What is Techno Metal Post?

This is where I’ll spend a little time describing what Techno Metal Post (TMP) is, what it can be used for and what the benefits of TMP are over traditional foundations.

What is Techno Metal Post Alaska????                                                                               The answer is pretty simple – TMP Alaska is a company that installs helical piers by “screwing” them into the ground with our unique (and quite cool) R2D installation machine.  Once it is installed you can build off of it, anything from a sign to a 2-story house.

So what is a helical pier?                                                                                                            
It is a steel post that measures 7′ in length and has a helix welded to the base of it.  The helix is what bites the ground and pulls it into the soil during installation.  The post’s diameter is between 1 7/8″ to 5 9/16″ depending on the load (weight) that the post will hold.  We offer posts that are made of black steel or posts that have been galvanized – your choice.

What is that green sleeve on all the posts?                                                                         The green sleeve is the ‘frost protection sleeve‘ that allows us to guarantee that our posts will never move or “heave” because of freezing soils.  It acts as a slip sheet over the post, so when winter comes and the ground freezes; the sleeve moves with the expanding pressure so that no pressure is on the post itself.

How do I build on top of a steel post?                                                                                  We provide many types of hardware that can be mounted on top of the posts.  The most common are U-shaped brackets that will receive 4x and 6x wood materials and flat brackets that will accept various types of lumber.   We offer an adjustable bracket with a 3″ range that allows for fine tuning and leveling of your project long after the post is installed. And finally, we can special order or manufacture any type of bracket for just about any application.

What can I build on top of these posts?                                                                             The short answer is, “just about anything”.  The loads of your proposed project determine the type and size of post we will install for any given project.  Since we offer 4 different post diameters; we can pick the right mix of posts to install to insure a properly engineered foundation.  Here is what we offer, the allowable loading weights and the types of applications each post is used for:

  • P1 – 6800 lbs. – Decks, signs, walkways, docks and alternative energy projects.  The P1 is our smallest post but it can hold more weight than most sonotubes or impact driven piles.
  • P2 – 9600 lbs. – Carports, sheds, sun-rooms, single level additions, yurts, and porch roof loads.  The P2 is the most versatile and is most frequently used post when the P1 is not enough.
  • P3 – 23,800 lbs. – Freestanding cabins, underpinning, garages, 2-story  additions and applications where the post will extend more than a few feet off the ground.  Not only does the P3 hold a lot of weight it can also be used for lateral loads, since the post diameter is wider and the steel is thicker.
  • P5 – 49,900 lbs. – Commercial / industrial applications, free standing homes and just about anything else.  The P5 is over 5″ in diameter and can hold an amazing amount of weight and our R2D machine can install these in most environments.

How does the engineering work?                                                                                      During the installation, we monitor the pressure gauge attached to our R2D which tells us the resistance the post is encountering during installation.  Our engineers have measured and tested the proper amount of resistance needed to attain certain loading amounts.  This means that after each post is installed and logged in our books, we can tell you the exact loading capacities of every post installed.  Before installation we must first determine the loading requirements and soil conditions of the project and then we will choose our posts, helix size and installation plan.  After every post is installed we preform a “hit test” where we strike the post with a specific sledge hammer multiple times to check for movement with a laser – this data is also logged for each post installed.  Below is a picture showing the “hit test” being prepared.

What type of soils can these posts be installed in?                                                       The quick answer is, we can install our posts in just about any type of soil.  Granular and gravel soils are optimal, but often we find that we need to build on less optimal soils like clay or even peat.  When we have a loose soil we can do a few things to attain the proper resistance so our engineering is proper:

  1. Install the post deeper until better soils are reached.  We can do this by welding 7′ extensions to the post.  After we join the extension and post together, we reattach the R2D and start installing the now 14′ long post.  We can keep installing extensions until the proper resistance is met for the project.  This usually occurs when the deeper and better soils are reached.
  2. Use a wider helix.  The helix is the part of the post that bears the most weight when the post is installed.  For loose soils, we can use a wider helix to increase the resistance at installation and total bearing surface of the post in the ground.
  3. Add additional helices to the post.  By adding one or two helices to each post or extension, we increase the bearing surfaces of the post like mentioned above.  All of our posts come with the single helix welded on at the factory.  If an additional helix is needed, it will be special ordered and require a minimum of one week to arrive.

