How Much Do Helical Piers Cost?

Helical piers provide foundational support and can be leveraged for a multitude of structures and applications. They can be used in both a residential and commercial capacity, offering load support through tension or compression, which is applied via a steel shaft fitted with one or more circular plates. The name was originally derived from the physical design of the piles, which resemble a helix. Helical piers are commonly added to existing foundations to bolster support when there is structural damage, or when the infrastructure is built on unstable soil.

When it comes to determining the cost of helical piers, it’s important to take several factors into consideration. In order to procure the most accurate estimate, you’ll need to call on the expertise of an experienced installer who will factor in the following criteria. 

 

How Much Do Helical Piers Cost?

When pricing out the cost of helical piers, a number of variables, such as soil conditions, the size of the structure, its design, and the overall weight, will have an impact on the final price. The method of installation is also a common determinant of cost. While the dimensions of the affected area and the severity of the settling are incredibly significant in calculating the price, most circumstances require more than a single pier

helical pier costDuring the installation process, piers will be positioned on the outside of the foundation, approximately every 5 to 7 feet along the impacted area. If the area surrounding the settling wall is fairly clear of any obstructions, the machines can be used during the excavation process. This installation method requires less manual labor and can be executed in a relatively quick manner. When dug by machine, you can expect an estimated cost of $1,100 to $1,500 per pier. 

If the surrounding area contains a driveway, deck, or similar structures, the settling wall is harder to access, and the piers will be dug manually. This process comes with a higher expense and a longer time-till-completion. The price range for piers dug by hand is typically between $1,200 and $1,600 each. 

 

What Are the Factors to Determine the Cost of Helical Piers? 

Location of the Project Site

Geographic location is one of the elements that directly affect the cost. From a high-level perspective, the Northwest and Mid-Atlantic states tend to come with more expensive pricing. Project sites located in the Midwest and Plains states are on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to cost. 

 

Type of Project Site 

It should come as no surprise that the type of project site you’re working with will also determine the cost of the helical piers. Universally, remedial projects carry a higher price point that new construction that requires pile work. In some instances, the cost of helical piers for new construction projects can be almost half the price of projects that call for repair work. 

 

Soil Condition and Composition

When it comes to selecting the size, design, number, and depth of the piers needed to complete a project, the soil condition will be taken into consideration. Liquefaction, density, and buckling of the bearing layer, as well as the density of the upper fill layers, will play a huge role in determining the type of pile needed and the projected cost of the job. If you are located in an area where the soil is softer, contains a significant number of organics, or your project is taking place in an area with a naturally high water table, there will be additional costs factored into the overall price. 

 

Types of Helical Piers

The cost of helical piers will vary when size, style, and diameter are taken into consideration. There are two types of helical piers – ones with round shafts and ones with square shafts.

Round piles are typically seen in:

cost of helical piers

  • 2 7/8”
  • 3.5”
  • 4.5”
  • 5.5”
  • 6.5”
  • 8”
  • 10”, and higher

While square piles are usually:

  • 1.5”
  • 1.75”
  • 2”
  • 2.25” and up

Round shafts work well when there’s a need to maintain lateral stability and deal with compression forces. Square shafts, on the other hand, are better suited for areas with tension forces as they have greater yield and tensile strength. You can expect to see a higher price tag associated with helical piers that have bigger diameters. 

 

The Number of Helical Piers Needed

It’s highly likely that your project will require more than one pile. That number is determined and influenced by several factors, including support requirements, loading requirements, structure type, and any building codes applicable to the project. Because helical piers are available in different sizes and price points, two hundred piles in one specific size and wind up costing less than one hundred in another. 

 

The Depth of Installation

Cost is also influenced by the depth of the pile installation, as it requires more material and time when installing foundations at a deeper, more secure level. Many instances call for anchoring to be drilled deep into a layer where more competent soil lives. Required bearing depths can range drastically depending on the specific design loads needed for the proposed structure.  

For instance, installing a pier 40’ deep will increase the material cost of the project compared to a job that only requires a depth of 20’. The greater the depth, the more pile extensions needed, which are affixed to the main shaft. With longer piers, drill teams will also need to be on-site for a longer period, impacting the overall cost

 

The Bottom Line

As with the majority of construction projects, bids serve as an estimated cost, as unforeseen developments may occur. When you partner with an experienced team of experts to guide you through the process – and have the right product on hand – you’ll not only reap numerous benefits, but you can ensure the work is completed in a quick, cost-effective, and innovative manner. 

