Simplifying Home Structure: What are Bearers and Joists?

If you’re about to build your dream home, there are plenty of technical terms and concepts that can leave you feeling a little lost. One such concept is the use of bearers and joists in home construction. As leading project home builders across Greater Sydney and NSW, we’re here to simplify things for you. 

Since bearers and joists make up the foundation and structure of your home, it’s important you’re across the ins and outs of this aspect of home building. This blog post will explore why bearers and joists matter and how they’re used. Let’s talk about the basics of the base of your home.

The Use of Bearers and Joists in History

Before we discuss what bearers and joists are, let’s look at this topic in Australia historically. For many years, bearers and joists were the go-to method for building homes. These humble components were the base of single-storey dwellings, providing the essential structural support required for a stable, durable home.

As time progressed, new construction techniques such as raft and waffle pod foundations gained traction, gradually pushing bearers and joists off to the side for single-storey homes. Time is very telling, though, and due to their historical reliability, these elements have since made a comeback for split-level homes, offering an efficient and cost-effective solution. In addition, they play a crucial role in flood-prone areas, where water needs to flow freely beneath the house. This method is not only efficient but also budget-friendly.

The Role of Bearers and Joists

Now, let’s get down to the brass tacks of what bearers and joists do for your home’s construction.


Bearers are horizontal supports that run beneath your home, distributing the weight of your house evenly across the ground. They’re your home’s foundation, transferring the load from the walls, roof, and floors to the ground. In essence, bearers prevent your home from sagging or settling unevenly.


Joists run perpendicular to the bearers, creating the framework upon which your floors are built. Joists are the beams responsible for maintaining the integrity of your floors, ensuring they’re level and sturdy. You can also think of them as what prevents creaky, uneven floors.

The Practicality of Bearers and Joists

So, why is there a resurgence in using bearers and joists in home construction? The answer lies in their practicality.

For Split-Level Homes

Split-level homes are becoming more and more popular on slopey grounds. They do, however, present unique construction challenges due to the varying levels of terrain. This is where bearers and joists come into play, especially when a concrete slab isn’t ideal. They make it possible to construct homes on sloping terrain securely.

In Flood-Prone Areas

Building a home in a flood-prone area can be pretty daunting. But bearers and joists allow water to pass freely beneath your home. In the event of a flood, they prevent structural damage and guarantee the integrity of your house. 

The Building Process with Better Built Homes

Building your home with us is a well-structured journey, starting from the ground up. Here is some insight into the building process:

  • Home Selection and Tender. In the initial stage, you’ll start by selecting the home design and façade that best suits your needs, land, lifestyle, and budget. Here’s where the role of bearers and joists comes into play, as they establish the stability of your home.
  • Fixed Price Tender. We transparently prepare a tender at this stage based on the information gathered. The tender presentation is an ideal opportunity for you to understand how bearers and joists factor into your home’s cost and structural stability.
  • Plan Preparations & Selections. In the third stage, bearers and joists remain crucial, as they’re woven into the planning, serving as the structural basis. This is also the stage when you shape your home’s aesthetics and durability as you choose bricks and external colours.
  • Submission Plans. Our drafting department finalises the submission plans with any last-minute adjustments and external colour selections while our contractors proceed with completing BASIX and NaTHERS assessments.
  • Internal Selections. You’ll choose carpets, tiles, and electrical options with our suppliers and meet with our Colour Consultant to finalise selections. They’ll clarify your tender inclusions and once everything is in order, you’ll sign off on the final colour documents.
  • Approvals. Building approval timelines may vary due to different guidelines set by councils, certifiers, and developers. Here, bearers and joists must meet all necessary regulations. Whether you’re building a single or split-level home, these foundational components are essential for obtaining the approvals required for a smooth construction process.
  • Building Contract. Once colour selections are approved, we prepare your HIA building contract for your sign-off, requiring a copy for the bank and proof of funds. Final Construction Plans are completed, and you’ll be asked to sign off on your plans.
  • Site Start. In the final stage, all materials are ordered and checked before construction begins. A thorough review confirms that the bearers and joists meet standards, providing stability for a solid build, be it single or split-level.

Building Dreams on Bearers and Joists

Bearers and joists may not be the most glamorous elements of home construction, but they are undeniably vital for stability. How they’ve endured time is a testament to their reliability.

At Better Built Homes, we’re committed to simplifying the complex world of home construction for you. If you’re planning to build your dream home, especially on challenging terrains or in flood-prone regions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us when you’re ready. Together, we’ll make sure your dream home is built on the sturdiest bearers and joists.

Visit a Display Home

Virtual 3D Home Tours

Visit one of our display homes in person

Start Building With Us Now

View Home Designs