One of five kinds of house foundations is pier & beam. When you hear this description, a picture of a structure on stilts probably comes to mind. Although a building is elevated, the height may only be a few feet off of the ground. Normally, a pier & beam foundation has three parts. It includes concrete piers to hold the foundation to the ground, posts between the piers, and a horizontal beam to support the home’s weight.
For many years, this type of foundation was quite popular. However, many areas began using concrete slabs in the 50s and 60s. This foundation is still used in places where flooding occurs, or soil is known to shift. These conditions are known to cause cracks in concrete.
Best Climate for a Pier & Beam Foundation
In most cases, a pier and beam foundation is used as an alternative to a concrete slab. A pier and beam are best used out of climates with rough winters. Basement foundations should be placed under the frost line in these areas. For example, homes in the Northeast and Midwest do not have foundations with piers and beams.
Advantages of a Pier & Beam Foundation
Many advantages come from using this type of foundation for a home’s base.
- Flood Protection. Since this type of foundation sits on posts and raises a home above ground, it works well in areas where frequent flooding occurs. This prevents damage from standing water.
- Extra Wiring and Plumbing Access. When a home sits on a concrete slab, plumbing and electric wiring are usually fixed in the cement. This makes it difficult for repairs. With a pier & beam foundation, it is easier to fix problems and make minor modifications.
- Easier to Repair. If there is damage to your foundation, a pier and beam structure will cost less to fix than a concrete slab. It is much simpler to repair a single part of this type of foundation.
- Lower Excavation Costs. Creating a concrete slab foundation requires a great deal of work, which gets expensive. You must pay for extensive digging and all the concrete to be poured. Much less material and work are needed with a pier and beam style. Any foundation that requires a full basement will cost more as well.
- Better for Uneven Property. Not every property site is flat. If you want to build a home on a sloped hill, it will be difficult to use a slab foundation. An uneven site is much better with a pier & beam foundation.
- Mobility. The biggest advantage of this type of foundation is its ease of mobility. If your home needs to be moved, this type of foundation makes it much simpler.