Helical Piers Cost

Helical Piers Cost

Helical piers installation is a foundation underpinning system.

A helical pier (also known as a helical pile) is a steel shaft with helices, similar to a large screw, that provides foundation support for structures. It contains helical bearing plates welded to a central steel shaft where the load is transferred from the shaft to the soil through bearing plates. A helical pier consists of segments joined with bolted couplings. 

Helical piers are an all-steel foundation solution. Steel poles are drilled into the ground until they hit solid rock or load-bearing soil. In a traditional concrete foundation, you dig down approximately ten feet, but your footers are still resting in dirt. This creates the potential for settling and foundation issues down the line.

This includes

  • cracked walls,
  • uneven floors, and
  • sticky windows.

Helical pier foundation systems are most commonly used whenever soil conditions inhibit the installation of standard foundation solutions

A helical pier’s name is derived from it’s primary method to provide load support through compression or tension applied to a steel shaft with one or more circular plates attached, which resemble a helix

Screw piles are quick to install — it’s kind of like an instant foundation. They work in a variety of soil conditions, and the installation is pretty cost-effective. Screw piles have relatively low embodied energy and are relatively non-intrusive in the surrounding environment.

While they’re easy to install, screw piles are not a DIY job. You need specialized machinery to install them.

How much do helical piers cost to install?

The cost of a helical pier depends on the design, size, and weight of the structure and the adjacent soil conditions. Due to these many variables, an installed helical pier can range in price from $15-$30 per foot. So, a typical 20-foot helical pier can cost between $300 – $600 each. 

helical piles are made of high quality ASTM rated steel. Piers must be galvanized as well.

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In most cases, piers are installed along the outside of the settling wall, every 5-7 feet across the affected area.  If the piers can be machine dug, pricing is $1600-1950 per pier.  This pricing is given in a range because it needs to cover the details specific to your home’s layout and design.

The installation has to make allowances for access, which means considering your landscaping and concrete slabs: sidewalks, driveways, porches, patios, etc.  If the piers have to be dug by hand, the price range increases to $1700-2400.

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On average, screw piles (helical pier) cost $250 per standard screw pile That price includes the full installation, brackets, and a helpful little engineering report at the end. This professional installation gives you the peace of mind, knowing that the piers are appropriately sized, correctly torqued, and will stay in the ground without shifting.

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When getting pricing from us you will notice that Helicals can cost around $30 dollars per foot. Meaning a Helical around 20-ft can be estimated around $600 dollars

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Cost per helical pier installed ranges drastically depending up the required support, soil encountered at the site, and a multitude of other factors. However, you can typically anticipate an installed fee per pile to be between $400-$2,000 for lightly loaded structures.

Helical Piers Cost Comparison With Other Underpinning Systems

For extensive damage, piers or pilings are usually installed underneath the home. Pilings are designed to penetrate deep into the soil underneath the foundation, providing the home with added support. Once installed, pilings stabilize the foundation, helping to eliminate cracks and restore uneven floors.

The prices to install pilings vary by market, installation method and foundation type. Below you will find general ballpark pricing per unit.

Underpinning SystemCost Per Piling
Steel Pier$950 – $1600
Helical Pier$1400 – $2100
Drilled Pier$700 – $950
Pressed Piling$800 – $1350
Cable Lock ST+$1100 – $1250

Using this frame of reference, if your home requires 12 support piers you may be looking at $9,500 – $15,000 in repairs.

Helical Piers Marginal Costs Variations

The marginal cost of the installation of helical piers can be lower if more than thirty piles are required and soil conditions are acceptable.

This means that the increase for each additional helical pier is lower after installing more than 30 units. Therefore some residential and commercial projects could have a benefit in these cases.

Factors That Influence Helical Piers Cost

The wide range that exists in helical piers cost is because there are factors that heavily influence the price of one of these projects.

Let´s see the influencing factors.

  1. Size of the helical pier material
  2. Depth required for the installation in relation to the type of existing soil.
  3. Access to the areas where the helical piers will be installed
  4. Modifications required to the landscape.
  5. Additional costs related to interferences in the daily routine.
  6. Disruption to utilities
  7. If the project is to repair helical piers or they are utilized to build new foundations.
  8. The characteristics of the soil (related to point 2 above, about the depth required for the installation).

When you get quotes for helical piers on your project, make certain that you ask about size, depth, and access and whether or not these are factored into pricing.

Now, let´s see each of these factors in more detail.

Quantity And Specifications Of The Helical Piers

The number and type of piles required and whether they’ll be installed with grout or not.

This depends on the type of structure, weight, footprint, etc. Piles are either round or square and come in a variety of diameters. Larger piles are more expensive.

