How do I safely raise and level my pier and beam foundation?

Jacob Schult
by Jacob Schult
I recently purchased a 1940s home pier and beam foundation, that I knew had some sagging just due to the age of the home and the fact that it's located in the pacific northwest. I had a foundation specialist come out to get some insight/bid on what needed to be done to level the floors and found that they suggested adding their "Push Piers" all around the exterior cement block as well as their smart jacks under the beams of the floor to lift everything at once. The total bid was over $20k so I was a little taken aback.

My question is if I decide to use a good amount of screw jacks (probably about 10) under the floor beams to raise the floor can I get away with not also raising the exterior concrete foundation? Most of the sagging was about 3" but there is one point in the home that is near 5".

I attached the layout of the suggested placement of everything from the foundation specialist. The PP stands for push piers (around the exterior) and SJ is the smart jacks. Any insight would be very appreciated! Thanks!

  5 answers
  • Sharon Sharon on May 01, 2018

    This is a typical problem in the PNW, due to our wet climate and soil movement. I would get two more quotes, and go with a pro, IMHO its not a DIY job for a homeowner

  • Archie Archie on May 02, 2018

    I don't think this is a really hard job but you will need some help. To do it right you need to dig real foundations for the new pillars and not just sit them on the ground or you will have to do it again. Use concrete pads or bricks not concrete blocks. I would prefer pouring concrete pillars.

    I have helped with one of these projects and things worked out really well with not a lot of serious issues.

    It can be dangerous so be careful.

    • See 1 previous
    • Archie Archie on May 03, 2018

      The concrete should be poured over packed dirt, not rock. I have never seen pillars poured over rock of any kind.

      Are you planning to leave the screw jacks? If not they will have to have something else to sit on while jacking because the house will sit on the pillars. You also need something to shim between the pillar and the sill plates and I would use metal of some kind to stop the termites.

  • 27524803 27524803 on May 02, 2018 or can put you in touch with a structural engineer and or a contractor to do the job correctly.... also.... once you start to change anything having to do with your foundation..... you WILL have to comply with current building codes.... contact your state and local building departments to find out those requirements.

  • Jlnatty Jlnatty on May 09, 2018

    My best advice to you is that unless you have some experience doing this kind of work, don't attempt it yourself. Get more quotes -- that $20K sounds like a lot more work than what you need. If you had a home inspection prior to purchasing the home, what did your home inspector recommend you do? Using jacks to shore up a foundation does not sound like a permanent solution to me, it sounds like something a fly-by-night janky contractor would try to pawn off on you. I think it is good advice to hire a certified structural engineer to give you an unbiased opinion as to what works best, and go from there.