Our Pole Buildings - The Hansen Pole Building Difference



One of the main objectives of Hansen Pole Buildings is to educate our customers on pole building construction. Over the past couple of years we've kept track of the most frequently asked questions and grouped them together under general categories. If you have a question you can't find the answer for here, please call us: 1-866-200-9657

Or go to the Contact Us page for quickest response to your questions.

Our Pole Buildings

What is the difference between a post-frame and a pole building?

Basically, only the name. At one point in time many pole builders decided the term pole building had a negative connotation as being a farm building. Today's modern pole building is anything but a farm building. It is designed with cutting edge technology and is regarded as the most efficient approach to most of today's modern building requirements.


What exactly is a pole building?

Simply put, it is a building composed of primary structural frames typically made up of a clear span truss supported by two columns. These primary frames are supported or connected by purlins, girts and sheathing. Loads are transferred to the ground through columns, typically embedded in the ground. Pole building construction simply uses fewer larger framing members to span greater distances which cut down on construction time and material cost.


What can a pole building be used for?

Any low-rise structure. This would include most structures with up to a 50-foot high sidewall. Residentially, they can be homes, carports, garages, storage for recreational vehicles or boats, workshops, home businesses or storage. Commercially, they are often shops, airplane hangars, offices, self-storage buildings, stores, retail buildings, churches, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, even strip malls! On the farm their uses include machinery storage and shops, animal barns, riding arenas and stall barns, loafing sheds, bulk storage, processing, hay storage or as simple as just a roof to keep large valuable items or animals out of the weather.


What is the difference between pole buildings, stud framed and all-steel buildings?

Stud framed (or stick built) structures are how most homes are typically built. Generally they require a great deal of excavation and have a continuous concrete footing and foundation around the perimeter. Walls are made of 2x4 or 2x6 vertical studs 16 or 24 inches on center. By code, stud walls without lateral support are limited to 10 feet in height, unless a structural analysis is done. Roof trusses or rafters and ceiling joists can be no greater than 24 inches on center. In some cases, interior load-bearing walls may be required and door or window openings in loadbearing walls must have structural headers.

All steel buildings can have much taller sidewalls and wider clear spans than stud framed buildings. Their main support structure is composed of large steel frames, spaced as much as 30 feet on center. The frames require large concrete footings with carefully placed anchor bolts. In building widths of less than 90 feet, their constructed cost can be almost half again more than a pole building, when the great amounts of concrete and need for heavy equipment is factored in.

Pole buildings allow the greatest flexibility and lowest construction cost of any permanent building. The pole building concept was developed so the least amount of materials could construct the largest building. Typical pole buildings use widely spaced pressure preservative treated posts for the main vertical supports. The foundation is these treated columns, embedded in the ground with a small amount of concrete cast around them. Roof trusses are aligned with the wall columns, normally every 10 to 12 feet. As pole buildings are modular, they can be constructed of any length, as long as land is available to construct. Usually structural headers are not required for windows, doors or other exterior wall openings.


Are pole buildings cheaper?

Cheaper as in less expensive or more cost-effective, yes! In comparison to other building methods, pole buildings are hands down the fastest and most cost-effective construction. They are easy to install, resulting in lower assembly and building costs. They are virtually indestructible and maintenance-free. Add in lower insurance costs and less overall maintenance over the years and you've got a winning combination!


We are planning to build a horse-riding arena. We've talked with several all-steel building companies. They say their buildings are going to be far less expensive than a pole building. Is this true?

Perhaps, but only if you are planning a very, very large clearspan. We have done actual cost comparisons against all-steel buildings. We used the most common width horse riding arena (60 feet), with all features and snow/wind loads comparable to a Hansen Pole Buildings kit. The all-steel building package provided direct from the manufacturer at wholesale price was more than 35% higher in price than our pole building kit. Beyond just the price differences for the kit the all-steel building requires you to pay extra for an engineer to provide a foundation plan. Further, if you hire a contractor to build the all-steel building, you can expect to pay double what it would cost to have our pole building constructed.

Because of the inward sloping angle of all-steel frames and the large concrete piers which must be poured to anchor them, the entire interior space of all-steel buildings cannot usually be safely used for riding. We know of many all-steel building owners who have had to construct an interior liner five to six feet on the inside of their walls to protect themselves and their horses from the frames. Besides the added cost of the liner wall, it also entails having to order a building 10 to 12 feet greater in width and length than a pole building!


Isn't building with steel more expensive than building with wood?

Yes and no. Structural steel has become very expensive over the past few years (in some cases, having doubled in price!), making wood structural members, in most cases, a true bargain. Colored steel siding and roofing has gone up far less in price (percentage-wise) than have alternative products such as T1-11, cement-based, wood or vinyl sidings.


