Tag Archives: NFBA

Moving Pole Barns

Moving a Pole Barn
Most of us American adults have, at some time in our lives, visited a county or state fair. Adjunct to these events is the inevitable midway – where carnies (those wonderful and frequently interesting folks) hock their wares and try to interest one and all in a game of chance. Amongst these games is typically one where a rifle of some sorts spews water, air or corks at moving targets allowing the joyous winner to recoup his or her investment into a wonderous prize which is usually worth far less than the price of admission to the game.

Well, I hate to break the news, but the chances of coming out ahead at the midway are better than the chances of coming out ahead on moving a pole barn (aka post frame building).

Reader GEOFF in SNOHOMISH writes:
“I have a pole barn that I want to move. I had plans drawn by an engineer to erect it after I moved it. (required by the county) he looked at the original building, but drew the plans with a full footing and foundation. When I told him that this is a pole building and all the weight is carried on the posts he didn’t get it. Does a pole barn have to have footing and a foundation?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:
Well Geoff, there are issues going on here much larger than just your question, which I will address first.

Post frame buildings typically have a footing (most usually a concrete pad poured at the bottom of an augured hole) and the foundation is the pressure preservative treated wood column which is typically all or partially encased in concrete. There is most generally no structural reason to have a continuous concrete footing and foundation wall, such as one might see supporting a stick framed building.

I would encourage your engineer to make a modest financial investment into the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) Post-Frame Building Design Manual (read more about it here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/post-frame-building-3/).

Now the big picture:
You were lucky to have found a registered professional engineer who was willing to put his career on the line to seal plans for a post frame building which has been taken apart and moved, unless he placed some extreme caveats as to potential damaged materials. Besides this, chances are good the building in question was not built to the current Building Code requirements, and some significant modifications would need to be made in order to upgrade it to currently accepted standards.

The biggest changes involve wind design – where buildings are now required to be designed using Vult for wind speeds, rather than the lower Vasd values. The trusses, if undamaged, should be checked for structural adequacy using the most recent Code.

You have already made some financial investments, you might as well help to educate your engineer, as well as get your moving building up to the modern version of the Code.

Proposed Building Code Change to Add to Construction Costs

During each 3-year-cycle of the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC), there exists an opportunity to propose modifications and improve the codes to recognize new and innovative construction.  During the final two weeks in April, the code proposal hearings were held in Louisville, Kentucky where several hundred proposals were discussed and considered for inclusion in the code.

large-span-trusses-150x150While post-frame construction is typically used in agricultural applications which are often (and in my humble opinion sadly) considered exempt from code compliance, more and more post-frame construction is either residential housing (IRC) or commercial (IBC) in nature.  In these cases, changes which impact the code may have an effect on how post-frame buildings are constructed.

Eight proposals were identified by NFBA (National Frame Building Association) staff as having a potential impact on post-frame construction.  While the majority of these proposals were defeated, the following action should be noted:

S138-16: Submitted by the Structural Engineers Association, this proposal was approved and will require special inspection for wood trusses with a clear span of 60 feet or greater or an overall height of 60 inches or greater.  While the clear span is not a major issue, the 60 inch height may impact a number of projects creating new cost/scheduling issues.  This change is scheduled to be included in the 2018 IBC.

Having spent my entire adult life installing, designing, selling, building, delivering and purchasing wood trusses, it would seem ludicrous to require a special inspection for wood trusses with an overall height of 60 inches or greater. This would add an extra layer of inspection to nearly every building (not only post frame) project, with seemingly no apparent rationale other than the employment of a large number of people to perform these inspections (most likely the same structural engineers who made this proposal).

Trusses spanning 60 feet or more, are already required to have special inspections, under the IBC: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/12/wide-span-trusses/.

What can you do? Contact your local Building Official today and ask them to vote to repeal this costly measure which does little or nothing to improve the safety of buildings.

