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Stilt Post Frame on Permafrost

I have written previously about post frame design involving concrete slabs on grade in areas of permafrost: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/post-frame-permafrost/. Today we will venture into a land where “stilts” are a design solution.

Permafrost is loosely defined as soil and/or rock remaining frozen for more than two years. Big trees do not guarantee an absence of permafrost; it might just mean permanently frozen ground or ice is down far enough so soils in those spots can support a larger root system. Only way to be certain of what ground contains is to have a soils test drilling done.

With permafrost, a safe bet is to it avoid it altogether and move to another piece of land. This is easier said than done, particularly because of a scarcity of affordable buildable land. If you decide to build on permafrost, be as strategic as possible. Smaller and simpler structures will tend to fare better than larger, more complicated ones.

Minimal site disturbance is an accepted practice. Trees and ground cover are your best friend. They protect and insulate ground from summer’s heat. A great example is green moss you find on many shaded low-level areas. Moss has a high insulating value, and in many cases if you dig down a couple of feet, ground might still be frozen in middle of summer.

Strategies for construction on permafrost include:

  • As a general rule, organic layer of ground cover provides insulation and should not be removed, as this will increase risks of thawing any frozen ground underneath.
  • Elevate and properly insulate bottom of your post frame building to prevent floor system heat losses from reaching ground underneath, leading to thawing.
  • Use a thick gravel pad significantly wider than post frame building itself (also insulated if possible) to stabilize the ground and spread building loads.
  • Embed columns to a depth able to both support the structure and resist frost jacking from seasonal ground movement.
  • Cut trees sparingly to maximize site shading (while permitting for a fire break).
  • Build a wrap-around porch, which will help shade the ground around and underneath your post frame building.
  • Incorporate large roof overhangs to shed water away from building and provide shade.
  • Install gutters and manage site drainage well away from building.
  • Retain a geotechnical engineer familiar with local soil’s conditions to assist in designing a foundation system adequate to safely support your post frame building on soils specific to your site.
  • Septic systems also must be engineered to function on permafrost, and remember conventional systems might risk thawing the ground.    

More information on permafrost is available at these websites:

If you have a question, contact the Cold Climate Housing Research Center at info@cchrc.org or 1(907)457-3454.

Solving a Massive Pole Building Grade Change

Solving Massive Post Frame Building Grade Change

Most everything about post frame building construction is predicated upon “your clear, level site”. But, what happens when (like most of our planet) there is not a flat level place to start with – instead there exists massive amounts of grade change?

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug ran into one of these situations recently and shot up a distress flare looking for some advice:

“Anybody have an opinion on what be the most cost effective or least painful
course of action for this soon to be-I hope-client?”

Here is information from Doug’s client:

“Attached are pictures of the dig to the right of my driveway cutting into
the hillside. On the left side in front of the Bobcat appears to be close to
finished grade. The cut at that point is nearly 7 feet tall. The soil type
is decomposed granite. With a few spots of stubborn rock.

My options at this point are to build a engineered retaining wall to hold
back the soil before building a pole barn on the flat spot, with drainage
coming from around the back to the front. The other option is to just do a
spread footing with a foundation wall. and then a curb wall of a 2 x 6 on
top of that.

The most creative thought would be to do both in the same wall. The wall
would be supported in and by itself, and the building would stand next to the
wall, supported on posts with loads at the post, and not on top of the wall.
Is that even possible?
Thanks
Bobby”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Well, luckily or unluckily, I have a similar situation on one of my own personal post frame buildings at Newman Lake, Washington. Here was what we came up with as a best solution: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/grade-change/. In this scenario, our post frame wall columns are mounted to ICFs on “cut” sides and traditionally embedded on flat or low sides.

Post frame construction is moving pedal to floor into residential markets where these types of scenarios are going to appear more and more.

I can see these types of scenarios being eventually added as options to Hansen Pole Buildings’ “Instant Pricing™” system where we could not only design and price but also provide blocks, connectors and needed rebar.

Just more moves in providing “The Ultimate Post-Frame Building Experience™”

Considering constructing on a less than ideal site? Call 1(866)200-9657 and discuss your situation with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer today.

Local Building Supply is Wrong Choice

With an advent of internet providers such as Amazon (www.amazon.com ) there has been more pressure to “buy local”. Sometimes buying local can be a blessing, but when it comes to a new post-frame (pole barn) building – even an attempt to buy local can prove to be an experience (and not a pleasant one).

Reader MAGNUS in HUDSON writes:

“I’m looking for a quote on a 36’x60’ pole barn. I’m pretty motivated to get this going – I’d like to start raising walls in mid-June. I’ve been trying to work with my local building supply (small town, stay local if possible) but they’re just letting me down on timing, and at this point I’m looking for solid alternatives. I’m pretty impressed with all the info on your site (in fact, I spent a bunch of time there over the past few months getting educated, and almost went with you without even checking with the locals.)

I’ve got cash in hand for this, so at this point it’s just trying to get plans in hand so I can get my permit and get some ground prep started. I’m leaving the country for about 2 weeks from the end of May to mid-June. My goal has been to get the earthwork done (some grading and fill + gravel pad) before I leave so I can begin erecting as soon as I get back. That’s feeling pretty tight now, though I thought I had plenty of time a month ago when I started with the locals.

I know I’ve forgotten a few important details as I put this drawing and notes together tonight. I’m available by phone most of the day Monday and Tuesday for any clarification questions. I’ll try to get the few items from your checklist that I don’t know filled in on Monday.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Your local building supply probably is staffed by very nice people. They probably know most people in town by first name. They are not post-frame (pole barn) experts. In fact, if they are above novice level you would be doing well!

