This Grand Designs 'floating' house was built to survive flood waters

The floating house has the first floor hovering above the ground whilst sitting on a lower structure which is covered by a garden wall
This self built, flood-proof, "floating" house has its first floor hovering 4.5 metres off the ground (Image credit: Fine and Country)

A house that appears to float 15-foot above ground level to combat flood water has gone on sale for £1.95 million in Essex.

The unusual self build featured on Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud last year and was built beside the Blackwater River Estuary, between Maldon and West Mersea in Essex — a well-known flood plain.

But flooding shouldn't be a problem for the home, named Seal Point, as it's unique design means if the area floods, the interior of the 3,600 sq foot house should remain undamaged by the water.

We take a look inside the seemingly gravity-defying home as it goes on the market and joins a number of other Grand Designs best houses to be sold shortly after being built.

How a cantilevered first floor makes home 'float'

The house was built with a cantilever design, suspending a large part of its first floor in mid-air 15 foot above ground level. The idea behind this being that if the land floods, which is likely to happen on a flood plain, then the interior of the house will be protected from the salt water.

But the real magic is below ground, where the flood-proofing has been created by a steel superstructure sat on 34 concrete and steel piles, drilled a whopping 45-foot deep.

The ground floor of the build was made with poured waterproof concrete and more steel framework, apparently making it watertight.

Built on a beautiful but 'high risk' flood zone

The land where the house was built is categorised as Flood Zone 3 by the Environment Agency, the highest level of flood risk.

But that didn't put off Geoff Wood, a retired divorcee is in his 60s, who made the decision to build the floating home after selling his house in Spain to finance the project. Mr Wood bought the land with planning permission for £325,000 and started the build in 2018.

Talking about how the land has a high risk of flooding, Mr Wood said: "Although the site is expansive, it is crucial to note that it is situated in a flood plain. Therefore, the planning authorities have mandated that any dwelling constructed here must be flood-resistant."

Thermal glass, solar panels, a heat pump and UFH

The cantilevered-home has been built with flooding in mind on the inside too — so if you are home and get "flooded in" the house can run off its own source of electricity,.

Solar panels on the roof generate 14kW of energy that powers an air source heat pump which in turn powers underfloor heating. Double glazing and thermal glass keeps all the heat generated inside the building too, for maximum energy efficiency.

The home also includes a number of other features such as a utility area, a double garage, a staircase equipped with a lift as well as three en suite bedrooms. A wrap-around terrace gives 260-degree views of the Blackwater River Estuary, with the outdoor space extending to an open garden with a gated driveway. Walled inner gardens are below and behind the house, presumably also made from waterproof concrete to guard the garden against being flooded.

Floating home has gone on sale for £1.95 million

The house has been placed up for sale for £1.95 million. 

Ed Casson, director of estate agents Fine & Country Mid Essex, said: “It really is a unique and beautiful property and although Geoff's enjoyed living there, he's completed his grand project and feels it's time to downsize a little bit.”

You can book a viewing for Seal Point or alternatively, you can watch the Grand Designs episode on Channel 4 on series 20 episode 7.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.