Minimum Wind And Snow Loads

Hansen Pole Buildings is a proud member of the NFBA (National Frame Building Association http://www.nfba.org). Pretty much every Monday the Association sends out a newsletter, via email, to its members.

In today’s newsletter was a link to an article written by Stephen Szoke and published in Construction Executive, May 5, “Building Codes: One Size Does Not Fit All”. (The entire article can be read here: http://enewsletters.constructionexec.com/managingyourbusiness/2015/05/building-codes-one-size-does-not-fit-all/).

International Building CodeI got a different takeaway than most people probably did from the article. In my humble opinion, the Building Codes themselves should be consistent, however local jurisdictions should establish their own minimum climactic loading requirements (snow and wind loads) – but not tamper with the Code itself. The Code is the product of the collective minds of some of the most brilliant engineers, designers and Building Officials on the planet – they have more than a small clue as to what they are doing.

With over 7,000 Building Permit issuing jurisdictions in the United States, if each of them even altered a few words (which is not uncommon) the resultant is RDPs (Registered Design Professionals – architects and engineers) pulling out their hair trying to meet local quirks.

Getting back on track – here is what truly struck me from the article: “The rise in property losses seems to correlate well with information about a cultural/societal trend reported at the 2014 Concrete Sustainability Conference by Michael D. Lepech, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He reported that business models with an emphasis on maximum return on investment have driven or even forced businesses toward least initial cost. In construction, this appears to have resulted in a trend toward minimum code, which is synonymous with least initial cost.

Clearly, one option is to wait for the cultural-societal pendulum to swing back toward more quality and value in lieu of least initial cost.” 

In layperson’s terms – too many buildings are designed penny wise and pound foolish. It makes absolutely no sense, at least in my head, to save a thousand dollars of initial investment, if the result is spending tens of thousands of dollars in repair and maintenance costs!

The Building Codes are for design to “minimum” standards. I know, for a fact, most pole builders and pole building kit suppliers are not going to ever discuss an increase in wind and snow loads beyond bare minimums. In many cases, due to lack of Code enforcement or exemptions from structural plan reviews – the bare minimums are not even being met!

How do I know this for a fact?

Because the great majority of other people who do something similar to what we do (I won’t even lift them up to the level of calling them competitors) don’t even list the design loads on their pole building quotes!

Seriously!

Don’t ever be shy about asking how much of an added investment it would be to increase the design wind and snow loads for your soon to be new building. I want you to have the last building standing in the event of a catastrophic event

The Theory of Adequate Building Connectors

I was blessed to have been a member of the then American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) Structural Committee back in the latter half of the 1980s. Blessed because there were many brilliant engineers on the committee who were very focused on moving what had been “pole barns” into the Code conforming “post frame” buildings.

One of the engineers I had the pleasure of working with was Patrick McGuire who, at the time, was chief engineer for Borkholder Buildings in Napanee, Indiana. How good is Patrick? Good enough to receive the NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) highest honor, the Bernon Perkins Award, in March 2006.

Patrick McGuire was chair of the NFBA Technical and Research Committee for over a decade. It was Patrick’s vision which led the way for acceptance of post frame design into the International Building Codes.

I’ve always respected Patrick for not just being “in the know”, but also because he has worked in the industry, rather than being an academic. When I wanted to know more about the workings of post frame buildings with sidewall columns spaced every eight feet, and trusses every four feet on top of “carriers” (headers) – Patrick McGuire was the man I contacted.

Patrick’s concerns were in the lack of adequate fasteners between truss carriers and columns, especially since many of this style pole building are constructed with not only no engineer’s review, but even worse – most had no drafted building plans!

The interactions between myself and Patrick have led me to really think about all of the crucial building connectors necessary to create a properly designed pole building.

It matters not if the best and strongest individual components are utilized in the design and construction of a new post frame building, if the pieces are not adequately fastened together. What good is a bunch of pieces if the “glue” is no good?