There is a chance there is someone on their staff who can actually sort of do a material’s list for a pole barn. Keep in mind, there is not a “plan” they are working from, so no one is checking for adequacy of structural design. This list of pieces may, or may not, even be enough pieces to sort of put a building together. My experience is a list such as this will be inaccurate for quantities, will leave things out, add in a few unnecessary pieces and result in waste, confusion and a less than satisfactory end resultant.

Some local building supplies have gone as far as investing in computer software, supposedly capable of putting together a list of materials. I have yet to see one of these programs able to do an accurate list on anything beyond a basic box – and they cannot supply engineering. Again, it is nothing better than a guess list!

Even if your local building supply somehow had a relationship with an engineer, who could provide sealed plans for your new post frame building – they are not specialists. At Hansen Pole Buildings we have buying power to get post frame building specific products in massive quantities at wholesale prices. Some of these are items we have manufactured specifically for us, when we found commercially available products were lacking in quality or features.

Let’s say your local building supply was somehow able to provide engineer sealed plans specific to your building, do an accurate material takeoff, get product to your building site – they are not going to have detailed assembly instructions to guide you through to completion. Chances are no one there has ever constructed an engineered post frame building, so when you or your builder get stuck, or make an error, it is up to you to solve it!

If you, or anyone, believes there is another post frame building kit supplier offering a better value to their clients, let us know what they are doing Hansen Pole Buildings isn’t. Frankly, we do not believe it to be possible.

Ready for “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience”™? Dial 1 (866) 200-9657 and speak to a Building Designer today!

Post Frame Building Siding Choices

Your Planning Department May Dictate Your Post-Frame Siding Choices

Although most of us general population members are unawares, your local Planning Department has a great deal of power over what you can or cannot do with your own property. This goes right down to decisions on siding choices for your new post-frame building! (Read more on dealing with Planning Departments here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/).

Here is a case where a city had enacted a restrictive ordinance and how an architect went about getting further clarification.

Monday evening, May 13, 2019, the Warsaw (Indiana) Planning Commission spent almost an hour discussing what kind of architectural steel panels fit within the city’s ordinances. 

Senior Planner Justin Taylor presented a discussion on architectural panels and what city ordinances say about them under “development plan design standards.”

He said a question before the plan commission was in regard to architectural panels.

“Typically, pole barn siding isn’t permitted per this ordinance in these zoning ordinances (C-2,3,4,5), but a request has been made if they can use a certain type of siding. So at this time, our planning department doesn’t feel comfortable making a decision so it brought it before the board for its review, and that’s where we’re at.” Taylor said.

He said the Commission can approve or disapprove type of panel being requested to be used. If the Commission approved panels in this specific instance, Taylor said this decision could be applied to future city buildings. He said it wouldn’t necessarily change city’s ordinance language, but it would give city’s planning department more guidance in what is acceptable in the city.

Jim Malcolm, a Claypool architect, represents JLane in this matter. 

“What brought this whole thing about was when I asked (City Planner) Jeremy (Skinner), (the ordinance) says metal architectural panel is useable. When we go look at the various suppliers, everybody has an architectural panel … we’re asking for that (specific) one, but also in the long term consideration of some of the architectural panels that are out there,” Malcolm said. 

Dan Robinson, of Robinson Construction, who is trying to price costs for JLane’s building, said they’re trying to get clarity and what kind of paneling is and isn’t allowed by the city.

Malcolm, Robinson and the Commission then discussed different types of architectural panels, different qualities and what makes some paneling better than others.

In the end, the Commission acknowledged city’s planning department needed to revisit and reconsider the city’s ordinance regarding architectural panels.

It also approved a motion from James Emans, city engineer and Commission member, specifically regarding the JLane paneling.

His motion was “that the presented concealed-fastener insulated panel with an approximate 7.2 profile … steel fabric complies with the intent of the ordinance and is allowed.”

Thanks to Times Union staff writer David Sloane for information appearing within this article.

Building of the Barn, Head Room for OHD, and Solar Panel Support

Today’s Guru answers questions about building of the barn, minimum headroom for an overhead garage door, and support for solar panels.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello! We found your website for pole barns. We’re still thinking about which option we’d like to go with, but we’re wondering if you also have a team that will do the actual building of the pole barn. If so, how much does that cost? If not, do you ever recommend a certain group to build the pole barn?
COURTNEY in CHICAGO

DEAR COURTNEY: Thank you very much for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Buildings’ complete kit package. We are not erection contractors in any state, our buildings are designed for an average person who can and will read instructions to successfully construction their own custom designed post frame building.
In most areas, fair market value for assembly is about 50% of what materials costs are.
Due to liability issues, we never “recommend” any builders. We can give you guidance or offer assistance in finding a builder, should this not be a project you feel comfortable undertaking.
When searching for a builder, follow this: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/contractor-6/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Minimum headroom required for 14 foot tall OHD. MARK in LaOTTO

DEAR MARK: A 14 foot tall overhead sectional door requires a minimum of 15-3/4” headroom. Add four more inches for an opener. https://amarr.com/commercial/service_and_support/track_details

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are these (post frame buildings) strong enough to support solar panels? BRIEN

DEAR BRIEN: Provided you give us the weight per square foot of the panels in advance – most certainly! We can have your new post frame building engineered to support any amount of snow load, as well as any weight of solar panels, or other materials or systems you might want to either place upon, in, or hang from the roof system, and of course the building frame which supports it.

 

 

Self-Designed Pole Buildings

Spring, When a Young Man’s Heart Turns to Self-Designing Pole Buildings

For some obscure reason a plethora of otherwise intelligent people have an idea. This idea being they can structurally design a building to be adequate to resist applied climactic loads, without any actually engineering background. Given an under designed building can lead to failure, injury and even death of occupants and/or bystanders, one might think it would be best left to professionals.

