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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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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 t

Great topic 4myr.   Stilts have been used - and still are - in Thailand for a accumulation of reasons.   01 So the cows, buffaloes and pigs etc, can be accommodated underneath.

Can't be bothered reading all that, Ans. Yes because a ground floor house would take longer preparing the foundation. 

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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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