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How Pole Barns Accept Hangar Doors

A very common statement is: “I love my building, but hate my doors.”
Don’t put cheaply made inferior doors on a great building. Not all door companies offer the same quality!

Hanger DoorHansen Pole Buildings has provided a significant number of pole building hangars located all across the country. By far, the most prevalent choice by our clients of hangar doors have been from Schweiss (www.bifold.com). This is not a recommendation to use Schweiss Hangar Doors, other than to certainly give them every opportunity.

Today’s guest blogger is Pat Schmidt from Schweiss Door.

What Schweiss supplies a contractor or Building provider

Door weight, engineering data, wind load specifications and design specifications

Schweiss can install doors or customer or contractor can. Schweiss provides instructions.

Schweiss bifold and hydraulic doors adapt to any building large or small with no loss of headroom. They can be tightly insulated to save energy. Doors will not sag or bow. Snow and ice will not bother. They seal tightly with a 12” rubber boot at bottom of door. Top rubber seal is the same. Prevents flow of moisture into the door or building.

Each door is custom built for new or existing structures (to the inch). No cookie cutter standard door sizes.

Everything comes complete on the doors except the outside sheeting. Electric top or bottom drive motors available on bifold doors.  Hydraulic doors come with a compact hydraulic pump unit which can be mounted anywhere within the building, up high, low, under a bench… Doors come with external or internal trusses for added strength.

How to measure your building for a bifold door

Schweiss needs need to know the clear inside measurements or air opening, height and width.
Door is hung up and above the clear opening, (usually 12”, 24”, 30” or 36” above the clear opening) on the outside of the building so there is no loss of headroom. This varies from door to door. A header if needed is placed at 12”-22”-28” or 34” to center above the clear opening to hang the Schweiss door on. This can be built into the endwall of a new or existing building. The header is placed above the bottom of the rafter for no loss in headroom. Endwall rafter header placements are different for Wood and Steel Buildings.

The customer and building manufacturer are responsible to ensure the building’s structural design is capable of handling all the imposed loads the Bifold or Hydraulic door exerts the door header, endwall and building. Doors exert considerable horizontal loads on the building structure in the open position. A building header design must meet standard deflection and strength criteria, both in vertical and horizontal directions to support the door in all positions. Schweiss Door factory will help customers fill in the Spec Sheet Details.

Multiple Doors Side-by-Side

Multiple doors can be mounted side-by-side. Often used for T-Hangars. Two doors share the same building column.

Hydraulic Doors

Say “No” to wood on a moving door frame. Some door manufacturers try to replace the horizontal cross members with wood 2x4s instead of metal. Hydraulic and bifold moving doors flex unlike a permanent wall in a building. Besides probably not engineered to support applied wind loads, wood girts in doors tend to warp, twist and shrink, causing a myriad of problems. Stacking wood on a steel member doubles the weight and the thickness of a door and takes away the R value when insulating.

Hydraulic door frames are pre-hung inside their own sub-frame on all Schweiss doors.

To maintain clear opening with an internal truss the door must attach higher on the building.

There is a choice of a “flush mount” which mounts below or under the building header (you sacrifice some headroom with this method), or there is an “exterior mount,” where no headroom is sacrificed.

When hydraulic doors are open they provide a large canopy which offers more shade. There are no obstructions protruding back into the building like a roll-up door.

Building costs will be lower with a hydraulic door because of lower sidewall requirement, less insulation, less sheeting and less labor. Building does not have to be made taller to maximize a clear opening. They are designed to adapt to any size and any type building.

Schweiss “One Piece” hydraulic doors come with a continuous header tube, but when extra strength is needed to support your build/door, Schweiss will supply a free standing header. All headers are custom built to add extra strength. Schweiss offers many door mounting styles to choose from.

Walk doors and windows are available for both styles of doors. Multiple decorative cladding options and glass doors can also be had for the asking.

Thanks Pat, for the info on Schweiss doors!

Planning Interior Accessibility in Barndominiums

Good Morning! This is Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s wife filling in for him as he takes a couple of well deserved days off from writing.

Not too long ago Mike wrote a blog discussing how to plan the interior of your new barndominium or shouse (shop/house). He had some good ideas but there are a few things I’d like to add. In discussing kitchen ideas he mentioned having two dishwashers (they rotate and keep even the pots and pans from having to be scrubbed by hand). Also his idea of having two microwaves works out wonderfully. We can both reheat leftovers in our “His and Hers” microwaves giving us time to eat together and no waiting.

Another thing we did in building our cabinets was to put the dishwashers on a wood pedestal by the seating for the bar area. Dishes are easier to add or remove at that height for both Mike and myself. I’m in a tall power wheelchair so access to appliances is paramount for me.

As an aside, Mike may have mentioned I was in a motorcycle accident almost five years ago, leaving me paralyzed from the chest down. But there’s nothing wrong with my arms or my brain so I try to be as independent as possible. The all fridge/all freezer combo is also on a pedestal a foot off the floor. Easier for Mike to access items from the top shelves as he is 6’5″. That way I can access the bottom two shelves and the drawers, as well as the door compartments.

The part I wish to add about access in the kitchen or anywhere in the home is widths for getting around in a wheelchair. You never know when someone in your household may have to use crutches, a walker or sad to say, a wheelchair.
When we built our two story barndominium, I was normal. We had our kitchen, bath and bedroom custom cabinets installed before my accident. It’s amazing how wonderful these changes to what people usually design has worked out to my ease of access and comfort.

The aisleways between an island or peninsula should also be plenty wide for two people working in a kitchen at the same time. Again, without knowing we’d need more width between counters and appliances, we designed the kitchen with 52″ between the kitchen sink and island. We used a full 5′ between the island and fridge/freezer area due to the doors possibly being open when the other one of want’s to get by. Both allow Mike and I to be working in the kitchen at the same time and he can zip around my chair if need be.

I’ll touch on a few areas in the home where a handicapped person can function easier if planning ahead for that unforeseen circumstance. These changes also allow you to entertain handicapped or physically challenged persons in your home.
In bedrooms leave a good width all around your bed. We have 5′ on all three sides which is just about right. My desk I’m writing on is up on 8″ wooden blocks so my wheelchair fits neatly within the chair hole. We left a good space between the bed and the outer wall, as we had planned for a circular stairway up to a third level loft area that looks down on the bedroom. Thankfully we never got around to putting in that stairs and instead, we have an electric lift which takes me up to my “lady lair”. I can leave my sewing and craft projects out all the time and don’t have to rush to clear off a dining room table once visitors come to our home.
The bathroom. We have a true roll-in shower. No lip to roll over like one might find in a hotel bathroom. The tile is sloped just right for the water to roll off into the drain. We do use a shower curtain to prevent the spray from going all over the vanity area and bathroom door. The bathroom doubles as a laundry area with washer/dryer at one end. These are also up on drawer pedestals. I love having them next to the bathroom and walk-in closet. I don’t have to lug dirty or clean clothes to another part of our home. I can hang up shirts, shorts and the like directly out of the dryer. It saves a ton of time and our laundry area and “roll-in” closet always look neat and organized. There is even a counter in the closet for folding clothes before easily putting them away in the drawers beneath. Baskets in the walk-in closet collect dirty clothes and I can easily sort them before washing.

Doorways. Ours are standard width. The clearance is 35″ which is too narrow. I hate to admit it, but our nice door jambs have more than one gouge from me running into them. I’m not a bad driver, but sometimes I get too close to one side or another, especially when backing up.
Lastly, NO carpeting. We have all hardwood floors, which are beautiful and make zipping around in my wheelchair a breeze.

Thank you for taking the time to see things through my eyes a bit.
Have a great rest of your day!

Judy
J.A. Hansen

Barndominium Building on Expansive Soils

Barndominium Building on Expansive Soils

Expansive soils in many United States areas pose a significant hazard to foundations for barndominiums. Swelling clays derived from residual soils can exert uplift pressures of as much as 5,500 PSF (pounds per square foot) and can do considerable damage to barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes.

Insurance companies pay out millions of dollars yearly to repair homes distressed by expansive soils. 

Expansive soils owe their characteristics to swelling clay minerals being present. As they get wet, clay minerals absorb water molecules and expand; conversely, as they dry they shrink, leaving large soil voids. Swelling clays can control behaviors of virtually any type of soil if the percentage of clay is more than about five percent by weight.

Soils with smectite clay minerals, such as montmorillonite, exhibit most profound swelling properties. In real life, expansive clay soils can be easily recognized in dry seasons by deep cracks, in roughly polygonal patterns, in ground surfaces. This zone of seasonal moisture content fluctuation can extend from three to forty feet deep. This creates cyclic shrink/swell behavior in upper portions of soil and cracks can extend to much greater depths than imagined by most engineers. 

The most obvious way expansive soils can damage foundations is by uplift as they swell with moisture increases. Swelling soils lift up and crack continuous strip footings (as in typical stick frame construction), and frequently cause distress in floor slabs. Because of different building loads on different portions of a structure’s foundation, resultant uplift will vary in different areas. Exterior corners of a uniformly-loaded rectangular slab foundation will only exert about one-fourth of normal pressure on a swelling soil as compared to central slab portions. As a result, corners tend to be lifted up relative to the central portion. This phenomenon can be exacerbated by moisture differentials within soils at slab edges. Such differential foundation movement can also cause distress to a structure’s framing. 

Drilled pier foundations (like isolated widely spaced post frame building embedded columns) have been used in California, Colorado and Texas since the late 1950s to reduce expansive soil damage. However, these types of foundations can also be adversely affected by expansive soil behavior if piers are not sufficiently deep.

When the rainy season begins, piers are still supported by soil friction. When it begins to rain, water enters deep into soil through cracks. After five to 10 large storms, soil swells, lifting buildings and piers. In the dry season, groundwater table falls and soil dries and contracts. As tension cracks grow around piers, skin friction is reduced and effective soil stress increases (due to drying). When building loads exceed remaining skin friction, or effective soil stress increases to an all-time high, adhesion is broken by this straining, and piers sink. Frequently, corner piers of a pier-supported structure are lifted up during swelling in wet season, and then break their skin friction bond with ground when soil shrinks away from the pier in following dry seasons. Loss of this “skin friction” decreases the pier’s ability to support building loads. This straining to soil can become great enough to cause pier failure. To prevent this style of damage, piers must be drilled well below the zone of seasonal moisture fluctuation, and they must be designed with an assumption upper pier portions will lose contact with adjacent soil. 

Expansive soils pose greatest hazard in regions with pronounced wet and dry seasons. This annual cycle of wetting and drying causes soils to shrink and swell each year. Thus, arid regions are much more susceptible to damage from expansive soils than regions maintaining moist soil conditions year around. Biggest problem in expansive soil areas is differential water content. Sources of water in developed areas are not limited to temporal weather cycles, but can be introduced by people. A frequent source of damage is differential swelling caused by pockets of moist soil adjacent to dry soil. For example, lawn and garden watering creates a moist zone on foundation exterior, whereas interior is dry; this creates differential swelling pressure on foundation elements. There is frequently a moisture differential between soils beneath a house and those more directly exposed to changes in the weather.

Best way to avoid damage from expansive soils is to extend building foundations beneath zones of water content fluctuation. This is twofold: first, to provide for sufficient skin friction adhesion below the zone of drying; and, second, to resist upward movement when surface soils become wet and begin to swell. Successive drought years have demonstrated this zone of seasonal fluctuation can extend much deeper than previously believed. Piers extending to depths of six feet can withstand normal annual fluctuations, but do not appear adequate when taken over long hauls, such as a two-year drought followed by an extremely wet year. Another way of mitigating expansive soil problems is to collect surface runoff and to limit surface infiltration during rainy winter months.

Expansive soils cause major damage to light foundations and associated structures. However, engineers have an ability to recognize swelling clay soils and to design structures able to withstand their effects. Enlightened design of deep foundations (where depth of columns is five times or more than footing diameters), and effective drainage of landscape irrigation and swimming pool leakage could dramatically reduce damage to new barndominiums.

What Features Should Your Barndominium Have?

What Features Should Your Modern Barndominium Have?

Seemingly there are a million and one things to consider when planning for your new barndominium. Hopefully, somewhere buried in your lists, are features your new home should have in order to make it appealing to future buyers (although this may be your ‘forever’ home – sadly to say,  someday you will be gone).

NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) conducts an annual survey to provide just this information, helping to make planning just a little simpler. Here are some results of their 2020 survey:

“Walk-in master bedroom closets, low-emissivity (low-e) windows and laundry rooms are the most likely features in typical new homes in 2020, based on a survey of single-family home builders. Energy-efficient features such as efficient lighting, programmable thermostats and ENERGY STAR appliances will also be likely, as will open design concepts such as great rooms and nine-plus-foot ceilings on the first floor. Energy-efficient or eco-friendly features not likely to be included in new homes, however, are cork flooring in main-level living areas, geothermal heat pumps and solar water heating and cooling.

Consumers continue to desire smaller homes, not only in overall square footage, but also the number of features, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. This four-year downward trend has led to the smallest average home size since 2011 at 2,520 square feet—only 20 square feet above the average in 2007, the pre-recession peak. The percentage of homes incorporating four-plus bedrooms, three-plus full bathrooms and three-plus car garages have also dropped to levels not seen since 2012.

“This points to an industry trying to meet the demands of the entry-level home buyer,” said Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president of survey research. “Builders are struggling to meet these demands, however, because of factors such as restrictive zoning regulations and lot prices, with the price of a new lot in 2019 averaging $57,000.”

NAHB also examined preferences among first-time buyers and repeat buyers to help builders determine what features are most likely to resonate in the market in 2020. When asked which they prefer, the majority of both first-time buyers and repeat buyers would rather have a smaller home with high-quality products and services than a bigger home with fewer amenities. The top features desired by both groups include:

  • Laundry rooms
  • ENERGY STAR windows
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Walk-in pantries
  • Patios
  • Ceiling fans
  • Kitchen double sink

These trends are reflected in this year’s Best in American Living Award (BALA) winners as well. For example, designers are including flex spaces that add increased functionality to laundry rooms, hardwood flooring and wood finishes to add warmth and character both inside and outside the home, and creating outdoor spaces that seamlessly integrate with indoor living.”

Will your new barndominium follow these trends?

Here is where it is well worth investing in services of a design professional. Someone who can take all of your ideas, those wants and needs and actually craft a floor plan best melding them with construction realities. 

 

Hansen Pole Buildings has just this service available and it can be done absolutely for free! Read all details here and we look forward to continuing to walk with you in your journey to your beautiful new barndominium

home: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Attic Venting, Moisture Reduction, and a Vapor Barrier

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about ventilation for an attic space, what type of insulation to use for the reduction or elimination of moisture, and to place a vapor barrier under the concrete slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I know you have answered a few questions regarding attic venting so I apologize if this is a repeat. I am looking at finishing the ceiling in my 24′ x 48′ pole barn with thin gage interior steel and blowing in insulation. I currently only have soffit on one gable end and I can see daylight coming in from under the trim on the other end. According to some other threads I have read, I need 3.84 sq. ft. of venting area. The gable end soffit is approximately 25 sq ft but I don’t know how much of that is free venting area. Do you count the whole 25 sq. ft? Also, any recommendations for what to do on the other end? Is the daylight that I can see coming in under the trim good enough? BRYCE in ZIMMERMAN

DEAR BRYCE: By Code you are unable to count any contribution from gable end soffits and areas between overhanging end purlins should be blocked solid to prevent airflow (and to properly create a load path to transfer shear forces from roof to ground). A construction flaw (such as daylight coming in under trim, probably should be fixed, rather than counted. By Code requirement is 3.84 square feet or 552.96 square inches of net free ventilating area located in upper 1/2 of your building’s attic space. My recommendation would be to install gable vents sufficient to provide airflow requirements.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What type of insulation do I need to keep out moisture in my residential building? JACLYN in WHITEHALL

DEAR JACLYN: Here is my ultimate guide to post frame building insulation https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/

More important is removing sources of moisture https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/pole-barn-moisture-issues/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have nearly completed my DIY Hansen Building and am preparing to pour the slab. Is there a way to search the blog posts for my questions? I am wondering if I should install a vapor barrier under the concrete or wait and seal it after? Is 1/2″ rebar recommended? Should I use an 18in grid or can I go on the cheap and get away with 2ft? Planning on a 5 inch slab. NICK in GLIDDEN

DEAR NICK: Good to hear from you, we are looking forward to seeing photos of your new building!

You should install a well-sealed vapor barrier under your slab while Code requirement is 6mil, however 15mil is far less likely to be damaged during a pour. Run vapor barrier up sides and onto top of 2×8 splash planks Overlap seams by at least 6″ and tape. Most often we see 1/2″ rebar on a 16″ grid.

 

 

 

Safely Erecting Post Frame Buildings

Safely Erecting Post Frame Buildings

Most post frame buildings can be easily erected DIY (do it yourself) by an average physically capable person who can and will read instructions. In fact, most DIY post frame buildings turn out far nicer (in quality of workmanship) than those done by professional builders – because as a building owner, you care deeply about your finished building.

Safety in erection has to be paramount.  Building materials and indeed entire buildings can be replaced, human lives cannot.  Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual devotes an entire 11 page chapter devoted strictly to safe handling and temporary bracing of roof trusses during installation. Personally being a prefabricated metal plate connected wood roof truss manufacturer, I have witnessed devastating results from failure to follow safe erection procedures.

From wwnytv.com of June 24, 2020 (disclaimer – not a Hansen Pole Building):

“BLACK RIVER, N.Y. (WWNY) – Three people were hurt when the roof of a building under construction collapsed Wednesday afternoon just outside the village of Black River.

Emergency crews were called to Black River Electrical Mechanical at 29641 Maple Street at 1:38 p.m.

One person suffered serious injuries and was airlifted from the scene to University Hospital in Syracuse. Two others suffered minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center.

“They were putting an addition on the building,” said Lt. Bob Simpson of the New York State Police. “It appears the truss roof system collapsed for an unknown reason at this time.

One neighbor told 7 News reporter Emily Griffin that high winds all day might have played a role in the collapse.

“I think they shouldn’t be working in this windy, this strong wind,” Han Jiang said. “They should not.”

Neighbors said the roof was nearly finished when it collapsed and that the building was intended to store coal.”

Now keep in mind, this story is an instance involving professional builders, who oftentimes take unnecessary risks or have been poorly (or not at all) trained in proper procedures.

At Hansen Pole Buildings, we want our clients to live to enjoy their new post frame buildings – so we go to extra lengths to provide safe installation procedures along with “how to do it”.

Barndominium Features Worth Having?

Barndominium Features Worth Having?

New barndominium owners often assume any upgraded features will make their place more valuable. While it is true upgraded kitchen features, a carriage style garage door, or real wood floors may add value and make your home more desirable for resale, there are other projects providing very little return. Here are some most common.

An inground pool

Lounging on a pool float with a cool drink in your hand sounds like a great way to spend a summer. But installing a pool is not only an expensive project, it is expensive to insure and maintain. Plus, when it’s time to sell, potential buyers may see this feature as a headache or a safety concern.

If you’ll use a pool regularly, and plan to stay in your barndominium for several years, then by all means, go for it. But before you make any big financial decisions ask yourself:

  • How many days will you actually be able to use it? 
  • How much will a pool increase energy and water bills?
  • Will you pay someone for maintenance or take on this task yourself?
  • How will an inground pool affect your homeowner’s insurance premiums?
  • Can you afford these extra costs?

I had an inground pool installed in my home in Oregon in the mid-1980s. Poor investment, I probably could have sold for more if I had filled it in with earth.

An outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens have emerged as a growing indoor/outdoor living trend. And while dining alfresco sounds idyllic, it is an expensive upgrade – one may not be worth it’s investment.

An outdoor kitchen could cost anywhere from $4,800 to $21,300 or beyond. In warmer climates (south or southwest), you’ll likely see a higher return on investment because outdoor kitchens are almost expected, especially in higher-priced homes. Anywhere else, where the climate is more unstable, outdoor kitchens don’t get as much use and aren’t as valuable to buyers.

Custom designs

Unless you plan to stay in your barndominium for many years, think twice about over personalization.

About Hansen BuildingsHave lots of children? Rather than having all sorts of very small bedrooms so each child has their own space – institute room sharing, incorporating larger bedrooms with walk in closets. While lots of small bedrooms may work well for your lifestyle, it is a personal design choice not appealing to most potential buyers.

In National Association of Home Builders’ 2019 “What Buyers Really Want” report, custom upgrades, like a wine cellar, a dog washing station, master bathroom dual toilets, and cork flooring are among the top ten most unwanted home features. 

Custom features may wind up costing you come listing time, as many buyers factor in money they’ll need to spend to change your house to suit their own tastes. 

Over-improvements

Keep your regional standards in mind. Being a little nicer than other barndominiums around you can be a selling point, but once you go overboard, you’ll lose potential buyers and your wallet may take a hit.

Your resale competition will not include just other barndominiums, but also stick built homes.

When planning your kitchen, for instance, tour some open houses in your general area. See how these kitchens look before you invest a small fortune in quartz countertops and high-end fixtures and appliances.

But, just like life, building is a balancing act, and smart barndominium owners need to balance dollar value and value through enjoyment. 

If your upgrades will improve your quality of life and allow you to stay in your barndominium longer, then costs may be worth it. But if you plan to sell in a few years, remember over-improving can come at a cost.

Kynar paint for Barndominiums

Kynar Paint for Barndominiums

Many potential barndominium owners are looking to get the greatest value for their investment and many see this as their ‘forever’ home. If you fall into this category, I would highly recommend exploring Kynar® painted steel.

I could extol aesthetic reasons to use Kynar painted steel for longer than anyone would be willing to listen.
Polyvinylidene fluoride is acknowledged as the premium resin for coil coatings. Popularly known by its original trade name Kynar, PVDF is a kind of fluoropolymer, a family which includes Teflon and Halar. Key to these chemicals’ toughness is the bond between carbon and fluoride, the strongest possible polymeric connection.

PVDF resin has superior chalk resistance and gloss retention, as well as stain and chemical resistance. It is softer than SMPs and polyesters, however, making it highly formable without risk of cracking, but also relatively easy to scratch during transport or installation. PVDF is most durable when it makes up 70 percent of resin; higher concentrations do not coat well, since acrylic is important for dispersion during coating processes.

There are two general classes of pigments. Organic, or carbon-based, pigments are generally synthetic and relatively inexpensive to make. However, organics have fairly weak molecular bonds which are easily broken down by moisture, UV and pollutants, and so, are prone to fading. Inorganic pigments are those which do not contain carbon, and may be naturally occurring or manufactured. They generally offer good fade resistance, with an exception of carbon black. Many simple inorganics are metal oxides, such as widely used iron oxide and titanium dioxide.

Kynar 500/Hylar 5000 systems, which are required to contain 70 percent PVDF, do not vary greatly between manufacturers. Since these paints carry 20- to 30- year warranties which allow for extremely little face, these companies all use ceramics and appropriate inorganic pigments.
One manufacturer we purchase Kynar 500 painted steel from is McElroy Metal. Here is a photo which really shows off performance differences between Kynar and SMP: http://www.mcelroymetal.com/elements/files/Kynar%20500%20VS.%20SP%20Flyer

Sadly, PVDF paints are not available nationwide. Personally – if available where I was planning to build and color choice was other than White, I would make an investment for better paint. I want my building to look as close to new as possible, for as long as I own it!

At NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) 2019 Expo I cornered Sherwin-William’s representative for further information on Fluropon® (PVDF). Please enjoy this video:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=14fzlL1agiMOZ6Sq67ce6H5JrF9iSc1Kp

Tim Carter Explains Ideal Two Car Garage Dimensions

Tim Carter is best known for his weekly syndicated “Ask The Builder” column. You can read more about Tim here: https://www.askthebuilder.com/tim-carter-autobiography/

Q. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars I’ve spent on remote storage facility fees. I want to put all my stuff on my own land in a dream garage. I realize a garage can be detached as well as attached to my home. Have you built the dream garage for yourself or a client? Would you please share with me what your dream garage would be like if you could wave a magic wand? I want to get it right this time and am so very tired of banging my car and truck doors against things when I have to squeeze to get in and out of my car. – Amanda G., Westport, Conn.

A. I’m not really a betting person (although I did bet my son years ago I could make a basket and lost), but I’m willing to wager a lot of readers have the same frustration Amanda does with her garage, which was probably built for gnomes or hobbits. My own garage – which I didn’t build – is too narrow. I see narrow garages all the time and for the life of me can’t understand how this mistake is perpetuated.

I’ve built several garages for myself, my daughter and clients that have gotten pretty close to the dream level. It’s not hard to do, but it does require a little more space than you might realize.

To solve any planning problem, you must start from the inside and work out toward the outer walls. You can do this with simple ¼-inch graph paper. A simple sheet that’s 8½ inches by 11 inches will accommodate your perfect garage. Each block can represent one foot in your plan.

I suggest we solve the garage width issue first. The biggest thing that goes in most garages is a car or truck. My neighbor once tried to get his powerboat and trailer in his garage at an angle and got frustrated in a hurry. He was fuming, but that’s a story for another day.

Cars are bigger than you think. My 1969 VW Beetle was more than 13 feet long. My current pickup truck is almost 21 feet long. My truck width with the side-view mirrors out is almost 9 feet. My car’s width is close to 7 feet 6 inches. Most car and truck doors swing out about 3 feet. Do you see where this is headed?

Customizable Workshop for Large Hobbies

You’d be wise to incorporate 10-foot-wide garage doors that are 8 feet tall for starters. If you’re going to have two doors, make sure there’s 4 feet of space minimum between the two openings. This allows you to open the car doors and not bang them into the one in the other bay.

Let’s talk about the sidewalls of the garage. You already know you need 3 feet of space to open a door, but now you need to think about what’s stored on the wall. Garbage cans can be 30 or 36 inches deep or in diameter. Go into your existing garage and see how cramped it is between the side of your car and whatever is stored along the wall.

You’ll quickly come to the conclusion that you need at least 5 feet of space from the garage door opening to the inside surface of the sidewall. You may get by with 4 feet, but you’ll eventually shake your head at not going for the 5 feet. Add all these numbers up and you’ll discover that your garage foundation should probably be 36 feet wide.

The depth of your dream garage is simple. Once you do some math, you’ll see that it should be no less than 30 feet deep. This gives you lots of space for a workbench, bikes, garden tools, etc. A garage 34 or 36 feet deep approaches dream dimensions.

Here’s a list of other things that will make your garage one that friends and neighbors will salivate over. Install radiant floor heat. You can create the needed hot water with a simple water heater in almost all cases. Be sure the ceiling height is no less than 10 feet. This allows you to put in a small storage loft that hangs out over the hoods of your vehicles.

Consider a narrow 6-foot-wide overhead garage door for the rear wall to give you easy access for lawn equipment going in and out. Install floor drains under each vehicle and slope the concrete floor so snow melt runs into the drain and doesn’t pool against the garage doors. You’d be surprised how many building inspectors will permit these floor drains. Install on the house wall a hose hydrant with both hot and cold water so you can hose things off with warm water and wash your car indoors in the winter.

Don’t skimp on electric outlets, for goodness sake! Think about where you’ll have a workbench and provide for plenty of power there. Be sure to put an outlet on the wall in between the two front garage doors. This outlet will come in handy when you’re working on something in the driveway. Think about 240-volt outlets in case you like to weld or have other heavy-duty electric needs.

Insulate and drywall the interior surfaces of the garage when you build it, not later. If you wait until a later date, it may never get done and you will have to move everything out of the garage to accomplish the task.

Concrete Piers, RV Carport, a Wedding Venue

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building with concrete piers, design of storage for an RV, and how wide a venue for weddings can be built.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I will start with the biggest question I have.
Can you design a Pole Barn building 40x60x14 Gable roof 5/12 to be on 10ft ground clearance concrete piers? Do your kits include subfloor for such as I described?
Please see attached picture as an example to Building.
We must be able to meet a 140mph hurricane rating.

I would really like your opinion on my question as you have given lots of good advice to others. RUSSELL in DEVERS

DEAR RUSSELL: Thank you for sending a photo.

I can only interpret your concrete piers as telling us you want to have your living area 10 feet above grade – a stilt house. If we are talking same language then yes, building could be mounted to concrete piers, however it would be far more economical to use properly pressure preservative treated wood columns. If you were to opt to go with concrete piers, our third party engineers could design them, and their attachment, however this would need to be contracted directly with our engineers by you. Wood column design would be included with your engineered building plans if wood columns were used.

Our building kit packages include all structural members needed to enclose your building, so you would have a floor system and 3/4″ sheathing .

We have provided buildings with up to 170 mph design wind speeds with Exposure D.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Any ideas on how to value engineer this down? I’ve streamlined the layout of the house as simply as I can, any other suggestions?

Maybe make garage and RV shed a carport like instead of totally enclosed? Maybe no concrete floor, instead gravel floor? Suggest anything.

Trying to get a price on this now locally, but difficult to get replies.

Can you pass along and get a quote from Hansen? GINGER in STARKSVILLE

DEAR GINGER: Your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building is appreciated. As I have not been privy to your discussions with your Building Designer, Tom and have not seen your floor plan, I can’t really speak to it.

With a 16 foot eave height, your building is not tall enough for two floors, so I would suggest stepping down the roof line in your home.

Tom will be reaching out to you shortly.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Wanting to design a wedding venue, main area 40′ x 90′, with 15′ lean to’s. What is the maximum span for a pole barn with a loft. Trying not to have any support poles in the middle of barn. MIKE in VIRGINIA BEACH

DEAR MIKE: Our own post frame shouse (shop/house) happens to have a 48 foot clearspan floor and we could have gone to 60. Some of your clearspan ability will be based upon your use of this second floor. Keep in mind, if this is to be an area with general public use or staff, you will need to provide handicap accessibility (an elevator) to it.

 

 

 

A Real Life Climate Controlled Post Frame Wall

Reader BRANDON in WICHITA writes:

“Hello Mike!  I am in the engineering field and we are just about to put up a personal climate controlled post frame building.  I have followed many of the teachings of Dr. Lstiburek on wall and roof assemblies.  I also enjoy your very detailed write ups.  I am conflicted in our assembly a bit.  Most builders here install a thin (1/8″) foam product with Aluminum foil towards the outside to act as a vapor and radiant barrier between the metal sheathing and wood frame.  That seems well and good if no additional layers are added to the wall/roof assemblies.  However, many quickly learn about the false and ridiculous R value claims of these products and add more insulation later.  Usually glass batts.  This largely concerns me because there is always another air/vapor barrier faced on the batts that would be in the interior, which creates a double vapor barrier.  

Due to this, and realizing it is nearly impossible to totally eliminate ‘some’ condensate from forming on the underside of the sheathing, we were going to use Typar house wrap on the walls AND roof between the sheathing and purlins/girts.  The product has a perm rating of about 11.  What we are targeting is an ‘air’ barrier, that is liquid proof, but still has ‘some’ permeability since some vapor would eventually get in the cavity and we need a way for it to escape.  Our assembly would follow up this building wrap with unfaced glass batts to roof/walls, then covered with the same reinforced white facing they typically use that is a vapor/air barrier and has an aluminum facing towards the outside.  

