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Don’t Want Pressure Treated Columns in the Ground?

Loyal reader GREG in KENTWOOD writes:

“We plan to build a house next summer with basically (2) – 40’x60’ units connected at 90°, wife is still in the planning stage, 2 story.  I feel that me and my sons should be able to erect a kit with directions from the supplier and tips.   I like your website and the pole barn guru – FYI.

Here is my first question(s):

Since this project will be a house, on a slab in Michigan, which will require 48” depth of some sort of pole / wall / perma-column / piers like CRS system / Cedar post / other.

I really can’t put a treated pole in a hole and expect it to last 100 years, even with a plastic cover.  But I do not want to break my “bank” going overkill.

I also kind of like the idea of laminated posts above ground, which could be untreated if some method was used to get posts above the ground, which would also allow them to be shorter and reduce cost.

Might even like the idea of pouring cement at the base of each pole hole for better support then use a perma-column, instead of a cookie.  (Wish they did not cost so much, alternative?

With my concerns, what method would you suggest to use for the poles?

My wife should be done with the exterior plan in a week or so then I will send it to you for a quote. 

Thanks

How do I create a client account?”

Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building as well as your kind words. We have assisted thousands of clients just like you to erect their own beautiful buildings – basically anyone who is physically able and can read directions in English can become a success story.

While properly pressure preservative treated lumber will last for generations embedded in ground (even without any sort of plastic sleeves), we recognize there are those, just like you, who feel far more confident with columns above ground. With this in mind, your least expensive and easiest to construct design solution will be poured concrete piers with wet set brackets embedded into them to attach your building’s columns.

With this option, we do account for your columns being shorter in length. We do recommend use of true glu-laminated columns in markets where they are logistically available as they are stronger and straighter than similarly sized solid sawn columns.

Poured concrete foundation walls with footings (and wet set brackets in the top of the wall) will be a budget buster. Nine years ago the cost of a single 40’ x 60’ foundation for a two foot frost depth was roughly $12,000 (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/).

Permacolumns (besides just their cost) can prove to be unwieldy (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/perma-column-price-advantage/). They also would require a poured concrete footing beneath in order to adequately distribute roof and second floor loads plus building dead weight to supporting soils. Concrete cookies will rarely be adequate for even minimally sized buildings and loads.

Depending upon species of cedar, soil moisture conditions and amount of freeze and thaw cycles, it may last 15 to 30 years – so probably not a viable alternative.

A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to assist you further.

Pressure Treated Post Frame Building Poles Rot

Presenting actual factual evidence, from a peer reviewed and published study seems to have little bearing upon reality in today’s social media influenced world.

Instead, people tend to rely heavily upon those with a vested (financial) interest in promotion of something other than actual and factual truth. Those invested interests vary from those selling alternatives to properly pressure preservative treated lumber (various lumber protection products, precast concrete piers, brackets, etc.) to competing building structural systems (PEMBs, weld ups, etc.).

In reality, I know a couple people in either lumber or post frame building industries. Having spent my entire adult life in these tends to add to those I know. I have yet to meet anyone, who can tell me they have actually experienced a properly pressure preservative treated wood building column rot.

Zero.

Of course there are always those who have stories such as, “My Uncle’s cousin says he knows of somebody, who knew somebody who had all of their pole barn poles rot off”. Could be – and those poles were most probably inadequately treated (or maybe not at all).

In order to put this matter to rest and ease my already untroubled mind, I utilized Google to do some research.

Well, it turns out four fine people named Stan Lebow, Bessie Woodward, Grant Kirker and Patricia Lebow got their collective thinking caps together and authored an article entitled “Long-Term Durability of Pressure-Treated Wood in a Severe Test Site”. Said article was published in Advances in Civil Engineering Materials, Vol. 2 No. 1, 2013 on pages 178-188 (for those of you who want to read it in its full and unabridged glory: https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2013/fpl_2013_lebow001.pdf).

Our team of authors was motivated, as stated in this article’s introduction, by this:
“Pressure-treated wood has been widely used as a durable construction material in the United States for over a century. However, despite its long history of use, there are relatively few reports on the long-term decay and insect resistance of pressure-treated wood”.

Now, as it so happens, USDAFS (U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service) has a test site located near Saucier, Mississippi.

You ever been to Saucier, Mississippi?

This plot has a relatively high annual rainfall (67 inches average) and warm temperatures (average high temperatures are 80 degrees F. or more from May until November) creating a harsh decay environment. Eastern subterranean termites are active at this site. Bugs, heat, water – you have it all! This location is within American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) Deterioration Zone 5, Severe Hazard – there is no greater severe hazard classification.

As a control, some untreated posts were placed and all failed in less than three years!

Current Building Code standard for pressure-preservative treated lumber for structural use is UC-4B (read one of my better articles of all time regarding pressure-preservative treating here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/10/pressure-treated-posts-2/). UC-4B requires a chemical retention for many water borne treatments such as ACZA, CCA-B and CCA-C of 0.60 lb/ft^3 (pounds of chemical per cubic foot of lumber). With retention levels LESS than this current UC-4B requirement, there have been ZERO failures in these chemically treated woods in tests of well over 60 years!

When will those properly pressure preservative treated timbers rot?

Impossible – no, however probably not within your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s lifespans.

And there you have it, research and all.

Checks and Splits in Post Frame Lumber

Checks and splits in lumber and timbers, especially timbers, are often misunderstood when assessing a structure’s condition. Checks and splits can form in wood by two means: during seasoning, or drying, and during manufacture. This article is concerned with checks and splits resulting from seasoning after installation. 

Development of checks and splits after installation occurs after a timber has dried in place. Quite often these timbers were installed green. Due to their size, it’s not practical for timbers to be kiln dried. Some are air dried for a period of time prior to installation, but usually they are installed green, and therefore, are allowed to dry in place. This also applies to a lot of dimension lumber.

During the seasoning process, stresses develop in wood as a result of differential shrinkage often leading to checking, splitting and even warping. Separation of wood fibers results in checking and splitting. Due to wood’s innate characteristics, it shrinks and swells differently. This is best explained in the image below. As a general rule of thumb wood shrinks (swells) approximately twice as much in the tangential direction of annual rings as compared to radial direction. Additionally, during the initial drying process outside of a timber inevitably dries quicker than interior, causing differential stresses to develop within a timber. Combined effects of these drying stresses in wood often, and sometimes inevitably, results in formation of checks or splits. Since wood’s weakest strength property is tension perpendicular to grain (similar to how wood is split using an ax), drying stresses can result in a check or split forming in a radial direction across annual rings. However, while these seasoning characteristics may initially appear as problematic, they likely are not. It is important to remember as wood dries, it becomes stronger. Furthermore, development of these seasoning characteristics is, quite often, normal. Most importantly, both are accounted for in derivation of design values for lumber and timbers and are also accounted for in applicable lumber grade rules.

See Figure 4-3 from the Wood Handbook, FPL-GTR-190

Figure 4-3 from the Wood Handbook, FPL-GTR-190

 

 

 

 

 

A check is separation in wood fibers across annual rings of a piece of wood and a split is a separation of wood fibers across annual rings but through a piece of wood. A third type of fiber separation, known as a shake, occurs along annual rings and is generally a naturally occurring phenomenon in standing trees, not a result of seasoning. There are several types of checks and splits defined and handled in grade rules for dimension lumber and timbers.

In use evaluation of dimension lumber and timbers normal checks and splits can often be interpreted as problematic by some design professionals with respect to allowable design values. However, in most cases they are not. In the image below, ends of both timbers are exhibiting various sizes of normal checks developed as timbers dried. If these timbers were being examined in a structure they would look similar to each adjacent image.

Upper left image shows two large timbers with visible splits on both ends as a result of seasoning. These are considered normal. Each red arrow points to how these checks would look in use.Therefore, checks and splits are often not an issue with in use lumber and timbers.

In summary, normal checks and splits are often encountered when assessing a structure, but they are accounted for in derivation of design values and handled in lumber grade rules.

 

 

 

Kitchens for the Handicapped

Today’s blog courtesy of J.A. Hansen, co-owner of Hansen Buildings

OK, Mike the Pole Barn Guru asked me to write about kitchens, so here goes.

Seven years ago (give or take a couple) Mike and I got the new custom made cupboards for our kitchen and there were LOTS of cupboards. When my four sons saw them they gave Mike and I a bad time over having “too many”.  Never did I expect to zoom ahead to 2020 and find my cupboards would be full to overflowing. Not to mention we have a 5′ x 12′ walk in pantry off the entry door to our 2400 square foot living space. We should have built more!

Five years ago on the 26th of September my motorcycle and I went over the edge of a ravine off the I-90 interstate on our way back from South Dakota to Spokane, WA where we had our principle residence. I became a T-6 Spinal Cord Injury, along with most of the ribs on my right side broken. Previous to this I never would have guessed in a million years I’d end up in a wheelchair.

My new “ride” became a purple (my tribute to the MN Vikings) M300 power wheelchair. We soon figured out many of the cupboards we had specially designed for us would be a blessing despite us not having designed them for me being in a wheelchair.

What we did right.

In the center of the kitchen is a 4′ x 8′ island. It has cut-outs for Mike and to sit up to the island where we spend most of our meals. The cut-outs were extra wide, making it easy for me to maneuver my chair into the slot and elevate my chair to sit right up to the island. Two things I did for my new power wheelchair that affords me more independence in the kitchen. As I mentioned, I can elevate my chair to reach the tall island height. My chair can elevate 14″ which is a great asset in reaching cupboard shelves and fridge/freezer shelves.  My chair can also turn “on a dime” making it easy to reverse directions in the middle of any aisleway.

Most of the aisle-ways are wide, affording me the ability to turn  a complete circle in any space between the cupboards and the island without scratching any of the beautiful oak.

The fridge and freezer are “all fridge” and “all freezer” which gives us more storage space within each of them. We have them elevated on pedestals a foot off the floor, giving me ample room to store items on the bottom two shelves that mostly pertain to me. They are at the perfect height for me in my wheelchair. And again, I can elevate my chair 14″ to reach all the way up to the top shelf!

The pantry has all roll out shelves, so I can reach any item in the bottom three shelves which are used most often. Lesser used items are on the top shelf, which I can access with elevation of my chair.

Both dishwashers (yes, Mike insisted on two, to which I am eternally grateful) are also up on a pedestal, giving me easy reach into the bottom and top racks. I’ll admit I don’t use the dishwashers very often. Mike and I have division of  labor, he does the dishwashers and I do the laundry. No fights over loading the dishwasher or how to fold the towels!

The microwaves, again two for Mike’s design, were originally to be on shelves up above the countertop. I would not have been able to reach them. Mine ended up on the counter where I can easily access it.

What we could have done better.

The kitchen sink should have been designed with it being open underneath for me to wheel under and access the faucets. I use a spatula to turn the water off and on, which is not the worst thing in the world. Aesthetically I would not have liked seeing the plumbing below the sink. So for me, I like it just the way it is. With my chair elevated a foot or more, I can easily access both sides of the double sink. We did have the drinking water faucet installed into the side of the sink, where I can easily turn it on and off. The grand-kids like having it closer as well, so there is no need for a stool….which would have been in the way of my chair.

Another thing I would have liked was a trash compactor. We had one in our house in Spokane and loved it. It was just an oversight on our part.

If you are designing your barndominium home for a wheelchair, with or without power, make all your openings and aisleways 40″ or wider. You will be glad you did!

Most of the design features of our kitchen were done before my accident and pre-wheelchair.  I am thankful for the independence allowing me to function as well as any non-disabled person. This morning I baked three different kinds of bread: coconut cream, lemon poppyseed and French vanilla with nuts. I finished off with canning four quarts of tomatoes. l

The best part is…Mike gets to do the baking dishes!

Small Pole Barns, Timber Screws for Purlins, and Turnkey Homes

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about what the smallest sized barn can be built, certifications for timber screws, and prices for “turn key” homes in Iowa.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you build barns that are smaller than 24’ wide?? I want a 20×20 barn/shed DAVID in MILAN

DEAR DAVID: We have provided buildings down to outhouse sized, so 20′ x 20′ is no trouble at all. Provided you have the available space, you may find 24 foot square is not significantly more expensive. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you Monday to discuss further.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Will a timber structural screw certified for truss connections such as the timberlok perform better than a 60d ring shank when attaching 2×4 purlins on edge to 8ft span trusses? Would screws need to have pre-drilled holes. JERRY in WATERVILLE

DEAR JERRY: Connecting purlins on edge over top of trusses every eight feet is a truly problematic connection. I have been unable to come up with any connection able to engineer out and this is a weak point for this style of post frame construction. A structural screw would perform better than a nail, however still presents issues. Ideally purlins would be joist hung between trusses, providing a connection actually capable of resisting uplift loads. If you do opt to use either a nail or a structural screw, I would recommend predrilling to avoid splitting.

 

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What are some turnkey prices on homes? DONALD in IOWA

DEAR DONALD: This article should assist you with formulating a budget. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

 

 

DIY Post Frame Construction and Winch Boxes

Loyal reader and Hansen Pole Buildings’ client BOB in MOSINEE writes:

“Hello Mike,

This weekend I’m going to begin construction on my Hansen pole building. Very excited. You guys have been great to work with.

I had originally planned to have one built by one of the bigger named companies, but after seeing what they were quoting, I realized I could do this.

My question is around the use of hand winches to raise trusses or assembled truss / purlin sections. I really like the idea of building a section on the ground, from a safety aspect, then raising and attaching.

I read your blog post on the use of these and also did some digging online. As you stated, the amount of specific information is very limited.

Based on your past experience, have you heard of anyone mounting winches directly to a post using heavy screws / bolts (without any steel) box structure, or is that not a sufficient surface to attach to? I’ve got 30′ spans to lift, so maybe that would be pushing it?

Looking forward to your opinion!

Thanks.”

Thank you for reaching out to me and for your kind words. I wish more people would realize they are capable of erecting their own beautiful post frame buildings. They would not only save rfa lot of money, but they would also gain satisfaction from having buildings assembled better than what they would pay most builders to do.

Why? 

Because you will actually look at plans and follow instructions. When it comes down to it, your prerequisites are only you being physically capable and able to read and follow instructions in English!

I am all for building sections on terra firma and raising them up with winch boxes. I have done it more than once, with trusses spanning up to 80 feet.  Although probably not involving any new world order conspiracy, you are correct in this being a well-kept secret. While I have not personally tried mounting winches directly to columns without boxes, I know builders who have merely mounted a pulley wheel to column tops and then affixed winches directly to column faces and ground level with duplex nails, so your idea is not far-fetched. Each bay of your building weighs under 2000 pounds total (or less than 500 pounds per column) so it could be as simple as using say four or so of your five inch long Simpson screws for attachment as they will support over 250 pounds each and this would give a high degree of safety.

Now you have my opinion, I will be looking forward to your photos!

For extended reading on winch boxes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/winch-boxes-a-post-frame-miracle/

Helping a Student with His Post Frame Thesis

Post frame buildings are becoming more relevant as a design solution for residential construction. I recently was contacted to assist a student and will let him tell his story:

mr owl tootsie roll pop“My name is George xxxxxx, I am currently a thesis student at Auburn University’s Rural Studio, located in Hale County, Alabama. I am looking into pole barn // post frame construction as a method for quickly building strong homes. Hansen seems like it has more experience in this methodology than most in the nation, where most contractors are afraid of diverging from traditional stick-frame construction. I am particularly interested in the structuring of your residential homes (the retirement home in Decatur is beautiful), and your opinion on steel vs. wood roof framing. If there is an expert who would be willing to spend some minutes this week answering a few of my questions it would be greatly appreciated! Also, if you have more questions about the Rural Studio I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.”


Being all about education and post frame, my answer was to the affirmative and here are George’s questions and their answers:

“We have seen a lot of other builders using steel trusses for both residential and commercial applications, however, your portfolio shows a large number of projects using wood trusses spaced significantly further than the typical 2′-4′ you see in stick frame. 

 

  • 1. When do you make the decision to go wood over steel?
  • 2. In relation to residential projects, is one more advantageous than the other in terms of detailing, cost or time?
  • 3, What kinds of applications do you use the 12’+ spacing, is it something you would employ for a small home? 
  • 4. What are your typical dimensions of wood posts?
  • 5. What are your standard dimensions between posts?
  • 6. Do you use girts or studwalls in the framing of residential post frame construction?
  • 7. Does using girts provide greater lateral stability?
  • 8. Why, in your opinion, has residential construction been dominated by stick frame construction, while post frame is a viable alternative?”

