How Much Would It Cost To Put A Moat Around Your House?

Moats, the original non-canine security system, just might be the go-to way of securing you from intruders. First constructed by ancient Egyptians, they can still be found guarding American landmarks and deflated NFL quarterback Tom Brady, having stood the test of time because they're probably the coolest feature a residence can have.

But what if you wanted to set one up around your palace? I decided to talk to real estate expert (and our executive editor's daddy) Ron Gushue of ERG Architect to get the skinny on moats in the 21st century.

Is it even possible to put a moat around your own property?

Absolutely. There aren't any laws saying you can't do it.

So, you wouldn't need a special permit? 

It’d be like wrapping your entire house with a swimming pool—technically, that’s how you would go about it. You’d have to draw from a water source or buy a pump so it wouldn’t just be a dirty ditch with mutant mosquitos. You could fill it with alligators; you’d just have to feed them. I personally prefer piranhas to alligators—they're low maintenance and won't yank your leg off...just eat the flesh. Far cleaner.

How much would it cost?

It’s like building a swimming pool—which starts around $75,000, maybe $100,000. By the time you build this whole thing, it would probably cost $1,000 a foot. I don’t think moats are a particularly good idea.

So, how does the water stay in the moat?

Unless you were near a spring or dam, you would need a pump to constantly add water. As soon as the water levels go down, a pump adds in more water from a larger source. It’s actually identical to how a toilet works.

Would the house stay safe?

The house’s foundation wouldn’t be able to take the water—so, you’d need to dig the moat several feet away from the house to protect it. 

How do you keep the water clean? 

You'd certainly need a water filtration system or you'd essentially be living near a giant septic system—you'd need pumps and a lot of water filters. 

What happens to a moat during a rain storm?

The moat would just fill up like a swimming pool and flow out and eventually evaporate. Filters have a system that pump away excess water. It’s very close to how a pool works.

​How much would it cost to put a moat around the White House?

That would be millions. All the filtration—so many sets of filtration equipment. It would get gross and absolutely smelly. 55,000 linear feet at $1,000 a foot = $55,000,000.

The house from Breaking Bad?

1,650 linear feet at $1,000 a foot = $1,650,000.

The house from Home Alone?

4,243 linear feet at $1,000 a foot = $4,243,000.

Could you have a drawbridge?

Sure, a drawbridge is just basically a garage door with a motor sort of thing that winds up a chain. The hinge is on the building and matches the shape and size of the opening. It's definitely a good way to keep people out—that and alligators.

Oh right, could you have alligators?

I think you need a zoo permit for that. A friend of mine has a zoo down in Greenwich, Connecticut and it’s a pretty big deal. Might as well just do it and see what happens. You’d probably just need someone to tell you how to feed them. If the appeal is to have everyone eaten by alligators, that would be different.

Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor, but freelances for an alligator-run publication on balmy summer nights.