What about rocks?                                                                                                                    Yes, rocks present a challenge with any foundation type.  Other than bedrock, we have a pretty good chance of installing our post in Alaska’s rocky soils.  During installation we have the ability to ‘sneak’ around rocks.  Sometimes we are able to sneak the helix through the rock and often we are able to add a slight angle to the installation “bending” the post around the rock.  Don’t worry, the post is not actually bending.  Finally, we have another type of helix; a “rock pitch helix”.  This is a smaller diameter helix that is at a steeper pitch than the normal ones which allows rocks more room to sneak through during installation.  Finally, if we cannot get around the rock we can dig it out just like you would when installing sonotube and impact driven piles.

So these posts will work in any soil, no matter what?                                                  No.  We wish that were the case, but it is not.  There will be a few cases where our posts will not be up to the challenge.  This will likely occur in a few scenarios –

  1. Rocks – If we hit too many rocks before we get below the frost zone and can not get around them, we can not install the post in that specific location.  We have the choice of moving the post and trying again; or excavating a little and reinstalling.  This is the same scenario with any foundation.
  2. Poor soils – If we cannot get the proper resistance during installation and every option in our bag of tricks fails, we cannot install the post in that location.  The benefit to you is that we were able to determine before building that the soils are not appropriate for holding up a building.  With other foundations you normally do not find out that the soils are bad until your building starts to settle – you can thank us for saving you from that headache.  🙂

Why would I not just use a sonotube instead?                                                                The short answer is that sonotubes often fail (even properly installed ones) and our installation process is much simpler, faster and less destructive.  Here is a quick list of TMP advantages over the traditional sonotube:

  • No excavation – TMP requires no excavation.  No holes are dug, no dirt is dumped on your lawn and we have essentially no impact to the grounds next to the post we are installing.  Below is a picture taken just after installation (notice the almost nonexistent impact to this yard) .

  • Fast – The excavation, forming, back-filling and concrete involved with a sonotube can last several days, not to mention waiting for the concrete to cure.  We can install a post ready to build on in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Engineered – When was the last time you ever saw a sonotube engineered for the soil and load conditions on a job?  Never.  The engineering for TMP is known for each post we install at the time of installation.
  • Cost – Our deck posts are very cost competitive with traditional sonotubes and when you count the other benefits; it is the best value available.
  • Guarantee – TMP are guaranteed to never move in winter with the heaving ground.  By getting them well below the frost line and adding our protective sleeve, the posts have minimum pressures on them trying to pull them out of the ground.  We have all seen that deck that has “heaved” up, TMP eliminates that risk.

Why not use mini piles or larger piles?                                                                                 I definitely prefer piles over sonotubes; but TMP are superior to piles as well.  Here is why:

  • Low impact – To install piles you need a skidsteer (Bobcat), mini excavator or large excavator.  This equipment is large and does damage to most established yards.  No matter how careful the installer is, running a 3000 lb. plus equipment through your yard is going to do some damage.  Our R2D is just under 1500 lbs. and has an option of using 8 wheels to displace its weight, minimizing impact to your yard.  It really looks like a bike with 4 tires rode over your lawn when we are finished.  Below is the proof!!!

  • Access – The width of the R2D is also under 36″; this means it will go through most gates and even through your front door if needed.  You do not have to disassemble your fence to get that new deck after all.
  • Engineered – Our posts can bear more weight than even some of the largest impact driven piles because we have the helix that distributes the weight over its entire surface.  A pile is similar to putting a straw in a milkshake – there is very little bearing surface to hold that straw up.
  • Guaranteed – Along with our “no heaving” guarantee we also guarantee our materials.  Our steel is manufactured and fabricated in North America and our products are built to be foundation grade posts.  We will never recycle old steel or oil pipes and install them, so why take that risk?
  • Quality – We offer galvanized posts and many different galvanized bracket options.  You also have the option of an adjustable head to fine tune your projects.  Finally, we also offer a variety of protection packages that will insure your posts do not rust and deteriorate over time – meaning we can offer an installation that will last a lifetime.
  • Price – With all the benefits listed above, TMP is cost comparative with mini piles and drastically less expensive than piles installed with larger equipment.

What is the difference between TMP and other helical pier installation companies?                                                                                                                                 Simply put – cost and the ease of installation.  Our smaller installation machine and variety of posts options allow us to offer a very cost competitive alternative to other helical pier systems.  For the first time in Alaska, helical piers will be affordable on the residential level and be cost competitive with alternative foundation systems.  While the technology of helical piers has been around for over 100 years, we have now created the path for quick and affordable residential installations that protect your yard, budget and peace of mind knowing that the best foundation technology is supporting your project.

