Adaptation Volume 2 – Floating Houses

A Floating House to rise with the Rising Seas? Seems Like a Simple idea!

In the South Pacific and Malaysia areas many of the tribal people have learned that the ocean does impact their lives whenever a storm hits!  They have adapted to houses built on stilts that are above the storm surges and yet allows them to continue to live by the oceans where they fish and maintain their way of life.

Homes on Stilts were the only way to survive in the Tropics

Homes on Stilts were the only way to survive in the Tropics

In the Netherlands and now in the UK many people are opting to have a floating house!  

This trend is also getting popular in many of the flood prone regions of the world.  Instead of dealing with flood damaged furniture, drywall, wood floors and appliances, many people have opted to spend a little extra to build their home with floats that move up and down secured pylons!

Check out Inspiration Green for a wide selection of floating home types that have used around the world.  It gives you a great perspective of what can be done.

A Dutch Floating House

A Dutch Floating House

Floating Houses have been talked about a lot since Hurricane Sandy. 

New York in particular remains extremely vulnerable.  Many East Coast politicians have discussed the need to change the way that they rebuild after storm events.  Hurricane Irene repairs were not quite completed when Sandy followed on her heels.  Why rebuild in business as usual mode when so many millions of dollars are wasted when the same neighborhoods and flood prone areas are hit again?

The thought of moving all electrical fixtures to upper floors of buildings make sense.  Keep the flood prone areas constructed of stone or concrete and keep from having to use wood or drywall. Or replace the structure entirely with a floating structure!

White goods being hauled away after Sandy

White goods being hauled away after Sandy

Millions of dollars are spent on Debris Removal after Flood Events!

Every piece of wood, every section of drywall, every piece of furniture, every electrical appliance is ruined once a home is flooded.  The home can in some cases be repaired, unless foundations have been compromised or mold growth from the filthy waters prove too difficult to remove.  In many instances these homes have been damaged before!

Who ends up paying?  All of us!

What are the costs of constructing a Floating House?

A prototype home built on pylons designed by the UCLA School of Architecture Professor Thom Mayne and constructed by graduate students showed the feasibility of floating houses after Hurricane Katrina.  Professor Mayne et. al. built this 1,000 sq ft. home on floats that can rise 12 feet during a flood event.  to  and delivered it to the severely damaged Lower 9th Ward neighborhood in New Orleans.  The estimated cost of this home was $150,000.  Undoubtedly there are different styles and cost ranges out there for people to choose from.

My question is…Why doesn’t FEMA and local state governments mandate that these types of homes be used for those who live in flood prone zones instead of rebuilding traditional homes using traditional home building concepts? Your guess is as good as mine!  I would think twice about it if I lived at sea level in Hurricane Alley!


About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Adaptation, Economics, Environmental Policies, Floating Houses and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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