home addition

How to Avoid Foundation Issues In a Home Addition: Builder’s Piers

You’re a conscientious homeowner or home builder who wants to avoid foundation issues in a planned addition. Maybe there’s foundation settlement in the original home, or perhaps you just generally want to prevent foundation problems. You’re very interested in protecting this new investment as much as possible because foundation issues are a concern in your area.

Q: How can you avoid foundation issues with your home addition? A: Builder’s Piers.

Anchor Foundation Repair Bryan College Station

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing settled foundations in Bryan, College Station, and surrounding communities like Navasota and Madisonville for 35+ years. Not only are we foundation repair experts, but we are also *foundation repair prevention* pros and can share what we know about builder’s piers.

This article will explain the builder’s pier concept and the benefits of installing them during the slab construction of a home addition. We will also review builder pier basics and best practices when incorporating them while adding on to an existing home.

Best Way to Prevent Foundation Problems with Home Additions

We’ve already given away the secret. Builder’s piers are the answer when you want to do everything possible to avoid foundation issues in a home addition. 

To be clear, we are mostly talking about a home addition built with a slab-on-grade foundation. The original home can be either a pier and beam/crawl space type of foundation or a slab foundation. When we are talking builder’s piers, we’re usually talking about slab foundations and additions, but they can be used on pier and beam additions too. 

prevent foundation problems with your home addition

Builder’s piers are a way to preemptively add the same kind of foundation support to a home that we add during our foundation repairs. You do it ahead of time during the new construction process instead of waiting for a foundation problem to develop before adding them in as a remedy after issues occur. 

So, you essentially prevent foundation problems in your addition by applying the foundation repairs in advance!

*Disclaimer Alert* Nothing is guaranteed to 100% prevent foundation problems due to the nature of expansive clay soils in our Central Texas area. Builder’s piers just give you the best chance at minimizing the opportunity for foundation stability issues to develop in the future.

What Are and How Do Builder’s Piers Benefit Additions?

Builder’s piers are drilled concrete piers that are installed before a slab foundation is poured. After the piers are installed and cured, the new slab is poured on top of them. 

builder's piers to prevent foundation issues

Some builders’ piers are directly tied to the foundation via connecting steel rebar. In other cases, the slab simply rests on top of the piers. Some builders’ piers are uniformly shaped by just drilling a straight shaft. Others are shaped with wider-based footings similar to those used in commercial slab construction, like the drilled bell-bottom piers we use here at Anchor.

A piered foundation penetrates the ground further than your typical slab-on-grade home foundation. The idea is the piers lower the base of your foundation to a level of lesser or non-reactive soil. When your foundation is resting in soil that doesn’t expand and contract as much as surface soils, the slab has more stability and less potential for settlement.

With wider-based footings, like bell-bottom piers, the builder’s piers also resist soil uplift better than a simple cylinder foundation. So let’s sum up all the benefits of builder’s piers for you now. Builder’s piers:

  • Preemptively solve for foundation problems before they can develop
  • Lower the base of the foundation to non-reactive soil levels
  • Offer more stability and less potential for settlement than a shallow slab foundation
  • Wider-based footings on piers resist soil uplift
  • Installing builder’s piers in advance costs less than foundation repair piers later on
  • Offer increased peace of mind for homeowners, knowing you did the best you could

home foundation repair

I like to say, “When a 2 x 4 will do, use a 2 x 6 instead.” Builder’s piers just give that extra *ounce of prevention* and they cost way less than the *pound of cure* expense of foundation repair.

Also, if you already had to do foundation repairs on the original home, then adding the builder’s piers to the new portion matches the repaired original foundation. In other words, if both parts of the house are in a similar situation, they are more likely to behave the same through changing conditions.

Best Practices When Using Builder’s Piers for a Home Addition

There are a few best practices that we suggest to keep in mind when using builder’s piers.

  1. If the original home needs foundation repairs, you must do that first before adding an addition, or the builder’s piers will not be helpful and may cause more problems.
  2. Using bell-bottom piers will resist soil uplift better than straight builder’s piers
  3. You cannot use concrete pressed pilings as builder’s piers, only drilled piers

How Much Do Builder’s Piers Cost?

It probably caught your attention in the benefits section when we mentioned that builder’s piers are less expensive than foundation repair piers. Let’s elaborate on that.

questions about builder's piers

First, you might be thinking, “Well, if they are the same piers used in a foundation repair, why are they less expensive when they are installed as builder’s piers?

Good question. Builder’s piers cost significantly less because there is not as much preliminary legwork to reach the pier locations – the area is exposed and easy to get to. There’s not already a slab foundation poured on top that we have to work around. Really, there’s just not as much work to do in general, and the work is faster and easier all around.

Now you’re thinking, “Well, what kind of costs are we talking about then?

Foundation Repair Solutions for the Brazos Valley

The price range for a builder’s pier is around $250 to $350 per pier. So if you were doing a small addition to your home and wanted to add builder’s piers, it would add $2,000 to $4,000 to the slab price tag. 

If you had to do foundation repairs on that same small addition later on, the cost would be in the $7,000 to $11,000 range.

As you can see, the cost of adding builder’s piers from the get-go is far less than the cost of foundation repairs later. Not to mention the hassle, stress, and additional cost and damage brought on by foundation issues.

Who Can I Get to Install Builder’s Piers for My Addition?

Now that you know a bit more about builder’s piers and how they can benefit your addition, who can do this service for you? Sometimes, the builder constructing your slab or the rest of the addition can include the builder’s piers, but many don’t do that particular thing. 

As we mentioned earlier, not any ol’ foundation repair contractor can add builder’s piers either. A foundation repair contractor that does pressed pilings cannot use those pilings as a builder’s pier because of the way pressed piles function in the ground. Only drilled concrete piers can be used as builder’s piers.

builder's piers for a stronger foundation for your addition

Serving the Brazos Valley for 35+ years, Anchor Foundation Repair can work with your general contractor doing the addition. Add our signature drilled bell-bottom piers as your builder’s pier to upgrade your addition foundation to industrial strength.

We’ve only scratched the surface on builder’s piers in this article, for more *nitty gritty* details check out: What is a Builder’s Pier? (Definition, Installation, Cost, Pros & Cons).