Doesn't all of the wood utilized in a pole building frame help to destroy forests?

Area for area, pole buildings use far less wood volume than any other wood frame structure. Wood is the only readily renewable natural resource and it is increasing in reserves every year. Today there is 25% more wood volume growing in the United States than just 50 years ago. Besides this fact, a steel frame building takes 4,000 times more coal, oil and natural gas to process than a wood frame.


Are pole buildings reliable?

Yes! Without question. The building design concepts utilized in pole building construction are proven and time tested. Millions of pole buildings have been constructed around the world and perform admirably.


How long will a pole building last?

Your new pole building should out-live its useful lifespan. Just like Model T garages - they are still standing - however you can't get a car through the door openings! Pole buildings require far less maintenance than traditional buildings. Steel siding is galvanized or galvalume-coated under the paint to prevent rusting. Wood members in contact with the ground are pressure preservative treated to resist decay. Your new pole building should last at least - and actually far longer than - a traditional building under the same conditions.


Do pole buildings hold their value?

Yes! Not only do they hold their value, they are almost always worth more the day they are completed than their cost of construction. This is because most insurance companies, realtors, banks and consumers look at a building as a building regardless of how it is constructed. The low costs of a pole building, give it a decided edge over any other form of construction in value.


Aren’t all pole building the same?

No. This would be almost like asking if all snowflakes are the same! From a distance, just like snowflakes, pole buildings may look very similar. Upon careful up-close examination you'll find vast differences in design theories and quality of materials being used. The pole building market is very competitive. Some building providers try to cut every corner they can, frequently to the detriment of the performance of the building. Hansen Pole Buildings offers only superior quality buildings at mid-level prices.


Won't my pole building rattle in the wind?

Pole buildings are no noisier than traditional buildings - in fact, they are quieter, since the steel siding is screwed onto the wood framework, not nailed. Insulation under the roof steel absorbs sound, leaving only a pleasing patter.


I'm interested in building a building on some land I just acquired. I'm not sure I want to build a pole building. Why a pole building instead of stick frame or all steel?

Numerous reasons:


How stable is the price of pole buildings?

Due to government intervention in the steel and lumber industries, the relative price stability of the pole building industry has seen many changes. Typically, any protective measures, such as tariffs or quotas serve only to raise prices to consumers. One huge advantage pole buildings have over other forms of construction is far fewer materials are needed to create a given volume of enclosed space.


Can I get actual steel siding samples?

You bet! Just give us your name and mailing address and let us know which colors you would like. In most cases they can be mailed to you the very same day.


Why don't you supply framing or joist hanger nails with your buildings?

We used to, until we found nearly all of our customers were using air nail guns. Since no two air nailers seem to take the same nail, we chose to lower our prices and let you have your choice of nailing methods.


What size building do I need?

Frankly, probably larger than you may have imagined. Keep in mind a great deal of the cost of construction is having decided to build at all! With pole buildings, for the most part, once an interior clear height has been determined an economy of scale exists in which the larger the building, the lower will be its cost per square foot.

In over 13,000 pole buildings we have yet to have a customer call us to tell us they wish they had built a smaller building! We do hear, far too often, from people who wish they would have built a larger one. While most pole buildings are fairly easy to add onto, it is least expensive overall to get the size building you need in the beginning. Our recommendation is to always construct the largest building your budget and available space will justify.

With this said, let's start with the important parts. Normally it is best to begin with the doors. First measure the height of everything you plan to put in the building. To give a perspective, standard residential overhead doors are seven feet in height and will accommodate any production car or pickup including large SUVs. Eight-foot tall doors will allow for most of the taller four-wheel drive vehicles. Campers often require 10- or 11-foot tall doors while most (but not all) motor homes will fit in 12-foot tall doors. To allow for any vehicle legally able to travel public roads without special permits, 14-foot tall doors are required. Besides current needs, future use and resale value should be factored in. Research shows most camper or trailer owners will eventually own a motor home. Boat owners usually get taller, wider and/or longer boats.

In order to keep mirrors from being forcibly removed, we recommend the following minimum door widths: for passenger vehicles, nine feet for a single car and 16 feet (18 is even better) for two; boats, campers or camp trailers 10 feet; fifth wheel, recreational vehicles, semi tractors, or similar should have 12-foot wide doors.

While model building codes limit the distance from a corner to the nearest door, it is rarely enforced. In seismic Categories A through C, doors are to be the wall height divided by three and one-half from a corner. Outside of these zones, it is wall height divided by two. Remember — allow vehicle doors to safely open and to best use available wall space — doors should be at least three feet from a corner. It is also best if they can be located with approximately three feet of space in between.


What if I want a building size not listed on your ads?

Not a problem. Every building we do is custom designed specifically for your personal taste, budget and needs. If you have a size which works best for you we will design the building to fit your requirements. We can accommodate almost any amount of customization.


