Shoreline Erosion Control - featured image

(Updated 2/13/2023)

If you own a lake house, you are most likely well aware of rising water levels in Michigan, and the Great Lakes have been in the news as record high levels have caused beaches to erode and, in some cases, damaged homes and businesses. In Leland, Michigan, historic Fishtown has experienced flooding due to seiches and high-water levels. Throughout Benzie and Leelanau counties, Lake Michigan beaches have eroded to a fraction of what they were just a few years ago.

The rising water levels are due to record snowpack and rainfall over the last few years. In contrast, not long ago, we were experiencing record-low water levels. Historically, the Great Lakes go through a natural cycle of water-level changes. Therefore, waterfront homeowners must plan for both high and low water levels.

Wind, waves, and ice all play a role in erosion. However, the shoreline also contributes to how well it can resist these forces. Native vegetation helps buffer the impact of wave and wind erosion, and the composition of the soil and underlying rock contribute to how the shoreline is affected.

What can a homeowner do to protect their shoreline and property?

Adding a seawall may seem logical, but alternatives should be considered whenever possible. Seawalls can sometimes create more erosion by redirecting wave forces downward and undercutting the wall or by flanking and eroding the areas directly adjacent to the wall. Of course, a property on Lake Michigan versus an inland lake will have different conditions to consider.

Rock (rock armor or “rip-rap”) can be used as an alternative to seawalls. A rock revetment absorbs wave energy better than seawalls and reduces the chance of undercutting and flanking. They also provide better access for wildlife to and from the water than a seawall. Rock revetments are also long-lasting and can last for years. It should be noted that seawalls and revetments require approval by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership recommends the following strategies for preventing shoreline erosion.

  • Site your house a minimum of 100 feet from the lake.
  • Limit turf grass, especially at the lake edge. Keep as many trees, shrubs, and native plants as possible.
  • Minimize impervious surfaces to help prevent stormwater from running directly into the lake. This helps minimize the washing away of sand.
  • Keep the native plants in the lake or only remove a limited amount for boating access or swimming. Plants in the water along the shore help protect the shoreline by absorbing wave energy.

Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

Are you ready to make your dream home a reality?
Contact us today
to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

Lakehouse Foundations and Septic Systems - featured image

It is said that you are never more than six miles from a body of water in Michigan. Michigan also has the longest freshwater coastline in the world. We are very fortunate to have such an abundance of water! No wonder so many people dream of owning a waterfront home.

When you envision your perfect home on the water, you probably think of the beautiful views, the sunsets, boating, and swimming, or the calming effect water has on many of us. But with all the idyllic charm comes the reality that building a custom waterfront home can be challenging due to the very nature of waterfront property.

When building a waterfront home, foundations and septic systems are two unique challenges. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Water Tables, Foundations, and Basements

Having a home near water usually means a high water table. However, many things determine your actual water table, including soil type, drainage, and distance from the body of water.

The water table will influence your foundation design, and a full basement might not be an option. State and local building codes also play a role in determining the requirements for your home’s foundation.

During the planning stage, a survey of the property can help determine the elevation of your basement and other critical points in relationship to the water table and the base flood elevation for the surrounding properties. This will help determine whether a full basement is practical or a crawlspace is more appropriate. An Elevation Certificate can be issued by the surveyor and is an essential for obtaining flood insurance.

Water drainage also needs to be considered when planning your new home. Managing water away from the foundation can be facilitated in many ways, including French drains, gutters, landscaping, and vegetation.

Based on your individual situation and house design, we will design and build a foundation that is appropriate for your conditions and will endure the unique natural forces that waterfront properties face. While this may sound daunting, rest assured that Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience building custom waterfront homes in unique settings.

Septic Systems for Waterfront Homes

A well-designed and properly functioning septic system safeguards ground water and nearby lakes and streams from contamination. Obviously if you are investing in a waterfront home, you want to be assured that you will have safe drinking water and be able to enjoy your lake to its fullest while protecting your investment.

Factors that affect the design of a home septic system include:

  • Household size
  • Soil type
  • Site slope
  • Proximity to bodies of water

In most cases, a traditional septic system will be approved by your local health department, however in special circumstances, there are many other alternative design options. We are experienced working with the county health departments and local building inspectors. We will advise you on the design and placement of septic systems and wells.

Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

Are you ready to make your dream home a reality?
Contact us today
to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.