Tag Archives: post frame construction

Why Post Frame Construction is So Efficient vs. Stick-Built

I recently had this comment from a client, “In normal construction projects I would order at least 5% overage and it looks like closer to 1% here, I have like 20 extra screws total, a foot of extra eave trim, two whole extra pieces of vinyl soffit.”
Obviously this client didn’t grow up being the cutoff man for the framing projects of my father and uncles – where at the end of a project our cutoffs had better not cover the top of a card table. It was all about no waste and was one of the reasons they were paid top dollar, their clients saved it in material costs.
Post frame construction, at least as we practice it, is about shipping exactly what it takes to get the job done. After all, what do you do with a pile of random leftover pieces? And do you want to pay extra, just for those random pieces (not to mention what do you want extra of – a column? Or, how about a truss?).
But just how true is the wastefulness of stick frame construction?
From a recent article in the Journal of Light Construction:
“Clark Ellis, CEO and founder of Continuum Advisory Group, a management consultancy based in Raleigh, N.C, says his team analyzed hundreds of house plans from several divisions of the nation’s top builders.

building-plansEllis found that many builders were spending $2,000 to $4,000 more per home than necessary. “Material takeoffs are rounded up to the next highest number, then padded with generous waste factors. Inaccurate deliveries aren’t identified as such and materials get used inefficiently, so the builder has to order more to make up the shortfall,” he says. While these numbers include all materials, he sees the most waste in framing and siding. The causes include the following:

Sloppy takeoffs. “Most builders don’t know exactly how much of what materials go into their homes,” says Ellis. In particular, relying on suppliers for takeoffs often results in inaccurate shipments that have to be augmented later, making it difficult for the builder to get an accurate handle on costs.

Waste acceptance. Some trade contractors routinely add a 10% or 15% waste factor after rounding the takeoff up to the next highest number.

Stressed superintendents. With skilled job supervisors in short supply, those who are employed have more responsibilities than ever. They lack the time to verify deliveries or the experience to question field purchase orders from trade contractors who failed to do accurate takeoffs.

Lumber poaching. Framers who run short on sticks will often “borrow” from the next house in the development, leaving that one short. The practice can have a domino effect as the community is built out.

Poor tracking. “Many builders lack a system for ensuring that unused materials get returned and credited,” Ellis says. Field supervisors may see this as an accounting issue, but the accountants can track down a missing credit only if someone notifies them of the return.”

It is pretty easy to sort out the post frame building erectors who fall into the category of those mentioned by Mr. Ellis. They want to quote a flat price for labor to assemble, then have the client open an account at the local lumber yard, so they can charge whatever they want to the assembly of a building.

Seriously? And folks actually buy into giving builders an open line of credit to spend as they see fit!
Want some cost control on your new post frame building? Go with the material supplier who can provide plans produced specifically for your building at your site and who will guarantee they will deliver all of the components necessary to assemble.

Pole Barn Bid, A1V Barrier, and Definitions

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am bidding on a simple 80×140 pole barn with 12′ sides. I can’t come up with something reasonable. What would you bid. I need help. Last time I did it wrong and it hurt financially. Thanks. JASON in MINBURN

DEAR JASON: As you probably found out on your last post frame building project, they are far more than just simple barns, especially when they get to this sort of footprint. Our buildings will not be the least expensive, as there is always going to be someone out there who is willing to sacrifice quality for price. What you will get is the best possible building value for your investment. You will be hearing from one of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designers shortly.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: So I decided to put up a pole building for a garage. I bought a standing roof kit, 30×50 with 12″ eaves and steel trusses that are arched in the middle of the building, for future dreams of having a car lift. My trusses have brackets welded on them for my 10′ 2×6 purlins to run in. My question is, do I need some sort of vapor barrier in between my metal roof and my purlins? My purlins run horizontal, I plan to use vented soffit the whole way around the building, 2 gable vents, and it also has a ridge vent. I will frame inside underneath the lowest point of my truss and insulate above that. It will leave about a 16″ gap between my interior ceiling and the steel roof. Thanks for the help. BRYENT in OHIOVILLE

Reflective InsulationDEAR BRYENT: Yes – it is essential you have a vapor barrier between the roof purlins and the steel roofing. I would recommend using A1V (aluminum one side white vinyl inwards toward conditioned space. Hansen Pole Buildings has six foot net coverage rolls in stock for immediate shipment. These rolls have a tab on one edge which has an adhesive pull strip – so no rolls of tape to deal with.