One issue faced here is the big question about climate!  Our state, as with many, have both hot/humid summers AND cold dry winters.  

I am not an advocate of Typar but selected it due to it’s toughness during install, and very low perm rating.  Not to be confused with big box store ‘generic’ wraps which are just perforated plastic! 

I have a test piece sitting with water on it right now on a paper towel and after hours, it still has not penetrated the product.  Our intention with its use is to create an air barrier on the outside as all the metal seams and corrugations can create wind washing through the glass batts, and to shed water droplets.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!  We have the columns currently up so a timely response would great!”

Thank you for being a loyal reader. Your views on usage of Radiant Reflective Barriers for wall applications are spot on. Other than if people are 100% certain they will never, ever add insulation to their walls (and who can be certain about future building users/owners?) it is just an incorrect product to be used. A good, well-sealed Weather Resistant Barrier would be appropriate to use, followed by filling your insulation cavity with unfaced batts. For interior face, there is really no benefit to going to the expense of an aluminum faced product. A well-sealed 6mil clear visqueen will do everything you need it to do.

For more information on this subject, please read my Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

Painting Tips for Post Frame building Owners

Painting Tips for Post Frame building Owners

Generally, post frame buildings are fairly maintenance-free, which is among the many reasons they’re so popular. Whether your building is for residential, commercial, or agricultural use, you undoubtedly have come to depend on it. 

When it’s time to repaint the original metal coating on your post frame building to keep it looking sharp and crisp, leverage the experience of professional painters. Even if your paint vision is strictly aesthetic if say you prefer a different panel color or want a company logo painted on your roof, for instance, there are many points to consider.

Trust the Pros 

Whether you want to paint your building’s exterior and/or just its roof or interior, go with the pros. Sure, painting a post frame building can be a DIY job. However, it’s best for building owners to spend a bit more and leave the job to licensed, experienced professionals who understand the many unique requirements of post frame building painting.

Professionals will fully understand the scope and requirements of correctly painting a post frame building it’s definitely not the same as painting your bedroom or dining room. Let several contractors deliver a detailed cost estimate and a timeline for your particular project. 

Ask whether your painting can be done in one day (weather permitting), or whether the job needs to be completed in stages.

The Right Paint for the Surface

Outdoor surfaces are exposed to wide temperature fluctuations. Over the years, post frame buildings get hammered by rain, wind, hail, even the sun. You need quality paint that’s tough and long-lasting and can withstand nature’s harshest elements. 

Most post frame buildings use a unique paint coating, whether it’s silicone modified paint (SMP) or Kynar paint over the metal surfaces. This type of paint has been specifically applied in the factory before our building was constructed but there are paints that can properly adhere to these finished should you want to change your building’s look and paint in the field.

Professional paint contractors are experienced with working with these paint systems. It would be a challenge to paint Kynar finish without the appropriate equipment and DIY results may not look great. Take their recommendations and make the best investment you can for your property. 

And if you’re also painting your building’s roof, some roof paints have characteristics that make them more reflective than others, meaning better energy efficiency. Trust the pros to help you select the right paint for your post frame building. You will want your building to still withstand the elements and be washable so take your time and do it right. 

Extending the life of your post frame building doesn’t need to be complicated. Metal has long been popular for exteriors of buildings due to its durability. With a freshly painted surface with Kynar or SMP paint your building can resist fading, chalking, and can shed dirt and mildew more easily. 

To prevent fading and chalking differences, you will want to be sure to choose the same type of paint previously used to coat your building if you are simply planning on painting individual panels. Professionals can assist you to ensure your building looks great after the task is complete! 

Preparation Before Paint

It’s your building and your money. You want to ensure your paint job is done correctly. Proper paint preparation is an essential part of the process. Removing dirt, debris, and deposits from the metal is an important pre-paint step. Also take time to address any mildew, condensation, or rust issues before painting begins. 

Other essential prep work includes a power wash and rinse. A thorough cleaning should be followed by a light sanding of minor scratches (or sandblasting of larger areas) if needed. Windows, doors, and light fixtures should be taped. And surrounding areas, including shrubs and plants, should be protected from potential overspray. 

Other repairs might be in order before repainting, if so, now’s the time. It’s also important to consider the weather where your post frame building is located. If it’s too hot or too cold, the paint will not affix properly and its best to wait. Let Mother Nature, and your painting pros, guide the precise scheduling of your job.

Safety First

Experienced painting professionals will take all necessary precautions and show up with the right equipment including paint and safety supplies to work on your job. They’ll have the necessary fall protection equipment too, such as harnesses and lifts, to safely do the work, which is essential for roof repainting jobs especially. 

Conclusion

Don’t struggle with trying to DIY painting your pole building, trust the professionals to Breathe new life into the look of your building for you. When your post frame building is prepped and painted professionally it will give your property a fresh new look!

PBG Bonus Round 3– Column Material, Insurance, and Barn Doors

Today’s BONUS round of the PBG includes questions about column advice, liability insurance to harvest reclaimed wood, and parts for used pole barn doors.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My barn will be 9’4″ to the eave, 40′ x 64′ long.

What column material should I use? My options are 4″x 6″ Pressure treated wood or finger-jointed glulams consisting of (3) 2 x 6 which are only treated on the bottom 6′. RANDY in NEW YORK

DEAR RANDY: This is why you should only build from a fully engineered set of plans. Your engineer of record will take into account things like – design wind speed, wind exposure, snow loads, soil bearing capacity, will there be a slab on grade or not, interior finished or not, roof dead loads (ceiling, roofing materials), slope of roof, column spacing, walls open, enclosed, partially enclosed, etc. to determine proper column size for your specific building. If you do not have engineered plans, go invest in them now.

I can tell you glulaminated columns are significantly stronger.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Planning a build with reclaimed lumber. Plenty of barns to reclaim. But owners want you to have insurance, which is a good plan for both parties. Having a hard time since we are not a business.

Any idea where we can get personal general liability insurance? DEE in MOUNT STERLING

DEAR DEE: You may need to form a business entity in order to get sufficient insurance to provide adequate coverage. Contact whomever you have home owner’s insurance with currently, as your agent should be able to either write a policy, or provide you with a referral to someone who can.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, do you buy used steel pull barn doors? I have two, 7×10 that I’d like to sell. Please let me know.

Thank you! RIAN in ST. Paul

DEAR RIAN: Thank you for asking, however we use no used materials in our buildings. You might offer them for sale on Craigslist.

 

 

 

How to Avoid Your Barndominium Being Kicked to the Curb

How to Avoid Your Barndominium Being Kicked to the Curb

Welcome back from last Thursday!

When it comes to resale value, you want your barndominium’s curb appeal to add to value, not kick you to the curb.

There are things you can do during design and build phases to improve appeal and good news is, many of them are relatively inexpensive.

Free – color choices. Try to avoid trendy or garish color combinations, as well as colors prone to rapid fading (reds are worst). For most steel siding and roofing colors, an upgrade to Kynar paint will keep colors looking close to new and minimize chalking for decades. Faded steel makes your barndominium look years older than its true age.
Utilize wainscot panels to break up walls (especially tall ones). If a wainscot panel gets damaged it can easily be replaced.

Roof slopes can dramatically improve curb appeal. Rather than a warehouse like a near flat roof, use 4/12 or greater roof slopes to increase interest.

Overhangs not only provide protection to your barndominium’s siding and shield southern exposed windows from extreme summer rays, but also take away industrial and boxy looks. Functionally they provide a great source of air intake for venting interior enclosed attic spaces.

Driveways and walkways oriented to provide obvious pathways to your main doorway are always good for favorable impressions. Protect your barndominium’s front door by either a recessed entry, or having an extended reverse gable roof to provide shelter for those who are awaiting an invitation into your home.

Avoid building a big box. Garage/shop areas can be shifted in relationship to living areas, breaking up what would otherwise appear to be a long, straight wall. Consider creating an “L” in living spaces. With a single level home and a tall shop space, turn shop roofs 90 degrees to run roofline opposite house roof.

Garage door openings with 45 degree ‘dogears’ in upper corners cost little and add lots. Utilize raised panel residential overhead doors, rather than commercial doors.

Porches have become popular barndominium features. To avoid them appearing dark (as well as blocking lines of sight), utilize trusses spanning across not only living areas, but also out across your porch. Consider wrap around porches to increase function as well as curb appeal.

It is well worth investing in services of a design professional. Someone who can take all of your ideas, those wants and needs and actually craft a floor plan and elevations to best melding them with the realities of construction and an attractive curb appeal.

Hansen Pole Buildings has just this service available and it can be done absolutely for free! Read all the details here and we look forward to continuing to walk with you in your journey to a beautiful new home: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Building a Workshop, Chemical Reactions, and a Retaining Wall

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building a workshop, if there should be concern for a chemical reaction attaching steel siding to a PT skirt board, and building a shop near a new retaining wall.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, we are looking to do a workshop build in the next 2-4 months and I came across your site. I saw that you don’t do the installation but may have some contractor referrals in my area.  We are located in Prescott Arizona which is about 1.5 hours from Phoenix and Flagstaff.  Please let me know if you have any referrals for this general area.
Also, we watched a YouTube video and saw that you can provide materials to build a loft, the video was quite old so I wanted to double-check to see if this was still the case.

Thank you in advance for your time. ANDREA in PRESCOTT

Loft FloorDEAR ANDREA: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. While we are not contractors, we do have an extensive independent Builder Network covering all 48 contiguous U.S. states.

Our custom designed third party engineered post frame buildings include structural and materials for all structural portions of your new workshop – including and lofts, mezzanines, second or even third floors.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do I need to be concerned if attaching treated ledger board to steel siding? Chemical reaction of treated wood to metal siding. DWAYNE in MARYSVILLE

DEAR DWAYNE: Your inquiry leads me to believe you are intending to add a deck or a lean to onto an existing building. My initial concern is a ledger and its attachment should be designed by a Registered Professional Engineer who can also take into account how what you are adding on impacts your current structure. In most instances, steel siding should be cut away to provide direct ledger to structural wood contact. This also allows for any needed flashing to be inserted behind bottom edge of wall steel and over top of addition.

As far as a chemical reaction between treated wood and steel siding, this was most severe in cases where ACQ chemicals were used for pressure treating. When water was added to this mix, it tended to rapidly corrode even heavily galvanized steel. Therefore avoid using ACQ treated lumber. Keep this wood dry and place a barrier between it and steel siding so they do not contact each other and you should be safe.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am building an approximately 9 foot high engineered retaining wall and will be backfilling to meet the grade of the road behind my house. If I am going to put up a pole building, how far back from the rear of the retaining wall blocks will I need to set the posts? NATHAN

DEAR NATHAN: Thank you for asking. Because your retaining wall has been designed by a Registered Professional Engineer, this is a question they should address as your new post frame (pole) building could impact previous improvements.

 

 

Bonus Round 2– Backfill Compaction, Blueprints, and Insulation

Today’s BONUS Round of PBG discusses backfill compaction, finding an engineer to draw blueprints for a building of reclaimed wood, and the ins and outs of insulation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have 18” diameter x 60” deep pits for 6×6 posts. My backfill material and method is ¾”less gravel with every 8” compacted. But how to compact inside of pit with 6×6 post located center of pit. HIRO in TUMWATER

DEAR HIRO: Tamp soil firmly every six inches of fill depth, or less, to achieve a minimum 2000 psf (pounds per square foot) compaction. To compact properly, use a hand operated 4×4 eight feet in length raising it four feet and dropping four or more times on each four inch square area. Compaction proof: when a 2×4 butt end will not penetrate over 1/8” under 170# of pressure.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning a post and beam self build. I do not want to use a kit. This will be a totally reclaimed wood build I need BLUEPRINTS not a floor plan. I have my basic floor plan. Located in 40353. Any suggestions for who can do this for me at an affordable price? DEE in MY STERLING

DEAR DEE: For engineered blueprints in Kentucky please try reaching out to Patrick McGuire, PE SE in Boston, KY. (574)367-8305 www.patmcguirepe.com.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning to build a 40 x 60 pole barn, my plan is to insulate it over time with metal panels on ceiling with blown insulation and batts on walls. My question is would bubble wrap or double bubble under roof panels and house wrap on walls be the best way to go for construction of building? (It was suggested to me to use OSB under roof but that seems like it would add a lot of cost if not needed) ROBERT in TIPP CITY

DEAR ROBERT: Thank you for reaching out to me. Here is my Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/

Why Curb Appeal is Crucial for Your New Barndominium

I have had people try to convince me curb appeal for their new barndominium is not important. Their reason has ranged from, “I am never going to sell this house” to “It is far into a forest no one will ever see it”.
A shocking reality – some day, someone will be selling your barndominium.
Here is a case in point. My great grandparents bought my family home outside of Spokane, Washington in 1937 from its original owners who had it built for them in 1909. Nine years later, they sold it to their son and my grandfather passed it along to me in 1990. It has been in our family for 83 years.
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this home to not be in our family. However my lovely bride Judy was in a tragic motorcycle accident nearly five years ago and her being a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair did not match up well with a hillside home full of stairs. My three biological children, who grew up in this home, are scattered to the wind in Tennessee, Oregon and Massachusetts and are either buying homes of their own, or are settled into life at their present locales.

So, we are selling.

We’ve all had the experience of driving or walking down a street and seeing a house so adorable, we have to stop, stare, and imagine what it would be like to live there. Architecturally and aesthetically it looks warm, inviting, and happy just to exist.
Meanwhile, next door is a home looking like a big box, no overhangs, very flat roof, everything making it look… well, not quite so nice, rather like a warehouse. Imagine if those two homes were for sale — even if this second one were bigger, do you think a buyer would jump as readily to make a high offer on it as he would the first?

Besides me learning I did not want to golf, architecture school did teach me you have only one chance to make a good first impression.

First impressions last, and nowhere is this more evident than in real estate. If you are listing your barndominium, the initial impression it makes on a potential buyer can be the difference between a speedy sale and a house languishing without offers for several months.

Curb appeal describes a potential buyer’s feeling of a home as he or she approaches it, based on how it looks from outside. In recent years, this initial impression has extended beyond just physical and into a realm of virtual reality. How a home looks online can also greatly influence a buyer’s interest — in fact, in today’s highly competitive market, this is where curb appeal really begins.

 

Buying a home is an emotional experience. It is, therefore, critically important a seller sets a proper stage in generating a positive emotional response from a buyer. Whether a buyer sees a property online or physically pulls up to it, they’re either connecting or not connecting with this property in those first moments. How it looks from the outside brings about expectations of what the inside looks like once they enter.

Buyers and agents are looking at the big picture when viewing a home, but this doesn’t mean they are immune to little details. Everything is taken into consideration from the moment they see your house, including garage/shop, front door, and architectural details.

If you’ve already set a good impression with your barndominium’s exterior, it will allow for a more hopeful expectation of what a buyer will see inside. However, if you set a poor example, any positive emotional experience you’re looking for becomes an uphill battle. No matter how beautiful your interior is, a potential buyer’s mindset has been influenced before they’ve even stepped in your front door.

You can’t negotiate with a buyer if you can’t get them to your house, and if you don’t present your property online in a way compelling someone to want to hop in their car and see it firsthand, there won’t be a sale.

In most cases a wife or female human significant other is going to be the decision maker when it comes to buying your property. Many guys are like me – I don’t care if it is painted pink outside, as long as it has a great shop for me to tinker. Most wives have a lesser interest in a barndominium appearing to be all garage or looking like a warehouse.

Tune in next Tuesday for ideas on how to create attractive curb appeal.

A PBG Bonus Round! Finishes, Colors, and Cupolas

A Wednesday Edition of PBG! Bonus Round! Home finishes, Color Samples, and Cupola Framing.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you also finish out the home, not just the shell? DONNA in LEXINGTON

DEAR DONNA: Hansen Pole Buildings are designed to be constructed DIY by average physically capable folks who will read directions. Many of our clients do there own construction. Should you not have time, ability or inclination, our independent Builder Network has excellent coverage. Most of these contractors are specialists at erecting building shells. Some also provide concrete finishing services. There are a few who provide total General Contracting services and can turnkey your building, if desired.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi – I saw a question about getting samples of colors. Would it be possible for us to get a sample please? STEPHANIE in BELLE VERNON

DEAR STEPHANIE: Please email your snail mail mailing address to Bonnie@HansenPoleBuildings.com and advise her you would like color samples sent to you. If you are after specific colors or shades, please advise.

 

CupolaDEAR POLE BARN GURU: What does the truss framing look like for a Cupola? CURT in SPRINGFIELD

DEAR CURT: Nearly all cupolas are light weight prefabricated units screwed down on top of your building’s roofing. There is no need to have any changes in your roof trusses to support them.

 

 

Pouring Concrete into Holes With a High Water Table

Back in my general contractor days we would run into building sites where water would fill up some or all of our hole depth. While this seemed highly problematic then it was actually far less of an issue than originally presumed.

Reader RACHEL in CLARK writes:

“We are looking to put up a 24′ X 32′ pole building in my backyard to be used as a garage/wood shop. We are located in a lower spot in town and have been told our water table is fairly high. I am wondering what type of foundation is going to be the best to use? (Floating Slab vs Sinking Poles vs Sinking Concrete Piers under a slab?). We are hoping to do most of the work ourselves.”

Embedded columns for post frame buildings are almost always both a best and least expensive design solution. Auger holes to depth and diameter indicated on your engineered building plans (always build from engineered plans). If water appears in your hole, it is not a problem, as you can pour concrete into water, professionals do it often. Order pre-mix concrete for your footings and bottom collars with a minimum amount of water content (a W/CM ratio of 0.33 would be ideal).

After about two hours your concrete will have transitioned from a plastic to solid state. Ground water will become your concrete’s friend as it will aid curing processes. Chemical reaction of hydration allows microscopic crystals of Portland cement to grow and interlock as sand and gravel together continues to happen for days, weeks and months after concrete has been poured and it needs water to complete this chemical reaction.

Provided you have available space, you may consider going to a 36 foot length – it takes no greater number of columns, trusses, girts or purlins and will reduce your investment per square foot.

Gable Vents, Plasti-Sleeves for Posts, and Cost per Square Foot

This Monday’s questions are addressing the issues of ventilation with gable vents, the use of plasti-sleeves to protect posts, and the cost per square foot of a post frame home.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My dad has a 40 x 60 pole building. It has 18″ eaves but the soffits are non vented. The building also has no ridge vent. He has not had any moisture issues but is looking to add gable vents as a means to get rid of fumes from occasional painting and or welding. The building is open with no closed attic space. Is there any issues with adding gable vents for this purpose? BILL in COEUR d’ALENE

DEAR BILL: There should be no structural issues with adding gable vents, although they may not cure your dad’s fume issues. It may be prudent to add a powered exhaust fan.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How to protect the wooden poles when pouring cement floors—doesn’t this deteriorate the poles? Thanks. LINDA in BEAR CREEK

DEAR LINDA: Building Codes actually REQUIRE lumber in contact with concrete to be pressure preservative treated. There is no documented research to prove concrete (or one of its components – cement) deteriorates properly pressure preservative treated columns.

If you are overly concerned or unsure about this, we can provide Plasti-sleeves with your engineered post frame building package. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/04/plasti-sleeves/

 

About Hansen BuildingsDEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the cost per square foot on building a Barn Home? If this isn’t feasible, then what is the cost for finishing a purchased Barn Home Kit? JOEL in COLUMBUS

DEAR JOEL: Barn homes (aka barndominiums or post frame homes) can have finished costs ranging from $50 to hundreds of dollars per square foot depending upon your individual taste and how much work you are willing to do yourself. This article will assist you in formulating a budget: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

 

 

Fishing Cabin Insulation

Fishing Cabin Insulation Blog-Compliments to Rick Carr in sharing this post on how he insulated his fishing cabin. 

My insulation challenges are a little unique due to having an above ground crawl space, radiant floor heating above the sub floor, 2×8 and 2×10 walls and having a partial attic area (over the bedrooms) with the remainder a vaulted ceiling.  My insulation is done and the drywall is going up.  The test for the plan will wait until next winter.

Here is what I did.

First I had closed cell foam sprayed.  In the crawl space, walls 3 inches closed cell spray foam, completely sealed and R 21.  Also we sprayed the underside of the subfloor to 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches.  The goal was to get R 1- to 12 on the underside of the floor.  The radiant floor people tell me that heat moves to cold, so R 12 under the floor will have heat going up into the living space rather than down into the crawl space.  There is also R 10 foam board and poly under the concrete.

I also had 3 inches of spray foam, R 21, on the underside of the roof steel.  The drywall will go on the underside of the roof purlins.  We used 2 x 10 roof purlins to get a 9.5 inch cavity for insulation.  I put Tyvek under the roof steel, so the spray foam actually adheres to the Tyvek, this will allow replacement of roof sheets, if ever needed.  This still leaves a 6 inch space for R 21 unfaced batt insulation.  Spray foam people will tell you that because the spray foam completely seals the effect is greater than the R value.

The Attic side of the divider wall was also prayed with 3 inches of closed cell foam.  There wasn’t a normal 6 inch cavity to fill with batt insulation which made the spray foam a good choice for this.  We also blew in 16.5 inches of fiberglass insulation into the attic above the bedrooms for R 49 in that area.

 The walls are another matter.  The 42 foot walls on the north and south sides of the building are 2 x 10 walls with 9.5 inch cavity.  The 30 foot east and west walls are 2×8 walls with 7.5 inch cavity.  I chose blown in wall insulation for the walls.  It is commonly thought that you can only have a pro blow insulation into your walls, not so, I did it myself, with some help.

I chose Owen Corning’s Procat product and system, which can be purchased from contractor supply houses. https://www.owenscorning.com/insulation/products/procat  This is the same product as used in the ceiling.  The supply house will loan you the blower, which has a control at the end of the hose.  You staple Insulweb netting to the framing, cut a small slit in the netting, insert the hose and blow it in.  This might be a little more costly than batt insulation, but where do you find batts for 2 x 10 walls?  Also the electric all over the place gets in the way of batts, no problem, filled in and around.  The blown in insulation fills into all cracks and spaces.  What you spend in the product is also made up in time/labor savings; it goes very quickly once you get the hang of it and the netting up.

The puffing or pillowing is not a factor because the product is light enough that the drywall will straighten it.  Also you can use your free hand to minimize the pillowing if you have a large cavity.  The product R value for 5.5 inch cavity walls (2×6) is between R 22 and R 24 depending on how full you pack it in.  With my 2×8 and 2×10 walls, the R value is literally off the chart, well over R 30.

 

I think I’ll be snug this winter.

Rick’s Cabin Dominium

Rick’s Cabin-dominium

Many of you loyal readers have followed Rick Carr’s journey towards having a finished post frame cabin-dominium.

For those of you who have missed out, here are earlier articles chronicling his progress:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/development-of-my-cabin-plans/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/participating-in-ricks-post-frame-cabin-planning/

Rick’s project caught some eyes beyond our everyday readership. Editors of “Garage-Carport-Shed Builder” magazine became enamored of Rick and featured him on Page 27 of their Summer 2020 edition.


Rather than me blather on, please enjoy at this link:

https://s22327.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/GCS-Builder_Summer2020.pdf

Out of Square Steel Panels

Out of Square Steel Panels

Builder CALEB writes:

“Hey Mike, sorry to bother you again with another question. Do you know what causes this? The sheets of siding are plumb and the rat guard is level. Am I being too picky? Thank you!!!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Sure do – these panels are out of square slightly. If you lay a panel painted side down on a surface it will not be scratched on and measure diagonals, I believe you will find they are not equal. If this is indeed your finding, it should be reported to whoever manufactured them and replacements requested. Make sure to hold the bottom of panels up 1/4″ from base trim ‘flat’, otherwise they may rust.

Now some bad news, for both builders and building owners. “Accepted Practices for Post-Frame Building Construction: Metal Panel and Trim Installation Tolerances” was approved by the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) in 2005. It contains this language:

“4.3.2 Visible wall panel ends. Visible ends of adjacent panels shall not be offset by more than 0.20 inches unless so designed. Ninety-five percent (95%) of all such offsets on a given building shall be less than 0.12 inches. A visible wall panel end is any panel end that is not covered by trim or otherwise hidden from view.”

These practices resulted from ASAE (American Society of Agricultural Engineers) Paper Number 054117 presented by Dr. David R. Bohnhoff, P.E. Below are some excerpts from his commentary in this paper.

Clause 4.3 places limits on the end offset (i.e. sawtooth) of adjacent panel ends. It becomes considerably more difficult to consistently eliminate such offsets when using panels with end cuts that are not square. Clause 4.3.2 for visible wall panel ends contains limits based upon a 2004 Bohnhoff and Cockrun study. The 0.20- and 0.12-inch limits for visible wall panel ends were met 99.5% and 95.5% of the time, respectively, in this study.

This would place a variant of 1/8 inch in sawtooth from panel-to-panel as being entirely acceptable.

One other thing, for Caleb – make sure to put a screw on each side of every high rib at top and bottom of each panel. These are points of greatest shear loads and going each side will better transfer loads as well as help to prevent slotting.

Barndominium Drywall Cracks

You have just moved into your beautiful new barndominium, shouse or post frame home. Your drywall was painted and looked perfect for months and then you start to see seams cracking and screw heads popping through. Our first inclination is to blame whoever installed it. It is possible drywall was installed incorrectly leading to screw pops and seams cracking, however, it may be good to understand why drywall seams crack or screws pop. Many of them are not drywall installation process related.

NATHAN in INDIANAPOLIS writes:

“Do you see much movement in post frame homes…..that causes drywall settlement cracks, or a higher rate of nail pops in drywall?”

Drywall issues in post frame buildings can occur from several reasons – lack of an adequate footing thickness and/or diameter (rarely are concrete cookies adequate); base of column footing not below frost line; poorly prepared site (have to get rid of clay and prevent ground water from flowing under building); columns and wall girts not engineered to limit deflection.

drywall crackWhere two sheets of drywall meet, this seam is your wall’s weakest point. Drywall tapers spread mud and tape on joints to give strength to this area and then add layers of drywall mud to feather seams smooth to the rest of the wall. When a barndominium settles or walls move, drywall seams may crack if there is a “weak link”. One reason for cracking is because the wrong drywall mud type was used to tape drywall seams. Some drywall mud has more adhering ability and is intended to be used in the drywall taping step whereas other types of mud should only be used in finishing. Other drywall mud products are intended only for second or third coats. Some drywall tapers say mesh tape should never be used because it is not as strong as paper tape. Other drywall tapers say mesh tape is fine as long as it is used with quick setting drywall mud.

Drywall corner bead will at times crack as well. One reason is when corner bead was installed it may not have been installed to maximize strength. There are different types of corner beads and various installations. If screws were used there may have been too few. If vinyl bead was used with spray adhesive, perhaps not enough glue was used. Different drywall tapers and hangers have different opinions as to what process is strongest. Generally most feel the “tape on” corner bead is strongest and least prone to cracking. 

Another common drywall problem is popped screws where you can see what looks like a screw head showing through paint. This usually occurs within the first year after a drywall job has been completed. Drywall screws are used to secure drywall to framing below. Screw head puts pressure against drywall’s paper surface. If the screw head goes too deep and busts through paper into the gypsum layer below, it no longer has holding power. When installing drywall, drywall hangers will at times use construction adhesive on framing below and then use drywall screws to hold sheet until glue has time to dry. When this is done it reduces the number of screw pops. However, this is not a fix-all.

This being said, drywall tape’s strength is limited. Construction adhesive helps to hold sheets in place but fasteners, drywall tape and corner bead all have limited strength. If a barndominium settles and walls move to any great degree, no amount of tape or glue will keep it from cracking.

When cracks develop in a barndominium usually they run along high stress areas. High stress areas include areas above doorways and windows and over beams spanning long distances. If any part of your barndominium was built on improperly compacted fill it will have a greater possibility of settling. Most new barndominiums will settle some within the first year. Good drywall techniques can limit occurrence of cracks and screw pops, however cannot cure inadequate structural design.

A Shouse, Adding Tin to Block Siding, and Truss Carriers

This week the Pole Barn Guru tackles the subjects of building a shouse with RV storage, how to add tin to block siding, and truss carriers vs notched posts.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good morning!

My wife and are currently going to market with our home in Lakeville and are considering our next steps.  We have a great deal of interest in exploring an affordable option for our current needs which include about 1,500 SF of residential space and then remaining storage for a 45’ motorcoach, our vehicles/toys, shop and an above ground “block” safe room.  As we have no idea what the cost, or practicality, of this option is we felt it would be a good first step to determine your design services and simply what you have to offer in terms of options.

We do not have a piece of land acquired (though it would likely be in S/SE MN) as we need to first determine the viability of the option and then get a better sense for what the area counties allow/require.

Hopeful you can assist! MITCH & WENDY in LAKEVILLE

DEAR MITCH AND WENDY: Thank you for your interest! Our team members at Hansen Pole Buildings are barndominium experts. Basically your only limitations will be imagination, budget and available space.

Links in this article should answer many of your questions: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I came across this sight and found it very informative.

I have a question:  I have a 8′ block foundation with 6′ above the block that is tinned. I want to tin the block to match.

Tinning is not the problem but what or how do I fasten the tin to the block?

Type of fasteners work best? Later, BRIAN

DEAR BRIAN: Thank you for your kind words. Your steel siding should be screwed onto 2×4 horizontals. These 2×4 can be attached to your block using Tapcon concrete screws. Attach steel siding to 2x4s using 1-1/2″ powder coated diaphragm screws.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Should the top boards be on the inside and outside? MARK in LAWRENCEBURG

DEAR MARK: By “top boards” I will guess you are placing ‘truss carriers’ (headers) between columns in order to support trusses. In my humble opinion it would be best to utilize a two-ply ganged prefabricated wood roof truss at each column (notched in) and eliminate carriers entirely. It is far cleaner structurally as you eliminate numerous connections and if a failure is going to occur, it is most often at a connection.

In direct answer to your concern, placement of your top boards and their proper attachment will be called out for on your engineer sealed building plans. Should you not be building from an engineered plan, it would be prudent to invest in one’s service now, before a crucial design flaw becomes a failure.

For extended reading on truss carriers, please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/what-size-truss-carriers/

 

 

 

 

 

Barndominium Contractor

How to Have a Fair Relationship With Your Barndominium Contractor

I have been a contractor and I have hired contractors. As much as you might wish to believe it will not be so, contractors can be a source of stress and anxiety. They can be masters at squeezing out profits, while putting in minimal efforts.

Before going further, grab a cup of coffee and journey back to this article before moving ahead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/a-contractor-for-your-new-barndominium/

Buy Materials Yourself

I do not trust contractors to buy materials for me. Contractors generally have no qualms about using leftover materials from prior jobs, or purchasing cheaper materials than specified. If you seriously are concerned about material quality, take control yourself. Be aware, when contractors purchase materials for your barndominium, they will mark them up. Paying for materials yourself assures you of not having liens against your property for bills your contractor did not pay.

It is very important you make decisions on exact materials you use for your home. With each type of material, there is a high end product, low end product, and something middle grade. Educate yourself on differences between each type of material, so you can choose based on your needs. If you allow a contractor to make any of these choices for you, they can really screw you over. Picking right materials can make a huge difference.  If a contractor picks wrong materials, things are bound to go wrong.

