How to Build a House on Concrete Piers

Written by ed english
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How to Build a House on Concrete Piers
Concrete piers outlast wood every time. (Sea house image by John Sandoy from

Concrete piers make a superior foundation for supporting a house. Buried below the frost line and spaced appropriately, they can last many decades, if not hundreds of years. Having the house elevated above the ground allows for good ventilation underneath. Good ventilation means less mould, mildew and moisture-related problems. In temperate climates where freezing is not an issue, piers allow the home to stand above flood waters. Concrete piers can vary in length from 8 inches to 10 feet and longer. They can be homemade or ordered and installed by a contractor.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Foundation plans
  • Tape measure
  • String
  • Theodolite
  • Level
  • Lumber
  • Nails
  • Post-hole digger

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  1. 1

    Obtain a complete set of building plans for your house and a building permit from your local authorities.

  2. 2

    Use the theodolite to place batter boards and string to outline the exterior of the house. Measure and mark the locations of each pier.

  3. 3

    Dig the hole for each pier according to the house plan's specifications. Use temporary string and a tape measure to make the depth and size of the holes accurate. Place any needed gravel or concrete in the holes per the house plan's instructions.

  4. 4

    Place the piers in the holes or on top of the foundation locations. Tall piers will sit deep into the ground and require machinery to lift into place. Small, short piers will sit on top of a small foundation of gravel or concrete. The top of each pier, after being set, needs to be level with the adjacent piers.

  5. 5

    Place metal brackets in the top of the piers to attach the beams for mounting the floor joist. Foundation beams may also be bolted onto the piers with concrete anchors set into the concrete piers.

Tips and warnings

  • The frost line or depth in the ground where freezing stops occurring varies greatly depending on the geographical area where the house is located.
  • Always take safety precautions and wear proper safety equipment while using hand tools.
  • Follow local building codes and regulations for all phases of the construction project.

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