Reader NORM in SILVERTON writes:

“I’m considering building an open pavilion style pole building, with outside (the posts) dimensions of 20’ x 16’ x no more than 9’ to 10’ high posts, secured to cement pad with Simpson CC66 caps.  There would be 3 posts on both the left and right sides, that would be 8’ from middle, of middle post, to outside edge of front and back post.  The alignment of 3 posts on each side, would be 20’ apart with 6/12 gable roof, supported with roof trusses (50 PSI Snow Load).  On each side, the roof overhang would be 3’, which I don’t think matters when considering my question.  The posts are more than sufficient size and strength for the gabled metal roof …..  I’ve been told.  

Question: What “wind gust” strength would I need to be concerned about from side to side, for the “sway” factor ?  Would that “wind strength” be less if directly behind this “pavilion”, was a slightly larger and taller building, AND directly behind that building, was standing forest with trees that were 60’ to 100’ tall ?  We obviously are NOT in tornado country like the Midwest and South.

Thank You.”

About Hansen BuildingsThank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. We should be able to take care of all of your needs with a third-party engineer sealed set of blueprints specifically for your building. Face it – this eliminates any guesswork, as anything you do without a Registered Design Professional involved is nothing but a W.A.G. (Wild Ass Guess), probably an errant one. Given height of your roof (it takes full brunt of wind coming from a side) it is unlikely a 6×6 column will work in bending (it is plenty strong enough to support downward forces from building weight and roof snow load acting alone).

Even without being an engineer I can tell you a proposed Simpson CB66 is totally inadequate. Frankly your ideal design solution is to embed your six columns into the ground and concrete them in to avoid uplift and overturning challenges. If you feel you must have columns above ground, then we can design using a proper wet set anchor capable of carrying imposed loads.

If your building is wind unprotected on even one side or end chances are it is Exposure C for wind design. You do not get credit for a building being protected on one side (or even two or three) by a larger taller building or a forest – only if it were to be entirely surrounded. (read more here about Wind Exposure: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/).

A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you to further discuss your proposed project, or dial 1 (866) 200-9657 and talk with one now!

Is an Exterior Sliding Barn Style Door Our Solution?

Today the Pole barn Guru answers a question about use of a sliding “barn style door” as an exterior door.

As long time readers of this column know, every once in a while I get thrown a question having little to do with post frame construction. However I get a euphus pitch thrown at me on occasion so I will take a swing even at them! (editor’s note: euphus pitch is a very slow pitch with alot of arc to it. Mike is a notorious baseball fan!)

Today reader JEFF in NORTH LAKE TAHOE writes wanting my opinion as to whether an exterior sliding barn door is a solution for their situation:

“Hello Mike,

I have attached two photos of my sons home in North Lake Tahoe for your review that show a problem whose solution I am hoping you can provide guidance for.

We are seeking to turn the attached entry covered patio into an enclosed and climate controlled mud room. 

We  plan to construct a platform at deck level where the top stairs are now, and extend the stairs further out from the house, and our issue is conflicting door swings if we add a hinged exterior door at the top of the stairs.   We would like to have an exterior sliding barn style door that is weatherproof and has latching and locking hardware at the top of the stairs.

My question to you is, is this doable, and how would you do it?

We are skilled carpenters, and don’t require a pre hung factory unit, just seeking some guidance on how best to accomplish this.

As we are not currently a pole barn prospect, we are happy to provide compensation for your guidance.

Many thanks.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Your generous offer is appreciated, however I believe in paying it forward. If my advice proves helpful to you or others, I would hope you would do something to help someone at a future time.

You have several options – none of them being a sliding barn style door. Even best sliding barn doors are not going to seal airtight, be able to be sufficiently insulated or latch and lock affordably. Air seal is truly nothing but a problem with barn style doors, as they have to have an air gap to safely slide past any adjacent siding. Easiest and least expensive solution is to use an all steel insulated entry door in a steel jamb with an out swing. Problem solved. Again – absolutely nothing about a sliding barn style door is going to give you a result you will be pleased with.

If you feel a sliding barn style door is essential to your look, in order to have adequate height you would need to tear out existing covered patio floor and replace it with a floor at a much lower height. This may defeat your purpose, as it would then require several steps to be added inside your new mud room.

I hope this helps…please let me know what you come up with and send finished photos. I do love good answers that are functional, pleasing to the eye and budget.

I am Designing a Pole Barn

I Am Designing a Pole Barn….

These words strike fear in my heart.

Reader ELISEO in FLOWERY BRANCH writes:

“ I’m designing a Pole Barn to be 30’W x 40’L x 12’H. I’m asking for 6 trusses to be placed 8’ on center with a 4:12 pitch. I’m gonna tie them together with 2×4 on edge 24” OC. My question to you is since I’ve been reading through some books and I haven’t had a definite answer. I’ve gotten companies quote a minimum of 11 Trusses and one company actually quoted me 6 trusses like I had originally planned. Do you believe that down here in GA 8’ OC trusses will be up to Code? They will be held on 6x6x12 PT also 8’ OC.”

Elisio’s first challenge is he is attempting to structurally design his own post frame building. Maybe you have seen car commercials on tv, where a vehicle is driven at high speeds on winding roads? Ever notice a disclaimer of, “Driver is a trained professional on a closed course”? It is because you and a vehicle MIGHT be able to perform together just like on tv, however chances are fair you will possibly be injured or even die should you attempt.

This very same adage holds true with those punting at their own building design….engage a trained professional. Or even better, a complete post frame building package structurally designed by a trained professional. And when I talk about “trained professional” in this context, I mean plans sealed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – architect or engineer) specifically for your building on your property.