Only Use Engineer Sealed Plans Specific to Your Building

Your contractor may have decades of experience, but unless he has initials “P.E.” (Professional Engineer) after his name, he is not qualified to make structural decisions. Have any deviations from plans reviewed and approved by your building’s engineer.

Always Get a Minimum of Three Labor Bids


If all three are relatively close in price, this is plenty. If someone is extremely low, there is usually a reason and most often not a pleasant one. Do not ever tell a contractor there are no other bidders, it gives them too much power. Competitiveness brings accountability.

Do Not Tell a Contractor Your Budget

If you tell a contractor your budget is $20,000 they will find a way to make their bid $20,000, even if it should be lower. Instead have them provide a bid for work you need done, so you can compare cost of their labor with other bids, to make an informed decision.

 Never Ask a Contractor for a Discount if You Pay Upfront (or in Cash)

It is an extremely stupid to offer to pay a contractor entire amount owed upfront. If you pay a contractor upfront, they can end up not doing a good job, or some will even take your money and disappear. 

Paying a Contractor

Never pay more than a very small amount upfront, then pay them as predetermined ‘milestones’ are reached. Always save final payment for after all work is finished and any punch list work is completed satisfactorily.

 Do Not Tell a Contractor You Are Not in a Hurry

If you tell a contractor there’s no rush to complete your project, they will give your job lowest priority possible. They will take on other jobs and spend their time doing other things, besides getting your job done.

Establish written timelines in your contract, with financial penalties for not completing steps as agreed.  

 Never Hire Anyone Illegally 

Some contractors might offer to bring in people who are not legally licensed to work on your barndominium. You should never hire anyone not having legal authority. If you are not diligent when hiring a contractor, you risk a huge liability if someone is injured.  Make sure contractor is licensed and insured, and has evidence of an insurance policy. Be aware of any subs brought in by a general contractor, to ensure they are covered under their policy.

You must be critically careful any subs hired by a general contractor are getting paid. Always pay subs directly, because if you only pay your general contractor, there is no guarantee he will pay his subs. If a general contractor does not pay his subs, you could end up with a lien filed against your property.

 Do Not Agree to a “Gentleman’s Agreement”

Always, always, always put your agreement with a contractor in writing. Having everything in writing has nothing to do with trust. It helps ensure everyone remembers what agreed upon terms are.  Months later you do not want to start arguing over what was originally agreed to. Contracts should be very detailed, including all expectations for both parties. 

 While these might seem like pretty simple guidelines, they are a lot more difficult to practice in real life. Oftentimes, we get busy, and try to take shortcuts in life. Do not take shortcuts with contractors or you will regret it. Take time to do things right, and be very careful when working with contractors.

A lot of contractors actually have a criminal background. This does not make them bad people, it is just important to know someone’s history from an ethics perspective. If you do not fully understand how serious working with a contractor is, you will get taken advantage of.

And lastly, do not try to screw over your contractor. It is very important good people you hire make a profit. 

An Architect’s Guide to Drawing Your Own Barndominium Plans

An Architect’s Guide to Drawing Your Own Barndominium Plans

Architect David Ludwig (www.LudwigDesign.com) has over 50 years of construction and design experience. A frequent contributor to assisting those interested in barndominiums, but without knowledge to create their own plans, David has offered his sage advice:

1. Draw to scale. Use 1/4” graph paper. Make each square equal to 6”
2. Use double lines for walls. Make them 5” thick
3. Furnish your plans. Measure and draw all furniture on a separate sheet. Cut out the little drawings. Move them around to find the best layout.
4. Consider flow, outlook (window locations) interior views, sound through walls, privacy, focal points, cross-space and adjacent space connections (visual and walking), etc.
5. Show door swings and window locations.
6. In your mind, go and “sit” in every seat. Look around. Adjust what you see.
7. Two-story interior spaces. Consider limiting your upper floor to create a two-story space for your great room/dining/kitchen. Consider a balcony at the upper level. Consider making the stair a “feature” part of the large space.
8. Stair design. Avoid circular stairs or landings with windows. Difficult to meet code requirements. Consider a “folded” two-flight stair with a landing half way up. Consider enlarging the landing as an actual “between space” or overlook (library, crafts).
9. Common omitted items: pet areas, pantry, digital charging, trash and recycling, sports and hobby equipment, musical instruments, utility room (for furnace/AC, water heater, well equipment), cleaning closet (for vacuum, brooms, cleaning supplies)
10. TV and digital media. Think about the role TV plays in your life. It is central and everywhere? Is this what you want? Is this good for your kids? Consider sequestering all screens to a “media room” for limiting access and freeing other spaces as “screen-free”.
11. Look at building code for clearance requirements at plumbing fixtures and wood stoves.
12. Draw “exterior elevations” of the whole house. In a large-volume building like a barn, consider using 8’ headers for windows and doors. For tall walls, consider adding transom windows above.
13. Organizing openings and changes of materials. Line things up. Slight misalignment is visual clutter. Create changes of materials and colors that “tell a story” or frame or align with openings.
14. Daylight, windows, emergency escape and ventilation. Follow and exceed code requirements for minimum openings. Consider adding a “cupola” or system of skylights at the ridge to bring light/air into the center of your main spaces.
15. Solar. Consider roof slope (min 4/12) and orientation (south or southwest) for optimal solar orientation.
16. Shade. Consider overhangs and covered porches to shade your windows. Sun entering through windows can heat/cool at the right times of year. Remember, summer sun is almost vertical and can easily be shaded. Winter sun is low angle and can slip under a shade to add warmth.
17. Interior elevations. Draw separate for each room with cabinets and special finishes (kitchens, bathrooms, pantries). Look at what you want to store and where.
18. Outdoor rooms. Consider creating an outdoor kitchen/BBQ area. Covered/sun? Looking at? Think of the space around your barn as containing “outdoor rooms” with activities and furnishings. Outdoor spaces have a larger “scale” than indoor. Consider seasonal changes.
This should get you started.
Good luck!
David Ludwig, Architect

Things to Complete Before Going to a Barndominium Lender

Folks who are contemplating building a barndominium come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as financial positions. Some are at or near an end to their working careers and are downsizing, selling or have sold a long term family home and have equity to be used for their last home. Others are at an opposite end of life – young(er), working hard, have a few dollars squirreled away, but need assistance from a financial institution in order to put everything together.

Prior to delving deeper into this financial pond, I will give you my one most important piece of advice to successful barndominium financing (drum roll please)……

Do not EVER say, “I need a loan to build a barndominium”. (Barndominium can be replaced by shouse, pole barn (or post frame) home with equally bad results.

Should you choose to ignore this advice, it will result in eyes glazing over and most often hearing these dreaded words, “We do not do those types of loans”.

What you DO say is, “I need a loan to construct a fully engineered, custom designed, wood framed home with steel roofing and siding”. Period.

But won’t my lender send out engineers and inspectors who will “catch” me building a barndominium, shouse or post frame home?  No. Your lender will be concerned about progress, not how you are getting there.

Before going to a lender you will need a place to build (land), blueprints (floor plans and elevations) and a budget (or contract subject to finance approval with a builder).

Lenders for construction loans have to know a few things:

Your mortgage ceiling. No matter what you will not be approved for a construction loan higher than an amount you would be approved for a mortgage. Obviously this is because when construction is done this loan has to convert to a mortgage.

This is your top end budget.

Your lender needs to appraise both land and plans. Where you are going to build needs to be, at a minimum, under a purchase contract. It doesn’t matter if you owe on it, but it can’t be just “a place we’d like to get”. In addition they’ll need your blueprints with a fairly solid idea of finishes. These do NOT need to be structural drawings, but must include complete floor plans as well as elevation drawings.

You can get those floor plans and elevations done with a minimal investment here http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

They need this because they need to appraise your land and your future house. They need to put a value on it so they can give you a funding total.

Normally they’ll fund 80% of their appraised value.

Your builder contract (or your budget). This lets them know how much you NEED to borrow to pay off  land (if you owe on it) and build whatever was in your plans they appraised.

You can use this to help develop a budget: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

If your costs are below 80% of their appraised value you don’t need to pay them any money down. If it however is HIGHER than 80% of appraised value, you’ll need to put down money to cover this gap.

Basically no one can loan you money unless they have a very detailed idea of what you are going to build, how much you are approved for, and what it is going to cost. Pretty much every detailed aspect of budget, plan and approval need to be nicely put into a package and tied with a ribbon and a bow prior to heading to a lender.

Imagining a Retirement Barndominium

Let us face it – I am among those greying in America. According to United States demographic statistics 14.7% of us (over 41 million) have reached a 62 year-old milestone!

What are we looking forward to in our probably final home of our own? We want to be able to spend our time enjoying life, rather than being slaves to home upkeep.

Loyal reader RUSS in PIPERSVILLE writes:

“We are currently in the “imagining” phase of our retirement home. We hope to be building in Maryland very close to the Chesapeake Bay.

We are trying to plan it as an aging in place home. The building will have the top of floor at 4ft. so as to accommodate the recorded last worst flood tide of 11 feet on the bay. Building dimensions are approx. 30 x 60 with a 9ft interior ceiling height. Do you favor engineered floor joists over dimensional lumber and why?

Planning to use Roxul insulation in the walls for R-30. A 2×8 bookshelf girt is 7.25 in. the same as the insulation batts. Can the insulation be place directly
against steel siding if we choose that system?

Also pretty sure that we will be specifying raised heel trusses for the roof. Can the steel siding accommodate the shear requirements for the trusses and an upgrade of wind load specs, or would something like tall wall or storm side sheathing become more practical? 

I am convinced that you folks are the only company that we will trust with the design and supply of our home. Your blog and learning posts have been an incredible help in this process. Without the information that you folks publish we probably would have made a serious mistake in looking elsewhere for this.”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:
Thank you very much Russ for your kind words, they are appreciated.

My thoughts:

I would consider setting underside of my floor framing to be above the highest recorded flood tide and probably give it an extra six inches. As the floor is being elevated, might as well make sure it is never going to be an issue.

I’d look at 10′ ceilings, as well as 9′. You are going to be designing for energy efficiency so heating/cooling differences should be minimal and those 10 foot ceilings are sure nice. Makes everything feel so much more spacious.

About Hansen BuildingsMy preference is engineered prefabricated wood floor trusses. To me, I joists always feel spongy. Dimensional lumber varies greatly in both height dimension as well as stiffness of each piece leading to a feeling of lots of ups and downs as you walk across a floor. Both of the last two make running duct work and plumbing within floor cavity near impossible – leaving things having to hang below the floor’s finished underside.

You can place Roxul directly against wall steel inside, however I would use a Weather Resistant Barrier if going this direction. Me personally, I would flash spray two inches of closed cell foam to wall steel inside and then use 5-1/2 inch batts. Closed cell spray foam completely seals your walls and adds rigidity. You would end up with roughly R-37 walls.

Because your trusses are connected directly to sidewall columns, raised truss heels do not create a greater shear load for sidewall steel.

Try to plan your interior spaces to best fit your needs, rather than to try to fit your needs inside into a preconceived exterior box, a difference of a few cents per square foot is not worth the sacrifice of a needed space. Maximize southern windows and minimize or eliminate north facing ones. Plan southern roof overhangs to shield windows from summer sun. 

I appreciate your well thought out questions and looking forward to being with you on your continued journey.

Roof Steel, Building a Post Frame House, and Fire Restoration

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a possible roof steel replacement, planning a post frame house, and assistance finding a contractor to complete fire restoration of a post frame building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good day PBG, I have a huge old wooden beam barn currently covered with standing seam tin roofing. I thought that would be the best to keep. However, it seems I have to have it painted more frequently and expensively than I planned.

Would it make sense to change the type of roofing?  Perhaps 50 year residential house shingling? There are so many good roofers competing for that business, I think I can have it done relatively cheaply. What about the new membranes I see on the market?

I value your thoughts on this.

Thank you for your consideration

JOHN in WASHINGTON D.C.

DEAR JOHN: Good afternoon. Something is wrong with your existing roofing or it has been on for many years as it should not have to be repainted.

For economy and durability I would recommend using through screwed 29 gauge three foot wide panels with Kynar paint (for any color other than White).

Shingled roofs are probably not what you think they should be: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/ask-the-builder/

I would need more clarification from you on “membranes”.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi there!! I am a single mom with 1 daughter. I want to build a pole barn house on my mom’s land. My price range is about 100k and I have about 20k to put down. I know absolutely nothing about building a home and especially nothing about a pole barn home. I am hoping I can spend less money on the outside and be able put more money on the inside to have the amenities and design/layout that I want. Where do I even begin?

THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP YOU CAN OFFER!!

JELEE in JOPLIN

DEAR JALEE: You have come to the right place. Our team members at Hansen Pole Buildings are barndominium experts. Links in this article will get you started: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

Plan tips – consider these factors:

Direction of access (you don’t want to have to drive around your house to get to garage doors)

‘Curb appeal’ – what will people see as they drive up?

Any views?

North-south alignment – place no or few windows on north wall, lots on south wall
Overhang on south wall to shade windows from mid-day summer sun If your AC bill is far greater than your heating bill, reverse this and omit or minimize north overhangs.

Slope of site

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I’m in need of someone to make a repair to a shop bay that received some fire damage. It’s located in Columbia, Tn. just an hour south west of Nashville. Do you some one that can make repairs on these metal over wood frame buildings? Someone I could set up a meeting with to get a quote?

Thanks DAVID in COLUMBIA

DEAR DAVID: You are nearly neighbors with our oldest daughter Bailey who lives in Shelbyville!

If you respond with photos of your building damage and a contact phone number we can post it up for members of Hansen Pole Buildings’ independent Builder Network to contact you directly. These builders are not affiliated with Hansen Pole Buildings and it is totally up to you to properly vet them out: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/vetting-building-contractor/

 

 

 

How to Install Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

How to Install Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

Reader SEAN in CAMAS writes:

“Please help! I have plans for a 48x60x16 pole barn here in the NW. I helped build a pole barn when I was in my teens and I think mostly for my young back and ability to swing a hammer. However I am a bit lost with these new plans. They call for bookshelf girts.  I sent a photo of the plans showing the details and the cut away. I get that the boards are on their side between the posts with a 2×6 “holding it up” on both ends that is nailed to the posts. However it looks like they all protrude 1 3/4″ beyond the outside of the post based on the bottom PT board being laid on the outside of the post. This would make sense to keep the siding all hitting a level board all the way up. Any photos or explanation would help greatly.” 


Well Sean, you are finding a set of plans is only as good as installation instructions provided with them. Having thorough step-by-step instructions, such as those in Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual, can save countless hours of grief, wasted materials and doing and undoing work.

Here is an excerpt you can use:

Most Common Mistakes:

  1. Installing wall girts before framing roof and roofing. 
  2. Placing first girt bottom at a height other than 27-1/2” above grade.
  3. Girt end blocks cut to varying lengths.
  4. Setting girts to project beyond column outsides other than by 1-1/2”.

Cut girt blocks to 22-7/16” lengths from 2×4 material provided. First girt block bottom edge starts 5-1/2” above splash plank bottom. After the concrete floor has been poured, a 2×4 pressure treated base plate will be inserted between floor top and girt block bottoms.  Base plate is toe-nailed to the pressure treated column at each end (exception being if columns are attached to brackets), as well as anchored to the concrete floor two feet on center (using concrete nails or nails “shot” into concrete). Base plate inside edge will be even with the inside edge of the girts above. Base plate should be installed over a sill gasket and/or caulked to the concrete floor. When space between treated columns is less than 24”, there is no base plate.

See Figure 29-1

Figure 29-1 Toe-nailing Base plate

 

Any pressure preservative treated lumber cut edge or end should be treated with a Copper Naphthenate solution. Copper Naphthenate is available as a brush-on (Cuprinol No. 10 Copper-Green® Wood Preserver https://www.homedepot.com/p/Copper-Green-1-gal-Wood-Preservative-176223/300502829) or spray-on (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Copper-Green-Wood-Preservative-14-fl-oz-Aerosol-CopperSpr/100191444).

Girt blocks are placed so the block inside edge is flush with the wall girt inside edge. This may cause girts, as well as blocking, to extend past columns on inside, without adversely affecting interior finish applications such as gypsum wallboard. Nail girt block with (2) 10d common nails at each end (unless specified otherwise on building plans).  

In any event, the total nail number used to attach any girt block to a column should never be fewer than the nail number used to attach girt to block top.

Cut girt to fit snugly between columns, with “crown” out, resting on girt blocking at each end. Outside girt edge extends from columns outward 1-1/2”. See Figure 29-2

Figure 29-2 Commercial Bookshelf Girts For Insulation

Nail each girt end securely into girt block tops below, with two 10d common nails minimum. Repeat for each bay around building.

Where two adjacent wall columns are 2’ or less in between, 2×4 exterior (barn style) girts will be provided to nail on outside column faces, as insulation batts will fill space remaining.

Nail 2x blocking material to exterior column faces in line with girts.  This a good way to use up cutoffs from bookshelf girts. See Figure 29-3

This blocking will serve as backing material for any screws falling in this area.

Figure 29-3: Commercial Bookshelf Girts 2x Blocking

Install 2×4 inverted “L” sidewall drywall backing using 2-10d common toe-nails through “L” vertical member into columns. See Figure 29-4

4” shown in Figure 29-4 is for 2×6 girts; for 2×8 girts, it will be 5-3/4”.

 Figure 29-4: L Sidewall Drywall Backing

For buildings without ceiling joists, install 2×4 inverted “L” endwall drywall backing using 2-10d commons toe-nailed through “L” vertical member into columns.

  See Figure 29-5

Figure 29-5:  “L” Endwall Drywall Backing

This should give you a good start. Good luck and let me know how it all turns out. Pictures appreciated!

 

Cutting Barn Trusses

Just a Little Nip Here, Tuck There

As so many of us have entered an age of Covid-19 binge television watching, I can imagine there are more than a few who have consumed calories while watching 100 episodes of Nip/Tuck (originally aired on FX from 2003-2010).

While nipping and tucking can solve many human cosmetic issues, it is done by highly skilled professional surgeons. Want to nip and tuck on a building’s structure? You wouldn’t hire a bus driver to perform plastic surgery, so don’t try to be your own structural engineer.

Reader BRIAN in ANDERSON writes:

“I have a barn, 40 foot wide, 36 feet long.  I need to increase the height of the front garage door to fit an RV, and need to modify a single truss in the front of the building to make room for a roll-up garage door (barrel door).  The trusses are engineered attic trusses, and span the 40′ without any support.  The distance between the web members that would make up the “wall” of the attic room, is just over 16′.  The door is 16′ wide.  So I need to get some more room between the web supports, and remove a section of the bottom chord.  I will be raising the middle section of the bottom chord by 26″. My plan is to modify the truss in two ways:  First create a new bottom truss to effectively turn this single truss into a coffer truss, and widen the web members.  The new bottom chord will sandwich the existing truss elements with a new 2×10 on each side, and gaps of the new chord path filled in effectively making a solid beam 3 boards wide (considering construction adhesive between the layers as overkill).  Including some drawing showing the steps I plan to take.  Probably overkill, maybe not enough, just want a reality check on the plan.  Also, trusses are 24″ on center.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Stop.

Never, ever cut a truss without having an engineered repair. Ideally this could be obtained from whomever manufactured your building’s trusses originally. If you are unsure, there should be a manufacturer’s permanent ink stamp on each truss bottom chord. Should you not know who fabricated them, stamps are not able to be found or manufacturer is no longer in business, hire a local Registered Professional Engineer to come examine your trusses and provide a repair drawing (if it is even possible to be done).

For extended reading on not cutting trusses: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/07/cutting-trusses/

Not Your Average Kitchen in a Barndominium

Not Your Average Kitchen in a Barndominium

When my lovely bride Judy first came up with an idea to construct our now shouse (shop/house) gambrel building 15 years ago, it was not with a thought as to it becoming a barndominium. Indeed, it was to be a place to have offices along one side and warehouse space for inventory. Our huge and wide open upstairs would be a place we could have our youngest children (then 17, 14, 11 and 10) hang out with their friends, play foosball and shoot some pool.

As life goes, one thing led to another – one of Judy’s older sons needed a place to live while he went to college so he moved into her house across the street from where we are now. Graciously he, and his now wife, relocated all of our belongings into our formerly wide open expanse and we became barndominium dwellers.

Somethings are essential for barndominium roughing it – obviously a bathroom (we had finished one downstairs), then a place for food prep. For many years we had a folding table with a microwave for our kitchen.  Lacking running water upstairs, we hauled dishes up and down to wash in the big sink downstairs.

Finally we decided to get serious and ordered custom oak cabinets.


This, in itself, was a tremendous improvement over our folding table!

But wait, there is more….


Four foot by eight foot granite slab for this island weighed in at 700 pounds! Might not have been so bad except our living area is 20 feet above grade! In order to get it up, we loaded it on a scissors lift and brought it through a front window. Rolling stands helped to get the granite slab over to the 4’x8′ island and was lifted into place by six strong men.

A few years after this our lives changed when Judy’s motorcycle accident left her a paraplegic confined to a power wheelchair. It became necessary to leave our beautiful Spokane, WA residence due to several flights with many small and large staircases. We moved into the barndominium in South Dakota.  We found we had done a few things accidentally right. For one thing it already had a small one person elevator which served us until we installed a larger four person elevator a few years later. The kitchen was done with many areas “just right”. 


Open areas, in cabinets below the island, are perfect for her to be able to roll in. We have at least four feet of space between the island and surrounding countertops. Refrigerator, freezer and dual dishwashers are raised a foot above floor level, making them easier to access from Judy’s chair. (More on these here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/some-barndominium-kitchen-appliance-ideas/) She can also reach and use the lower of those two stacked ovens quite handily.

There is one missing feature I wish we had incorporated – a trash compactor.

Considering heavy stone or concrete countertops for an elevated wood floor? I would recommend spacing floor joists or trusses closer together in these areas to limit deflection.

Cool Roof Systems

Cool roofs are roofing systems creating higher solar reflectance and thermal emittance than standard roofing products. Solar reflectance is a process where a roof reflects the sun’s UV and infrared rays, reducing the total amount of heat transferred to a building or home. Thermal emittance is a roof’s ability to radiate absorbed and non-reflected solar energy. Dark colored and more standard roofs can reach temperatures of up to 150°F in summer sun, while a cool roof in similar conditions can stay more than 50 degrees cooler. Cool roofs also can enhance a roof’s durability, reduce cooling costs, and reduce urban heat island effect (when built-up areas are hotter than surrounding rural areas).

Cool roofs are an important part of sustainable building. Hansen Pole Buildings offers steel roofing and siding panels in cool roof colors, created with highly reflective paint to help metal panels reflect sunlight and absorb less heat. It’s important to note trapped heat in a roofing system can cause damage and require roofs to be replaced more often. Cool roofs can extend lifespan of a roof, especially in warmer climates, and reduce energy costs.

Cool Roofing Rating Council (CRRC), was established in 1998 to create credible methods for evaluating and labeling solar reflectance and thermal emittance of roofing products. This method has become an accepted part of LEED applications and known as Cool Roof Systems. The CRRC uses the Solar Reflectance Index to rate Cool Roof Systems.  

There are tons of benefits for installing a cool roof system. Some benefits include:

  • Reduce Energy Use — By decreasing air conditioning needs, cool roofs are able to reduce a single home’s energy usage. 
  • Decrease Roof Temperature & Increase Roof Lifetime — By lowering temperature, cool roofs can extend the life of a roofing system even further.
  • Improve Indoor Conditions — Cool roofs can improve conditions and comfort of areas and rooms indoors not being air conditioned, like garages and covered patios
  • Aid Climate Change — Since cool roofs directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by conserving electricity, they help lower CO2 emissions from power plants. 

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) is a measure of a constructed surface’s ability to stay cool in the sun by reflecting solar radiation and emitting thermal radiation. This index ranges from 0 to 100, with a standard black surface having an initial SRI of 0 and a standard white surface having an initial SRI of 100. 

Hansen Pole Buildings is proud to offer our clients products having earned our government’s ENERGY STAR label. Energy Star is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program helping businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. 

Homeowners who install an ENERGY STAR compliant pre-painted metal roof can also meet requirements for additional tax credits.

Slab or Crawl, Insulation, and Building by a Leach Field

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about building on a slab or with a crawl space, insulation for a shop, and if a person is able to build near a leach field.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I appreciate the building technology used when building a residential pole barn. I am not yet convinced about a slab floor. Although radiant heat is a plus I have two concerns. 1st I’m not sure of the impact when walking on concrete and what is done about air conditioning the building. Have you seen pole framing on a stem wall crawl space deck. Thanks. JOHN in SUMMERSVILLE

DEAR JOHN: Although our own shouse has geothermal radiant floor heating and cooling (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/modern-post-frame-buildings-geothermal/) I tend to agree with you about what surface I would like to live upon. If I had to stand on concrete for very long, my knees would be screaming at me. We have provided many post frame buildings built over crawl spaces, with most using embedded columns and attaching raised wood floor supports to them. This is far more cost effective than pouring a stemwall (we have had clients go this route as well). For extended reading please see https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/slab-on-grade-or-crawl-space/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m working with Greg Lovell on a building design. Pole barn 30 x 48 x 10 will be walled of to two 24 X 30 shop areas.

My question is on insulation, I’ve read you recommend a ceiling and insulating above that with a vented ridge.

So… if this is not going to be a building I heat 24/7 and never cool. Can I get by with reflectix under the metal roofing and insulating between the purlins with unfaced insulation, if I’m only going to heat it when I’m in it during the winter (heat with a wood stove).

Your post says if I do it this way I need to construct an air gap between the purlins and the roofing material, given the above scenario do I need this air gap if I only heat it a few times a week during the day? Obviously if I do need the air gap the ceiling would be a better way to go. LEE in IDAHO FALLS

DEAR LEE: Code does require airflow above insulation from eave to ridge with this scenario. An option might be to use two inches of closed cell spray foam insulation applied directly to roof steel underside. This would eliminate a need for a Reflective Radiant Barrier as well as ventilation above it. Closed cell spray foam should run roughly two dollars per square foot of roof surface and provide about R-13.

Advantage of a ceiling with insulation blown in is you only heat area below ceiling. Should you or some future user decide to climate control, this would provide a big start.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you build a pole barn at the bottom of a leach field? TRACE in JAMUL

DEAR TRACE: Yes you can. Typically most jurisdictions require any non-full foundation buildings to be at least 10 feet from any leach line. Consult with your local Health Department for requirements for your jurisdiction.

 

 

 

 

Isolating Heated and Unheated Barndominium Concrete Floors

Isolating Heated and Unheated Barndominium Concrete Floors

Loyal reader MIKE in COUPEVILLE writes:

“I see you recently posted a detailed drawing on insulating the perimeter of a pole barn, very helpful. 

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/meeting-barndominium-slab-requirements/

I’m currently looking at purchasing a large pole barn, it will be 84’x42′ with posts 12′ apart.  I plan to make 2 of the 12’x42′ bays on one end a heated living quarters in the near future.  I’m curious how you would propose to insulate/isolate the 4” slab of the heated living quarter’s side from the unheated shop/garage side.  I’m thinking more 2” high density foam laid vertically basically making them two separate slabs one 24’x42′ for the heated living quarters and the other 60’x42′ for the unheated shop.  The issue I see with this method is it is effectively separating the slabs and I’m assuming the engineering of the building, I’m especially concerned about this because the insulation/break would be the whole 42′ width of the slab and right where the 12′ on center posts are.  Will this method compromise the structural integrity of the building?  Will your engineers call it out in the plans if asked to?  Or is there some other way to insulate the slab between heated and unheated portions of a build? 

Thanks for your time and I’ve enjoyed reading many of your blog posts.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Thank you for being a loyal reader and for your kind words, they are appreciated.

One question I have often asked clients is, “Do you mind if I treat your building as if it was going to be my own”? 

 

If your building was going to be mine, I would place vertical wall insulation around the building’s entire perimeter. This shop may be unheated today, but it would not take me very many winters of working in it to decide I want heat in it. I would also put rigid insulation under my entire floor surface as well as pex-al-pex tubes for radiant heat – divided into zones so shop and living quarters could be heated independent of each other.


As to your idea of a thermal break across your building’s width, there would be no structural detriment from it as it would (for practical purposes) function as a very large expansion joint. As your building’s weight does not rest upon its slab on grade, your slab’s structural contribution to your overall structure is in reducing wind shear forces having to be transferred from roof surface, through endwalls to ground, creating a constrained condition. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/importance-of-constrained-posts/

If requested we can have our engineers include this detail within your sealed plans.

“One-Pour Post Frame Concrete Footings

“One-pour” Post Frame Concrete Footings and Bottom Collars

As originally engineered Hansen Pole Buildings’ column encasement design, had pressure preservative columns placed to the bottom of an augured hole. Pre-mix concrete was then poured around each column’s lower 16-18 inches to form a bottom collar. Concrete to wood’s bond strength was sufficient to enable this assembly to resist both gravitational forces (settling) as well as uplift.

For further reading on concrete to wood bond strength: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/04/pole-barn-post-in-concrete/

There were, however, a few Building Officials who just could not wrap their heads around this as a design solution – they wanted to see concrete underneath columns. Prescriptive Building Codes do mandate for a minimum six inch thick concrete footing below bearing walls and load supporting columns, contributing to this effect.
Reader DENNIS in SALT LAKE CITY triggered this article as he writes:

“I see that you are a proponent of monolithic concrete pours around the vertical posts for your buildings. You have suggested a basket as one way to raise the post 8″ for the footing space. Since I don’t wish to purchase the baskets, how do you recommend suspending the posts at the correct level so all the post tops are level with each other and a monolithic pour can be accomplished?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

In response to our friendly Building Officials, Plans’ Examiners and Field Inspectors, we had previously flicked switches on our creative light bulbs to arrive at an engineered solution – we changed our design so column bases “float” eight inches above the bottom of holes, prior to concrete being poured.

Unlike my caricature, levitation is not involved in this process what-so-ever. By nailing a “to be used later in construction” framing member temporarily across each column, at appropriate depth, it makes for a relatively easy design solution.
Once building columns are set in place, it allows for premix concrete to be poured in one simple step both under the column base as well as up sides to create a bottom collar.

This, and all other construction tips and procedures are fully outlined in Hansen Pole Buildings’ roughly 500 hundred page Construction Manual, furnished both electronically and as a hard copy with every new building.

How Tall Should My Eave Height Be for Two Stories?

How Tall Should My Eave Height Be for Two Stories?

I have learned a couple of things in 40 years of post frame building construction. One amongst these is – most people are dimensionally challenged (no offense intended).

As much as some folks would like to believe, you cannot legitimately put two full height finished floors in a 16 foot eave height post frame building.

Now fear is a strong motivating force. Perhaps it is fear of a building “appearing” too tall or of OMG it will be too expensive keeping people from considering what it actually takes to create a Building Code conforming two story building.

Back in my early roof truss selling days, I had two clients who had relocated from New York state to North Idaho and were building new homes on adjacent properties. Both of them (and their spouses) were relatively short of stature and had decided to build their homes to Code minimum ceiling heights of seven feet. Their reasoning was it would be less space to heat and cool and they could chop two studs out of 14 foot long materials.

