How to level pier block foundation?


Old 11-15-05, 02:26 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Los Angeles County, California
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How to level pier block foundation?

I'm building a 12x10 gambrel roof shed and for the foundation I'm using 9 10" pier blocks set directly on the ground. I'm just starting to set out the pier blocks and realizing that I'm not sure how best to level each one. Should I be tamping down and adjusting the soil under each one (the first one is at the highest corner), or is it easier to lay down an inch of gravel under the block(s) and add/subtract gravel to adjust the level. Or should I not worry too much about the individual block(s) and use wood shims on top of the block to get the beams (4x6) level. If wood shims, what size and kind of wood is best. This is my first project and I haven't found this information in the books I've been reading.

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Old 11-15-05, 09:33 PM
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Not sure how much drop you are dealing with, but it would probably be best if you tried to use a flat shovel to skim off JUST ENOUGH dirt so that your piers sit level. Try not to disturb the ground, because you want the ground to stay packed. If you accidentally dig a little too deep, or need to adjust the pier a little, you can add some fine sand (or gravel) and tamp it with the pier before setting it in place. But don't expect a mountain of gravel to stay in place underneath a pier. The bottom of the pier needs to be at grade or below.

Set the 4 corners first, and get them level. Also make sure they are the right distance apart in both directions and that they are "square" with one another. (when you measure the 4 piers diagonally, from one corner of the shed to the other, the two sets of diagonal measurements should be the same.) Use a long straight 2x6 to set your level on, if you need to. Then the other 5 will be easy to set- make a straight line. If the first pier is at the highest point, you'll probably need to dig it down quite a bit. Just keep the top of the cement above grade. Or you might realize that you'd be better off removing some soil from that high area and distributing it somewhere else.
Old 11-16-05, 10:22 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
Posts: 9,238
Dig a footing that's about 16" square and 8" to 12" deep. Fill it with concrete and set your pier block in the wet mud, making sure that the wood pad is level. Once the concrete has cured for a day or two, then use POSTS from the pier block to the girder under the floor of your shed. You do it that way, and nothing is going to move. (That's the way my house was built 50 years ago, and all of the floors are still level. That's the way I have built 85 or 90 decks, and they are all still level. (If frost is an issue, the depth of the footing has to be increased so that it's at LEAST 6" below the frost line.)

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