Now Elisio’s asking for six trusses to be placed eight foot on center is only partially correct – it would give him a conservative design for his end trusses as they only support four feet from endwall to next truss (plus any end overhang). He might end up having spent more money than necessary. His idea of using 2×4 on edge for roof purlins may or may not work, depending upon grade and species of material. Beyond what type of 2×4 is proposed, will be its ability to withstand wind loads, as wind loads will dictate in Georgia. This, and how to properly connect purlins to trusses, is just a portion of what a RDP will be examining and verifying for adequacy.

Will trusses spaced every eight feet be up to Code in Georgia (or anywhere else)? Read here to find out: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/.

Please do not put yourself or your loved ones at risk, call 1(866)200-9657 and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings Designer who can assist you in having a properly designed post frame (pole barn) building!

Can a Building Official Deny Approval of a Professional Engineer’s Work?

Does a Building Official have the capacity to deny the work of a Professional Engineer?

Excerpted from SBC Magazine April 2, 2019

The short answer is no, not according to the law. Why? Simply put, building officials are not granted legal authority over professional engineers. Rather, they only have authority with respect to enforcing specific provisions of the building code adopted into law in their jurisdiction. An analogy would be that a police officer does not have legal authority over a properly licensed attorney or district attorney.

The board of professional engineers is the only regulatory authority having jurisdiction over engineering. So what does this mean in practical terms? A properly licensed professional engineer is allowed to practice engineering, without discrimination, restraint or limitation. By engineering law, this needs to be in their area of expertise. The same process and concepts are true for licensed professional architects.

If any building official believes an engineer is violating engineering law, they need to follow the proper state law complaint process through the licensing board that governs engineering.

Consequently, the building officials the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA) has discussed approval of professional engineering work with, provide the following approval counsel:

  1. They first verify that the professional engineer is licensed to practice in a given jurisdiction by going to the state board’s website to see if the engineer in question has a valid and current license. An example validation site can be found here.
  2. If the professional engineer is licensed in the state and has signed and sealed their engineering work, they are defined by law to be an approved source, which is a term specifically defined in the building code as “an independent person, firm or corporation, approved by the building official, who is competent and experienced in the application of engineering principles to materials, methods or systems analyses.”
  3. They approve the professional engineering work by filing for the record a signed and sealed engineering analysis, research report, design drawing or construction document.

The only caveat to this is if, during the review of the documents provided by the engineer, a code compliance error is made. That error then needs to be brought to the attention of the engineer, along with the code section violated, so that the engineer can correct the error. 

Pole Barn Guru’s summary – if you are an unregistered individual (not a RDP – Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) and submit a set of plans to a Building Official, they can do virtually anything they want to your plans. Involving a RDP in your process will only make your life easier, insures structural adequacy and (in many cases) saves both time and money.

Pre-Drilling, Housewrap, and Concrete Footings

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about pre-drilling steel panels, the proper use of house-wrap and weather resistant barriers, as well as concern for the effectiveness or fresh concretes ability to withstand compression.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What size hole should I predrill in panels for the #12 diaphragm screws? Thanks! JOSEPH in KIOWA

DEAR JOSEPH: From Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual, Chapter 2:

 

“For pre-boring nail holes, 7/64” and 1/8” bits are required. Same size bit can be used for pre-drilling steel roofing and siding.”

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Having read all of the info relating to insulating and am still confused. Main question is my entire 40×48 was wrapped in Tyvek including the roof. Now am trying to figure out if and how I can install a vapor barrier for the roof? Am planning to put in a ceiling with blown insulation above it and would like some options for the vapor barrier. Not sure if the roof Tyvek is a help or a hindrance. KEVIN in MALAD CITY

DEAR KEVIN: I’d like to find builders who are using Weather Resistant Barriers (WRB) under roof steel on post frame buildings, thinking they are installing a vapor barrier, and slap them silly. They have totally wasted their client’s hard earned money and, as in your case, have created a hindrance. Your only real solution is to remove Tyvek from under roof steel and replace it with an actual vapor barrier (one with a thermal break). You might see if a local spray foam installer would be willing to flash spray two inches of closed cell foam on underside of your building’s WRB.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My contractor poured concrete in each hole for a 30’ x 32’ pole shed and about 4 hours later started setting poles and put the entire frame up yet that same day. Can the concrete actually cure that fast or should I be concerned? PAUL in MITCHELL

DEAR PAUL: I am guessing you are talking about concrete poured for a footing pad under the columns.

Concrete gains its strength with time after casting. The rate of gain of concrete compression strength in higher during the first 28 days of casting and then it slows down. The compression strength gained by concrete after 24 hours is only 16%!

For practical purposes, a four hour old concrete footing is virtually worthless. Yes, you should be concerned.

 

How to Re-level a Garage

Auntie Em, Auntie Em My Garage Has Lifted 

Well, it wasn’t from a twister and this article has nothing actually to do with Auntie Em or actress Clara Blandick who played Auntie Em in 1939’s film classic The Wizard of Oz. For trivia buffs, Blandick also played a part in 1937’s original A Star Is Born.

Reader GEORGE in LAGRANGE might be wishing a twister had hit his garage, so insurance would pay for a replacement. George writes:

“Due to the freezing and thawing cycle my pole garage has lifted about 7 inches since it was built 12 years ago. You can now see the outside grass from inside the garage. And it has not lifted evenly so the garage is unlevel.”