Missed in all of this was how much sheetrock waste would be created!

Sidebar – modern Building Codes allow seven foot ceilings under International Residential Code (IRC), however IBC (International Building Code) requires six more inches.

Now I am vertically challenged at 6’5” and would feel very uncomfortable with seven foot ceilings. In my own personal shouse, most ceilings on both floors are 16 feet high!

In today’s exciting episode we will learn together how tall eave heights should actually be to give reasonable ceilings in post frame buildings.

Setting a “zero point” at exterior grade (and assuming slab on grade for lower floor), top of slab will be at +3.5 inches.

To create eight foot finished ceilings requires 8’ 1-1/8” (allows for 5/8” sheetrock on ceilings).

In order to be able to run utilities (e.g. plumbing and ductwork) through second floor supports, I highly recommend prefabricated wood floor trusses (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/floor-trusses-for-barndominiums/). Generally truss height will be about an inch for every foot of clearspan with a 12 inch minimum. 

In my own shouse, we have a 48 foot clearspan floor over our basketball court. And yes, those trusses are four feet deep!

Allow ¾ inch for OSB floor sheeting.

6-1/16″ for heel height of trusses with 2×6 top chord at 4/12 slope (provided you are using closed cell spray foam insulation between purlins)

If using blown-in insulation truss heel height should be R value of insulation divided by 3 plus 2″ to allow plenty of eave to ridge air flow above insulation.

At a bare minimum an eave height of 18’ 0-9/16” will be needed to create those eight foot ceilings.

Adding to a Floating Slab Building

Adding to a Floating Slab Building

Most buildings need foundations to transfer the structure’s weight as well as roof and floor loads into the ground. Small sheds and backyard structures like gazebos and pergolas may not need elaborate foundations because they are so light. But, for any building over about 150 square feet, a strong foundation is essential.

Any water freezing under a floating concrete slab will cause damage. As water freezes, it expands with enough force to lift the entire building. As this ice melts, it leaves an open pocket of space below the slab. With each successive freeze/thaw cycle, this pocket expands. This results in a ratchet or jacking action repeatedly lifting your building, eventually cracking walls and windows and opening seams for even more water damage.

Properly designed monolithic floating slab foundations are approved for use on stud wall framed garages and accessory buildings by many U.S. municipalities, north and south. They need to be reinforced with steel rebars and steel wire mesh to prevent them from cracking under building loads and to help them spread those loads over a wide swatch of ground.

Although some code jurisdictions allow use of monolithic floating slab foundations on detached garages and accessory buildings of up to 2,000 square feet in area, most restrict them to just 24’x24’ (576 square feet) or less. If considering stud wall framing on a building consult with your building department specifically as to floating monolithic slab foundations applicability.

Monolithic floating slabs are not recommended for use on sloping sites and on sites with mucky or soft clay soil. Top soil and all organic material like sod and roots must be removed from the new slab area.

Reader WILLIAM in CANDOR writes:

“I have a 24’x24′ stick built floating slab shop. I would like to build a 30’x50′ pole building attached to it. Can I or should I do this.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

With this said, your new pole building can be abutted to your existing stick built floating slab shop, however it should not be structurally attached to it, as your new building will be designed to resist frost heave issues, while your existing shop will have up and down movement.

Where to Stop Metal, Installing a Sliding Door, and Footings

This week’s Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about where to stop metal in relation to concrete, installing a sliding door to a repurposed building, and the proper depth of footings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Where do I stop my metal in relation to my grade board/ bottom stringer. I’ve set the bottom of my lowest stringer to be the top of my concrete. Does the dirt on the outside end at the bottom of said stringer because I would think moisture would penetrate. Thanks for your time and I enjoy your information. SAM in LANCASTER

DEAR SAM: Bottom of your pressure treated splash plank (lowest stringer) should be 3-1/2″ below top of your concrete slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m putting up a pole barn on the cheap with mostly repurposed materials. I’ve searched the interweb and find no instructions on sliding door track installation. I’m ready to start putting up the siding-do I need to prep/install the track/flashing/guides/stops etc. now or can I side the structure and do all this later? I have yet to buy any track/rollers/hardware, the doors will be 18′ tall and 10′ wide (high clearance for a stack wagon). Any help/guidance/direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, DAVE in ELIZABETH

Figure 27-5

DEAR DAVE: You will want to invest in your track and hardware so you have installation instructions including height of track board. Please do not try to wood frame door itself, invest in a steel frame – it will be far lighter in weight and will not warp and twist like a wood frame will.

Normally you will have a 2×6 #2 track board mounted on sliding door header face across your door opening and in adjacent area door will slide over. Top of track board is usually 10″ taller (above bottom of pressure treated splash plank) than door height. Before you run any siding install header, track boards and jambs. Install 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ L trim to cover track board. Hang track and track cover trim. Install J Channel horizontally on solid wall below track board and vertically on solid wall side of each door jamb.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello I called the number on your website and I was asked to send this question to this email address:

I’m considering building a pole barn however am concerned because about 30% of the vertical posts would be on a rock ledge at an elevation above the frost line.

I see the section on your website ‘sturdy wall plus concrete brackets’ not sure if that would apply here and/or what type of bracket or detail could be used in the situation?

Thank you! MARK in WEST MILLFORD

 

DEAR MARK: Building Codes require footings to extend to either below frost line or to solid bedrock. Our third party engineers have worked with similar situations previously and usually come up with a design solution involving “pinning” columns to underlying rock.  We would supply you with a column layout and have you indicate how deep you can get at each column location. A steel concrete stake and a sledge hammer are perfect for being able to do this in advance of your plans being completed.

 

 

Labor Costs for a New Barndominium

Labor Costs for a Post Frame Barndominium

In my humble opinion, an average physically capable person who can and will read instructions can successfully erect his or her post frame barndominium. This is a great place to save money (provided time is available) and most people frankly will end up with a better finished home!

Why?

Because you care – you have “skin in the game”.

Reader JOHN in NIXX writes:

“We are interested in building a home. It’s crazy but I’m not sure what to call this structure

Long story short we started out investing a pole frame residence. Decided not to go w slab on grade due to our physical condition and walking on concrete. 

I’m thinking we are going to build a 3-4’ stem wall or crawl space w/ 2×6 exterior walls. With trusses 6/12 pitch   Metal roof and 3 sides metal. The front could be red cedar siding.

MoneyWe are building in a remote area and the trades are difficult to come by. I received a recommendation of a person who has been building fence for 20 years. He organized 2  Amish crews that have built 2 large pole barns. They set poles and framed in with 2×6 exterior walls. When we spoke about pricing I was told it would be $4.50 a sq foot. I have framed stick build for a lot  less in the past. A local subdivision in the area is paying $3.50 a foot for stick built houses. My question is how do I determine if that is a fare price. I’m having a difficult time seeing how that price is valid.  What am I missing?  Any input would be appreciated.   The zip code for the new build is 65571. Thanks.”  

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Nationally framing a standard 2,100 square foot stick frame house will cost $9,030 – $17,220 or $4.30 – $8.20 per square foot for labor. A crew of five should be able to complete work and pass framing inspection within 2 – 3 weeks. Contractors typically will estimate garage area at 15 – 20% lower rate than living space.

If you are hearing $3.50 per square foot for framing labor, it sounds like they either work too cheaply or houses being built are extremely basic. Keep in mind, stick frame labor does not usually include siding or roofing installation and never includes hanging overhead doors.

Most usually a fair market price for post frame shell erection labor is approximately 50% of an engineered post frame building kit price.

With post frame construction, you can have engineered an elevated wood floor supported by building columns, eliminating a huge expense of pouring a concrete footing and stem wall.

Remember – cheap is rarely good, and good is rarely cheap.

Do You Own the Land Your Barndominium Will Be Built On?

Do You Own the Land Your Barndominium Will Be Built On?

Barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes are not only a current rage, they may be America’s future home of choice. Pinterest has literally hundreds of photos of barndominiums. DIY network’s “Texas Flip-n-Move” feature a rusty old barn made into a beautiful home in Episode 6 of Season 5. Chip and Joanna Gaines took on a barndominium makeover in Season 3 Episode 6 of “Fixer Upper”. Tens of thousands of Facebookers join barndominium discussion groups of one sort or another.

However not everyone wants to take on the joys and challenges of trying to convert an old barn into a beautiful and functional new home.

Most potential barndominium owners are trying to escape urban or suburban living. They want to sneeze without hearing their neighbors say, “Bless you”. Oftentimes they have looked to buy an existing home, but could never find one exactly fitting their needs.

Here is where a blank canvas of vacant property has its allure. Within constraints of available space, budget and imagination anything becomes possible.
I accept my asking, “Do you own the land your barndominium will be built on?” in Facebook groups puts me in a position of being a brunt taker for jokes. There is, however, a method to my madness.

To begin with, I do not care if you own property free and clear (and let’s face it, your local property taxing authority owns it as well). It doesn’t matter if ‘your dirt’ is owned by a relative, a friend or a close enemy – just as long as you know where your new home is going to be.
For most this ‘barndominium build” is going to become their forever home (or at least theirs for a very long time).

Seemingly millions of canned house plans are available (for a small to large fee) across a plethora of internet websites. 99.9% of these plans have a similar problem – they were designed for a flat lot in suburbia! Yep, they look stunning on a website. Considering spending your hard earned money on one thinking you will save money by using cheap house plans? This would be an equivalent to everyone buying 34 inch waist 36 inch inseam Levi’s. They fit me just fine, but what if you are not 6’5”? Or maybe you do not even like Levi’s?

Your home should be planned to fit into its environment. Does it make sense to try to change (or ignore) your environment to fit your bargain house plans?
In order to craft ideal plans for your new barndominium, shouse or post frame home, your building site should be carefully considered.

If you are considering hiring a general contractor to turnkey your build, or merely an erector to put up your home’s shell, only once you ‘own the dirt’ and even better have a building plan developed to match your building site should you embark on a ‘builder hunt’. Builders are in short supply and their time is valuable. It is an unfair expectation to take advantage of them before they can reasonably ascertain you actually might have a need for their services.

Know where your barndominium is going to be built? Please reach out to me and I can give you some free advice on getting those ideal plans.

For extended reading on turnkey general contractors for barndominiums please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/does-my-barndominium-need-a-turn-key-general-contractor/

Is This Floor Plan Doable as a Post Frame Barndominium Kit?

Is This Floor Plan Doable as a Post Frame Barndominium Kit?

This question was posed by Reader TIFFANY in HOPKINSVILLE. My answer is yes. Whether an existing floor plan or a custom design – virtually anything you can imagine, can be converted to a post frame barndominium kit, provided it is possible to do structurally at all!

When it comes down to it, your only limitations are – your imagination, budget and available space.

Here is an online description of this build:

“This design is of another stunning ranch-farmhouse which brings back a beautiful era. Country-style living is now becoming a trend all over America and there are many reasons why. Sometimes, a peaceful living space is all it takes for one to get a complete lifestyle makeover. The busy city can take a huge toll on one’s health, be it mentally or physically. It’s very hard to relax when you hear the loud honking of cars outside, parties in the next room and a ton of workload. Wouldn’t it be nice to move into a peaceful house where none of those things exist? This beautiful traditional ranch-farmhouse could be your dreamhouse.

A wrap-around porch and a steep roofline is among the many beautiful elements that this house has to offer. Having a traditional ranch-farmhouse for home doesn’t mean you’re going to totally eliminate any sense of modernity. The facade of this house can be tweaked and redecorated to perfectly suit the family. A family of around 5 members can freely occupy the three spacious bedrooms in this layout. Palladian head windows and doors are installed on the walls to provide the house natural sunlight.

A large attic could be utilized as a storage room or a man-cave for hobbyist dads. It can also be turned into another bedroom for new members of the household. The space on the upper level is vast and ideal for any purpose.”

 

Stats: 1,793 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 car garage.”

I am a great believer in homes being custom crafted to best meet the wants, needs and budget of those who will live in it, as well as being tailored to best fit upon one’s property. With this said, I fear no canned plan is going to meet this.

In my humble opinion there are some less than ideal features in this plan. These would include:

Lack of accessible features – all doors should be three feet wide, hallways four feet. A step down to a dining room means those 10% of Americans who will be confined to a wheelchair at some point in their life will not be able to eat with everyone else. It is also a trip hazard, especially for guests. Sunken living or dining rooms were possible in he 90’’s but have mostly gone out of vogue. There is no accessible bathroom or roll in shower.

Upstairs bonus room – bonus rooms are not free space by any means. Nor are they accessible. Try to get anything of size around a corner and up those stairs would prove impossible.  Dormers might be cute, however they do come with a premium price and are not adding to usable floor space.

My kitchen is my domain and I would feel shut in with this design. I would do away with the kitchen eating area and open up it and the dining room to create a big open space along with the current great room. Pantry barely big enough to be a small closet – give me a space I can get a second refrigerator and an upright freezer in. Those additional storage areas are priceless.

A design for secondary bedrooms including walk-in closets would be preferable.

Laundry location is going to make for a lot of steps to the master suite. Sitting area looks cute in plans, but how many of us are seriously going to utilize this space? Rarely do those garden tubs ever get used, ditch it for a tiled open shower with a rain head (and roll-in wheelchair accessibility). Soaking tubs or jetted tubs are also very popular.

What about this two car garage would work for anything but two cars? Most of us have stuff (bikes, work benches, golf clubs, ski gear and many more) and “stuff” needs a place.

Whole House Barndominium Fans

Whole House Barndominium Fans

Apparently when it comes to barndominiums, there is a limitless number of subjects to cover!

Reader CAROLYN in CLEVELAND writes:

“We would like to build a post frame home but I would like to have a whole house fan to cut down on cooling costs. Most barndos we see under construction use spray foam insulation directly against the metal roofing/ siding which would prevent the use of a whole house fan. You talk about blown in insulation and roof venting which sounds similar to stick built homes. So is it safe to assume that your designs would allow us to install a whole house fan in the attic space with adequate venting? I fondly recall the ancient airplane engine attic fans 3 or 4 ft wide from years ago and was pleasantly surprised to see the new ones drastically reduced in size and volume. What is your opinion on this?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Most Hansen Pole Buildings’ post frame barndominiums are designed with dead attic spaces – blown in insulation above a sheetrocked ceiling (yes, very similar to stick built homes). This would certainly allow for use of a whole house fan and could prove to be very effective. I would still encourage use of a flash coat of closed cell spray foam insulation inside your barndominium’s wall steel. (For extended reading on flash and batt: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/flash-and-batt-insulating-barndominium-walls/).

In most climates whole house cooling using a whole house fan can substitute for an air conditioner. Combined with ceiling fans and other circulating fans, whole house fans provide acceptable summer comfort for many families, even in hot weather. In addition to whole house fans, central heating and cooling system ducts can be modified to provide whole house cooling.

A whole house fan pulls air in from open windows and exhausts it through the attic and roof. It provides good attic ventilation in addition to whole house cooling. Whole house fans should provide houses with 3 to 6 air changes per hour (varies with climate, floor plan, etc.—check with a professional to determine what is appropriate for your home). Air-change rate you will choose depends on your climate and how much you will depend on your whole house fan for cooling.

Installing a whole house fan can be tricky and should be done by a professional. An experienced professional should take your attic measurements and install your dedicated circuit wiring and, if needed, your new attic vents.

Attic ventilation will usually need to be increased to exhaust fan’s air outdoors. You’ll need two to four times the normal area of attic vents, or about one square foot of net free area for every 750 cubic feet per minute of fan capacity. Code requirements for dead attic space venting are 1/300th of the attic “footprint” with at least half of this located in the upper half of the attic. Net free area of a vent takes into account resistance offered by its louvers and insect screens. More vent area is better for optimal whole house fan performance.

If your fan doesn’t come with a tight-sealing winter cover, you should either buy one or build one. If you switch between air conditioning and cooling with a whole house fan as summer weather changes, build a tightly sealed, hinged door for fan opening easy to open and close when switching cooling methods.

Be cautious when operating these large exhaust fans. Open windows throughout the barndominium to prevent a powerful and concentrated suction in one location. If enough ventilation isn’t provided, these fans can cause a backdraft in your furnace, water heater or gas-fired dryer, pulling combustion products such as carbon monoxide into your living space.

Whole house fans can be noisy, especially if improperly installed. In general, a large-capacity fan running at low speed makes less noise than a small fan operating at high speed. All whole house fans should be installed with rubber or felt gaskets to dampen noise. You can set a multi-speed fan to a lower speed when noise is a problem.

You may be able to use heating and air conditioning ducts in your barndominium as a means of whole house ventilation. This would involve installing an intake duct to pull air into an attic-mounted system directing air into your heating and cooling ducts. A damper would control exhaust air from your home into the attic. Check with a local HVAC professional to find out if this option is right for you.

Footings, Payments, and Financing

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about a requirement for “continuous footings” in South Carolina, lump sim or payments for a building purchase, and finance options.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are continuous footings required for a pole barn in Dorchester County South Carolina. Size is 24 x 32 M KELLY in SUMMERVILLE

DEAR M KELLY: There is no readily apparent structural reason why they would be required. Your pole barn’s foundation design should be clearly spelled out on engineered plans you will be submitting to acquire your permit to build and will most typically be properly pressure preservative columns embedded in ground with some amount of concrete to resist uplift and overturning (as well as settling).

 

About Hansen BuildingsDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have to pay all at once or can you make monthly payments? STEVE in KALAMAZOO

DEAR STEVE: Depending upon your credit worthiness you can make monthly payments. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/financing/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Will banks finance these as homes? MICHELLE in MILL HALL

DEAR MICHELLE: Absolutely they will. You will want to read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/post-frame-home-construction-financing/

 

 

Best Barndominium Steel Roofing and Siding in Coastal Areas

If you are one of many looking to install steel roofing and/or siding on your new barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home, understanding differences between galvanized and galvalume is essential to getting top performance you expect from your new steel roofing or siding..

In most residential steel roofing applications including near-coastal areas — beach homes located near shore, and even homes located in the middle of heavy salt-spray — severe marine environments, Galvalume steel will be a better and more corrosion-resistant option than galvanized steel.

Read more about Galvalume at https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/galvalume/

Galvalume steel should not be used in contact with concrete or mortar, as both are highly alkaline environments. Bare Galvalume steel and painted Galvalume sheets will suffer rapid corrosion when in contact with mortar and concrete.

Bare Galvanized steel and painted Galvanized steel perform better in this type of environment.

Now, because aluminum, one of two metals in Galvalume coating, provides a barrier protection for steel, instead of galvanic or self-healing protection in galvanized steel, scratches and cut edges in Galvalume are less protected.

Galvalume steel is best for use in prefabricated metal wall panels and standing seam metal roof applications with concealed fasteners.

Normally, Galvalume is offered in both bare and pre-coated (pre-painted) versions. Most residential-grade Galvalume metal roofing products – like galvanized steel – are coated with Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 paint finishes. (For extended reading on Kynar: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/kynar/ )

Galvalume has an excellent performance lifespan in bare exposures (unpainted panels) as well. Both galvanized steel and Galvalume weigh 100 to 150 pounds per 100 square feet and contain about 35% recycled steel post-consumer content.

Galvalume is similar in investment to galvanized steel.

In the early 1800s galvanized steel was invented and developed for commercial use, so it has nearly 200 years of proven track record. Carbon sheet steel is dipped in molten zinc. It’s more than a coating, however. A chemical bond occurs and produces telltale “spangles,” a crystalline surface pattern found on galvanized steel.

Bethlehem Steel developed galvalume introducing it to the world in 1972, so it’s been in use nearly 60 years. Similar to galvanized steel, Galvalume is produced by a hot-dip process. Instead of 100% zinc, this dip is 55% aluminum, 43.5% zinc and 1.5% silicon.

  • Zinc bonds with a steel surface to create a barrier to corrosion-causing moisture
  • Aluminum naturally resists corrosion and reflects heat too
  • Silicon enhances coating adhesion coating, keeping it in place when steel is rolled, stamped or bent

How Corrosion Occurs in Each

Unpainted Galvalume vs. galvanized steel exposure over time.

Death of metal roofing, as we all know, is corrosion. Galvalume and galvanized steel roofing are affected differently by corrosion.

Galvalume: Aluminum has tremendous corrosion resistance, so it will generally corrode more slowly than galvanized steel. One exception is when coating is penetrated – scratched or chipped by falling or blowing debris, for example.

This exposed sheet metal beneath the coating will quickly corrode. However, aluminum coating will prevent corrosion from spreading; it will be contained.

Galvanized steel: More than just coating steel, galvanizing steel produces a chemical bond resistant to corrosion, scratches and nicks. Galvanized steel will self-heal for small scratches and along cut-edges.

Over-time, when galvanization layer in galvanized steel panels wears down or is penetrated, corrosion will begin to spread.

Uncoated/Unpainted Galvanized Steel vs. Galvalume Wear: 10, 15, 20 Years and Beyond

To illustrate differences in performance between galvanized and Galvalume steel, let’s consider how these two kinds of steel would perform in an uncoated/unpainted steel roofing application.

Note: With a quality paint finish such as Kynar 500, both G-90 galvanized steel and Galvalume steel should provide consistent, rust-free performance for 30 plus years when used in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications.

With unpainted steel galvanized steel often holds its rust-free good looks longer than Galvalume thanks to self-healing properties of zinc.

5 to 10 Years: A galvanized roof will look “perfect” except for some corrosion beginning where fasteners penetrated steel during installation. Galvalume roofing may show corrosion at nicks and scratches and around field-installed fastener holes.

10 to 15 years: Galvalume roofing will look about the same, but with a few more nicks producing isolated spots and lines of corrosion. Galvanized steel roofing will start showing its age. Corrosion has continued to spread outward from its starting point.

20 years: Changes in Galvalume roofing are slow and imperceptible, though if you compared a picture of the roof when new to its current state, nicks and scratches would be visible. You might also notice a slight patina common to ageing aluminum.

Galvanized roof, depending on climatic factors, might show a light rust hue. This is a result of the zinc layer wearing away, leaving steel substrate exposed.

Beyond 20 years: Lifespan for unpainted galvanized roofing is 15-25 years depending on climate, less where oceanic salt spray is common. Unpainted Galvalume has a lifespan up to 40 years. Once corrosion has penetrated any steel roofing substrate, steel integrity will suffer and your steel roof will begin to fall apart.

For maintaining good looks and longevity in coastal applications Kynar paint over galvalume is a winning combination!

Prescriptive Structural Requirements for Post Frame Buildings

In a misguided effort to make things “easier” for potential building owners and builders, some Building Departments have prescriptive requirements for non-engineered pole buildings.

This means if someone walks in their Building Department’s door and wants to construct a post frame building, as long as the building owner (or builder) agrees to build to match these prescriptive requirements, they will be issued a structural permit. This is, of course, with a caveat of being able to meet requirements of other departments, such as Planning (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/).

WHY IS THIS BAD?
Doesn’t this save a lot of money, not having to pay an engineer?

No.
Prescriptive requirements are often based upon, “we have always done it this way”, rather than having a basis in sound fundamentals of structural design. Every three years a new Building Code version is published, sometimes with sweeping changes in structural design as better research and new technologies (and products) have become available. Many highly qualified design professionals, including engineers, are involved in Building Code revisions.

A classic example of this came when International Building Codes were first adopted in 2000. Prior Codes did not have deflection criteria for wall members in those cases where members did not support a rigid finish (like plaster or gypsum board). New Code limits deflection for all instances. In order to meet these new requirements, in many cases, pole building wall girts can no longer be installed “flat” on wall column exteriors.

Many times materials are included in prescriptive requirements doing nothing but causing more work for whoever is actually doing construction, as well as using unnecessary larger lumber members than what an engineer would have specified.

On occasion, these prescriptive requirements do not actually meet sound structural design! In my spare time, I have challenged more than one of these and gotten Building Departments to make changes, as their prescriptive requirements would have resulted in an under designed building.

Scarily….if you build to prescriptive requirements, and have a collapse, your Building Department is absolved from any structural liability!

THE SOLUTION

If a Building Department has PRESCRIPTIVE REQUIREMENTS for Post Frame Buildings – invest in an engineered building. It is less expensive to pay for engineering and it guarantees a building be designed to sound engineering practice and actually meet building code requirements. Your bonus is those sealed plans are your “insurance’ – your building’s engineer is now liable for both safety and integrity of your new building as long as his or her plans are followed.

How to Square a Post Frame Building Roof

Many builders believe if they have a building correct in width and length at ground, diagonals at ground are equal (footprint is square) and columns are plumb, then when they get ready to run roof steel everything will be perfectly ready to go.

This might be close to true for a small footprint building with a low eave height, however in most cases making this assumption will lead to a world of grief.

Today we will steal from Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual to achieve a perfectly square roof.

Note – ease in squaring a roof is one reason I frame my roof and install roofing prior to framing any walls. Everything moves far easier.

Figure 13-1: Squaring Roof

  1. Check both endwall trusses for straightness (against a string line) from side to side.

 

  1. Make certain endwall truss is plumb at each column. Properly set columns are either plumb or lean out slightly. To pull in, attach a cable from this column top to column base at the opposite endwall. Using a “come-along” move column top inward until plumb.

 

  1. Using a stringline align all eave struts (purlins) to straight. Any nonaligned column tops can be pulled into place using a “come-along” also, using the same procedure as outlined in the last paragraph. This is critical as this building line will be a noticeable one.

 

  1. Make certain the roof is square by checking diagonals from peak at one end to eave at the opposite corner. Refer to Figure 13-1 where diagonals AD and BC, AF and BE are equal.

 

Be certain to measure from the same “point” going each direction. Serious errors have been caused by lack of consistency. If uncertain, double check.

 

If any roof diagonals are “long”, run a cable and come-along from truss peak to opposite corner column (along purlin underside). Pull slowly until dimensions are equal. For best results, the difference in diagonals should be no greater than 1/8”. A very small “tug” can change a diagonal drastically. 

NOTE: One side only may be squared up at a time. Place roofing on squared side, then repeat the process for the opposite side.

Ganging Up Barndominium Roof Trusses

Hansen Pole Buildings’ client (and quickly becoming our good friend) Brett and his lovely bride are self-building their new barndominium at Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee.  For those who are like me and rely upon front seat navigator with a GPS on her phone to get anywhere – Brett is mostly West and slightly North of Nashville, roughly just under a two hour drive from our oldest daughter Bailey who lives in Shelbyville.

Their building will be 36 feet wide (clearspan) by 62 feet long with an 11 foot eave height. It has a 7/12 roof slope to allow for bonus room attic trusses. It features an eight foot wide wrap around porch across the front endwall and 36 feet down each side.


Brett’s barndominium will be plenty stout as it is designed for a 131 mph (miles per hour) design wind speed with an Exposure C (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/). With trusses directly aligned atop sidewall columns up to every 14 feet, besides floor weight, purlins between trusses are designed to support sheetrock as well as standing seam steel over 5/8” CDX plywood and rooftop solar panels.


In one instance his building has a four ply truss. In Brett’s words:

“Also, I wanted tech support to know the use of caulk and adhesive to assemble my attic trusses worked out really well. I also wanted to pass on a tip. Use stout welding clamps to sandwich the material prior to the nailing pattern and make sure all the metal plates are fully pressed into the wood. Levels and string were really important to keep these taller trusses behaving while using metal stakes to keep the bottom chord nice and straight. Once the first truss is good to go, all the other trusses in that series behave really well with welding clamps. These 4-ply trusses were no joke to assemble :-)”

Caulking was utilized between truss plies in order to prevent any warm moist air from inside the building rising between trusses and condensing on underside of roof deck (spaces between purlins will be insulated with closed cell spray foam).

Further Brett adds:

“I am placing the last truss together to complete my last 4-ply set. I can mock up the metal stakes, string line, and I will be using the welding clams/large c-clamps to set the final one in place with the nailing pattern. It will show how the excess caulk and glue has oozed out of each ply. Lastly, the use of a plate level/long level to show how important it is when you have this many ply-s in a set not just horizontal but vertical as well before you nail the second truss together. And because each ply is not light I placed each end of the truss on a portion of 6X6 lumber that was level with the truss each set.  (set with a laser level ) Once this is all done and weather cooperates, I will install the joist hangers and finally the bolt pattern for the 4-ply trusses and install them. And to further credit…my best helper was my wife and we managed to put them together ourselves. She has been a trooper 🙂 “

Hopefully we will see more photos from Brett as his barndominium progresses!

P.S. Note how pristine Brett’s jobsite is!

A Garage Apartment, A Moisture Problem, and Insulating a Ceiling

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building a garage apartment aka a “Shouse,” how to address a moisture problem, and the best way to add insulation to a ceiling.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I design a garage apartment pole barn? JAY in HINTSVILLE

DEAR JAY: You may not have this ability however we have experts who can assist you. To develop a workable custom floor plan, designed specifically to meet your wants, needs and budget please use this link: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Live in the Midwest, have a 54 x 36 pole barn well insulated, walls, and ceilings. When it rains a lot I have a moisture problem, My building is approx. 1950 Sq. Ft. I found a dehumidifier that covers 3,000 sq. ft. I was thinking about putting one in the pole barn, it can run continuous if I put a hole in the side, for a drain, and let it drain out, just leave it running on its own as it needs to. Is this Ok to do to solve my issue? RON

DEAR RON: A dehumidifier may resolve your building’s symptoms, however not its problem. As this is a function of rain, I am led to believe you need to eliminate or reduce your moisture source. If your building does not have a vapor barrier under your concrete floor, seal top of floor. If you do not have rain gutters install them and ensure runoff is directed well away from building. Make sure ground outside of building is sloped away at least 5% for 10 or more feet.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 32X46X15 pole barn with purlins attached to the outside of the 6×6 beams. The barn has soffits and a vented ridge cap and is set up for a ceiling. I have since decided to keep the rafters exposed and have questions about sealing up the soffits and ridge cap but leaving several small openings in the ridge cap to allow for humidity to escape.

How much should I leave open on the ridge cap and should I totally seal off the soffits? Will it be ok to leave the beans and rafters exposed, putting a vapor barrier in between the beams and the rafters?

What are your thoughts on 2in foam with no vapor barrier glued directly to the metal in between the purlins every 2feet? Then another 2in foam board with a vapor barrier placed on top of that screwed to purlins and can spray foam the edges and gaps? Thanks for all your help! MARK in VALPARAISO

DEAR MARK: My response is with a thought you are trying to climate control your building to some extent. Your proposal to use two inch-thick foam insulation board sounds to be highly labor intensive as well as being fraught with challenges in trying to achieve a complete air seal. Any air gaps would allow for warm moist air from within your building to not only condense against your building’s steel cladding, but also to remain trapped there, potentially being a cause of premature degradation of steel panels.

I would recommend you look towards closed cell spray foam as a solution for both insulation as well as condensation control. You will want to completely seal both eave and ridge then have at least a two inch thick layer of closed cell foam sprayed on interior face of roofing and siding. A mechanical dehumidifier should be used to control relative humidity with your building.

 

 

 

 

Steel Wall Penetrations for Mounting Light Fixtures

We at Hansen Buildings were sad to see Rick Carr retire as a Building Designer for Hansen, as he sold alot of buildings and treated his clients well. We are fortunate he sends us a blog now and then as he works on his hunting cabin.  He takes lots of pictures, so enjoy this blog from Rick.