So how much does this all cost?                                                                                              Well, that depends.  Since every building and installation is unique, the price can vary.  Here are some examples for a simple installation:

  • P1 – for an attached deck, 7′ post, bracket and frost sleeve – $300 EA installed, $10 per additional foot of extension.
  • P3 – for an addition, 7′ post, 7′ extension, bracket and frost sleeve – $425 EA installed, $30 per additional foot of extension.

If you have read this far, you know that there are many variables that can affect the installation and therefore affect the cost.  Insuring that your foundation is done properly and securely is the most important factor in your purchasing decision.

To find out more – give us a call 907.299.3334 or drop us an email – info@tmpalaska.com

We look forward in helping you with your foundation needs.

56 Responses to What is Techno Metal Post?

  1. Pingback: We have added a general information page to the blog. | Techno Metal Post Alaska

  2. Marge says:

    Looks like a great product!

  3. peter says:

    $425 ea. ??? Keep on dreaming…

    • Hi Peter – for a pier that can bear 33,000# and comes completely engineered, we are not dreaming; but installing 100’s of them every month. Our P3 pier is not used for all of our projects. Our smaller P1 and P2 piers start at $300 and come with an unconditional guarantee that they will not heave because of frost. There is no other pier type foundation company that will make this guarantee. We also have the engineering done as we are installing; meaning we know exactly how much weight the pier will hold in the soil as it is installed.

      Thanks

  4. Bill Selzer says:

    Hi, I searched for a construction techniqe like this for my 42 step hillside staircase in Michigan.
    My old staircase failed as the hill erodes over time. I could not find anything like this, so I dug post holes for 4x4s. It took forevever, ruined my summer, and I am still in danger of it eroding over time.
    $300 per post sounds cheap to me at this point, though working on a hillside with R2D would be a challenge. I wish you success.
    Bill

  5. Theron says:

    What about remote locations? I have a cabin site 3 miles off the main road. Winter when everything is frozen is the best time to get to it.

  6. I’m in Fairbanks. Are these pilings a viable option for cabins on permafrost? thanks!

    • Thanks for contacting us Doug. In short the answer is yes and no. We have installed piers in and around Fairbanks with little problem – sometimes through ice. Let me know a little more about your site and I can give you a more specific answer. Feel free to give us a ring anytime. THX

  7. ken gregware says:

    can you get under an existing cottage 1 to 2 feet off the ground?

    • In a few circumstances it is possible, but 1-2′ is quite close to the ground and the structure would most likely need to be lifted first. The specific site conditions would dictate whether or not it is possible. We have many other ways that we can get a structure on our foundations with out lifting the building.

  8. Trev says:

    I’m considering building a small, 1-story, 14×20 cabin. Could I get by with 1 techno metal post on each corner (4 corners) at, say, the P3 size?

    • Thanks for contacting us. Typically the beam span will dictate the spacing of our piers. With out knowing the details I would say 4 piers would not be sufficient and you would likely see 6 P3 piers under this type of a structure… THX and let us know if we can help you further.

  9. Michael Osborne says:

    I live in Eastern Canada (New Brunswick) and I think your product would be just what I need for the small project I plan on doing. Is there a distributor or contractor in the Saint John area I could contact?

  10. Brandon says:

    I have been torn on which foundation style to use, helical piles or sono tube. I’d like to get more information, specifically pricing. Id imagine Id need 12 P3 piles for my 16×24 cabin with a loft. It will be built in Glennallen area and the soil is “gakona silt loam.” No permafrost but soft soil exists in the top few feet.

  11. Todd says:

    Hello:
    Do you do business in Ohio? and can the equipment be rented and done by a homeowner?

    • Hi there – While TMP Alaska does not do business in Ohio, we have several dealers nearby in PA and other states that might make the trip over to OH for a project.

      The complete Techno Metal Post network of dealers only sells an installed product and the equipment is never offered for rental. THX and good luck.

  12. Richard Blankenship says:

    Hello,

    I am planning a 24X30 two story log cabin in the caribou hills. I would like a price quote and help with engineering the correct size of pile and layout.

    • Hi Richard – thanks for contacting us. As you likely know we are currently working out on Caribou Lake right now.

