Beach houses are the places we go to when we want to relax and escape the chaotic life in the city or the suburbs, but sometimes even our beach houses can come with a couple of dangers. If you have been on multiple beach houses, you probably will have noticed that they sometimes tend to sway – sometimes more than others. You may wonder, is this normal? Are beach houses supposed to sway?
Beach houses are not supposed to sway, but they can sway just like any other house if the right conditions are present. Beach houses that are built on stilts that are placed in a sand foundation, as opposed to a concrete foundation, may sway due to a lack of resistance against the wind.
So, beach houses do not have to sway, but they can if their foundation allows for it. So, are beach houses that are built on stilts safe? What other risks do beach houses come with, other than swaying, and how do you go about preventing those risks? We explore these questions in the article below.
Are Beach Houses Supposed To Sway?
When it comes to whether or not beach houses sway, it depends on its location and construction. If you have a beach house that is built further away from the beach and it rests on concrete or any other traditional foundation, it will probably not sway.
That said, some beach houses rest upon pilings, which can cause them to sway if there are strong winds present. The reason for this is obvious: you do not have a house that is on the ground and on a solid foundation. If we look at trees, the top of the tree sways much more than the bottom of the tree since it is easier for the wind to blow objects around the higher they are.
This is because the longer the lever arm of an object, the more torque is generated when a force is exercised upon it. Accordingly, just like a tree, a house that rests higher up in the air with stilts, will sway if the wind blows against the house. The stilts are not always dug deep enough into a rock-hard, solid foundation to keep the house in place.
Additionally, if the foundation of the stilt home is sand, there is a high chance of strong wind causing the house to move due to the fact that the sand does not keep the stilts firmly in place, but the stilts can move in the sand. It does not necessarily mean that you will notice every time your house sways, but even a tiny wind can make your house sway if you pay enough attention.
That said, newer stilt homes have their pilings reinforced with other materials such as rebar and are placed very deep into the bedrock. This makes the foundation very solid and keeps the stilt houses from swaying.
So, to conclude, beach houses are not supposed to sway. This implies that it is part of their design to sway and do so with purpose. Houses, including beach houses, are not designed to sway – it all depends on the foundation of your house. Ultimately, the largest factor that will determine whether your house sways is if it is built on stilts and on a solid foundation.
Are Houses That Are Built On Stilts Safe?
We have established that if your house is built on stilts, it has a higher chance of swaying than a house that is firmly and flat on the ground. This does prompt another question: other than swaying, do stilt houses pose any other dangers? Are they safe? So, let us talk about the downside of building your house on stilts, other than the potential to sway.
Just like any house, houses with stilts can also come with their own structural defects resulting from building errors or damage. If you do want to buy a house with stilts, you have to make sure that you do it properly and do it with the aid of a building inspector. Building inspectors help you avoid the mistake of buying a stilt house that is about to collapse.
That said, most consider stilts as a very good option for your house – especially if you live in a region where disasters such as hurricanes or floods are common. Some state that stilted houses are some of the safest options you can have if you live anywhere between Southeast Asia and Hawaii – some places even require stilted houses!
So, yes, stilted houses are safe. They can have structural issues like any house can but, if done properly, they are very safe and are even recommended in some regions. If you own a beach house and the stilts have been built and installed correctly, they will probably provide more safety and protection against floods than non-stilted beach houses.
Risks Of Beach Houses And How To Prevent Them From Happening
We have determined that beach houses may sway due to the fact that they are on stilts, but we have also determined that stilted houses are not unsafe, per se. Now, let us take a look at some of the other risks of a beach house that stilts cannot fix, and let us look at how to prevent them.
- When your house is not swaying because of strong winds blowing against your stilted beach house, you have a greatly increased risk of flooding and severe winds when living in coastal regions.
- Due to the exposure to the sea, beach houses are much more susceptible to mold, erosion, and rust. The sand and sun can exacerbate these effects.
How To Avoid These Risks
Since the advantages of stilted houses have already been discussed, they will not be repeated here. Accordingly, we can simply conclude that raising your house will solve the potential flooding of your house problem.
One of the ways to combat the eroding effect that the saltwater ocean has on your beach house is to opt for tile floors in your beach house that are very durable and maintainable. The salt and sand that may end up on your floor can be cleaned very easily if the floor is made of tile, which is why many beach houses have tile floors.
If you do not wish to go with tile, you can always opt for concrete floors. These floors are also very resistant to any withering effects the sea and sand may have on other objects and come with the added benefit of being very fixable should they start cracking.
If you do not wish to go with tile or concrete flooring, since they can be very heavy if your house is supported by wooden stilts, you can go with hardware that is resistant to corrosion, weather, and rust. This can be, for example, to opt for aluminum or anodized aluminum for your window frames.
One of the more obvious ways to ensure that your beach house is protected from crumbling, swaying, rusting, or deteriorating is to maintain your beach house on a frequent basis. Get experts in the offseason to check your house for any signs of deterioration, wipe excess salt off of surfaces regularly, and apply anti-rust corrosive material to appropriate surfaces.
Some even recommend pressure washing the walls of your beach house to remove salt and sand from them and to prevent the spreading of mold.
To make your beach house more resistant to wind, ensure that your beach house is constructed such that everything is tied together from the foundation to the roof. You can do this by using framing materials, screws or nails, metal connectors, and ‘shearwalls.’
This will equip your beach house to resist stronger winds by redistributing the pressure of the wind on the exterior of your house all the way to the foundation.
In conclusion, some houses will sway a bit more if they are elevated on stilts and if the stilts are placed in sand, as opposed to other forms of solid foundations. The shorter the stilts are, the more wind pressure will be required to sway your home, but if your stilts are placed in a solid foundation, your beach house will probably not sway much.
Despite the fact that beach houses sway a bit more in the wind when they are placed on stilts, it is much better than the alternative of drowning if a flood rushes to your home – something where stilts will probably save your life!