Tag Archives: wet flood proofing

Interior Damage Minimal After Elevating House

FORMIDABLE FOUNDATION:  Usually a house built upon a solid foundation is meant to be a permanent situation, complete with lots of cement to seal the deal. A foundation serves as the starting point for all that is to follow, whether you’re talking about an education, a relationship, or a house. It’s designed to have enduring qualities, and ideally built to last.

RIPPED AT THE SEAMS: But various life events can alter this preconceived notion of a permanent condition. In our case it was flooding. Way back when we first purchased our home, we never imagined a scenario where we would be ripping our house from it’s rock solid two-feet thick stone wall foundation. Nor did we foresee high water marks stretching taller than most ten year old children. But, here we are, in the midst of a house elevation project for flood mitigation.

House elevated and separated from the foundation

House elevated and separated from the foundation

EASE ON DOWN: I would have guessed any damage to the interior walls would occur during the initial separation of the house from it’s foundation. Turns out it’s the lowering of the (tremendously heavy and in our case out of square) house back down that predominately produces the most interior damage. That is not to say that every house will suffer some sort of harm during an elevation renovation. Some suffer more than others and some sustain practically no trace of damage at all. For us, there was hardly a scratch to be seen during the lifting of our house. Phew! But after hearing how laborious it was to square up my house and have it sit flush on the new foundation, I had some serious concerns.

House lowered onto newly built foundation

House lowered onto newly built foundation

INTERIOR SITUATION: As you can see from the photo above, as of yet there are no entry stairs. The new staircase will require 16 steps. A typical ladder has only 12 rungs. As the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. With a little determination and a bit of ingenuity, we managed to climb up. It involved a ladder, a rubble pile, and some keen balancing skills. Picture Mt. Everest where a climber crosses over a deep, icy, crevasse on just a metal ladder laid gingerly across a gap. It was along those lines that I eventually got inside. Wearing a skirt. And flip-flops. Impressed? Yeah, neither were my boys.

It was with great relief that we found minimal damage to the walls once inside. There is one gap in a sheetrock seam where a wall and corner converge that will need to be fixed. This occurred in a room that had been an addition, not original to the house. See photo below.

Gap runs floor to ceiling in the sheetrock in one corner

Gap runs floor to ceiling in the sheetrock in one corner

Oddly, there was also a gap in the granite counter top, on a seam, that will need to be shored up. Hopefully, it’s an easy fix requiring no more than a caulking gun.

Small gap in the countertop

Small gap in the countertop

ALL-IN-ALL: There are one or two other spots in the walls with minor cracks, more or less cosmetic in nature. All in all, the interior faired pretty well considering the ordeal it had just been through. Until the builders are fully able to access the interior of the house, we will not know definitively the extent of the damage, but at first glance it seems to be relatively minor.

It’s one thing to elevate a house. It’s another to carefully and successfully place it back down.  So whether interviewing a potential lifting company or talking to other home owners who have already completed their own flood mitigation elevation, this is an area to be sure to inquire about.

Wet Flood Proofing: an Oxymoron?

WET FLOOD PROOFING: This is generally the least expensive floodproofing technique, but it’s also the least effective in the long term. The strategies here result in a home still suffering through a flood, but strive to decrease the damage to the home and your contents.  Techniques that fall under this definition include installing flood vents to minimize structural damage, relocating the electrical panel and the utilities above the base flood elevation (BFE), anchoring the foundation and any fuel tanks to minimize movement or destruction and protecting your personal belongings.

Elevated air handlers

Elevated air handlers

This technique requires active participation on the part of the homeowner. Many times, if not most, there are days of warning prior to a flood hitting your home. With the exception of a flashflood and possibly a catastrophic tsunami, you have time to move your personal belongings out of harms way. Get busy! Move your stuff!

Using cinder blocks to protect belongings one idea.

Using cinder blocks to lift items above projected flood levels is one idea.

PROTECT YOUR CONTENTS: A simple idea to protect personal belongings is to utilize a section of your home that does not flood, e.g, a second floor, and start by moving everything upstairs. Family pictures, important documents, anything you don’t want to be destroyed – move it. We’ve used this method several times. It’s exhausting, but effective. Another idea to protect your home’s contents is to rent out storage space at a storage facility. Most times your flood insurance will cover these costs after a flood warning has been issued.  We utilized this option during a flood threat and basically emptied the entire family room (couches, tables, toys, books, etc.). This option provides great piece of mind, but a bit more planning. During the last flood event, before we decided to lift our house, I decided if I had to move all of my furniture anyway, I may as well move it out of the house altogether. That way it would be easier to start the clean-up and rebuilding process.

Wet Floodproofing will still leave you with a big clean-up effort, requires active participation just prior to the flood event, and offers no reductions in flood insurance premiums. It’s better than nothing – much better. When the water’s rising, do something – even if it’s just moving all of the items in your house upstairs.