Houses built on stilts are generally called stilt houses. These houses are typically on a raised platform supported by stilts.
A stilt is an upright piece of wood, metal, or concrete commonly used in construction to support a small building or a house.
There are different names for stilt houses depending on the region. While they are all similar in how they are built on stilts, there may be some differences between them.
Here are what you would call houses built on stilts:
1. Piling Houses
Piling houses are still in North America, commonly found in coastal or rainy areas. These houses were designed to protect from floods caused by heavy rains and rising water levels caused by high tides.
They are built on raised platforms and elevated off the ground using pilings, which are columns sturdy enough to support the weight of the house.
Piling houses typically use wood, steel, and composite materials such as recycled plastic or wood fibers. Some houses can also be made from concrete or stucco, which are heavier, so their weight is supported by thicker and sturdier columns.
These houses are common in coastal regions of the United States, such as Florida and California.
They are often used as permanent dwellings, but many people also use them as vacation homes and rental properties near the beach.
2. Raised Houses
This is another generic term that is used for houses built on stilts. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with piling houses.
Raised houses are built on platforms raised using sturdy wood, concrete, or steel columns. The height of the columns depends on the region.
Typically, the columns are taller in flood-prone areas, so these houses stay protected if the water level rises due to high tide or torrential rains.
Raised houses can be made from wood, cement, concrete, stucco, and steel. The materials used depend on the general climate in the region. For example, raised in warmer climates are often made from wood because they can keep the house cool during summer.
Some of these houses also have an outdoor deck to provide outdoor living space or for the occupants to take advantage of the surrounding views.
3. Chilmark Houses
A Chilmark house is a stilt house that originated in Chilmark, a town in Massachusetts.
This town is specifically located on an island called Martha’s Vineyard. These houses are designed to provide adequate protection from coastal winds.
While you would expect stilt houses to be built above a body of water, these houses are built on steep hillsides.
They come in a square or rectangular shape and are often made using wood, stone, or shingles.
Chilmark houses are characterized by their large windows for scenic coastal views. The interiors are bright and airy because they have an open floor plan that maximizes natural lighting and helps improve ventilation.
While they are permanent dwellings for some people, many Chilmark houses are used as vacation homes or rentals because they are quite popular with tourists.
A Palafito is a house built on stilts that originated in Latin America. They can be found in several countries, including Chile, Mexico, and Pero.
“Palafito” originates from Spanish, meaning “house on stakes.”
Back in the day, these houses were built by indigenous people living above bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, in Latin America.
These houses were built as protection from floods and predators. They were also built by fishermen who lived on the water.
Palafitos come in different designs that may vary per region. They are commonly made of wood, and many of them, specifically the ones in Chile, are painted in bright colors.
Meanwhile, the ones in Mexico have exterior walls painted with natural and earthy colors.
In fact, because of how colorful they are, the Palafitos in Chile have become a popular attraction for tourists.
The roofing used for these houses may also vary. Palafitos in Chile typically has metal roofs as they were constructed with function and practicality in mind.
Palafitos in Mexico, on the other hand, have straw roofing to have a tropical aesthetic since these houses were built in coastal neighborhoods.
Nowadays, Palafitos are used as permanent dwellings in Latin America, but their style is also used as inspiration for villas in beach resorts and vacation houses in coastal areas.
4. Thai Stilt Houses
Thai houses originated in Thailand. They are stilt houses built above the ground and are commonly found in rural areas, particularly those prone to floods.
Thai houses use natural materials such as wood, bamboo, and thatch, while the stilts themselves are made of bamboo poles. The house frame is also made of bamboo, while the flooring is made of wood.
These houses were designed to withstand the climate in Thailand and provide protection from heat and rain. The materials add natural cooling, handy during extremely hot summer months. Meanwhile, the raised platform helps protect from floods.
Since Thai houses are built on the ground, unlike other stilt houses built above water, there is space underneath them, and you may wonder what it is used for.
The space under Thai houses is commonly used for storage. Sometimes it is also used to house livestock like chickens and other small animals.
Stilt houses in Thailand are still popular nowadays as permanent dwellings. They have been renovated and modernized to add amenities such as electricity, heating, and cooling while retaining their traditional charm.
6. Kampong Houses
Originating in Southeast Asia, a Kampong house is a stilt house built on the ground or above bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
These houses can be found in several countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. The materials used for these houses may vary per region, but the common materials used include wood, bamboo, and thatch.
The poles used for the stilts are often made of hardwood, while the raised platform and flooring are also made from wood. Meanwhile, bamboo and thatch are used for the house’s exterior walls.
Some houses also have wooden decks that function as outdoor living spaces.
The design of these houses can also vary depending on their specific location. For example, Kampong houses built above water or fishing areas have taller stilts than those built above the ground.
In some regions, Kampong houses come in natural colors. The exterior walls were stained in wood colors to make them look natural and blend in with the environment. In other regions, the exterior walls were painted bright colors to stand out.
Just like Thai houses, Kampong houses were designed to protect from floods. These houses also have sloping roofs to help protect them from rain by channeling rainwater away.