Code does not allow for gable vents to be used in conjunction with eave and ridge vents. It is one or the other and I would pick eave and ridge for the most uniform ventilation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What defines a pole barn? The last building I put up on my property is an all steel truss roof structure and the foundation has 3’x3’x3′ footings at each of the six columns. What is the foundation used? STEVE in PALMDALE

DEAR STEVE: Technically a “pole barn” is a post frame building. Below is the definition for a post-frame building system from ANSI/ASABE S618 Post-Frame Building System Nomenclature. This standard was written to establish uniformity of terminology used in building design, construction, marketing and regulation.

Lean BuildingA building characterized by primary structural frames of wood posts as columns and trusses or rafters as roof framing, Roof framing is attached to the posts either directly or indirectly through girders. Posts are embedded in the soil and supported on isolated footings, or are attached to the tops of piers, concrete or masonry walls, or slabs-on-grade. Secondary framing members, purlins in the roof and girts in the walls, are attached to the primary framing members to provide lateral support and to transfer sheathing loads, both in-plane and out-of-plane, to the posts and roof framing.”

 

Stilt Houses

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey nearly all Americans have seen video of the devastation across the coastal lowlands of Texas. Over and over photos of water logged drywall and carpets being torn out of homes which were flooded by epic rainfalls of biblical proportion were enough to churn my gut. Especially as so much of it could have been avoided. The houses which did not suffer flood damage – stilt houses!

How appropriate to have this question posed by reader BILL in SUMMERVILLE who writes, “Looking at options for a very simple cabin on a barrier island. Can I build a pole cabin on a raised telephone pole type foundation? (Poles would be jetted into a very sandy loam soil.) Can it be engineered to stand coastal SC wind load ratings? Many thanks.”

Well Bill, they would not be telephone poles, but pressure preservative treated wood columns. After a trip to the Carolina coast a few years ago, I had written an article on this very subject: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/11/kitty-hawk/

Stilt houses are nothing new and appear in regions across the globe. They are well suited to coastal regions and climates ranging from subtropical to artic.

At my lakefront home outside of Spokane, Washington, my garage/studio apartment/office combination post frame stilt building has 14 feet of grade change in 24 feet. By the utilization of long columns I was able to construct on an otherwise impossible to build upon site.

Stilt home construction makes sense in many regions to reduce or eliminate possible damage from flooding. In unstable or weak soils areas, the pressure preservative treated columns can be embedded deep into the ground to provide positive anchorage against uplift and overturning.

My lovely bride and I will be on a cruise ship to the South Pacific next Spring – where stilt houses are used to construct livable space over water. Post frame construction is perfect for this application and reduces the impact upon fragile shorelines.

In warm climates, the shaded area beneath stilt houses helps to naturally cool the building. Not just from the shade itself, but also from the ability of breezes to free flow beneath the home.

Permafrost in the Arctic poses another set of design challenges. Permafrost is over 2/3rds water and if melted by the heat from a building becomes unstable allowing the structure to shift and settle. Stilt houses remove the heat source from the permafrost, keeping everything stable.

Don’t be the next victim of a Hurricane Harvey – look to a post frame stilt house as your design solution!

Post Frame Public Library

In Bend, Oregon, Hacker Architects, out of Portland, Oregon, designed a library with wooden beams similar to pole barns in the area. Hacker is an architecture firm which has designed over 30 libraries in the U.S. In my humble opinion, rather than trying to give the “feel” of a pole barn, libraries would be best served by the utilization of actual post frame design, which could result in savings of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to the taxpayers.

Laura Klinger, a library specialist with Hacker, gave some insight into modern libraries:

“I often get the question, ‘Aren’t libraries dead?’” Klinger said. “Actually, on the contrary, libraries now are more essential and popular than ever before.”