Steel Wall Penetrations for Mounting Light Fixtures
I found very little information on wall penetrations through steel siding for light fixtures while researching on line so I am sharing the solution that I came up with; Builders Edge mounting blocks, commonly called Vinyl J blocks. These are not new and not really a secret but they are normally mounted to the OSB exterior wall board prior to putting the siding on but with a steel sided post frame residential building there is no osb and the steel siding is already on. The other issue is attaching a circular electrical box for mounting the light fixture. Here is the solution I came up with.
I used the Builders Edge Jumbo block and cut a 4 inch hole in the center. I cut a piece of 3/8 inch plywood to fit in the block and cut a 4 inch hole in the center of it.

Then I used a 4 inch round electrical box for replacement work. The “wings” on the box firmly holds the box and the plywood stiffener in place.

Next, I cut larger plywood pieces and mounted the mounting block/electrical box assemblies on the plywood pieces.

Then, I cut a square hole in the steel, inserted the assembly through the hole and screwed through the steel from the outside into the larger plywood support.

All that was left to do was to caulk around the square block and snap on the cover.

It worked out very well, it is very strong. I have to wait for the rough electrical inspection to mount the lights and I’ll send another picture then.

 

My New Barndominium

Reader RENE in MICHIGAN is one of a growing tide of Americans looking to build a barndominium. She writes:

“I would like to build a barn with living quarters but I do have unanswered questions!

My property is in Riverside WA 98849 and therefore the first question is whether you service this area?

I have done a lay-out of what I have in mind but with no prior experience, help would be appreciated to point out possible problems or suggestions for improvements.

Would a wood construction be preferred to metal?

Would a wood construction be more affordable than metal?

Would a wood construction be better insulated than metal?

Would my 70′ x 70′ building be more expensive than a smaller downstairs and upstairs building

I am in my senior years and still in very good health but there will be a day when using stairs may become a problem and that is why the square footage is so much. The living quarters are two bedrooms (guest bed 15’x20′, bath 15×10′, laundry 15’x10′)(main 20’x20′, bath 20’x10′,dressing room 20’x10′) 2 bathrooms and open plan Livingroom and kitchen (35’x40′) and would be 70′ x 40′ and the garage/storage/RV space 70′ x 30′

May have more questions later but would like to start off with the most obvious, for me. I have to sell property in MI before I can get going on this side. If you could correspond with me by email, for starters, I would appreciate it. 

Thanks, take care and stay safe!

“GodBless”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

About Hansen BuildingsThank you for reaching out to us. I also qualify for those senior discounts and fully understand stair issues. When we built our own shouse (shop/house) in Northeast South Dakota 15 years ago we went with two stories and my lovely bride insisted upon having an elevator (we actually now have two of them).

I know Riverside well. Back in my younger days I was a prolific post frame builder based in Spokane. There was one year where we erected over 200 post frame buildings just in Spokane County! Hansen Pole Buildings happens to not only service Riverside, we provide more post frame buildings in Washington than any other state!

In my humble opinion wood post frame is going to have numerous advantages to a PEMB (pre-engineered metal building). While building shell costs are probably similar, it ends there. It is going to be easier to construct without a need for heavy equipment. Our post frame buildings come fully engineered including engineered foundation plans (PEMBs require you to hire another engineer to design foundations). Concrete slabs for PEMBs require significant amounts of rebar, resulting in much greater foundation investments. To have a home inside a PEMB, most usually one has to build a framed home inside of a building shell – unlike post frame where you only have to do it once. Post frame buildings are easily super insulated, whereas PEMB steel frames are a great thermal transfer. My ultimate guide to post frame insulation is here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

I have also written about one story or two: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/barndominium-one-story-or-two/

Here are a few plan tips to consider:

Direction of access (you do not want to have to drive around your house to access garage doors.)
Curb appeal – what will people see as they drive up?
Any views? You’ll want to access all windows with great views to look at.

North-south alignment. Place few or no windows on the north wall, lots on the south wall.
Have overhangs on the south wall great enough to shade windows from midday summer sun.

Please utilize links in this article to assist with determining needed spaces, sizes and how to get expertly crafted floor plans and elevation drawings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

Worldwide Steel Buildings or Post Frame?

Loyal reader STEPHEN in AUSTIN writes:

“Mike –  I am so thankful for all the info you and your company have provided over the years. Your experience and knowledge have helped so many.  I especially love your promotion of bookshelf girts.  Every time I see a building framed within a building, I ask why?  Bookshelf girts make so much sense.  In my research, I also came across Worldwide Buildings, a competitor of yours.  They have a similar system:  https://youtu.be/yilRYwxukRQ

What would you see as some of the cons to their setup?  I am assuming cost is probably the biggest drawback.  Anything else?  I would plan on foam board (Possibly as a WRB as well that is taped) for any structure for a thermal break, whether it is steel or wood.  Any input you could give would be appreciated.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:

Thank you very much for your kind words. My goal is to see to it people avoid making crucial mistakes so they end up with buildings best meeting their wants and needs, and be as ideal as possible – even if they are not Hansen Pole Buildings.

Until recently my son Adam, his wife and our grandson lived in Austin, TX we are in a small world!

Bookshelf wall girts solve so many potential challenges and seem like a fairly obvious design solution to me. I also scratch my head when I see people framing up a house inside of a PEMB (pre-engineered metal building.).

I do know some of Worldwide’s staff, have met them in person, and they certainly seem like good people. I have no idea what sort of an investment comparison there is. Our buildings do come complete with engineer sealed drawings and sealed verifying calculations including a foundation plan, where these would be extras elsewhere. It does appear you would need some degree of precision in placing steel frame bolts. They also may have some additional expense involved with their slabs (usually PEMB slabs require a significant amount of rebar). 

Steel frameworks are great transfers of thermal energy – you would want to significantly isolate them with insulation having as great an R value as you would be using in your roof and walls. I see a lot of vinyl backed fiberglass insulation being applied on their website. This is not a very effective insulator as it gets crushed down to nothing at any purlin. For walls, you want a WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier) allowing any moisture inside walls to escape outward, so this vinyl backing would not be ideal. 

Foam board insulation should not be placed between framing and siding as it will allow your building’s siding to shift with wind and over time will cause deformation of screw shanks and/or elongate screw holes and eventually cause leaks. Ideally you would glue any foam insulation boards on the interior side of framing (to prevent thermal transfer from screws), taping all joints and sealing to concrete slab.

On their website they show girt clips on their frames for supporting 2×4 bookshelf wall girts – making for a fairly shallow insulation cavity. As near as I can tell, their packages do not include any lumber for girts, purlins, etc., merely steel frames, roofing and siding.

Thank you again for being an avid reader, please continue asking any questions.

Low E Barndominium Windows

Being a life-long baseball fan, my first introduction to “Low e”, was former Mariner, Ranger, Angel, Indian, Blue Jay and Tiger relief pitcher Mark Lowe, who could chuck a rock as high as 101 miles per hour!

OK, not so funny, but it does illustrate how little I (and most people) knew or understand about low e windows.

For decades most post frame buildings were either cold storage, or rarely heated structures. With more and more post frame buildings being used as climate controlled homes, barndominiums and shouses (shop/houses) more efficient windows are needed, if not required.

What exactly is low e glass? Here are a few key technical terms about low e glass:

Low-emissivity: Low e glass coatings work by reflecting or absorbing infrared light and ultra-violet rays. A window with low e glass does a better job of keeping heat in during winter and out during summer.

Trickle VentU-factor measures how easily heat flows through a product. Lower numbers keep heat or cold exactly where you want it. Each state has its own set of U-factor ratings within its Building Codes.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) tells how much heat radiation – due to sunlight – a window lets in. If heating your barndominium is your main concern, a higher SHGC can help offset some heating costs. In warmer climates, where air-conditioning costs are a bigger factor, look for a lower SHGC number.

Windows manufactured with low e window coatings typically cost about 10-15% more than regular windows, however these windows can dramatically reduce energy loss by as much as 30–50%.

A low e glass coating is a microscopically thin, virtually invisible metal or metallic oxide layer deposited directly on surfaces of one or more glass panes. This low e window coating reduces infrared radiation from a warm pane of glass to a cooler pane, thereby lowering U-factor. Simply put, a lower U-factor equals a more energy-efficient window.

Different types of low e glass coatings have been designed to allow for high solar gain, moderate solar gain, or low solar gain. A low e coating can also reduce a window’s visible transmittance (visibility through glass) unless you use a spectrally selective coating. Spectrally selective coatings are optically designed to reflect particular wavelengths but remain transparent to others. Such coatings are commonly used to reflect solar spectrum’s infrared (heat) portion while admitting a higher portion of visible light. They help create a window with a low U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient but with a highly visible transmittance.

Spectrally selective coatings can be applied on various types of tinted glass to produce “customized” glazing systems capable of either increasing or decreasing solar gains according to aesthetics and climatic effects desired.

All new windows have National Fenestration Rating Council technical labels applied, making it easier to understand above information.

If you live where heat/cold fluctuations are minimal, low e windows are probably not high on your list.  Living here in Northeast South Dakota where summers hover around 100 degrees and winters -20 to -40, you can bet low e windows are always on my shopping list when constructing a new post frame building.

Footers, Building Over Old Pool, and Home Made Glu-Lams

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about need for a “footer,” building over an old pool, and the efficacy or viability of building ones own glulaminated posts.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: You have most likely answered this question before. I don’t seem to be able to find it.

I am thinking about building a post frame home. Building department says if I put the post into the ground I do not need a footer for the floor slab. We have cold winters where ground may freeze. Will I have a problem with the slab moving? JOHN

DEAR JOHN: Congratulations for considering a post frame home as your solution. They make for wonderful homes (I live in one).

Your Building Department is correct in saying you do not need to have a “footer” for a thickened slab in a post frame building. However it will stand a great possibility of moving without taking some precautions.

Proper site preparation is a key to success – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

If you are going to do radiant in floor heat (strongly recommended) you will need to provide a layer of insulation under your slab. Most jurisdictions have requirements for all homes to meet minimum energy saving requirements, this includes insulating around your building’s perimeter:

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a unique building situation. I have an in-ground 18′ by 36′ rectangular swimming pool with the shallow end being 14′ long by 18′ wide with a depth of 4 feet, and the deep end 22′ long by 18′ wide with an average depth of 6 feet. I want to drain the pool and then build a structure of 22′ by 40′ to cover the area previously occupied by the pool. I do not want to demolish the pool, unless I have to.

Floor PlanWhen completed, the new building would be two stories (8′-10′ of it will be below the foundation of my existing house, with a finished basement with a 9′ floor to ceiling height, and a second floor as the main living floor with a cathedral ceiling whose peak will run the 40′ length of the new addition. Will a pole barn structure work for me? If so, will your company draw up the plans and engineer the project so that I can get it approved by my City Building Department? DENNIS in SEASIDE

 

DEAR DENNIS: I am not a Geotechnical Engineer, but I imagine at the least your Building Department will require the filling of your existing pool to be designed by one. You will want to be discussing with the city. Once it has been adequately filled and compacted your site becomes just like any other one. I will assume your ‘basement’ reference is in comparison to your existing home’s grade. Yes, a pole barn (post frame) structure will work for you. We have a program set up with an independent floor plan expert to take care of your interior spaces: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q and we provide the structural engineering to go with your building.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For a pole barn is it ok to make laminated poles from say 4 2x6s screwed and glued, ground contact treated? CHRIS in CUSHING

DEAR CHRIS: Ultimately your answer will need to come from whatever engineer you have hired to design your building.

Unless those ground contact treated 2×6 are UC-4B rated, they should not be used in ground to begin with. Here is my take on your idea: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/01/making-glulam-columns/

 

 

 

Wood Truss Span

How Far Could a Wood Truss Span if a Wood Truss Could Span With Wood?

Yes I had a great deal of fun making this title fit, but it is Saturday afternoon and Saturdays are my relaxing day – I sleep in past 6:30, take my time getting to work (usually takes several hours on Saturday) to answer questions from potential clients, those currently building, or those who made a mistake and invested in someone else’s building or are piecemealing and now need help.
(For my rant about piecemealers please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/diy-pole-building/) This gets followed by 2-1/2 hours of workout – free weights, planks, crunches and four miles of treadmill, sauna and shower. Now it is time for work!

Reader NATHAN in IOWA writes:

“Are trusses with steeper pitches easier to make a longer span? And could Hansen do a 100ft truss (not picky about pitch) in north-eastern Iowa? Would also be sheathed with 5/8 OSB and standing seam roofing.”

Steeper roof slopes can (to a certain extent) make wider wood roof trusses spans easier to accomplish. Another method (can be combined with slope) is increasing truss end heights – creating a raised heel. 

In reality very few people actually need to have clearspans over 80 feet. In 40 years and roughly 20,000 buildings I have provided all of three. These were a 100 foot span for a riding arena in Cowlitz County, Washington when I was a post frame building contractor; 92 foot trusses for my own prefabricated wood truss facility in Spokane 25 years ago; and some mid-80 foot span trusses for a Hansen Pole Buildings’ riding arena.

When I was last a truss fabricator, we had quoted 117 foot trusses for a proposed ice arena at Joe Albi stadium in north Spokane. With our plant’s jig setup, we could easily have built 140 foot trusses however we could not have gotten them out of our yard!

With careful early morning measuring (to avoid traffic) we did determine we could just get a trailer load of them out of our gate, we then had only one right hand turn to make and it was straight across town from there! Everything looked rosy until funding fell through.

A consideration for any roof truss is most manufacturers cannot build and ship any truss of more than 12 feet of height, although there are some who can do 14 feet. When I was jack-of-all-trades at Coeur d’Alene Truss (late 1970’s) we built and totally illegally delivered a set of 24 foot span 12/12 slope trusses with two foot overhangs (they were close to 17 feet tall).

Occasionally I see PEMB (pre-engineered Metal Building) or weld up steel building barndominium shoppers who shied away from post frame buildings with an idea we could not do what they felt were wide spans (36 and 40 foot does not feel wide to me) with wood roof trusses.

In answer to your question Nathan, Hansen Pole Buildings can supply your 100 foot clearspan building in north-eastern Iowa.

Post Frame Purlin Blocking

Every time I begin to rest on my laurels and think I have covered all post frame (pole barn) building basics up jumps yet another one to bite me where I deserve to be bitten due to my overlooking it.

Our independent drafting team at Hansen Pole Buildings (thanks Kristie) came up with this question recently.

“As we are building our building, a question came up: what is the reason for purlin blocking? Why do we need it? What’s the important purpose for it? We will be doing this step tomorrow and actually considered skipping it (sorry, bad of us I know). Is this all explained in the CM, because I have looked and couldn’t find the why’s. I bet ALOT of people skip this step and just wanted to see why we have it.”

Well, our 500 page Construction Assembly Manual covers lots of “how tos” and very few “whys”. Biggest reason is we would hate to make it into a 700 or 800 page manual. We try to cover it all and continually add to it and improve it, so every time we get a question not covered by it, we add more information. Even though these subjects do not make a dime for Hansen Pole Buildings, we have recently expanded sections on Site Preparation and Concrete Floors. It is all part of us delivering “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™” https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/the-ultimate-post-frame-building-experience-2/

Back on task – I will preface this by letting you readers know Kristie and her husband are currently erecting their own Hansen Pole Building.

There exist two types of purlin blocking:

At endwalls (this is Kristie’s case) – Building Codes require airflow from vented soffit on gables overhangs be blocked off. Ventilation for dead attic spaces must be accomplished by either a combination of eave and ridge vents or by gable vents. Venting through end overhangs will disrupt airflow for a properly ventilated attic space.

Structurally a solid load path must be provided in any building to transfer wind shear loads from roofing to ground. Purlins overhanging an end truss and attaching with a hanger such as a Simpson H-1 do not accomplish this. Brackets will not prevent purlin rotation under extreme loads. Properly placed, endwall overhang soffit panels can be attached to these same blocks, as they serve a plethora of duties.

Purlin blocking can also be “mid-span” – when a 2×10 or larger member (girt, purlin, floor joist, etc.) is 2×10 or greater mid-span blocking is required if a member is unsupported for more than eight feet.

There you have it and if you win on Jeopardy thanks to this, I will work for a percentage.

End Truss Overhang Dilemma

Reader ANDY in HAYDEN has an end overhang challenge. He writes:

“Hello Mr Guru. I’m building a 30x40x12 post frame with 18″ eaves. My trusses builder doesn’t build drop cord ag trusses for my gable over hangs. I was advised to lower the gable truss on the corner post to allow room for my on edge 2×8 purlinings  to extend over the top. I have a 16×10 garage door planned for below that over hang, will this method work. Can ladders be used?. I would appreciate your help sir. I know if I had the money I could have ordered one of your kits. Trust me I wish but I was born with a spork in my mouth and I’m just chipping away monthly on my project. Thank you for any help.”

 

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Most of our clients were not born with any sort of silver or plastic ware in their mouths – me either. While my brother and I did not realize it growing up, we were probably upper lower class in family income, but we were happy, our parents worked hard and we learned well from them. I have joked, “We were so poor our mother used to spray paint our feet black and lace up our toes”. It was not quite as bad – but Mother did go without socks for some time so we could have clothes.


Moving forward – there are advantages to investing in an engineered complete building kit package and not try to piecemeal. I have written about piecemealing before https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/diy-pole-building/. Ordering trusses can, as you have just found out, be far more difficult than it seems. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/things-roof-truss-manufacturers-should-ask/

Financing is highly affordable, with some amazingly low interest rates and most suppliers have options available to delay some deliveries until you are more prepared for them.

Before you get carried away with an overhang, look at your engineered truss drawings. Guessing your building has a pair of trusses every 10 feet and a single truss on each end, it will need to be designed to account overhang weight plus any other dead loads and snow loads. To accomplish this, your end trusses should be designed with either one truss at five foot (plus a notation stating they can support an 18 inch end overhang), or have a spacing of 6’6″. If neither of these has occurred you need to contact your truss supplier for an engineered repair. It may be cheaper to use a double truss on one end (notching into corner and end columns, and purchase a correct new truss for the opposite end.

In any case, before there is any structural deviation from your engineered plans YOU MUST CALL YOUR ENGINEER. My suggestions are merely my opinion and are not to be construed as my supplying or practicing engineering. If you deviate from your engineered plans in any fashion, all liability for structural integrity falls directly upon you.

Measurements below are using this for a measure of eave height https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/eave-height-2/

Having taken care of loading issues in some fashion, you can lower your end trusses by 7-5/8″ to adjust for vertical component at a 4/12 slope (other slopes change this hold down dimension). This should put the bottom of your end trusses at 10′ 10-1/2″ for a 2×6 top chord truss (again at 4/12) or 10′ 8-3/4″ for a 2×8 top chord.

Bottom of your overhead door header should be at 10′ 5″ above grade (bottom of splash plank). This leaves 3-3/4″ only (2×8 Top chord) or 5-1/2″ with a 2×6 top chord for your overhead door header. Keep in mind, below an end truss this header carries absolutely no roof load. It exists merely to be a place for a row of screws or nails (non-steel sidings) and to be a place to attach an overhead door spring block to. If you were erecting a Hansen Pole Building, your end truss would be notched into your corner and endwall columns 1-1/2″ This allows for a 2×8 overhead door header to be installed above the top overhead door jamb and lapping onto end truss bottom chord 3-1/2″ (1-3/4″ with 2×6 top chord). Balance of end truss chords would have a 2×4 Std&btr nailed across to provide backing for siding and act as a stiffener resisting lateral loads and buckling.

Another advantage of a complete package is it should come with a detailed step-by-step assembly manual. At Hansen Pole Buildings this means 500 pages. 

Your engineer can verify if you can for 2×6 top chord truss place a 2×6 as a header between top jamb and truss, or move top jamb up 1/4″ and use a 2×4.

Ladder framing nailed or screwed to the face of end truss to create end overhangs is probably not structurally adequate and it could very well sag, if not fall off.

Best wishes.

A Model Post Frame Building


Reader JEFF writes:

“I read the blog, even the comments, for about 3 hours in total now- and the writer sure has some good things to say (and imo is usually on the correct side of the flame wars, from a layman-to-pole-buildings but PhD chemical engineers’ perspective). I’ve been involved in spec’ing out details of multi-billion-dollar semiconductor fabs around the globe if it makes any difference. 

One thing I’ve always found helpful when trying to get people who are dead set on doing things their way to accept your method is… Physical models. I am talking toothpicks and glue, paper, plastic, whatever. Little 1/10th, 1/100th, 1/1000th or more scale models of what you propose. There’s a reason architectural models of huge structures or  downtown subdivision blocks including those structures exist in lobbies of architect firms everywhere: seeing is understanding and believing, especially when you can do the same for the competitors’ methods/designs immediately adjacent to yours. 

I love the idea of a pole barn on my property. But I am a visual learner- vector calculus was never any easier in grad school and beyond after watching a particular post-doc give a very detailed visual representation of 3D flow fields in a vertical reactor. I’ve never been the same with respect to how I present my ideas after that. Epsilon i-j-k! (I can’t give you a visual here, I’m going to ask for one!!)

Anyway, my whole point is this. It would be really cool if you guys could sell a small scale physical model of a few “standard” structures you build. One that the buyer has to build him or herself- which would aid greatly in understanding said structure’s construction, strengths, and weaknesses. If the product you’re selling is DIY, this would be of even greater benefit. 

It’s just an idea. I hope this makes it to the right reader- the guy who writes those blog posts, and/or the right decision maker. Thanks for reading.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Thank you for being a dedicated reader!

This model was built by an employee of Cannonball/HNP (they provide entry doors and sliding door components) and is displayed annually at our industry’s expo. I actually began building a scale model post frame monitor barn several years ago and even though I feel like I have an incredible amount of patience, it became far too time consuming even just “milling” lumber from sheets of balsa. Even a bigger challenge in this is – all of our buildings are 100% custom designed to best fit each client’s wants and needs, so there are no “standard” structures to pick. 

My wife and I explored how to best build a scale model. These are the questions that immediately surfaced: What type of building? Gambrel? Gable? Salt Box? Monitor barn? Hipped building? and on and on. Should it have a shed? Partial? Full? what type of doors? and our questions lead to more questions instead of answers. We would entertain paying someone to build a few models for us. Anyone interested? Give us a call!

Maybe this could become a niche industry for you?

Raised Floor Over Crawl Space, Engineered Plans, and a Pool House

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a raised floor over a crawl space, purchase of engineer sealed plans, and moisture issues in an above ground pool house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Appreciate all the information on your website very awesome it’s a lot to take in we are thinking of building a pole barn home and we have one question we typically don’t like concrete floors. I joist, does anybody just frame out floor joist, has with a 3 in rat slab for crawl space? GARY

DEAR GARY: Thank you for your kind words.

I would rather not live on a concrete slab either. One of our retired Building Designers has been putting up a hunting cabin done exactly as you envision:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/development-of-my-cabin-plans/
https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/pole-barn-cabin-part-ii/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/04/my-pole-barn-cabin-part-iii/
https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/participating-in-ricks-post-frame-cabin-planning/

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you sell only engineered plans for your building? I am interested in PROJECT# 06-0602 but I do not want to buy a kit.

Thanks! MATT

DEAR MATT: Thank you very much for your interest. Our independent third-party engineers will only provide sealed plans for buildings where we are providing materials, as there is no other way they can guarantee materials as specified actually arrive at your building site. Some of these are manufactured specifically for Hansen Pole Buildings, so there is no other method to acquire them. Frankly, our massive buying power allows us to acquire components at far better prices than you will be able to find and our low overhead and narrow profit margins allow for us to be extremely competitive, even with lesser quality providers.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I’m researching putting an above ground pool in a pole barn for my swim school. I live in Oregon so my biggest concern is mold in the colder months. Do you have any ideas on this & what type of doors & windows would you suggest? It will be a 12×24 heated salt water pool. Thank you, HANNAH in HOOD RIVER

DEAR HANNAH: Thank you very much for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. This article should be an assist to you: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/post-frame-indoor-swimming-pool-considerations/. Our factory pre-painted commercial steel entry doors and vinyl windows should work well with a proper HVAC system.

 

 

 

 

 

Pole Building Layout for Drilling Holes

Building Layout for Drilling Holes

Reader ROGER in LISBON asks: “What is fastest way to layout a building for drilling holes?” From Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual:

Building Layout

The building layout establishes exact reference lines and elevations. Care in layout makes construction easier and helps keep building square. 

REMINDER:  Building width and length are from corner column outside to corner column outside!  

After installing all framing, finished framework will normally be 3” wider and longer than ordered or “call out” dimensions. Ignoring this will result in more effort during construction.

Calculating Diagonal Lengths

Example: building is 50 feet wide and 84 feet long. 

Explanation: A picture helps greatly with this problem, so we begin with a rectangular post frame building.

Distance (drawn in red) is diagonal of our rectangle, or k. We should also note this diagonal divides our rectangle into two congruent right triangles. We can therefore find the length of our diagonal by focusing on one of these triangles and determining hypotenuse. This can be done with the Pythagorean Theorem, giving us:

50^2 + 84^2 = k^2

2500 +7056 = k^2

9556 = k^2

Taking square root gives us

k=97.754795 feet or 97’ 9-1/16” 

See Table 4-1 below.

DECIMAL OF A FOOT TO INCH CONVERSION
Feet Inches Feet Inches
      0.9167 11 0.0781 15/16
      0.8333 10 0.0729 7/8
      0.75 9 0.0677 13/16
      0.6667 8 0.0625 3/4
      0.5833 7 0.0573 11/16
      0.5 6 0.0521 5/8
      0.4167 5 0.0469 9/16
      0.3333 4 0.0417 1/2
      0.25 3 0.0365 7/16
      0.1667 2 0.0313 3/8
      0.0833 1 0.0260 5/16
0.0208 1/4
0.0156 3/16
0.0104 1/8
0.0052 1/16

Table 4-1

To start, stake out a “base” line string.  This will become either building front or side. If trying to align a building with an existing structure, roadway or property lines, have the first wall line parallel to reference point. See Figure 4-1 

Figure 4-1: Base String Line

Locate and set front corner stake “A” along the baseline. Drive a nail partially into the stake top as a reference point.  See Figure 4-2

Figure 4-2: Placing Stakes

Hook a tape measure on nail at Stake A. Measure building length along base line from Stake A and set corner Stake B.  See Figure 4-3

Use a construction level (transit) and drive Stake B in so Stake A and B tops are level. Drive a nail partially into Stake B top at exact building length (as measured from column outside to column outside). 

Figure 4-3: Batter Boards

Next make endwall perpendicular to sidewall. Measure 12 feet along the base line from Stake A and set a temporary stake. Intersection point 20 feet from this temporary stake and 16’ from Stake A is perpendicular to the base line. Set a second temporary stake at this point. (Figure 4-3)

Measure outside building width along this line and set Stake D. Drive Stake D into ground…level with Stake A and B tops. Drive a nail partially into Stake D top at exact outside building width. (Figure 4-3)

From nail in Stake D top, measure the outside building length. From nail in Stake B, measure outside building width. At two measurement intersection, drive last corner Stake C, with top level with previous three corner stake tops. As before, partially drive a nail into Stake C top, at exact outside corner point. (Figure 4-3)

Before proceeding, make certain all four corner stakes tops are level.  Then double check, in this order – baseline length (A to B), Width B-C and A-D and then length C-D. Adjust nails or stakes B, C, or D as needed.

Diagonals AC and BD are to be equal for a rectangular building. Adjust by shifting C and D along the rear wall line. 

Do NOT move A or B. 

Keep widths B-C and A-D equal. Recheck any shifted stake levels.

Drive batter board stakes 8 to 12 feet from all corners. While specific batter board materials are not provided with building kit, girts make excellent batter boards, as long as they remain uncut and undamaged. Batter boards provide a level reference plane for building layout. Place to avoid interfering with excavation, pre-mix deliveries or construction and to remain undisturbed until columns are backfilled.

Level and fasten batter boards to stakes at same heights as corner stake tops.

Stretch building string lines between batter boards, barely touching nails on corner stake tops. Partially drive nails into batter board tops to line up string lines. 

Temporary and corner stakes can now be removed. Corners will be located where lines cross.

Photo above shows corner column in hole with batter boards in place.

Mark Column Locations 

Measuring along building lines, use small temporary stakes or nails painted with fluorescent paint to mark each column location center.  

Remember to locate column center, ½ column thickness inside string lines. (Example: 5-1/2” column, column center is 2-3/4” inside string lines.)   See Figure 4-4

Figure 4-4: Offset String Lines

Figure 4-4 shows column centers as compared to “outside” building line. 

After column centers have been located, offset (move) building line strings 1-1/2” (splash plank width), from column face outsides.  

Why offset string lines? While this may sound confusing, failure to offset string lines could result in crooked finished walls, due to columns inadvertently touching lines. We’ve seen professional builders make this error far too often, and in this case, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.

Once offset, building string lines will now measure 3” greater in dimension than building width and length (column outside to column outside). 

Measure in from building string line 1-1/2 inches to set each column.  Rather than having to use a tape measure each time, a 2×4 or 2×6 scrap block (happens to be 1-1/2” in thickness) can be placed between column and string line.

See the Pretty External Wall Girts?

See the Pretty External Wall Girts?

Readers of my latest two episodes are probably beginning to feel familiar with this commercial post frame building. As well as its challenges.

I will first point out something in this photo I find to be odd, although not (surprisingly) necessarily a structural deficiency.

Outside board on this building’s roof eave line is known as a fascia or edge purlin. A fascia purlin is defined (in ANSI/ASABE S618 “Post Frame Building System Nomenclature”) as, “a purlin that helps form the fascia of a building”. An edge purlin is, “A purlin in the most outer row of purlins. All fascia purlins are edge purlins but not all edge purlins are fascia purlins.” Looking at this fascia purlin, note there is a dark portion roughly 4-1/2 inches in width aligned with each wall column. These are truss ‘tail’ ends. This builder installed fascia purlins between truss tails, rather than across them as indicated on engineer sealed plans and our Construction Manual.

Effectively this should have made precut soffit panels all 1-1/2 inches too long, leading me to believe it is possible this building is three inches narrower than planned!

How fascia purlins are attached is yet another issue, as through nailing into truss tail ends was specified.

Now onto what is really an issue, not structurally, but from a functional standpoint. This commercial building’s owner is planning upon climate controlling it. As part of being able to effectively insulate walls, materials for commercial bookshelf girts were provided (as well as specified on plans by the engineer).

For extended reading on commercial bookshelf girts, please see https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/.

As we have seen from previous articles, this particular builder was not too savvy when it came to looking at plans. I suspect they are neatly tucked away behind a rear seat in his crew cab pickup.

Another Post Frame Builder Blunder

Another Post Frame Builder Blunder

In our last exciting installment of “As The Builder Burns” I shared a photo of a prefabricated end truss deeply in need of a sky hook in order to remain suspended in space.

Today, it gets even better, with this very same builder showing off his ability to pretty well completely ignore engineered building plans, not to mention not considering opening our Construction Manual.

A typical Hansen Pole Building has widely spaced columns – most often every 10 or 12 feet, with ganged trusses (in this case three ply due to 60 foot width clearspan and a large snow load). Between those ganged trusses, on edge and attached with joist hangers, would be purlins.

