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Thread: Deck piers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Herndon VA

    Deck piers

    I'm working on my deck rebuild. The last one had lots of issues with rotting etc.

    In my plans, I have to have a set of foundation piers that are less than 5 feet from the house foundation. Unfortunately, my county code requires that I dig the piers to be at the elevation of the house foundation. That means I'll be going down to 6.5 - 7 feet!

    I'm not sure why this is the requirement given that anything greater than 5' from the house can be at the frost line (~24").

    I'm meeting with the county review office tomorrow to see if there are alternatives so I don't have to go so deep.

    If I do have to go 6.5 - 7 feet deep, I'm looking at using a Toro Dingo (mini Bobcat) with a 7' auger bit. This should be fun!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Mike...this puzzles me too. I'm by no means a pro, but I would think that a deck pier wouldn't need to be that stout!
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Herndon VA
    I guess I'm puzzled by the fact that if I'm over 5' from the house then 24" is good enough. I don't see the logic behind having to go all the way to the foundation.

    Hopefully tomorrow will be productive. The reviewer I've talked with on the phone seems pretty easy to deal with so maybe he can provide alternatives.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Long Hill Township, NJ
    Good luck with your questioning of the official. The 5" rule could be because it's likely that the earth within 5 feet of new houses normally gets excavated for the foundation and regraded. If they mandate that it go to the footing depth of the basement they can hope for non-excavated/filled earth. It's easier to have a blanket rule that make it on a case by case basis. Of course if they give waivers then it's still case by case.

    I used a Bobcat with an auger to drill the piers for my deck. The gotcha is that the auger bit moves in closer as you rotate the main arm down. I was having trouble getting them lined up properly. By the 4th and final hole I had 4 tubes in place that you couldn't stretch a string line across and hit all 4. I was a little bit steamed at myself. And I was having trouble getting the auger to "nibble" away at the side of a hole to make it line up.

    Now I regret not taking a picture of them before I fixed them with a backhoe.

    Good luck


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Herndon VA
    Bad news..... I met with the county. The reason why they have to be at the dept of the foundation footing is due to loads being placed on the foundation walls. Apparently, they have found that anything closer than 5 feet puts undo stress on the foundation wall. I'm not sure where that came from. It seems to me that since the load would radiate at about 45 degrees that it would be a realtive distance to depth calculation not a fixed rate.

    So I'm looking into having a pro come in and installing the footers.

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