How Much Does It Cost to Build a Beach House on Stilts?

Typical Range:

$250,000 - $1,050,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated January 21, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

To build a beach home on stilts, you'll pay about $450,000 for an average-sized home of 1,500 square feet. If local material and labor rates are low and you build a smaller home of 1,000 square feet, you could pay as little as $250,000 for your project. In more expensive areas, you might pay $1,050,000 or more for a home of 3,000 square feet.

Average Cost to Build a Beach House on Stilts

Average $450,000
High $1,050,000
Low $250,000

Build a Beach House on Stilts Installation Cost by Square Foot

While construction costs can vary wildly depending on location, material availability, and labor costs, it generally costs $250 to $350 per square foot to build a beach house on stilts or pilings. 

It's important to note that stilts are not a replacement for a traditional foundation; in fact, they're more of an added feature. This means that your beach house will also require a traditional foundation, like a monolithic slab or stem wall. 

The cost for a stilt foundation alone is typically $20 to $60 per square foot, including materials and labor. In most cases, the cost of a stilt foundation is at least $28,000, but it can also surpass $80,000 or more depending on your home's particular needs, including local building codes and material requirements.

Here's a breakdown of stilt foundation costs by material:

  • Wood: $13 to $20 per linear foot

  • Composite: $25 to $45 per linear foot

  • Concrete: $30 to $60 per linear foot

Generally speaking, wood tends to be the least expensive material for pilings, and it offers incredible longevity underground. However, it's subject to deterioration when exposed to the elements above ground. Concrete is strong above and below ground, but it's expensive. Composite pilings made from steel and concrete offer a fair compromise between cost and durability.

To determine how much stilts will add to the cost of your build, you need to determine how many pilings you'll require (based on home size), how long they need to be (based on local building requirements and personal preferences), and the type of material you'll use. 

Many municipalities require that stilts be embedded 20 to 25 feet deep to be structurally sound, and you might add another 10 to 20 feet above ground to clear potential floodwaters or create a usable space for parking cars or building a garage.

Find a Structural Engineer Near You
Find a Pro

Pre-Build Considerations

There's a lot that goes into planning a beach house, including several pre-construction expenses.

In many areas, new home construction requires permitting. You can generally expect surveying, licensing, impact fees, and other administrative costs to amount to about 10% of your total build. 

If your property isn't already cleared and leveled for construction, you'll need to prepare it before you can break ground on your new home. How much you'll pay will depend on the size of your lot and what needs doing, but clearing and excavation generally cost about $3,300.

House plans offer all the detailed instructions for building your home. They generally cost $2,000 to $8,000, but considering the complexity that comes with stilt building, you can expect to pay on the higher end.

What Influences the Cost of Building a Beach House on Stilts?

In addition to the traditional costs of building a home, building a beach house on stilts is further affected in different ways by building codes, home size, and material costs.

Building Codes

Due to the location where many beach homes on stilts are built—near the water and often on sandy soil—local building codes have a huge effect on building costs. This is because municipalities often have depth requirements for pilings, typically in the range of 20 to 25 feet below ground. Every foot of piling you need, below ground or above, adds to the total cost of the project.

Home Size

The size of your home also plays a big role in determining the cost of your build. Naturally, homes with a larger footprint require more support in the form of more pilings, so the cost goes up.

Material

You have several material options when building a beach home on pilings. Wood is a common and affordable choice, but you might also select concrete for more durability or steel and concrete as a compromise. Which material you choose will depend first on local ordinances and then on personal preference and budget restrictions.

Labor Costs to Build a Beach House on Stilts

When breaking down how much you'll spend building a beach house on stilts, you can generally divide costs as follows:

  • Administrative: 10%–25%

  • Materials: 30%–60%

  • Labor: 30%–60%

This means that if your home costs $350 per square foot to build, you can expect about $100 to $210 per square foot to go towards labor costs. To put this in other terms, you'll spend approximately $150,000 to $300,000 in labor to build a home with a sticker price of $500,000.

The labor costs for building a stilt foundation are significant, but you also have to pay for the construction of the home itself. For custom homes, you'll generally hire a construction manager to oversee the project at a cost of 5% to 15% of the total build price. Beyond that, you'll also pay for:

  • Framing: $7 to $16 per square foot

  • Electrical: $50 to $100 per hour

  • Plumbing: $45 to $200 per hour

  • Roofing: $5,000 to $10,000

  • Painting: $25 to $75 per hour

Start Your Beach House on Stilts Project Today
Get Estimates Now

Cost to Build It Yourself vs. Hiring a Contractor

Assuming it costs $250 to $350 per square foot to build a beach house on stilts, you can expect to pay between $500,000 and $700,000 to build a 2,000-square-foot home.

Even though 30% to 60% of a home's building costs goes to labor, it's not reasonable to expect that you can recoup this cost by handling the project yourself—it would require that you do all the labor yourself.

If you want to save money, you might instead consider serving as a construction manager rather than hire one to tackle the job on your behalf. This could result in savings of 5% to 15%, or $25,000 to $105,000, depending on the scope of the above example.

These types of savings are impressive, but you shouldn't discount the amount of work that goes into managing a construction project. If you take on this role, you'll need to handle the day-to-day planning, scheduling, and supervision of many contractors. 

Not having proper experience with this type of work can lead to disastrous consequences, including cost overruns and shoddy results. In almost all cases, it's better to hire a local construction manager to ensure the best finished product.

FAQs About Building a Beach House

Is it less expensive to build a beach house on stilts?

When you compare the costs of building a home's foundation, you'll find that building on stilts is the most expensive option. This is due to the increased engineering and material costs that come with this type of construction.

Can you build any beach house on stilts?

If you're considering construction of a beach house on stilts, you should consult with a local structural engineer to discuss what options are available to you. But, generally speaking, most floor plans can be adjusted to work with this type of foundation.

What are the advantages of building a beach house on stilts?

Building a beach house on stilts has several advantages. As coastal property tends to be sandy, piles built into the earth allow you a way to reach more solid ground to support your home. Stilts also raise your home, keeping it away from high tides and floodwaters. As an added benefit, having a home with a higher elevation generally offers unobstructed views, which can be quite stunning if you're close to the water.

Still Have Questions About Building a House on Stilts?
Ask a Pro