Pole Barn ConnectionsThe cleanest and safest designs are ones in which members directly bear upon each other, as well as those which rely upon engineered building connectors (such as hangers and brackets manufactured by companies such as Simpson Strong-Tie®). Pole buildings which have fewer pieces (albeit possibly larger) also have far fewer connection points, reducing the probability of a failure due to either under design or under (or incorrect) installation.

Proper post frame design is best done when each connection is calculated to be able to withstand the climactic conditions (wind, snow and seismic forces) as well as weights of materials which will be applied. Well detailed plans will spell out every connection – so the designer’s intent is fully clear. The person(s) constructing the building and the Building Inspector should work together to ensure building connectors are adequate to meet the plans.

Nationwide®Top Three Reasons Pole Buildings Fail

Nationwide® Insurance and Common Pole Building Failures

As my loyal readers know, I recently attended the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) 2014 Expo in Nashville, TN.  The NFBA (http://www.nfba.org) is the only national trade association which represents post-frame industry professionals. The association is the country’s primary source of post-frame building resources, research, networking, news and education.

While the NFBA Expo highlights for me are typically being able to interact with the hundreds of vendors who are displaying the latest pole building innovations and products on the trade show floor, this year the National Frame Building Association had a surprise in store for me.

The daily NFBA Expo “breakout” sessions included the fields of Sales and Marketing, Management and Technical Knowledge.

The surprise session for me was, “Avoiding Common Building Failures in the Post-Frame Industry”. The presenter was Ryan Michalek, a Registered Professional Engineer, who is one of several engineers employed by Nationwide® Insurance to help its policy holders avoid catastrophic structural building failures.

Let me begin by saying I am NOT a paid spokesperson for Nationwide® Insurance. In fact, I am not, nor have I ever had a policy issued by Nationwide®. Given their presenter’s informative presentation as an indicator, this could change in the future.

Nationwide® is one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world, focusing on domestic property and casualty insurance, life insurance and retirement savings, asset management, and strategic investments.  On December 17, 1925, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation incorporated the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in Columbus, Ohio and In 1955, Farm Bureau Mutual changed its name to Nationwide® Insurance, a name by which it is commonly known today.

Truss-FramingThe “trailer” for this session was, “Would you find it surprising that Nationwide Insurance’s loss experience with post-frame buildings is disproportionately represented by newly constructed facilities? The company’s loss history is full of buildings that are less than 5 years old and that fail when subjected to their first moderate wind or snow loading event or to a modest commodity-loading cycle. This presentation discusses the common oversights in post-frame building design and construction which lead to building loss and offers strategies to eliminate these oversights.”

I quizzed Mr. Michalek myself as to how many of these failures were subjected to a structural plan review by a Building Official. His opinion was few, if any, of the buildings which failed were designed by a registered design professional RDP (registered engineer or architect), as they are nearly exclusively “agricultural” structures, which are exempted from the Building Permit process in many states.

My personal belief is every building should be designed by an RDP, (engineer) as well as being subjected to structural review by a Building Official. Knowing the size of the Insurance Industry, I questioned why it was Nationwide® and other insurance companies were not lobbying for stricter rules for these now permit exempt buildings. Mr. Michalek minced no words in stating the Agricultural lobby in the United States is far more powerful than the insurance industry.

Myself, I am just not understanding the thought processes of those who would invest in buildings which will underperform or fail structurally, all in the name of saving a few dollars. Considering many of the failures come from the poultry industry, it seems the cost and cleanup of a million dead chickens would trump the few dollars saved on construction.

What was surprising to me, was the actual most prevalent failures – although column size and embedment always seem to be big concerns from informed purchasers, it wasn’t a contributor to the three major causes of failures: lateral bracing of trusses; purlin to truss connections and unbalanced and snow drift loads on trusses.

Roof trusses function very well when loaded in the manner in which they are designed to be strong – vertically. I’ve discussed truss bracing before in this forum: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/10/bottom-chord-bracing/ and http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/09/truss-bracing/

Come back tomorrow and I will give you examples of just how easily the wrong bracing can help a building to fail.