The truth is: size does matter. Helical piers come in all shapes and sizes. The general rule of thumb is the bigger the pipe, the bigger the cost. 

Helical Piers are classified on the diameter of the pipe that the helicals are welded to. Larger helical piers (such as 3.5” and all the way up to 24”) will carry a higher material cost as the pier goes up. 

The larger piers require larger equipment to install them. Larger equipment requires more room to navigate and garner access.

Almost all residential projects require 2-⅞’ helical pier material. These helicals have a load capacity of up to 74 kip (74,000 pounds per pier) – that’s a chubby humpback whale for comparison.     

When we plug in our numbers from earlier: most one-story homes weigh about 1,000 pounds per linear foot. We space helical piers every 6 feet so that each pier only requires a 6000-pound capacity to take the joint load of your home. 

With helical piers having a max capacity of 74,000 pounds, we have over a 12:1 factor of safety if the material is at its max capacity. 

Depth Required For Helical Piers And The Costs Of A Depth Clause

Piers that need to be installed at greater depths take more time and manpower.  

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.

The installation depth of each pier also plays a major factor in pricing. Just like with size, the deeper the depth, the deeper it bites into your pocketbook. 

The standard pier length is 21 feet, and this is enough for most of the homes.  But this may not be long enough to reach the stable and undisturbed soil that piers need to “lock” in place.  

If you live in an area with a high water table or the soil composition has a significant amount of organics, the piers may need to be extended to a lower depth.  This is an added fee of $20 per foot, multiplied by however many piers are needed.    

The worst part of this unexpected cost is that it’s not something we can always know in advance.  In specific areas- near bodies of water, for example- we know it’s a possibility. But the only way to know for sure is to install the pier, and read the pressure gauge.

 if the piers are not installed the full distance to load-bearing soil, they will be of no benefit to the home. You have the right to choose not to have the additional depth dug. But if you make that choice, your contractor should decline the job. An ethical contractor will not perform or charge you for an installation that will not be up to code.

For example, if the pier needs to be installed at a depth of 40 feet to achieve the desired load capacity (vs 20 feet), there will be an increase in price due to the cost of the additional 20-feet of material. 

Service contractors offer piers with or without a depth clause. Piers without a depth clause will run $250 more per pier due to unknown depths. 

Piers with a depth clause will be cheaper, but you run the risk of additional costs with additional installation depths (those costs are $75 per linear foot beyond the 21-feet that is already included).

Certain areas inherently require deeper installation depth. Homes located on hillsides, for example, tend to have installation depths of around 35 feet.

 In addition, areas that have undergone extensive grading prior to the home being built have deeper installation depths.

This is because there are more “fill soils” that are present in these areas. 

These soils are generally not as dense and prove more susceptible to the elements (wet and dry cycles).

The helical piers will need to be installed past these soft soils and driven into more compact, secure soil below. 

In the event that the standard pier length will not work, the crew or project manager should alert you.  This gives you the opportunity to discuss the challenges and added expenses needed to complete the repairs.  

Access to the Area Where the Piers Will Be Installed

It is imperative to have enough access for the piers to be installed properly. Creating this access also plays a factor in price. 

Depending on the required equipment and drive head necessitated to reach the desired depth and torque values, the price will go up.

 Bigger badder helical piles require bigger and badder equipment, Larger helical piles translate into a larger area required to install them.

Occasionally, we need to rent cranes to get the correct equipment into and out of a limited access area.

Crane rentals are not cheap

We’re talking $1,200 to $2,500 depending on the size of the crane needed and how long the crane will be required to be on site.

Cranes increase the amount of time it takes to install a project. This additional time and rental cost increase the overall cost of the helical piers.   

Modifications Required To The Landscape

Piers need to be dug close to the foundation; they are positioned under your home’s footer.  The footer is located at the base of your foundation. Depending on where your foundation needs stabilizing, the piers may need to be installed in an inconvenient location.  These are usually places where you’ve built a deck, installed a patio, or established a flower bed.  

The least expensive installation method for piers is machine-digging.  They can be hand-dug, to minimize damage to the exterior landscape, but manual labor adds to the price and the length of the job.  It’s important to note that hand-digging also may not be enough to preserve all of the surrounding area. You may have to relocate plants, remove decking or replace concrete walkways or patio sections.  

Unlike the added depth charges, these are expenses that you will know about ahead of time.  The project manager that evaluates your foundation should determine the best locations for the piers at the time of the estimate.  These locations should be clearly indicated to you before you sign a contract or make a decision.  This will allow you time to make plans or arrangements for additional work.  These arrangements may be unavoidable, but they increase the time and money you will spend on the repairs.

