My Drill Stem Pipe Barn Sways in Light Winds
“Recently my husband and I decided we would try building a pole shed row barn for our horses out of structural drill stem pipe. We used 2 7/8 pipe columns on 12’ centers with 2 3/8 pipe columns supporting the (over hang, non-stall) side of the barn. It is 60×24, with 12’ tall center poles and 10’ tall short walls. The rafters are welded 2 3/8 pipe with 6” clips with the 2×6 purlins bolted to them with hex bolts to support the 26g r panel roof. We ended up putting the columns (poles) 3’ in the ground with 1 (and some of them got 2) bags of concrete in the hole with the remaining dirt backfilled. We also had the pad built up after the poles were set so there is about a foot of sand as well. The poles all have a base of red clay. We didn’t know what we were doing so we ended up not doing any footers or anything like that. So my question is, is this sufficient for the columns and if not how do we add support after they’re already up? My concern is this thing falling on our horses. We have significant movement (in my opinion) and racking so far, even after putting the roof on; however, it did get better after the roof went on. I can still shake it if I go to swinging on one of the columns. We can also we some cracking in the ground around the poles when it goes to moving after we’ve been pushing on it. There are no walls on yet, but we plan on adding a wall on each end and possibly the whole backside of the barn where the stalls will go. The front will stay open. Stalls will be welded to the vertical columns using 2 7/8 pipe so the entire structure will end up being held together at the base like it is at the top. I just worry about it buckling somewhere and coming down because we didn’t put our poles in the ground good enough. Please let me know your thoughts and what we can do to provide more strength. I’ll send some pictures so you can understand what I’m talking about. Thanks for any advice 🙏
I will add, we had around 25mph wind gusts today and I did notice it swaying and vibrating some but I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I hadn’t of leaned against one of the poles.”
Thank you for reaching out to me. Your building has a plethora of challenges, some can be solved, others you will have to make do with best you can.
Although not a current challenge, building upon a red clay base is likely to result in some long term negative consequences. Why would clay be an issue to build upon? Clay expands and contracts depending upon the amount of moisture present. When wet – clay expands, when dry it shrinks. These movements will cause buildings to move as well – not a good thing.
If your intent is for your building to be a permanent long-term structure, my best recommendation is to engage the services of a Registered Professional Engineer who can make recommendations as to how to properly reinforce what you have to make it structurally sound.
Issues include (but may not be limited to):
Lack of adequate concrete backfill/encasement under and around vertical pipes. This can be tackled by digging out around each column down to where you have current concrete and backfilling with more pre-mix. Required diameter can be determined by whomever you hire as an engineer.
Pipe columns may be inadequate in diameter for proper stiffness.
Adding properly engineered walls will increase stiffness. Should you happen to enclose your two ends and a single sidewall, your resultant will be a three sided building and they have an entire set of challenges all their own (for extended reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/three-sided-building/).
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