Steel vs Concrete Piers

17 Replies

Hello everyone happy Monday-

I am currently purchasing a home in San Antonio TX and it has some foundation problems. I took the engineer and confirmed there was a problem. A couple of contractors went to give me an estimate on the repairs and one of them is recommending concrete piers and the other one steel. The Concrete seems more economical but I want to make sure it solves the problem long term. What would you recommend Concrete or Steel?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

What is your plan for the house?  Is it a hold or a flip?

Hello Shawn, I plan to hold as a rental.

@Jorge L Garcia  

 Is the property on a slab or pier and beam foundation?  

For pier and beam, concrete piers are the preferred method.  The big things you want to make sure of is  1) the piers are spaced appropriately to support the home, 2) Piers are an appropriated diameter, there is a big difference between a 12" diameter pier and a 10" diameter pier (which many companies use), 3) Make sure they piers go deep enough into the ground; at least 36" below surface and they must "bell" out to ensure stability.  

For a slab foundation, my only experience has been with concrete piers added for support.  I know there are several different methods that can be used.  I can't speak to the validity or longevity of each method.  My suggestion would be to make sure the company provides a pier schedule, an engineer report, and transferable warranty. A lifetime warranty is worthless if the company won't be in business next year.  Lastly, make sure you contractor gets a permit. One of my clients recently had his job shut down because the foundation company did no pull permit.  Subsequently he had the City of San Antonio on his *** for the rest of the project.  

Hope this helps.

Hello Seth, thanks for your comments. The foundation is slab.

@Jorge L Garcia  is there a way you can ask the engineer you spoke to what his suggestion / opinion would be on either the concrete or steel piers? 
What I found when reading around was that the steel piers cost about $100 more per pier, but they are hydraulically driven down to a stable substrate. 
Steel piers rust, but it takes a very very very long time. 

Hope that helped. 

I have never worked with steel piers but have been happy with concrete pressed piers.  We recently completed a job this week in which 27 piers were installed and it ended up taking approx. 12 piers in depth to reach a stable surface.  My recommendation is make sure you are going with a company that provides a lifetime warranty and has been in the business under the same name for at least 10 years.  My cost in DFW is about $200/pier.  Pick is of home that required over 50 piers.

Thanks for your suggestion Joe, I will definitely check with the Engineer and see what he recommends.

Rocky, it’s good to hear that you are happy with concrete, it seems not a lot of people is familiar with steel piers. Luckily I don’t think I will need 50 piers like the house in the picture. It will be more around 30 and will be only the perimeter.

According to every foundation contractor I have talked to Steel is the way to go as long as your soil is deeper then 20 feet to bedrock.  If your under that then Concrete is cheaper and will do 99.999% as well, from what I have been told.  The benefit to steel is that they can go to about 70 feet.  In my area, DFW, we just got a bid for 12 piers (perimeter) for $5,400 steel or about $3,600 concrete.  If you are planning to hold the property for an extended period of time I would go with steel (assuming you have enough soil depth) to ensure you don't have further sheetrock/door/leveling costs.  The concrete will likely do a great job but in my instance $1,800 is pretty cheap insurance to prevent additional sheetrock, texture, painting costs.  

Ah, well... just realized this post is over two years old... 

@James M Smith  Do you have foundation repair company/companies that you would recommend in DFW area? I used several in the past few years but none of them was good. Thanks.

@James M Smith  Do you have foundation repair company/companies that you would recommend in DFW area? I used several in the past few years but none of them was good. Thanks.

Richard with integrity has done a couple foundations for us in the recent past and gone above and beyond our expectations for a fair price. 817. 671. 8351

Originally posted by @James M Smith :

Ah, well... just realized this post is over two years old... 

 @James M Smith: Can I ask what company you used? I live in Hurst and currently getting estimates for steel and concrete piers on a slab foundation.

@Yvonne Santiago, PM me and I will happily send you the information I have.  Also, I did post some info above if you look a couple replys up.  Either way, I wish you the best of luck with your foundation repair.

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