buying a stilt home

Florida living involves being near water! And living in Tampa Bay means you are surrounded by every type of water – from the Gulf of Mexico, to Tampa Bay, to numerous lakes, rivers and canals. Oh, and did we mention wet weather? Tampa Bay is also home to abundant rainfall, seasonal storms and hurricanes. Because of all of this water, many structures are constructed on stilts. Following are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about structures on stilts.

Q         What are the main types of pile or pier foundations?

A          Here in Tampa Bay, the majority are either concrete or pressure-treated wood.


Q         Which type incurs less damage? Concrete or pressure-treated wood?

A          They both are vulnerable to damage.

Wood – the preservatives used to pressure treat wood deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to salt or standing water, inviting micro-organisms to “move in” and begin destroying the wood.

Concrete – the damage to concrete piling usually occurs during construction. If steel reinforcements are used and get exposed to water, the steel begins to corrode. The steel then expands causing cracks in the cement, allowing water to begin deterioration.


Q         What is the main reason homes are built on stilts?

A          Homes in areas that flood easily, or are situated near the beach are protected when elevated on pile foundations (aka stilts).


Q         What’s the difference between pile and pier foundations?

A          Pile foundations: Piles are driven deep into the ground to support the stilt home.

Pier foundations: A concrete pad is installed as the footing for the beams (stilts).


Q         Which type of foundation is best suited for Tampa Bay? Pile or pier?

A          Both are common in Tampa Bay. The type used is determined by the soil and how much of its content is water.


Q         Can standing water damage pile or pier foundation beams?

A          Yes! Standing water will rot and eventually damage the beams in both types.


Q         Besides water, can anything else damage pier foundation beams?

A          Termites and micro-organisms are a main cause of damage to wood foundation beams.


Q         Are all stile homes a uniform height?

A          No. Depending on the flood zone your home is in, the height may vary from a few feet to an entire story.


Q         Is it safe to use the space under the home for parking or storage?

A          Yes. If the foundation beams are sturdy and show no signs of deterioration, it’s safe.


If you currently own or are considering purchasing a stilt home, call the foundation experts at Heavenly Foundations. We will inspect your pilings for damage and put your mind at ease. Contact us today at 727-228-6144 for your free inspection.