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Is this correct? - A house on stilts can be built faster and cheaper with the same comfort level


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I invite you to support or refute this statement with arguments.

 

We take 2 examples as extremes. Both have the same 2 bedrooms [4x4m], a living room with pantry [farang kitchen], an outdoor kitchen and 2 bathrooms [2x2m].

 

1) GFH, a stone house with only ground floor of 96m2 of living area
2) HOS, a house on stilts of 2 x 48m2 living area, above 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and living room/pantry with small balcony. Downstairs 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and under the roof without walls a living room with a typical Thai outdoor kitchen.

 

 

The statement: with materials commonly used in Thailand, the house on stilts [HOS] can be built faster and with fewer materials while retaining the same comfort as a ground floor house [GFH].

 

The reason: during the day it is cooler to live outside under the 1st floor without walls than confined under a warmer roof in a ground floor home. In addition, the 1st floor can be built faster and with cheaper materials.

 

Below the elaboration:
 

Foundation and skeleton:
GFH - concrete foundation with concrete posts, steel (roof) frame
HOS - same as BGH, concrete foundation is only needed for the bedroom and bathroom downstairs [surface 4x6], the rest of the floor for outdoor living and kitchen is cement. The HOS does need longer concrete pillars

 

Ground floor:
GFH - exterior and interior walls of aerated concrete {e.g. AAC blocks]. Outside wall area 2.3 x [8 + 12] x2
HOS - the same but less materials; outer wall 2.3 x [6 + 4] x2, extra concrete and hardwood needed for the stairs to the 1st floor. Living room downstairs only has a partition wall with kitchen. This can be made of cement board or thinner AAC block

 

1st floor:
GFH - N / A
HOS - cement board [e.g. Shera wood] for exterior walls [2.3 x (4 + 4 + 4 + 6 + 4)], except bathroom. This is made of AAC blocks [2.3 x (2 + 2)] and the floor of concrete. The floor of the bedroom and living room is cement board. The floor and fence of the balcony is made of hard wood

 

Roof and ceiling
The HOS requires less roofing materials because of the smaller surface [net slightly more than 50% of the GFH]. A single plane roof requires less net materials than a pitched roof, including roof covering, foil and gutter. It is better not to have an attic space due to easier pest control. However, as much cross ventilation as possible [metal mesh between the roof and the outside wall], passive ventilation of the roof and forced exhaust of the space under the ceiling [inside of cement board and outside of cement board with holes] with solar DC fans.

 

Orientation [for best ventilation and cooling]
House and plane roof are on N-S axis. Bedrooms at coolest part of the house [N-E]. Bathrooms next to bedrooms [N-W]. Outdoor kitchen and balcony in the hottest part [S and S-W]. Living room in the middle. For cross ventilation, as much as possible [minimum 10% floor space] sliding doors and windows on south and southwest in the living room / kitchen. Windows and doors can open so that south / southwest wind can blow through the house as much as possible unhindered.

Only 1 bedroom [downstairs] will be airtight and air-conditioned, as last refuge when the outside temperature goes towards 40-45C.

 


 

 

Edited by 4myr
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Up to you... Very different style structures...

 

The defining part of your question is comfort level... the answer, it is individual...

 

If you like apples, plant an apple tree... 

 

If you like oranges, buy them at the market,... 

 

 

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I had two quotes for my house on top of 2.4 metre high columns and my house on the ground would've been around a third cheaper to build. I do have the whole underneath concreted though, not just supporting the columns.

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i had a house like that in Hawaii and the answer is yes.

only three steps to get in as the land dropped away under the house. 

and you could access everything under the house like plumbing and electrical. 

 

now i am eating rats in Bangkok. 

 

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Last year we had to do an emergency build (landlord at the time lost a court case for his land, and we were given short notice to move ourselves and our staff). Live on a small island where there are no already built options. Rented land and in only 4 months (start to finish) built:

 

-- a 2 story duplex, with each unit being 49sqM up and 49sqM down, bathrooms on each level, indoor kitchen with living area down, large bedroom, bath, closet, and balcony up. Aircon up and down. Very very comfortable. 

 

-- a staff housing unit with 17 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, laundry and storage rooms.

 

Duplex and staff house built on short stilts (1m above ground), with metal frame and smart/veva board for the basic structure. 

 

Every builder we talked to said that a concrete foundation/structure would take twice as long  and would cost twice as much (in part due to transport of heavier materials to the island).

 

I don't think what we built is designed to survive the ages or anything, but its strong and comfortable. And free from pests and flooding.

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Any house can be built cheaper than another, it is all about quality.

Solid foundations and pillars need time to cure, so the less concrete involved the quicker the process.

All the houses on stilts that I have been in the floors felt "spongy" and resonated, but each to his own. I suspect that creating a "solid" floor on stilts could end up costing a lot more than a normal foundation.

Only real reason I can see to justify stilts would be risk of flooding.

