Before I, or even others, go into this, what are you looking to build??? Sometimes, depending on the structure AND/OR the soil, you don't have a choice. Here, on the east coast, footings are for below frost line foundations. Piers are used where the soil is 'loose' (like sand), and you need to reach bedrock. Bedrock can be MANY feet down, and pouring a footing all that distance horizontally and vertically across at great depths is very, VERY expensive.
Come back w/more for 'better' advice. My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: God Bless America!
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