Pier and Beam foundation: Advantages & Disadvantages

Pier and Beam Foundation

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Pier and Beam Foundation are relatively commonly used in the areas where water (flooding) is a potential hazard and where soils have a significant clay content and are likely to swell (when wet) and shrink (when dry).

As the name indicates, this floor system is comprised of:

Piers: Concrete or masonry columns (footings) that start below the ground bearing on suitable soil and extend up a short distance above the ground surface.

Beams: horizontal framing members that span between the piers.

The beams support the floor joists, and the plywood flooring is installed on top of the floor joists.

The main alternative to beam and pier foundations is a slab on grade system, whereby concrete is placed directly on the ground.

Pier and Beam Foundation Spacing:

A pier and beam foundation consists of pedestals (piers), fixed in the ground with an average of 5 to 6 feet of wooden beams in the centre that support the floor joists.

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Pier and Beam houses typically have a slab on grade system for the garage.

The piers may support wood posts that extend up to the beams as these are less expensive than concrete.

Piers may support concrete blocks (commonly called cinder blocks) on which the beams bear.

In either case, the main floor of the house is wood-framed some distance above the soil, it is called the crawl space.

The crawl space has the advantage of allowing relatively easy access to utilities (especially when remodelling a bathroom), enables a layer of air insulation between the floor and the ground.

However, the crawl space is a haven for insects and rodents and the occasional marsupial if they find a way to gain access.

Slab on grade is a less expensive foundation upfront; however, differential settling may cause slab cracking.

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Slab on grade won’t allow unwanted guest to dwell below your feet; however, slabs are usually more expensive when it comes time to remodel.

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Pier and Beam Foundation cost per square foot:

The Pier and beam foundations cost about $5 per square foot, around $8,000-$15,000.

Pier and Beam Foundation Problems:

  1. Decay or damage to wooden beams or joints.
  2. Water-induced movement of inner piers.
  3. Water-inspired movement of external piers.
  4. Shim failure problem.
  5. Minor construction problems.
  6. Bridge the floors.
  7. It is crumbling concrete poles.
  8. Internal Pier Crack.
pier and beam foundation spacing

Pier and Beam Foundation Repair Tips:

  • Maintain a proper drainage system; this is the essential tip in pier and beam maintenance.
  • Use a moisture maintenance system.
  • Check foundation damage.
  • Be careful with water.
  • Regularly inspect crawl space.
  • Examine Gutters and Downspouts.
  • Plant Small Shrubs.
  • Dig Trench Drains.

Pier and Beam Foundations vs Concrete Slab:

A pier and beam foundation is rested on a stone located under the house & a concrete slab rested directly on the ground.

For that reason, concrete slabs are ideal for homes that are built on flat lots.

Concrete slabs can be constructed very quickly, and they are cheaper than pier and beams foundations.

Advantages:

  1. The extra bit of insulation from the air under the house.
  2. Elevate homes to protect them from floods and moisture.
  3. Provides crawl space between the house and the ground

Disadvantages:

  1. Sagging, creaking and bouncy floors.
  2. Poor ventilation.
  3. Provide Space for the Insects and rodents.

Also read 1. Types of Foundation 2. Caisson Foundation 3. Rainwater Harvesting

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is pier and beam foundation?

A pier and beam foundation typically includes a crawl location below the living space and footing to support the foundation.

Is a pier and beam foundation good?

While pier and beam systems form very stable foundations and are better in some situations, they can deteriorate over time.

How deep are pier and beam foundations?

about 40 feet.

How do you care for a pier and beam foundation?

1. Maintain a good drainage system.
2. Use a moisture maintenance system.
3. Foundation Damage Check.
4. Check gutters and downspouts.
5. Be careful with water.
6. Plant small plants.

Conclusion:

Pier and beam foundation are acknowledged to be more robust as they last longer.

However, no foundation is resistant to soil transfer, i.e. an owner should consider seeking professional help to detect possible signs of foundation issues.

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