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Date: February 07, 2021

Things to Consider Before Starting Your Marine Construction Project

Construction projects require planning and forethought. Building near, on, or in the water increases the various issues you may face substantially by adding a corrosive and dynamic substance into the engineering mix. Great engineering drawings will account for a region’s weather and water behavior when planning a construction project, and a good marine engineering team will help you address the many issues your project may face.

Good engineering accounts for a project’s purpose, foundations, weatherproofing, roofing, maintenance schedule, and more. When you are looking at planning a marine construction project, it is important to look at each of these aspects of your project before choosing an engineering team and finalizing plans.

Floating vs Fixed
From the foundation to the roof, the question of whether your construction project is going to be floating or fixed in relation to the water determines everything that follows. While not very common, there are even building projects, like Missouri river casinos, that even have both floating and fixed portions. The building materials, the foundations, and utilities design will all change depending on this question.

Floating projects include docks and piers, berthing structures, boats and ships, house boats, and many beach-side and riverfront locations. Fixed foundations included many docks and piers, most beachfront buildings, dams, and more. When considering your construction project, understanding the local water system is important in deciding whether something will have some give by floating on water as the water levels rise and descend. For example, many building projects over areas affected by tides need either enough height to be consistently above water or the responsive capability of a floating foundation.

Foundations
A marine construction project’s foundations are rarely as simple as being put on a rock. From driving piles to creating islands or floating docks, a marine construction project incorporates diverse and unique foundation systems.

In planning out marine architecture, the foundations you use are incredibly important. Whether using floats, moorings, or full retaining walls, the superstructure you build has to be on a proper foundation. An engineering team needs to consider the normal foundation questions (slab vs crawlspace, foundation vs basement, etc) along with the additional questions a builder must ask near water (does it need to be on pilings? Does it need to float?).

Weatherproofing
Marine construction faces unique issues in weatherproofing that needs to be included in any design plans for your building. From the paint and siding used on building construction projects to the location and type of concrete, weatherproofing needs to take into account the likelihood of hurricane strength storms, beach erosion, and earthquakes.

Although many cultures make peace with the vast power of the oceans and other waterways on earth by building and rebuilding temporary shelters near the oceans, any modern construction project needs to plan on surviving the majority of an area’s worst weather. Design drawings therefore need to be engineered with weather in mind, from the foundations up. Including hurricane or earthquake planning in a building is difficult but essential to good project planning.

Electrical
Good electrical planning can determine the quality of any construction project, but marine construction has additional issues when considering electrical issues. Does your building or resource need its own power source. Does a floating project need to be able to plug into a grid while also providing long periods of independent power, like a houseboat? An engineering team will need to consider all the various aspects of a project’s electrical systems before delivering finalized drawings.

Plumbing
Plumbing, the wonder of modern civilizations, is the bane of marine construction planning. Where does water come into a marine construction project, where does it leave? Do you have one system for handling all waste, or one for gray and one for black water? Does your project require water storage for prolonged periods of time?

Before you start planning and engineering your project, you must address plumbing. Access to water mains and other shutoff valves is standard for any engineering project, as is planning the different types of piping, the fixtures and more that they will use. Additionally, will the plumbing play any part of the heating or cooling systems on the new construction? Heating and cooling systems often integrate with a building’s plumbing and on ships or houseboats plumbing plays an even more important role.