Should I put my house up on poles or pilings?
August 4, 2007 12:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving a pre-existing house onto a small lot in NW Florida. The lot is not waterfront. I'm thinking of putting the house 10' up on pilings so I'll have room to park the cars underneath, plus maybe a laundry/storage room. My questions are should I put the house up on poles or build concrete footings and block pilings? Which is best and why? Which is most cost efficient?
posted by wsg to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
On the Outer Banks most houses are built this way, to catch some view, provide shaded parking, and allow the ocean to run underneath in a really big storm. They all use poles or timbers. I'm guessing that's easiest to construct and cheapest, too.
posted by beagle at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2007

"...Which is best and why? Which is most cost efficient?"

That depends a lot on your soil conditions, and what you'd need to do to the house to support it on either type of foundation alternative. If your soils are sandy, you may need to go pretty deep with your pilings, and you may need many more pilings than you would with other soil conditions, making creosote treated utility poles much more cost effective. On the other hand, in clay soils, there will be good support for concrete footings, and a block system above grade would be cost effective, rot free, and fire proof.
posted by paulsc at 2:56 PM on August 4, 2007

The best answer is probably going to require a knowledge of both A) the site's soil conditions, and B) the structure of the existing house (so as to know the best/most efficient way to support it). For A) you need a geotechnical (soils) engineer. For B) you need a structural engineer.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:14 PM on August 4, 2007

Not only will soil conditions be an issue, but high winds from hurricances will required some serious support if you want your house up that high.
posted by MCTDavid at 4:40 PM on August 4, 2007

hire an engineer. this is your HOUSE. It's heavy. You'll need drawings stamped by a licensed engineer to get a building permit, anyway.
posted by Chris4d at 2:30 PM on August 5, 2007

Best is pretty subjective. Here are some things you want to consider:

1. The pilings/piers will be the cheap part. The engineering and moving the house will be expensive. These are both highly technical projects with a lot of risk involved, so they will be priced accordingly.

2. Zoning may be an issue. You certainly won't get a building permit for this without drawings stamped by a PE.

3. It may be cheaper to build a new house, rather than moving the existing one.

4. You said it's a small lot. Where are you going to put the house while you're installing the piles?

Note, I am an engineer, but not your engineer. Talk to a local geotech and structural engineer and see what your options are.
posted by electroboy at 7:51 AM on August 6, 2007

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