Why Pole Barn Columns Settle

Don't be Like Jimmy's Parents

A new post frame (pole) building or barn is an investment, a very permanent investment. Readers have been following a couple of articles involving Jimmy's new building, which is NOT a Hansen Pole Building and Jimmy is not very happy.

This is how the building was purchased (in Jimmy's words): “This was an impulse purchase by my parents, basically picking a builder from a hat, and signing a contract before I could check around, and it's been a mess ever since.”

Here is the most recent round of conversations:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: The mess of it is….you call guy #1, tell him what you want, he orders the materials, guy #1 calls guy #2 the excavator, guy #2 excavates, calls guy #1 when he's done, guy #1 then calls guy #3, the builder. I did get a chance to talk with the builder and I asked around, he's very reputable.

The building inspector said the same thing you did about the engineered plans, about not knowing if the 4×6's could support the attic trusses, without them. But couldn't those be doctored to say whatever they want? He did say something odd to me though, the more trusses on the supports, the less the support is stressed because of weight dispersion (not sure I'm explaining it the way he said).

If I can get the info you requesting, I will surely send it to you. But the contract isn't in my name, and is out of my hands.

Here's another thing, the 4×6 posts were buried 4ft without concrete, the explanation was most builders will put a couple of feet in the hole and fill the rest with dirt, so when it rains the water cant drain beyond the concrete, and the dirt above the concrete stays moister longer and will start to rot the posts. I don't know, wish I did.

About the vehicle lift, I don't need one to be able to stand under the vehicle, just one to get it about 3ft off the ground so i can work under, if need be, and it won't have any attachment to trusses, maybe anchored to concrete, but that's a ways off.

In the end it will be right, even if it has to be torn down and redone.

Thanks- JIMMY

engineer-sealDEAR JIMMY: Engineered plans include the “wet seal” in ink of the engineer who produced them along with an original signature in another color of ink. Could the plans be changed after the fact? Well yes, but it would take some work to do so and not have it show up as being a forgery. I am not a gambling man, but I would be will to wager there is no engineering on the building which is being constructed for you.

How do I know this?

Because no engineer in his right mind would be sealing a set of plans with posts just buried four feet in the ground and no means to prevent settling or uplift.

Many builders will at least try to resist settling by the use of a minimal concrete footing below the columns – however in your case, I can pretty well guarantee the columns are going to settle and perhaps drastically.

Here are some of my thoughts on how people have tried (and failed) to resist the forces of gravity: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/concrete-cookies/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/ and a few words about uplift: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/wind-uplift/

If your builder has supplied properly pressure preservative treated columns (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/10/pressure-treated-posts-2/) then the columns should last pretty much indefinitely regardless of whether the posts get damp or wet.

In my humble opinion, what is a shame is your builder could actually have done your building right, with little or no extra expense. In his efforts to shave a dollar here and a dollar there, he is providing you with far less of a finished building than what you bargained for.

Considering a new building? Even if you are absolutely not going to invest in a Hansen Pole Building, I implore you to at least become educated in making what is most likely the biggest permanent investment you will ever make, other than perhaps your home. Read the blog articles, they are easily searchable, subscribe to our free emailed newsletters (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/tag/pole-building-newsletters/) and make use of our free Planning Guide (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-barn-planning-guide/).

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