Should You Invest in Pole Building Engineering…or Not?

Pole Barn Guru Blog

Clients ask me, “What is the difference between your engineered and non-engineered buildings”? In the case of Hansen Buildings, the only difference is the engineered buildings have been reviewed by a professional engineer, who is registered in the state where the building is to be constructed. This review is for structural adequacy.  And, following the review, plans and calculations are printed originally wet sealed by the engineer.

From a practicality standpoint, what pole building engineering is… is insurance. Insurance? Yes, it means a registered design professional verifies the building design will work and withstand the forces of nature up to the levels specified on the building plans.

There are some pole barn providers who do make structural changes to their buildings depending upon whether the buildings are engineered or not engineered. Morally and ethically, it is this author’s opinion there should be no changes in material design whether an engineer seals the plans or not. If changes ARE needing to be made, it could lead one to believe the non-engineered buildings are under designed and could fail within the load parameters the buildings should have withstood!!

While I do not agree with this practice, many Building Departments will issue pole building permits without engineered plans. In some cases, permits are issued with no plans being submitted at all!

Regardless of Building Department policy, any building used for commercial purposes should include “sealed” plans with pole building engineering.

Many Building Departments have “prescriptive requirements” for non-engineered post frame (pole) buildings. What are “prescriptive requirements”?  If you construct your building to match what their specifications are, they will issue you a building permit. Rarely are these requirements economically practical from either a materials or labor standpoint. Almost universally, it will prove less expensive to invest in a fully engineered building kit, rather than following the prescriptive requirements. Colorado and Washington are two states in which Building Departments often hand out these requirements.

Any building in Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon, Nevada, Utah or Washington which requires a Building Permit which includes a structural plan review (pretty much a guarantee), should have engineered plans.

If prefabricated trusses are used, the company manufacturing the trusses will provide engineer sealed truss drawings. The truss engineer is NOT the Engineer of Record for the building, nor does this make the building itself engineered.

The International Building Codes, on their own, do not have specific prescriptive tables for post frame building components – unlike “stick built” buildings. Even stud wall framed buildings are required to be engineered when the walls are over 10’ in height.

In the 2009 version of the Codes, is a new twist. Any buildings of 60′ or greater clearspan REQUIRE the end user to hire a Registered Design Professional (engineer or architect) to provide special inspections to assure truss bracing is properly installed.

Don’t underestimate the value of pole building engineering. The engineer provides for you the peace of mind, in design reliability, and helps to ease your permit application through the structural review process.

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