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Using Pilings When Building on Florida's Gulf Coast



Nova Homes of South Florida is building a new waterfront home on Isles of Capri using pilings

Pile foundation systems

Foundations relying on driven piles often have groups of piles connected by a pile cap (a large concrete block into which the heads of the piles are embedded) to distribute loads which are larger than one pile can bear. A pile is a long slender foundation element mechanically driven into the ground to reach more stable soil located below the level of a conventional foundation.

From FEMA

Coastal Foundations and Best Practices

6.1 Introduction

A building’s foundation is arguably its most important structural element. Despite its particular location, a foundation must support the building above it and all the loads that are exerted on it. It must adequately transfer loads acting on the structure to the supporting soils and must resist weathering, decay, and corrosion (with little or no maintenance) in order to remain viable for the entire life of the building. The foundation must perform all of these functions while being exposed to the damaging effects and conditions present in a coastal environment. These effects include erosion and scour, breaking waves and moving floodwaters, and the potentially disastrous effects of floodborne debris. Coastal foundations must, therefore, be stronger, better planned and designed, and more solidly constructed than inland foundations.

6.3 Constructing Foundations in Coastal Areas

Building in coastal environments poses unique challenges:

* The effects of storm surge, wave action, and erosion make coastal flooding more damaging than inland flooding.

* Buildings are often required to be elevated higher than they would be in inland sites to avoid flooding and wave action, particularly in areas where storm surge can inflict severe damage on the buildings.

* Foundations are exposed to damaging floodborne debris that results when floodwaters destroy older or weaker buildings and coastal structures.

* Erosion and scour can undermine foundations, thus causing buildings to fail.

*Basic (design) wind speeds are typically greater in coastal areas than in inland areas and require buildings (and their foundations) to be stronger in order to resist those greater loads.

In coastal environments, code-compliant foundations must be designed and constructed:

* To elevate the building high enough to avoid flooding.

* To be strong enough to resist all loads expected to act on the building and its foundation during a design event.

* To satisfy the minimum requirements of the NFIP and any state or local floodplain management conditions.

* To prevent flotation, collapse, and lateral movement of the building.

* With flood-resistant materials at or below the BFE (or DFE, in areas where the use of freeboard is mandated)

* So that the lowest floor (in A Zones) or the bottoms of the lowest horizontal structural members (in V Zones) are elevated above the BFE/DFE

* To accommodate expected scour and erosion throughout the life of the structure

When building a waterfront home on Marco Island and Isles of Capri, Florida, Nova Homes of South Florida follows the strict guidelines set forth by federal and local government to build a safe, quality home up to the standards presented by the authorities. For more information about Nova Homes of South Florida call 239.307.6116 or visit www.novahomesbuilder.com.


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