I admit, I had to look long and hard at this photo to believe it. I would look away, ponder it, then look back again. 

It wouldn’t go away. This is bad, very, very bad indeed.

My first thought was how did they ever get roofing on without those flatwise purlins buckling under an installer’s weight? You could not have paid me enough to have risked my life on this roof!

Now I do have to admit having 5-1/2 inches of width to drive a screw in makes for a very large and inviting target. Chances are good no purlins were missed with screws.

On every other purlin, they did make an attempt to stiffen things up by forming a “T”, with one purlin vertical and one flat on top of it. Even if combined Section Moduli of these two members would make them adequate to carry a load from four feet of roof (because unreinforced purlins laid flat epically fail, so “T”s have to carry all roof loads), vertical “web” of these “T” purlins would need to be supported at each end by joist hangers. As placed, under a load, deflection will cause nails joining these two members to withdraw from the vertical member causing yet another failure point.

Of course all of this has left me wondering….what did this builder think all of those boxes of joist hangers were for?

Commercial Post Frame Building Blunder

Commercial Post Frame Building Blunder

My Facebook friend Dan recently commented upon this article https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/there-is-a-right-way-and-this-way/ wanting to know if I could show some other building blunders.

Yes Dan, I can.

As Technical Director for Hansen Pole Buildings since 2002, I have gotten to assist a few DIYers and post frame builders with their building questions. DIYers are generally fabulous, and their stories usually begin with something similar to this:

“I have made a mistake worse than anything you possibly ever seen, can you help me?”

To them my response is most usually, “As a post frame building contractor, I ran as many as 35 crews in six states. If something could be done wrong, they probably did it, so how can I assist you?”

Most builders usually take a different tack, “Your plans are stupid and your engineer is an idiot!”

And from me, “Now we have this settled, describe your challenge and we can work towards a solution.”

Please keep in mind, our third-party engineer sealed blueprints are similar whether for a builder or someone doing DIY. We are not picking specifically upon builders by giving them less to work from.

In this particular instance, an allegedly professional builder has found a way to go above and beyond any bad I have ever previously experienced.

Far beyond.

This article’s photo shows a 60 foot span prefabricated roof truss, somehow hanging in air two feet past a building endwall. Builder contacted us because he was “short” on trim. From this picture, I am guessing trim is not all he is short on.

This truss was supposed to be notched into the corner and endwall columns by 1-1/2 inches, so it has full bearing at each point. Horizontal 2×4 framing (shown as being cut to fit between end truss webs) was to have been placed upon the end truss face to attach steel siding. Roof purlins, on edge, were to go across top of this truss to support a two foot overhang. Engineered Simpson brackets were provided to attach purlins to truss and solid blocking was to be placed between overhanging purlins above the truss.

I am totally baffled as to what is supporting this truss, or how the builder believed this was going to be correct. Certainly he did not look at building plans or open our Construction Manual. This is one of several  pretty much unbelievable FUBARs on this building – and it resulted in my making a recommendation to dig a deep trench at one end of the building and bulldoze everything into it!

How Roof is Done, “Logs” for Kits, and Two-Story “Shoffice”(?)

This Monday, Mike the Pole Barn Guru discusses the ins and outs of a roof, lumber provided with the Kit, and if we can offer a two story shed/office (“Shoffice”?).

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How is the roof done? Do you use screws or nails? Is the frame wood or steel? MARY in MT. PLEASANT

DEAR MARY: Most of our buildings have steel roofing (although any roofing type can be used – shingles, tile, etc.). We recommend using some method of controlling possible condensation on underside of steel roofing – either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/), an Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/) either of these two we typically supply or two inches of closed cell spray foam.

All of our steel roofs are fastened with 1-1/2 inch long, color matched and powder coated screws.

All Hansen Pole Buildings have a structural wood framework, making them very DIY friendly. This wood framework eliminates thermal transference issues found in steel frame buildings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking at a 40x44x18 garage kit from sales at Home Depot. I read reviews & they talk about “logs” showing up & sawing the lumber. Is this the case?? Not much of a kit if you have to make your own dimensional lumber? RICHARD in SHILOH

DEAR RICHARD: Comments/reviews posted on The Home Depot® website for our buildings are literally nothing short of hilarious. Obviously these are not from verified purchasers of our engineered post frame buildings kits. All lumber needed for this and any of our buildings is sawn to size. Dimensional lumber has been planed (surfaced), dried to 19% moisture content or less and grade stamped to verify adequacy for structural usage.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking to build workshop and office, would like to know if the kits come in 2 story. Looking at 30 X 30 building with one garage door, two reg. door cut outs and 4 or 5 window cut outs. Looking to build late summer. Thanks, WIL in PROVIDENCE FORGE

DEAR WIL: Without sprinklers, we can provide up to 40 foot tall sidewalls and three stories. If you sprinkler 50 foot sidewalls and four stories.

 

 

 

See Those Pretty Chalk Lines – Forever

See Those Pretty Chalk Lines – Forever

Disclaimer – not a photo of a Hansen Pole Building

As kids, we grew up as the last house before the street surface changed from asphalt paving to dirt. Unlike today’s children, whose parents can buy “sidewalk chalk” in a myriad of colors, we improvised.

Whenever a new home was being drywalled near us, we would scrounge for scraps of sheetrock. As creative children of five and six years old, we’d use edges of these scrap pieces to outline chalk “roads” on our street’s pavement.

Doing this manually was tedious as well as tough on our little backs, so we took things a step further. My red Radio Flyer® wagon was hitched to behind my friend Danny’s older brother’s bike. Now this Radio Flyer® was designed for lots of things, however where we were going with this experiment, was probably none of those.

I’d lay down in my Radio Flyer®’s bed on my tummy, facing rearwards. Firmly held in each hand was a piece of sheetrock scrap. With the bike’s propulsion, we could produce (what to us anyhow) seemed like miles of chalk roads in no time at all.

Similar to an Ancient Roman adage, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”, is “It’s all fun and games until someone gets launched from a Radio Flyer® wagon and fractures a clavicle”.

Thus ended our marking of chalk roads.

Growing up in a family where my Dad and Uncles were framing contractors, we found out chalk had uses other than for making “roads”.

Developed in ancient Egypt (think pyramids) “chalk boxes” are used by carpenters to mark long, straight lines on relatively flat surfaces, much farther than is practical by hand or with a straight edge. A chalk box draws a straight line by action of a taut cotton or similar string, coated with colored chalk (most often blue or red, but other colors such as yellow, white and fluorescent orange are available).

A chalk box string is laid across the surface to be marked, pulled taut, then snapped sharply, causing the string to strike the surface leaving behind a straight chalk line where the surface has been struck.

We sadly now live in an overly litigious society, so chalk box packages read like a television pharmaceutical commercial, “WARNING: TO AVOID RISK OF INJURY ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES AND OTHER APPROPRIATE SAFETY ITEMS FOR PROTECTION. FAILURE TO DO SO CAN RESULT IN BODILY INJURY.” There might be only one thing more embarrassing than being launched from a Radio Flyer®, would be to incur a debilitating chalk box accident.

Really fine chalk box packaging print adds, “CAUTION: RED, YELLOW, & FLUORESCENT CHALKS ARE PERMANENT COLORS. THERE IS NO KNOWN WAY TO REMOVE THEM.”

When it comes to using a chalk near steel roofing and siding, this following warning should have been added:

NEVER SNAP CHALK LINES ON STEEL SHEETING.

Even small moisture amounts will cause chalk dust lines (as well as any black or “lead” pencil marks) to permanently damage steel surfaces. These marks create an “electric cell”, deteriorating paint finishes. This will cause chalk lines or pencil marks to be “seen” on a building forever!

P.S. See the steel siding below the entry door? Not only did this builder make more work for himself (extra cutting and trim work), he also has created a situation where any concrete apron outside this door will have to be poured against steel siding (or be uncomfortably low).

Creating Extra Work in Barndominium Framing

Creating Extra Work In Barndominium Framing

A supposed downside of post frame (pole barn) buildings for barndominiums is having to frame a wall inside of an exterior wall in order to create an insulation cavity and a way to support interior finishes.

This myth is created and propagated by post frame kit suppliers and post frame builders who do not understand there is a solution – and a very cost effective one (in both labor and materials).

Rather than framing exterior girts (as shown in photo) and then adding vertical stud walls between columns, bookshelf girts can be utilized.

I’ve done several thousand pole buildings using this “bookshelf” or “commercial” girt method. I have two of them myself – in Northeastern WA, so I have a cold climate to contend with.

Use a commercial girt one size larger than wall columns (2×8 on a 6×6 post, etc.), setting commercial girts so 1-1/2″ hangs past the column’s exterior face. Wrap framing with a well sealed high quality Weather Resistant Barrier (for extended reading on Weather Resistant Barriers https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/). 

As an alternative to using a Weather Resistant Barrier, closed cell spray foam can be applied to the interior face of siding as part of a flash-and-batt system https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/flash-and-batt-insulating-barndominium-walls/.

You will find this installation method compensates for any irregularities in column dimensions and creates a deeper insulation cavity. Side benefits – electrical can be run around column exteriors, without a need to drill through them to run wires. On walls a multiple of three feet in length, it also saves having to rip an edge of a panel off either the first or last sheet of steel on a wall.

In either case, block ends of bookshelf commercial girts solid against columns with what is called a “bearing block”.  Take 2×4’s or larger (depends upon engineering) cut 22-1/2” long to fit between commercial girts and install them flat against the post on faces where girts will attach.  Wide face of the block should be flat against the column and aligned with the post edge (not sticking out past column edge unlike girts).   Nail these girt support blocks to columns with a minimum of  two (2)10d galvanized common nails at each end (higher wind loads may require more nails).  This type of nailing is quick and easy and provides a solid support for commercial girt above blocks.  This is a far more solid and stable connection than toe-nailing. Toe-nailing is done by angling a nail upwards from bottom (or downwards from top) of commercial girt, at a 45 degree angle trying to catch enough post edge as the nail goes through to column to hold it there.  Toe-nailing is a very poor connection (and is subject to lots of installation errors).

For maximum cost effective R value, use BIBS insulation. I found it to be cost competitive with installed batt insulation, has a higher R value and completely fills all voids. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/

I fondly remember a gal who called me one day asking for “canning jar shelves”…you know like you did before for us.”  Checking our records, I quickly discovered we designed commercial girts on their first building.  They liked them so much – they wanted them again!

A Miracle Cure to Prevent Twisted Timber Columns

A Miracle Cure to Prevent Twisted Timber Columns

In 1960 Chubby Checker did a cover of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters 1959 song “The Twist”. Checker’s cover reached Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 both in 1960 and again in 1962, becoming the only single to reach number one in two different chart runs.

While “The Twist” was a musical hit, twisting in lumber poses concerns, if not panic.

It would be all well and good if trees could be trained to grow so as they only produced straight-grained lumber. Fat chance of this happening.  In fact, straight grained lumber is by far an exception, rather than a rule.

Instead, spiral grain is an expected pattern – where this term describes a helical orientation of tree fibers giving a log a twisted appearance after bark has been removed. This twisted appearance is even more highlighted by surface checks, following grain of fiber, making spiral grain very obvious in some standing dead trees and on utility poles and posts.

This spiral may be in either direction, be fairly constant in any one tree or may change with tree age. In some trees, there may even be a reversal of spiral in successive zones of growth forming an interlocking grain. Lumber twist is a function of the degree of Greater spiral increases chances you will see lumber twist.

Most typically prevailing spiral orientation is in a left direction near a tree’s pith, with angle increasing sharply in first-formed rings in juvenile wood. This gradually decreases to a straight-grain then is followed by a gradual change to a right-angle spiral. Trees with left spiral do tend to twist more with changes in moisture content, than those with both left and right-spiraled grains.

Spiral grain may seriously reduce strength and stiffness of lumber milled from a given tree.  This “slope of grain” in sawn lumber is considered as a defect, and is a resultant of natural spiraling.

For purposes of visual lumber grading rules, slope of grain is wood fiber deviation from a line parallel to edges of a piece. This deviation is expressed as a ratio such as a slope of grain of 1 in 8, 1 in 10, 1 in 12 and 1 in 15. Slope of grain as measured is representative of general fiber slope and local deviations are disregarded. Bigger bottom numbers would express straighter grain. Less lumber twist gives you stronger boards.

Typical No. 2 grade framing lumber allows for a slope of grain of up to 1 in 8 (an inch of slope for every eight inches of board length). This consideration takes into account how this defect accordingly adjusts allowable strength values used in engineering design.

Now – a “miracle cure” for twist!

In this article’s photo, a builder has convinced his client by taking an inch off each corner of his building’s posts (at a 45 degree angle full length) it would somehow keep them from twisting. 

And his client not only believed it to be true – so much so as to help his builder cut off each corner!

Full View Overhead Doors

Full View Aluminum Sectional Barndominium Overhead Doors

Sleek, modern building designs are becoming increasingly popular with architects, builders, and homeowners alike.  For barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes, sometimes a steel overhead door doesn’t have a just right “look.”  Hansen Pole Buildings offers a line of Aluminum Full View Amarr doors with multiple options, including recently expanded colors and panel offerings!

How do you know if an Aluminum Full View, or AFV, door is right for you?  Here are some benefits of AFV doors you may want to consider when weighing your options.

Increased visibility. 

Amarr’s Vista VI1000 is a great residential option for homes wanting increased visibility from a garage door.  Want to see outside, or be able to see in?  Clear glass panels allow this to occur.  For a bit more privacy, you can also get different glass types, like Obscure or Frost, cutting back on visibility.  Visibility can be important if you want your AFV door to open up to another room, or to outside.  We have seen AFV doors in family rooms and off dining areas – bringing outdoors in! Increased visibility can be a benefit for commercial applications as well.  For example, a car dealership or service station with commercial Amarr 3502 or 3552 doors can easily see when a car is approaching service bays! One of my favorite eateries is Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza. Their Nicollet Avenue location in Minneapolis features AFV doors, perfect for summer afternoon and evening eats!

Increased natural light. 

Bring outdoors inside.  AFV doors really let sunlight in!  Another benefit of natural light is natural, solar heat in your garage or room.

Don’t worry about cold. 

Amarr Vista VI1000 & Amarr 3552 have insulated glass options and insulated panels to ensure energy efficiency, while still having increased natural light and visibility.

Complement your barndominium home. 

Amarr offers a variety of frame, panel and glass options to match your style.  With an unlimited selection of powder coat aluminum colors, over 30 glass options and solid, perforated or louvered vent panels, you can select a look just right for you and your family’s lifestyle.

Upstairs Conversion, Building Plans, and Basic Buildings

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about converting an upstairs space in a pole barn to a living space, Plans only packages, and a basic building kit.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 30×30 pole barn with upstairs 2 story shingle roof. Want to convert it to a living space for my grandchildren and their mom my son passed away she needs a place to live.

Thank you RICH in CREAM RIDGE

DEAR RICH: You should begin by finding out if your local Planning Department will allow you to convert this barn into a residence. Once you assured they will be happy, you should engage a Registered Professional Engineer to determine if it will be structurally adequate to be used as a residence.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, Do you sell plans for pole barns?  I live in Canada and work as a social worker working with at risk youth.  My wife and I use horses as a way to work with children who have difficulty in communication, self-esteem, anger and other concerns that prevent them from reaching their full potential. 

The struggle we have is that everything we do is outside which means we simply cannot do anything during the winter and early spring months.

I have talked to several builders and truss makers who insist that trusses must be spaced every two feet so for a 100 X 60 pole barn I would need 51 at a cost of $30,000; factoring in all of the other costs it is simply out of our reach.  I have read that you suggest trusses can be spread further apart and one of the builders I have spoken to said I should ask for some plans and he would see what he could do, however is very skeptical.

I sincerely hope you can assist and thank you in advance.

Many thanks. PETER in ST. GEORGE

DEAR PETER: Thank you very much for your interest. We are not a plans service, we do supply engineer sealed plans with all of our buildings (along with complete installation instructions). Currently we are unable to design to Canadian Building Code, however we hope to incorporate this option in 2020. Right now, all of our Canadian friends are ordering buildings designed to U.S. Codes. Trusses most certainly do not have to be every two feet. Depending upon your snow load, I would expect to see a pair of trusses every 10 feet. We do have a sample plan available on our website: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, are the base prices listed for the kit only or does that include shipping, tax and installation? NATE in EFFINGHAM

DEAR NATE: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Prices listed at https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-barn-prices/ are for engineer sealed plans, complete materials package delivered to your accessible site, 500 page step-by-step installation manual and unlimited free technical support. Sales tax varies by state (and sometimes city or county) and we only collect in states mandating we do so.

While our buildings are designed for an average physically able person to assemble their own beautiful new building, should you be not so inclined, installation services are available through our Independent Builder Network.

 

Spray Foam Insulation and Steel Roofing and Siding

Spray Foam Insulation and Steel Roofing and Siding 

Energy efficiency is a hot (pun intended) for steel roofed and/or sided post frame buildings, especially with a rise in popularity of barndominiums and shouses. Spray foam insulation systems have been a product of choice to achieve highly efficient building envelopes.

Of course with this, have come some concerns. I recently posed a couple of questions to Dr. Richard “Rick” Duncan, P.E. Technical Director for the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA).

1) Will closed cell spray foam applied to the inside of steel roofing or siding panels cause panel deterioration and/or void warranty of the panels? 2) Can closed cell spray foam be applied to a Weather Resistant Barrier successfully? If so, any special considerations?

Rick’s response:

“This issue came up about five years ago with the metal building industry.  SPFA conducted a study and the results are attached.

Closed-cell naturally shrinks as it cools and cures.  It can take about a month for the gases in the cells to come to pressure equilibrium with the atmosphere.  When applying SPF to large open areas of metal panels, the shrinkage of the foam can cause some panels to pull inward.  We call this oil canning.  

Oil canning occurs most frequently on large unsupported panels (about 4’x4’ and larger areas) and on thin gage panels with small ribs.  You find these panels mostly on ‘low-cost’ pole buildings but not on larger industrial buildings.  For these large, thin panel areas, use picture framing and apply a thin flash coat to minimize oil canning…especially on ground-level walls where oil canning can be easily seen.  Our study did not show oil canning on the heavy-duty panels used in larger commercial buildings.  

One of the concerns that the metal building industry had was exothermic temperature damage to coatings and primers used on metal panels.  A few of the metal panel manufacturers were voiding their warranties because of this concern.  Our study measured exothermic temperatures of the panel during spraying and the temperatures were below 150F, which should not affect these coatings.

Our study also looked at using different fabrics applied during construction between the sheet metal panels and the framing.  We included Tyvek WRB and non-woven ‘BIBS’ fabric.  We found that SPF does not adhere well to the more expensive Tyvek.  It does adhere to the lower-cost non-woven.  We did see that the foam would pull the non-woven fabric away from the panel by about ½” and eliminates oil-canning.  The difficulty with using non-woven fabric is that it must be applied during construction.”

From MCA (Metal Construction Association)’s technical bulletin “Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation on Interior Surfaces of Metal Panels”:

“Closed-cell foam is recommended due to its water resistant capabilities. Some SPF contractors use a release material such as building wrap or fabric to allow for easier change out of damaged panels, however the use of a release material poses the potential of creating air gaps between the back of the SPF foam and the metal panel. These gaps could allow condensation to accumulate between the SPF and the panel and framing members.”

Insulating an Existing Post Frame Building Attic

We are in an era where climate control of brand new post frame buildings is extremely common. It is also much easier to insulate (or plan for it) at time of construction, rather than having to go back and do it afterwards. 

For new post frame buildings, here is my Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

Loyal reader DAMON in SPOKANE is fortunate to have some parts of his existing post frame shop made easy for retrofit insulation. He writes:

“Hi,

First I want to say I love your web site, the information I’ve been reading is invaluable! I am located in Spokane County. I have a 24x24x10 post frame garage that was here when I purchased the house. The walls have commercial girts R19 insulation. I would like to heat this garage and use it as a woodworking shop. Right now the ceiling is open and there is no insulation. The roof is sheeted with OSB, then felt then steel roofing panels. There is no ventilation or overhangs to install soffit vents. The roof has 4:12 pitch.

I am considering one of two options. The first is to spray foam under the roof decking with closed cell foam, about 2″ which would give me about an R14. This would mean I would have to heat a larger air volume all the way up to the roof. Is this an effective method? Will the closed cell foam seal everything and hold the warm air in efficiently? I supposed I could install a couple of slow turning ceiling fans to push the warm air back down.

The second alternative is to add a ceiling. I was able to confirm that the garage was built with bottom load trusses. I could install joists and an osb ceiling and then go with a blown in insulation, maybe R38. Because there is no ventilation I was thinking of adding large appropriately sized gable vents to provide the ventilation since I do not have soffit vents nor a ridge vent.

Of the two options, is one a better consideration than the other? I know you’re probably pretty busy, I appreciate any time you have to help me with my decision.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:
Thank you very much for your kind words, hopefully you have been entertained as well as informed!

As your building was built with trusses designed to support a ceiling, I would recommend you pursue this route. You would need to add gable end vents in the upper half of each gable with a net free ventilation area of at least 139 square inches per end. Please keep in mind this is not vent dimension, but net free area only.

Your building’s roof trusses probably do not have raised “energy heels” so it would be most practical to use closed cell spray foam insulation along two feet closest to each eave sidewall (applied to top side of ceiling finish). I would recommend you blow a minimum of R-49 across the balance of the attic area as this will meet minimum recommended attic insulation levels from www.energystar.gov. Your spray foam applicator can make recommendations for the thickness of his or her product.

Also, please consider using 5/8″ Type X sheetrock for your ceiling. It will be less expensive than OSB and provides some degree of fire resistance.

Hi, I Should be an Engineer

Hi, I Should Be an Engineer. Can You Tell Me What I Left Out?

Seemingly every Spring I receive an email similar to this one from JOHN in UNION DALE, who it sadly appears has not done much (if any) homework in reading my articles.

JOHN writes:

“ Hi, I have been doing a couple of months homework on making my pole barn, my plan is a 30×50. Right now my plan is using (16) 6x6x16 pole about 52 inches in the ground, the spacing between posts will be 10 ft, now I have not decided on a concrete cookie before the setting the post or gravel first has a drainage layer the set the pole and then use about 5 bags of concrete for uplift protection and the normal back fill, for the posts I got post protectors, so the wood is separated from the soil, my plan is to use double  2×12 for the top strapping with the posts notched at the top for added snow load, has far has the roof it will either be a 4/12 or 5/12 pitch my plan is using 2×6 rafters that I’m making on the ground and hoisting up by myself and they will be on 48 inch on center, my purlins are going to be 2x4s about 2ft apart and standard metal to finish it off, if you can can you please let me know if I left anything out, thanks ps I forgot to say the door opening on a non-load bearing wall will be a 12ft wide and 10ft tall, I’m thinking about putting a door  on a load bearing wall a 10ft, all doors are going to be sliding barn doors.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru Responds:

Well John, you have left out a crucial part. One no proper pole barn should be without. Plans designed and sealed by a Registered Professional Engineer specific to your building at your site. To build without them is, in my humble opinion, fool hardy and I cannot endorse your plan of attack or methods of construction without them. Outside of this – attempting to field construct your own roof trusses is not a good choice. Prefabricated trusses are truly a bargain, especially when considering risks involved should your home made trusses collapse injuring or worse killing you or a loved one. 

For last year’s related article, please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/self-designed-pole-buildings/

For extended reading on the misadventures of site built roof trusses: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/site-built-roof-trusses/

Percentage of Price Difference by Building Profile

This ended up being an interesting exercise and it yielded results pretty much as I had expected.

Reader RON in MONROE writes:

“Can you tell me the approximate percentage difference in pricing or cost of the different building styles? I know this will vary according to the size of the building, etc., so let’s pick a 38 by 38 by 17 foot tall building. How much more to move up from a single slope to gable style, to monitor, and to Gambrel?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

About Hansen BuildingsThere are so many variables involved in this question it is impossible to answer. And an answer for one given set of climactic loads (snow, design wind speed and exposure) would not translate to any different set of variables. Even as to where you are going to measure 17′ to is a huge impact. On a single slope – is this measure of low wall or high wall? Would it be clearspan or have interior columns? Is monitor measure to low side of wings, or raised center? If low side of wings, then how tall would center be? Gambrel, is your measure to eave side of steep slope or to pitch break? With a 17′ height, would there be an intention to have a full or partial second floor? Would this building be a garage/shop or a residence? It makes a difference as loading criteria are different and if drywall will be attached to walls or roof, a greater deflection stiffness is required. Even features such as overhangs can change your percentages as monitor style is going to have four eave sides.

If you are looking for cost effectiveness, footprint multiples of six feet are going to get you there (lumber comes in two foot multiples, steel roof and siding in three foot).

A gabled roof will be your least expensive and easiest to build, however not always aesthetically your best design solution. I recommend you determine what your finished space needs will be and discuss options with Rachel your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

RON wanted just a little bit more:

“Just use a peak height, no doors, no windows, same snow load, everything the same.”

Pole Barn Guru replies:

Drum roll …….

And the envelope please …….

Here are results:

I did have to change roof slope on the single slope to 2.84/12 in order to have an eight foot eave height on the low side.

Monitor was 5.6% more than gable, gambrel 10.4% more, single slope 17.6% more.

Two Story House, Car Storage, and a Post Frame Basement

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building a two story pole barn house, condensation in a car storage building, and how to build a post frame house with a concrete basement.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are wanting to build a 2 story pole barn house, it will have an upstairs loft. Would the standard pole footings support 2 stories, or would it need a concrete footing foundation, like what is used in a stick built home? NICK in FAIRBURY

DEAR NICK: As long as you construct your building from engineered plans, your engineer will have properly sized your building’s “standard pole footings” to be able to adequately distribute weight across your soil. We live in a multistory post frame (pole barn) shouse with a 44 foot overall height and it has typical embedded footings and has performed admirably.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 20′ x 40′ closed in pole barn that I use for storing cars, it has a ridge vent & the soffits & eaves are open to the weather, how can I keep the cars from sweating? BILL in EATONTON

DEAR BILL: You will need to reduce humidity in your building.

Use a good sealant on top of your concrete slab.
Install 2x blocking snugly between purlins overhanging endwalls (directly above end trusses).
Spray 2″ of closed cell insulation on inside of all wall and roof metal (leave eaves and ridge open to provide attic intake and exhaust ventilation).
Install a tightly sealed ceiling (no air gaps to attic).

Add controlled mechanical ventilation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are potentially interested in building a pole barn home and have a few questions. Cost different from a traditional home build isn’t the major concern from us, we love the open rustic feel of a barn home. We would like to include a basement with the home. I read some previous blog posts and it seems like this is possible, however was wondering do the sidewalls of the basement need to be inset from the sides where the posts go into the ground?

If the walls are inset, is it possible to have a basement with egress windows below the pole barn home? RYAN in OSWEGO

DEAR RYAN: We can have your building engineered so columns will mount directly to top of your concrete basement walls. Makes everything far easier.

 

Staging Deliveries for DIY Pole Buildings

For those who are considering a Do It Yourself (DIY) post frame barndominium, shouse or just a good old barn – not everyone can work at it expediently, or rouse enough person power for a barn raising. There do exist some options.

Reader LEE in LOUISIANA writes:

“I am in the process of conceptual design for an implement barn. However, my preference is to skin the exterior barn with old, milled reclaimed fir that I have available to me. From what I have found online, most Pole Building companies offer standard designs with conventional metal siding. However, it is my understanding that the same structural design for a metal building will not be adequate for the extra weight of woodplank siding, in lieu of the higher static and dynamic structural loads. Additionally, I would like to do most of the construction labor myself (with assistance from friends with construction background), in the interest of spreading out the construction process in different phases. As such, for this case, I am inquiring about a service to provide custom, stamped plans for a pole barn. I have read the advice and recommendations regarding engineered, stamped plans, and that it is not Hansen’s position to be in the ‘plans’ business. However, in this particular case, could Hansen work with me to provide custom, stamped plans to accommodate my preferred execution plan? I look forward to hearing your response. Thank you, Lee”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru  writes:
Actually structural design changes in post frame buildings are due to deflection limitations. Walls supporting other than just steel siding and/or steel liner panels do not have to be as stiff as ones to support other products (such as your reclaimed fir). While we do not supply engineered plans only, we can work with you to stagger deliveries to meet your phase schedule. If an impending price change to a component would occur, you would be given an option to either take delivery, or to delay delivery and pay differences in component costs. Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can further discuss this with you.

I would recommend using a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) under your barn boards, in order to keep any potential moisture from passing through your walls from outside.

For extended reading about Code requirements for Weather Resistant Barriers please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/04/ibc-requirements-for-building-wrap/.

Load Duration Factor in Wood Design

Load Duration Factor in Wood Design

Considering a barndominium, shouse or other post frame (pole) building with wood framing? While this article is somewhat technical, you (as a future building owner) can use it to determine if who (builder or supplier) really knows what they are talking about when it comes to structural design.

And if they cannot answer this one simple question, do you REALLY trust them with your new building?

Here it is:

“Please explain to me Load Duration Factor for Wood Design”.

Please read on.

Lumber has a unique structural characteristic: its ability to handle higher stresses under shorter periods of time. This characteristic is accounted for during design through what is known as a Load Duration Factor (LDF). Given this is a property unique to wood, it is worthwhile for building designers, in a heavily wood-based industry, to fully understand what this factor is and how it can affect their designs. LDF is not applicable to non-wood structural systems. 

Think about loads typically seen in a building. Dead loads are material weights making up a building from the day of construction until it is taken down. Actual dead load and design dead load can be (and often are) different, with design dead load being greater than actual dead load. Building designs can always be performed using actual dead loads when those are well known.

Live loads affect a building less but a portion are still applied through a building’s useful life. Roof live load rarely occurs and when it does, it’s for a very short amount of time. Typical roof live load (not snow, also considered a live load) is walking on roof during repairs, or having a tree fall on your roof. Each of these events are rightly considered short-term loading conditions.

All of this relates to load duration, accumulated amount of time during a building’s life they will be applied. All of these loads are relative to “normal” loading, defined as a “10-year load duration.” 

For reference, live loads are considered normal loads. 2018 NDS (National Design Specification for Wood Construction) Table 2.3.2 shows load duration factors for different durations. This LDF concept is based on engineering mechanics concept of elasticity. Elasticity means when a load is applied to wood it deforms, and when this load is taken off wood it springs back to its original position. Long ago, testing was done at Forest Products Laboratory to give wood a special feature called LDF to account for two things: wood is very elastic; and as more load is applied to wood, more creep deformation occurs over time. 

A good example is bending a yardstick. It can be bent frequently and come back to its original position. However, if you put a weight on a yardstick between two chairs causing it to bend six inches and leave it in this position for six months, what will it look like? 

LDF is a part of Allowable Stress Design (ASD), the analysis method used in wood design for nearly 80 years.

Load Duration Factor Curve shown is taken from NDS Appendix B where more information on LDF can be found.

LDF factor is applied like other loading factors, as NDS design value specified is multiplied by LDF to determine allowable stress. This factor is applicable to bending, tension, shear, and compression parallel to grain reference design values found in NDS Supplement 4. 

