potentially the greatest contributing factor to foundation damage to waterfront property comes from environmental impacts. These hazards vary in size, duration, and potential damage done, but all of them have one thing in common: erosion, high winds, storm surges, flooding, or any moving water all have the potential to chip away at your structure’s foundation. Scouring is another environmental occurrence, but only takes place in floodwaters that have high flow rates, high sediment load, or both.


While flooding is an environmental hazard, there are a few different kinds of flooding to be aware of. All of the following flood types can lead to soil erosion underwear your foundation due to scouring:

  • Coastal: most typical kind of flooding near coastal areas and includes wave action, high water flow, and high erosion potential

  • Flash Flood: This kind of flooding occurs rapidly causing excessive water flow. Flash floods have a higher probability of carrying debris.

  • Mudflow: occurs when massive amounts of flood water mix with surrounding sediment. This type of flooding gives way to mudslides if flooding occurs at higher elevations.

  • Lake/pond overflow: increased water flow to lakes or ponds causing overflow and potential for flash flooding.

  • Poor Drainage: occurs when floodwater flow exceeds drainage. Can result in standing water.

While all of these kinds of flooding are dangerous on their own, the potential for damage compounds if two or more kinds of flooding occur in the same area.

Fluctuating Water Table


Waterfront areas are some of the most susceptible to a fluctuating water table. An area’s water table is greatly affected by environmental forces like flooding, surges, and even just a heavy rain. With alternating levels of soil saturation comes an increased likelihood that soil erosion will take place. As water moves into and out of the ground surrounding your building, soil and sediment go with it.

Foundation Type


Foundations in coastal areas are different than foundations further inland. Waterfront foundations must be designed to carry greater loads, resist higher winds and flood waters, storm surge and wave action. There are a few different kinds of coastal foundations and it’s important to know which yours is to be aware of how it may react to the surroundings and environment. Some of the different foundations are

  • Shallow Foundations: including crawlspace foundations and slab-on-grade foundations

  • Deep Foundations: including foundations with supporting wood piles or helical piers

  • Open Foundations: allowing water to flow under the house

  • Closed Foundations: obstructing all waters from impacting the foundation

The conditions of your surroundings are incredibly important when looking at waterfront foundations. Water, either flowing or stagnant, could cause erosion to the soil under or around your foundation. If you start to notice changes in the foundation of your waterfront property, contact the foundation repair experts at Helicon!