Pole Barn Gone Awry with Building Contractor

When things appear to be going from bad to worse

The original question was posed by the reader, Jimmy, as to the adequacy of materials supplied to construct his new pole barn (by a builder, not a Hansen Pole Building). His story first appeared in my column just a few days ago.

Here is Round #2:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Thank you for your response, no I am not in your data base, I’ve been searching everywhere and anywhere I can for help on this as I am in a dire situation. 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. Enough of the drama, all I know is that the metal for the side walls are 11ft tall, the ceiling in the lower level will be adjusted for 11ft instead of the normal 10ft. this is for extra room for a vehicle lift later down the road. I live in Northern Indiana, about 30 miles of South Bend. The pole barn is being built in a wooded section of land, not sure if that helps or not. The builder is (in my opinion) as slick as they come, he doesn’t like talking to me because I ask too many questions. I appreciate your time on this, I know you’re busy, If I ever do this again I will be sure to check with you first.  I’m going to email the building inspector and hope he shows up for work on Monday and reads his emails over morning coffee.

Thank you again for your time, JIMMY IN SOUTH BEND

DEAR JIMMY: You are very welcome. Hopefully I have been of some help to you, as I agree, you are in a dire situation.

It does certainly sound/feel like you are in a situation with plenty of drama. Time for you to take control of the situation.

#1 STOP THE BUILDER FROM MOVING FORWARD. Until you are totally satisfied all is the way it should be, there is no reason to escalate a situation from being bad, to being worse. This pole barn is a permanent structure and if it is messed up, you will be stuck with the consequences of it forever.

#2 Don’t expect the Building Inspector to be the “traffic cop”. It is going to be up to you, and you alone, to resolve this one.

#3 Before you allow the builder to move forward, demand he produce the engineered plans for your building. CALL HIM TODAY and let him know.

#4 An 11 foot high ceiling is inadequate for a car lift – it takes 12 feet of clear height. In the event the 4×6 columns would happen to be adequate to carry the load, the 18 foot length they shipped would allow for more height. This could be accomplished by adding wainscot around the bottom of the building, so as to be able to utilize the already delivered steel panels.

Because I care about our industry and hate seeing people get less than they bargained for (or a potential failure looking for a place to happen), I will do a couple of things for you, for free. First, scan the agreement with the builder – both sides if there is information on the reverse and email them to me. I can perhaps give you more insights once I have it in hand. When you get the engineered plans from the builder, scan and send them to me as well – you may have to go to a Fedex/Kinkos and have them reduced in order to send them.

To my faithful readers – don’t sign an agreement with a pole building kit package supplier, or especially a builder for a new building without thoroughly having vetted them. Here are some points which may prove helpful in dealing with contractors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/contractor-6/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/successful-relationship/

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