Elevating Your House
“I have never seen this level of demand for house elevations in Houston. People can count and they have lived through four major rain and flood events in the past six years,” commented Martin Dawson, owner of Dawson Foundation Repair. “You can call it climate change or you can call it bad luck but I think Houston area residents have accepted the fact that more and more water will be flooding their streets and homes in the coming years. The homeowners who can afford it are raising their homes five or more feet from their existing elevations.”
“In theory, new home builders are building new homes 24 inches above the 500 year floodplain. However, this only applies to homes that will be built in the 100 year floodplain. I think this is a lot of wishful thinking. I believe the whole concept of 100 year and 500 year floodplains is flawed. Hurricanes and tropical storms don’t care about floodplain definitions. Harvey dumped 47 inches of rain in one area of Houston and two years later tropical storm Imelda dumped 40 inches of rain in another area. In my opinion 24 inches is far too little. It should be at least 60 inches above the 500 year floodplain if the homeowner wants a measure of comfort. Just ask the residents of Meyerland who were flooded in three consecutive years with five to eight feet of water in their houses.” stated Mr. Dawson.
By definition a major flood occurs in Harris County about every two years. Over the past six years there have been four major / extreme flooding events that have impacted parts of Houston’s Harris county. 2018 and 2020 spared Houston. 2021 has just started its hurricane season. Those four events were:
Memorial Day Floods (2015)
Tax Day Floods (2016)
Hurricane Harvey (2017)
Tropical Storm Imelda (2019)
How Much Does It Cost To Raise A House In Houston?
It is a big number. The construction company is literally lifting the house 10 to 15 feet into the air. There are two major methods of house elevation and we will discuss those methods below. Two story houses are heavier per square foot than one story houses and will cost more to lift. Once the new columns or new foundation walls have been constructed the house will be lowered to its final elevation. The cost is generally between $50 and $75 per square foot of the home’s footprint. Therefore raising a one story 2000 square foot home five feet will cost approximately $100,000 to $150,000.
A lot. The house will have to be raised 15 feet into the air so the construction crews can build the new support structures. This will require more labor, more time, and more materials. The cost for this degree of house lifting would be approximately $75 to $100 per square foot of the home’s footprint.
The Two Primary Methods Of House Elevation
The first method would be to leave the concrete slab in place and separate the wood frame of the house from the slab. The slab foundation must be in good condition and within elevation tolerances. The house would be raised and new foundation walls and/or columns would be constructed of concrete and steel rebar. The house would then be lowered on to the new foundation walls or columns. The new lower level is typically used for storage or can be left open for flood waters to flow through.
The second method involves leaving the house attached to the slab foundation and raising the entire foundation plus the house. Soil must be excavated for new piers that would extend ten to eighteen feet below ground. New above-ground concrete columns and/or foundation walls will be constructed and will use the underground piers for support. The house will be lowered to rest on these new columns and walls.
A house on a pier and beam foundation would generally use the first method mentioned above. If the house has a brick exterior then the bricks are typically removed before any lift.
Dawson Foundation Repair is the leading foundation repair and leveling company in the Houston area. They have been inspecting, supporting, and leveling home foundations since 1984. What makes them unique in the industry is that they install Bell Bottom Piers exclusively. There is wide agreement among structural engineers about the superiority and permanence of this foundation repair and support method.