Everything About Piers

Ever wanted to know about piers?

The folks at Master Builders Association are experts when it comes to piers.


We all know that piers are bored and filled with concrete. We also know that they need to be taken to a suitable bearing and that they also rely on friction to hold the concrete slab.
In most contracts the length of the pier is unknown until it is bored. The deeper the pier the more it costs.

It’s only when we see subsidence in a house or cracks in the wall that we start to wonder whether the piers were taken to a “good bearing.” There is no time limit on when a failure might occur.

I recently inspected a house which had one corner subside after standing for nearly 35 years. I like everyone else wondered why it lasted for so long before it cracked.
Another house had all of the cornices in the Dining Room fall down after standing for 27 years.

As the late Professor Julius Sumner Miller used to say, “Why is it so?” I asked my (now retired) teacher and current judge for the Master Builders Excellence in Building Awards, Roy Lucas.

Roy explained that any thing that is subject to a force can resist it up to a point and after that it fails. Houses do move and the building fabric can resist to a degree but repeated forces the element can fail.

Back to the piers. Some builder’s feel that they are saving the client money by not ensuring that the boring machine should really grind away to ensure that the pier is founded as far as it can go into the foundation. If the house starts to subside and cracks develop you are on your own.

We all know the time frames for home warranty (notice I did not say “insurance”) but if the builder is not dead, disappeared or bankrupt the builder is in the sights of the person with the faulty home.

This is where the costs start to become involved. The Home Owner has to show that they have suffered a loss and then who caused the loss. The builder has to show that they did not suffer a loss or if they did it is not as much as they are claiming.

The moral of the storey, when boring piers:
1. Bore them as far as they can go.
2. Have the engineer check and sign off, even if you have to pay for it as it is insurance for the builder.
3. Don’t worry about trying to save money on this type of provisional cost.

Need more information on piers or become a licensed builder or even how to obtain a builders license then visit Master Builders Association

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