Pier and beam foundations are often found in older and coastal homes as they provide strength and resilience in some of the most difficult terrains. However, they’re making a comeback as a popular foundation choice among homeowners looking for a more stable and solid base for their houses while allowing easy access to crawl spaces.
Whether you have an existing pier and beam foundation that needs repairs or are looking to do some serious foundational renovations, there are a lot of things that will factor into your final cost. To learn more about how much a pier and beam foundation costs and what those factors are, keep reading.
How Much Does a Pier and Beam Foundation Cost?
Pier and beam foundations are notably pricier compared to their concrete slab counterparts. Generally speaking, pier and beam foundations typically cost about $9 per square foot, which comes out to be an estimated $7,200 to $13,500 — and that’s not including labor and additional costs.
The purpose of pier and beam foundations is to allow the house to be raised above the ground so that the foundation can avoid water damage that would otherwise be caused by ground moisture. The piers (or piles) are typically made of stone or concrete and they extend into the ground to hold up wooden or concrete beams which are arranged horizontally. In some instances where added support is required, a contractor may suggest steel, wood, or concrete piles to extend even deeper into the ground.
The advantage of having a pier and beam foundation is that they leave enough room for plumbing and electrical lines to be installed beneath the home. They’re also more easily accessible for repair work.
What Factors Into the Cost of a Pier and Beam Foundation?
The biggest factor that’ll determine the cost of your pier and beam foundation is whether you’re having it installed brand new or having it repaired.
When it comes to having a pier and beam foundation installed new, these are the things that will make up the final cost:
The most predominant factor in a pier and beam foundation installation cost is size. The rule of thumb here is: the more square footage of the foundation, the more expensive the project.
With an average cost of $13,500, you can expect the cost per pier to be around $1,000 each. Therefore, you can base your initial costs off of the number of piers needed to hold up your home. Most homeowners end up needing between 7 and 10 piers, which would bring the average pier and beam foundation cost to around $16,000.
This will also directly affect the other factors that make up your total installation costs.
The labor expenses alone can make up half of your total foundation installation bill. This is a direct result of the labor needed — which is a crew that specializes in concrete, leveling, curing, and the other steps needed to solidify the pier and beam foundation.
Having said that, the labor costs will also depend on the contractor and any premiums they may charge for this type of foundation. While it will still depend on the square footage, pier and beam foundations are considered the rarest of all foundation types. Therefore, the overall design may be considered a “special request.”
Planning and Permitting
Pier and beam installation is a significant undertaking that requires logistical planning and preparation. Part of this planning requires architectural design as well as obtaining the appropriate permits.
Hiring an architect could cost between 8% and 15% of total construction costs, and local permits can run you between $500 and $2,000.
Hiring an architect for your pier and beam foundation installation may seem frivolous, but it’s an essential element of the planning. An architect will be able to ensure that your foundation is designed and built properly, with safety and longevity in mind. Therefore, it’s the best way to minimize your risk of foundational problems in the future.
Additional Costs to Consider
You can also expect there to be a few secondary costs that will factor into your overall pier and beam foundation price. For example, any future maintenance will depend on how adequate the installation process is.
These are the additional costs to keep in mind:
Unlike your regular monolithic slab pour, pier and beam foundations often require large-scale grading and even excavating before they can be installed. Any problems encountered while excavating and leveling off the soil due to problematic materials can create substantial costs that get added to your bill.
Any extensive and additional work can tack on another $100-$245 per hour in labor costs as well as potential equipment rental fees that range from $150 to $250 per day (based off the cost of concrete foundation)
Pier and beam foundations feature distinct concrete feet that are fixed within prepared locations. Therefore, the excavation of terrain is essential.
Drainage and Waterproofing
All foundations require adequate drainage and waterproofing. This includes pier and beam foundations as they, too, are susceptible to the damage that excess moisture causes.
Based on the above estimates, waterproofing concrete elements will generally cost between $2,000 and $6,000/ Moreover, drainage additions will cost an average of $3,000.
These additional steps may cost you more upfront, but they’ll save your foundation — and the rest of your property — from future costly repairs.
Pier and Beam Foundation Repair Costs
The average cost of pier and beam foundation is estimated to be around $9,500 — but can easily reach well over $15,000. Of course, the ultimate costs will once again depend on a variety of factors, including the repair methods used.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s a certain degree of difficulty associated with pier and beam foundation repairs. This is due to there being such a cramped space beneath your home that makes labor efforts more challenging, regardless of the repair needed.
These are the average repair costs that can be expected based on the type of repair needed:
- Reshimming: Reshimming is the least time consuming of all pier and beam foundation repairs as it only involves making minor adjustments to the beams using small pieces of wood (shims). The shims are used to move the beams and joists and also re-tighten them by filling in any gaps, which can cost an estimated $1,500 to $5,500.
- Replacing or adding piers: Piers can degrade over time due to soil changes, which makes adding new piers or replacing them necessary. Of course, this also requires a redistribution of the weight of your home, which can cost between $2,000 and $4,000.
- Replacing beams: Since the beams of this type of foundation are typically made of wood, they can fall apart over time due to mold and rot — as can the joists. Depending on the extent of the damage, this type of repair can be simple or require the rebuilding of the wooden part of your foundation. Depending on the damage, this can run you between $4,500 and $10,000.
- Underpinning: When additional or replacement piers can’t solve your problem, underpinning is usually what’s recommended. Underpinning involves driving longer piers deeper down beneath the foundation until strong enough soil that can properly support your home is reached. Depending on whether this is required for your whole home or a few piers, it can cost anywhere between $12,000 and $32,500.
Of course, there are other things that’ll factor into your total repair costs, including:
- Your home’s size, as a larger foundation will be heavier, more complex to work with, and will require more materials, equipment, and labor.
- The stability of your soil. Soil shifts and contracts over time, and some types are more stable than others. This will directly affect how water will flow beneath your home, and if there’s insufficient drainage due to dense terrain, it can lead to foundation erosion.
- Foundation settlement, which occurs as soil shifts and contracts, will require deeper support. Therefore, if your pier and beam foundation is having settlement issues, the job will likely require underpinning.
- Your foundation’s accessibility is also a factor in repair costs. If your foundation is difficult to reach due to landscaping or other structures, they’ll need to be removed before the job can start.
- Labor and required permits also factor into your pier and beam foundation repair costs. As previously mentioned, your contractor will have limited space to work with, which requires more time and effort on their part. Additionally, your municipality may require additional permits depending on your city or county’s building codes.
We Offer Foundation Repair Financing
The state of your home’s foundation is the most important thing to consider as a homeowner. Whether you’re planning to build a pier and beam foundation from scratch or need repairs, here at Perma Pier, we can help you achieve your goals via our financing plans.
You can also schedule a free evaluation with us, so our team can determine the scope of the project and its estimated cost.