George’s post frame garage has some challenges, none of them ones with an easy fix. How did his garage get this way? There are three possible major contributors to this garage’s current situation. These would include:

Inadequate site preparation

At a minimum, site preparation includes:
· Remove all sod and vegetation.
· For ideal site preparation, remove topsoil and stockpile for later use in finish grading. In frost prone areas, remove any clays or silty soil
from within future building “footprint”.
· Replace subsoil removed from around building with granulated fill to help drain subsurface water from building.
· Distribute all fill, large debris free (no pit run), uniformly around site in layers no deeper than six inches.
· Compact each layer to a minimum 90% of a Modified Proctor Density before next layer is added. Usually, adequate compaction takes more than driving over fill with a dump truck, or
earth moving equipment.

For more details on proper site preparation please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/

Column Depth

Bottom of column encasement needs to be below frost line. This is a no-brainer.

Water

Read more about what causes frost heaving here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

There is going to be no easy or inexpensive fix to George’s situation. An investment into a geotechnical engineer who could provide a thorough site evaluation along with solutions might be money well spent.


Building could be brought back to level by excavating at each raised column to well below frost depth. Cut off columns at base of splash plank (while supporting building from falling), then remove embedded portion of column. Place an appropriately sized sonotube in excavation with top of tube at grade. Pour premix concrete into tube and place a wet set Sturdi Wall bracket – expertly placed to receive upper portion of column. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/11/sonotube/

If all of this sounds daunting (it would be to me), a consideration could be demolition and start over from scratch.

Ignorance is Bliss and Sometimes Architects are Happy

Ignorance is Bliss and Sometimes Architects are Happy

Portions of this article (in italics) are from “County explores options for new Highway building” April 29, 2019 by Nathan Bowe at www.dl-online.com

A city plow truck goes by the main shop building at the Becker County Highway Department complex in Detroit Lakes. www.dl-online.com File photo

Dear Architect friends ~ I didn’t learn much in architecture school, however one nugget was, “It is all about presentation”. Before you need to give a presentation including a possible post frame building, please discuss it with me, or at least read a few of my pertaining articles. I want you to come across as being as knowledgeable as possible.

“Hoping to save money on a new Becker County Highway Department facility, made of precast concrete and estimated to cost about $8 million, commissioners are exploring other types of buildings.

They are considering options including precast concrete, steel, and pole barn, and will tour facilities in the area made of those materials.

The firm working on the project, Oertel Architects of St. Paul, said in a report that any type of material could essentially be made to work, but a pole barn-type building would have to include steel in places to support a 5-ton crane in the maintenance area, for example.”

Post frame (pole barn) buildings can easily be designed to support a 5-ton crane: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/overhead-crane/

“A less-expensive pole barn building also comes with a much shorter projected lifespan, and generally brings more problems with leaks and maintenance, unless a better grade of roof is used.”

Post frame buildings are permanent structures easily capable of generations of useful lifespan. Properly installed steel roofing will last decades without leaks or needs for maintenance.

“A pole barn is considered an agricultural type building in the industry, and is also referred to as timber frame. This is essentially like building a structure like an old-fashioned barn, with large timber columns and frames. It is typically made without a perimeter foundation. The wood frame structure is typically covered with a metal skin and the low-gable roof type is typically of metal. Its lifespan is projected at 15-30 years, depending on maintenance and other factors.”

Post frame and timber frame buildings are totally different animals. Post frame buildings have been used commercially longer than I have been in this industry (nearly 40 years). Very few buildings provided by Hansen Pole Buildings would be termed as being purely agricultural – nearly all are residential or commercial.  Isolated columns embedded below frost depth preclude needs for expensive and inefficient continuous concrete foundations. (Check out foundation costs here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/). Most typically post frame buildings have 4/12 roof slopes (rather than “low” as in all steel buildings).

Amazingly, it appears my now 15 year-old million-dollar post frame home is due to expire any time now (like Windows 7)! In reality a properly engineer designed and constructed post frame building will outlive any of us who are reading this article.

“One way to meet the highway department needs and still meet code using pole barn construction would be to build three or four separate buildings, or build one building at different heights for vehicle maintenance, vehicle washing/storage, and office space, Oertel reported.”

Post frame buildings can be easily designed with a multitude of different wall/ceiling heights.

“Pole barns tend to be less energy efficient over time.”

As post frame buildings use exact same insulations as other similar construction types, if this is true it would be applicable across all construction spectrums. Post frame lends itself well to creation of deep insulation cavities and is far easier to insulate than all steel or precast concrete.

“Structural steel works better in a public works facility, with more salt and moisture in the air than usual, since these are made of heavy steel, just like a steel bridge. It is the less substantive metal materials that are a concern. A pole barn uses thin steel gusset plates and there is not much material to last over time if corrosion is present. Metal panels commonly used in pole barn buildings are also easily marred or dented by heavy duty operations.”

In highly corrosive atmospheres, steel can be isolated from corrosion (as in galvanized steel “gusset plates” used to connect roof truss members). Any type of siding – or even precast concrete or masonry, can be damaged by careless operations. Use of strategically placed bollards (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/lifesaving-bollard/) can eliminate possibilities of significant damages.

“However it’s constructed, the new public works building will need the same mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, floor loading, earthwork and mechanical systems, Oertel said. Costs can vary, but all of that might add up to perhaps 60 percent of construction costs, with the actual building structural shell 20 to 25 percent of the total project cost. So cost savings from a cheaper type of building might not be all that commissioners might hope for, compared to the long-term drawbacks.

“More could be said about the differences between pole barn construction and a more heavy duty construction using precast concrete,” the report sums up. “It mostly comes down to a lower front-end cost with a pole barn, at the sacrifice of longevity…””

Post frame construction is going to provide a greater value, without being “cheap”. Post frame buildings will have a usable lifespan as great as any other permanent building.