 

Remember, when determining the cost of helical piers, there are several factors that are taken into consideration: the type of job (repair or new construction), the style, the location, the depth of the pile installations, the number of piers needed, and the type of soil on site. The best way to map out your project is to request an accurate estimate from your vendor to ensure you make an optimal choice.

What are Helical Piers? A Look at the Purpose of Them for Commercial & Residential Structures

Whether you’re in commercial construction, an architect, or a homeowner, you know that building any kind of structure requires a strong and stable foundation. Think about when you’re driving or walking across a bridge. If you see chips in the concrete or an exposed rebar, you begin wondering about the structural integrity of the bridge. Is it safe? A common and effective solution for ensuring the strength and stability of a residential or commercial structure is the use of helical piles

 

What Are Helical Piers and Helical Piles?

If you’ve conducted any research, you may have come across two competing terms – helical piers and helical piles. So, what’s the difference? The truth is the two terms are interchangeable and refer to the exact, same product. They both refer to deep foundational elements that leverage compression or tension to transfer/resist vertical and horizontal loads. 

Helical piles, also referred to as screw anchors, screw piers, screw piles, helical piers, helical anchors, helical screw piles, and screw foundations are embedded deep underground during the installation process in order to distribute the massive weight that rests on top of them.

how do helical piers work

The only difference between these two key terms is the size and materials used. Helical piles are commonly made of concrete, long steel, or wood while piers include materials like concrete/masonry. In order to reach their intended carrying capacity, end-bearing piles are placed in rock or dense soil. They can also shoulder the load via the friction created between the surface of the pile and the soil that surrounds it.

Often, piers/piles will leverage cement grout to elevate the surface friction with the soil. Once installed and positioned correctly, helical piers/piles can either be attached to an existing foundation or utilized for new construction. 

 

What is The Purpose of Helical Piles?

Helical piles/piers resemble hollow steel tubes and are an effective way to stabilize structures of all types and sizes. By anchoring the weight of the loan to the surrounding ground, like a driven pile, these products provide unparalleled foundational support. In order to work adequately, they are installed deep into the ground – sometimes even section by section for optimal functionality.

Helical piers are highly effective when dealing with challenging soil conditions. They’re also used in a variety of applications – from repairing weak foundations to building new structures to stabilizing existing foundations that will be taking on heavier loads. When it comes to the restoration process, piles can be used on a wide spectrum of structures, such as bridges, docks, or railroads that reside on a harbor, wetlands, or areas with weak soil. 

 

How do Helical Piles and Helical Piers Work?

The screw piles are installed directly into the soil. Load capacity is predetermined before beginning installation, in order to calculate where they should be positioned. For example, you’ll want to space them at the right intervals to ensure they are equally sharing the weight of the structure on top. 

Creating a solid foundation is paramount. Trains, for example, can be derailed if their tracks settle from softened, oversaturated, or weakened soil. Just a few inches is all it takes to throw a structure out of alignment. 

During the installation process, a Hydraulic drill motor is attached to an excavator, screwing the piles/piers into the ground at varying depths. Generally speaking, these are installed between ten and thirty feet below the ground’s surface. The depth is ultimately determined by the size, shape, and build of the structure. If they don’t meet the required torque, for example, they will be screwed deeper into the earth for maximal support. 

What Are They Made of and How Long Do They Last?

In order to prevent rusting, helical piers are made of galvanized steel and concrete. They will always vary in size, style, and diameter based on the structure that’s being built or repaired. When it comes to their shape, you can expect to see two types of helical piers – ones with square shafts and ones with round shafts. Square shafts are the preferred choice for areas with tension forces due to their tensile strength and greater yield. Square piles are typically sized 1.5”, 1.75”, 2”, 2.25” and up while round piles come in 2 7/8”, 3.5”, 4.5”, 5.5”, 6.5”, 8”, 10”, and higher. Round shafts are effective for construction projects that require strong lateral stability and will be exposed to compression forces. The bigger the diameter, the more you can expect cost-wise for these helical piers.  

