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Help with design

1048 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  JWhite2013
I am trying to figure the best possible and cheapest foundation options for a workshop. I plan on building a 16' X 24' workshop and with 5 kids (two on their way to college) i am trying to stretch out my limited cash flow. I was thinking of building this on a pier type foundation, sort of like how a deck is built, but wanted some feedback before I started digging holes. To my understanding this type, even though not easier, is cheaper than pouring a concrete slab. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I should also mention that I live in Maryland so I am not exactly sure what the frost line is and the size of building does not require me to get a permit as long as it is under 400 sq. ft.

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· Civil Engineer
5,832 Posts
Even though you do not need a permit, you still need a basis of design for the workshop. The basis would allow you to decide the load rating you need to achieve for the floor and roof, which would allow you to space the piers correctly, and size the beams you will need to span between the piers. With no basis of design, you are going to be guessing at critical details like roof design, foundation design etc. So you may want to get a copy of the code book, and build to code anyway. Makes life easier.

The tradeoff for a pier and beam structure versus a cast in place foundation is that you need relatively large beams to span between the piers. Usually this is cost effective, depends on the design loading of the structure. However, if you wanted a concrete floor anyway, you may not save much money with pier and beam, you need to work out the design, and cost up the options.

The other issue with pier and beam is that if you live in a hurricane prone area, say near the coast, you need to make sure your foundation is adequately attached to the piers, else your workshop is prone to blowing away in a storm. This adds some cost to the project, needs to be figured in. You may want to purchase a book on design of workshops, there are a number of them out there. They can guide you through the design process, and should discuss foundation options, which would include cast in place concrete walls, turned down slabs, pier and beam, wooden foundation, crushed stone foundation, and direct burial posts, each of which have different advantages and costs.

· Registered
1 Posts
Help With Structural and Foundation Plans

The frost depth in Maryland is pretty shallow, roughly 24" below grade.

Daniel is correct, there are potentially a lot of issues to consider in order to achieve a safe design (though an unsafe design may work for a little while...)

I am a licensed structural engineer (in PA). If you send me your plans, I can help you work out your foundations and structure.

StructuralPedia Foundations
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