4 Things Clients Must Consider When Designing A Seawall

Asking a seawall design engineer to help with a project is a very preliminary step. Every seawall design effort runs up against some considerations, and not all of them are fundamentally engineering problems. Before you dive into your project, here are four things you'll need to consider.


Installing a seawall on a property, especially a residential one, may carry some risk of conflicts with public spaces. Even if you own the entire area where the seawall will go and all the surroundings that might be affected, many jurisdictions limit seawall construction. There might be an easement based on state, county, or municipal laws. Federal regulations might require considerations for potential environmental problems in the area, too.

Contact the code and environmental enforcement officials for where you live. Tell them what your situation is and why you need a seawall, and then try to work with them to figure out what you can do.


Even the best seawall design is likely to have some aesthetic limitations. Where possible, you want to keep the view as unspoiled as possible. This includes when looking out and looking in. Unless there are potential risks associated with low-frequency catastrophic events, it's best to focus on keeping the seawall as low-visibility as possible. In some cases, it might be possible to add green spaces and hardscaping features to give the design more life.

Routing Water

A major argument for having a seawall design engineer involved is to calculate how water is going to route through the area under different conditions. There is always some risk that waves will overtop a seawall during storms that coincide with high tides. It's best to plan for how the areas behind the seawall will drain by determining where the water is likely to go.

Similarly, a poorly designed seawall can funnel water and storm forces into a tight area. You don't want to create a situation where those forces may compromise the seawall. This often requires designing the seawall to distribute forces away from vulnerable zones.

Erosion Near the Seawall

Bear in mind that establishing a seawall will also encourage erosion in the area before the seawall. If there are already problems with the sediment in the area, this can lead to the collapse of the seawall or destruction of the surrounding beach. You may have to haul sediment in every few years to supplement what's lost due to erosion.

To learn more, contact a resource like Reuben Clarson Consulting.