Amish Speed Barn Raising

Pole Barn Guru Blog

Amish Speed Barn Raising

All of us seem to be captivated by “speed building” videos. Heck, I even got into it back in 1996, when my company set a world record for the fastest site built two-car garage: (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/06/fastest-pole-building-ever-constructed/)!The Mother Nature Network has an Amish barn raising video up, which has become somewhat of an internet sensation, with what appears to be virtually an army of Amish carpenters assembling a barn in a single day: https://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/blogs/watch-a-10-hour-amish-barn-raising-in-less-than-4-minutes

Amish Barn RaisingThe Amish have a reputation for quality, however be mindful, just like any other group of individuals – quality comes both in good, as well as poor.

My biggest experience in dealing with Amish craftsmanship in pole building construction came on a horse stall barn we provided for a client in Florida. Our client shipped an Amish crew to Florida by train to construct his building.

Now I am not even going to get into the requirement of all Florida contractors to have a certified license, with one of the requirements being the contractor must carry Workers Compensation Insurance (the Amish do not believe in Industrial Insurance due to religious beliefs).

Some “things” occurred during the construction process – the client claimed to be short an entire unit of 2×4 material, although the photograph they took of their delivery truck leaving their yard showed the unit was there, and the client’s wife signed the delivery ticket for them as being received.

Due the building being long, narrow and partially enclosed it required the use of strategically placed Simpson steel strapping. The straps were to be installed wrapped around the columns at each end, with a plethora of nails into the columns. The Building Inspector called our office looking for a “fix” when he saw the straps were installed only across the outside face of the columns with about 10% of the required nails present. It seems the Amish construction crew hadn’t looked overly hard at the plans.

The building was “L” shaped with a full hipped roof. Rather than utilizing the very large cutoff sheets of steel from the hips – the crew demanded more steel panels. Then they ran out of base trim for the bottom of the walls….by a significant amount. Somehow the crew managed to run out of roof screws – by nearly a thousand. Of course they had a 1000 extra stitch screws, because they used the wrong screws to attach the ridge caps!

Not long after this building was completed, my bride and I were in Florida. I just could not resist renting a car for the 70 minute journey to the building site. The client’s wife had decided their Amish crew could do no wrong and we were the “Evil Empire”. She gave us the cold shoulder when we arrived, so we just remained cordial and complimented her greatly on their facility.

I did “find” the unit of 2×4. The Amish builders had cut it up into blocking which they installed randomly between the roof purlins (there was none on the plans, nor was there any apparent need for it). Also, the base trim “turned up”. The builders had turned it upside down and used it as drip edge on top of the fascia boards!

My opinion (at least of this particular crew) was they were not overly interested in paying close attention to the plans and they most certainly never bothered to open the detailed Construction Guide which was provided with the building.

Back to the Amish speed barn raising…..

Notice people. Lots and lots of people. All over the roof. With no safety equipment what-so-ever. Now I realize the Amish believe in taking care of their own, in the event of injury, but working at heights without proper safety precautions more than borders upon foolish. Construction accidents do happen, even to the most experienced of builders: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/07/dont-take-a-fall/

And no power tools – nada, nyet, zip, none. Which means all of the steel is being put on with nails. For an overview of the evils of applying steel roofing and siding with nails, please read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/12/ring-shank-nails/

Speed is one thing, speed with safety and lasting quality is an entirely different issue.

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