Additional Helical Piers Cost Related To Interferences In The Daily Routine

Obviously, having piers installed is going to interrupt your daily routine.  There will be digging and drilling done around the foundation of your home. There will be noise from the machines that is loud enough to be an irritation, but not enough to pose any threats to your well-being.  If the piers are required to be installed inside your garage or basement, you will notice some dust from the work also. 

If you work from home, probably you would have to go somewhere else to work, such as a bar or rent a daily coworking space.

Disruption To Utilities

The service contractor should call 811 and request any utility locates that need to be done before installations.  This may not be true for all contractors, so we recommend that you confirm which party is responsible for this.  It is essential that utility companies have their buried lines marked in advance of any digging at your home.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes these locate requests are not done thoroughly, or they omit a service.  When digging begins, contractors and crew members all they can to avoid any overlooked or unmarked utility lines. But accidents do happen, and sometimes you may lose a service (most commonly cable or internet) temporarily.  This is an inconvenience at best, but if you work from home, you may have lost productivity as a result.

Repairing A Foundation Or Building A New One?

It costs twice as much (or even more) to repair a damaged structure using helical piles than it does to use helical piles to build new foundations.

Characteristics Of The Soil And Its Influence In The Helical Piers Cost

This paragraph is related to the one above referred to the depth required for the installation of the helical piers

The type, size, and number of piles used depend on the soil. For example, if there’s liquefaction or the soil is especially dense, it will increase the cost of the installation. 

Of course, the soil underneath a building’s foundation varies according to its geographic location, but we can say that there are three main soil types: sandy, sandy loam, and clay. Sandy soil has the coarsest texture followed by sandy loam, and then finally, clay, the soil with the finest texture.

Because these soils have different textures, moisture doesn’t affect them in the same way. This is important because finer-textured expansive soil expands and contracts significantly over the course of a year due to seasonal weather changes. This puts a lot of stress on a foundation.

So, a soil’s ability to properly support helical piers is related to its texture. FInely textured soils like clay perform poorly, while coarse sandy soil performs well.

Clay Soil Behavior In Relation To Helical Piers Installations

Clay soil is the finest textured soil. It expands significantly as it absorbs water during rainy seasons and then shrinks as it dries out during hot, dry seasons, it’s very likely to cause any foundation built on top of it to crack, shift, or heave. Clay soil is prevalent in the Midwestern United States.

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is the coarsest foundation soil, and water goes right through it. In other words, it doesn’t absorb water, and this is why it doesn’t expand or shrink. Of course, it has its own set of concerns, such as erosion and scouring. Sandy soil is prevalent in South Florida and other coastal regions.

Helical Piers Cost Could Be Lower With A Sandy Loam Soil

Sandy loam soil is a medium textured soil made up of sand, silt, and clay. It’s relatively stable and doesn’t significantly expand or contract as environmental moisture levels go up and down. The main problem with sandy loam soil is there’s a chance of erosion. If this happens, you could end up with foundation problems.

helical piers cost vs concrete footings

Now some of you may say that’s a hefty price to pay for a single pier, and you might be right. But consider concrete piers for comparison. These are another common pier wherein a hole is dug, and concrete poured. Concrete piers are likely the most commonly used alternative for backyards and other pier applications.

Every pier is around $175, and there are two piers required per hole. That puts you somewhere in the range of $350 per hole, of which a project typically needs six to eight. For hard materials, you’re sitting around $2,100 to $2,800.

When installing concrete piers, your material cost will run about $70, and the install time will be between two and three days. The cost to install is wide-ranging – between $30 and $230, depending on the machinery you will need, based on your soil conditions.

When considering a DIY installation, keep in mind that a lot can go wrong with concrete pier pouring. And how much is your time worth to you? You’ll need lots of it for this job. So, in the end, $250 might be a reasonable price to pay. With it, you will have the comfort of knowing that your foundation won’t be going anywhere!

With concrete, hard materials can range from a few hundred dollars to a thousand, depending on your specific build. The key, though, is that you’re also paying thousands in labor because of the time-consuming nature of digging and pouring concrete.

With excavation, there’s also the expense of yard repair to factor in when the project is complete. This can be anywhere from negligible to significant.

Overall, installing piers is at least 20 percent more productive than digging, and many homeowners find piers end up being the same price or cheaper for a stronger, more reliable system.

