Building Plans 101: Loft Storage or Bonus Room

Last week and up through today I have been talking about building plans, how to tell if they are “good ones” or not, before you buy your building.  Whoever you buy a pole building kit from should be able to show you a set of sample plans prior to you plunking down a huge chunk of change to purchase it.  The plans don’t have to be for your specific building.  If you are ordering a custom design, it takes manpower and dollars on their part to configure the design and draft them.  However, they should be able to at least give you an idea of what the plans pages entail for drawings and instructions of how to put it together.  Pole building kits are probably one of the easiest buildings to assemble, compared to all steel buildings or stick built.  But it’s amazing what some companies do to make it look like rocket science in the presentation of their pole barn plans.  It just doesn’t have to be “that hard”.

Plans should be specific, easy to understand and follow.  Obviously a set of plans will only show how to put in a loft, if the building is designed for loft storage of any kind.  If you don’t tell the company you are purchasing a pole building kit from you will “someday” be putting in a loft, your building will not be designed to support one.  Trying to “beef it up later” is just not smart thinking.  I’m sorry, but this is the cold hard reality: be sure to tell the vendor you are purchasing from exactly what you are doing with your building in the future, not just “now”.  Yes, you may never put in the loft storage space you dream of.  But the extra cost now may save you thousands of dollars later.

Or worse yet for those who sort of “ignore” the design loads for adding a loft “later” and think the trusses/roof support system can handle adding “attic space for a few boxes”….Do NOT go there.  I am serious.  Do you really want to risk having your building fall down on your new car, pickup or even worse, family members or friends, because you chose to inadequately design your building?  This is nothing to mess around with!  For a few dollars more you can, at a minimum, have the trusses designed to carry the load of your loft/attic/bonus room.

What you will see on your plan of your loft is exactly what I’ve alluded to here: loft loading values.  Your plans should clearly list the floor live load.  This value varies according to what you are putting up in the loft.  Discuss with your vendor if you are going to use the loft for a “bonus room” such as a room for the pool table, or to store hay, or just to throw a Christmas decoration boxes up there.

Stairs are also shown on the plans, with very code specific guidelines on what you can use for the handrails, guardrails and balusters, besides stair “rise and run”.  These may vary from one state to the next, and even between counties within a state, so it behooves you to ask your county ahead of time.  There are over 7,000 different building departments in the United States!  Although our company tries to keep up with all of them, including changes over time, it helps to have the client on the ball for every bit of county (or borough or city) specific information on lofts and stairs.

Click here to see a sample Lofts/Stairs layout:

What are elevation drawings and who needs them?  Come back tomorrow and find out!

3 thoughts on “Building Plans 101: Loft Storage or Bonus Room

  1. I have a 40 by 60 pole,14ft. wall, 2×4 rafters 24 inch centers under tin and cdx roof. I wish to build a loft, 7ft from floor, 12 x 11 ft. Can the 4-12 rafter be changed to give more headroom in the center of building than the present 7ft headroom which is allowed now?

  2. I would like to build a loft in my barn it will be 15 by 36 how much would it cost per square foot which would be 540 square foot?

    1. admin Post author

      Without lots of details there is no way to even guess, as there are just too many variables. If this is an existing building, chances are the supporting columns will need to be excavated and diameter of footings increased. So, if it is existing, you are going to need to hire a Registered Professional Engineer to review what you have and design a system adequate to support loads to be imposed.

      If you are considering this as part of a new building, please call 1(866)200-9657 to discuss with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.


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