Generally, piles are expected to last around one hundred and fifty years. Their lifespans may be longer or shorter – it all depends on the surrounding soil conditions. 

 

Foundations created or repaired with helical piers and piles are an effective way to ensure the foundation is adequately reinforced. Not only are they an economical solution, but they’re relatively quick to install and provide a tremendous amount of strength and stability for various structures. They’re especially handy when it comes to reinforcing a foundation that requires repairs. Whether they’re being used in a residential or commercial capacity, their long life spans and proven efficacy make them a popular choice to use when doing construction projects. 

COMAL COUNTY AND YATES-SUNDT CONSTRUCTION SELECT TELLA FIRMA FOUNDATIONS FOR NEW COMAL COUNTY JAIL

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Innovative foundation technology will save nearly $1 million in direct and indirect construction costs for Comal County Taxpayers

(NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS—May 21, 2018) Comal County, Texas, and the Yates-Sundt joint venture announced today they have chosen Tella Firma Foundations, a Dallas-based construction-technology company, to provide an innovative foundation design for the new Comal County Jail, currently under construction.

This foundation solution, chosen through a competitive bidding process, will save the county and its taxpayers nearly $1 million in direct and indirect construction costs.

“We selected Tella Firma not only because we knew they would deliver a high-quality foundation,” said Randy Powell, Senior Vice President of Yates Construction, “but also based on the cost savings and time savings they demonstrated they would bring to the project.”

The building site for the new jail requires a foundation design that can withstand significant vertical soil movement of up to 6.25 inches because of active clay soils that expand and contract in response to changes in moisture. Tella Firma’s solution, which incorporates steel helical piers and steel lifting mechanisms to elevate the concrete slab, creates a 10-inch under-slab void space. The void space is over 1.5 times the potential vertical rise of the underlying soil, allowing for expansion of soils under the slab without damage to the foundation.

“We encouraged our general contractor and A/E partners to consider various opportunities for cost savings throughout the project, including the Tella Firma solution,” said James A. Broaddus, Ph.D., P.E., project manager of Broaddus and Associates. “We’re excited to bring this type of innovative technology to the Comal County Jail.”

“Tella Firma’s innovative design is based on using steel piers placed closer together with a thinner slab, resulting in cost savings by using substantially less concrete in the slab and eliminating the use of expensive concrete piers and other materials”, said Jim Fontaine, the company’s CEO.

The Tella Firma design provides the same level of structural integrity and reliability as traditional foundation design, but at a substantially reduced cost. In addition, the Tella Firma foundation can be installed in less time than traditional methods, creating further cost savings.

The system has been used by dozens of builders, with more than 1,200 foundations installed in commercial and residential projects, and is backed by seven issued patents. This solution is an environmentally friendly installation process that avoids the need for any type of chemical or water injection into the soil as part of construction.

“As with all phases of this project, the county aims to deliver a strong return on taxpayers’ investment,” said Tom Hornseth, Comal County engineer. “At the end of the day, we feel the Tella Firma foundation will represent the best value for our community.”

About Yates Construction
Yates Construction is one of the nation’s largest privately held construction companies providing general construction, at-risk construction management, design-build, preconstruction and specialized turnkey services from 16 offices throughout eight states in the U.S., including two Texas offices in San Antonio and Fort Worth. Founded in 1964, Yates is ranked among the top construction services providers in the country by Engineering News Record, with its highest ranking of No. 6 in “Correctional Facilities.” www.wgyates.com

About Sundt Construction
Sundt Construction Inc. is one of the country’s largest and most respected general contractors, with 11 offices in Texas, Arizona, California and Utah. Known for its commitment to quality and its innovative approach to construction services, Sundt was named the nation’s safest construction company by the Associated General Contractors of America in 2016. Over the past three decades, Sundt has constructed more than 100,000 detention beds in various custody levels. www.sundt.com

About the Yates-Sundt Joint Venture
Building on the success of their established joint venture on a previous project, Yates-Sundt again joined forces for the express purpose of constructing the Comal County Jail and renovating the Sheriff’s Office. Over the past 10 years, Yates and Sundt, collectively have completed more than $1.5 billion in justice and law-enforcement-center projects throughout the U.S.; 16 of those projects were with HDR, the architect on the Comal County project, and three with Broaddus & Associates, Comal County’s project manager.