She said libraries are becoming less focused on books and becoming places for people. Old libraries used to be more like bunkers, but she said modern libraries have lots of windows to let in natural light. They also forge connections to the city and surrounding natural environment.
Nearly all new libraries have interactive environments for children as well as versatile space for ‘tweens and teens.

Libraries in the new style are “just really kind of vibrant, energetic places to be,” Klinger said.
Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography, had this to say about the country’s first library, which he founded in 1731, “This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair’d in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended for me. Reading was the only amusement I allow’d myself.”

If your municipality is considering a new library, Hansen Pole Buildings would be more than interested in working with your architectural firm of choice to help best design a post frame library which best meets with the needs of the community while keeping a practical budget in mind.

Post frame construction is Code conforming and allows for many unique architectural spaces to be created – including wide clearspans to provide comfortable open areas. Energy efficiency is growing more and more important. Post frame building systems allow for thick walls and roof systems to best utilize added insulation thickness – reducing the annual costs of maintaining any commercial building, not just libraries.

When is Too Small for a Pole Barn?

Reader JENNIFER from CANON CITY writes:
“Is there such a thing as too small of a pole barn to build? I am wanting a shed/hobby space with enough height to make a loft in the future. Due to setbacks and sewer lines, I can only do a 12’X26′ building. Plans for pole barns begin at 20′ or 24′ in width. I absolutely love the concept of the pole barn because I can get the structure set up quickly, then add plumbing, electric, slab floor and loft later as my budget allows. Wish I only needed a 10’X12″ shed that does not require a permit for my needs, but I am in an in-between size that may be too small for a pole barn build.”

About Hansen BuildingsOne of the beauties of post frame (pole barn) construction is it lends itself to buildings of any dimension – from what might be considered tiny to covering an acre or more!

 

 

Searching the deepest archives of my fading memory, I believe the smallest I have been involved with is about six feet square, to be used as a pump house. Regardless of the dimensions, it is going to be pretty tough to find an alternative construction method which will yield such a cost effective permanent structure as post frame.

In the case of a Hansen Pole Buildings, our Instant Pricing™ program allows for our clients to get exactly the dimensions they desire – width, length, height and roof slope down to fractions of an inch, without having to pay a premium! Your investment is not going to be predicated upon some larger size which happens to be a “standard”.

I always encourage clients to construct the largest building which will fit on their available space and within their budget. It appears working around the limitations of your property, you are planning exactly as I would.

Whether large or small, post frame construction is most likely the answer!

Afraid of Buying a Pole Barn Home

Reader Carol recently wrote me this: I’m encountering problems with folks looking at my house and being “Afraid” of buying the house.  Because it’s a pole barn house rather than a stick house.

 What can I tell these folks to help them understand pole barn houses are still a good purchase?”

Gambrel roof pole barnI happen to live in a “pole barn” (aka post frame) home and can tell you it is a fantastic building. Here is my response to Carol:

“Some of your challenge may be in how your home is being presented. If you are telling people it is a pole barn house, you are probably turning them off just because of the term “pole barn”. Whether post frame or stick built, what you have is a “wood framed” home. Period, end of story. Same with when you have an appraisal done. If your post frame home is not attached to a continuous perimeter concrete footing, then the foundation should be listed as being, “Pressure preservative treated wood foundation”. It all just comes down to a matter of concept.

Post frame construction happens to be fully recognized by the IBC (International Building Code) as being a conforming structure. Having the engineer wet sealed plans for your building also allows you to market your home as a building which is actually designed by a Registered Design Professional – not just somebody winging it together. In most areas, very few if any, homes are actually engineer designed. In the event you do not have the original engineered plans, it may behoove you to invest in an engineer who can provide “as built” plans for you.

As in selling anything, make a list of the features your home has which are exceptional, along with the benefit to the end user of each feature. A feature without a corresponding benefit is not going to make the cut. All the prospective buyer cares about is what is in it for them. Once those benefits are perceived as being greater than the prospective investment, all of those fears go away.”

Sharing the Pole Barn Blame

Sharing the Blame

Welcome to 2017!