 

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

1) We use wood over steel trusses 100% of the time.

2) Prefabricated wood roof trusses are highly engineered products subject to intensive quality control standards. Every truss is fabricated from engineer sealed drawings with design wind and snow loads specific to the jobsite upon where trusses will be used. Each manufacturer must keep a log of all trusses produced and any deviation from sealed drawings (higher grades of lumber used, larger pressed steel connector plates, etc.). Every truss must be stamped with appropriate information about it as well as the fabricator’s name and location. Prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses are also subjected to random quarterly inspections from a third party provider – and one does not want to ever fail an inspection. Most steel trusses used for post frame construction are not engineered, not fabricated by certified welders and face none of these quality control standards wood trusses are required to have. For these reasons, most of them get used in jurisdictions with either no permits required, or no structural plan checks or field inspections.

Even with today’s record high lumber prices, prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses still compare favorably in investment to steel trusses. Wood trusses are not conductors of heat and cold, as are steel trusses, meaning they do not need to be thermally isolated from climate controlled areas as steel trusses should be. Wood trusses are very user friendly in attachment of other wood framing members.

3) More often than not a 12 foot on center column spacing is most economical in use of materials and labor. Our Instant Pricing system allows for rapid checking of various column spacings in order to determine a most efficient spacing for any given set of loading conditions. Wider truss spacing means fewer column holes to dig and less worry about trying to place openings (doors and windows) to avoid column locations.

4) In solid sawn columns 4×6 (3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″), 6×6 (5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″) and 6×8 (5-1/2″ x 7-1/2″). In glulaminated columns 3 ply 2×6 (4-1/8″ x 5-3/8″). 4 ply 2×6 (5-1/2″ x 5-3/8″) and 3 ply 2×8 (4-1/8″ x 7-1/8″) are most common.

5) With 12′ on center columns and 6×6 columns space between columns would be 11′ 6-1/2″ as an example.

6) We use bookshelf style inset girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/) for most applications as they require no additional framing in order to be drywall ready. They happen to lend themselves to a better finished drywall surface than studwalls (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/).

7) Lateral stability of any framed structure (stick or post) comes from shear strength of siding – whether wood sheathing such as OSB or plywood, T1-11 or steel.

8) Stick frame has been around longer and Building Codes (especially IRC – International Residential Code) have embraced stick frame by providing a ‘cook book’ for it. Post frame construction just happens to be more economical in terms of foundation costs, use less wood, have fewer thermal transfer points, can easily be built DIY and can be customized far more economically than stick frame.

More than anything, lack of familiarity (by buying public, lenders, building officials and contractors) with post frame as a viable alternative to stick frame. Our team at Hansen Pole Buildings is doing our best to provide educational resources to all interested parties to make a change.

Pole Buildings Quality, Price and Service

When it comes to investing in a new post frame building kit package, there are really only three major areas to cover – quality, service and price.

Everyone wants to feel they have gotten a good value when they make a major investment, whether it is a vehicle, a house or a new pole building.

Can we all agree, “value” is most important?

Anyone can provide a product at a lower price – by sacrificing quality and/or service.

As a potential purchaser, when you tell me:

“I don’t care about service, delivery or quality.  Price is all that is important.”  How would you feel if my response was: “Okay then we’ll provide you a great price with poor service, inferior quality and it will arrive months late? And those pieces we shorted you? You’ll have to pay us extra for them.”

Give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?

I think not.

Let’s all face reality together, we all care and care a lot about things other than just a cheap price.

There is a certain Midwest based supplier of pole building kit packages who almost always seems to have a really great price. I’ve spoken with more than a few people who purchased one of their kit packages – only to find out there is seemingly no one in store who can help them out when they get “stuck” due to poor instructions or inadequate plans. Almost universally they voice concerns about the lack of quality in what they were delivered, and how they had to buy more materials to complete their building.

How bad are they? Bad enough so several post frame builders I highly respect refuse to assemble their building kits!

Personally I have even wandered innocently (as innocently as I can anyhow) into a couple of their locations. When I posed what I felt would be ‘softball’ questions to their ‘expert’ staff – I got nothing back but ‘deer in the headlights’ looks!

There also is something about the disclaimer on this competitor’s quotes, one an average potential buyer might want to read twice:

“You may buy all the materials or any part at low cash and carry prices. Because of the wide variation in codes, xxxxxxx (insert store name) cannot guarantee the material list will meet your code requirements. These post frame buildings are suggested designs and material lists only. Some items may vary from those pictured. We do not guarantee the completeness or prices of these buildings. Labor, concrete flooring, some finish materials and delivery are not included. Some special order truss sizes may be jobsite delivered. Delivery is extra. This post frame may have been altered from the plan’s original design.”

When I hear, “Your price is too high”, my response is, “Compared to what?”

Compared to what pole barn prices were five years ago? Compared to a price someone gave you in a phone call, or was read on Craigslist or EBay? Or compared to another potential supplier who left out several features, or doors, or didn’t even quote the same size?

My lovely bride (of twenty years now) and I used to visit Ecuador every winter, where vendors selling things expect to haggle over price, so they ALL universally jack their prices up. They are all playing this same game and do it well. Once you have reached a price and have paid, they are vamoosed (hmm, great price, questionable quality, no service).

America’s post frame building industry is very competitive. Profit margins are small, and costs of materials and their transportation are pretty much similar. As best I know, no one owns a magical forest of free lumber or a super-secret inventory of low cost steel, so if you see a price too good to be true, chances are it is.

Hansen VisionGranted, every once in a while Hansen Pole Buildings does have the best price, but given our provided features, and our high level of quality and service, it is a fairly rare occurrence. If someone else has a lower price, especially WAY lower, be a skeptic – there is a reason, one perhaps not obvious at first glance.  If you don’t know how to compare quotes on pole barn prices…we’ll do it for you – fairly and for free. If another provider actually offers a better value, we will be first to tell you to “go buy it now!”

Searching for a Builder Embracing Hansen Building’s System

Loyal reader RUSS in PIPERSVILLE writes:

“We are in the process of having our floor plans and elevations done by Greg Hale. A pleasure to work with by the way. I’m wondering if you have any experience with pole frame builders in the east shore area of Maryland? We really want to purchase our building package from your company but it seems like all of the builders listed around that area are complete build companies only. None that I have seen offer stamped engineered drawings for the buildings and don’t want to use outside materials. I fear that I may not be able to find a builder that embraces the “Hansen” approach to building. Any help would be appreciated.”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Hansen Pole Buildings offers an affordable (or even free) service to provide you with floor plans and building elevations crafted totally to best meet your wants and needs. For more information on this service, please visit: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Glad you are enjoying your experience with Greg, it has proven to be an extremely popular service for our clients.

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualOur buildings are designed for average physically capable person(s) who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings (and many of our clients do DIY). Our buildings come with full 24” x 36” blueprints detailing locations and attachment of every piece, a 500 page fully illustrated step-by-step installation manual, as well as unlimited technical support from people who have actually built post frame buildings. We have found those who DIY almost universally end up with a better finished building than any contractor will build for them (because you will actually follow plans and read directions, and not take ‘shortcuts’ in an attempt to squeeze out a few extra dollars of profit). We’ve even had couples in their 80s assemble our buildings!

For those without time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states. Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders.

SIP Floor Panels, Stack-able Hanger Doors, and Sliding Door Installation

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about installing a SIP floor instead of concrete, stack-able hanger doors for addition, and rough cuts on some sliding door lateral braces.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am considering installing SIP floor in my pole barn instead of a concrete floor (the barn will be a studio, i.e., no machines or such being parked in it.) Do you know if a SIP floor is a good idea? …and how far off the ground they would need to be or can I lay plastic and lay the SIPS on the ground? RYAN in LAKEWOOD

DEAR RYAN: I have no experience personally with using SIPs for any purpose. As to whether it is a good idea or not, you should reach out to one or more SIP manufacturers to get their spin on your application, as well as pricing. You may find them to be cost prohibitive. Applications I have seen, all show SIPs panels to be elevated above grade and supported by beams at all edges.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good morning! Can you contact me to discuss your stackable doors for my hangar. It is at the end of my house and I plan to extend the space by adding on to the end and will have the benefit of new headers and concrete floor pours.

The building is 42 feet wide side to side with a 9 foot height of the header. I hope to make the opening 42 less 8 inches on each side for reinforced block solid poured and a beefed up header to sustain the wind loading.
I am attaching a photo so you can see the current door situation.

Hope to hear from you soon. RICHARD in SARASOTA
DEAR RICHARD: Thank you very much for your interest. We do not manufacture hangar doors. I would recommend you contact either Fold-Tite Systems (http://cool-airinc.com/home/products/foldtite-stacker/) or Stack Door (https://www.stackdoor.com/). We have had clients who have used each of these doors, with no word back negatively. You should also involve services of a Registered Florida Engineer to ensure structural adequacy of your extension.

 

Figure 27-3

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We recently built 2 large aluminum frame doors 11’4” H. We had to trim the aluminum to fit the frame. The center-line door jam openings, are still sharp-even though we filed most of the burrs off. I can’t find anything in white to protect the edges so no one gets hooked or cut. We temporarily used electrical tape until we can find a solution.

Can you assist …O’ Great Guru!? …lol

Thanks~ ELAINA in LODI

DEAR ELAINA: Having participated in a few sliding door builds, I am at a loss as to how you ended up in this situation. Sliding door horizontals can be cut off, as their ends slide into vertical rails, leaving no unprotected ends. Verticals can be trimmed, leaving any cuts either at ground level, or far above our heads at top.

With this said, you might try using a grinding wheel powered by a drill motor to radius off cut ends.

 

 

 

New Zealand Eases Permit Requirements for Pole Buildings

In our North American centric world we sometimes lose sight of post frame buildings being used all across our globe.

Acquiring Building permits (consents in New Zealand) can be time consuming and expensive. New Zealand has made some policy changes to ease this process – especially for single story pole sheds (pole or post frame buildings).

From Monday (August 31) building consents will no longer be required for minor building jobs such as building a carport or garden shed or adding a veranda or porch to an existing dwelling, potentially saving homeowners up to $18 million a year in consent fees.

Changes to New Zealand’s Building Act have increased list of exemptions to requirements to obtain a building consent to include these following types of work:

  • Building a carport up to 40 square metres (430 square feet)
  • Building an awning up to 30 square metres on ground floor only.
  • Building a ground floor veranda or porch up to 30 square metres.
  • However exemptions for all above types of work will only apply if project design has been carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer, or a licensed building practitioner has carried out or supervised design and construction.

*www.building.govt.nz/projects-and-consents

It will also be easier to install outbuildings such as sheds, glasshouses or sleep outs, with these following structures no longer requiring a building consent:

  • Outbuildings with a maximum floor area of 30 square metres (323 square feet) where a licenced building practitioner carries out or supervises its design and construction.
  • Kitset or prefabricated buildings up to 30 square metres where manufacturer’s design was carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer.
  • Outbuildings up to 30 square metres are constructed of lightweight materials can be built by non-professionals, provided materials and components comply with a specified Building Code standard.
  • Single story pole sheds or hay barns won’t need a consent if their design has been carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer or a licensed building practitioner has carried out or supervised their design and construction.


These new rules are expected to apply to around 9000 small building jobs a year and save property owners up to $18 million a year in consent fees.

More details about these new rules can be found on New Zealand government’s Building Performance website.

Important to note is this relaxing of consents does not exempt one from meeting Building Code requirements and designs are required to be done by a professional engineer or licensed building practitioner.

Integral Condensation Control

With steel roofing for barndominiums, shouses and post frame (pole) buildings comes condensation.

When atmospheric conditions (in this case temperature and humidity) reach dew point, air’s vapor is able to condense to objects colder than surrounding air temperature. Once vapor condensing occurs, droplets are formed on cool surfaces. This is partly why warming a vehicle’s windshield with a defroster can prevent glass ‘fogging’.

When a building’s interior air meets these conditions, air vapor will condense to cool surfaces. Steel roofing cooled by exterior air temperature often provides this surface. Droplets formed will combine as they contact one another, continuing to do so until they are too large to be supported by surface tension. At this point, dripping will occur, essentially raining on your structure’s contents. 

Commonly (when addressed at all during construction) solutions to this problem have often involved creating a thermal break. A thermal break reduces contact between a structure’s warm interior air and cooler metal roofing, thereby reducing or eliminating overall condensation. Installing a reflective radiant barrier, often termed Vapor Barrier, involves laying rolls of faced ‘bubble wrap’ across your building’s purlins prior to roof steel installation. Ideal weather conditions are required for this as even a slight wind can make this a challenging or altogether impossible task. This can cause jobsite delays and may bring progress to a halt while a structure remains unprotected to weather. Even when ideal weather conditions are present, installing a reflective radiant barrier can be a very dangerous task, requiring builders to expose themselves to awkward material handling on a building’s bare roof framing. These risks and delays often generate additional costs for both owners and builders, but have often been necessary with reflective radiant barrier being the only relatively affordable option to prevent interior dripping. 

New materials and production methods offer a better solution. Utilizing polyester fabric’s absorption characteristics and their integral application during roll-forming, most better quality steel roofing roll formers offer a ready-to-install roofing panel with integral drip-protection. I.C.C. is a pre-applied solution reaching jobsites ready for immediate installation. Delays and increased jobsite workload caused by problems associated with radiant reflective barriers are eliminated by this product. Also, due to this solution’s simplicity, panels with I.C.C. install using the same methods, fasteners and time similar panel-only installations require. No changes to installation processes are necessary, with an exception of time and effort saved. 

It works because this polyester membrane simply retains liquid until atmospheric conditions allow it to be re-evaporated. This is because polyester is hydrophilic, meaning water is attracted to it. It acts as a wick, harmlessly absorbing condensing vapor. Rather than preventing condensation, it provides an absorbent layer to detain condensing vapor until it can re-evaporate as temperatures increase and humidity decreases.

Installing Steel Liner Panels in an Existing Pole Barn

Installing Steel Liner Panels in an Existing Pole Barn

Reader JASON in WHITEHOUSE STATION writes:

“ Hello! I have a post frame 30X40 Pole Barn that was built prior to me owning the house. Currently, the shop is not insulated. I would really like to insulate it, as it’s quite unbearable in the summer and winter. The building has soffit vents, a ridge vent, and two gable vents. With the way the building is set up with all that ventilation (possibly too much?), is putting in a ceiling with insulation on top my best bet? I know there are many options when it comes to insulation, but I am trying to determine what is best for my application. I am leaning towards 6 mil poly on the bottom side of the truss, ceiling liner panel over that with blown in insulation on top. My truss is 8′ on center. Is there a recommended length of panel I should use? Thank you for your help with this. I’m sorry if I asked too many questions.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Provided your building has roof trusses designed to adequately support a ceiling load, your best bet will be to blow in insulation above a flat level ceiling. If you do not have original truss drawings available to determine if they have a bottom chord dead load (BCDL) of three or more, then you will need to find the manufacturer’s stamp placed on truss bottom chords and contact them with your site address. With this information they should be able to pull up records and give you a yes or no. If you are yet unable to make this determination, a Registered Professional Engineer should be retained to evaluate your trusses and advise as to if they are appropriate to carry a ceiling and if not, what upgrades will be required.

If your building does not have some sort of thermal break between roof framing and roof steel (a radiant reflective barrier, sheathing, etc.) you should have two inches of closed cell spray foam applied to the underside of roof steel, or else you will have condensation issues (even with the ventilation). With trusses every eight feet (again provided trusses can carry ceiling weight), I would add ceiling joists between truss bottom chords every four feet and run 30 foot long (verify from actual field measurements) steel panels from wall to wall.

You do not have too much ventilation – and be careful not to block off airflow at eaves. You can omit poly between liner panels and ceiling framing.

Taking the Bow Out of a Glulaminated Column

Taking the Bow Out of a Glulaminated Column

Glulaminated post frame building columns are touted by their producers as being able to withstand warping and twisting. On occasion, however, they will bow.

Hansen Pole Buildings’ client JOSH is self-building in SALMON, Idaho and wrote:

“Good Morning Mike,

Thought I would check with you, but probably know the answer already.