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23 hours ago, 4myr said:

) HOS, a house on stilts of 2 x 48m2 living area, above 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and living room/pantry with small balcony. Downstairs 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and under the roof without walls a living room with a typical Thai outdoor kitchen.

If I have understood you correctly, this is not really a house on stilts, but just a two storey house ? Which in my opinion is really going to be not much more than a small condo upstairs and somewhere for the in-laws downstairs. Or is the downstairs also raised off the ground, giving you three levels? In which case you are going to have a lot of stairs to climb......or fall down.

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Depends on how old and infirm you are, we exceed in both, so one story was only option, living on a hill negates flooding...Just realized the sweet looking tile entrance on the house we just purchased, carport and all around house is slick as ice when wet...Oops' now looking for 200+sq meters of non skid tile as we are not that spry...The recent rains have showed us the light...or error of our ways... Good luck.. 

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On 10/13/2020 at 12:00 PM, 4myr said:

House and plane roof are on N-S axis

Meaning you get morning and evening sun on longer walls. 
also, many areas typically have southern wind and northern wind. 
to ventilate the house as much as possible, you’d want the wind to hit the longer walls.

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5 hours ago, Gumballl said:

I for one do not want to climb too many stairs to get into my house. 3-4 steps is enough; that is, I prefer the ground floor of the house to be about 1 meter above ground level, and the perimeter of the house to be decorated with tile.

 

Like this...

 

house.jpg

Prefer an upstairs, gives more time for me to get my trousers on if naughty folk are trying to get in. Plus it stays cooler in the living area with a floor above....😊

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On 10/13/2020 at 7:00 AM, 4myr said:

The statement: with materials commonly used in Thailand, the house on stilts [HOS] can be built faster and with fewer materials while retaining the same comfort as a ground floor house [GFH].

 

The reason: during the day it is cooler to live outside under the 1st floor without walls than confined under a warmer roof in a ground floor home. In addition, the 1st floor can be built faster and with cheaper materials.

To my knowledge most houses in Thailand are build on stilts (posts), they are just below ground level, when you build have a house with a ground floor.

 

Lifting the house's ground floor up in 2nd floor level, just add another level with posts, without stabilising bricks. I would consider it to be little more expensive than building a house on the ground – with stilts/post buried underneath – or just raising the house about a meter, as often done, mainly to avoid flooding, easier acces to pipe maintenance, and spraying for unwanted inhabitants (insects/termites) under the ground floor.

 

The most important, according my my excellent Thai building constructor, is the feet of the posts, so the house is not sinking, and walls therefore not cracking. My house was build on ground level, but dig down to hard soil where huge concrete feet were made, and then posts op to ground level; little more than 10 years so far without any cracks. ...

wDSC02421_Posts_w1024.jpg.76923e1168cb0d36210c3f22ec41fb15.jpg

 

After filling with sand up to ground level, concrete beams were cast, just like if build on stilts/posts...

wDSC02429_ground-beams_w1024.jpg.1188994c2350b89a212a8e8a22b9d812.jpg

 

And so on continuing up to the level with roof steel construction...

wDSC05100_SuperBlocks_w1024.jpg.8da73924dde00fc12f0dbd164918bc63.jpg

 

What helps to keep a house cool is Q-blocks, aerated concrete, and proper insulation under roof tiles/plates with reflector, and eventually mineral wool or fiber glass layer, and an air separation with a reasonable airflow between roof and ceiling. Using "water-proof" cement-mix improves the stability of posts and beams, it only costs a few hundred baht extra per cubic meter mix. You should also use waterproof cement plaster to avoid cracks, much cheaper and better looking than fixing it later.

 

The eaves should be at least half a meter, preferably about one meter, to keep shadow, and to avoid rain to hit too hard. Make covered terrasse on more than one side of the house, if you wish to enjoy sitting outdoor, and still in cover for wind and downpour coming in from a low angle. Also know your area, in some places there might be too many insects in the evenings to enjoy sitting outside.

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The thing that caught my eye was the part about the upper floor being open to the breeze for comfort.. 

I don't know where you're building but where I've been in Thailand during certain parts of the year NOTHING open to the air will be comfortable for me. And you can't just turn on the aircon in that case. 

 

From your previous post you must be very heat tolerant or know for sure that proper/adequate ventilation is available for cooling. Either of these means you are different from most people on this forum, me for sure. I advise you to be very thoughtful about using ambient cooling for living space. 

 

I would never build any living space here that I couldn't cool mechanically when I chose to. I have an outdoor kitchen/pool house that I use a lot, but I frequently jump in the pool to cool off.

 

In March /April/May I generally live inside with aircon most of the day. At times when batting your eyes makes you break a sweat I retreat to aircon just to escape the humidity. 

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On 10/14/2020 at 4:03 AM, stouricks said:

Part of my house is GFH on a concrete base, but some of it has an upper floor which really is HOS. I prefer my kitchen, office & living room to be in the former, and my bedrooms above. 

135 Moo4.jpeg

Which kind of grass did you use? Do you water it in the dry season?

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