As you may recall, 2016 ended with me sharing an email from a builder who is constructing a new Hansen Pole Building and may possibly be a legend in his own mind.

Our company policy, when a challenge arrives, has always been to begin by looking to see what, if anything did we do wrong. In this particular case, we (and yours truly) share in some of the blame.

For you, gentle reader, I will paint a picture of the building in question, so you may get a better feel for the entire process.

The building is a 40 foot clearspan in width, 100 feet long with an eave height of 16 feet and five inches. It is designed under the 8th edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code, with a 90 mph (mile per hour) design wind speed and a 50 psf (pounds per square foot) design flat roof snow load.

It features 12 inch enclosed overhangs on all four sides, as well as three 14 foot wide by 14 foot tall overhead doors on one sidewall.

The most practical design solution actually (which is a rare case) turned out to be based upon the traditional “East coast” style of post frame construction, with a single truss spaced every four feet on top of “truss carriers” (beams) spanning sidewall columns generally every eight feet (other than at the overhead door locations).

This building happens to be narrow in width in relationship to length (1 to 2.5 ratio) and is fairly tall. As such, the wind load was great enough to exceed the shear resisting capacity of the steel roofing in the eight feet closest to each endwall.

In order to carry the load, the building was designed so the trusses in the affected areas would have a traditional ¼ inch butt cut (educate yourself on what a butt cut is here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/05/truss-butt-cuts/), while the balance of the trusses would have 11/16 inch butt cuts. This would allow for the top of all truss carriers to be placed at the same height, and 7/16” OSB (Oriented Strand Board – http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/10/osb-versus-plywood/) to be installed on top of the lower heel height trusses.

Pretty darn skippy sounding ……. Until we get to tomorrow!!

Yep – yet another cliff hanger!!

Polo Arenas

Hansen Pole Buildings Designer Rick and I were having a discussion about the amount of headroom needed for a horse riding arena which would be for hunter/jumpers. I referred him to a previous article I had written on the subject: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/02/riding-arenas/

Rick used to play some serious polo, against folks like the Busch brothers (yes, the beer Busch brothers http://www.anheuser-busch.com/). He commented upon the 16 foot eave height probably not being tall enough for indoor polo.

I (being the polo ignorant person I am) became slightly more educated due to Rick’s enthusiasm and my being a willing student. I always had the idea polo was to be played outdoors, where it is typically played upon a large grass field up to 300 yards long by 160 yards wide (for the non-farmers amongst us, this is nearly a 10 acre field)!

Now and then I enjoy visiting Chicago, and try to take in one of the walking architectural tours: (for more information on tours: https://tickets.architecture.org/public/show_list.asp?cgCode=1&cgName=Walking ).

On one of these tours, one might have visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. Just a block east of the Water Tower is where the massive Chicago Avenue Armory stood from 1907 until 1993. The imposing design by the famous architects Holabird and Roche featured multiple turrets, and several additions over the years. And it was indeed the home of indoor polo matches in Chicago for decades.

It was one of several National Guard armories built in Chicago partly in response to labor uprisings. In addition to housing weapons, the armory had large indoor parade grounds for foot soldiers and cavalry.

All the space and arena seating made it a perfect location for an indoor version of polo, a sport often used to train cavalry regiments. It’s sort of like hockey on horseback. Players use mallets to knock a ball into the opposing team’s goal.

The sport was actually a pretty big draw in Chicago sports for a time. The Chicago Polo Club started in the 1890s, but matches weren’t played at the Chicago Avenue Armory until 1925.

In 1949, the Illinois National Guard created a polo league, and the Chicago Avenue Armory became the center of Chicago’s polo action. The Guard’s elite ceremonial Black Horse Troop was made up of the crack polo players who took on other Guard teams and civilian teams alike. Teams from the Chicago area as well as Milwaukee and Detroit played matches every Saturday night from November to April, attracting as many as 4,000 spectators a game.

Despite polo’s lofty reputation as “the sport of kings,” in Chicago it attracted all kinds. One Chicago Tribune account from 1982 described the crowd as split between folks wearing blue jeans and munching potato chips, and well-heeled fans in furs dining on pâté and fondue.