Is there any way to deal with a glulam post with a bow in it, aside from replacing it?

And if replacing, I can get one locally without pressure treatment. I presume since I am in Sturdi Wall brackets, that makes it OK… but would hate to find out from the inspector it has to be PT after the fact.

Thank you.”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I had previously written about how one of our clients had taken twists out of solid sawn ncolumns here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/08/pressure-treated-post/. But, I had never previously shared how to un-bow a bow.

I shared this with Josh:

This is how we used to straighten bowed solid sawn timbers when I owned lumberyards.

Assuming it is bowed in a single direction – support it at each side of the bow, with bow up. Thoroughly saturate bowed area with water (as in seriously soaked), then put weight on at the center of the bow – enough to bring board to straight (we used to use a unit of lumber). Allow to dry and it will be straight.

Josh happened to have a nearby place where he could saturate this errant column.

And, while he did not have an ability to move a unit of lumber to perform Step #2, he did use Idaho ingenuity:


He reports, “Working well so far”!

Josh is building what will be an absolutely amazing post frame home – we will be looking forward to sharing photos as work progresses!

Top Chord Repair, Little Voices, and Building Use

Today the Pole Barn Guru tackles questions about repairing a rotted top chord of an existing truss, a little voice in a contractor’s head, and the use of an existing building on newly purchased parcel.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: When we bought our property the pole barn on it already had a rotting roof with a hole in it. We are ready to re-roof it, are putting steel roof on it, and two of the truss’s top chords have rot we think they need to be replaced, is there a easy way to get the truss apart to fix this? We are fairly handy people but new to dealing with truss repair. Would appreciate any input. JILL in SOUTH LYON

DEAR JILL: You are good to address this issue now. There is no way to easily take apart a prefabricated wood roof truss when it is in place. Your best bet would be to contract with a Registered Professional Engineer in your area who can do a physical examination and provide an engineered repair.  This is just prudent as if there was to be a future building failure at a non-engineered fix, your insurance company could deny your claim.

If your building has purlins over top of trusses, it may be something as simple as adding another top chord to one or both sides of damaged trusses and bolting through.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My client has some old metal trusses. 1 1/4 angle iron top and bottom threads with 1” solid rod cross members 1” high and 28” long.

They are not plated and angled on one end to accommodate mating in the center for a 2/12 pitch roof. They appear maybe to be old single slope trusses or maybe floor trusses. Try angle out the last 4’ on both ends with the top chord and the bottom chord stops.

Anyway he wants to cut and weld clips in the middle to accommodate 2/12 pitch mating surface and on the wall end weld on clips to catch the post.

I’m okay up until he says he only has enough for 7 of these trusses to be made (14 total pieces). He is demanding we put these small trusses on 16’ centers. Use fresh cut true 2×6 milled lumber (ungraded).

No overlaps at the trusses just flush up the ends at each post. No end walls only sidewalks, 18’ high and no plans for lateral supports inside the Trusses running length of the building.

I haven’t built but a few barns all engineered so haven’t had any problems but worried about this red neck engineering. Also no center post clear span 40ft with 4’ overhang past the post. 7 post each side 16’ o/c truss span.

LEE in LIVINGSTON

DEAR LEE: Obviously a little voice inside of your head is telling you to run, do not walk, away from this as quickly as possible. I agree with your little voice. There are plenty of clients out there who want to do things correctly, if you do take this mess on and it fails – you are going to be hung out for it.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have recently purchased a five acre parcel with a 40×40 post frame building on it the guy that we bought the property from had this building put up with the idea of making it his home. The trusses are built to have living areas upstairs, it is raw, posts, roof trusses, and metal siding but no plywood under the metal and the posts are back filled construction. I want to do a wood floor just not span forty feet instead do floor joists of twenty feet so my question is can I build from the raw state that it’s in like you would for a normal stick built home or would I need to pour a regular foundation first?. Thank you. JOEL in POCATELLO

stick frame building collapseDEAR JOEL: Hopefully your ‘guy’ bought a fully engineered building, designed for R-3 Occupancy Classification and Use, Risk Category II with deflection limits of L/240 or greater for walls and truss supported drywalled ceilings. All of these will be specified on this building’s engineered plans. If you do not have a set of them, your Building Department may have them on file.

If you are unable to ascertain these conditions, you should retain a Registered Professional Engineer to do an analysis of your building for structural adequacy for your intended use. He or she can also make a determination as to if column footings are adequate to be able to support weight of your raised wood floor. You should not have to go to an extreme, such as pouring a regular foundation.

You may want to reconsider your floor joist span as 20′ will take 2×12 #2 at 12 inches on center and will have an allowable deflection at center of 2/3 of an inch. By having interior supports closer together you can greatly reduce joist dimensions and deflection, increase joist spacing and have a much less costly floor.

 

 

 

Skylights in Barn You Built for Us Need Replacing

Skylights in Barn You Built for us Need Replacing

Reader MICHELLE in ASTORIA writes:

“Hello! You built our barn located in Astoria, Oregon. The sky lights that were installed now need to be replaced. My husband called and was told you’d get back to us with no response. We are hoping to either hire you or to buy the sky lights through you. We look forward to hearing from you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

You are now finding out why Hansen Pole Buildings does not provide post frame buildings with skylights – they will fail. 

A request we receive frequently is for skylights to be installed in our post frame buildings’ steel covered roofs.

My first thoughts go back to a building I worked inside of over a winter 40 years ago. About 20 years old, this building had a steel roof with numerous fiberglass (actually Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic or FRP) panels. These panels were designed and placed with an intent of allowing natural light into this very large building. Operative word here being “were”.

FRP panels are strong mold-resistant sheets. Over time glazed pigmented seal applied during manufacturing processes can crack causing structural breakdown of fiberglass resin by weathering. On this particular building, these skylights had deteriorated to a less than lovely yellow color, allowing very little light transmission. Lateral loads being transferred through roofing from wind had elongated screw holes, causing numerous roof leaks.

Brittleness over time is another issue with FRP. At my first truss manufacturing plant, we constructed a new building in 1982, with FRP panels at the south facing sidewall top. Our idea was to be able to gain natural lighting. Within a matter of just a few years, these panels had yellowed and become brittle. Local kids, out for “fun” were even throwing rocks through them!

Available technologies have improved. For use in post frame buildings, most instances where FRP panels would have been used, is now being done by polycarbonates.

Polycarbonate panels are designed specifically to match up to metal panel profiles. With a high performance glazing, standing up to punishing exterior applications, Polycarbonate panels offer multiple advantages over traditional FRP panels: up to 20 times greater impact resistance, highest light transmission rates, lowest yellowing index, highest load rating, and highest resistance to wind uplift-outstanding properties confirmed in accredited laboratory testing and in installations worldwide since 1984. Polycarbonate panels are virtually unbreakable, they self-extinguish if exposed to flame, are hail resistant and are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 580 Class 90 recognized.

Polycarbonate roof panels are normally used as in-plane translucent panels and are used with steel panels. Instead, we recommend these skylights be used in walls as eave lights to allow light into buildings and to prevent anyone from walking on and falling through these panels.

If you are really planning on using polycarbonate roof panels, then you cannot insulate your roof in these areas, or you will block all sunlight. Roof areas without a good vapor barrier are prone to condensation issues as well. You’ll also have to take some precautions about thermal movement. Polycarbonate panels do expand and contract much more than steel panels and they are much weaker and deflect more.

We’ve had an engineer perform full scale testing of steel panels similar to what is used on your new Hansen Pole Building (our tests were performed using thinner 30 gauge steel). These tests resulted in shear values for these panels being published in National Frame Builders Association’s (NFBA) Post-Frame Building Design Manual. With a minimum allowable shear strength of 110 pounds per lineal foot, this steel is virtually identical in strength to 7/16” oriented strand board (osb) installed in an unblocked diaphragm (no blocking at seams between sheets of osb).

Properly installed steel roofing, has shear strength to be able to transfer loads induced by wind or seismic forces across roofs, through building endwalls, to ground. Herein lies an issue with light panels (either FRP or Polycarbonate).  They have no shear strength. In adding light panels, a roof’s structural integrity could be compromised. Under lateral loads, panels could fracture or buckle, or the building frame itself could be overstressed.

We at Hansen Buildings searched our database and could not find Michelle, or her email address, in it. Turns out (to no surprise) we did not construct her building (or anyone’s building as we are not contractors) and she is off in search of her actual builder!

Steel Roofing and Siding Over Purlins

There is just plain a lot of bad (and scary) information floating around out there on the internet. For whatever reason, people will believe a random unqualified answer from a stranger, rather than going to a highly educated expert (e.g. Registered Professional Engineer).

Reader DYLAN in BEDFORD writes:

“I am building a 50×60 using 2×6 stud frame walls. Trusses 4’OC. The garage area (30×60) will have around 12’ceiling. The living area (20×60) will go back and stick build ceiling rafters 2’OC to make 8’ceilings. 12’ ceiling on the living area is just more to heat and cool – not necessary. My builder right now plans on putting 2×4 purlins and 2×4 girts on roof and side walls. Then wrap the whole thing with tyvek and out metal on. 

My question starts with is this ok? 

Should I consider plywood/osb on the roof or walls in lieu of 2×4 purlins/girts?

Are 4’oc trusses ok if I am going back to the living area and building ceilings 2’oc?

Are 2’oc rafters ok assuming I finish the ceiling with 5/8” drywall or wood tongue groove or similar?

I will probably spray foam insulation in the living area. This should help with noise during rain on the metal roof.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

My recommendation would have been for you to erect a fully engineered post frame building, rather than spending tens of thousands of extra dollars in an attempt to make a stick framed house look like a pole building.

Ultimately how your building is assembled structurally should be up to whatever engineer you (or your builder) hire to provide your home’s engineered plans. Building Codes do not allow for stick framed walls taller than 11’7″ without engineering, so you should be there already.

Steel panels should not ever be screwed into OSB only and even plywood only would only be on roofs if you are using a standing seam (concealed fastener) steel. I (and most likely your engineer) will specify 2×4 or even 2×6 girts and/or purlins in order to provide a proper surface to screw steel panels to. Your trusses every four feet may be adequate in your living area, it will depend upon how your engineer designs structural attachment of your furred down ceiling, as well as weight supported by it. Rafters 24 inches on center will provide sufficient support for 5/8″ drywall.

You should not place Tyvek between roof framing and roof steel – as Weather Resistant Barriers (WRB) allow moisture to pass through. This could allow condensation to be trapped between your home’s WRB and roof steel, causing premature deterioration.

Building Department Checklist 2020 Part II

Yesterday I covered seven of what I feel are 14 most important questions to ask your local building department.  This not only will smooth your way through permitting processes, but also ensures a solid and safe building structure.

Let’s talk about these last seven….

#8 What is accepted Allowable Soil Bearing Capacity?

This will be a value in psf (pounds per square foot). If in doubt, err to the side of caution. As a rough rule – easier soil to dig, weaker it will be in supporting a building. A new building will only be as solid as it’s foundation, and it’s foundation will be only as strong as soil it rests upon.

Some jurisdictions (most noticeably in California and Colorado) will require a soils (geotechnical) engineer to provide an engineered soil report, spelling out actual tested soil strength.  Other states may have requirements as well, so be sure to ask ahead of time.

#9  Is an engineered soils test required?

If so, get it done ahead of time.  Don’t wait. It’s easy to do and there are plenty of soil (geotechnical) engineers for hire.

#10 What is your Seismic Site Class (such as A, B, C, D, E or F)?

While rarely do potential seismic forces dictate design of a post frame building, there are instances where they can.  A high seismic potential, with high flat roof snow load and low wind load will be one case. Another case will be when you are considering a multiple story structure.

#11 Are wet-stamped engineer signed and sealed structural plans required to acquire a permit?

Some Building Department Officials will say no to this, yet during plans review process they request structural engineering calculations to prove design, or (worse yet) they make wholesale changes to plans, based upon how they think a post frame building should be constructed.

My recommendation – invest in fully engineered plans. It becomes an assurance a registered design professional has verified your building will meet Code mandated loading requirements. In some cases, insurance companies offer discounts for buildings designed by an engineer. It’s certainly worth asking your agent for one!

In some cases, Building Permits will be granted with only requiring engineer sealed truss drawings. We do not condone this practice, as it creates a false sense of security.

Are exterior finished (showing roofing and siding) elevations required with building plans? Will more than two sets of drawings be needed for permit submittal?

#12 Verify Building Risk Category.

Most buildings not frequently occupied by public (not a home, business or municipal building) represent a low hazard to human life in event of a failure and are ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Category I. This information can be found by Building Officials in IBC Table 1604.5 (not to be confused with Use and Occupancy classifications from IBC Chapter 3).

#13 In areas with cold winters, what is your frost depth?

All building columns or foundations must extend below frost line or be adequately perimeter insulated to prevent heave. In some areas, frost depths are as great as 100 inches!

#14 Does the Building Department have any unusual Building Code interpretations, amendments or prescriptive requirements for non-engineered buildings which could affect this building?

If so, get a copy from your building department for us, or anyone else who might be considered to be a provider for your building project.

Even though “the Code is The Code”, there are a plethora of local folks who think they have better ways or better ideas than the world’s smartest structural minds, who have actually written these Codes. And once again, I can’t stress enough: build only from plans sealed by a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer). It will make life easier all around when it comes to getting your permit, even if you have been told seals are “not required”.

No one inside or outside of a permit office wants a construction process to be any more difficult or challenging than necessary.  Being armed with correct information (after doing homework of course) will be a solid towards your successful building!

Building Department Checklist Part I

BUILDING DEPARTMENT CHECKLIST 2020 PART I

I Can Build, I Can Build!

Whoa there Nellie…..before getting all carried away, there are 14 essential questions to have on your Building Department Checklist, in order to ensure structural portions of your new building process goes off without a hitch.  I will cover the first seven today, finishing up tomorrow, so you have a chance to take notes, start your own home file folder of “what to do before I build”.  Careful preparation will be key to having a successful building outcome (whether post frame or some other structural building system).

Provide answers to these questions to your potential building providers!

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Building Departments’ required snow and wind loads are absolute minimums in an attempt to prevent loss of life during extreme events. They are not established to prevent your building from being destroyed. Consider asking your providers for added investment required to increase wind and/or snow loads beyond these minimums.

#1 What are required setbacks from streets, property lines, existing structures, septic systems, etc.?

Seemingly every jurisdiction has its own set of rules when it comes to setbacks. Want to build closer to a property line or existing structure than distance given? Ask about firewalls. If your building includes a firewall, you can often build closer to a property line. Creating an unusable space between your new building and a property line isn’t very practical. Being able to minimize this space could easily offset a small firewall investment. As far as my experience, you cannot dump weather (rain or snow) off a roof onto any neighbor’s lot, or into an alleyway – so keep those factors in mind.

#2 What Building Code will be applicable to this building?

Code is Code, right? Except when it has a “residential” and also has a “building” version and they do not entirely agree with each other.

Also, every three years Building Codes get a rewrite. One might not think there should be many changes. Surprise! With new research even things seemingly as simple as how snow loads are applied to roofs…changes. Obviously important to know what Code version (e.g. 2012, 2015, 2018, 2021) will be used.

 

#3 If building will be in snow country, what is GROUND snow load (abbreviated as Pg)?

Make sure you are clear in asking this question specific to “ground”. When you get to #4, you will see why.  Too many times we’ve had clients who asked their building official what their “snow load” will be, and B.O. (Building Official) replied using whichever value they are used to quoting.  Lost in communication was being specific about “ground” or “roof” snow load.

As well, what snow exposure factor (Ce) applies where a building will be located? Put simply, will the roof be fully exposed to wind from all directions, partially exposed to wind, or sheltered by being located tight in among conifer trees qualifying as obstructions? Right now will be a good time to stand at your proposed building site and take pictures in all four directions, and then getting your B.O. to give their determination of snow exposure factor, based upon these photos.

#4 What is Flat Roof Snow Load (Pf)?

Since 2000, Building Codes are written with flat roof snow load being calculated from ground snow load. Design snow load has become quite a science, taking into account a myriad of variables to arrive with a specific roof load for any given set of circumstances.

Unfortunately, some Building Departments have yet to come to grips with this, so they mandate use of a specified flat roof snow load, ignoring laws of physics.