And – have you ever tried to remodel a precast concrete building?

Sturdi-Wall Plus Concrete Brackets

Sturdi-Wall Plus Concrete Brackets

Long time readers will recall a previous article regarding Sturdi-Wall Plus concrete brackets:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/concrete-brackets-2/

Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets are a heavy-duty engineered anchoring system for attaching wood columns to concrete foundations and are generally used in post-frame buildings but have other applications as well. These brackets are made with ¼ “steel plate A706 rebar in either # 4 or # 5 size, depending on model.  Each bracket is precisely welded to meet engineering specifications and given a professional look with a baked polyester powder coat finish. Some brackets are available in a Hot Dipped Galvanized model for use in more corrosive environments.

Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets are used in a wet set concrete application and provide highest strength bracket to foundation connection when concrete is fully cured. SWP brackets require less concrete coverage than Sturdi-Wall brackets, allowing them to work well in pier foundations, post repair, and renovations. #4 rebar is used in all Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets, except SWP 8 Series where #5 rebar is used. Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets are available in Standard, OT and GL models.

Standard Models – Accommodate dimensional lumber and laminated columns, typically nailed together with no additional machining.

OT Models – Accommodate some planed laminated wood columns usually mechanically fastened and glued together.

GL Models – Accommodate most planed and glue laminated wood columns (glulams).

In March I attended NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) 2019 Expo where I met with PermaColumn’s team and recorded this live video for you:

Ready for your new post-frame building, but don’t want to place columns into ground? Sturdi-Column Plus brackets may be just your solution. Call and discuss with your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer today at 1 (866) 200-9657.

Fluropon Roofing Coating

Fluropon® Roofing Coating 

I have extolled virtues of Kynar® (PVDF) paint for post frame buildings previously: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/kynar/. Fluropon® is a trade name for Valspar’s PVDF factory applied steel roofing coating (paint) system. Sherwin-Williams acquired Valspar  in 2017.

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

Looking for a best solution to keep your new post-frame building looking new for years? Look to PVDF.

Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can assist you in making good decisions for paint finish on your new building. Call today 1 (866) 200-9657.

Alternative Siding, Building on Slab, and Ceiling Liner Loading

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about alternative siding and roofing, whether one can build on an existing slab, and if a ceiling liner can hold insulation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you build me a steel wall inside and vinyl siding on the outside with asphalt shingles? PAUL in BLUE GRASS

DEAR PAUL: A beauty of post-frame construction is we can design for virtually any combination of roofing and siding materials you may desire. While I am not a huge fan of steel liner panels, yes – your building can have them along with your vinyl siding. Steel liner panels end up posing challenges with trying to attach things to them, like work benches, cabinets, shelves, etc. Gypsum wallboard (sheet rock) is generally far more affordable as well as easier to make attachments to. And, if 5/8” Type X is used, affords some fire protection.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can Hansen build the barn on top of an existing slab? CLYDE in BELLVILLE

DEAR CLYDE: Yes, we can design a complete post frame building kit package to be attached to your existing concrete slab. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/dry-set-column-anchors/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My trusses are 8 feet on center will the metal ceiling liner span that 8 feet without sagging if I blow in fiberglass insulation? RODNEY in LAKE ELMO

DEAR RODNEY: No, steel liner panels will sag across an eight foot span. If your building’s roof trusses are not designed to support weight of a ceiling load, then they will sag as well – and, in combination with a snow load, may fail.

 

 

 

PEX-AL-PEX Tubing for Post Frame Concrete Slabs

PEX-AL-PEX Tubing For Post Frame Concrete Slabs

Long time readers will recall my prior article on PEX tubing for post frame concrete slabs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/.

I caught up with my friend Les Graham of Radiant Outfitters at the recent NFBA (National Frame Building Association) Expo in Louisville, who I volunteered to do a nice video in regards to better floor tubing and better floor heat.



Besides providing your complete post frame building kit package, Hansen Pole Buildings can also provide a complete kit package for your radiant floor with everything you will need to get your system into a concrete slab on grade (including layout drawings and instructions).  Talk to your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at (866)200-9657.

When a Contractor Ignores Building Plans

I realize this may come as a surprise, but there are more than a few times I have discovered building contractors have made errors in building assembly due to failure to examine the provided building plans.

Shocking.

Our client STEVE in HINES writes:

“Good morning, my building is framed, sided and roofed. However, yesterday we discovered that the sidewalls girts should have been 2x 8’s but 2×6’s were used instead (same as the endwalls). I know this is my problem to fix, but before I tell the contractor, I’d like to know if you have ever heard of this happening and if so, what they had to do to fix the problem. As it stands, it definitely does not meet wind code anymore. I’m not asking for a fix, but only some direction as where to start pursuing one. Could very well become a messy job!

Thanks.”

Well, to begin with, I was a post frame building contractor in a past life. At times we had as many as 35 crews erecting buildings in six states. Most of these crews were very, very good. Some of them were not quite as good. Overall this mix did give me an interesting perspective – if something could be done wrong, one of my crews figured out how to do it. Along with this, chances are I have had to come up with a fix for these unexpected challenges.

In Steve’s case, actual reasoning for 2×8 sidewall girts was so his building could have a flush interior surface to drywall – known as commercial girts. (Learn about commercial wall girts here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/)

Our curiosity question was – what did the builder do with the 2×8 material supplied for girts? It turns out client had a pile of 2×8 left over when the pole building was completed. They ran short of 2×6, so building owner just assumed someone had stolen them and more were purchased!

Anyhow – there are several possible fixes. 2x4x12′ could be ripped and nailed along length of  2×6 installed where 2×8 should have been, or 2×4 could be placed vertically (3-1/2″ face against girt inside face) every two feet’ to provide a surface to attach drywall. Whichever choice is decided upon, a revision should be done to plans and sealed by Engineer of Record to verify adequacy.