The last season of polo turned out to be in 1982 at the Chicago Avenue Armory, when the National Guard reclaimed the space for guard units and equipment. The state sold it a few years later in 1987 to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In arena polo, only three players (with their mounts) are required per team (as opposed to the traditional four). The arena game usually involves more maneuvering and shorter plays at lower speeds due to space limitations of the arena. The minimum size for arena polo is 150 feet by 75 feet, which is easily doable within the confines of a modern pole (post frame) building.

Rick shared photos of the now defunct Joy Farm Polo Club (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4276611289726&set=o.158718637505333&type=3&permPage=1 ),4r where he and hundreds of other people learned to play polo.

Need a polo arena or horse arena? Call Hansen Buildings for a quote. Even better – ask to speak with Rick, who has experience in polo arenas!n

Residential Pole Barns

Common Sense – It Isn’t Common Any More

As reported in the West Frankfort, Illinois Daily American, in an article posted November 12, 2014 by Leigh M. Caldwell:

“The much-discussed ordinance establishing codes for mobile homes, modular homes, portable buildings and pole barns will go back before city commissioners tonight for a vote.

West Frankfort’s Planning Commission has drafted a couple of different versions of the ordinance over the past few months, garnering much discussion and public comment.

As for portable buildings and pole barns, the proposed ordinance would ban them from being used as residences. Anyone wanting to build a so-called pole barn house would have to meet the requirements for residential structures.”

residential-homeFor the benefit of the unenlightened in West Frankfort (or anywhere else in the United States), “pole barns” are actually more technically “post frame buildings” and their construction is covered as Code Conforming in the International Codes.

It could be unlawful, as well as possibly unethical, for a jurisdiction to deny a Code conforming structural building system. However, as best I have been able to ascertain, to place limitations upon types of roofing and/or siding as well as even colors is certainly within a jurisdiction’s area of control.

Now if you are one who is faced with these types of limitations – keep in mind the folks who have enacted them were either elected by you, or appointed to positions by the folks you elected!

Regardless of the type of building system, whether it be stick framed (stud walls), masonry, concrete, straw bale, or yes – even pole barns – if it falls under residential pole barns, the International Residential Code (IRC) requirements must be adhered to.

The September 2014 Rural Builder Magazine recently focused upon residential pole barns, including the cover story which was authored by yours truly! To read more visit: http://www.constructionmagnet.com/post-frame-technique/post-frame-comes-home-part-i-brave-new-world-of-the-pole-barn-house

Pole Building: Honest Architecture

I recently read an article in Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave about “Historic barn enthusiasts preserve living agricultural heritage” written by Zinta Aistars.

pole barn framingIn the story Steve Steir, president of the Michigan Barn Preservation Network is quoted, “Barns are a symbol of peace and quiet, you can see the bones of the building when you walk inside. A barn is the most honest piece of architecture.”

This quote really got me to thinking about why it is I love pole buildings so much. My three decade involvement with them has been far more than just a way to make a living.  It has been the enjoyment of the simple grace and beauty of a structure which utilizes materials in their most practical form.

Going to architecture school, I recognized so much of the true beauty of a building, comes from the underlying structure – which in most cases gets covered up and buried by one of a myriad of interior and exterior finishes.

In the 1990’s I had built for myself a pole building for manufacturing purposes. The building was truly a structural work of art with 92 foot roof trusses, 150 feet in length and a 20 foot eave height. I remember standing in the middle of the floor after it was completed, just taking in the entire experience.

One of my favorite all time photos, is of a pole barn we were constructing for a wheat farmer near Creston, Washington. Completely framed, ready for the steel roofing and siding to be applied, the photographer caught it in black and white, with the full moon rising behind it. To me, absolutely stunning. We utilized it on the back cover of our sales brochure and received numerous comments about it.

Simple, practical, strong…..these words fit so well with my vision of the perfect structure – a pole building.

Pole Building Design

Why Are Humans so Resistant to Change?

For something which is built into our human DNA, change is something most humans find uncomfortable. Strange when one looks at the history of evolution – we love new things and we normally like improvements around us.