Make certain to clearly understand information provided by your Building Department in regards to snow loads. Failure to do so could result in an expensive lesson.

#5 What is “Ultimate Design” or Vult wind speed in miles per hour?

Lowest possible Vult wind speed (100 miles per hour) only applies in three possible states – California, Oregon and Washington for Risk Category I structures. Everywhere else has a minimum of 105 mph.  Highest United States requirement of 200 mph for Risk Category III and IV buildings comes along portions of Florida’s coastline (although there are scattered areas nationally defined as “Special Wind Regions).  Don’t assume a friend of yours who lives in your same city has your same wind speed.  City of Tacoma, WA has six different wind speeds within city limits!

Vult and nominal design wind speed (Vasd) are different and an errant choice could result in significant under design (or failure). Make certain to always get Vult values.

#6 What is wind exposure (B, C or D)?

Please Take a few minutes to understand their differences:

(https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/).

A Building Department can add hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to your project cost, by trying to mandate an excessive wind exposure.  Once again, a good place for photographs in all four directions from your building site being shared with your Building Department.  Some jurisdictions “assume” worst case scenarios.  Meaning, your property could very well have all four sides protected and easily “fit” category B wind exposure requirements.  However, your jurisdiction may have their own requirement for every site in their jurisdiction to be wind exposure C, no matter what.  It’s their call.

#7 Are “wind rated” overhead doors required?

Usually this requirements enforcement occurs in hurricane regions. My personal opinion – if buying an overhead door, invest a few extra dollars to get one rated for design wind speeds where your building will be constructed. Truly a “better safe, than sorry” type situation.

I’ve covered seven most important questions for your Building Department Checklist, and they really weren’t so difficult, were they?  Come back tomorrow to find out the last seven!

Gothic Arch, Steel Board and Batten, and Engineering Services

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru discusses Gothic arches, steel board and batten, and engineering services.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am going to build a 24×36 barn and have become infatuated with the Gothic arch roof line from looking at existing arch roofed barns in my area (one is amazing…built in 1911). Any thoughts on using laminated arches in conjunction with a pole barn? The walls would be 10′ tall with the arch reaching to 28′ tall. If the end poles (8′ spacing) were extended to reach the arch, they would need to be 25′ tall. Thanks. DUSTIN in LLOYDMINSTER

DEAR DUSTIN: My first experience with gothic arches were those built in the 1970’s by Red Waggoner in North Idaho. He used Construction Adhesive to glue 2x4s into arches (of course with no engineering). In West Central Minnesota, there are many of them – none of recent construction. In order to keep arch bases from spreading, they would need to be anchored directly to a concrete foundation, piers or somehow attached to a wall-to-wall floor. While they look neat, I am doubtful they would be a viable design solution combined with post frame.

 

Affordable horse barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is steel board and batten an option for pole barn construction? BRITTANY in MILLRY

DEAR BRITTANY: Steel board and batten siding is an option for post frame construction. It will be significantly more expensive than standard through screwed steel and should be installed only over a solid substrate such as 5/8″ CDX plywood.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi there, I am developing a plan for a 1.5 story small cabin and would like to build with a pole structure, with poles on cement pads or perma-columns and a wooden raised floor. I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog posts and thought I would write to ask about your services. I’m not looking for a kit or premade plans but could use some engineering guidance based on the basic design that I’ve put together for an ~18×20 structure. Do you guys offer that kind of service, with hourly rates or otherwise?

Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon! BEN in OAKLAND

DEAR BEN: Thank you very much for your kind words. Due to liability issues we are unable to offer this sort of service. You might try reaching out to one of our independent third-party engineers John Raby (john@raby-assoc.com) to determine if he would have an interest in assisting you.

 

Final Inspection, Framing Lumber, and Trusses

This Friday’s blog include some extra Pole Barn Guru reader’s questions about a final inspection, materials needs for a building, and the quantity of trusses for another.

Pole Building ShopDEAR POLE BARN GURU: In a pole barn the inspector will not pass final inspection with a crushed concrete floor for storage of any kind of vehicle inside without a signed affidavit of no-storage of vehicles inside.

Basically no solid concrete floor, no storage of vehicles inside. Is this correct for Michigan? DAN in WILLIAMSTON

DEAR DAN: Many jurisdictions all across America have enacted similar ordinances, most often in an effort to prevent petroleum based chemicals from potentially seeping into underground natural drinking water supplies and tainting them. When you do pour your concrete slab on grade, make sure to place a well-sealed vapor barrier underneath to prevent moisture from passing through. While Building Code minimum requirement is 6mil, we recommend 15mil to avoid punctures during placement of concrete.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Trying to figure out how many 2×4’s, 2×6’s and 2×10’s we will need for our 40x56x12 pole building with a 10×56 lean to attached. How do I figure board footage or how many of each I will need? RACHEL in LEONARD

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR RACHEL: Your question leads me to believe you do not have structural plans for your building. Said structural plans should be prepared by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – architect or engineer) who can expertly determine structural adequacy of all building components, as well as proper connections.

There is an easy fix to your situation – order a fully engineered post frame building kit, custom designed to meet your every want and need. With a www.HansenPoleBuildings.com building, you will receive full sized (24″ x 36″) blueprints detailing every member and every connection. You will have an itemized material takeoff list to work from, a 500 page fully illustrated Construction Manual to guide you step-by-step through assembly and unlimited free Technical Support from people who have actually built post frame buildings.

A new post frame building is a major investment, please avoid making costly errors in an effort to save money. You get only a single chance to do it right or wrong – right is so much easier and more rewarding.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How many 2×4 trusses do I need for a 20ft x 30ft roof with only steel ruffing. DOUGLAS in PINCONNING

DEAR DOUGLAS: Your trusses should be shown on your building’s engineer sealed plans. You can provide these to any prefabricated wood roof truss manufacturer (or the ProDesk at your nearby The Home Depot) to get a quote delivered to your building site. If it was my own personal building, it would have a single truss on each endwall, and a double truss every 10 feet bearing directly upon wall columns. I would place 2x purlins on edge between truss top chords, using engineered steel joist hangers to support each end.

 

 

 

Struggles to Define What a House Should Look Like

With barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes rising in popularity, jurisdictions are struggling to define what a house should look like.

To follow is an article by Arielle Breen in August 13, 2020’s Manistee, Michigan News Advocate detailing their city’s challenges.

“Does the building plan look like a pole barn or a house?

The answer is that it does not matter what it looks like since a new house in Manistee does not have a detailed design guideline to define what a house looks like — or what the city’s ordinance actually means when it refers to a house needing to fit into “the character of its neighborhood.”

But Manistee City Planning Commission may be looking at creating specific standards for the look of new houses built in the city in the future.

Mike Szokola, Manistee County planner, said if a person wants to build a house in the city and meets criteria such as minimum height and setback requirements, then zoning permits can not be declined as the current ordinance reads.

“At no point in time do I get to ask them ‘What’s it made out of’ (or) ‘How many windows does it have,’” Szokola said at the last Manistee City Planning Commission meeting while showing an example of a home proposed on Ninth Street.

He said there are no design standards within the city’s ordinance that would prevent that style of house.

Gable Pole BuildingThe topic was brought up at the Aug. 6 meeting after Szokola reported he had seen more than one house come through requesting permits in which the house didn’t quite fit with what a typical house in the area might look like.

Members stated that the house resembled a pole barn structure one might see in rural areas outside of the city.

Rob Carson, Manistee County Planning director, said at the meeting that a lot of communities have design guidelines that stipulate aspects such as how many windows a home needs to have and what types of siding are appropriate.

“This is the second building that we’ve received a permit for in less than a year that is going to strike up some controversy in these neighborhoods,” Carson said at the meeting. “When this came in and Mike brought it to me, I was concerned but I said ‘There’s nothing we can do to stop it right now.’ And that’s what the primary issue is.”

While planning commission members said there is a need to have some sort of guideline, they were also hesitant about being strict with appearance requirements in any ordinance they may pursue.

Planning commission member Shelly Memberto said as a property owner she tends to be careful about design.

“I live in probably one of the oldest houses in the city. And I’m sure that the owner, when the house submitted across the street from me which is probably now 80 years old today, they probably hated visually how it looked,” Memberto said. “It didn’t fit in with the character 140 years ago, but maybe it did 60 years after that.

“I don’t know that 20 years from now every house isn’t going to look like this (Ninth Street house example,)” she said.

Carson expressed concern that once approvals for houses go through that are not in character, they could “trigger” more cases as the city has “a whole lot of new visitors.”

“Somebody may say ‘Hey, look there is a pole barn someone let them put up. It’s got a loft in it, it’s separated from the vehicle space. That’s what we want because we’re only here two months of the year,’” Carson said.

He said the commission could find a “happy medium that doesn’t go overboard on regulation but would appease the public and the residents of the city.”

Carson said he would gather several examples of ordinances the commission could consider and discuss at an upcoming meeting that would show the less stringent and more strict options available if the commission wished to proceed with a design guideline ordinance.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:

Pole Barn Guru BlogUltimately, Planning Departments have every right to enforce aesthetic ordinances – as long as they are applied universally to all types of structural systems within a given occupancy classification (such as R-3 residential). What they cannot do is to regulate whether a Code conforming structural system may or may not be used. Should your jurisdiction try to prevent you from constructing a fully engineered post frame home – send me a copy of their written ordinance (not just anecdotal evidence) and I will go wage war for you.

Why You Should Install Post Frame Roofing Before the Walls

Over roughly 40 years of post frame construction, I have seen photos of one or two (or perhaps thousands) of post frame buildings under construction. I can pretty well tell from these photos if those doing assembly are (or were) stick builders.

I grew up as a framing contractor’s son (and later working for dad and my uncles stick framing), where we built walls with sheeting (and often siding) on them and tipped them up into place. This is all fine and dandy for ‘conventional’ stick frame construction, however not necessarily easiest or best when it comes to post frame.

In post frame construction, trusses extend from column outside to column outside (plus any overhangs). If walls have been framed (girts, headers and door jambs placed) trusses will have to be jockeyed around to be lifted in place from inside the building. This is especially true in applications with bookshelf (inset) style wall girts.

Most post frame buildings have one or more columns out of perfect placement along building length. Accept it, this is just going to happen no matter how perfect you or your builder might be. Most buildings have a far greater roof purlin quantity per bay, than wall girts per bay. By framing the roof first, all purlins (assuming they are inset) can be cut to the same length in each bay, this is determined by engineered plan column spacing, less truss assembly thickness. When trusses are in place, column tops will easily move forward or backwards so all truss supporting columns end up spaced per plans. This also aids in an overall building roof length creation matching expectations.

During the truss placement process (regardless of method used) there will come times when it is highly convenient to be able to walk ‘through’ a wall. Girts in place means having to fit through girts or walk around – either of which slowing construction processes.

It is far easier to square up the roof without wall framing member resistance. Once roof sheathing or roof steel is in place, it makes it simpler to plumb building corners.

With roofing in place and walls open, a concrete slab may be installed if desired. This helps protect concrete pour from weather elements, especially heat in summer or rain. Pre-mix trucks can access and chute through any accsessible sides or ends. This can eliminate the need to pay for a pump truck.

Want your new post frame building as perfect as possible and completed quickest? Then roof first, walls after is most probably your route to success.

2021 IRC and IBC Adopt Improved Water Vapor Retarder Requirements Part II

Please see Friday’s blog for Part I of this two part blog.

FIGURE 1. New Vapor Retarder Provisions for the 2021 I-Codes (IRC shown)
NOTE: For more options and an automated means of compliance, refer to http://www.appliedbuildingtech.com/rr/1701-01(link is external) and the wall calculators found at www.continuousinsulation.org(link is external).

Improved Vapor Retarder Requirements Part II

Some of the most significant aspects of the new provisions in Figure 1 are explained as follows:

  1. A new format uses a look-up table approach to make it easier to identify all prescriptive requirements applicable to a given climate zone for a given frame wall assembly. For example, Table R702.7(2) is the launching point for determining water vapor retarder requirements and options. Other tables and text provide details for specific conditions of use.
  2. New provisions are provided for use of foam plastic insulating sheathing (continuous insulation) in combination with a Class II vapor retarder such as coated Kraft paper facers on fiberglass batt cavity insulation. See footnote ‘c’ in Table R702.7(2) which points to specific requirements in Table R702.7(4). This table compliments existing provisions for use of Class III vapor retarders while maintaining adequate inward drying potential and promoting better alignment with energy code R-value requirements for continuous insulation.
  3. The Class III vapor retarder provisions in Table R702.7(3) are expanded to apply to all of Climate Zone 4, not just Marine 4 (this applies to the 2021 IBC only). Table R702.7(2) also clarifies that Class III vapor retarders are permissible in Climate Zones 1-3 with no special requirements.
  4. The Class III vapor retarder provisions in Climate Zones 7 and 8 are differentiated and strengthened to address an inadvertent error in prior codes that treated Climate Zones 7 and 8 the same.
  5. In footnote ‘b’ of Table R702.7(2), the code specifically addressed the avoidance of so-called “double vapor barrier” walls (i.e., having Class I vapor retarder materials on both sides of the assembly). These types of walls have performed well in some conditions of use such as cold-dry climates with use of appropriate weather protection and application of sufficient exterior continuous insulation. However, there also are many cases where they have not performed well such as moist climates coupled with poor weather protection practices and inappropriate use of interior vapor barrier in warm-humid climates. One way, however, to realize the winter vapor control benefits of a Class I interior vapor retarder while avoiding the low inward drying potential problem is addressed in item 6 below.
  6. The code now recognizes “smart” or responsive vapor retarders for use in any climate zone as shown in footnote ‘a’ of Table R702.7(2). The code defines a responsive vapor retarder as any Class I or II vapor retarder (based on dry-cup water vapor permeance) that also has a water vapor permeance of greater than 1 perm (based on wet-cup water vapor permeance). When used on the interior side as a vapor retarder, they promote inward drying by “opening up” in periods or seasons where inward vapor drives occur (most prominent during spring and summer months). In the winter, they “close up” to restrict water vapor from moving into the assembly when outward vapor drives are the strongest and most persistent.

The other significant consideration is what is still missing from the IRC and IBC water vapor retarder provisions. Most importantly, the code lacks a means of controlling the vapor permeance on the interior and exterior side of wall assemblies that do not include continuous insulation to control water vapor as now addressed more completely in the 2021 codes. For example, the code provisions for continuous insulation in Figure 1 rely on compliance with underlying “insulation ratios” to ensure the inside of the wall does not reach a dew-point or high humidity levels for a sustained period of time and these ratios vary by climate. For walls without continuous insulation, the ratio of permeance of outer and inner layers of the wall must be similarly controlled by use of permeance ratios that also should vary with climate. However, such a methodology remains absent from the code. It is advisable to consider this potential omission carefully to better inform code compliance decisions. For additional information on this matter, refer to ABTG RR No. 1701-01(link is external), and the wood wall calculator(link is external) and steel wall calculator(link is external) that evaluate and implement insulation ratios and permeance ratios as applicable for walls with cavity insulation only, cavity and continuous insulation, or just continuous insulation. 

A Shouse, Eliminating Condensation, and Building Trusses

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about the design of a shouse (shop house), a resolutions for condensation, and building trusses.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi – We are looking into pole barn buildings however we’re clueless on where to start and how big we actually need it to be. My husband has an HVAC business so we would need the garage/shop to be big enough for at least 3 bays plus a small shop and storage. 4 Bedrooms and at least 3 baths, ideally we’d like to have an open floor plan below and the bedrooms be in a loft type. What would you recommend?

Thank you! STEPHANIE in BELLE VERNON

DEAR STEPHANIE: Thank you for reaching out to me. In order for you to end up with an ideal dream solution, it will take some homework:

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

Work from inside out – do not try to fit what you need within a pre-ordained box just because someone said using a “standard” size might be cheaper. Differences in dimensions from “standard” are pennies per square foot, not dollars.

Use 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/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I had seen a post mentioning your Gable vents. I have a pole barn with 12″ lapped steel siding and would like to install Gable vents on the ends to help with condensation.  Barn is 40×60. MIKE in MINNEAPOLIS

 


DEAR MIKE:
If you have a steel roof with nothing on underside to create a thermal break, and are getting condensation you should have two inches of closed cell spray foam applied to it.

