Drilled pier foundations, the subject matter of this chapter, belong to the same category as pile foundations. Because piers and piles serve the same purpose, no sharp deviations can be made between the two. The distinctions are based on the method of installation. A pile is installed by driving, a pier by excavating. Thus, a foundation unit installed in a drill-hole may also be called a bored cast-in-situ concrete pile. Here, distinction is made between a small diameter pile and a large diameter pile. A pile, cast-in-situ, with a diameter less than 0.75 m (or 2.5 ft) is sometimes called a small diameter pile. A pile greater than this size is called a large diameter bored-cast-in-situ pile.

The latter definition is used in most non-American countries whereas in the USA, such large- diameter bored piles are called drilled piers, drilled shafts, and sometimes drilled caissons.

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