A pier and beam foundation is an alternative to a slab foundation. Slab foundations typically are inexpensive, can be built quickly and are made from reinforced concrete. A home with a slab foundation does not have a basement. A pier and beam foundation usually includes a crawl space beneath the living space and footings to support the foundation. Because it offers more stability in shifting soils, the pier and beam foundation may offer more benefits to the homeowner.
In a pier and beam foundation, a concrete pier is reinforced with steel (rebar), forming a strong cage within the pier. The piers are set atop a concrete pad that also has been reinforced with steel rebar. The foundation beam rests on the pier or column.
Slab foundations often are adversely affected by changing soil conditions. In states such as Texas, Colorado, Kansas and others, expansive clay soils affect home foundations. Clay soils hold water. When over-saturated, the clay soil expands and heaves upward towards the foundation. As it dries, the soil shrinks and the foundation settles. This movement caused by continual changing soil conditions causes cracks in slab foundations, which leads to mold, moisture and other problems within the house.
Because a pier and beam foundation allows for a crawl space, the homeowner benefits from easier access to heating and plumbing. Plumbing pipes are often located under a slab foundation—when one of these cracks, the standing water under the slab can cause foundation issues.
Another advantage to pier and beam foundations is its platform construction. A pier and beam foundation is topped with a wood platform that may be more comfortable on joints and backs when homeowners walk across the floor. Floors over slab foundations do not have that same give, since they sit atop a concrete pad.
A pier and beam foundation also may be called a post and beam foundation. Regardless of your foundation structure, contact a foundation repair specialist to mitigate any additional damages.