For a 40×60 building you would need to have eight square feet total of net free ventilation with at least half of it located in top half of your attic. This amounts to 576 square inches of net free ventilation area in each endwall. Please contact Materials@HansenPoleBuildings.com to request a price quote, provided steel ribs are no greater than 3/4″ tall (they will need this information on net free area and your zip code).

 

Ceiling Loaded TrussesDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have posts for a pole barn set 15 of how should I build truss for this set up? DANIEL in SNYDER

 

DEAR DANIEL: You should contact your nearby prefabricated wood truss manufacturer and order from them. Do not attempt to build them on your own.

 

 

 

2021 IBC and IRC Adopt Improved Vapor Retarder Requirements Part I

2021 IBC and IRC Adopt Improved Vapor Retarder Requirements Part I

Originally published by the following source: SBC Magazine — July 29, 2020
by Jay H. Crandell, P.E., ARES/ABTG

This article addresses advancements to the water vapor retarder provisions of the 2021 IBC and IRC.  It is also related to properly coordinating the use of cavity and continuous insulation materials to comply with the energy code, and also water vapor retarders to comply with the building code, as addressed in a separate article on the newly updated wall calculators.

To start, the new 2021 IRC code language for vapor retarders is shown in Figure 1 (as based on ICC code change proposal RB223-19(link is external)). The 2021 IBC code language will be similar (except as noted in Figure 1). This may appear to be a lot to digest, but it is actually pretty straight-forward and effective. To help, a brief explanation of the most significant aspects of this code change follows.

R702.7 Vapor Retarders. Vapor retarder materials shall be classified in accordance with Table R702.7(1). A vapor retarder shall be provided on the interior side of frame walls of the class indicated in Table R702.7(2), including compliance with Table R702.7(3) or Table R702.7(4) where applicable. An approved design using accepted engineering practice for hygrothermal analysis shall be an alternative. The climate zone shall be determined in accordance with Section N1101.7 (R301.1) [ See Figure 1].

Exceptions:

  1. Basement walls.
  2. Below-grade portion of any wall.
  3. Construction where accumulation, condensation or freezing of moisture will not damage the materials.
  4. A vapor retarder shall not be required in Climate Zones 1, 2, and 3. [This exception is not in 2021 IBC]

R702.7.1 Spray foam plastic insulation for moisture control with Class II and III vapor retarders. For purposes of compliance with Tables R702.7(3) and R702.7(4), spray foam with a maximum permeance of 1.5 perms at the installed thickness applied to the interior side of wood structural panels, fiberboard, insulating sheathing or gypsum shall be deemed to meet the continuous insulation moisture control requirement in accordance with one of the following conditions:

  1. The spray foam R-value is equal to or greater than the specified continuous insulation R-value.
  2. The combined R-value of the spray foam and continuous insulation is equal to or greater than the specified continuous insulation R-value.

 

TABLE R702.7(1)
VAPOR RETARDER MATERIALS AND CLASSES

CLASS ACCEPTABLE MATERIALS
I Sheet polyethylene, nonperforated aluminum foil, or other approved materials with a perm rating of less than or equal to 0.1.
II Kraft-faced fiberglass batts, vapor retarder paint, or other approved materials applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for a perm rating greater than 0.1 and less than or equal to 1.0.
III Latex pain, enamel paint, or other approved materials applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for a perm rating of grater than 1.0 and less than or equal to 10.0.

 

TABLE R702.7(2)
VAPOR RETARDER OPTIONS

CLIMATE ZONE VAPOR RETARDER CLASS
CLASS Ia CLASS IIa CLASS III
1, 2 Not Permitted Not Permitted Permitted
3, 4 (except Marine 4) Not Permitted Permittedc Permitted
Marine 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Permittedb Permittedc See Table R702.7(3)

 

  1. Class I and II vapor retarders with vapor permeance greater than 1 perm when measured by ASTM E96 water method (Procedure B) shall be allowed on the interior side of any frame wall in all climate zones.
  2. Use of a Class I interior vapor retarder in frame walls with a Class I vapor retarder on the exterior side shall require an approved design.
  3. Where a Class II vapor retarder is used in combination with foam plastic insulating sheathing installed as continuous insulation on the exterior side of frame walls, the continuous insulation shall comply with Table R702.7(4) and the Class II vapor retarder shall have a vapor permeance of greater than 1 perm when measured by ASTM E96 water method (Procedure B).

 

TABLE R702.7(3)
CLASS III VAPOR RETARDERS

CLIMATE ZONE CLASS III VAPOR RETARDERS PERMITTED FOR:a,b
Marine 4

[or all of 4 for 2021 IBC]

Vented cladding over wood structural panels.
Vented cladding over fiberboard.
Vented cladding over gypsum.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 2.5 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 3.75 over 2 x 6 wall.
5 Vented cladding over wood structural panels.
Vented cladding over fiberboard.
Vented cladding over gypsum.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 5 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 7.5 over 2 x 6 wall.
6 Vented cladding over fiberboard.
Vented cladding over gypsum.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 7.5 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 11.25 over 2 x 6 wall.
7 Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 10 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 15 over 2 x 6 wall.
8 Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 12.5 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 20 over 2 x 6 wall.

 

  1.  Vented cladding shall include vinyl, polypropylene, or horizontal aluminum siding, or brick veneer with a clear airspace as specified in Table R703.8.4(1), or other approved vented claddings.
  2. The requirements of this table apply only to insulation used to control moisture in order to permit the use of Class III vapor retarders. The insulation materials used to satisfy this option also contribute to but do not supersede the thermal envelope requirements of Chapter 11.

TABLE R702.7(4)
CONTINUOUS INSULATION WITH CLASS II VAPOR RETARDER

CLIMATE ZONE CLASS II VAPOR RETARDERS PERMITTED FOR:a
3 Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 2.
4, 5, and 6 Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 3 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 5 over 2 x 6 wall.
7 Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 5 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 7.5 over 2 x 6 wall.
8 Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 7.5 over 2 x 4 wall.
Continuous insulation with R-value ≥ 10 over 2 x 6 wall.

 

a.  The requirements of this table apply only to insulation used to control moisture in order to permit the use of Class II vapor retarders. The insulation materials used to satisfy this option also contribute to but do not supersede the thermal envelope requirements of Chapter 11.

FIGURE 1. New Vapor Retarder Provisions for the 2021 I-Codes (IRC shown)The requirements of this table apply only to insulation used to control moisture in order to permit the use of Class II vapor retarders. The insulation materials used to satisfy this option also contribute to but do not supersede the thermal envelope requirements of Chapter 11.

NOTE: For more options and an automated means of compliance, refer to http://www.appliedbuildingtech.com/rr/1701-01(link is external) and the wall calculators found at www.continuousinsulation.org(link is external).

Come back Tuesday for Part II, the conclusion of this article.

VA Loans for a Pole Barn Residence

VA Loans for a Pole Barn Residence

Reader MATTHEW in BIRMINGHAM writes:

“Can I use the VA loan to buy a pole barn residence?”

I reached out to Amanda (Hansen Pole Buildings’ “Wizardress of Financing”) for answers. She responded, “I honestly have no idea how VA loans work.  New Century Bank (https://www.newcenturybankna.com/) may possibly offer VA loans, but they would be the only one of our lenders who does.”

Amanda posed this question of New Century Bank and they replied, “We cannot do VA new construction.  As far as an already constructed home it would come down to the appraisal.”

Building your dream home is a possibility with a VA home loan. But it isn’t always an easy road.

This no-down payment program allows qualified borrowers to use their VA loan entitlement to obtain a mortgage for new construction. But it can be challenging to find lenders willing to make a true zero down VA construction loan.

VA basically insures loans, but it’s up to individual VA-approved lenders to determine what kind of loans they’ll issue. There’s a level of risk in new construction many mortgage lenders continue to shy away from.

What’s increasingly common is veterans secure a construction loan from a local lending institution. As building processes wrap up, qualified borrowers can basically turn this short-term construction loan into a permanent VA mortgage.

Getting a traditional construction loan often requires a down payment, although it may be possible to recoup this in some cases.

When it comes to looking for a construction loan, it can pay to shop around. Talk with multiple financial institutions and compare down payment requirements, closing cost estimates and more.

There are also restrictions about using a VA loan to purchase land. Borrowers can’t use a VA loan to purchase unimproved land with a goal of one day building a home on it. There are traditional land loans for this purpose, but they typically require a down payment, too.

Veterans and military members who own land they want to build on may be able to use any equity they have toward down payment requirements for construction financing.

Veterans who don’t already own land can often include this purchase in their overall construction loan.

It’s important to understand construction loans are short-term loans. This means it’s imperative for veterans and military members to start working on permanent financing as early as possible.

Lenders can take a couple different approaches to turning this short-term construction loan into a permanent VA loan. One is to issue a VA purchase loan, another is to make a VA Cash-Out refinance loan. Guidelines and policies on this can vary by lender.

VA’s Cash-Out refinance loan gives qualified veterans an opportunity to refinance their VA or non-VA loan into a lower rate mortgage and extract cash from their home’s equity. This refinance option is open to qualified homeowners with and without VA loans.

This Cash-Out shouldn’t be confused with a home equity loan (a second loan running alongside one’s current loan), or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). A VA Cash-Out refinance loan replaces your existing mortgage instead of complementing it.

Processes for obtaining a Cash-Out refinance look similar to getting a VA purchase loan, from credit benchmarks and underwriting to a VA appraisal. This refinance is the only way for VA homeowners to extract cash from equity using their VA loan benefits.

Lenders will document credit, income, employment and assets for borrowers seeking a Cash-Out refinance. Guidelines and requirements can vary by lender when it comes to things like minimum credit score, maximum debt-to-income ratio, derogatory credit and more.

Lenders may also have seasoning requirements for Cash-Out refinances. One lender’s current guideline is borrowers will need to have made seven full monthly payments on their loan being refinanced, and Cash-Out note must be at least 240 days after the original loan’s first monthly payment.

Homeowners will also need a full VA appraisal. This can include things like pest inspections, well water tests and other health, safety and marketability assessments.

A Dog Trot Post Frame Home

A Dog Trot Post Frame Home

Welcome back!

If you missed yesterday’s installment, you will want to flip a page back, otherwise this will not make sense!

Thank you Jim for your kind words – so much to write about and so little time 🙂 I do endeavor to provide to anyone who wants to read, best possible and researched information. I also tell it like it is, rather than just giving answers you want to hear.

For those who may read this later, a ‘dog trot’ style building historically has two individual sections, connected by a breezeway. Dog trot homes are typically raised off the ground and have a wide front porch along an entire length. Normally one section will have ‘day functions’ (cooking, dining, living) and its counterpart will have ‘night functions’ (sleeping, bathrooms). I would encourage you to consider putting up this building shell in its entirety at one time as there will be economies to be derived in only one set of deliveries as well as labor savings in not having to tear anything apart in order to conjoin first and second stages. You could certainly complete all inside finishes of each section independently.

Being able to pass a blower test is less a function of the structural system than it is of properly constructing a well-sealed building envelope. It is also not yet a nationwide mandate – Florida just happens to be one of a handful of states where it is required. By using two inches of closed cell spray foam insulation on all surfaces and properly installing all doors and windows you should have no issues with passing a blower test. Our third-party engineers do a thorough check on every member and connection to ensure all are adequately designed to resist the imposed loads – including column uplift. Screw tie downs will not be required in order to resist columns uplifting (at least not by our engineers). Raised wood floors (over crawl spaces) are becoming more and more popular as people are realizing they are available and do not like the idea of living upon concrete floors https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/slab-on-grade-or-crawl-space/ . One of our recently retired Building Designers, Rick Carr, has recently built a hunting cabin for himself over a crawl space https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/06/fishing-cabin-insulation/.

One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you for further discussions. I would also recommend you get into our queue for getting floor plans and elevation drawings generated http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q.

Planning for a Dogtrot Barndominium

Planning for a Dogtrot Barndominium

Reader JIM in HOLIDAY writes:

Dear sir,

I have scoured your site as best I can in the past few weeks and I only see one very brief mention on the “Blower Door Test” and some other articles on elevated wood flooring.  These are the two main issues I am currently working on but I will try to briefly give you my current situation so you can offer any ideas.   Your knowledge and website are invaluable and although we haven’t talked or met, I feel I can trust you to be honest.

A little background:

I have 5 acres of mostly wooded land in northern Florida approximately 30 miles SSW of Valdosta, Ga.  I have the land approximately 50% paid off and owe about $18,000.  

I currently have a 100amp temporary electric pole, a water well drilled and am installing a temporary septic system.  All were permitted and approved except the temp septic since it is being constructed.  I also have a 12×16 single pitch roof gazebo, permitted and approved, an engineer stamped 12×16 s-type quonset hut shed, a 10×12 (no permit needed) shed and an 8×30 old refurbished FEMA trailer that we can stay in when we are there to work.  All are paid in full.

I am required to have a minimum of “1200 sq ft of heated living area” for a residence due to a covenant/restriction in the deed.  The land is approximately 4 hours from my current home.  

I would like a 30 to 36 inch raised wooden floor in the residence.  My budget is on the lower end since I’m on a retirement income.  I will be the general contractor (no experience) and I have two sons in the construction business with 15 to 20 years experience.  My oldest is a roofer but currently owns his own handyman business so he either does it all or knows people who can do what I need.  My youngest is a framing carpenter who also has connections.

I feel comfortable about their abilities and their friends and co-workers being able to get this done for me.  I want all the floors raised as I plan to eventually connect all the buildings with a continuous porch and the house with a wrap around deck the same height.  When completed the area will have the house and all the buildings in a “U” configuration that is approximately 250 ft by 250 ft.  There is a possibility, and room for, another 1200 square foot residence next to the first but both buildings would have to be connected, making it one residence since I am only allowed one residence on my 5 acres.

Now that you have the general, current, status of where I am, I am trying to decide on the 1200 sq ft residence.  First and foremost, my building inspector and I don’t always see eye to eye.  He says that he has yet to find a metal building that will pass the now nationwide mandate for every new residence to pass a “blower door test” and my residence will not be approved unless it does.  He has no issue with a raised wood floor but feels that poles in the ground may not be sufficient due to the hurricane rating for winds.  Uplift from winds will require not only cement but screw in tie downs like on a mobile home, which I was required to do on the other, smaller buildings.  

Can you please explain and elaborate on a Hansen pole residence of around 1200 sq ft and the blower door test and also the raised buildings and floors and uplift.  Any other suggestions would also be greatly appreciated.

My main goal is to get the needed, but bare minimum 1200 sq ft residence as soon as possible so I can get my certificate of occupancy and move there and then complete the interior of the first building.  Then apply for a permit to build an attached second building of the same size and design as the first to double my space.  I don’t know if this can be done but obviously living there will accelerate my plans rather than driving 4 hours, every 2 or 3 weeks, spending 2 or 3 days working and driving back.  My wife and I seem to like the “dog trot” style building but I don’t know if this can be done one building at a time. 

Thank you for your time and ideas on this.  

Jim

I am in somewhat of a rush to make a decision on what residence to focus on so an email reply to xxxx@xxxxx.com as soon as you can would be appreciated. Hopefully this will be of interest to others and may be published in your blog in the future.

Again thank you for such dedication to informing everyone who is trying to live their dreams.

Tune in tomorrow for Mike’s response!

Tyvek Weather Barrier, Overhead Door Sizes, and Slab Insulation

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about use of Tyvek weather barrier, best size for overhead garage doors, and insulation for a slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I was thinking of putting up a metal clad pole building and insulating it with R28 batt. Wondering your thoughts on adding Tyvek to the outside to help protect against the weather? Not sure if the cost is worth it? Most of the builders around here don’t recommend it. DOUG in REGINA

DEAR DOUG: Your local builders probably do not recommend use of a Weather Resistant Barrier (WRB) in walls because they fear increasing of prices on their quotes – they are selling low price, rather than best value for their clients.