Frame Building Expo

The National Frame Building Association (NFBA) began 45 years ago when a group of Midwestern post-frame (pole) builders gathered in Chicago to mount a challenge to pending changes in the Indiana building code which would have threatened the post-frame industry. This group, along with interested engineers and architects, was able to prove the structural reliability of pole building construction, and the rest is history.

NFBA LogoI first heard of the NFBA in the mid-1980’s and joined as the association’s first and only western member. The first NFBA Expo I attended was at Hershey, PA in 1987 and just a few years later, at the Expo at Hilton Head, SC I was elected to the association’s board of directors.

Early NFBA events were often poorly attended.  However, over the years, the association gradually has built its membership, as well as value to its members.

The 2014 Frame Building Expo is being held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN; March 5-7. This year’s event promises to be a blockbuster, as exhibitor booth space for the trade show was sold out in mid-October 2013 – exceeding the sold space of both of the most recent prior Expos (2013 in Memphis and 2012 in St. Louis). As a result of the early sell out, more space was added to meet the needs of vendors.

Most certainly potential pole building owners are not going to be attending an event such as this. The 2014 Frame Building Expo affords me the ability to meet face-to-face with the hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers who exhibit. I will be finding out the industry’s latest and greatest innovations, as well as gathering more in depth information on existing products. As a result, I (as well as my fellow Hansen Pole Buildings’ team mates) will be able to evaluate products, and if we find “the better mousetrap”, will be able to integrate it into our offerings . We do the homework, so our clients don’t have to.

Look for future articles here on products from the Frame Building Expo. For more information on the National Frame Building Association, visit: www.nfba.org

Post Frame Prices: Knowing the Competition

Knowing the Competition Better Than They Know Themselves

Hansen Pole Buildings provides post frame building kit packages. Lots of them and in all 50 states! As such, we have lots of clients provide quotes from our competitors, with the idea we will meet or beat the pricing – of lesser featured or poorer quality buildings.

Besides the obvious features, there are some not so obvious things which clients do not always realize. The better providers and builders of pole buildings, pay good money to belong to associations and organizations which promote quality standards as well as reasonable levels of service. Many of these providers, us included, proudly display the logos of the organizations we belong to.

There are other companies, which display the logos, but are actually not members, nor do they pay dues to the organizations. These businesses are cheaters – pure and simple. They cheat the organizations they fraudulently claim to belong to, the members of the organizations who are honest and pay dues, as well as the consumer – who unwittingly believes no business would possibly do such a thing.

Hansen Buildings BBB RatingThe most prevalent case I see is alleged membership in the Better Business Bureau. On the home page for Hansen Pole Buildings is the BBB logo which says we are an accredited business. Click on this logo and it takes you directly to the BBB website, and gives you a report on our business. If this logo is found on any other website – click on it. If it does nothing, or is a “dead link”, you are probably dealing with a cheat. I would encourage the immediate reporting of any such business to the appropriate Better Business Bureau, as they are most likely fraudulently using the BBB logo.

Question any provider of either post frame building kits, or construction services as to why they are not BBB members. While the BBB is not the “end all”, it is a starting point for determining the legitimacy of a business.

The National Frame Building Association (www.NFBA.org) represents the post frame industry. Every legitimate post frame building kit provider, or contractor should be a member. Just today, I came across a company based in Ohio with the NFBA logo on their website. A call to the NFBA at (800)557-6957 confirmed the company is not an association member, even with the logo proudly displayed!

On the home page for the company in question, is a link to a video leading one to believe the plant shown to be “our” (as in their) manufacturing plant. With “our” lumber under roof, all of the steel coils in “our” warehouse, etc., etc. The problem is – the video is not of this business’ facility!

Their website proudly touts, “By eliminating the middle-man, you save!” however they ARE the middle man – they are reselling someone else’s post frame building and making a profit (nothing wrong with making a legitimate profit).

As a consumer, you can either do due diligence and actually check a company out, or take the risks.

Consider the old adage, “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory”.