Jumping into the Wayback Machine, roughly 25 years ago, as a post frame builder, I was elected to the board of directors for the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA). One of my fellow directors was a long time pole builder from Mankato, Minnesota. We developed a friendship and he asked if I would mind him visiting the Pacific Northwest so he could see how we constructed pole barns in Eastern Washington.

I quizzed my friend about their pole building design – how they constructed their pole buildings. All of their construction (as well as all of his competitors) was posts every eight feet, single trusses to align with the sidewall columns, with 2×4 roof purlins on edge.

Pole Building Design - Pole SpacingHe liked the looks of our pole building framing system (as he figured there would be far fewer pieces to handle), especially not having to dig so many holes (with columns typically every 12 feet), double trusses and 2×6 or 2×8 roof purlins.

However – he was absolutely certain we would never be allowed to construct buildings done “our way” in Minnesota, as the Building Officials just would not allow it.

Moving back to “today” – interestingly enough, Hansen Pole Buildings has provided post frame building kit packages based upon the very same pole building design over the past eleven years, which would “never be allowed”, all across Minnesota! Not only Minnestoa, but every Midwest state, and every other state in the United States.  Many Building Officials have not only “approved” of them, but have taken a real liking to this simple yet sturdy pole building design, always based upon the Building Code.

In our own state of South Dakota…..about ten years ago we contracted to provide a fairly good sized engineered pole building in Belle Fourche. The client was perfectly happy, until their contractor got ahold of our plans and wanted us to start adding more posts and more trusses.

His theory, he had built at least 30 and maybe 40 pole barns over the past 17 years and none of them had fallen down! I asked him about how he had changed his building style after the IBC (International Building Code) had been adopted. His reply – he didn’t even know there was a new code.

He bragged on how his buildings were designed to withstand 130 mph (miles per hour) winds. Surprisingly, he then proceeded to tell me he had never before constructed an engineer designed building. As long as he built them and they didn’t fall down, that was his “proof”.

There was no hope for this one….

To builders – just because none of them have ever fallen down, is not an indication of quality. And there is more than one design solution for every client’s needs. Sometimes it is beneficial to take a leap of faith and try something new, especially if it has the endorsement of a registered engineer behind it.

At Hansen Buildings, we design to suit the client, poles at 8’, 10, 12’ – or whatever it takes – but first and foremost we design to fully satisfy the building code.  We never design to “less than code”, and every one of our buildings is designed as if an RDP (Registered Design Professional, (aka engineer), is going to put his stamp of approval on the plans.

To do otherwise, is quite frankly…criminal.

Be on the Lookout for More Pole Buildings!

The post-frame construction market has the potential to grow to $8.9 billion by 2016, up from $6.4 billion in 2011, finds a new report by FMI Corporation, a management consulting firm in Raleigh, NC. The report predicts the residential/suburban and light-commercial markets will be the fastest growing segments of the post-frame market in the next 5 years.

The report was conducted for the National Frame Building Association (NFBA) to provide a fact-based assessment of the U.S. post-frame market. The findings are based on online surveys and in-depth interviews with a diverse group of builders, architects, and manufacturers (both NFBA members and nonmembers) and on previous research.

Several key benefits of constructing pole buildings were noted by those who participated in the research, including its low cost compared to traditional building methods, quick speed of construction, adaptability—meaning it lends itself well to different designs and end uses.

While the recent recession hit the post frame industry pretty hard in the middle of 2008, the request for quotes from potential clients has never wavered. As the economy recovers, consumer confidence is rising and unemployment rates are dropping. All of these things bode well for the pent up demand for pole buildings.

Over the past few years, the number of registered (and qualified) contractors has dropped precipitously. This means, as demand increases, there will be long backlogs in order to get a builder with the skills to read plans and follow assembly instructions properly. Labor prices will increase, making it more favorable for building owners to investigate doing the erection work themselves.

The average physically healthy person, who can and will read instructions, can not only construct their own pole building – but in most cases, will end up with a better finished product than having hired out the construction.

Why? Pride of ownership!

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