If you are not going to flash and batt (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/flash-and-batt-insulating-barndominium-walls/) your walls, then use of a WRB is an excellent choice as it allows any moisture from within your insulation cavity to escape outward. Use unfaced batts and then cover interior of your walls with well-sealed 6mil clear visqueen prior to an interior finish.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m fixin to build a barn, 40×40 12’ walls with 3 overhead doors. Going to put a lift in it. Have any suggestions on door size and spacing. I live in all sand so for my post I’m buying sono tubes so it won’t cave in on me. What size sono tubes? Planning on 6” concrete floor with thickened slab where hoist goes. Anything I’m forgetting? ANDREW

DEAR ANDREW: You actually probably need at least a 12′ ceiling for a lift. I always recommend at least 3′ from a wall and 3′ in between (it avoids door dings). With a 40′ wall – this will not quite work out (in my ideal world). I like 10′ wide doors, as they keep mirrors on much better. I also like 8′ tall doors, hardly any more than 7′ and gives room for racks, most lifts, etc.

In summary I would do (2) 10′ x 8′ (1) 10’x10′ (might as well take advantage of the ceiling height. Go 3′ from corners and 2′ in between.

Our third-party engineer will determine depth and diameter of sonotubes and they will be called out on your sealed plans.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi Mike, I am working on building a post frame home in Eastern Oregon. Looking for ideas on slab insulation detail at perimeter edge. The home will not have radiant floor heat.

I am having trouble deciding on how to insulate the perimeter slab. Oregon requires minimum R-15 for slab edge insulation. Ideally I would prefer to see concrete at exterior perimeter vs treated grade board that’s visible, however the treated grade board seems to be most cost effective in design. TRENT in WALLA WALLA

DEAR TRENT: I had just recently done this for one of our clients and we will be adding it to our construction manual. This hides your splash plank (grade board). Thicknesses and dimensions can be found here (https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/fpsfguide.pdf Table 2, Page 6). Even though you are not using radiant heat, I would run Pex-Al-Pex tubes in my floor and do under slab insulation. It is a huge selling point and gives you flexibility to add radiant floor heat easily at a later date.

Can We Do This?

Can we do this?

Engineered post frame building construction allows for nearly any situation a client can imagine to be achieved structurally. As some of you long-time loyal readers may have read – “You are only limited by your imagination, budget and available space”.

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug has a client who contracted with a third-party to create floor plans and elevation drawings. Sadly, Doug’s client paid $900 for this work, when it might have been done for $695 or even free with this service: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/

As drawn, this design would have a fairly low sloped ‘shed’ style roof spanning 20 feet from building face to outside with a trussed roof system. These two reverse gables would be framed in on top of shed roof purlins.

I can see some potential challenges occurring here.

Shed roof slope appears to be less than a 3:12 roof slope. This voids steel roofing paint warrantees provided by most roll formers. It also means every side lap has to have a butyl sealant between overlap and underlap per R905.10.2 of the International Residential Code:

“1. The minimum slope for lapped, nonsoldered-seam metal roofs without applied lap sealant shall be three units vertical in 12 units horizontal (25-percent slope).”

While I was not privy to distance along the wall length of this shed roof, it appears to be a great enough distance so a fairly significant structural header will need to be placed from column-to-column to support the low heel of shed trusses.

If this is in snow country, snow is going to build up between these two reverse gables and weight will need to be accounted for.

While this design is totally doable, it will entail additional investment in materials, plus more than a fair amount of time to assemble everything and maintain water tightness.

What would I have recommended?

Instead of a shed roof design, use a reverse gable porch with a single gabled truss spanning from corner column to corner column. Roof slope could match the main building, being steep enough to maintain warranty and leak free integrity. Plus – much easier to construct!

Stick Frame and Some Limitations

Stick Frame and Some Limitations


Perhaps stick built construction’s biggest advantage is builders and tradespeople are very comfortable working in and around stick framing. All registered architects and most building inspectors are very familiar with stick framing. The International Residential Code (IRC) provides a prescriptive ‘cook book’ to follow for adequate structural assembly, within certain limitations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, no story height of greater than 11 feet 7 inches (R301.3), no hurricane prone areas with a design wind speed of 130 mph or greater located south of Virginia, or 140 mph elsewhere (R301.2(5)B), and no ground snow loads over 70 psf (R301.2.3).

IRC802.10.2.1 further limits truss spans to a maximum of 36 feet and building lengths to 60 feet (measured perpendicular to truss span). Trussed roof slopes must be at least 3:12 and no greater than 12:12.

Wood is a very forgiving building material and, even when miscut, replacement material is usually only a short drive away. America’s home building industry has built traditional, wood stick framed homes, on site for decades.

Many builders, architects, carpenters and other subcontractors prefer to work on stick built homes as compared to alternative building systems.  Because traditionally framed houses are so popular, dimensional lumber and stick built framers are readily available.

Another advantage of stick built homes is they allow for a great level of design freedom.  You can design your barndominium with various ceiling heights, angles and curves, niches and other details. Stick framing one to achieve those unique details at a fairly affordable cost.

Despite its popularity, stick framing does have some drawbacks. Because stick built homes are assembled outside, over several weeks, framing lumber is subject to outside moisture.If lumber gets too wet, it can shrink and warp as it dries and cause cracks in the attached drywall.  This shrinking and warping can also make it difficult to properly insulate. To decrease  risks of potential moisture problems, ensure exteriors are covered with an appropriate and well-sealed Weather Resistant Barrier and lumber is properly dried before drywall and insulation are installed.

Another drawback of a stick built home is it usually takes several weeks to complete framing.  Total amount of time it will take will obviously depend on size and complexity of house plans and size, experience and availability of any particular framing crew.

A framing crew must precisely cut, assemble and erect barndominium framing components sometimes in adverse weather conditions.  Working around adverse weather conditions is another challenge with stick framing.

Although site-built, stick framed homes clearly dominate America’s housing market, there are several other ways to build a barndominium’s structure. These include post frame, PEMB (pre-engineered metal buildings), weld up steel and concrete.

Stick Framing?

Stick Framing?

A continuing debate, in picking a structural system for a new barndominium, is what is going to be best? Due to years of conditioning, many assume a traditional wood framed, stick built barndominium, assembled on site is what will be right.  Granted, stick built houses, with traditional wood framing, are by far America’s most popular type of home. Over 82% of our country’s new homes are stick built.  But there are other types of construction available to achieve a quality built home. Some of those alternatives can give you a stronger, more energy efficient house and be quicker to build than a traditional stick built house.  

Now keep in mind, I grew up with my father and his five brothers all being framing contractors – stick builders. Our dad’s profession kept lights on and food on our table. My first regular paying job as a teenager was working as a stick framer.

Interior Wall FramingTraditional stick framing is what most of us envision when we think about building a new home. Dimensional lumber is readily available at lumber yards and ‘big boxes’ (think Home Depot®) in nearly every town and village across America. With traditional stick framing, this lumber is brought to a building site upon where a house structure is framed.  Stick framing, as a term, comes from framers assembling a house shell “stick by stick.” With stick framing, typically 2×4 or 2×6 pieces of lumber are placed 16 or 24 inches apart to construct a framework for walls, floors, ceilings and roof rafters.

Stick building began as balloon framing a method of wood construction – also known as “Chicago construction” – used primarily in areas rich in softwood forests. It uses long continuous framing members (studs) running from sill plate to top plate, with intermediate floor structures let into and nailed to them. Once popular when long lumber was plentiful, balloon framing has been largely replaced by platform framing.

America’s first building using balloon framing was possibly a warehouse constructed in 1832 in ChicagoIllinois, by George Washington Snow, credited as ‘inventor of the balloon frame method’. In 1833, Augustine Taylor constructed St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chicago using this new balloon framing method.

In the 1830s, Hoosier Solon Robinson published articles about a revolutionary new framing system, called “balloon framing” by later builders. Robinson’s system called for standard 2×4 lumber, nailed together to form a sturdy, light skeleton. Builders were reluctant to adopt this new technology. However, within 50 years, some form of 2×4 framing was standard. 

 As Taylor was constructing his first such building, St. Mary’s Church, in 1833, skilled carpenters looked on at these comparatively thin framing members, all held together with nails. And they declared this method of construction to be no more substantial than a balloon. It would surely blow over with a stiff wind! Though a baseless criticism, this name stuck. 

Although lumber was plentiful in 19th-century America, skilled labor was not. Cheap machine-made nails became available, along with water-powered sawmills making balloon framing highly attractive, because it did not require highly skilled carpenters, as did dovetail joints, mortises and tenons required by post and beam construction. Now any farmer could build his own buildings without a time-consuming learning curve.

It has been said balloon framing populated western United States and western provinces of Canada. Without it, western boomtowns certainly could not have blossomed overnight. It is also likely, by radically reducing construction costs, balloon framing improved shelter options of poorer North Americans. For example, many 19th-century New England working neighborhoods consist of balloon-constructed three-story apartment buildings referred to as triple deckers. Our son Brent lived in one of these triple deckers when he studied for his Master’s degree at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

Balloon framing did require very long studs and as tall trees became exhausted, platform framing became prevalent. The main difference between platform and balloon framing is at floor lines. Balloon wall studs extend from the first story sills continuous to the top plate or end rafter of the second or third story. A platform-framed wall is independent for each floor

Once framed, OSB or plywood sheathing is applied to exteriors.  Then plumbing, wiring, and duct work are placed in and around walls and floors. Next, insulation is added between framing members and/or to exterior walls.  After a building inspection, inside walls are typically covered with drywall and exteriors are covered with a choice of cladding—stucco, siding, stone or brick.

Tune in Tomorrow for our exciting conclusion.

How Long Will it Take to Erect My Post Frame Building?

How Long Will It Take to Erect My Post Frame Building?

This is a popular question posed not only by many potential building owners who are considering doing work themselves, but also by contractors who are considering erecting a building for others.

Before any question of construction time can be addressed, let’s eliminate one crucial variable –dirt. Time to lay out a building and dig holes depends upon so many factors. Is the building site level? If it is level, is your building’s prepared pad, actually large enough to place batter boards on? Sites “too tight” to work on will slow everything down.

October 30, 1996 when my company set a world speed record constructing a fully featured two car garage on site, we had a daunting task of it being under five feet from fences along one side and an end. And we still completed it in 31-1/2 minutes! Yes, minutes!

What is the site’s soil like? Soils with medium soil bearing pressures (1500-2000 pounds per square foot), generally are pretty good to dig in. Extremely sandy? Conical shaped holes will be created and they are hard to clean out. Lots of clay? When wet it sticks to everything, when dry it can be as hard as concrete. Head sized rocks? An auger will only pull up rocks up to one-half bit diameter. Limestone, granite, or caliche? If it sounds hard, it probably will be.

Available equipment type for digging holes plays a huge part in digging time as well. By hand with a shovel and clam shells is going to be much slower than a line truck with an auger.

So….putting dirt in our rear view mirror, we move forward (and upward)!

When I was running my own construction crews, we used to monitor carefully approximate amount of construction time it would take crews to erect our buildings. There were always some exceptional crews, ones who we would shake our heads at wondering how they built things so fast. One particular four man crew, would start on a 60’ x 120’ x 16’ riding arena Monday morning, and be in our office at noon on Friday with building done and collecting their payment. Their secret? They had worked together for so many years they did not even have to talk to each other on a jobsite. Each knew instinctively what to do next and what their fellow crew members were doing.

When I put up my first prefabricated roof truss assembly building, I contracted with them for roof steel installation. On this 60’ x 84’ building, I was almost disappointed when they completed it in under four hours!

Getting back to more average performances…. measuring person hours (yes, I had an all-female crew) to building value ended up being a fairly constant measure. Keeping in mind, this is all my crews did, so they had lots of experience They would assemble $120 of materials per person hour. Other than those few exceptional crews, this was a solid number to work from with a variability of about 10%.

For an average building owner doing their own work, I’d look at it taking twice as many hours, provided their “homework” of reading assembly instructions and reviewing plans for their next day’s work was done off actual construction time.

Can you construct a post frame building kit package yourself? Most probably, and as long as you are physically capable, will read and follow instructions, it will be a beautiful building. Should you build it yourself? Assuming a $24,000 building kit, plan on around 400 person-hours. Hired out, it is probably reasonable to spend roughly $12,000 for labor. Obviously this dollar amount will vary greatly from locale to locale. Factors such as distance to travel to a jobsite and costs for insurance weigh heavily into this equation. If a labor quote is $12,000 and you can build it in 400 hours, you have “paid” yourself $30 per hour.

Besides cost savings, there is a satisfaction of having created your own beautiful building and chances are –the outcome will be better than having hired it to be done!

Cost of a Pole Barn Home, Metal Trusses, and Rafter Connections

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about he cost of a pole barn home, the possible life span of metal trusses, and connecting wing trusses or rafters to posts on a “monitor” style building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is it possible to build a small pole barn home for $100K or less? KERI in ELM GROVE

DEAR KERI: Assuming land and utilities (water, sewer, electric) are not included in this budget then yes. Ultimately it will depend upon your tastes and how much you are willing to DIY. I have seen reports of DIYers completing their post frame homes for under $50 a square foot.

This article should prove helpful for you to start forming a budget of your own: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How long will a pole barn building with metal trusses last? ZACH in ONEONTA

DEAR ZACH: A fully engineered post frame building with wood trusses, built to match it’s plans should last longer than any of us who are alive on this planet will be around. With metal trusses, it will all depend upon if those trusses have been designed by a competent engineer, were fabricated by certified welders under strict quality control standards and are properly installed to specifications on your engineer’s plans. Done correctly, you should not have concerns regarding longevity.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: On a Monitor style barn, how are the mono trusses for the “shed” roofs attached to the inner posts? On a laminated post could they be notched into the center 2×6 layer? Obviously they would have to be sized accordingly. How are your buildings typically done? How is that for 1 question? JOHN in FRESNO

DEAR JOHN: Nicely done! Most monitor style barns utilize dimensional lumber rafters for spanning each wing, rather than mono trusses. Regardless of whether trusses or rafters, they are attached to each side of main building (raised center) columns, with blocking between to provide for a landing place for any roof screws landing between members.

 

 

Can We Get a Charitable Discount?

From time to time (actually frequently) Hansen Pole Buildings is contacted by individuals who are looking for a “price break” for being a “charitable” organization. Popular examples are for helping military veterans, disabled, terminally ill children or animal rescue shelters. We have tremendous respect for those who have given their service to our country and having personally lost two children to cystic fibrosis, my heart goes out to parents in similar situations.

While the great majority of these requests seemingly are for good causes, there are so many requests and, in order to at least make some sort of profit to keep our doors open, some criteria needed to be established to qualify.

In this case, we let our U.S. Government establish criteria to qualify for a discount as a charitable organization. Any 501(c)(3) exempted organization qualifies for a 10% discount off from Hansen Pole Buildings low everyday retail prices.

501(c)(3) exemptions apply to corporations, and any community chest, fund, cooperating association or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, to promote arts, or for prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

There are two exempt classifications of 501(c)(3) organizations as follows:
A public charity, identified by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as “not a private foundation,” normally receives a substantial part of its income, directly or indirectly, from general public or government entities. Public support must be fairly broad, not limited to a few individuals or families. Public charities are defined in Internal Revenue Code under sections 509(a)(1) through 509(a)(4).

A private foundation, sometimes called a non-operating foundation, receives most of its income from investments and endowments. This income is used to make grants to other organizations, rather than being disbursed directly for charitable activities. Private foundations are defined under Internal Revenue Code section 509(a) as 501(c)(3) organizations which do not qualify as public charities.

Working With Your Barndominium Subs

Working With Your Barndominium Subs

If you get along well with everyone at all times, you may not need to read this article. But if you occasionally run into conflicts, read them carefully. Sometimes the fault may be yours.

At this point you’ve selected your subcontractors. You’ve checked them out and are satisfied they are honest, trustworthy, and experts in their fields.

Now let them work. Don’t try to supervise every blow of a hammer or placement of every stud. These guys are professionals and they know more about their trades than you do, and probably, if they came to you well recommended, they take pride in their work. Let them do it.

And, more emphatically, don’t try to tell your subcontractors their jobs just because you have read my articles. You’ll get good work out of your subs if they understand you realize they know their jobs, and you’re depending on them for good advice and quality work.

When a subcontractor’s work is completed, when work looks good, and when relevant inspections have checked out, make sure to pay contracted amounts promptly. A hearty thank you is also in order. Subcontractors who get treated right throughout your job and afterward will do a better job for you, and they’ll come back when you build your next barndominium. And chances are you will build another.

Paying Your Subcontractors

When you sign your contract with your erector, you will agree on a contract price for work as outlined. It is usually based on X number of dollars per square foot of heated area and X number of dollars per square foot of under roof, such as garages, porches, etc. Prices will vary with geographic area and job complexity.