What happens if there are multiple load durations within a load case, for example, Dead + Live? Dead load has a load duration factor of 0.9, while normal duration live load (e.g., furniture, beds, people in a room, etc.) has an LDF factor of 1.0. Per NDS this is how LDF is applied:

Hopefully you, like me, want your beautiful new building to structurally withstand what nature throws at it.

Stilt Home Barndominium

Stilt Home Barndominium

For many challenging building sites (those with grade change, in flood zones or close to oceans or seas) stilt homes are a viable and practical design solution for barndominiums.

Reader DAVID in EMINENCE writes:

“We are planning to build in southern Missouri a 30′ x 36′ x10′ post frame home on a rocky slope terrain. We want it on stilts. It would be 3′ on one end and 7′ on the other end approximately. We are planning to put reflective bubble wrap on the floor joists with the subfloor on top then place down rock wool and another subfloor on top. We have 99% humidity most of the year (10 months for sure), lots of rain. We do not want a crawl space; we know the horrors of the crawl space. We may enclose the high end using a simple temporary enclosure to dry it out as needed. We are going to use a mini split heating system and composting toilets. No worries about placement of the utilities and pests. Would this be a sound construction system?

We would like to know your viewpoint on this since you are the wise guru.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for your kind words. Stilt houses are very easily done using post frame. I have a post frame combination garage/studio apartment/office at our home near Spokane, Washington on 14 feet of grade change and built it as a stilt building. Has been great for going on 30 years and would have been the only practical way to build on this site (for extended reading on stilt houses: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/stilt-houses/).

Not sure why you are considering two layers of subfloor. I would be inclined to use either steel or an exterior rated sheathing product on the underside of my joists (with a Weather Resistant Barrier between). Rock wool is a good choice for insulation between joists as it is not affected by moisture. Place a vapor barrier on top of joists and then your subflooring. A radiant reflective barrier (bubble wrap) can be used as a vapor barrier, but will not provide any benefits you wouldn’t get from well-sealed visqueen – and would be far more expensive.

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Our world (at least my world) of post frame buildings has evolved quickly into residential construction of barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame homes. Having built two shouses for myself, I have learned a lot about what to do and not to do, as well as receiving helpful contributions from thousands upon thousands of loyal readers such as JOE in BEDFORD who writes:
“Long time reader, first time poster. I’m in the middle of planning & prepping to build a post frame house (48′ x 60′ x 10′) for myself & I have some basic questions on how
to meet both the IRC & IECC codes for the foundation/floor systems. In PA (climate Zone 5) how is it possible to continuously insulate the “footings” (down 3′ – 4′) of my barndominium to prevent frost heave/moisture intrusion/etc? Wouldn’t that require digging a continuous “footing” thus defeating the main purpose of a post frame design?

To add to that thought, most “floors” of post frame houses are slab on grade concrete (with radiant heat in slab I assume), which to meet the IECC code for a heated on grade slab, it requires R-15 down 2′ on the slab edge (plus R-10 for the underslab insulation). See link below:
https://www.phrc.psu.edu/assets/docs/Webinars/SlabInsulation.pdf

>From my understanding, the savings & efficiency of post frame houses comes from not having to excavate, pour & then backfill a continuous footer + stem wall (or footer with a slab on grade floor). How is it possible to meet these challenges & codes with a post frame design method? If you have to excavate a continuous footing & then insulate the footing & the house floor is going to be insulated & poured either way, wouldn’t the “stick frame” method be more cost effective at that point then?

Thanks for the help & clarification!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Appreciate your being a long time reader, hopefully you have found my articles to be informative and entertaining.

Thanks to glories of rigid board insulation, you can still do standard embedded columns, pour a slab on grade and meet insulation requirements to prevent both frost heave and to keep from having to heat ground outside and underneath your building (see drawing). Requirements for insulation and thickness can be found here: https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/fpsfguide.pdf.

Even if you were to opt to pour a continuous footing, post frame construction will still prove to be more cost effective due to elimination of redundant members and structural headers inherent to stick construction. Post frame is easier to super insulate (fewer members touch both exterior and interior surfaces), you can create some unique architectural features not easily done with stick frame construction and you can easily DIY it should you be so inclined.

A Multi-Use Building, Backhoe or Auger, and Loft Floors

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a Multi Use building, using a backhoe to dig post holes, and the proper method to add floors to a post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking at building a pole building want it to be about 72 ft long, 50 ft wide and 14 ft high, I want to use the front for storage of hay, tractor want 20 ft of concrete then wanted to use the back portion to work my horse and cattle which would be a dirt floor. I wanted to have some living space about 1000 – 1200 sq ft have been advised to separate this from the rest of the building however not sure if later I will want to build a little bigger home after my farm sells then if this is separate there would be 3 buildings, I would not put up many walls in the living building so later it could be used for a heated work shop. Please give me your opinion I watch read your thoughts on Facebook. NANCY in LYNDON STATION

DEAR NANCY: It all depends upon what best serves your needs. If you combine them, living space will require at least a one-hour fire separation (and possibly two hours) from dissimilar uses. One-hour would be two layers of 5/8″ Type X sheetrock from floor to roof, certainly not overly cost prohibitive. You may want to discuss rates with your insurance agent, as these costs might prove to be a determining factor.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I just ordered my kit from you and am in the process of getting my permits. I’m very excited to take on this project. I have a question about digging post holes. I actually own an old backhoe. I had planned on hiring someone to come drill holes because that’s what I’ve always seen, but realized I could probably do it with my backhoe. Some of them anyway. My plans call for 18″, 24″, and 36″. I have 24″ and 12″ buckets for my backhoe. Are there drawbacks to doing this? I’m thinking about the shape of the hole not having side walls and flaring the bottom would be difficult. The only time it seems to be recommended is if the ground is rocky. Mine is solid clay. I’d rather hire that out if nice cylindrical holes are better. CHAD in MILLVILLE

DEAR CHAD: We are pretty excited about your new building also – as we live vicariously through our clients! Take lots of photos during construction and please share them with us.

It is entirely acceptable to dig column holes with a backhoe or mini-excavator. Your downside is you will slightly increase your volume of concrete required for hole backfill.

With your clay soils, you will want to carefully review site preparation in Chapter 2 of Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For a pole barn house do you do framing for floors? CHRIS in TAYLORSVILLE

DEAR CHRIS: Any raised wood floors, whether over a crawl space, second or third floor, loft or mezzanine should be included in your engineer sealed plans. This accounts for proper weight distribution to columns and footings as well as connections of components. These materials are typically included with your investment in your new Hansen Pole Building (as well as instructions for assembly). Here is some extended reading for you: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/barndominium-wood-floors/.

 

 

There is a Right Way and This Way

There is a Right Way and This Way

When it comes to building construction, there are a plethora of both right and wrong ways to do assembly. Pictured below is a wrong way (does not happen to be post frame construction).

Roughly 20,000 post frame buildings of experience has taught us virtually anyone who can and will read instructions composed in plain English, and is physically able, can construct for themselves a beautiful new building.

There does exist a certain subset of humanity who are incompetent. Not only just incompetent, they will fail to recognize their own lack of skill, fail to recognize genuine skill in others and fail to recognize how extreme their inadequacy is!

For extended reading on this subject, please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/dunning-kruger-effect/

Now we do make every effort to attempt to prevent even those who are incompetent from creating situations similar to what is pictured in this photo. For those without prior construction experience and have never really looked at a building under construction (or photos of one), this photo shows sloped rafters supported by engineered steel brackets (joist hangers). Properly designed and installed, joist hangers will support members from blowing away (uplift) as well as what I refer to as, “The Denny Lee Effect”.

As a college sophomore, at Bozeman’s Montana State University, I took Professor Denny Lee’s Physics class. Now Denny was quite a showman. First day of class – in a huge lecture hall filled with hundreds of eager students, he offered a semester’s A to anyone who could explain how gravity works.

Hands popped up everywhere, answers and theories were flowing like hot air balloons in Albuquerque in summer – and Denny shot them all down.

After we all gave up, Denny gave us his answer, “The Earth sucks”.

As pictured (installed upside down), gravity might not be a factor, however uplift would be.

Every Hansen Pole Buildings’ blueprint is fully engineered and detailed showing every component, where they are installed as well as how – down to each joist hanger, nail and screw!

If this is not enough, 66,000 plus words of step-by-step assembly instructions in the Hansen
Buildings Construction Manual walk either a DIYer or builder through every step.

But wait – there’s more!

(No, not a ginsu)

Lost, dazed, confused or just needing moral support?

Included in each and every Hansen pole building purchase also is unlimited free Technical Support from people who have actually built post frame buildings!

A Post Frame House Photo

A Post Frame House Photo – and More

Post frame buildings are amazing, after four decades in this industry I am still amazed at what can be accomplished with them. We are just now barely scuffing surfaces of a burgeoning residential housing market!

I will begin with a disclaimer, this is not a Hansen Pole Building. In fact, I am totally unsure of what this photo’s source is. Here we are using it merely as a teaching moment.

There is a less than lovely pile of wood filling an entire corner of this photo. My framing contractor father and uncles would have had a piece of me for ever having a waste pile like this on a jobsite. My first summer working for them as a teenager, we built two three story wood framed commercial buildings with a courtyard between. My primary function was as “cutoff” man. I cut to length every stud, trimmer, sill, header, etc., for this entire project. Having been properly indoctrinated to not waste anything, when our project was completed, my wood scrap pile would not have covered a card table.

Moving forward….

From experience it is far easier to square a post frame building up when the roof is framed and sheeted before any walls are framed.

Some things I would have done different with this build:

Note level at the base of steel siding on the endwall to the left of the entry door. Bottom of the siding is lower than the bottom of the door. This precludes any ability to pour a concrete apron outside of this door without pouring up against siding (not a good choice as it leads to premature degradation of siding due to water trapped between concrete and steel), or creating a step down. Lowering this apron (landing or walkway) could result in a top surface lower than surrounding grade resulting in ice or snow build ups if in a cool climate.

Wall girts have been applied “barn style” flat on column exteriors. This building might be in a region where design wind speeds are low enough to allow these girts to meet Building Code deflection criteria. However in order to insulate and finish the interior either studwalls will need to be framed between columns, or an interior set of girts added. It would have been far easier to have accomplished all of this using bookshelf style girts every two feet.

Diagonal braces have been framed in behind wall girts. These are probably unnecessary had diaphragm strength of steel skin been factored in by a Registered Professional Engineer. So why might they be a problem? If framing in a studwall between columns, these braces will need to be worked around.

Maybe exterior walls are going to have closed cell spray foam applied directly to the inside of wall steel. If not, then a Weather Resistant Barrier should have been placed between wall girts and siding.

This building is a residence. Unless the roof deck underside is going to be insulated and attic space conditioned, my educated guess is some form of attic insulation will be blown in over a ceiling. In order to do this right, roof trusses should have been designed with a raised heel, to allow for full thickness of attic insulation across exterior walls.

All-in-all it does not appear to be overtly a bad building, but for little or no added investment it could have been so much better!

Fire Separation Requirements for Barndominiums

Fire Separation Requirements for Barndominiums and Shouses

Loyal reader CHUCK in MERINO timed asking this question perfectly, as fire separation requirements for barndominiums, shouses and post frame houses had just made it to my list of subjects to research and comment upon.

Chuck writes:

“I was wondering if you could pen your interpretation of the construction details pertaining to the separation wall and/or sheetrock detail of each side of a shop and house all being under one roof?

I live in rural Logan County Colorado with no official construction inspection required (other than state electrical and plumbing). This is from the county website:

“Logan County has adopted the 2006 IBC building code and the 2006 Energy Conservation Code.  All new structures must be compliant with these codes. No building shall be erected, occupied, moved or structurally altered until a permit therefore has been issued by the Building Department.  Building Permits are required for roof repair or replacement”

Thank you Guru, you are the best!”

Good question, glad you asked and thank you for your kind words! I also appreciate clients who want to do things right, even when plan reviews do not exist and there are no inspections. Meeting Code requirements is a fire, life and safety issue.

I was always brought up believing it took 1/2″ drywall on the house side of a wall between garage and house and 5/8″ Type X on the garage side. If the garage side did not have a ceiling then drywall had to run up to the roof line. Even when I worked for a sheetrocker as a teen, this is how he did everything. All made sense to me.

Well Building Codes have their own ideas. If your shop (aka garage) is 1000 square feet or less, then it is classified as a “U” occupancy and these are requirements:

Garage to residence or attic – 1/2″ gypsum board on garage side

Gambrel HomeIf there is a habitable room above garage – 5/8″ Type X gypsum board on ceiling
Doors between garage and residence shall be 1-3/8″ minimum thick solid wood, solid or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8″ thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors, equipped with a self-closing or automatic-closing device.

If your shop/garage is over 1000 square feet, is becomes an S-2 occupancy and fire separation requirements get tougher:

If equipped with an automatic sprinkler system one hour fire separation is required, if no sprinklers two hours. If the area (shop/garage) is used only for private or pleasure vehicles, then it can be reduced to one hour. 

I have run into this two-hour rating requirement before with a gambrel style barndominium, where our client was living upstairs and parking below. Because it “looked” like a barn, our client’s Building Official required two-hour separation. Walls and columns supporting this second floor also were required to meet two-hour requirements! No amount of debate was going to change this Building Officials’ mind either.

To achieve a one-hour rating would take a layer of 5/8″ Type X gypsum wallboard on each side of a wall, or two layers on a ceiling. A two-hour rating would double these requirements.

I personally like 5/8″ Type X and use it on walls and ceiling everywhere in our shouse. It lies much smoother than 1/2″, does not dent as easily, plus it affords added fire protections, with minimal added investment.

Should My Barndominium Have a Vapor Barrier?

Should My Barndominium Ceiling Have a Vapor Barrier?

With barndominiums, shouses (shop/house) and post frame homes becoming immensely popular, I have been learning more than I ever thought I wanted to learn about them. Rather than me just spewing on, today’s expert advice comes courtesy of building scientist Joe Lstiburek.

Insulating WallsPlastic vapor barriers should only be installed in vented attics in climates with more than 8,000 heating degree days. You can forego the plastic and use a vapor retarder (kraft-faced insulation or latex ceiling paint) in all other climates except hot-humid or hot-dry climates. In hot-humid climates, attics should not be vented and vapor retarders should not be installed on the interior of assemblies.

In hot-dry climates a vapor retarder should also not be installed, but attics can be vented. All attics — vented or unvented — should have an air barrier (a properly detailed airtight drywall ceiling, for example) regardless of climate.

Omitting a ceiling vapor barrier by arguing that “you have to let the moisture escape” or “because the house has to breathe out the top” is actually correct, in a way. It’s also incorrect, in a way. Now, I’m a real fan (ha, ha) of controlled mechanical ventilation to limit interior moisture levels in cold and mixed climates, as well as to limit other interior contaminants in all climates. In other words, all houses require controlled mechanical ventilation in order to “breathe.” It is also my view that this necessary air change should not happen because of a leaky attic ceiling, attic vents, or even leaky walls. Hence the requirement for an air barrier and controlled mechanical ventilation in all houses regardless of climate.

Having said that, I do not have a problem with relieving some of the moisture load in the house via diffusion. This can be achieved through a roof assembly designed to handle it, such as a vented attic in a moderately cold or mixed climate. It’s important to understand that this is a climate-specific recommendation. In a well insulated attic in a very cold climate (more than 8,000 heating degree days), there is not enough heat loss into an attic from the house to allow for much moisture removal through ventilation. That’s because attic ventilation requires heat loss to remove moisture from attics. Cold air can’t hold much moisture. So ventilating a heavily insulated attic with outside air when it is really cold does not remove moisture. We do not want any moisture to get into an attic in a severely cold climate for this reason. As you move south into regions where it is not so miserably cold, this changes: Hence, the recommendation for a vapor barrier in a severely cold climate but only a vapor retarder in most other locations.

In the old days in severely cold climates, where attics were poorly insulated, it was okay to omit a plastic ceiling vapor barrier. The heat loss from the house warmed the attic sufficiently to allow attic ventilation to remove moisture from the attic. Cold outside air was brought into the attic and warmed up by the escaping heat loss, giving this air the capacity to pick up moisture from the attic and carry it to the exterior. This worked well until we added large quantities of attic insulation. With the added insulation, the attic stayed cold and so did the ventilating air from outside, which was now unable to effectively remove attic moisture. Hence the need to reduce moisture flow into the attic and the need for a vapor barrier.

There’s one other important qualification: Vapor moves in two ways, by diffusion through materials, and by air leakage through gaps and holes in building assemblies. Between the two, air leakage moves far more moisture than vapor diffusion. A vapor barrier in an attic assembly in a severely cold climate with the absence of an air barrier will likely be ineffective. On the other hand, an air barrier (a properly detailed air-tight drywall ceiling, for example) in the absence of a vapor barrier can be effective, since it stops the flow of vapor-laden air. You can’t just install plastic in a ceiling and assume it is also an air barrier. For plastic to be an air barrier, it needs to be continuous, meaning all joints and penetrations must be taped or caulked.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru; Good stuff to remember. Thanks Joe!

Adding Overhangs, Building Replacement, and Moving a Structure

Today the Pole Barn Guru assists with questions about adding an overhang to an existing structure, replacing two buildings on site, and moving an existing structure.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi I just saw your blog posts on the web and wanted to ask you my barn has no overhang on the ends and when it rains it comes in under the garage door. Is it feasible to take the last run of roofing off and scab in about 3 ft of rafters and then cover that with more metal or fiberglass and put the trim on.   

The roof Peak is about 18 feet to the floor and the building is 30 by 60 thank you I have attached a picture. WAYNE

DEAR WAYNE: You should have this reviewed by a Registered Professional Engineer, prior to moving forward.

Remove rake trim and slide a 2x4x10 #2 in on top of trusses next to each existing purlin, until truss at eight feet in has been crossed. Carefully screw upwards through truss top chord at an angle into new purlin with two Simpson 9212 drive screws on each side of truss, making sure to not penetrate roof steel. Maximum you can overhang end truss will be two feet, so you should be able to attach a 2×6 fly rafter to ends of your now overhanging roof purlins. I would recommend you enclose overhang underside with some sort of soffit panel to keep flying critters from making homes in your new end overhang.

rebarDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m in the early stages of replacing two attached buildings. One building is a 2 car stick built garage, the other is an pole barn for a total size of 24×60 they are attached at the roof. Long story short needs existing vinyl siding/asphalt shingle roof replaced and a couple poles in the barn. Concrete slabs in both are in great shape, we want to bring fill in and raise the grade about a foot. Now my question. Should the existing slabs be demoed and left in place, can we just bring in stone fill and raise the grade and leave slabs intact? BARRY in OWENSBORO

DEAR BARRY: Unless you have a void underneath your existing slabs, you should be fine leaving them in place. Use sand or sandy gravel over the top of existing and place a vapor barrier over your fill (I recommend a 15mil plastic).

Although you did not ask, since you are doing potentially significant siding and roofing replacements, you might want to consider using roll formed steel as it will be most durable and cost effective.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Had a 40 by 60 pole barn installed 6 years ago. Am taking it down and relocating to a new site. The main 6 by 6 treated posts (of course) had cylindrical blocks about 12 by 4 inches put in each hole, and back filled with dirt (no concrete to my knowledge)

Question: How would you reinstall the posts? Footings, same cylindrical blocks, dirt / concrete? ANDRE in OWOSSO

DEAR ANDRE: Those cylindrical blocks are known as cookies (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/) and are probably woefully inadequate.

Without knowing specifics of your soils conditions and loads, I (or better yet a Registered Professional Engineer) cannot make an informed recommendation as to required diameter, I would imagine a minimum of 24″ however. Holes should be dug to at least frost depth. An engineer would probably come up with a design solution similar to this: install an uplift plate along the lower edge of one side of the column (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/uplift-plate/), suspend column in hole eight inches off the bottom and pour 18-22″ of premix concrete into bottom of hole and around base of column. Balance of hole should be filled with compactable material (compacted in maximum six inch lifts).

 

 

 

Snow Retention in Building Codes

For all of my friends in locales where it does not snow, you are welcome to take a nap through this article. For those of us who are seriously tired of winter, but choose to endure shovels and plows, please read on.

Now snow retention is a subject well ignored by probably everyone you are discussing a new barndominium, shouse or other type of post frame building with.

Why?

Fear you will go to a different provider if the price is a few dollars more! 

Hint: someone has not learned to present benefits and you do not know to ask what you do not know.

I have searched every IBC (International Building Code) chapter for a section I was just certain I had viewed in an earlier Code edition – preventing accumulated snow sliding off roofs, in particular at door openings. I even went so far as to post a query in a Building Code Forum I am a member of. Other forum members confirmed I will be futile in my search. However one of them did come up with a link to a very sad story: https://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/02/27/snow-from-idaho-cabin-roof-buries-3-children-1-dead-2-in-hospital.html

These could very well have been your or my children or grandchildren – or even an adult, in event of a large snow slide.

I will admit to being sensitive to snow killing people, especially loved ones, ever since my cousin Kim’s tragic death, due to lots of falling snow back in 1986 (read more about Kim Momb here: https://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13198701502/Avalanche-British-Columbia-Selkirk-Mountains).

Snow sliding down mountains happens and is pretty hard to prevent in back country. Snow sliding off building roofs can be avoided and with it tragic events such as a child’s death.

How can snow sliding off a roof be prevented?

By using a properly designed snow restraint system.

A snow and ice retention system mounting to a steel roof has to resist forces of snow and ice pressure by transmitting those forces from a snow fence or snow guard through roofing and into underlying roof purlins.

There are building codes for building roof system wind-uplift resistance on metal roofs but there are not for describing “shear strength” resistance for fasteners used to secure snow retention systems to steel roof panels.

Failures in mounting systems for snow retention devices can occur if not adequately secured to the building structure itself. Damage can also occur if total snow and ice load bends or breaks the roofing.  

It is plausible high snow and ice loading near roof edge, imposed against snow guards, could provide a bending force pulling fasteners out of the roof deck, bending or damaging roof, and sending snow guards and snow and ice to the ground below.

I had a snow retention system failure occur on one of my own roofs, where snow brakes were installed with stitch screws to only every third high rib of roof steel. My particular case had a dropped shed roof on one sidewall. When the upper retention system gave way, it came crashing down upon the lower roof, denting it and subsequently carrying away the lower roof system.

Before any modifications are done to an existing roof, a structure needs to be reviewed to determine if it is designed to support the weight of snow remaining on top, rather than sliding off. Provisions of model Building Codes, allow for reductions in design roof load for snow sliding off, especially in cases of unobstructed slippery roofs (e.g. steel roofing).

If your building is designed with a Cs value of less than 1.0, then it is not a candidate for a snow retention system (you will have to dust off your building’s engineer sealed plans to check).

Snow retention systems can be as simple as steel trim snow breaks I have properly screwed down to roofs of my home and two post frame buildings at Newman Lake, Washington. Without them, our 7/12 slope roofs will allow 18 to 24 inches of snow to accumulate, before sliding off, speeding like an oncoming freight train. When a mass of snow of this volume hits ground, noise is both deafening and frightening and an impact would most certainly not be healthy for anyone hit by it.

Where should snow retention systems be used? In snow country, anywhere it can slide off onto a lower roof, people, closely parked vehicles or adjacent buildings and above sidewall door openings.

For extended reading on snow retention systems, please check out this article on snow brakes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/snow-brakes/

Beginning a Shouse Journey in Washington State Part II

For many readers, you might be considering your new barndominium to be constructed in a jurisdiction without state energy requirements such as those in Washington State. Granted, Washington is a state either on the forefront, or totally out of control, when it comes to mandated energy efficiency, however fuels are not going to get any less expensive, so it is likely you should follow along to design a system combining practicality with efficiency.

Here is my response to yesterday’s writer, Robert:

Thank you very much for your kind words and for being a loyal reader.

Washington Energy Code would be adding to your expense if you were not planning on at least some sort of climate control in your shop area. You can review the current Washington State Energy Code at: www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/SCI/Codes/SeattleEnergyCode/2015WaStateResidentialEnergyCode.pdf

About Hansen BuildingsWith only 1200 square feet of living space, you should be able to easily exceed the state mandated required number of energy efficiency credits. We are currently changing our standard windows to U-29, meeting Washington’s standards. Lesser U values are available, however added expense may well not ever be recouped by energy savings. I would recommend two inches of closed cell spray foam on your walls, then BIBs or similar to fill the balance of wall cavity. R-49 attic insulation is mandated by Code, however your added investment to go to R-60 would be minimal. With either we would recommend raised heel trusses.

ERV systems appear to be a good investment. With a 90% or greater effective rate you could see an improvement of up to five factors in energy loss.

Your shop area will be classified as S-2 given it is over 1000 square feet. This will require a one-hour fire separation between living area and shop (two layers of 5/8″ Type X drywall will accomplish this). Only savings on insurance I can see by two individual structures would be in valuation of your contents, most typically 70% of your home value. You might reach out to your Insurance agent to further discuss your situation.

Radiant in floor heat is wonderful. You can create individual zones to allow you to heat areas individually. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/geothermal-heating-cooling/

On drainage plans, I would recommend you contact whomever did existing ones for this site. Chances are little modification would need to be done.

Caleb (a very savvy Hansen Buildings Building Designer)  will be reaching out to you to discuss pricing of your building shell or shells. We also have available a service to create custom floor plans based upon your individual needs. In this article are links to determine various rooms and sizes as well as a final link, to get floor plans for you. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/ .

While “turn key” does exist, you can look at a savings of roughly 25% just to act as your own General Contractor. 

I will look forward to accompanying you on your journey!

Beginning a Shouse Journey in Washington State Part I

A shouse (shop/house), barndominium or post frame house project may seem daunting, however by doing lots of reading, research and asking questions, an average individual can craft for themselves a home they love, tailored to meet their family’s wants and needs.

Loyal reader ROBERT in OLYMPIA writes:

“Hello to the Pole Barn Guru or whoever reads this!

​I came across Hansen Buildings a few years ago when I first became interested in pole barn homes, and have been following the content posted by the Pole Barn Guru in various places online- always great information!  I am finally zeroing in on purchasing a piece of land and I would like to get some more information on going the “Hansen route,” either for a shouse or a house and detached shop, or for just a shop.​

I’ve spoken with my county’s planning department and was informed that there would be no problems building what I want.  The land is already improved with water and septic, is nice and flat, is south facing, and is zoned accordingly.  There is actually a building permit currently active from the previous owner’s stick built project (who passed away, and never further than the dig out for his foundation).  They told me that I could bypass some of the headaches (such as the Pocket Gopher review process) if I renew the permit before it expires (4/2020) and submit the new site plans…​

My ideal setup would be:​

– 50x90x(16 or 18) building​

-around 1200 square feet of living space, 2 bath, 2 bed, 1 “office”​

-3300 square feet as shop space with 1 bath and 1 utility sink.  Wired with electricity & lighting.​

-Very energy efficient (insulation, doors, windows, leakage).  Prefer spray foam if budget allows.​

-ERV?​

-1 large garage door/bay, 3″ thick​

-All large windows to be south facing with appropriately-sized overhangs (passive house principal).  These overhangs could potentially be in the form of a covered porch.​

-Enclosed overhang with vented soffits, but only on the eaves & vented ridge cap.  Solid gables.​

-Concrete piers with post brackets.​

-slight outward slope in concrete where garage doors meet concrete to make water drain away from/out of shop.​

-at least 2 drains in concrete – 1 near door, and one near a corner​

-insulated concrete slab w/ hydronic heating, sealed concrete flooring throughout (no other floor covering)​

-Possibly add ductless heat pump mini-split for additional heating if necessary. ​

-No cooling system necessary.​

-modestly finished interior​

-Ikea or similar non-custom kitchen​

-self-sourced appliances​

Questions:​

Someone at the Thurston county planning department told me that while the project definitely is doable, it might make more sense to build the home and shop as separate structures.  He mentioned that because they were attached, the whole building would have to meet WA energy code.  I guess he was implying that it would be cheaper to construct the shop separately if it didn’t have to meet that code?  Because I would like the shop to be insulated, does this really apply to me?  I’ve heard that insurance could potentially be cheaper with a detached setup, but I can’t seem to find anything concrete about that.  Have you found that to be the case?​

As I mentioned I would like to do hydronic radiant heating (probably by Radiantec) throughout the home and shop.  From my research that seems like the most cost efficient way to heat (mass rather than air).  However, the shop doesn’t necessarily need to be kept at “living temperature” all the time.  I would like it to be comfortable while I’m in there, but beyond that I just need it to stay above about 40 degrees.  I’m interested to hear your input on this.  In reading, it seems like whenever people opt for something like a radiant tube heater or mini-split for the shop, they always regret not going with radiant floor heating.  Natural gas is not available at this location, so my options are propane, oil, wood, or electric.

Because I’m very new to the world of home building, I’m not sure what other requirements there would be in building this.  I know that there are some pretty detailed drainage plans that exist for the previous project on the property, and I’m wondering who is in charge of creating new drainage plans for my project?  Does Hansen do that type of thing?  Or someone local to me?​

Pricing/plans:  Is it possible to get some sort of idea about costs/cost breakdown for the type of building I described?  How about for separate structures?  I love the idea of doing some of the work myself, I’m just not sure how realistic that really is with my work schedule, especially in the summer.  I would probably need contractor(s) to take care of the majority of the major work.​

Do you have any floor plans similar to what I’ve described?  I have a few different ideas on different floor plan ideas but it’s probably easier/cheaper to just use some existing plans.​

I love the “Shouse” idea but I find it a little overwhelming because there is not a “turn key” option like what exists from traditional home builders like Adair Homes in Olympia.  So to get the job done would require basically managing the project with a crew of different contractors to finish the shell, concrete, insulation, electrical, plumbing, finishing, etc……I just would really prefer something a little different and more energy efficient than standard construction.​

As of right now, I think those are all of the questions that I have.​

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing back!​”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Come back tomorrow for Part Two.

A Mezzanine for Your Barndominium

A mezzanine is a common design feature found in all types of buildings- very possibly even your new barndominium, shouse or post frame home. Think of a mezzanine as being a lofted area above a room.

International Building Codes outline some basic rules for mezzanines to help determine if it is an intermediate level within the room it serves or if it is considered another story. 

A mezzanine is an intermediate level between floor and ceiling of any story. In regards to building codes, mezzanines must comply in accordance with IBC (International Building Code) Section 505.2. (Please note all references in this article are 2018 IBC)

Mezzanines can be great features within a building because they provide an additional floor level without being considered an additional story as long as they comply with IBC Section 505.2. Even though they don’t contribute to “building area” or number of “stories” regulated by IBC Section 503.1, they must still be included within “fire area” calculations when determining need for fire protection systems.

Another important piece of information is they should be constructed of consistent materials according to your building’s construction type per IBC Table 601. 

Clear height above and below a mezzanine shall not be less than seven feet.

Total area of a mezzanine within a room shall be not greater than 1/3 floor area of room it is located in (IBC 505.2.1)

Code has some exceptions allowing for a mezzanine to be larger given certain factors such as building’s type of construction and whether the building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. IBC 505.2.1 Exception 3 allows for an aggregate area of a mezzanine within a dwelling unit with an approved automatic sprinkler system which can be up to ½ floor area of the room it is located in.

