By Steve Gencorelli
This question gets asked two to three times a day! The mystery behind this question makes helical piles seem expensive. Human nature is to fear the unknown. And this, in-turn, becomes a threat to engineers trying to design projects. Well, look no further: the answer is here! Dr. Dre said it best, “Sit back, relax, and strap on your seatbelt. You never been on a ride like this befo’…”
The reason we do not hand out a pricing sheet is because it is not in your favor, economically. Many times, we are comparing deep foundation systems to find the most economical. Unfortunately, when pricing helical piles, there is not a cookie cutter price range like timber has. So, what are the features that impact the pricing?
In order of the most-to-least expensive feature:
- Pile Type
- Helix Configuration
The number one advantage to getting a price quote is a boring! A geotechnical boring combined with loads can give DANBRO all we need to get you a price to install the piles. Obviously, the more information the better, but with a boring, the most economical design can be determined. Even without a boring, though, DANBRO can estimate numbers based on empirical values from prior projects, if we have worked in the area before. The load, however, would still be required. (Please note that I stated, “a price to install the piles.” At DANBRO, we get all of the information to make an educated material quote.
Now let’s break down the features to determine why it is not in your favor economically to use a price sheet:
- Depths can range from 5 FEET to 200 FEET!! Right away, one can tell why this is the number one expense for a deep foundation system.
- Pile Types range from Solid Square Shafts (SS) to Round Shaft Pipes (RS). The SS ranges in size from 1.5″ to 2.25″ and the RS ranges from 2.875″ to 8″ OD! The price of each increases as the load increases. Steel is priced based on weight. So, for example, the difference in weight from a 2.875″ OD by 0.276″ wall thickness RS 7′ extension (76 LBS) versus an 1.75″ SS 7′ extension (55 LBS) is 21 LBS of steel. This can quickly add up when the project has 50 or even 100 piles.
- Helix Configuration is what drives the cost of a lead section up. This is the hardest to determine without a boring and can easily be overpriced if the engineer is not aware of what is typical. Jacking up the number of plates on the helical pile can greatly increase a project’s budget for the deep foundation system. This happens quite often when inexperienced engineers and estimators try to be overly conservative.
- Termination selection is less of an expense in material, HOWEVER, if the project is not fully understood this could cause a labor issue further down the line.
The bottom line is that we at DANBRO work diligently on your behalf to provide you with data and information on which you can rely. We are striving to be as economical and competitive as possible and the only way to do this is with the pertinent information. A few parameters can go a long way for someone who is experienced in the design and use of helical piles.
Steve Gencorelli, P.E. is Danbro Distributors’ resident Structural Engineer. He has designed buildings in over fifteen states on the east coast in the past twelve years. Check out Steve’s imaginative analysis of building the Colosseum in Philadelphia!
To receive a material quote, please email all available pertinent project information to firstname.lastname@example.org.