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  1. #1
    Terry Beck's Avatar
    Terry Beck is online now Member
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    Default Code for pier (or post) & beam?

    Maybe I've been spending too much time in rural areas where anything goes. Or maybe its just been so slow compared to most years that my brain cells have rusted from lack of use.

    Are pier (or post) & beam foundations allowed by most municipal jurisdictions?
    The house in question is actually a typical split level basement/crawl, but the prior owner added two rooms to the rear, all built on post & beam, not a contunual footer. Looks structurally sound, assuming the concrete piers go to frost level. Nothing special or odd about the soil conditions here, no flood zone, etc. Beams are tied down to concrete piers, floor joists above that. I have concerns about protecting the sub floor structure and insulation from pests, moisture, ect (the underside has a plastic vapor barrier). No plumbing.

    But having trouble finding code that applies to what I call post and beam. IRC 2006 R403.1 says,
    "General. All exterior walls shall be supported on continuous
    solid or fully grouted masonry or concrete footings,
    wood foundations, or other approved structural systems which
    shall be of sufficient design to accommodate all loads according
    to Section R301 and to transmit the resulting loads to the
    soil within the limitations as determined from the character of
    the soil."

    "continous footings" seems to rule out pier and beam, unless that is covered under the catch phrase "or other approved structural system". Maybe its just a problem of terminology. I will call the city building dept in the morning, but they tend to extremely slow in responding.

    Any help or guidelines are appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Terry Beck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Code for pier (or post) & beam?

    Oh, another question - this isn't pertinent to building code or inspections, but would a buyer have trouble getting financing for a home with this type of addition? How about FHA?

  3. #3
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Code for pier (or post) & beam?

    (bold and underlining is mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    But having trouble finding code that applies to what I call post and beam. IRC 2006 R403.1 says,
    "General. All exterior walls shall be supported on continuous
    solid or fully grouted masonry or concrete footings,
    wood foundations, or other approved structural systems which
    shall be of sufficient design to accommodate all loads according
    to Section R301 and to transmit the resulting loads to the
    soil within the limitations as determined from the character of
    the soil."

    Seems as though that would include what you are describing, provided "ALL" loads according to R301 are addressed.
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    Terry Beck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Code for pier (or post) & beam?

    Just in case anyone was interested, here is some follow up.
    Had trouble finding what I wanted in IRC, it focuses on 'normal' continuous foundations. Talked to local city inspector. The essential concerns for this pier and beam foundation for the additions would need to include:
    1. concrete piers would need to be at least 3 ft deep,
    2. the supporting foundation structure should reach a height of 18 inches above grade,
    3. the underside of the structure should be protected by some sort of soffit like material - pressure treated plywood for example,
    4. be insulated to a minimum of R-19,
    5. plus, there would have to be engineering approval in general for several factors including how the addition is attached to the original structure.
    And then of course, inspections for electrical, plumbing, etc etc.

    Of course, it is interesting to note that we probably see lot of old home built before or shortly after 1900 that has additions that come nowhere near these standards, and have been bought and sold and lived in for 50-100 years. Though, most of those the exteror siding extended to the ground, hiding the sins of the foundation.

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