Means of egress (exits) for mezzanines shall comply with applicable provisions of IBC Chapter 10.

A mezzanine acts like a room or space as it has an occupant load. This occupant load must have correct existing parameters per IBC Chapter 10 (egress chapter). IBC Table 1004.5 provides for maximum floor area allowances per occupant. For R-3 (residential) occupancy purposes, this occupant load factor would be 200 square feet per occupant.

A mezzanine shall be open to the room in which it is located, except for walls not more than 42 inches in height.

Code does also provide some exceptions related to mezzanine “openness”. If you meet these exceptions, your mezzanine would not be required to be open. One exception would be if the mezzanine occupant load is not more than 10 (IBC 505.2.3 Exception 1) and another is if it has at least two exits (IBC 505.2.3 Exception 2). In either case you could have an enclosed mezzanine space.

Photos are of the mezzanine within our barndominium. My wife wanted a space within our shouse (shop/house) which would be a totally dedicated space for her sewing and crafts. She has a sign in her sewing loft which clearly states “This is my happy place.” I can tell she is really happy up there as I often can hear her singing along with her favorite rock and roll tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. Lastly, access to her mezzanine is by a wheelchair accessible electric lift system.

Overhead Door Opening, Boat Storage, and Transfer of Plans

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the required height of an overhead door opening for an Airstream Trailer, options for a boat storage barn, and plans for a previous project transferred without consent of EOR.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Airstream trailer – 2020 Globetrotter
https://www.usadventurerv.com/product/new-2020-airstream-rv-globetrotter-23fb-954672-29

Globetrotter 23

Width – 8 ft
Height – 9 ft 9 inches
Length – 23 ft
The height of the door MUST be higher than 9 ft 9 in b/c the AC unit, solar unit and other items add additional height – perhaps 1-2 ft.

What is the height of the door? DON in BOERNE

DEAR DON: While I would normally recommend a 12′ x 12′ sectional steel overhead door for this, it would be best for you to call your dealer and ask for an exact height.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I need to construct a boat storage barn in a VE flood zone so I need breakaway walls and large span for a 16’ high by 14’ wide roller door. Suggestions as to how I achieve this? MARK in SEABROOK

FEAM walls –

DEAR MARK: I have read through FEMA requirements (www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1511-20490-8359/fema_tb_9.pdf) several times. As near as I can discern, your boat storage barn would need to be elevated to be above base flood elevation (BFE). Besides breakaway walls, you are also allowed open lattice-work or insect screening. I am seeing no way to create a wall able to support your design wind loads and be yet able to break away, so I would recommend lattice-work. A sliding “roller” door will not meet with applicable wind loads, I would recommend you meet with your local Planning Department for verification as well as to see if you could use a wind-rated overhead door.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We received a set of plans for a pole barn style garage/shop building with the name Bill Zxxx who bought the plans from Home Depot but he has since sold it to someone else.

What is your policy on transferring ownership of plans? DAN in NORTH BEND

DEAR DAN: These engineered building plans were part of a complete post frame building kit package provided to a The Home Depot client, they were not sold as just plans. Engineered plans are designed specifically for a single use at address specified. They remain intellectual property of the sealing engineer and may not be used by anyone else.

 

 

 

Some Barndominium Kitchen Appliance Ideas

Some Barndominium Kitchen Appliance Ideas

Barndominiums afford new home owners an ability to utilize their creativeness. We see it here at Hansen Pole Buildings every day – especially with uniqueness of exterior designs and features.

A few folks have been asking for interior photos of our shouse (shop/house). Originally our living area was not designed with an intent to ever be lived in. It was a space for our older children to be able to invite their friends in for a game of foosball or to shoot pool upstairs, or play basketball downstairs, rather than being out and about where trouble might find them.

Roughly seven years ago we got more serious about spending our few weeks a year here in South Dakota in more than a raw plywood covered floor with a folding table for our ‘kitchen’. We took a plunge and had oak cabinets custom built for our kitchen! You might notice our countertops are a bit taller than usual. I am 6’5” and my lovely bride 5’10”.  Our countertops are all 37” above finished floor and those raised areas are 44”.

We did not have a crystal ball available to know Judy would one day become a paraplegic and be confined to a power wheelchair, but surprisingly much of our design worked out very well.

Among things we did and highly recommend would be having dishwashers (yes plural) and refrigerator and freezer raised up a foot above finished floor. We frankly just got tired of having to stand on our heads to get things out of appliance bottoms.

Why two dishwashers?

I happen to do most of our cooking – I enjoy it, I find it very relaxing. My pet peeve is when dirty dishes, pots and pans overwhelm a dishwasher and have to be left piled on countertops or filling a sink. With two dishwashers, even when entertaining we are able to get all dirties to one of the dishwashers.

As you will see at a later date, our kitchen also has his and hers microwaves. Before it always seemed as though a single microwave led to waiting in line to use it! Not in our kitchen.

One appliance we missed in planning and installing was a trash compactor. We had one in our Spokane, WA kitchen and dearly miss it here.

No Leak Barndominium Windows

No Leak Barndominium Windows

Steel covered barndominiums, regardless of whether they are PEMBs, weld ups or post frame, if they leak it is in one of two places. First of these is when an errant roof screw misses a purlin or is improperly seated. Second of these is around windows.

As a builder I found a solution to most potential window leaks: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/leaking-windows/

And taking it one step further, using pan (aka sill) flashings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/02/use-window-pan-flashing/

Sill flashing is a piece of preformed plastic flashing sloping away from window opening, so any water getting behind siding won’t collect under the window and cause problems. Rough openings (ROs) provided by manufacturers don’t generally allow for sill flashing thickness. Add an extra ¼ inch of height to ROs. 

Don’t start hacking away at WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier), especially if you’re new to window flashing. Do not make an X or I cut. Instead feed the window opening through WRB, cut along all four edges and remove the cutout. Do NOT wrap WRB into the opening. At the upper corners of the opening, make a slit six inches long upward at a 45 degree angle away from opening. Temporarily fold this newly created flap upwards.

Keep in mind WRB is your last line of defense against any water finding its way past siding. So if you do blow any cuts, make sure you patch them with WRB wrap tape.

Follow instructions below for installing an aftermarket pan flashing, such as SureSill™ Sloped Sill Pans™ (available at The Home Depot™). 

Install self-adhesive flashing tape (3M All Weather Flashing Tape 8067 or similar) around the window, overlapping tape onto flange and WRB. Do sides first, overlapping drainage skirt. Then across top overlapping side tapes. Cut tape to length with a utility knife and peel a little bit of backing free and stick it to the window top. Then lay it alongside the window and peel away the rest of the backing as you smooth it into place. Embed it with a laminate roller for a good seal. For best adhesion in cold weather, hit tape with a heat gun while you roll. 

Fold down previously created top WRB tab and tape 45 degree cuts.

Where Your Barndominium Dollars Go

Where Your Barndominium Dollars Go

Recently published by NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) was their 2019 Cost of Construction Survey. I will work from their ‘average numbers’ to breakdown costs so you can get a feel for where your barndominium, shouse or post frame home dollars go.

Please use this as a reference only, as chances are your barndominium, shouse or post frame home will be anything but average!

2019’s average home had 2594 square feet of finished space and a sales price of $485,128. Without lot costs, general contractor’s overhead and profit actual construction costs were $296,652 ($114 per square foot).

Construction Cost Breakdowns as Follows:

Site Work

Building Permit Fees                                                                                  $5,086

Impact Fees                                                                                                   3,865
Water & Sewer Fees                                                                                     4,319

Architecture, Engineering                                                                           4,335

Other                                                                                                                 719

                       Foundation

Excavation, Foundation, Concrete, Retaining walls and Backfill        $33,511

Other                                                                                                                1,338

                     Framing

Framing (including roof)                                                                            $40,612

Trusses (if not included above)                                                                     6,276

Sheathing (if not included above)                                                                 3,216

General Metal, Steel                                                                                           954

Other                                                                                                                     530

                       Exterior Finishes   

Exterior Wall Finish                                                                                   $19,319

Roofing                                                                                                          9,954

Windows and Doors (including garage door)                                       11,747

Other                                                                                                                671

                       Major Systems Rough-Ins       

Plumbing (except fixtures)                                                                        $14,745

Electrical (except fixtures)                                                                           13,798

HVAC                                                                                                               14,111    

Other                                                                                                                 1,013

                       Interior Finishes       

Insulation                                                                                                  $ 5,184

Drywall                                                                                                        10,634

Interior Trims, Doors and Mirrors                                                           10,605

Painting                                                                                                         8,254

Lighting                                                                                                         3,437

Cabinets, Countertops                                                                             13,540

Appliances                                                                                                    4,710

Plumbing Fixtures                                                                                       4,108

Fireplace                                                                                                       1,867

Other                                                                                                                923

                                              Final Steps

Landscaping                                                                                              $6,506

Outdoor Structures (deck, patio, porches)                                           3,547

Driveway                                                                                                     6,674

Clean Up                                                                                                     2,988

Other                                                                                                              402

Other                                                                                                      $11,156

Considering using post frame construction, rather than stick built and foundation costs will decrease by roughly $10,000 (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/).

Architecture, Engineering, Framing and Exterior Finishes for this average home run an astonishing (to me) $97,614. If labor runs 60% of material costs, this would put a material package at $58,300! At over $20 per square foot, this would be one very, very nice post frame barndominium!

Looking to stretch your barndominium dollars? Considering Doing-It-Yourself, you absolutely can do it!

Condensation Above Metal Building Roof Insulation

Condensation Above Metal Building Roof Insulation

Only those few long time readers or those who had time on their hands and have read every blog I ever wrote will recall this story about my adventures with metal building roof insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/metal-building-insulation-in-pole-buildings-part-i/.

Reader JOSH in CORVALLIS is having issues with how metal building insulation is (or in his case is not) performing in his post frame hangar. He writes:

“I am a first time builder and finished a 40×50 Hangar by myself a few years ago. It all came out perfectly with one exception. Every year when the temperatures change rapidly and the moisture is high I get condensation that fills up the roof insulation along the intersection of the roof and the top girt. 

I used fiberglass backed with vinyl laid under the metal roofing. When I installed it I rolled it out from one side of the building up over the peak and down to the other side in a continuous piece. Each piece then was overlapped to the next one, folded over and stapled down to the purlin. I feel that was done well. Where the insulation meets the top girt (purlin) I finished it off there by folding it over on itself and stapled it to the top of the top girt (purlin) so the metal roofing was laid on top of it and screwed down to that top girt (purlin) only touching the vinyl backing. 

At the peak of the roof I have a gap of a few inches between the sheet metal from one side to the other, with the ridge cap covering that gap. I used a duckbill plier tool to bend up the sheet metal along the top edge before installing the ridge cap to help keep out a driving rain but let air flow through. 

The roofing tips I had received from other DIY builders influenced the way I did things and I now question if those things are causing this condensation issue I have. The 3 main things are how I tacked the insulation to the top girt (purlin) by folding it over onto itself. The droop of the insulation between each purlin (about 2 inches droop), now I think that maybe should be taut against the metal. And the bending of the metal sheet up under the ridgecap as I see they sell matching foam insulation strips for this area which would obviously block airflow as well as water. So my question is what did I do wrong here and what can I do to correct it?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
I lived for a decade roughly 40 miles northeast of you in South Salem so am vaguely familiar with your weather – two seasons, warm rain and cold rain. Now seriously, it was not so bad, until I moved back to Eastern Washington’s high desert and had to have webbing removal surgery from between my fingers.

I have given your scenario some serious thought since you wrote with your challenge.

My general method of problem solving begins with what is causing this situation, beginning with possible sources.

Usually I would point my finger at roof leaks, however you have narrowed this down to only when humidity is high. Most often increased humidity inside of buildings is due to no vapor barrier beneath a slab-on-grade. If this is your particular circumstance, I would recommend applying a sealant to your concrete floor.

Normally when water is collecting just uphill of an eave strut (aka eave purlin or girt) it is due to a raw insulation edge on top of the eave strut. You have eliminated this, however humidity laden air can still enter your system here unless you place inside closures between your fold over and roof steel (my guess is this is your source) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/the-lowly-inside-closure/

Using Metal Building Insulation as a Condensation Control usually fails due to seams being poorly sealed. A 100% tight seal is essential for adequate performance. Here is how they should be done:

You have no airflow at your ridge, due to having run insulation continuous from eave-to-eave. I would cut away insulation between your ridge purlins and install vented closure strips under your ridge cap. This will give a point for warm moist air to exhaust from inside your building and prevent any blown rain from entering.

I hope this helps….please let me know how it all works once you apply the remedy.

 

Pylon Sizes, Insulating a Pole Barn, and Plastic for Drainage

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about concrete pylon sizes, how to best finish and insulate an existing structure, and the best plastic for drainage.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What size do the concrete pylons need to be for a 24×36 building with an 11’ roof peak to be used for storage. No footer, just the basic building with 6”x6” posts. JAMES in VERSAILLES

DEAR JAMES: This information should have been clearly indicated on engineer sealed plans you are using for construction. Actual required depth, diameter and amount of concrete required to prevent settling, uplift and overturning is carefully calculated by your building’s engineer, once all factors can be considered. These include, but are not limited to: soil strength at your site, building wall height, roof slope, weight of building itself, snow load, wind speed and wind exposure, seismic considerations, whether building is fully or partially enclosed or is ‘open’, as well as spacing of columns. In most cases, I would expect to see an engineered design of roughly 40 inches in depth, 18 inches in diameter, with a minimum of 18 inches depth of concrete in bottom of hole (a bottom collar) and base of column held up eight inches from bottom of hole. A steel uplift plate is typically placed on columns in concreted area to prevent uplift. All of these factors as well as typical suggestions above should be fully reviewed and sealed by your building’s engineer prior to your moving forward.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve been reading through Mike’s information regarding post frame construction.

My wife and I moved into my parent’s old house, and would like to finish the inside of the pole barn that my father built 4 years ago. The trusses have a BCLL of 10 lbs. There’s single bubble between the purlins and metal, so the underside of the roof is always dry. We’d like to insulate the barn, but there is no housewrap (Tyvek) on the walls. My wife works and I’m disabled, so we don’t have very much extra money to spend. I’m physically not able to remove the metal on the walls and install housewrap. We can’t afford to hire someone to do this. We also can’t afford to have an insulation company spray foam the walls which would solve our problem. My father left about 60 new sheets of EPS foam board, and 50 – 60 new rolls of unfaced fiberglass insulation in the barn. Instead of taking the metal off the walls, would it be possible to wrap the interior of the walls in housewrap? It would be on the inside of the wall girts and wrap around the inside of the post. Would this prevent condensation from forming in the walls? Would it do any good to cut the EPS foam board and put it between the wall girts and fill all the edges of the EPS board with spray foam? I’m trying to come up with a practical solution to the problem, and was hoping Mike could help. I don’t want to ruin the fiberglass insulation, or the EPS foam board. I read one of Mike’s post about his wife being in a motorcycle accident and is now a paraplegic. I was driving home from work 19 years ago, and a big truck hit my car in the driver’s door. I was lucky to survive and was in a wheelchair for over 10 years. I still have the desire to do stuff out in the garage, but am very limited to what I can actually do. You never know what your future holds. Let me know if Mike has any possible solutions. I would appreciate it. GREG

DEAR GREG: Thank you very much for being a loyal reader.

Best possible solution would be to resell the EPS and the fiberglass and put those funds towards two inches of closed cell spray foam.

Trying to cut foam board and completely air seal it would be lots of labor and impossible to achieve. A Weather Resistant Barrier (Tyvek or similar) on the inside of the wall would either trap moisture in the wall or have it passing through into your interior without solving condensation against your wall steel. Chances are you would end up with some damp fiberglass over time.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am considering using 6 mil plastic sheeting about 5 feet wide from the bottom of the outside wall to drain any rainwater away from the building.  Do you know of any issues this might present? RON in WINSTON

DEAR RON: If I was going to do this I would use 15mil black plastic as 6mil will just not hold up over time. I would seal it to my building’s pressure preservative treated splash plank and make sure to have ground sloping away from my building beneath plastic minimum of 5% (three inches in five feet).

 

SIPS for Barndominiums

It has only been five years since I first opined about using SIPs for post frame building construction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/sips/. Since then, post frame homes (frequently referred to as barndominiums) have become quite the rage. Easily half of Hansen Pole Buildings’ inquiries are now for some combination of living space!

I had recently done some further research on SIPs and actually acquired pricing, reader STEPHEN from RAPID CITY was evidently thinking on a like-minded path when he wrote:

“I am a CAD student at Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City, SD and have been thinking about a way to use post-frame buildings as a cost-effective way to create very energy efficient (essentially passive house level insulation and airtightness) residential housing.  What do you think of the possibility of attaching appropriately sized SIPs to the outside of the posts instead of other sheathing and using their strength to do away with girts all together? I have seen SIPs advertised as being used this way with timber framed or post and beam construction (neither are cheap) but not with post-framed buildings.  The idea would be to have thick enough SIPs to not need internal dimensional lumber in the SIP thereby removing thermal bridges, but having it still be strong enough for racking and wind loads.

I know that the costs for SIPs mostly comes from the manufacturer having to essentially custom make each piece.  In this application the SIP panels could be made as rectangles that are as wide as your center to center post distance and as tall as is convenient. Any angled pieces for gable ends and any fenestrations could be cut on site, reducing SIP manufacturing costs.  The SIPs also would likely not have to have much dimensional lumber built into the SIP because it is just holding up itself and windows, not the whole building thereby drastically reducing your thermal bridging. You could also foam seal between the SIP panels to provide air sealing (which I believe is standard for SIPs anyway.)

I would think that you could either use thick enough SIPs to provide all of your insulation and just leave the posts exposed on the inside, or you could use a SIP that was just thick enough to, structurally, take the place of girts and sheathing and frame the space between the posts with 2x4s 24” o.c. flush with the inside of the posts and use fiberglass batts in that space.  

The first technique has the advantage of not needing to do any extra internal framing, but you do have to deal with the posts in your living space.  In addition, if you want to run any electrical to the inside face of any of those walls you either have to be ok with running it in conduit on the face of the wall or you are getting back to specially made SIPs with electrical chases.  The advantages of this technique over your suggestion of bookshelf girts and sheet insulation on the interior is that it doesn’t require interior framing (girts or traditional) and no need to glue drywall but the cost of the thick SIPS, even generic ones, might outweigh those advantages.

The second way of doing it does require extra framing and if your outside SIPs are air sealed you would have to be careful about using a moisture barrier on the inside of the wall (like you normally would in a heating climate) as you wouldn’t want to trap moisture in that space.  The advantages of this system over your bookshelf girts and sheet insulation is, again, no gluing of drywall, normal attachment systems for electrical boxes and cables, and the internal framing being slightly cheaper than full 2×6 girts. Again, the cost of the SIPs might make those advantages moot.

Finally, with either style, you could use a traditional (for post-frame buildings) ceiling with blown insulation above and a vented attic space or you could have full roof panel SIPs built with internal structure to span between your trusses, leaving them exposed inside, and get rid of your purlins as well (for both purlins and girts you would probably have to have some temporary bracing while the building is being built.)

What do you think? Have you heard of anyone doing something similar? Does this sound like it would be a viable way to get very high insulation and air sealing on the cheap?”

Mike the Pole Building Guru responds:

Thank you for your well thought out question, it is evident you have read some of my articles. I hope they have been informational, educational and/or entertaining.

I am usually a guy who jumps all over some brand new technology. My construction business had a website back in 1995 when there were only roughly 23,500 world-wide. This was not long after I had erected a post frame shouse (shop/house) for myself, not realizing there was such a thing as a barndominium. My first attempt utilized ICF blocks on two walls and a portion of a third to compensate for digging away a 12 foot grade change.

Getting on track, I have always thought SIPs would be “cool” as in neat, fun and interesting. It has only been recently I have been able to get some solid costs back on their use.  I approached this design solution from an aspect of eliminating all except columns, roof trusses, essential truss bracing and steel skin. I looked at this as applying SIPs to column exteriors and used a 36 foot wide by 48 foot length with 10 foot high walls. In order to span 12 feet between columns and trusses I was looking at R-52 panels. Wholesale raw cost difference (after eliminating typical wall girts and roof purlins) would add nearly $30,000 plus freight to this building. It would also require a crane onsite to place panels and some sophisticated fastening systems to attach SIPs to the framework.  It is relatively easy to achieve similar insulating values and air sealing for far less of a cash outlay.

Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? Not if return for investment is a consideration.

Anyone who can design an overall cost effective post frame building design solution with SIPs, I am all ears and eyes to hear and read about it. Until then, for those who just want to be neat and different without cost as a factor, it might be a great system.

What Makes Some Buildings Better Than Others

I answer literally hundreds of building related questions every day. These questions come from many different sources – our staff, drafts people, engineers, architects, building officials, clients, builders and social media (just to name a few).

This question, posted in a Facebook group, is an exceptional one and I felt it necessary to share:

Pole Barn Guru Blog“What makes some buildings better than others? And at what point does it not matter? (Ex: building A frames with 2x4s. Building B uses 2x6s and building C uses 2x12s obviously B is better than A but C is overkill) Does the metal come down just to the thickness of it? Thicker is probably better but to what end? I’m talking straight materials not warranty or service of a company. Thank you.”

This answer actually has a remarkably simple answer. It all comes down to what loads a building is engineered for.

Period.

Not what some under educated person says makes it better, but what a highly trained Registered Professional Engineer is willing to stake their career upon by putting their name and seal on a set of plans.

You want a stronger building (whether post frame, weld up, PEMB, stick frame, etc.) then increase snow and/or wind design loads. 

It is seriously just this simple.

It does no good to have super thick siding and roofing, if the supporting frame is not able to carry equivalent loads.

I once had a client who was “concerned about snow loads” so wanted 2×8 roof purlins (when 2×6 would easily have carried the loads). I asked him what was going to hold those purlins up (a sky hook maybe) when his building’s trusses failed beneath them.

A building is a complete system.

When you hear a supplier or builder talking about how their bigger/stronger/thicker whatever makes their building best, think B.S., because they do not have a clue about structural design.

When you find the rare gem who advises you they are providing a fully engineered building and recommends above Code required minimum loads – stick to them like super glue, as this is truly a better design solution.

Here is just one example of when bigger isn’t always better: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/

I hired my first staff engineer roughly 35 years ago, Jenny Wong.  Jenny’s previous experience was as a design engineer for a nuclear power plant (seriously). Jenny knew absolutely nothing about post frame buildings, but was willing to totally trust me – provided I could find documentable proof from reliable sources. This one requirement alone shaped my professional career.

Ask me any post frame building questions, any time. If I cannot get you an answer, I will let you know. My answers will always be based upon factual evidence. If you find some method or component with an ability to make buildings better, without unduly penalizing new building owners financially please share it with me – I will perform due diligence to prove or disprove it and if it is truly beneficial, expect to see it in your next Hansen Pole Building.

Things Roof Truss Manufacturers Should Ask

Things Roof Truss Manufacturers SHOULD Ask, But Don’t Always

I didn’t just fall off of a turnip truck yesterday, even though there are a few who may doubt my claim!

Prefabricated metal plate connected wood trusses and I became close friends back in April of 1977. Yes, we had electricity then and no, I did not watch space aliens build Egypt’s pyramids. Eventually I owned and operated two truss plants for 17 years. I know it may sound odd, but I did learn a couple of things.

Most of us do not know to ask (or tell) what we are not asked.  When Hansen Pole Buildings’ Wizardress of Ordering Justine gives information to our trusted truss suppliers, all of these factors below have been incorporated into our order. This insures your trusses will be adequate to handle loads being placed upon them.

Chances are you (as well as most other post frame building kit suppliers and/or contractors) have not taken all of these into account. In failing to do so, your building may not do everything you want it to do not only today, but also years from now (or could even fall down and go boom).

Here we go:

Span from outside of wall to outside of wall. Eave overhangs are not considered as part of a span.

Desired slope(s) – with scissor trusses to achieve a vaulted ceiling or added center headroom, provide an interior or exterior ‘must have’ and other slope will be determined from ‘must have’ slope.

Spacing (ideally you will be using double trusses spaced directly on columns) rather than going into some lengthy dissertation on truss spacing, please read this article: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/.

Overhangs on eave sides (measured parallel to ground), as well as beyond endwalls. Why is beyond endwalls important? For sake of discussion assume single trusses placed every two feet, unless specified and designed otherwise and end truss in this scenario can only support a foot of overhang past an end. Single trusses placed every four feet can support a maximum two foot end overhang.

 

Roofing material and any solar or rooftop arrays. How many psf (pounds per square foot) must your trusses support? Steel roofing is fairly light weight. If using shingles, Code requires incorporation of enough load capacity for a reroofing down the road.

Is roofing over purlins, sheathing? Maybe sheathing AND purlins. Whichever is your case, these weights need to be accounted for as top chord dead loads.

Ceiling? If not now, ever? One of my most asked questions is in regards to adding ceilings in existing post frame buildings. At a bare minimum to support steel liner panels bottom chord dead load should be three psf, for gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) five psf. Last year Hansen Pole Buildings opted to increase bottom chord dead load for all trusses spanning 40 feet or less to five psf. We do not frankly do a very good job of promoting the benefits of this feature.

If attic is insulated, weight of ceiling material, ceiling joists and attic floor insulation.  

Design wind speed and exposure. More buildings fail from roofs blowing off, than from snow. Depending upon Code year and version, wind speed may be expressed as Vult or Vasd. There is a difference and whoever is going to build trusses needs to know. If you do not fully understand differences between B and C wind exposure, learn quick: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/

Heated or Unheated? There is a factor relating to whether your building will be heated and it influences design snow load. Heated buildings help melt snow off.

Overall building dimensions: width, length, height above grade. These factors impact wind design.

Risk Category – How your building will be used impacts design snow and wind loads. Buildings with infrequent human occupancy have less risk and can be designed for a greater probability of failure in event of an extreme weather event.

Energy heels for full depth attic insulation? If ever insulation might be blown into a dead attic space for purposes of climate control, to be effective it should be full depth from outside of wall to outside of wall. For extended reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/

Siding material (so proper gable truss recommendations can be made). If supporting other than roll formed steel siding, end truss probably will require vertical studs. Without a continuous wall beneath an end truss, it must be ordered as a structural gable.

Is the building fully enclosed, partially enclosed or open? This will again influence wind design.

Are you interested in parallel chords with a heel height to create a vaulted ceiling? You can get the same slope inside and out with this method.

Done right you would be offered options to increase load carrying capacities against either wind, snow or both. This is true value added design. Builders most always want bare minimums, while people who are doing DIY homes or barndominiums are most likely to increase capacities. If in doubt – own the last building standing!

When I was building trusses I  had extremely high expectations of my truss staff, we always wanted to offer designs to exceed our client’s expectations.

Too many factors to juggle? You do not have to fret with an engineered Hansen Pole Building. Please call 1(866)200-9657 today.

P.S. Remember, I have no current interest in any truss manufacturing facility so please don’t contact me for truss prices, thanks.

Proper Screw Location for Post Frame Steel Cladding

Proper Screw Location for Post Frame Steel Cladding

It was a pleasant October evening back in 1985 in Blacksburg, Virginia. My friend Dr. Frank Woeste was then a College of Agricultural and Life Sciences professor at Virginia Tech (officially Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) and he had invited me to teach one of his classes for a day, in exchange for him providing some basic engineering software to design post frame building columns, roof purlins and wall girts.

Back in 1985, Virginia Tech had not yet become a NCAA football powerhouse it grew into under the direction of Hokies’ head coach Frank Beamer – having participated in post season bowl games for 23 consecutive seasons starting in 1993. This also long predated an April 16, 2007 tragedy when Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 faculty members and students, wounding 17 others before killing himself on campus. This shooting remains as the third deadliest mass shooting committed by a lone gunman in United States history.

Mid-way through an evening with Frank, after digesting a hearty meal and debating whether hops in our consumed liquids were a fruit or a vegetable (they actually are neither – they are flower cones), we digressed into Dr. Woeste’s research’s true essence at Virginia Tech – post frame buildings and prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses.

Narrowing things down, a lively discussion occurred (including some of his grad students) on whether steel roofing and siding for post frame buildings should be attached with screws through ‘flats’ or on high rib tops.
You may be wondering what brought this particular subject to mind after so many years? In case you happened to, my Facebook friend Trenton had asked me this very question recently.

For years steel roofing and siding had been attached with ring shanked nails (read more about this and Dr. Woeste here:

( https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/12/ring-shank-nails/). Traditionally nails were located upon high rib crowns – knowing not all nails would be identically driven through steel into underlying wood. The belief was that rain running off a roof would never get high enough to leak around improperly seated nails on high rib tops!

So, what would happen if screws were improperly placed in those steel high rib tops?

Properly designed post frame buildings are dependent upon diaphragm action provided by the steel skin (roofing and siding). Numerous tests have been done to confirm shear strength of panels as properly fastened. When screws are placed through high ribs, there is a 5/8 to ¾ inch gap between high rib underside and framing below. Screw shanks can flex within this space, reducing shear load carrying capacity of this sheathing system.

Furthermore, screw flexation in this gap, allows steel panels to move slightly under wind or seismic loads, eventually contributing to slots being formed in steel around screw shanks, and over time, causing leaks.

Ultimately Frank and I agreed with every steel roofing and siding roll former – screws in flats, not on ribs!

Monitor Style, Cost to Build a Floor Plan, and Adding OHD Openers

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the possibility of an open floor plan Monitor style building, what the costs of building s specific floor plan might be, as well advice on adding overhead door operators to a building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you design a truss system for a monitor style building that has a complete open floor plan. 50 Ft front x 40 Ft depth. RON in SANGER

Monitor Barn Interior

DEAR RON: Absolutely. My first one was about 25 years ago, when I was a post frame builder. It was not near this wide, but I have since been involved in many others, both lesser and greater in width.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much would it cost to build this? I do not two RV doors. Can go with a smaller or shorter door on one side only. We would like it plumbed for sinks and showers ect but do not need to include the sinks, shower, toilet, cabinets ect. Just the walls. REBECCA in OLYMPIA

 

DEAR REBECCA: To some extent it will depend upon how you run rooflines. I would be inclined to recommend your garage area be 20’ x 42’ with a ridge line running front to back (peak gable end above where you show an RV door) with a 15’ eave height. For your living area, I would put a gable on your far right with ridgeline running towards garage area.

Other than rough-in for plumbing, you can probably safely budget $25-30 per square foot erected including a slab on grade. To get exact pricing of your building shell and discuss options, please reach out to a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at 1(866)200-9657.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m considering purchasing a home that has a pole building with two overhead garage doors that never had openers installed. One of the doors is very high- for RV clearance. There doesn’t look like much structure above to hang them from. What would be the best way to do that or is there other opener alternatives? DAVID in WESTMINSTER

DEAR DAVID: You have stumbled upon one of my pet peeves – when sectional overhead garage doors are sold without openers. Let’s face it, almost every garage door truly should have one. It does not take much to hang an opener, should you purchase I would recommend you contact two or three of your local garage door installation companies to take a look at your building and provide a quote for openers and installation.