Never pay a subcontractor for work not done, for incomplete work, or for an unsatisfactory job. Never pay a Subcontractor in advance. Paying in advance destroys incentive to get your job done ahead of other jobs. Paying in advance could result in a financial loss to you if a subcontractor is incapacitated in some manner. I don’t know anybody who gets paid in advance in any job field. If a subcontractor says he (or she) needs money to get materials, etc., find somebody else, or arrange to order and pay for materials yourself.

Work out a schedule of payment with your subs. Some subs may require draws, or partial payments, as work progresses. This should be discussed before work begins. Don’t be shy about it. They are accustomed to discussing such matters. It is all right to pay a draw, but never pay for more than work already done. For work expected to be completed within seven to 10 days of beginning, draws are typically unnecessary.

Plumbers and electricians usually get 60 percent of their total contract price when their rough-in work has been completed and inspected. Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning rough-in payments depend on installation of equipment such as furnaces. If payment is just for duct work and some low-voltage wiring, 20 percent of total should suffice. If a furnace had to be installed during rough-in, add another 10 percent. Work out payment arrangements with subs before they start. Subcontractors almost always would like to get more money up front than they have in the job. Be sure there is enough money left in the total bid to complete the job if one of your subs goes broke while you are still building. It has happened. You don’t want to be stuck paying more to complete his job. You’ll be covered better if you don’t overpay him on his rough-in.

I seem to be saying the only way you’ll get your subcontractors to complete your job is if you owe them money. In many cases this is true, but in others it is only partially true. Some subcontractors would finish regardless. Often an issue is subcontractors have more than one job going at one time, and your main objective is to get your job finished before one is started after yours.

Make sure building inspections by your county or city are completed and work is approved before you make any payments at any phase of construction, other than partial draws. This is your assurance your job has been done, and done properly.

Barndominium Subcontractor Bids

Barndominium construction bids are very important. Be diligent! For each contracting or subcontracting job for your barndominium, get bids or estimates from at least three contractors. Make sure bids are for similar work and be sure job specifications are identical. 

Never accept a bid “by the hour.” It doesn’t work. Remember Murphy’s Law; “If you want to see how long a job can take, pay someone by the hour.” You may pay a little more for a fixed price bid, but it’s worth it for peace of mind.

For example, if an excavator quotes $X per hour per man plus $X per hour per piece of equipment, insist on a firm total. If he (or she) won’t offer one, move on to the next excavator on your list.

People and companies you will be contacting know how to give estimates based on plans and are used to being asked for bids. Don’t worry, this is part of their job, whether you eventually hire them or not.

I take my building plans, drop them off or email them to a subcontractor or supplier, and say, “Give me a price on XXX. If you see anything else on these plans you can provide, give me a price on them too.” You might be pleasantly surprised – excavators often also do septic systems, driveways, backfill, rough and final grading, and a few others. They also usually know others who do foundations, concrete slabs, flat work, etc.

Your suppliers and subcontractors will determine the nearly exact number of items and square footage of materials needed based on your house plans. This is called a “take off.”

NOTE: GET ALL BIDS & ESTIMATES IN WRITING!

What is the difference between a bid and an estimate? A bid is a firm price to do a given scope of work, an estimate is “about” what it will cost. Obviously bids are what you are after.

Here is what you should expect when getting bids for various jobs.

Plumbing:

Plumbing bids should include all plumbing fixtures right down to toilet seats. They will not include accessories such as toilet paper holders. If colored fixtures are to be used, specify color and brand. Plumbing showrooms are your best bet for selection of these fixtures. Magazines and brochures don’t tell you enough and often don’t give prices. Most plumbing showrooms won’t tell you wholesale prices, but you’ll be paying list anyway, as plumbers make a profit on each fixture and it’s included in their bid. Don’t make an issue of this. This small profit in fixtures is one of a plumber’s sources of income and they earn it.

HVAC:

Your heat and air-conditioning contract should include vents (generally fan-powered) for  bathrooms, clothes dryer, stove, and range hood.

Electrical:

Electrical bids should include all switches, wiring, receptacles, circuit breakers and their respective panel boxes, a temporary service box and installation, saw service, wiring of all built-in appliances, and installation of ovens and ranges, furnaces, heaters, and air conditioners. Electricians in many areas do rough wiring for phones and the Internet (if you are not wireless).

Utilities must be connected. Exactly who is responsible for running water lines, sewer lines, and electrical hookups will vary with each subcontractor involved. Get responsibility pinned down when you are hiring subs, then follow through to be sure it is done properly.

All subcontractors should be responsible for obtaining needed building department inspections, but make sure they do (before paying them) or you will have to do it yourself. Lack of inspections can cause delays. Proceeding without getting inspections can be troublesome and expensive.

How to Find Barndominium Subcontractors

How to Find Barndominium Subcontractors

As a new barndominium General Contractor, you will need to line up subcontractors (subs) to do work you cannot or will not do. But, how does one go about finding these subs?

My first call is to my nearest Home Builders Association (find them here https://www.nahb.org/NAHB-Community/Directories/Local-Associations).
If unable to find a sufficient number (ideally three from each category), visit the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot and ask for names and numbers.

A good contractor is a working contractor, especially during a recession or other downturn in housing starts. This is not always true, but it is a pretty safe bet. Really good ones are sought after and always busy because they do good work and are reliable.

If you can’t find a contractor through your Home Builders Association or The Home Depot, next best place to look is on a job site. Find a house under construction. Stop and ask around. You can get names, prices, and references. This takes only a few minutes. It is done frequently and other general contractors shouldn’t mind. Chances are he or she probably won’t even be there. 

Often you will find the boss or owner of a subcontracting firm is on a site working. Get his number and arrange a meeting. Sometimes there are signs at job sites advertising different subs.

Only certain contractors are found on the internet. Most independent building erectors are not. You should however, be able to find heating and air-conditioning companies, plumbers, electricians, roofers, appliance retailers, and a few others.

Each subcontractor should carry insurance on his or her employees and should provide you with a certificate of insurance. Since this is your first experience and you won’t be familiar with prices in your area, get three or four bids, or quotes, from different subs before selecting one. Use a written contract with all subs.

Subcontractors and contractors may have their own contracts. At any rate, use one. Don’t trust anyone’s memory when it comes to dollars or who is to do what and when. Spell out your specifications thoroughly in your contract to be sure your bids are comparable and all subs are bidding on the exact same work.

A Frustrated Shopper, Sealant Around Posts, and Vapor Barriers

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about a frustrating shopping experience, use of a sealant around embedded posts, and best method for a vapor barrier under concrete.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello my husband and I have been pre-approved to finance a pole barn and I am becoming very FRUSTRATED. We have called “Oscar ” multiple times with absolutely NO response and my concern is that it will be like this through the duration of the process, and should we go elsewhere? Or do I need to be reassigned to someone that will make us feel like a priority!!

Thank you for a speedy response. TIFFANI in TULSA

DEAR TIFFANI: Our apologies for your frustrations. Challenges do occur when people are building shopping, they have reached out to so many parties – causing names, businesses and conversations to become jumbled.

It turns out we happen to have no “Oscar” on our staff, nor do we show either you or your husband in our database. One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you on our next business day to assist you with your building needs.

Let me assure you, every one of our clients is important and we pride ourselves in being responsive to you and your needs.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am making a pole style garage. And I am wondering if I should be applying sealant around the cement that the Poles are embedded?

Help would be appreciated. EVERETT in DUCHESNE

DEAR EVERETT: There would be no reason to do so, provided you have used UC-4B rated pressure preservative treated timber columns. If they are treated to a lesser level of treating it is unlikely any amount of sealant will prevent their premature decay.

 

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 5in slab. NICK in GLIDDEN

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

You should install a well-sealed vapor barrier under your slab, While Code requirement is 6mil, 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 six inches and tape them securely. Most often we see 1/2″ rebar on a 16″ grid.

 

 

Subcontractors for Your Barndominium

Welcome – you are maybe here because you have followed my biggest money saving tip in building a new barndominium, you are acting as your own General Contractor. If you are not yet convinced, please take a brief pause to jump back to: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/does-my-barndominium-need-a-turn-key-general-contractor/.

There are those who have time and patience (or skills) to learn how to DIY everything. Most do not fit into this category and are going to need some skilled subcontractors to do more (or all) challenging tasks.

A subcontractor is an individual contractor or a contracting firm who contracts with a General Contractor (now you as an owner builder), to perform part or all of a specific barndominium building job. In construction industry jargon, subcontractors are also called subs.

With you in control as general contractor,  you will build your new home by subcontracting with others for specific jobs.

You will pay for your project by setting a predetermined contract amount with each subcontractor.

You will have no hourly wage employees working for you, meaning you will avoid mountains of governmental red tape and taxes concerning employees.

Your contractors and subcontractors are not considered to be employees.

Some subcontractors, or contractors, need to be licensed for their trade. Check with your local Building Department to confirm these requirements. For those needing to be licensed, be sure to ask to see a copy of their contractor’s registration and verify it!

Below is a list of barndominium contractors, subcontractors and professional people you probably will be contracting with, listed generally in order of need (along with links to relevant articles, where appropriate).

Real estate agent (for land search) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/a-place-for-a-post-frame-barndominium/

Real estate attorney (many states require them for property closing)

Loan officer at banks, credit unions, or mortgage lenders https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/06/things-to-complete-before-going-to-a-barndominium-lender/

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

Structural engineer (every Hansen Pole Building comes complete with fully engineered structural plans, so this aspect is covered for you)

Surveyor https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/pole-building-20/

Well driller (if no public water)

Grading and Excavation Contractor

Septic system installer

Soil Treatment Firm if in termite country https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/pre-construction-termite-treatment/

Your Hansen Pole Building kit (www.HansenPoleBuildings.com 1.866.200.9657)

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualBuilding Erector (Hansen Pole Buildings are designed for average physically capable persons who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings and many of our clients do DIY). Our buildings come with full 24” x 36” blueprints detailing location and attachment of every piece, a 500 page fully illustrated step-by-step installation manual, as well as unlimited technical support from people who have actually built buildings. For those without time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states. We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders

Concrete contractor to pour concrete slab or concrete floors, as well as drives, walks and approaches.

Electrician

Plumber

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning)

Insulation installer

Drywall contractor

Painter

Finish carpenter (Installs kitchen and other built-in cabinets and trim around doors and windows)

Flooring, carpet, and countertop contractor

Tile contractor

Cleaning crew contractor

Landscape contractor

Cross off from this list all tasks and trades you are willing and able to do yourself. You are now journeying a step closer to your barndominium General Contracting success!

Truss Spacing and Design

Truss Spacing and Design for Sheathed Post Frame Roofs

In most instances, there is not a structural or Code requirement for solid roof sheathing (plywood or OSB – Oriented Strand Board) to be placed below through screwed roof steel for post frame buildings. In some cases, clients look upon this as being an easier installation when doing a DIY build. For others, it is about providing a thermal break to eliminate underside of roof steel condensation. And a few look towards minimization of potential hail damage.

Reader CARROLL in PORTER writes:

“ Wanting to build Pole Barn that is about 35’x80’x12′ My question is, if I want to install 1/2″ decking plywood or OSB decking with underlayment and metal panels how far apart will I need the trusses to be center to center or what kind of truss design will I need? I guess it could be a 4/12 or 5/12 pitch if that helps any.”

Provided you have adequate available space, you may want to tweak your footprint dimensions in order to optimize your return for your investment. As steel comes in three foot widths and lumber in two foot lengths, your most cost effective dimensions of length and width will be multiples of six feet. In your instance, I would recommend 36 feet wide and 84 feet long.

With this said, I would place a single truss on each endwall and a two ply truss every 12 feet to align with your sidewall columns. Purlins can be placed on edge, using engineered steel joist hangers, between each set of trusses and spaced every two feet to support your sheathing. Whether plywood or OSB, panels are best installed running up roof from eave to ridge (perpendicular to purlins, parallel with truss spans). If not using synthetic underlayment, you should use 30# asphalt impregnated paper (roofing felt). With Hansen Pole Buildings, we purposefully design all trusses spanning 40 feet or less with a greater than minimum requirement top chord dead load – in order to accommodate those who want to install solid sheathing.

 

Where Future Barndominium Owners Come From

Where Future Barndominium Owners Come From


Mid-1650s, European rivals like England and France were busy dividing up a New World in North America.

France settled much of modern day Quebec in Canada, and England initially settled mid-Atlantic colonies.

English and French didn’t have much in common, and they were bitter rivals. But one thing they did agree on was their mutual hatred of Jewish people.

This was part of a long tradition in Europe. Jews had been expelled from England in 1290. France kicked out all its Jews on at least three occasions from 1192 to 1394.

Spain expelled its Jewish population the same year Columbus sailed West, and Portugal followed a few years later.

And still in 1650, Jews were banned from French and English colonies in North America.

Dutch colonial governor of “New Netherland”, also tried to turn away a group of Jewish refugees in 1654.

But West India Company, which essentially founded and ran New Netherland, intervened, and convinced him otherwise.

West India Company was not into “celebrating diversity.” It simply came down to economics. They wanted productive, talented people to settle their colony.

So West India Company gently reminded this Governor a large portion of their colony’s capital had come from Jewish investors.

A small tip of Manhatten settlement called New Amsterdam was especially tolerant. 

It even welcomed free black men, a sadly radical, forward-thinking idea back then.

This was a time in history when the Catholic Church was suppressing science and philosophy across Europe, claiming all free thought to be heresy.

Ottoman Empire, in modern day Turkey, did this same thing in the name of Islam, going so far as to ban printing presses.

This type of restriction screamed opportunity in New Amsterdam. And it’s estimated this settlement produced about half of all 17th century published books.

This included works from Galileo, who spent the last decade of his life in the mid-1600s under house arrest in Italy, convicted of heresy by the Catholic church for his scientific theories.

A remarkable number of wealthy people in the early days of New Amsterdam started from nothing. They were the original self-made men and women of America.

New Amsterdam was later renamed New York, but it kept its free-wheeling, entrepreneurial culture.

It was these values of freedom, tolerance, and a full embrace of capitalism made it the world’s wealthiest city.

Today, New York City has totally reversed course. Its city’s leadership openly attacks talented people and productive businesses, and its politicians have embraced Marxism.

Just think back to what happened last year with Amazon’s headquarters, which would have brought 25,000 high paying jobs, and half a billion dollars in yearly tax revenue to the city.

It wasn’t just Amazon either– New York has been losing residents for years.

And this was before Covid-19. Then NYC became one of the world’s worst places to be locked down.

No freedom, no movement, and ridiculous rents for a shoebox apartment you couldn’t even leave.

Now New York City says it will not allow large events until at least October. Of course, this ban won’t apply to protesters and rioters– another great reason to get out of NYC.

Many people are working from home now anyway. So any work-related reason for staying in New York City has evaporated.

According to New York Times data, the richest neighborhoods in New York City saw an exodus of about 40% of residents since the pandemic hit. 

(This is compared to lower and middle income neighborhoods, where fewer than 10% of residents have left.)

Overall about 5% of NYC’s population– over 400,000 people– have left since coronavirus lockdowns began– and most of those were high-income earners.

Manhattan housing vacancy is at a 14 year high, and new leases are down 62% from this time last year.

This is a major emerging trend. And not just for New York City.

Data from real estate website Redfin https://www.redfin.com/blog/april-may-2020-housing-migration-report/ does show New York City is number one destination people want out of right now. But San Francisco and Los Angeles aren’t far behind.

Redfin also reports record numbers of people searching for real estate outside of their current metro area. They’ve seen an 87% increase in people searching for homes in suburbs with a population smaller than 50,000.

Of course, a lot of these people are still on the fence. They are thinking and dreaming of escaping to a sunny state with no income tax, like Florida or Texas.

All it would take is a second wave of lockdowns to push them over the edge. 

Right now, it makes a lot of sense. Anyone who can work from home is highly mobile. And moving to a new state can bring huge savings– lower taxes, lower cost of living, etc.

Fitting right into this potential huge savings is an ability to have affordable luxury in a new, custom designed post frame barndominium or shouse.