About Tella Firma Foundations
Dallas-based Tella Firma is a construction-technology firm that is revolutionizing the way foundations are built. Tella Firma gets its name from the Latin words meaning “strong home.” Foundations with the company’s product have been installed in residential and light commercial projects in Texas and Colorado, and the company continues to expand into new markets throughout the region. For additional information, visit tellafirma.com.

TELLA FIRMA NAMES JIM ROACH AND TIM LOONEY TO ITS ADVISORY BOARD AS IT EXPANDS INTO COMMERCIAL MARKET

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Tella Firma Foundations Names Jim Roach and Tim Looney to its Advisory Board as it Expands into Commercial Market

(DALLAS—March 19, 2018) Tella Firma Foundations, a construction-tech company, today announced that it has added two new Advisory Board members – Jim Roach and Tim Looney. An Advisory Board member acts as strategic advisor and sounding board for the company, supporting its mission to revolutionize the foundation industry.

“Our goal is to form a group of world-class advisors who will provide sound advice while guiding and challenging our thinking as we pursue our strategy for growth,” Fontaine said. “Both Jim and Tim bring a solid business background and specific industry expertise that will benefit Tella Firma as it expands into commercial markets. We are very pleased they have agreed to lend their talents to the company.”

Jim Roach brings 44 years of experience in the commercial construction markets in his role as Commercial Advisor.  He currently works for Tribble & Stephens Construction in Houston, serving as manager of preconstruction activities (bidding through design phase) for the company’s commercial retail, office, mid- and high-rise residential, lodging and hospitality, and warehouse design-and-build projects throughout the region. His prior experience includes serving as vice president in charge of estimation for Jordan Foster, a large commercial construction company. Roach is a retired licensed structural engineer with a civil engineering degree from Clemson University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tim Looney brings over 40 years of experience including executive management of the design and manufacture of ruggedized precision products. He is currently president of TWL Group, a private investment firm with holdings in real estate, healthcare, financial services, social media, and operations/services companies. Prior to founding his current business in 2006, Looney was co-founder of Optex Systems Inc., a defense contractor that produced sighting systems for the U.S. military, which are used in various applications such as Abrams M1 tanks, Stryker armored combat vehicles, and Assault Amphibious Vehicles. He completed the sale of Optex to Pequot Capital in 2006. Looney has served on multiple private, public and non-profit boards during the past 30 years, and currently serves as a director for Vital Art and Science, a medical software company, and Encore Propane, a commercial propane service provider. He served with Fontaine as co-chair of the North Texas Angel Network in 2012.

The Tella Firma foundation system has been used by dozens of builders, with more than 1,200 foundations installed in commercial and residential projects, and is backed by seven issued patents. Tella Firma foundations are designed to protect a building’s foundation from damaging active soil movement with a field-tested process of elevating a slab-on-grade foundation using piers, creating a protective void between the ground and the foundation itself. This application isolates the slab from active soils and guards it from unexpected movement. Tella Firma’s solution is an environmentally friendly, green installation process that avoids the need for any type of chemical or water injection into the soil as part of construction.

About Tella Firma Foundations
Dallas-based Tella Firma is a construction technology firm that is revolutionizing the way foundations are built. Tella Firma gets its name from the Latin words meaning “strong home.” Foundations with the company’s product have been installed in residential and light commercial projects in Texas and Colorado, and the company continues to expand into new markets throughout the region. For additional information, visit tellafirma.com.

INNOVATIVE FOUNDATION SOLUTION SERVES A DUAL PURPOSE FOR MIXED-CONSTRUCTION KINGDOM LIFE CHRISTIAN CENTER IN FRISCO

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FORM studios Architecture planned the building as a mixed-type construction project, with one-half of the building constructed with wood for a one-story classroom built on a slab foundation, and the other half a taller steel structure with columns to support a wide-open area for the sanctuary. Each side would need a different treatment for the foundation to deliver the proper support.   