      We can certainly help determine the layout and quantity of piles needed for your structure. With out knowing anything about your structure, I would venture to guess you will be needing 12-15 structural piles and likely 4 batter (lateral) piles. Once we know more information about the cabin we can get a better idea of what is needed. The piles needed for under the structure are our P3 piles that start at $425 each installed to 7′. We have an additional per foot charge after the 7′ if soil conditions require greater installation depths. The P2 batter piles are less. There is a slight fee for mobilizing out there.

      Do give us a call and I can discuss the options a bit more. We can also email our pricing and other information.

      THX and talk to you soon!!

  13. Chris says:

    I am building a small boat dock and I was wondering if I could purchase some of the U shaped brackets for the P1 size. That would fit onto a 1 7/8th” post and that is all I require. How much do these brackets cost? Please let me know. Thank you.

    • Hi there Chris – thanks for contacting us. Typically we only sell our brackets with the installation of our posts but I may be able to help you out. Do give us a call and let me know exactly what you are after and I will see if we can help you. THX for contacting us.

      Techno Metal Post Alaska
      907.299.3334

  14. ross harding says:

    Looking to use as a dead man on a river dock I have on the Kenai. Do you have the 5 inch in black steel and what is the wall thickness.

  15. Woody says:

    Hi I have a walk out basement with a 12 foot by 32 foot deck and I would like to turn it into a sunroom(by adding a wood and shingles roof and windows) and put a 12 foot by 32 foot deck below all saported by 4 P2 techno posts. The ground is clay and lots of rock.I have been told that It will cost about $800.00 per post.From the sounds of it this is way above the norm for price.What should the price be closer to?I am in the Ottawa area in Ont.

  16. Danny says:

    Hi
    Are they legal to use in NY?

  17. Alan laRiviere says:

    Still seems quite expensive when compared to $20 per hole with sonotube and concrete.

    • Hi Allan – At least here in Alaska a properly done sono tube cost over $100 in just materials (24″ base, sono tube, rebar, concrete and a bracket that sits in the concrete).

      Next you have to excavate to 5′ below grade in Alaska, find a place to put the material, set the sono tube and rebar, back fill with compaction and then some how pour the concrete. Next we have to wait for it to cure. Then you have to repair any landscaping and such impacted during this installation.

      After all that time and expense you have a sono tube that may or may not work. 90% of the repair jobs we do are for failed sono tubes.

      Still sono tubes can be a little less expensive if you are interested in that process, but most people here understand the benefits of the helical pier with our guarantee against frost heaving and choose the simpler method which to most is a great value…

  18. Jack kwant says:

    Sounds like a really good product. I am planning to build a 20 by 30 single story cabin close to Bernice lake in nikiski. How many and what size would you install. Not sure of soil conditions in the area

    • Hi there – thanks for contacting us. With out knowing any specifics of your project, typically we would see 8-12 P3 piles installed. The price for that area starts at $425 each. This includes the 7′ lead pile that is galvanized, our frost sleeve. When we are done we will cut the piles to height and install a bracket to accept a gluelam beam, 4x beam or steel beam. if a deeper pile is required (we measure the soil’s bearing capacity during the installation) we weld on an extension and continue the installation into deeper more competent soils. The extension price is $30 per LFT used after 7.

      Typically the soils in Nikiski are very good for helical piers. We need to discuss your specific soil to get an idea of depth.

      Feel free to email us the address and cabin building plan or sketch and we can get more information to you. THX again

  19. TJ says:

    If you reach a bedrock how do you drive the pile in? How far you need to to drive the pile into the bedrock?

    • Hi there – thanks for contacting us. The helical piles cannot be embedded into bedrock material. In some cases if shallow and approved by the engineer or building official we can core drill and epoxy the post into the rock, but typically helical piers and bedrock do not mix…

  20. Frank says:

    Hi I’m interested in your product. I’m building a 16×24 cabin. Is this legal in New Hampshire and where is the nearest dealer. I like doing things myself. Can I buy this product and do it myself.

    Frank

  21. Lena says:

    can these be used to support the corner of 1 story existing 11×12 addition that is over a crawl space?
    I am in southwestern PA., by Pittsburgh.
    I have been trying to call the local techno post people-but the ph# listed on the site is disconnected.
    I emailed the main office in Canada & am still waiting for a response.
    I became interested in this product after reading *your* posts on JLC-very informative!
    Right now I have a corner of a small house to take care of, but will want a deck next year when the house is done, & with these it seems my possibilities are endless-I think I could put the deck about anywhere in the yard-which I had not considered previously 🙂

  22. Lena says:

    the Pittsburgh PA number is a bad phone number!!! Even the area code is wrong-that area code is for California-is this place really in business? I have tried to look these people’s names up to get a proper number, but there is nothing-the link you gave is how I got the # I already did that.
    I have not received a response to my emails to them, & also not from the head office in Canada.
    Any ideas on who to contact or should I just look elsewhere?

