If you're designing your next build from scratch and working in coastal areas, locations prone to flooding, or environmentally sensitive areas, a stilt house may be just what you're looking for. But before calling the architect, make sure they're worth your investment.
What is a stilt house?
A stilt house is one built on an elevated platform. The most common reason for building a stilt house is typically to raise the house above the floodplain, but it can also be useful for working in environmentally sensitive areas, since impact to the land is greatly minimized due to smaller foundations.
As a bonus, stilt houses typically offer fantastic views, which can be a great selling point, and if situated properly can allow for some passive cooling if desired. They are often found in coastal areas, but houses built along rivers prone to flooding can also benefit from the height.
How much does a stilt house cost?
Think of the stilt house portion of the home as an additional building feature. You'll still have all of the underlying construction costs associated with the house itself in addition to the cost of building the supports. Depending on the size of the house, additional costs to build a new home on stilts will range from $20,000 to $60,000, according to HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI).
If you're considering lifting an existing home, think carefully, as it's considerably more expensive than building a stilt home from the beginning. Initially, it may seem like this cost will be compensated by elimination of a foundation, but with the average cost for a new foundation being roughly $9,000, it's a far more cost-effective option than building a new support. You'll also have additional costs, like running electrical and plumbing up to the home and putting in stairs or potentially an elevator.
Is a stilt house worth the investment?
While it does cost more to build the home, there are several key benefits. Stilt houses are eligible for lower insurance premiums, but this doesn't mean no flood insurance is needed. You'll still need to carry it; it will just be significantly less than a house built at ground level. The savings will vary by your flood zone, location, and the height of your home. Calling a few insurance companies prior to starting the build will give you a good idea of your potential savings. This will benefit a real estate investor most if you will be holding it for a rental property, but it can also be used as a selling feature for ground-up developments. However, it can be difficult to place an exact value on it.
Another benefit to stilt houses is the potential for unobstructed panoramic views and additional windows that can be incorporated while still maintaining privacy. Real estate research company Greenfield Advisors found that people are willing to pay anywhere from 50% to 100% more for a home, depending on the house's location and the view itself.
If you're in the country where privacy and pretty views abound, it wont equate to as much, but in an urban setting or one with views of water, natural spaces, or skylines, it will likely more than compensate for the cost. Check with a local real estate agent to get a better feel for the added value this view might generate.
The Millionacres bottom line
Stilt houses do have significant additional costs, especially up front, but given the right location and design, they can be well worth the investment. Regardless of whether this house will be held as a rental or is a quick flip, determining the potential value for your specific location will be critical. This will take some due diligence on your part before initiating a design and starting the build to make sure your return on investment will be worth it in the end.