Houses Built On Stilts: how safe are they?5 min read

If you’ve ever visited Florida, you’ve probably seen stilt houses. They allow you to enjoy a panoramic view of the beach, can be built on unstable terrains, and offer more air circulation than stilted houses. 

However, the fact stilted houses are elevated is cause for concern for many homeowners. A poorly built stilted house is dangerous and can even collapse. 

Within this article, we look at the advantages of stilted houses and analyze how safe they really are. 

Summary: 

Stilted Houses offer more security and flood protection than non-stilted houses. Stilted Houses have been lived in safely for thousands of years but the overall safety of the building rests in the hands of the builders. A poorly built stilted house can be dangerous to live in and can even collapse. 

How Safe Are Houses Built on Stilts?

Even though they don’t seem that way, houses built on stilts are normally secure. Houses have been built on stilts for thousands of years and offer protection from flooding and animals. 

Traditional Stilted Houses In Laos

Builders traditionally use wood, bamboo, cane, or rattan for stilted houses. However, steel is now more commonly used as a construction material. 

Steel usually holds well in the ground and is less likely to break than other materials. Steel stilts will hold up adequately even if you want to build your house on an uneven surface.

However, like any house, the structural integrity lies within the hands of the builders. It’s especially important when considering stilt houses that proper design and manufacturing take place. 

Why Are Some Houses Built on Stilts?

Coastal areas and subtropical climates are ideal for stilt homes. Flooding is a common occurrence in those places. As a result, people construct their homes on stilts to avoid flooding.

It’s crucial to note that stilt houses don’t prevent flooding. The houses allow the floodwaters to run under the house. The purpose is for the stilts to be high enough that water never reaches the home.

The stilts should be deep in the ground and strong enough to prevent the building from collapsing.

One other benefit is protection from wild animals. Wild animals can be both pests and, in some cases, dangerous. One extreme example is on Komodo island where stilted houses prevent komodo dragons from entering the property: 

Source

Some may consider stilt houses to be environmentally friendly. The houses are quick to build without creating substantial damage to the environment, and less foundational work is required. 

Wooden and bamboo poles are the most common types of stilts in most areas. The poles are deep beneath the sand, cementing the building to the ground. The depth guarantees optimum stability.

4 Benefits of a House on Stilts

There are several advantages to constructing stilt houses. The elevation gives a good and wide view of your environment. You can also achieve stability on unstable grounds when you use stilts, as well as guard against floods and support air circulation.

  1. View

A house built on stilts will typically stand higher than other houses in the vicinity. This will provide you with a panoramic, far-reaching perspective of the surrounding environment.

If your home is near a beach, the view will be breathtaking as the sea view is vast. Not only that, but if you ever contemplate selling your home, the view is always a good selling point.

  1. Stability

There are often areas with unstable terrains, such as sandy beaches. Stilt houses are an excellent option to build a home in places like that with uneven ground. The elevated home will force the stilts to provide support rather than the earth beneath.

The structure would be even more stable depending on the type of stilt utilized and how deep it is beneath the ground.

Steel stilts have a better chance of providing more stability than wooden stilts. The steel stilts are more durable and strong.

  1. Safety

Flooding is the main reason why people choose to put their homes on stilts. Building a house on stilts raises it off the ground, putting it out of harm’s way from problems like flooding.

Floodwaters run beneath the home and don’t reach the house itself, as previously stated. The house will not flood as a result of this.

Houses built on stilts are also less prone to wood pest damage. Additionally, the elevation will keep curious animals away from your home.

  1. Air Circulation 

Because stilt homes are higher above the land, air can circulate beneath them. The circulation makes the house cooler in general.

There are several reasons why ventilation is vital. To begin with, it ensures that no water or moisture remains, leaving your home’s foundation dry. This is critical because any damp spots within the home’s framework might lead to rotting.

The moist spots will not only cause structural damage to your home, but they will also attract termites and pests. Termites have the potential to infest your home and cause problems.

Are Houses on Stilts Safer Than Normal Houses? 

Stilted houses aren’t always safer than regular houses. They’re, nevertheless, useful in areas with a high rate of flooding and wild animals. You should also consider stilted houses if the weather conditions are rough.

Regular house construction materials include brick, stone, wood, and vinyl. Structures built of biomaterials or made with stone and brick are more prone to water damage. Even if a regular house might withstand the flood, some structures can take a lot of damage.

The soil structure may deteriorate, and the foundations weaken. In that situation, a stilt house might be a better choice. But if you take the flood point away, both types of houses are safe.

What Are the Dangers of Living in a House on Stilts?

While stilt buildings are generally safe, they can be dangerous. Stilted houses can be risky due to poor design, limited support and poor materials used in construction. If a stilted house is designed and built well, it should be safer to live in than a normal house. 

If the stilts aren’t safely built up, something like a big earthquake could demolish them. Stilt houses can be the most susceptible to earthquake damage. If you live in a region where earthquakes happen often, you should avoid stilt houses.

An alternative is to ensure that the stilts are strong enough by using steel stilts. If the stilts aren’t securely secured to the ground, they may shatter under the weight of severe rains.

Furthermore, if the stilts are wood, they will weaken with time as a result of the climate. Pests and other termites can infect the timber once the chemicals that preserve the stilt decay. This will result in severe damage to the structure.

Instead, a new stilt house would have to be constructed. Unfortunately, the entire procedure will be expensive. So if you’re looking for a cost-efficient construction of a house, stilt houses aren’t for you.

Do Houses on Stilts Ever Collapse?

Unfortunately, a stilt house can collapse under a range of circumstances related to weather and flooding. Even though the goal of the buildings is to endure floods, if there is a water logging issue, the house may collapse. Severe hurricanes can also impact your home’s construction. 

The collision is due to the build of dams that are incapable of preventing the overflow from reaching the land. The dams also keep the water from returning to the river.

The design for most houses is to resist moderate flooding. If the stilts encounter severe flooding, major structural damages will occur. This will result in the collapse of the house.

Other weather-related factors could cause the house to collapse. In extreme weather conditions, air pressure can enter through a shattered window. The pressure will cause the roof and other things to break. Window protection that is impact and pressure-proof will help with this issue.

Additionally, a strengthened roof attachment may make the roof stand stronger. Air pressure can enter through any opening and knock apart roofs, doors, and windows.

Are Houses on Stilts Supposed to Sway?

The ability of stilt houses to sway is determined by their position and build. If your house is on a concrete or other standard base, it’s unlikely to waver. It may, however, sway if it’s near a beach or other water-related region.

Water may flow in and out of the support beams without piling up pressure against a solid structure. That’s all thanks to the open area created by stilts. Newer stilt houses are usually more than 10 feet off the ground.

Also, they’re on reinforced steel pilings that are deep into the ground. The homes don’t sway because of this sturdy base.

If your house is near a beach on the coast, then the foundation of the stilt home is sand. Because sand doesn’t lock the stilts securely in position, the stilts can move in the sand.

There is a considerable risk of the house moving due to heavy winds. The stilts aren’t always placed deep into a stable foundation to keep the home in place.

Summary

Houses built on stilts are safe if built correctly. In reality, stilted houses offer plenty of benefits that will make your life easier at home. It offers your home ventilation, safety, and a beautiful outlook.

While it may not be better or worse than traditional houses, it may be necessary in areas where flooding occurs frequently.

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