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Groundworks Company Stabilizes Hampton, VA Beach House with Helical Piles, Other Reinforcements

by Holly Richards-Purpura

Beachfront Beware: Beach Homes and Structural Integrity

Owning a beachfront home is a dream for many people, but nothing good can come of it if the house is not structurally stabilized on solid ground. This can be a challenge, as these types of homes are built on sand. Sand can easily erode and wash away with strong storms, hurricanes, and flooding, and the commonly used timber pilings can crack, rot, and fail with time.

A combination of problematic sand and rotting, cracking, sinking piles was causing damage to an aging beach house in Hampton, VA. The family that owns the house has owned it for more than 30 years, and the pilings are original to the structure. The two-story, 2,187 sq. ft. home with an open crawl space underneath was built in 1950.

Getting Professional Opinions

The homeowners previously reached out to a local professional engineer because of concerns with the support system under the house. After receiving the engineer’s report with numerous recommended repairs, the owners then began to research foundation repair companies that would be able to help. They found the best solution in JES Foundation Repair, a local Groundworks company serving the area. Groundworks is the nation’s largest privately held foundation services company.

A certified field inspector with the local company completed a thorough evaluation of the home and its support system. The inspector found obvious rotting in most of the pilings during his assessment, as well as bowing of a couple of main beam sections and a compressed beam. Previous repairs had been attempted, but structural problems have continued to worsen. Some piles were lower than others, and the level of sand varied underneath the structure. Gaps between the deck boards and the perimeter framing of the deck ranged from 1” to 1 ½” in various areas.

Finding a Customized Solution

Following the engineer’s report and suggestions, and with the help of an in-house engineer with JES, the inspector came up with the perfect repair plan. Instead of replacing all the existing wooden piles, supplemental support would be provided in the form of new timber piles reinforced by helical piles driven deep into the ground.

Helical piles are used in many retrofit repair projects, typically connecting to a foundation’s concrete footing with a heavy-duty bracket. However, these durable piles also can be used at new-build sites to provide further stability for the future foundation and structure, as well as underneath wooden piles in special circumstances like with this beach house.

Installation Project Overview

A crew with the local company, JES, which was further assisted by their peers from Mount Valley Foundation Services, was able to complete all the necessary repairs within a 30-day period.

The crews dug out areas around each existing pile to prep for the helical pile installation. The crews had limited access to the area due to space and conservation restrictions, so the team needed to drive hand-held helical piles.

Each helical pile was installed with lead sections of 8”-10” or 8”-10”-12” helix plates with round-shaft extensions. The crew used galvanized 2-7/8” tubular – 0.203 wall thickness. The allowable capacity of this helical pile system is 25 kips.

A total of 34 helical piles was installed, each with a depth of 15’ into the ground. A single pressure gauge was used on the feed line to estimate the installed torque. The torque motor was hand-held, and pressures during installation ranged from 800 to 1,300 psi.

After installing the helical piles, a new construction cap was bolted to the shaft and embedded in a 2’ x 2’ reinforced pile cap (i.e., concrete footing). The supplemental footings support new 10” x 10” wood columns.

Various joists were sistered and a main beam was replaced. The homeowners now have peace of mind knowing their house has been properly stabilized and will stand the test of time as a beachfront property.

About Groundworks

Groundworks® is the nation’s leading and fastest-growing foundation services company. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, the company currently provides foundation and water management solutions including foundation repair, basement waterproofing, crawl space repair and encapsulation, and concrete lifting services. Since 1975, the combined companies have helped nearly 1.5 million homeowners protect and repair their most valuable asset, their home. Groundworks operates more than 40 offices and has been named numerous times to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, BBB integrity award, and Best Places to Work.

For more information about Groundworks, please visit:

Groundworks Companies

The local Groundworks company serving Hampton, VA, is:

JES Foundation Repair

2569 Quality Ct.

Virginia Beach, VA 23454