If you’re in need of foundation repair, your foundation professional might have mentioned piering — or underpinning — to you. This is a repair method that involves excavating under your foundation and installing supports that help add rigidity to the base of your home and resist ground movement going forward.
While foundation piering is often a permanent solution to foundation damage and soil expansion and contraction, it can also be a rather pricey foundation need. In this guide, we’ll be discussing the average cost of installing foundation piers, some factors that can affect your pricing, and some things to consider if this is the repair solution that your home needs.
How Much Does it Cost to Install Piers for Foundation?
Installing piers below your home’s foundation typically costs between $1,000 and $3,000 per pier.
Although the number of piers required depends on the size of your home and the extent of the damage to your foundation, most homeowners find that they need seven to ten piers. This would bring the total cost for foundation piering to between $7,000 and $30,000. The average cost sits around $16,000.
Keep in mind that these numbers are just rough estimates, and your total could fall well above or below these amounts. In the sections below, we’ll discuss some factors to consider when estimating your costs for foundation pier installation and some additional costs you might incur, depending on your specific property.
Additional Costs for Piering
There are many cost factors to consider if you want to get an accurate estimate for your foundation repair cost. We’ll discuss some additional costs you might need to account for below.
Piering is a rather intrusive foundation repair method. Since the supports need to be installed underneath your home’s foundation, the prep work to get access to the installation site can be quite complicated.
First, your foundation type makes a difference. If you have a slab foundation, your foundation repair technician can either excavate under your home at ground level or drill through the slab to install the piers. This is the least amount of prep work and usually costs the least.
Crawlspaces — including stem wall foundations and pier and beam foundations — and basements are set several feet underground, so if excavation is required around your foundation, it will be much more involved.
Your foundation repair expert will decide if drilling through the crawlspace or basement floor is possible. If it’s not, crawlspace piering and pier and beam foundation repair will be more expensive than slab piering, and basement piering will be the most costly.
There are several different kinds of foundation piers that your repair expert can use. The decision is usually based on the soil in your area, the proximity to water — really, the depth of the aquifer on your property — and the style and size of your home.
The table below provides a quick look at the different types of foundation piers, along with the typical situation in which each is used and the average cost per pier.
|Pier Type||When It’s Used||Average Cost Per Pier|
|Steel Pier (also called push piers)||In areas with expansive clay soil or sandy soil where the bedrock isn’t too deep||$1,500|
|Concrete Pier||In areas where extensive soil shifting in the future is expected||$2,000|
|Helical Pier||In areas where steel piers cannot be used because of the depth to bedrock; they can also be used as foundation anchors||$2,500|
|Segmented Pier||For applications where budget is limited||$1,000|
|Spot Pier||Mostly for patios and garage floors||$1,000|
Drainage and Waterproofing
In many cases, piering is required because the soil around your concrete foundation is expanding and contracting in response to changes in moisture content. While piering is considered a permanent solution in most cases, reducing the amount of runoff that comes in contact with the ground around your foundation offers added benefits.
In many cases, homeowners will be prompted to implement drainage and waterproofing tactics to reduce the risk of future ground movement, water intrusion, and related foundation problems.
If your foundation repair expert recommends installing gutters and downspouts, installing a French drain or another exterior drainage system, applying waterproofing or moisture-reducing sheets or paint to your foundation, or implementing other solutions, your cost of foundation repair could go up significantly.
Similarly, if you need an epoxy sealant added to resulting foundation cracks to eliminate water intrusion or to provide an aesthetic crack repair, your cost could be pushed up slightly.
Structural and Geotechnical Engineering
In the case of severe foundation damage, you might need more than a foundation repair expert to get the issue properly addressed and permanently fixed. If your foundation has suffered from extreme ground movement or the issue has been left to worsen for a long period, you might need a structural engineer to determine if the rest of your structure has been compromised.
Your entire home relies on the foundation for stability and a level surface to direct load to, so issues with your foundation can affect the structure above, from the ground level all the way up to the roof.
