Last Updated on December 9, 2021
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Any construction owes its strength, solidity, and stability to an essential element, practically invisible, but extremely important: the foundation. Also called the “base of the house”, the foundation has the role of supporting the weight of the construction and transmitting it to the land on which the building is built.

The choice of a certain type of foundation, the establishment of its dimensions, and the materials from which it is made are made taking into account some very important factors: the climatic conditions in the area where the site is located; seismic characteristics of the terrain; the geological and hydrological characteristics of the land and the type of resistance structure on which the construction will be carried out.

In the 1960s, homes used to stand on simple foundations made from wooden pillars. Today, these pier and beam foundations are no longer as popular but can still be seen around areas with particular weather issues.

This foundation is basically an elevated wooden platform that rests on concrete columns situated about two feet off the ground. A crawlspace is a small, enclosed space under the floor of your home. Most modern homes usually have one underneath and it can be surrounded by a concrete barrier beam.

A homeowner should opt for a pier and beam foundation when designing their home as it can have many advantages over the average slab foundation.

The average pier and beam foundation cost per square foot

Pier and Beam FoundationBefore a pier and beam foundation is constructed, your home will need an inspection by the contractor to determine whether or not this type of structure would be best for it. If so, then he/she can offer you more specific guidelines on what types of piers are needed as well as how much they may cost. With any project that costs thousands of dollars, one must consider their geographical location since different areas have different prices due to demand in certain places versus less populated locations with lower housing demands. The site’s condition and the state of your current foundation also play an important role in determining which kind of structures are most appropriate when providing support for future buildings.

From the people who did share their costs, they seemed to average at about $10-$15 per square foot. This estimate includes excavation, soil testing, the foundation, footing, and beams as well as insulation and subflooring. There are many factors involved with this process so it’s important for interested buyers to keep in mind that results will vary based on their specific situation.

According to, the cost of a 1,920-square foot home with an elevated floor would be around $14,000 when factoring in excavation and soil treatment, foundation costs such as foundations or slabs, beam installation for support under the house (band joists), and insulation before laying down plywood sheets.

Meanwhile, a member of a popular building and construction forum called said there are too many factors involved and it is impossible to price them accurately, another stated that quotes were in the $610 to $1,000 per pier range.

What is a pier and beam foundation?

Piers are the columns that support a structure by forming its base. They’re often used to build decks or houses near beaches, and they come in different shapes depending on their function: square poles for large homes, steel beams for medium-sized structures, etc. To install them you have to dig deep enough into the ground so it can bear your home’s weight – around 8-12 feet is standard, but wider footings may be needed if there’s heavy sand or snow accumulation nearby which could potentially add extra pressure onto them during harsh weather conditions.

You might also like our articles about the cost of crawl space encapsulation, block foundation repair, or standing seam metal roof.

In order to build a foundation for this type of house, you must ensure the soil is able to withstand the weight. Ensuring that your soil can support concrete footings can be tricky depending on what kind of earth it’s made up from. Gravel-rich soils are not very good candidates as they tend to contract or expand easily which could cause damage. If your property has mostly clay in its composition, however, then there should be no problem with making sure everything stays stable throughout construction.

The pros of a pier and beam foundation

Flooding is a serious concern in coastal areas, so having your home elevated on a pier and beam foundation helps keep it safe.

A secondary benefit can be gaining temporary storage space. Remember that this area can be flooded periodically or seasonally. Storage can only be done temporarily or permanently if the things stored there are heavy and not affected by water. Light things will simply be taken by the water. Another benefit is that we can thermally insulate the structure under the floor of the living space at an earlier date. If we had a foundation in the ground, we would not be able to insulate under the foundation or under the first floor if we did not do it from the beginning.

This type of foundation has individual piers and beams to ensure that future contractors can easily identify potential issues with the structure.

The cons of a pier and beam foundation

Research shows that the biggest disadvantage to elevated homes is cost. Elevating your home is more expensive than building it directly on the ground.

When selling a home in the future, potential buyers may have to deal with issues such as sagging floors and moisture problems. Many homes also suffer from rotting wood or pests/rodents that can be found hiding out in crawlspaces.

Moisture in the crawlspace can lead to an unpleasant odor, mod, creaky floors, and wood rot if ignored.

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