    I seriously doubt anyone is going to drive from south central PA for a small job.
    People around here don’t do that.

  23. Sorry about that – I have not met the other PA dealer but I know there is one….

    Let me see what I can find out. Sorry about the hassle.

    We routinely drive 500 miles for work but you are right its a little different up here….:)

    Let me see what I can find out……

  24. Lena says:

    Thanks-I looked up the address & it is now listed as a different business. It is now Steel Dog under Jason & Laura Koon, whereas on the Techno metal Post site it states Travis & Laura Koon…The pics do not look like the same people…

  25. Lena says:

    We have contact 🙂 in South Western Pennsylvania!
    Thank You so much! I met with Jason today. I am so ridiculously excited to be trying these out. That puppy is gonna be driven in my house!
    In my area, we do not get a lot of new ideas, or products. People seem a bit stuck in digging out & pouring concrete, & taking weeks to do a back breaking job.
    My house corner will be fixed in 1 day. 1 day!
    For the other projects I wanted to do, they seemed so labor intensive, time consuming & somewhat out of reach.
    Trying to do part of a deck 1 year & adding on later gets old real fast when it tears everything up each time & is also so time consuming.
    I’m doing the sinking corner of the house because I have to, but everything after this project will be because I want to, and because I can! That changes everything.
    I now have much better options than I did before. I say this because the product is within reach of an average homeowner’s budget.
    This product opens up avenues for me to use portions of my yard that I had not considered before, due to excavation needs & large equipment limitations and a hillside with a big slope.
    Also, & this was/is really important to me, I can do it in stages as my budget allows & not destroy everything else each time I want to add a little more.
    Put in some piles now, add more later.
    And yes, I LOVE the fact that I will not be digging, or pouring concrete, or worrying about frost heave-those are the 3 problems I wanted to solve.
    Keep putting the word out there. I’m gonna video it & show my friends & coworkers.

  26. THX much and glad it worked out and you made contact. Good luck!!!!

  27. Marjorie Bridge. says:

    How does one get in touch?

  28. Dave Schirokauer says:

    I’m planning on installing a ground mounted solar array. The frame design calls for 3″ steel pipe installed 4′ in the ground with concrete.

    The tallest above ground stand goes to 10′. Would this product be a viable solution. ?

  29. Jim Knutson says:

    I want to remove a bearing wall in our 2 story house, which is on a slab. The wall would be removed along with a 4″x 6″ post in one location and 2 each 4″x 6″ posts in another location. Two new beams, 14 feet and 8 feet long, would be added in a “T” formation, therefore requiring 3 new footings. Will your system work inside an existing home? Our slab is a Post Tension slab and I want to minimize cutting into the slab to avoid the tension cables. I would still have the tension cables located with GPR, ground penetrating radar. Thank you, Jim

    • Hi Jim – this is a perfect application for the helical piers – we can catch point loads quite effectively with the helical piers. We will likly want an engineer to design the piers / loads.

      Our small R2D can work inside also, utilizing our electric motor with no emissions.

      Let me know if you would like to move forward and we can recommend an engineer if needed.

      THX – Dave Northup – 299.3334

      • Jim Knutson says:

        Hi Dave. Thanks for your response. I am glad to hear that your pier system will work inside our existing house. We live in Southern California, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Who has the available equipment in this area? Also, who is your recommended Engineer(s)? Thank you

  30. No problem – So our closest dealer is in Bellingham, WA so that might not work. You would also be best served to work with a local engineer familiar with the local codes and process.

    So it is possible but our closest dealer is quite far and unlikely that they would make it down there if they could actually work in CA (licensing).

    Sorry not the best news but good luck!!!

    • Jim Knutson says:

      Hi Dave. Thank you for letting me know. You have a great product and are very helpful to those of us with questions. I appreciate you taking the time to try and help me. Thanks again, Jim.

  31. No problem – good luck. I know other companies that might be more local to you might have the ability to work indoors through different methods. Worth a check…

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