The building site presented additional challenges. Geotechnical reports indicated the site contained very expansive soils with a high PVR (potential vertical rise), and the original plan was to use water and chemical injections with a pier-and-beam foundation to ensure stability. Yet the builder encountered a significant amount of water underground when the drilling began, indicating another approach would be necessary.

According to Jason Presley of FORM studios, the firm had worked with the same contractor when building the Spanish House Immersion School in Dallas the year before, and had success working with the Tella Firma Foundations solution, which elevates the foundation off the ground and away from the expansive soils. This time, Tella Firma helped create a hybrid approach for the Kingdom Life Christian Center, with lifting piers supporting the slab under the classroom and sanctuary sides of the structure, and non-lifting, cased piers supporting the steel columns only in the sanctuary. The team designed a pour strip in between the two sections of the building, and metal stud infill was utilized around the columns. The two sides of the foundation were lifted at different times.    

Mr. Presley said the hybrid solution required a little more planning and preparation at the outset, but was well worth the effort in terms of saving money on construction. Beyond the savings realized based on the projected cost of a pier-and-beam foundation, the originally planned remediation of the soil would have increased both the time and cost of the project overall.

According to Mr. Presley, one of the most important considerations for this job was to have a good engineer who could assume responsibility for the design of the foundation around the steel grid. And the outcome demonstrates the benefit of looking at both sides of the equation.

NEW SCHOOL BUILDING GETS AN “A” FOR FOUNDATION

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Innovative Foundation Solution Receives Good Marks at Spanish House Immersion School

Tella_Firma_School

The new Spanish House Immersion School in Dallas gets an “A” for design and functionality, but the site it’s built on almost received a failing grade before construction began. “It was one of the most complex type of building sites you could have,” says Richard Atchison, whose firm, FORM studios Architecture, completed the new building for the elementary school after utilizing an innovative solution from Tella Firma to build a solid foundation on unsolid ground.

When FORM studios began planning for the new school near White Rock Lake in Dallas, it found the building site less than ideal for a standard foundation on piers. The site was located in a former flood plain, near a park and golf course, and featured the deep clay soil that is typical of neighborhoods in and around East Dallas. To make matters worse, the low lying elevation required 8 feet of land fill to elevate the building pad above flood plain levels before foundation work could begin.

The construction team was worried about potential soil movement that might cause a traditional foundation to become unstable and fail over time. Soil remediation was one option, which would require a 10-12 foot excavation before layering in new soil and non-expansive fill to prevent further expansion, but this method would add $3-5 per square foot and add more than a month to the construction schedule. Water or chemical injection was not an option for this site because of the high water table and environmental concerns. 

The potential vertical rise (PVR) of the soil suggested that a suspended foundation and pier solution were required. In addition, the high water table meant the drillers would probably hit water as they installed the piers. Seeking a more affordable solution that wouldn’t require the additional expense of remediation, the team first considered bell piers to avoid the water table, and also considered a slab-on-void box foundation, which would cost between $25-30 per square foot.

Then the team learned about Tella Firma Foundations from TEXCON concrete contractors, which had experience installing more than 100 foundations utilizing the Tella Firma process in residential construction. Tella Firma uses a field-tested, patented process to elevate a slab-on-grade foundation using piers, to create a protective void between the ground and the foundation itself. Tella Firma’s solution for the Spanish House school would include an 8-inch raised foundation that isolates the slab from active soils and guards it from unexpected movement.

The Tella Firma suspended solution works well when high PVR and settlement are present on a site, which was the case for the Spanish House school. The elevator in the building still required a slab-on-void box foundation on four piers to support the additional weight, with an 8-inch void to match the Tella Firma foundation, which was lifted around the elevator pit. The foundation also was designed to support and counterbalance a scissor-lift platform used during construction and the installation of plumbing and other components.

The project was completed on time and on budget during a 7-month construction schedule, ready to open for the new school year in August 2016. Atchison said he was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the building’s foundation, and noted that FORM studios would have been unable to complete the project on budget otherwise. In total, the Tella Firma solution saved the builder close to $100,000, and the school was able to consider additional design features based on this savings.

FORM studios is now working with Tella Firma on The Kingdom Life Church project in Frisco,  Texas, and Atchison says the excellent report card from the Spanish House Immersion School means his firm will definitely work with Tella Firma on other projects.