Seawalls construction involves the construction of “deep foundations,” as it is called in the industry. For most South Florida properties, they are the only deep foundation structure that exists on the property. They are called deep foundations because they rely on the use of piles to support the structure.
Most new residential seawalls in South Florida are built from concrete, which requires the contractor to use a pile driver to install the concrete piles. Driving piles requires the use of a crane and a hammer, and the contractor must drive the piles to the capacity specified by the engineer. If the pile doesn’t have enough capacity, the risk of failure increases.
The pile itself is fragile and should only be hit hard enough that it can handle the impact of the hammer. Knowing the energy imparted by the hammer and the distance the pile moves with each impact is the key to determining the capacity. If the pile is hit with too much energy, it can cause the pile to break. Notably, you might not even be able to see where it breaks if it is already below the water or deep underground.
Piles are the primary structural elements of what may be one of the most expensive projects you’ll build on your property. You should be absolutely certain that your contractor has the right equipment and expertise for your project. As your seawall stewards, we will make sure that this critical element of construction gets the attention it deserves.