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Learn about our pier & beam foundation services.

What is Pier and Beam Foundation

An Austin pier and beam foundations is a type of foundation constructed for homes, cabins, and other structures, particularly in areas with expansive clay soils. The essential pier and beam foundations components are concrete piers (usually round, poured concrete posts) and wooden beams that run across the piers to support the floor system. At Quality Foundation Repair, we can help you with your foundation repair concerns.

The foundation consists of wooden beams, or girders, that support the floor joists. These beams span concrete piers that allow homeowners to access their homes’ underbelly for maintenance and repairs with ease.

Benefits of Pier and Beam Foundation

There are several reasons why pier and beam foundations may be preferable in some situations. These include:

  • They make your home’s plumbing and electrical lines more accessible for maintenance. Accessing all pipes, wires, ducts, and other utilities in the crawl space below the home is easier. It can save time, money, and hassle when you need to make repairs.
  • Pier and beam homes allow air to circulate under your home more freely than a slab-on-grade foundation would. This can reduce moisture buildup in your crawl space to keep mold growing under your house.
  • They are an excellent choice for homeowners wanting to avoid flood damage. Because homes installed with pier and beam foundations have space between the soil and the actual structure, they are not as susceptible to water damage as slab foundations.
  • The pier and beam foundation is commonly used in areas where the ground freezes. During the winter months, the soil moves upwards because of the moisture in it, and when it expands, it causes the home to rise. When it defrosts in springtime, the weight causes a sinking effect. With this style of foundation, you can have a raised floor foundation.
  • A pier and beam foundation is a popular choice for homeowners who want a crawlspace beneath to act as space storage or seek to make beam foundation repairs easier. This foundation type of residential construction is typically chosen for homes built on hillsides, where the water table level may be too high for a basement.

Disadvantages of Pier and Beam Foundation

The pier and beam foundation is one of the oldest and has been used for centuries. However, this type of foundation does have some drawbacks that need to be considered before choosing it.

  • Homes with a pier and beam foundation will require more repairs than one with a concrete slab or basement foundation because of the way that it sits off the ground. Wood gets wet easier, which leads to faster deterioration than other materials such as concrete.
  • One of the most significant disadvantages to a pier and beam foundation is that they can be expensive. The material needed for this type of foundation can be costly, especially when working with a larger area.
  • They also take longer to build than other types of foundations do, which can increase your overall project costs.
  • Extreme weather conditions like earthquakes and hurricanes may affect the structure’s stability.
  • Just as your home provides shelter for you and your family, it also provides shelter for other critters looking for a place to live or hide. These pests can damage wiring or pipes, causing additional problems in your crawl space. Common pests include rats and mice, termites, ants, and spiders.

The Process of Installing Pier and Beam Foundation

When building a pier and beam foundation for your home, you need to ensure that you have the right contractors on site. A pier and beam construction requires some excavating and leveling before the installation can begin.

Design and Planning

You must have a plan and know how large your home will be. You’ll also need to be aware of the soil conditions in your area. If you don’t already have a blueprint, you should hire an engineer to help you create one.

Digging the Holes

The first step to installing a pier and beam foundation is to excavate the soil from where the footings will sit. The pier and beam foundation size will determine how large the footings must be. If your soil conditions are poor, reaching the bedrock is worth the extra expense and the less likely your house will flood during a heavy rainstorm.

Install the Piers

Drive the piers into the soil until it hits bedrock or an adequate layer that will support the weight of your house without sinking or shifting over time. After digging, rebars are tied together into a mesh cage and placed vertically inside the pier holes. Use transit or a laser level to ensure that the individual piers are level before pouring concrete.

Once it is secure, you can start constructing your framework using sturdy wooden beams or steel beams, depending on your preference.

Installation of the Beams

Once the concrete footings have dried, the next step is to install the beams. Beams are then cut to fit around the curb and installed on top of it. They should be level and plumbed correctly with each other so that your house will sit correctly on them. It’s essential for these boards not to have any rot or defects because these will transfer directly into your home and cause problems later on down the road.

Ensure the beams are in good condition before you brace and bolt them into place. After this step, install floor joists on top of the beams. The floor joists will support both your roof and your floors.

What Kind Of Establishment Requires Pier and Beam Foundation

The pier and beam foundation is a type of foundation typically used in places that have expansive soils and heavy rains. These soil types are expansive because they expand when they absorb water and contract when they dry. The foundation is created by digging deep into the ground until a solid, compacted base is reached.

Pier And Beam Foundation Cost

Many different factors determine the price of a pier and beam foundation. It will depend on where you live, how big your house is and what kind of soil you have in your area. While it is possible to get a rough estimate, getting a quote without the correct information is not recommended.

Pier and Foundations FAQ

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about a pier and beam home. Hopefully, you’ll find the answers helpful. If not, please get in touch with us for more information or a free inspection.

Is pier and beam a good foundation?

Pier and beam foundations are an excellent way to add extra stability and control moisture levels in your home. They can also help you avoid significant damage from floodwater.

There are a few good reasons to choose pier and beam foundations. The pier and beam foundation also gives homeowners greater access to the crawl space underneath their home. This can be useful when they are doing electrical or plumbing maintenance.

Why do people build pier and beam houses?

Pier and beam foundations are ideal for areas with challenging soil conditions, like clay or shifting soils. They offer more flexibility than slab foundations, which can crack when the soil shifts. They also make it easier to access plumbing, wiring, and ductwork for repairs.

But pier and beam foundations do have their drawbacks. For example, they require more space than other types of foundations. That makes them a less-than-ideal choice in tight spaces or on lots with limited square footage.

Is pier and beam more expensive than slab?

It depends on several factors. For example, if you compare two identical properties with two different foundations, the slab foundation would be cheaper since it costs less to build. The main difference is that you can go under your floor with pier and beam for beam foundation repair.

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