For more information, please visit www.HansenPoleBuildings.com, navigate to the upper right corner and click on SEARCH. Input any term you want more information on (e.g. BARNDOMINIUM) and click ENTER. Up will come a plethora of relevant articles for your reading pleasure.

Steel Roofing Over Living Areas

 Steel Roofing Over Living Areas Requires Solid Decking?

Barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes have become a recent and trendy rage. Seemingly everyone wants one, at least as gauged by hundreds of weekly requests received by Hansen Pole Buildings would attest to.

Reader STEVEN in BOONE writes:

“I visited with the building inspector with your planning guide and asked if there were any metal roof over living area requirements. IE attach to purlins or deck required. I received an email response that states per IBC 2012 the living space requires a deck first. This seems to defeat the cost savings of using steel and purlins.  Is this correct and if so what materials would be used? Would it be regular roof sheathing? (OSB or plywood be it?) How do pole builders handle the height difference incurred by adding the sheathing. Does this required design change to make trusses closer together in the living area?”

Building inspectors have to deal with not only building codes themselves, but also literally hundreds of referenced titles mentioned within these codes. Thorough knowledge of the contents of this many documents proves to be an impossible task. Your inspector most probably deals with very few residential steel roofs.

From International Residential Code (“R” subsections) and International Building Code (IBC):

R905.10 or IBC 1507.4 Metal roof panels. “The installation of metal roof panels shall comply with the provisions of this section.’

R905.10.1 Deck Requirements. “Metal roof panel roof coverings shall be applied to solid or spaced sheathing, except where the roof covering is specifically designed to be applied to spaced supports.”

IBC 1507.4.1 Deck requirements. “Metal roof panel coverings shall be applied to a solid or closely fitted deck, except where the roof covering is specifically designed to be applied to spaced supports.”

Roof purlins qualify as spaced supports and through screwed steel roofing is designed specifically to be so applied under most wind and snow loads (an exception being hurricane areas of Florida, where a solid deck is required). Properly engineered to support extra dead loads being induced, one could install either plywood or OSB (Oriented Strand Board) sheathing between purlins and steel roofing, using 30# asphalt impregnated paper (felt) or a synthetic ice and water shield. Post frame builders deal with this extra roof thickness by adjusting building eave height downward by sheathing thickness adjusted for slope. Roof truss spacing would not need to be adjusted for sheathing, as purlins will be supporting any underlying sheathing, just as they support your roof steel.

Financing a Shouse, Drawings, and Roofing advice

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about financing a Shouse, a timeline for plans to build a large pole barn, advice for roofing with standing seam steel.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are in the process of selling our home and buying a piece of property to build on. We want to build a pole barn home that is 40×80, half shop, half 2 story home (shouse).

Because we don’t own the property yet, what is the best way to go about financing this project?? Where do you start? How do you find out what types of financing are available? Any advice would be appreciated. HEATHER in DEER PARK

DEAR HEATHER: Reach out to New Century Bank as they specialize in post frame financing nationwide https://www.newcenturybankna.com/lending/post-frame-building-leases-loans

Here are some 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

Work from inside out – do not try to fit what you need within a pre-ordained box just because someone said using a “standard” size might be cheaper. Differences in dimensions from “standard” are pennies per square foot, not dollars.

Use the 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/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How do I get drawings quickly for a large pole barn, post frame? JAMES in LITTLE SILVER

DEAR JAMES: Your quickest way will be to call 1(866)200-9657 and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer. As soon as you have settled on a building design and get your building order placed, we can get it into our Drafting Department. Depending upon complexity, backlog of work and how quickly you electronically approve documents, you may be able to have your engineer sealed plans and verifying calculations in hand in seven to 10 days.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am building my first pole barn. I plan to sheet the roof so i can do standing seem metal and spray foam the roof. I desire to have a thermal break on the top chord of the truss. I am considering laying R max before i sheet the roof. I have tried to find a foam tape or something I can just apply to the top edge of the truss, instead of using R Max to cover the entire structure. Any suggestions? I have set the Purlins between the trusses. STEVE in SOMERSET

DEAR STEVE: As standing seam roofing must be installed over minimum 5/8″ CDX plywood and 30# felt (or a synthetic underlayment) you will already have created a thermal break across your trusses as great as what is provided at your purlin locations.

 

 

 

Rock Letters

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug recently sent this message to company owner Eric and me:

“I’m getting the question regarding rock letters from Clients and builders in central and eastern Oregon. 

Have we, or do we ever send the building department a rock letter regarding buildings where optimum post hole depth is not achievable?”

When I was building, a Volkswagon sized rock was generally parked and could be found in any given project’s last hole to be dug.

With all other holes dug – moving the building to avoid a rock just never felt like a viable option. I hated digging holes to begin with as they always entail dealing with unknowns, what is lurking beneath the ground’s surface. RMS Titanic’s Captain Edward Smith must have had some of these same feelings about icebergs, you never know what is below the surface until you hit it.

I used to take a steel stake used for anchoring concrete forms and a sledge hammer to investigate job sites prior to digging. Once building hole locations were laid out, said stake could be driven in at each hole location to determine if there were challenges ahead which could not be seen on the surface. At least by doing this stake test, we could determine with some degree of accuracy where challenges might lay, and if we thought we were going to have one, negotiate with our new building owner about shifting building location to avoid isolated rock.

My first choice for a solution would be to dig said rock out. Even if it leaves a crater numerous feet across, a sonotube can be placed at this column location, properly backfill around and column can be placed in the sonotube. This excavation is probably going to involve some heavier equipment, like a backhoe.

Behind door number two – rent a jackhammer. Unless you have hit solid granite, most rocks can be broken apart by use of a jackhammer and physical exertion to operate it.

Or a third choice (and often most practical) rent a “ram hoe” (aka concrete breaker) attachment for a skid loader or backhoe. This Hydraulic Breaker makes quick work out of a tough job. With a smart and efficient design it provides a workhorse with only two moving parts. Vibration and shock are controlled by shock absorbing polymers, minimizing machine wear and sound while improving operator comfort level. One can easily smash through concrete, even on an incline, with hardest hitting breakers in their respective impact energy classes. It has only two moving parts, one grease fitting. Also features low recoil and minimal hydraulic pressure spike, as well as unique trapezoidal shock wave for greater breaking power.

Eric’s response to Doug was, “When they can’t achieve designed depths required as shown on plans they would need an engineered fix.  No simple letter resolves the fact they could not get down to depths shown on plans. If they don’t go to use of wet set brackets a fix can be a variety of solutions depending on the rock’s size and depth. Previously our engineers have had clients who hit bedrock epoxy rebar into hole bottom bedrock to connect to concrete column encasement. Shale or other easily chipped rock doesn’t work for this solution, so it really depends on individual situations. In each case our engineer of record has to review circumstances, arrive at a design solution and client will incur costs to do so. “

This last option is not one to undertake on your own without an engineer’s involvement. You don’t want this to become a weak link resulting in failure of your beautiful brand new building.

Lofty Barndominium Ambitions

Lofts and mezzanines (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/a-mezzanine-for-your-barndominium/) are popular inclusions in barndominiums. Even though my lovely bride and I have a mezzanine in our South Dakota shouse, they are not often truly practical from an accessibility or economics stance.

Reader Devin in Porun writes:

“I’m designing and building a 42’x50′ pole barn home with 10′ exterior walls. Viewing the plans from the front entry on the long wall, the left half of the interior will be framed rooms and the right half will be a large open kitchen/dining/living room space. I want to have an open loft over the half of the building that has interior framing. I want to be able to stand in the loft for at least 3-5′ each side of center, roughly 6′ of head space when finished. What style/type of trusses do you recommend and at what pitch? Would you use the same trusses all the way across the house, or use different ones for each half with the same exterior pitch? I like the high ceilings over the open portion, but would like to minimize the ceiling height to avoid heating and cooling unnecessary space.  Thank you for your time!”


In order to have your greatest possible resale value, you should have any lofted space designed so as to be considered as habitable space. International Residential Code (IRC) Section R304.1 Minimum area. “Habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet. R304.2 Minimum dimensions. “Habitable rooms shall be not less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimensions. R304.3 Height effect on room area. “Portions of a room with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 5 feet or a furred ceiling measuring less than 7 feet from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required habitable area for that room.” R305.1 Minimum height. “Habitable space, hallways and portions of basements containing these spaces shall have a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet.”

This space will also need to be serviced by stairs, causing you to lose roughly 50 square feet of floor space.

Now, on to trusses – most prefabricated wood truss manufacturers are limited to building and shipping trusses up to 12′ in height. Allowing for truss top chord thickness, on a 42 foot span your maximum roof slope will most often be roughly 6.25/12. You can order “bonus room” trusses for this lofted area, and should be able to get 7’2″ from top of truss bottom chord to bottom of ‘cross tie’ (allowing for thickness of 3/4″ OSB or plywood subflooring and drywall for ceiling to attain a seven foot finished ceiling) in center 10-11 feet, with a maximum room width of roughly 14 feet. These trusses will come along with a healthy cost premium due to larger members required to make this happen and extra shipping costs. In your open portion, you could utilize scissors trusses to reduce heating and cooling as much space, while still giving a spacious cathedral look.

When all is said and done, you might want to consider a more ‘standard’ and economical roof slope of say 4/12 – and add to your ground level footprint rather than trying to gain expensive space in a loft. Keep in mind, this loft space is going to be difficult to move large pieces of furniture (couches, beds, dressers, etc.) in and out of without damage to walls or items being moved and it will prove mobility challenging (or impossible) for a certain population percentage.

Barndominium High R-Value Overhead Doors Part II

Continuing the discussion of high R-values in overhead doors from yesterday’s Part I:

Are reported R-values even accurate?

There’s another potential problem with R-values reported by garage-door manufacturers: even if one accepts advertised R-values represent center-of-panel values rather than whole-door values, these numbers are still higher than most insulation experts believe are possible.

Several manufacturers report their polyurethane-insulated door panels have R-values between R-8.6 and R-9.0 per inch — values highly unlikely if not technically impossible, even for door panel centers.

“The R-value of polyurethane decreases with age,” said Yarbrough. “When it is absolutely fresh you might get R-7.5 per inch, but a realistic aged R-value would be lower — perhaps about R-6.5 per inch would be on the high end. I’m not sure I can explain these reported test results. I have seen labs make mistakes before. I think it’s an error.”

What about air leakage?

If garage-door manufacturers ever decide to report whole-door U-factors or whole-door R-values — an important piece of this door-rating puzzle will still be missing. Why? When it comes to thermal performance of garage doors, air leakage matters much more than R-value.

“Garage doors are so leaky that they are difficult to test,” Thoman said. “Their leaks exceed the capabilities of the available testing apparatus.”

When he needed to buy a garage door for his own house, Thoman ignored advertised R-values. “I find it almost offensive that garage-door manufacturers even publish the R-value of the insulation material,” Thoman told Holladay. “I hate it when I see that, because it’s not a representation of the door’s performance. Air leakage is a much more important issue than the R-value of the door.”

Bottom line

Although some garage-door manufacturers have measured whole-door U-factor and air-leakage characteristics of their doors, most won’t release their data. Until they do, purchasers of garage doors have to select their doors based on anecdotes.

Unfortunately, Sectional Garage Doors can’t be installed air tight, there needs to be room for door to slide up and down against door jambs.  These little spaces let cold air draft in and negate much insulating done in door construction.

Some drafts can be stopped with a vinyl weather seal around door and bottom seal, or astragal, can fill in spaces along door bottom depending on how level and even floor is.

Back to why your barndominium needs an insulated overhead door.

More insulation, of course. An uninsulated overhead door is barely a step above an open hole in your wall.

A stronger, more rigid door.  Both polystyrene sandwich doors and polyurethane doors are bonded to steel skin to make them stronger.  They hold up to better to moderate abuse. Be realistic, there is no door which will hold up to a vehicle bumper.

They are much quieter.  This bonding eliminates most rattling which comes with pan (uninsulated steel) doors or as they are referred to as ‘Beer Can Doors”.   

And, while you are at it, make sure your insulated overhead door is appropriately wind load rated: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/wind-load-rated-garage-doors/.

Barndominium High R-Value Overhead Doors Part I

Barndominium High R-value Overhead Doors
When my lovely bride and I had our post frame building shouse (shop house aka barndominium) constructed, energy efficiency was important for us. Then Hansen Pole Buildings was ordering our overhead doors through my friend David Vance, owner of Rainer Building Products in Western Washington. I approached David with our needs for doors and he recommended C.H.I. doors with an advertised R value of 17.19 for an 1-7/8” thick polyurethane insulated door.
Unfortunately, these advertised R-values are almost meaningless.

Advertised R-values are inaccurate, irrelevant — or both

To determine thermal performance of a garage door, you need to know two things:

A door’s leakiness, and entire door assembly R-value or U-factor.

R-values claimed by garage-door manufacturers are measured at door panel centers. Apparently no manufacturer reports R-value of their entire door panel (including panel edges, seams between panels, and door perimeter) in their promotional materials. Moreover, manufacturers’ reported R-values tell us nothing about air leakage.

Most garage-door manufacturers are reluctant to share actual laboratory reports showing results of R-value testing.

“For marketing purposes, the garage door people get a measurement on the center of panel,” said David Yarbrough, a research engineer and insulation expert at R&D Services in Cookeville, Tennessee. “The overall R-value of the entire door might be quite a bit less — in extreme cases, it may be half — of the R-value of the center of the panel. Not everyone approves of this kind of marketing. It’s been a hot debate in recent years.”

In fact, real percentages turn out to be much less than half.

Actual R-values are one-third the advertised values

Although it’s hard to obtain actual test results reporting whole-door U-factors of “tested installed doors,” Martin Holladay managed to obtain one report on a garage door from Clopay, and another on a garage door from Overhead Door.

Clopay provided test results for their model 3720 five-panel garage door. According to Mischel Schonberg, Clopay’s public relations manager, their door is insulated with two inches of polyurethane foam. Schonberg wrote, “This model is the commercial version of our residential model 9200 and has the same construction.”

While Clopay advertises their 9200 door is R-17.2 — presumably, a claim based on a center-of-panel measurement — actual test report for an installed door shows R-6.14.
While Overhead Door advertises their model 494/495 Thermacore door has an R-value of 17.5 — a claim, like competitors’ claims, is presumably based on a center-of-panel measurement — installed door test reports show a U-factor of 0.16, equivalent to R-6.25.

Based on these only two test reports Martin was able to track down, it seems logical to conclude R-value of a garage door is about one-third of R-value claimed in a manufacturer’s brochure.

All over the map

Mike Thoman, director of thermal testing and simulation at Architectural Testing Incorporated, a Pennsylvania laboratory, has tested many garage doors.

“The assembly R-values are not going to be nearly as good as the R-value of the material would indicate,” Thoman told Holladay. “When you compare the assembly R-value to the material R-value, the percentages are all over the map. The percentage is a function of how the joints in the panels are made, and whether any attempt was made to provide for thermal breaks at panel edges — a lot of different things. Some products have a lot of insulation in the panel but have everything else wrong. We’ve also seen doors that do everything right. There’s really a wide, wide range.”

Come back tomorrow for Part II in this discussion of R-values in overhead doors.

Connecting Structures, Help with Connections, and a New Home

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about connecting structures, connections for a DIY project, and help with information to build a new home.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the easiest way to connect 30x50x16 to 30x50x16? JACK in CARDWELL

DEAR JACK: Connected end-to-end will be easiest. Your overall “new building” will need to be evaluated by an engineer for structural integrity as a unit, unless a wall of adequate strength remains between these two sections. When you create a long, narrow, tall building wind shear loads can create some structural challenges.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have made a deposit to Steel Commander for a 40X100 residential structure. What would be the cost for you to supply me a full detail of all the connection points? We plan on assembling the building ourselves as I have a background in welding and fabricating and pretty confident we can successfully do this……………..your thoughts? DAVE in OXFORD

DEAR DAVE: In my humble opinion, any building supplier who is not providing complete step-by-step installation instructions, knowing they are selling to a DIYer, is doing a terrible disservice. My expertise is in post frame buildings, so I am afraid I won’t be much help.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My wife and I are in the market for a new home and we were considering a pole barn house but don’t know where to begin, Any information would be greatly appreciated, thanks. SHAWN

DEAR SHAWN: This article has numerous links in it and should prove helpful in getting you started on your exciting new journey! https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

 

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.