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What is a pier and beam foundation?

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Pier and beam foundations are one of the major types of foundations that provide numerous benefits to homeowners in new construction or foundation repair.

It is designed from the floor plan of the building and holes are drilled for concrete piers at discrete points around the edge and center of the building footprint. The pier supports the beam, which combines and in turn supports the joists in elevating a building.

If you are constructing in an area with constant rainfall or a high flood area, a pier and beam foundation might be the best option for you.

In order to provide you with additional information, this article will teach you about the components, benefits, and drawbacks of using a pier and beam foundation.

Pier and beam foundation

Pier and beam foundation is one of the oldest and most common types of foundation for residential, industrial, and even commercial buildings with great strength and protection from the effect of erosion. It is a large cylindrical column that is built to support a superstructure and transfer the whole weight of a house into the underground layer.

It is also known as footing owing to the support it provides in ensuring smooth construction. The piers are connected to the beam to transfer the load to the ground and are commonly used for the construction of residential buildings.

If you’d like to construct a house with high crawl space for plumbing and electrical work, pier and beam foundations are the best fit. It also elevates the structure which is essential for moisture protection.

Elements of pier and beam foundations

There are three main elements of pier and beam foundation which include: concrete piers, posts or piles, and wooden beams. Don’t be surprised, these three works together to give a structure solid foundation.

The piers, either made from concrete or bricks embed the house foundation into the ground, and posts or piles run between the pier and the horizontal beam. The third is the wooden beam, that supports the weight of the house.

The different component is responsible for the different name attributed to pier and beam foundation, such as post and beam, pier and pile, and pier and post.

All are synonymous and connote the same type of foundations. It is also better used in places where soils are prone to shifting.

Pros of pier and beam foundation

Pier and beam foundation provides some advantages above other types which include:

1. Access to plumbing and electrical components

Pier and beam foundations provide a crawl space that enables easy access to pipes and wires in the house. It allows smooth repair and modification of all electrical and plumbing material in the building unlike concrete slabs with issues in some repair work.

2. Protection from flooding

If there is anything at all that will not make you choose pier and beam foundation, this should convince you. Since the house is elevated above the ground, it will be protected from moisture and flooding. People living in this kind of house are always not scared of excessive rainfall.

3. Flexibility

If you are constructing on a gradient, a concrete slab won’t give you the satisfaction you need as it presents more foundational issues. Pier and beam foundation will be a better choice in such a case because it brings about flexibility in the construction process.

4. Termite control

Termites are social insects widely known as silent destroyers because they chew through woods, flooring, and wallpaper. However, a pier foundation helps to curb their activities because the house is elevated above the ground.

5. Low cost of foundation repair

The cost of repairing pier and beam foundations is low compared to other types. The price of using an excavator on a pier foundation is lower than working on a concrete slab.

Cons of pier and beam foundation

1. Dampness

There is a high tendency of dampness due to the crawl spaces and also the nature of the site either even or uneven site.

2. Heating expenses

When cooled air enters the house during the winter months as a result of the crawl spaces the heating expenses will increase. And you’ll have to spend extra to provide more heat. However, this can be reduced by subflooring during construction.


Pier and beam foundations are excellent for any building construction depending on the site topography. However, you have to go with the options that best suit your purpose, intended designs, and nature of the site.