Paying for a structural engineer’s foundation inspection can add $750 to $1,000 to your repair costs alone, and that’s not including any additional repairs you might need.
Hidden or Underground Obstructions
When your foundation expert is excavating to expose the area where the piers will be installed, any underground obstructions can severely delay the process, adding to your labor costs.
In most cases, your obstructions will be tree roots or utility lines. Your repair technician might need to work around these obstructions, which can prolong the repair process and cost more for manpower and machinery usage.
Significant changes or upgrades to your property might require permitting, depending on your municipality. In some areas, the excavation required for piering will require a permit even if the structural repairs don’t.
Permits can cost anywhere from $25 up to several hundreds of dollars, depending on the extent of the work you’re having done and on your municipality. In most cases, permits won’t make your project much more expensive, but you should factor them into your budget.
Seismic Work or Other Climate Conditions
Finally, you’ll have to consider the weather and geological conditions surrounding your repair. If your foundation damage was a result of an earthquake, chances are many other homeowners in your area are in need of foundation services. This can cause a temporary spike in the repair cost.
Additionally, homes in earthquake-prone areas — or areas with other severe climatic events — often need additional reinforcement when piering to ensure the repair holds up in the future.
Piering vs. Slabjacking Cost
Piering is the process of using hydraulic jacks to raise sinking portions of the foundation back into place and then installing supportive piers beneath those areas to provide future support. Slabjacking — also called mudjacking — is the process of drilling a hole in a concrete slab and then pumping a cementitious solution or polyurethane foam under the slab to push it upward back into place.
Both foundation repair methods lift the sinking foundation section back to where it should be, but there are some important differences to note.
First, piering is considered a permanent solution that will resist future ground movement, while slabjacking is temporary and will often require additional repairs in the future.
Piering is significantly more expensive as well. Piering is more intrusive, as it often requires excavation around your foundation, while slabjacking just requires a hole drilled into your slab. The average cost for piering is around $16,000, while the average cost for slabjacking is around $3,000.
Finally, piering is suitable for stabilizing entire home foundations, whereas slabjacking is usually only used for small applications. These include leveling patios, sidewalks, garage floors, and other nonstructural concrete slabs.
Piering Financing Options
Foundational piering is an expensive home improvement repair. Although it’s well worth the investment in most cases, many homeowners will undoubtedly struggle to come up with the average $16,000 upfront. Luckily, there are a few ways to finance piering to help bring upfront costs down. We’ll discuss these in the sections below.
First, you can choose a foundation repair company that offers in-house financing. Some of the larger and more reputable companies provide financing options that allow you to put a minimal amount of money down and pay in installments over time. Keep in mind that this will drive up your long-term cost, as you’ll be paying interest in addition to the repair costs.
Second, you can choose to use a third-party financing institution to finance your repairs. You’ll still be paying more over time because of the interest, but this is a great way to go if your preferred foundation repair company doesn’t offer financing options.
If you’ve lived in your home for several years, you’ve likely built equity in the property, either because you’ve made payments toward your mortgage or because the property value has increased since you purchased your home. Either way, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a mortgage refinancing could provide some cash to help you pay for foundation repairs.
Finally, some foundation repair companies accept credit cards as payment. This is often the least advisable option because credit cards usually come with the highest interest rates and will end up costing you the most over time.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation Repair?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors. If the damage was caused by a natural disaster like a flood or earthquake and you have an insurance policy that covers you in those situations, then your homeowners insurance might pay for your foundation repairs.
In most cases, though, the issue will be caused by soil expansion and contraction, which is not covered by your insurance company. This damage is considered avoidable if you implement proper drainage around your home. As such, more often than not, your homeowners insurance will not cover foundation repairs, especially piering.
Benefits of Piering
Piering is an expensive foundation repair procedure, but there are some significant benefits to it that make it worthwhile. We’ll discuss the upsides of foundation piering below.
Permanent Solution to Soil Movement
The most significant benefit to foundation piering is that it’s often a permanent solution to foundation sinking. Once your foundation is jacked up to the proper level and secured using piers, the supports should sit far enough below the surface, never to experience significant soil movement again. This is especially true if you use steel piers that reach down to the bedrock.
