The Cost of Underpinning – Push Piers vs Helical Piers

No one wants to be taken advantage of when it comes to cost – not you, not me, not Elon Musk. There’s nothing worse than feeling like a sucker.

The lack of transparency of cost creates a good deal of apprehension in the global marketplace. You (and the average consumer) want the price spelled out. After all, cost is not some great grand mystery. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Many companies in the foundation repair business are afraid to shoot straight when it comes to a crystal-clear explanation of cost. Not every contractor has your best interests in mind, it is best to be educated.    

It’s more difficult to mark up specific services and materials when the consumer has a firm understanding of the actual cost.  

Here at Dalinghaus Construction Inc., our foundation repair specialists pride themselves on being open, honest, and transparent – not only with the entire underpinning process but with our pricing system.  

We have over 100 years of combined foundation repair experience and have completed thousands of foundation repair projects. Our team is here to ensure that you never settle. Meaning, we want to empower you to make the best-educated decisions possible for you and yours by providing clear-cut costs. 

In this article, we will discuss the difference in price between underpinning with push piers and underpinning with helical piers, the bread, and butter of the foundation repair industry.

We will cover:

  •   Push Pier Underpinning Price
  •   Helical Pier Underpinning Price
  •   Why the Price Difference with the Underpinning Methods? 

By the end of this article, you will understand the current price of push piers and helical piers and why helical piers are generally a little more expensive.

Price of Underpinning with Push Piers 

 Push piers cost an average of $2,000 to $3,000 per pier location in SoCal and Arizona. How many pier locations you need exactly is determined by your foundation repair specialist depending on the weight of the home and scope of the damage. 

On average, push piers tend to cost less than helical piers due to their simpler installation method. Push piers only require one man to install. 

This range may prove even steeper depending on the state you live in, the general increase in steel prices, and the current transportation backlog floating off Long Beach. In short, supply shortages cause prices to soar. High demand and low availability always causes inflation. 

When it comes to push piers, what exactly are you paying for? Well, push piers are essentially underground stilts that help suspend your home above incompetent, non-load-bearing soil. Push piers work well for heavy single-story homes, second-story homes, and industrial projects.

It is quite the feat to push steel pipes down 20-30 feet. All the labor, material, and cost of running the hydraulic ram is encapsulated in the price per pier location. 

Fun Facts with Brian: Push piers rely primarily on skin friction to keep the homes supported. The pressure of the metal exerted against the soil provides stability and support. 

Some single-story homes are too light for push piers, as push piers utilize the weight of the home for their installation process. Just because push piers are cheaper doesn’t mean they work for every home. 

Helical piers are the better alternative for lighter structures, as they don’t rely on the home’s weight for installation. 

Your foundation repair specialist will be able to determine whether or not your single-story home is heavy enough for push pier installation. 

Push piers, although the cheaper option, don’t work for every home. 

Push piers can secure, stabilize, and lift a structure to maximum practical recovery.

Push piers are pretty incredible – tres cool. Below is a brief definition of a push pier and some generalized specs.   

What is a Push Pier? 

A Push Pier is a steel pipe utilized in foundation repair that is hydraulically driven into competent, load-bearing soil and anchored to a foundation’s prepped footing via a remedial bracket to secure, stabilize and/or lift the structure.

Push Piers are:

  •    Comprised of galvanized steel to impede rust/oxidization
  •    Constructed with a maximum load capacity of 68 thousand pounds
  •   In sizes ranging from 2-7/8”3.5” and 4.5” (and are measured by the diameter of the pipe)
  •   Generally pushed down to a depth of 25 to 30 feet 
  •   Comprised of three main components: Remedial BracketStarter, & Extensions.

To learn how push piers are installed, read our article The 5 Steps to Push Pier Foundation Repair. This article covers the entire installation process from your foundation repair inspection to enjoying your lifetime warranty. 

As mentioned above, push piers are not the best option for every project. To learn more about push pier constraints, check out What are Problems with Underpinning by Push Piers? (4 Potential Limitations).

