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Shopping For Your Waterfront Dream Property? What You Should Know About Shoreline Stabilization

Construction & Contractors Articles

Even though the purchase of a waterfront home hold many similarities to the purchase of most other houses, there are a few key differences of which buyers must be aware. One of these differences is when both the terrain and the proximity of the home to the water require a protective seawall or some other type of shoreline stabilization feature to prevent erosion and lessen the risk of flooding or any other water-related damage. If you are shopping for a waterfront property, the following information will help you to understand the various forms of shoreline stabilization and how they can help protect your real estate investment.  

Understanding Shoreline Stabilization

The risk of flooding, erosion and negative changes in the shoreline of a waterfront property are valid reasons to protect them through the use of shoreline stabilization features. Seawalls, and other protective infrastructure, such as coastal bulkheads, ripraps and retaining walls, all serve to strengthen and stabilize the shoreline against high water levels and erosion. A property that has been fortified with one or more types of shoreline stabilization will be better able to withstand pounding waves and rising water and will help prevent storm surge damage. 

Construction Differences Between Seawalls and Other Shoreline Stabilization Features

Older seawalls may have been constructed from natural materials that were easily found on or near the property, including large boulders, stones or even tightly compacted dirt. Modern seawalls may still use these materials, but are often wholly or partly constructed of more durable materials, like reinforced concrete and steel. Occasionally, properties will have temporary seawalls constructed of timbers and plastic sheeting, but waterfront property shoppers should know that these materials are not permanent and can fail if subjected to extreme waves caused by high winds, storms or hurricanes. 

Another form of shoreline stabilization commonly used on waterfront property is a riprap, which is usually constructed by doing the following: 

  • Grading the waterfront embankment to a ratio of 1.5:1.
  • Laying down a protective filer cloth that will allow water to flow through while keeping the soil in place.
  • Covering the filter cloth with layers of loose rocks or stones that keep the cloth in place and prevent erosion from floodwaters or waves.

In areas where flooding is a common problem, ripraps are often used in conjunction with other shoreline stabilization measures to offer better protection for the property. 

In marine construction terminology, a bulkhead is a type of retaining wall that is built to offer long-lasting protection against water. In many instances, bulkhead construction techniques utilize rigid vinyl panels that can withstand the elements. These panels are attached to sturdy pilings set into ground and further strengthened by walers, which are horizontal supports that help fortify the structure. 

Additional Benefits Through Shoreline Stabilization

Shoreline stabilization not only helps protect waterfront property and its structures from damage and erosion, it can also help prevent flood damage. Many waterfront properties require flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, in addition to regular casualty insurance. By using proactive shoreline stabilization to reduce or prevent flood damage, the homeowner can avoid expensive insurance claims. In addition, shoreline stabilization helps homeowners protect their investment and retain value so that it will continue to remain competitive with other waterfront properties in the area. 

If you are considering the purchase of a waterfront property, consider having it evaluated by an experienced marine contractor in your area. They will be able to look for issues with existing shoreline stabilization efforts and help you determine whether additional ones are needed to repair or improve them so that the property will be adequately protected.

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24 September 2015