Presentation on theme: "Pier and Beam Construction. Potential problems: Water must not be allowed to stand for long underneath the house If soil underneath is heavily clay based."— Presentation transcript:
Pier and Beam Construction
Potential problems: Water must not be allowed to stand for long underneath the house If soil underneath is heavily clay based it will crack and pull away from the foundation during dry periods, when it rains again these cracks quickly flood and lead to erosion around the piers. This can be prevented by placing soaker hoses around the foundation and watering two or three times per week. Soil must be sloped away from house. Provides a breeding ground for pests, and trash can accumulate under buildings. Differential settling of piers can cause major structural damage over time (this issue is present with all types of foundation)
Roadblocks in Houston for pier and beam construction: Cost, more than the average slab on grade Public perception, thought of as “low rent”, issue is not really thought of as a problem so there is no desire for change. Policy, no government incentive to build in this manner Design professionals not united in their support of this method Issues with ADA.
Benefits: Lifts house off the ground, providing an extra barrier to potential pests. Allows flood waters to pass underneath without drastic damage to the foundation and house. Allows natural breezes to flow through the house and porch area.
How to change the image of pier and beam houses in Houston: Several articles on the internet have referenced historic pier and beam houses that have great sentimental value for those who have lived in them. This historical importance can be emphasized. To brand this concept as an “antique” building style can go a long way towards selling the middle and upper classes on this form of building. The opposite approach could also be taken. If good design is used for several flagship pier and beam developments around the city that are sleek and modern, it will be possible to brand this as the advanced, new way of building. Show graphically the visual comparison of a 2’ slab on grade and a pier and beam foundation to show that the difference is not insurmountable.
Utilize space underneath building: This can be done creating usable spaces underneath the building. Some of the spaces that are less necessary to the building’s function can be located in this area with the ability to block them off during flooding. This area can be designed with materials and planning to allow it to flood without permanent damage to the structure itself, or the function of the building.
Create integrated outdoor spaces: The piers can be raised and the ground underneath the slab excavated to form outdoor spaces for the building’s occupants. These recessed areas can also serve as retention/detention areas in extreme cases of flooding.
Embrace the pier and beam construction: This method is more suited for larger projects. It can be especially useful along the bayous where there is greater elevation changes on site. By embracing these piers and exaggerating their scale. This creates opportunities for public spaces underneath the building. There is an opportunity to provide public amenities such as exercise paths, meditation spaces, and permanent booths for community activities. All of these can be built in such a way that they can easily flood.
Embrace the pier and beam construction cont.: One way to change the perception of the pier and beam foundation is to use good design principles and incorporate the system into the rest of the building. Encouraging professional designers to use this system will lead to exceptional buildings that will encourage more construction using this method.