How much does a pier and beam foundation cost?
$7,000 – $24,000 average total cost
$7 – $12 average cost per SF installed
Average cost of pier and beam foundation
A pier and beam foundation costs $7 to $12 per square foot installed or $7,000 to $24,000 total on average, depending on the size. Pier foundation costs are highest for steel and concrete, while wood piers are cheapest. Pier foundations are sometimes called post and beam or crawl space foundations.
|Foundation size (square feet)||Average installed cost|
|800||$5,600 – $9,600|
|1,000||$7,000 – $12,000|
|1,500||$10,500 – $18,000|
|2,000||$14,000 – $24,000|
|2,500||$17,500 – $30,000|
|3,000||$21,000 – $36,000|
|3,500||$24,500 – $42,000|
What is a pier and beam foundation?
A pier and beam foundation supports a home using a series of vertical piers, horizontal beams, and joists. This type of foundation is common in areas with poor soil conditions or regions prone to flooding.
As the name suggests, pier and beam foundations are made up of two main components: piers and beams.
Piers – Piers are vertical supports that are buried deep into the ground. Made of concrete, masonry, steel, or wood timber, the piers are spaced evenly apart, typically 5 to 6 feet on center.
Beams – Beams are horizontal members that span between piers. Made of wood, steel, or concrete, these beams support the floor joists, which, in turn, support the flooring.
Construction includes digging and pouring concrete footings to evenly distribute the weight of the structure. Piers are constructed on top of the footings, and beams are placed on top of the piers. Floor joists are attached to the beams, and a subfloor is installed on top of the joists.
Pier and beam foundation cost factors
The cost of a pier and beam foundation can vary based on several factors, including the size and complexity of the foundation, the soil conditions and climate, and the labor and materials costs in your area.
Size & complexity – Larger foundations are heavier, requiring more support. Complex foundations take longer and use more materials, increasing costs.
Soil conditions – Expansive soils, soft soils, or soils with poor drainage make it more difficult to build a stable foundation, increasing material and labor costs.
Climate conditions – The local frost depth, seismic activity, and the water table can affect costs. Foundations in extreme climates, flood zones, or areas that experience earthquakes require more planning and higher-quality materials.
Drainage & waterproofing – Adding drainage pipes, gravel, moisture barriers, and sealing add to the foundation cost and ensure proper drainage and waterproofing to extend the life of the foundation.
Foundation repairs – Pier and beam foundation repairs cost $1,500 to $15,000, depending on the foundation size and repair method.
Pier and beam material costs
Pier and beam foundations cost $7 to $12 per square foot total on average, depending on the materials used. A structural engineer can help you choose the best material for your site and soil conditions.
|Material||Average cost per SF*||Description|
|Concrete piers||$7 – $11||
|Steel piers||$10 – $12||
|Pressure-treated wood timber||$6 – $10||
|Masonry piers||$8 – $12||
|Drilled caissons||$15 – $20||
*Includes material and labor.
Pier and beam labor costs
Labor costs make up 20% to 40% of the total cost of a pier and beam foundation. In urban areas with a high cost of living, labor costs can be even higher. Also, highly skilled workers, such as structural engineers or experienced foundation contractors, command higher wages.
Labor costs typically include the cost of skilled labor, such as carpenters and laborers, as well as any necessary equipment and tools. Some pier and beam materials require specialized skills and tools. For example, steel work requires a skilled welder and equipment, which increases labor costs.
Planning and site prep costs
Some of your labor costs cover the contractors that plan and prepare the site for a foundation. Costs may include:
Structural engineering design plans and drawings costs $500 to $3,000.
A land survey costs $400 to $1,800 before a foundation construction.
Soil testing costs $1,000 to $5,000 to find the soil’s weight bearing capacity for a foundation.
Excavation costs $2.50 to $15.00 per cubic yard.
Leveling or regrading a yard costs $0.40 to $2.00 per square foot.
Land clearing costs $125 to $1,500 per 1/4 acre.
Fill dirt costs $5 to $25 per cubic yard, depending on the soil type and quality.
Drainage system installations cost $1,000 to $4,000 for a shallow exterior yard drain.
Building permits cost $600 to $3,600 for a foundation.
Pier and beam foundation pros and cons
Pier and beam foundations work well for areas that cannot be excavated or where only shallow excavation is possible. This type of foundation typically costs more than a slab foundation but is well-suited for areas with unstable soil, sloped or uneven terrain, and areas prone to flooding and seismic activity.
Pier and beam foundation FAQs
What is a pier?
A pier in a pier and beam foundation is a vertical support made of concrete, steel, wood, or masonry. Piers are spaced evenly around the perimeter of the home and serve to support the beams that make up the foundation.
How many piers are used in a foundation?
A typical house will require 7 to 10 piers. Larger and heavier homes require more piers than smaller and lighter structures. Also, homes built on soft or unstable soil need more piers than homes built on solid soil.
How deep do concrete piers need to be?
The depth of your piers depends on the soil conditions and the weight of the structure. In normal soil conditions, contractors bury piers 4 feet below the ground. However, in areas with a deep frost line or on soft or unstable soil, they may need to bury piers 6 feet or deeper.
How long does a pier and beam foundation last?
A well-built pier and beam foundation can last 75+ years, depending on the quality of construction and materials, the soil type, the climate, and how well it is maintained.
Getting estimates from foundation contractors
When picking a foundation contractor, follow these suggestions:
Get at least 3 bids to compare construction methods and costs.
Confirm the company’s experience with installing pier and beam foundations.
Ask if they’re licensed, bonded, and insured, with years of foundation experience.
Look for contractors with positive reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
Get references from past customers and ask for their opinion on the work quality.
Confirm that the foundation estimate includes labor, materials, and cleanup costs.
Ask for everything in writing, including the costs, construction timeline, and warranty details.
Negotiate a payment plan, with the final payment due upon completion.
Questions to ask a foundation contractor
Ask these important questions when choosing a foundation contractor:
Are you licensed, bonded, and insured to install my foundation?
How long have you been installing pier and beam foundations?
What materials do you recommend for my foundation?
How much will the foundation cost?
How long will the foundation take to install?
Can you provide a written estimate, contract, and timeline for the project?
What happens if the material costs are more than you estimated?
Will you need soil tests before you can start the project?