Do you have any special building sizes mass-produced which are less expensive?

All of our buildings are inexpensive. There are no such things as mass produced building sizes. Size is only one of numerous factors considered when engineering a building. These factors include wind speed and exposure, snow loading, soil bearing capacity, seismic loading and the number size and location of openings. This causes virtually every building to be somewhat different from any other.

We try to advertise some popular sized buildings, with relatively common load conditions. However, until all of the features and load factors can be considered, we truly can not give you a to the dollar price.


When do your buildings go on sale?

Never. We don't believe in cutting the price of a particular building or buildings at the expense of others. Our prices are determined by the cost of the components and are always sold at the lowest possible non-negotiable price.

Just in case you are wondering . . . take ads about "one-only, inventory clearance or scratch and dent sales" with a block of salt. Pole buildings are not used cars. They don't get repossessed and there aren't a bunch of them on the showroom floor! We don't use gimmicks to try to entice you into buying a building which may not be exactly what you want or need.


Are two-story buildings available?

Yes. However, if you have the available space it is normally more cost effective to construct a building with a larger footprint than to increase height.


What is a gambrel building and is it less expensive

This is the traditional barn style roof. It has a two-angled slope on each side of the roof. The upper portion (closest to the peak) has a more gradual slope than the lower portion. Typically this roof system will add 15 to 30% to the cost compared to a standard gable trussed roof.


What if I want rafters instead of trusses?

We often get this request for horse stall barns. Sometimes referred to as grid barn because of the interior posts on a grid, we can easily design your building this way. It offers increased headroom and provides posts to attach stalls.


What if I want to design and build my own pole barn, buying the pieces wherever I can? Can you give me advice on what the purlin and girt spacings would be?

The size, grade and spacings of the structural materials required for a pole building are based upon a tremendous myriad of factors. Included among these are the dimensions of your building, roof slopes, design wind speed and exposure, snow load, seismic loads, as well as the use of your building and the Building Code which governs the area where your building will be constructed. All of these factors are considered by us, when we design a complete building package and every component and its connections are checked and verified for their ability to meet the required load conditions as a portion of this complete system. Without designing the total system, it would be impossible to provide for you the information you require.


I really don't want posts in the middle of my building. Is it possible to clear span 40-foot widths?

Yes. Most of our pole building kits are designed without interior posts. While most buildings do not require it we can safely design pole buildings with clear spans of 100 feet or more.


Can I use your building as a house?

Yes. While we don't normally design buildings primarily for residences, many of them have been used as such. Special considerations need to be given to such areas as insulation and ventilation requirements. Check out our website photo gallery for some really attractive pole building houses!


Can I use your building for grain or other bulk storage?

Our standard building cannot be used for bulk storage where the weight will be placed directly upon the walls of the building.


What is the big deal about building heights? Isn't a 12' tall building a 12' tall building?

This is a very confusing subject. Most pole buildings are sold by eave height. Eave height is the measure from the bottom of the pressure treated skirt (or splash) board to the top of the sidewall where it meets the roof steel. To determine interior clear height, the thickness of the roof purlins (typically 6 or 8 inches), the roof trusses (six inches or more) and the concrete floor thickness need to be deducted.

While Hansen Pole Buildings would prefer to sell our buildings by INTERIOR CLEAR HEIGHT, this concept is contrary to industry sales practices. We design our buildings to allow for the maximum amount of useable interior clear height in relationship to eave height. In most cases, the remaining measure from the top of the future concrete floor to the bottom of the roof trusses will be only 10 inches less than the eave height. This is the true measure of useable space.

We Email, FAX or surface mail the estimate to you. It will clearly indicate if the building is priced as being eave or interior clearance height.


Will your pole building be taller than other nearby buildings on my property?

Perhaps. This will depend upon the grade level the pole building is constructed upon in relationship to the grade of the other structures and the overall height of the buildings. If this is an important consideration for you, we can give you in advance, the overall height of your pole building. This will allow you to have appropriate site grading done prior to construction.

Your Premier buildings offer a seemingly endless list of standard features not used by other pole building suppliers. Why aren't your buildings more expensive?

Part of the Hansen Pole Buildings driving force is to make a little profit from every building we sell. We don't try to get rich off a few big sales. By negotiating contracts with major suppliers across the country, we are able to take advantage of volume purchasing. This allows us to offer many more features in our Premier buildings and still have a very competitive price. Our goals continue to include providing the best buildings at the cheapest prices to match your needs and what you want the building to do for you!

In certain cases, our buildings may be more expensive. When you consider the design processes, level of engineering expertise, continued pole building research, our high material and manufacturing standards, you can be assured you are getting an engineered structure done right the first time, with predictable long-lasting performance.

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