Suitable for Most Areas
There are several different kinds of foundation piers that are suitable for different applications. Steel piers are great in areas where the bedrock is within around 200 feet of the earth’s surface. Helical piers are best for areas where the bedrock is too deep or where sandy soil is prevalent. Concrete piers are best for areas where additional soil movement is expected in the future.
The upside of piering is that it’s a permanent solution for nearly every property.
Piering can be one of the most expensive foundation repairs upfront. However, since it’s a permanent solution for most homeowners, it ends up being more affordable in the long run than less permanent options.
Factors to Consider Before Pier Installation
There are a few things you need to consider when estimating your piering cost. We’ll discuss the most significant cost factors below to help you accurately figure out your total.
First off, you should think about the size of your foundation. While the number of piers isn’t directly correlated to the size of your foundation, the number of piers required does tend to increase with foundation size. Homeowners who own houses with larger footprints will typically need more piers, which will naturally drive up the cost of piering.
The labor charges you’ll incur can vary based on many different factors. First, the cost per hour of labor can vary by company. Second, things that make accessing your under-home area — like patios, decks, tree roots, and utility lines — will make the job take longer and will push your costs for labor higher.
Planning, Permitting, and Preparation
Finally, the planning and permitting process can vary based on your particular property. Your soil type and your property layout — including landscaping features — can have an impact on the planning process and the related costs. The severity of your foundation damage and your municipality will typically determine if permits are required and how much they will cost.
Why Should You Choose Piering Foundation Repair?
Foundation piering is usually a permanent solution to a rather severe foundation issue. It’s an expensive option upfront, but it also means you won’t have to worry about the same issue popping up in the future. The same can’t be said about other house leveling methods, like slabjacking or foamjacking.
Foundation piering is also a decent option for homes in most areas. Slabjacking, for example, isn’t a good idea in many areas because of the soil quality. Foundation piering, on the other hand, can be adapted for different soil qualities and locations.
Key Takeaways: Pier Foundation Cost
On average, foundation piering will cost around $16,000, and typical costs range from $7,000 up to around $30,000. However, your total cost for foundation pier installation can vary based on the location of your property, the severity of the damage, the quality of the soil beneath your home, and much more.
The best way to determine if foundation piering is for you and to get an accurate estimate for the total cost is to have a professional foundation repair contractor or a structural engineer assess your home and figure out what repairs are necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are foundation piers expensive?
Foundation repairs are relatively expensive when compared to other foundation repair methods. For example, the typical cost to have foundation piers installed is around $16,000, while the average cost for other concrete leveling methods can be as low as $2,000.
With that being said, foundation piering is usually considered a permanent solution to soil expansion and contraction. It’s well worth the investment in many cases., as it provides peace of mind and, often, a foundation warranty regardless of future soil conditions.
Do foundation piers really work?
Yes, foundation piers are some of the best solutions for foundation damage. They distribute the weight of your house to a portion of the ground that isn’t affected by changes in moisture or to the bedrock. The result is a permanent solution to a sinking foundation.
How many piers do I need for a foundation?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the square footage of your home, the type of pier you’re using, and the extent of the damage. Most homeowners who need foundation piering will need between seven and ten piers to repair their foundation successfully.
How deep should foundation piers be?
The depth at which foundation piers are installed depends on the type of pier used. Steel piers can be installed up to a depth of around 200 feet. Helical piers are usually reserved for depths up to around 25 feet. Concrete piers, segmented piers, and spot piers can go just a few feet — usually up to two — into the ground.
Do foundation piers need to be level?
Yes! The point of foundation piers is that a newly leveled home foundation can sit on them and be supported in a perfectly level position. Unlevel piers can lead to additional foundation damage and structural instability. This is one major reason why foundation piers should only be installed by professionals.
How long does it take for foundation piers to work?
Foundation piers are an instant solution once they’re installed properly. Your foundation is jacked up to a level position and then reinforced with piers. Once the piers are installed, your home should be level and sturdy.