R Panel Gable Vents

R Panel Gable Vents

“R” steel roofing and siding panels are typically used on all steel buildings where larger spans occur between wall girts and roof purlins. With a three foot width net coverage, these panels have a 1-1/4 inch tall high rib every 12 inches with two low stiffener ribs between. R panels do not have a full underlapping (or purlin bearing) underlap. This lack of a purlin bearing underlap makes this product both less expensive (as it can be roll formed out of a narrower steel coil) and more difficult to install. Without careful placement at laps, panels tend to “walk” with one or both panel ends covering more or less than the necessary three feet.

Very few all steel buildings make provisions for ventilation. Rarely do they include sidewall eave overhangs, leaving no place for an eave air intake through a vented soffit.

So, how to vent?

Reader STEVE in PHOENIX writes: “Mike,
Hello. I’ve been researching venting options for an existing clearspan type red steel metal building and was directed to your snap in style gable vents for ribbed metal panels.  My building is covered with R panel metal siding…..the high ribs are 12″ on center (pic attached). I’ve been working with Justine on selection and pricing of your gable vents.  Will your vent panels work with this siding and if not, do you have a venting solution for this building? Thanks.”

My reply:

R panels typically have 1-1/4″ high ribs. I do not believe the snap ring vents will work with ribs higher than 3/4″ (Justine can confirm). If not, then you could use a standard gable vent with a J Channel surround. Just like snap ring applications, cut the hole in siding for the vent (make it 1/4″ taller and wider than the vent you will push through the hole). Cut J Channels to fit the vent, with interlocking and overlapping corners (just like a non-integrated J Channel window). Insert individual pieces of J Channel into the hole, joining corners as you go. Slide vent into J Channel “picture frame” using lots of caulking between vent and J Channel and at each of the J Channel corners.


Snap ring vinyl gable vents (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/07/vinyl-gable-vents-for-pole-barns/) make installation a breeze and can quickly be installed in post frame buildings with steel siding with ribs no higher than ¾” . When designing your new post frame building discuss ventilation with your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at (866)200-9657.

IBC Requirements for Building Wrap

IBC Requirements for Building Wrap

When using a building wrap as a weather-resistant barrier (WRB), it must meet 2018 International Building Codes (IBC 1402.2) requirements of a WRB for water-resistance and vapor permeability.

A superior building wrap is air- and moisture-resistant, permeable, and has a high UV-resistance and tear strength. It should also be simple and quick to install, to limit damage during application. Using a high-quality building wrap compliant with IBC 1402.2  code creates a structure with a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope. A weather-resistant exterior wall envelope ensures a building is energy-efficient and healthy.

2018 International Building Codes (IBC) mandate buildings meet minimum requirements for exterior walls. IBC Chapter 14  IBC provides these minimum requirements, including wall coverings, exterior doors and windows, exterior wall openings, and architectural trim. Specifically, section 1402.2 states exterior walls must provide a building with a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope. Exterior wall design and construction must include a water-resistant barrier behind exterior veneer preventing accumulation of moisture within wall assemblies. Exterior walls must also include a way for water/condensation entering a wall assembly to drain/evaporate.

IBC specifies a few cases where a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope is not required.

  1. Code does not require a weather resistant wall envelope over concrete or masonry walls designed in accordance with IBC chapters 19 and 21.
  2. Code does not require a weather resistant wall envelope for exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) in compliance with IBC 1407.4.1.
    • IBC 1407.4.1 states for EIFS with drainage, water-resistive barrier must comply with IBC Section 1403.2 or ASTM E2570. IBC 1403.2 states attachment of no fewer than one layer of No. 15 asphalt to studs or sheathing, with flashing, must provide a continuous water-resistive barrier behind exterior wall.
  1. Exterior wall envelopes resisting wind-driven rain, including openings, joints, and intersections with a dissimilar material in accordance with ASTM E331 are not required to have a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope.

BENEFITS OF BUILDING WRAP

Applying a high-quality building wrap, like Barricade® Building Wrap, over sheathing, and behind siding, meets or exceeds IBC 1402.2 requirements for weather-resistant barriers. A properly installed building wrap creates a protective envelope against air infiltration and moisture into wall systems. A buildup of moisture within a building’s walls is problematic because moisture can lead to wood rot (caused by fungi) and expensive repairs. High moisture can also cause mold, unhealthy for structure occupants. Uncontrolled air infiltration lowers effective wall system R-value and lessens energy-efficiency and air quality of a building. To reduce air infiltration and stop accumulation of moisture within wall systems, along with meeting requirements of IBC 1402.2, design of a high-performing exterior wall must include a weather-resistive barrier, like building wrap.

Eave Height, Gambrel Size, and To Tie New to Old Building

Today the Pole Barn Guru discusses eave height, the size of a gambrel building and advice how to tie new building to existing structure.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: When you refer to height are you measuring to the peak or sidewall? This pole barn will be used as an indoor (uninsulated) riding arena with some hay storage above. JIM in ADA

DEAR JIM: At least in our case eave height measure refers to sidewalls (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/eave-height-2/).

Your expectation of being able to store hay above a riding arena is probably unrealistic, both from a standpoint of logistics and investment. Hay is very heavy and in order to carry this imposed extra weight you will multiply roof truss costs significantly. I would recommend finding a place for hay storage on ground level.

