Helical Piers Cost vs Concrete Footings

Helical Piers Cost vs Concrete Footings

Helical Piers Cost vs Concrete Footings

If you thought that digging holes and placing concrete footers were the only two options, think again: helical piers. But what exactly does this system comprise, and how much does it cost in comparison to regular concrete footers?

During the drilling process, steel poles are pushed into the ground until they come into contact with solid rock or load-bearing soil. In a standard concrete foundation, the ground is dug up about 12 feet, but your footers remain resting in soil. This increases the likelihood of settling and foundation concerns in the future.

Comparison Of Helical Piers Cost vs Concrete Footings

It costs around $186 to construct each pier, and two piers are needed each hole. You’re looking at something in the neighborhood of $373 per hole, and a project normally requires 6 to 12 of them according to the perimeter length of the foundation footprint. It costs between $2,285 to $3,004 to work with hard materials.

Hard materials, such as concrete, might cost different prices depending on the specifics of your project. The important thing to remember is that, not only are you spending a considerable amount of time excavating and pouring concrete, you’re also spending thousands of dollars in labor.

Following the completion of the excavation project, it is necessary to calculate in the cost of yard restoration to be reimbursed.

Overall, the installation piers is at least 27% more efficient than excavating, and many property owners discover that piers are the same price or less expensive than digging for a sturdier, more stable system than they anticipated.

That may seem like a high amount to pay for one pier, and you may be correct in your assessment. However, as a point of contrast, consider concrete piers. In this case, a pit must be excavated and concrete poured to serve as a foundation for the structure. Concreting piers in gardens and other pier applications is most certainly the most often utilized solution for pier construction.

Cost Efficiency Relation Between Helical Piers And Concrete Footings


  • No more digging holes. With helical piers, there’s no longer a need to dig massive holes or to brace them to prevent collapse. This speeds up the project, but it also means you don’t have to take on the expense of paying highly skilled, trained builders and contractors to manually dig holes.
  • Less yard repair. When you use a traditional footer system, you’re potentially digging up and destroying large swaths of the homeowner’s yard. With the pier system, you don’t have to take on that expense or hassle.
  • Quicker installation. Using the helical piers takes about thirty minutes a hole. For an entire project, that means you can allot about one half day. With digging, contractors had to allow at least two days for the actual excavation, one day for concrete, one days for inspection, and another day just in case something went wrong (foul weather, waylaid concrete delivery, inspection reschedule). That’s upwards of five days in hassle and labor expense with digging and less than one day with helical piers.
  • No curing required: Related with the point above about the “Quick installation”. In the comparison helial piers cost vs concrete footings, a clear advantage for helical piers is that they do not have a curing time.
  • Verifiable load capacity. When digging holes, the contractor had to verify the ground was solid by hand. With helical piers, you use a machine that actually gives you a verifiable, accurate, specific reading.
  • 100 percent pass rate with the inspector. Because the machine tells us exactly how deep to go based on the torque being exerted back on that machine, we know we’re getting it correct every time. When the inspector comes out to assess the piers, we simply give him the printout of our digital readings, and we are given the green light. We have a 100 percent pass rate, and not dealing with multiple inspector visits also helps to speed up the project immensely.
  • Installation can be performed year round: Can be installed well below the frostline, and is not susceptible to frost heave
  • Helicals are a permanent foundation solution, that will last you a lifetime

Cons: Not a DIY activity

Installing helical piers is not a DIY job, unless the installation is required for very small and light structures. The problem is that the homeowner cannot measure with precision the torque required for the installation of each pier.

The truth is that for concrete footings applies the same statement. It is not a DIY activity.

Disadvantages Of Concrete Footings In Relation With Helical Piers

  • excavating down below frost line levels
  • sliding in a form of some kind (sonotube)
  • backfilling the form and then pouring in the concrete

Standard acceptable depths for this process are generally 4′. The further north you go though, as temperatures drop and the frost line gets deeper, more depth is required for the piers. This is to avoid heaving as the soils freeze and unfreeze, making the ground unstable.

  1. The footings are prone to frost heave if they are not placed deep enough
  2. Excessive excavating is needed to get below the frost line prior to placement
  3. Footings can settle due to shrinking and unstable soils, making it so the project needs done again
  4. The projects with Concrete footings are labor intensive, adding costs for labor.
  5. Concrete needs to cure
  6. The weather conditions need to be right for installation: Concrete has been used for hundreds of years and take excavating below frostline, sliding in a sonotube, backfilling the form, then pouring concrete. The frostlines can be deeper than 4’, the reason for needing to follow these steps is the soil freezing and unfreezing making the ground unstable.
  7. Often concrete posts cannot be installed the same day

DIY Approach In A Helical Piers Cost vs Concrete Footings Comparison

Even if we have just explained a few paragraphs above in this helical piers cost vs concrete footings analysis that installing these helical piers is not a DIY task, it can be possible with specific light DIY piers for pergolas and decks

You can find them at most local hardware stores for about $25 to $30 (non-standard brackets are extra). They work the same way as the helical piers we installed earlier, but with one big difference — you can do it yourself!

The biggest potential issue with these smaller options is knowing whether their installation is successful. Since you can’t measure the actual torque required to turn the pier into place, you won’t be able to tell just how much weight these piers will support. For this reason, you may only want to consider these for smaller projects. Also, these smaller helical piers usually have a powder-coated finish instead of the more durable galvanized steel finish. 

Helical Piers as A Preferred Choice

 They’re essentially giant galvanized steel shafts with screw-like flanges. To install screw piles, they are twisted into the ground to a depth that the torque required to turn them indicates proper soil bearing capacity.

Usually, installation extends to just below the frost line. They can sometimes even extend to hundreds of feet down, depending on soil conditions.

These piers can be driven into most types of ground. However, if solid bedrock is encountered, it requires some pre-drilling, which will add to your cost. Stony soils are okay, but sometimes you might hit a large enough rock to have to start the process all over again and reposition the screw.

Photo of author

BY M. Kogan

Hello, I am Marcio. I am an architect and designer, alma mater is Mackenzie. Retired in theory, but an architect never retires completely. Along with architectural projects, I am a filmmaker and have completed some short documentaries. Filmmaking and design are my passions. In HomeQN I write about home decoration and foundations. The goal is to teach homeowners to DYI as much as possible, and when this is not possible, enable them through knowledge, to evaluate service quotations and choose the best service technicians.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.