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  • Cost wise, helical piers are typically slightly more than drilled shaft concrete piers.
  • Construction timing wise, helical piers can be installed and support loads immediately. Concrete piers require a minimum of 7 days to cure to 75% before any loads are supported by the pier.
  • Installation wise, concrete piers won’t work in very sandy soils and will require casing if groundwater is present and can’t be sufficiently pumped down prior to concrete placement. Neither sandy soils or groundwater affect installation of helical piers.

Helical Pier Advantages In Comparison With 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.
  • 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.

Helical piers Installation

Helical piers are installed via a reversible hydraulic drill motor that is attached to a small excavator for exterior applications or to a portable jib for interior work. 

It is best to get a helical pier contractor involved early in the process. They can advise you on sizing the suitable pier shafts and location selection and know how many you will need.

Getting a geotechnical survey done before committing to helical piers is ideal. That said, you may be able to skip this step for smaller projects like a deck build or when a pier contractor is familiar with the area’s soil conditions.

Make sure that the brackets supplied with the helical piers are compatible with your project. Otherwise, you might have to buy a brand new bracket to help support your structure.

Double-checking with your local building department is always a good idea too. This way, you can ensure that you’re meeting all code requirements. 

Usually, a sign of an appropriate helical pier contractor will provide an engineering stamp with the work. You may need this for approval from your local building department.

Make sure you’ve prepared ahead by checking for potential underground wires or pipes before you dig. Your helical pier contractor may do this, or they may ask you to do it ahead of install. Aside from electrical and gas lines, be aware of anything else that may be hiding underground. 

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.

Helical pier depth installation can vary from 10 feet (if shallow limestone is found) to 40 feet (in a heavily loaded pier). For example, a typical helical pier depth for a single-family foundation can be 18–25 feet.

Most of the embodied energy that goes into making helical piers stems from the harvesting and manufacturing process, and a bit in transportation. They’re typically made from steel and coated with zinc and require sources of high heat. One advantage is that waste from this manufacturing process is quite low and mostly from offcuts.

Influence Of The Duration Of The Project In The Helical Piers Cost

This depends on several key factors such as depth of installation, the hardness or stickiness of the soil, if the helical piers require an augured hole for concrete caps and the number of installing rigs used on the site. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is that a single installation rig can install up to 40 average helical piers per day.

Excavation Depth Required Influences The Helical Piers Cost

The deeper that piles require to be installed, the higher are the helical pier costs. But this is neither a decision of the homeowner nor of the service contractor.

Helical piers must be designed to provide adequate support based upon the design loads required. Required bearing depths can range drastically depending upon the design loads for the proposed structure as well as the soil profile encountered at the building site.

Influence Of The Weight To Support In The Helical Piers Cost

Helical piers can be designed to support any loads required. These options can include pier groups or arrays depending upon required support and available soil support.

However, if there are heavy loads to support, more helical piers will be needed and they might require to be excavated deeper. Therefore, the structural loads ti support will heavily influence the helical piers cost.

Piers are designed as part of the Foundation design completed by a Structural Engineer. The amount of required piers will range depending upon the size of the structure, the type of construction, number of stories, available soil support, and total building corners to name a few. For a lightly loaded structure approximately 2,000 square feet in footprint with good soil support beneath, you can typical anticipate about 50 piers, plus or minus 10.

Helical Piers Cost In Relation To The Benefits

  • Cost-effective compared to other solutions
  • No waiting for concrete to cure
  • Less susceptible to weather uncertainties
  • 4-5 times faster to install than concrete piers
  • Life expectancy of 150+ years.

Helical Piers Cost Is Lower Than Building Over A Concrete Slab?

In the long run a helical pier foundation will be cheaper. These products are meant to last a lifetime. When building on top of concrete there is a chance of settlement, sinking, and much more that can cause foundation failure. Doing the job right the first time is much more cost-effective.

DIY Helical Piers Cost

For smaller structures, like pergolas or even ground-level decks, DIY helical piers might work. You can find them at most local hardware stores for about $25 to $30 (non-standard brackets are extra). 

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 vs Push Piers

I have a complete study about the differences between helical piers and push piers in this article, that you can read here.

I insist that helical piers are the most effective and enduring answer for sinking foundations better than push piers as I explained here

Helical piers penetrate through loose to dense soils to produce load capacity. Load capacity can vary depending on the type of helical pier (thickness/length) and what the calculated load will be.

 A typical one-story house weighs roughly 1,000 pounds per linear foot around the perimeter of the home, for example.

Helical piers are screwed into the earth by hydraulic drive heads until they reach a competent soil level (unlike Push Piers which utilize the weight of your home to drive pipe down to a competent level). 

The drive heads are dependent on the load capacity required for each helical pier – the higher the capacity, the larger the drive head needed to achieve the required torque.    

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