Price of Underpinning with Helical Pier   

Helical piers cost an average of $2,000 to $3,000 per pier location in SoCal and Arizona. Helical piers, as mentioned above, do tend to be more expensive than push piers. 

Again, the prices here may range depending on your geographical location and the COVID-19 transportation upset. Availability, and therefore price, will range throughout the country. 

​​The world is in gridlock – thousands of containers are stuck off California’s coast, there aren’t enough truckers to get the product from A to B – inflation is touching scarce material. 

Be sure to ask for multiple bids in your area to cross-reference helical pier prices – you don’t want to be taken advantage of. 

Just like push piers, helical pier installation cost is based on all of the labor, material, and cost of running the hydraulic torque motor. The torque motor requires a minimum of two men to operate it for the installation. 

This increase in labor and time is the primary reason for the price bump when compared to push piers.  

Helical piers are also like underground stilts, except that they have helices to help provide more support and lock the piers into place. Think of push piers like nails and helical piers like screws.  

Helical piers can be installed at an angle, which is particularly helpful for retaining walls. Helical piers are perfect for lighter single-story homes as well as heavy second-story homes and industrial projects.

 Helical piers are utilized on the lighter homes where push piers are not a viable option.

Helical piers can secure, stabilize, and lift a structure to maximum practical recovery

To take a look under the hood, so to speak – to really appreciate what you’re paying for, here is a helical pier definition and some specs. Think of it like a helical pier baseball card. 

What is a Helical Pier?

A Helical Pier is a steel circular/square pipe (utilized in foundation repair) that is hydraulically driven to competent, load-bearing soil and anchored to a structure’s prepped footing via a remedial bracket to secure, stabilize, and/or lift a structure.

Helical Piers are:

  • Comprised of galvanized steel to impede rust or oxidization
  • Have a maximum load capacity of 74,000 pounds
  • Come in sizes ranging from 3′5′7‘, 10′ or 20′
  • Comprised of a leadextensions, & remedial bracket
  • Generally pushed down to depths of 25 to 30 feet

If you want an overview of the helical pier installation process (which will help provide technical knowledge and peace of mind about the procedure) read our post The 5 Steps to Helical Pier Installation

Helical piers might not work in your situation. To learn why helical piers might not be the best option for you, check out What are Problems with Underpinning by Helical Piers (4 Potential Limitations)

Why the Price Difference with the Underpinning Methods? 

At first glance, many consumers ask why the significant price difference – I mean, after all, push piers and helical piers are both steel pipes that are utilized to underpin a home.

In short, helical piers are more expensive due to their installation process. True, helical piers are specialized with their corkscrew ends, but the real difference is that it takes two men minimum to install. And, helical installation is a longer process than push pier installation. 

Push piers are installed via a hydraulic ram, the hydraulic press pushing off against the weight of the home. This is generally a solo operation – uno muchacho solomente.

Helical piers are installed via a hydraulic torque motor – not dependent on the weight of the home at all. This powerful motor is pinned to a torque bar which is secured (held down) by two production members.

To wrap up – helical piers are more expensive due to their specialized nature and their more in-depth and unique installation.

How do you know which option is best for you?

Push piers or helical piers – that is the question. How do you know which option is the best for you?  Every foundation repair project is unique and there’s really no way to determine which pier is best for you without consulting a professional for a foundation inspection. 

We know no one wants to be taken advantage of. We understand the apprehension. Hopefully, we were able to put your mind at ease with our clear-cut explanations of cost for push and helical piers.

In this article, you learned that push piers and helical piers cost between $2,000 to $3,000, with helical piers being on the higher end due to the additional manpower required for installation. 

To learn more about underpinning in general, check out our Ultimate Foundation Repair Guide.

Your time is valuable, and we respect that. If you choose Dalinghaus, you will receive a repair plan tailor-fit to meet your specific needs. 

We do foundation underpinning and retaining wall repair the right way. With over 100 years of combined experience and 4.9 stars out of over 300 reviews – we are here to ensure that you never settle

If you live in SoCal or Arizona and would like a FREE foundation inspection, click the link below –


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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