Minimum Wind And Snow Loads

Hansen Pole Buildings is a proud member of the NFBA (National Frame Building Association 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:

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!


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *