Beach House on Stilts

Would appreciate anyone’s direction on how to evaluate the integrity of the stilts that support a beach house…got a buddy that insists on buying a place in Galveston and he wants me to piggy back one of the local inspectors down there (I hate that)…

Easy get an Engineer. Let him take on any liability issues.

Joe we do a ton of stilt homes here on Sanibel island. You would do them the same as any house. Look for level floors, any noticeable doors that do not close as intended. Sliders slide as intended. If they are comprised of wood, go down about 6 inches in the ground with a screw driver and see if they are rotted below surface.

Make sure no sagging is happening and that all Cross supports are present (man take them off for more room) look for the holes where lag bolts were once installed.

Notice all wood touching ground, it will most likely be rotted or getting there.

I am assuming this is near the gulf, then watch for a ton of wood rot especially at the mitered wood areas a the decks and windows.

If you are shadowing a person who inspects these on a regular basis, then he should be knowledgeable. I would recommend reviewing the inspector and his qualifications more than anything.

Need anything else?

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Appreciate your advice Russell.


Wood piling typically rots in the area where it is constantly going from wet to dry. Totally submerged piling do pretty well as well as totally dry piling, its that zone in between that causes the problems. That zone, if your in sand, may be several feet below the ground surface depending on your elevation above normal high water.

The above ground portion of the piling require significant bracing to resist wind forces, depending upon their height, and each pile should be braced in at least two directions. If visible, the attachment of the house to the pile foundation is critical as well as the attachment of the roof. Hurricane wind zones require special design considerations, many of which are not visible to anyone after construction.

If you have E&O insurance I would check with them before risking your business for a few hundred dollars. As a structural engineer dealing with structures any structure located in a hurricane or earthquake zone requires special knowledge and experience that only local companies have or large companies with clients in coastal or seismic areas.

great advice

I do stilt homes regularly .
Just think of the columns/piers as you would any home with crawl space on piers/columns.
There are many other things to inspect at a home at or below sea level… Yep

He should contact Jim Hime.