Gambrel roof pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you do a 48×48 gambrel style pole, 18-20 ft high? PAMELA in CASPER

DEAR PAMELA: Since my very own home is a 48 foot width post-frame gambrel building with 20 foot high sidewalls I would have to say yes. For practical purposes, we can provide virtually any low-rise building (up to three stories and 40 foot high walls). Your only limitations will be imagination, budget and available space.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I want to add to my metal building but the addition would require 2 valleys. How do you tie the new roof to the old on a post frame trussed roof. I have done many on a stick building. I have not been able to find any photos or steel parts for this. KURTIS in ROCKFORD

DEAR KURTIS: Your first stop (or call) should be to RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who provided your building’s original design. Structural changes to buildings should always be done under careful guidance of a RDP, especially when it comes to more complex roof designs where accumulations of snow could result in potential failure situations.

Most often a design solution involves removal of any overhangs where attachment will occur. A truss is then added to current sidewall face to support new addition roofline, as well as purlins on edge to create a frame over onto existing roof framing (of course roof steel on this portion of existing building needs to be removed prior to framing). Flatwise 2x framing needs to be added between existing roof purlins – we’ve normally found 2×12 centered upon newly created valley line to work well. This provides both a “landing point” for new purlins as well as backing for steel valley flashing.

 

Post Frame Building Frame Flood Vents

Where post frame buildings are constructed in a flood plane, two choices exist to deal with flood conditions. Personally I would opt for bringing in fill to raise building above flood level. For those willing to deal with consequences of flood waters going through their building, an option is to provide flood vents.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), requires at least two flood venting openings for finished or enclosed space (e.g. basements or garages) or for crawl spaces. Vent opening required is a net area of at least one inch per square foot of enclosed space. Flood ventilation openings must be on different sides of the enclosed space.

Each individual enclosed area requires openings on its exterior walls so flood water can enter or exit directly to and from the enclosed space. Bottom of flood vent openings cannot be higher than one foot above grade where vents are installed. Windows, doors, and garage doors are not considered openings for flood venting purposes.

ASCE 24 provides two methods for flood venting, non-engineered openings and engineered openings. The first method is as follows:

Section 2.6.1.1 “Non-Engineered Openings in Enclosures Below the Design Flood Elevation”
Non-engineered openings shall meet the following criteria:
1. There shall be a minimum of two openings on different sides of each enclosed area; if a building has more than one enclosed area below the design flood elevation, each area shall have openings on exterior walls.
2. The total net area of all openings shall be at least 1 square inch for each square foot of enclosed area.
3. The bottom of each opening shall be 1 foot or less above the adjacent ground level.
4. Openings shall be at least 3 inches in diameter.
5. Any louvers, screens or other opening covers shall allow the automatic flow of floodwaters into and out of the enclosed area.
6. Openings installed in doors and windows, that meet requirements 2.1 through 2.5, are acceptable; however, doors and windows without installed openings do not meet the requirements of this standard.

While several companies produce or have produced flood venting products Smart VENT is most-often installed for structural protection in flood-prone areas.

Smart VENT’s Flood Vent Model# 1540-520 (https://smartvent.com/products/view/1540-510) is certified to provide insulated flood protection only. This model is used for a garage or conditioned space, where flood protection is required but ventilation is NOT desired. This flood door is constructed of solid stainless steel wrapped around an insulating foam core.

Smart Vent 1540-510

Smart VENT Flood Vent General Description
Smart VENT doors are latched closed until flood water enters. Smart VENT does not rely on louvers to let flood water in and out. Regardless of louvers’ position, opened or closed, when flood water flows into door, patented internal floats unlatch, releasing door to rotate open to relieve hydrostatic pressure. Louvers and pest screen are rotated out of flood water path. This allows flood water to automatically enter and exit through frame opening, relieving pressure from your post frame building walls.

We recommend our flood zone clients flood-proof their post frame buildings with Smart Vent family of products, they will dramatically reduce the chance of structural damage during a flood with its automatic, bi-directional vent relieving hydrostatic pressure on walls during rising or falling floodwaters.

My Pole Barn Cabin Part III

For daily readers of my blog, you will remember Hansen Buildings’ Senior Building Designer,  Rick Carr was a guest blogger March 21 and 22nd. He led us through his thought process in planning for his new pole barn cabin.

Here is Part III in Rick’s pole barn cabin plans:

I have made some design changes after talking with the Building Inspector and for other reasons.

After talking to the Building inspector to confirm the Design Criteria for my location and consulting with Eric, co-owner of Hansen Buildings, several changes to the design criteria needed to be made.  First I needed to increase the wind speed to 116; the wind exposure to “C”; the frost depth to 48”; change the Thermal Factor to 1 and check the box for a Conditioned Building.  An additional entry door will also be needed for egress of a residential building.

Next, I looked at the sizing of the columns and the bookshelf style wall girts.  “IP”, Hansen Buildings proprietary Instant Pricing program, indicated that the columns will be 3 ply 2×8 glu-laminated columns and that 2×10’s would be used for the sidewalls and 2×8’s for the endwalls.  This is both good and bad.  The good is that the 2×10’s will provide a 9.5” cavity to allow for great insulation and the bad is that the increased wall thickness encroaches on the inside space.  The additional door also takes up some wall space.  I have heard Mike, Judy and Eric say many times that when you get a building, you are buying the four corners and then you should place them as far apart as your space and budget will allow.  For these reasons, I added two feet to both the width and the length to 30×42 feet.

The 42 foot length also makes sense with the internal floor plan that I have planned.  I plan to have one bay on the end of the building be a 12 foot bay and that the bedrooms will be in that bay.  I intend to run a ceiling joist between the trusses in the first 12 foot bay creating an antic space over that bay, which will need ridge vent and blown in insulation over the ceiling.  At forty feet and one 12 foot bay, the result would have been two 10 foot bays and one 8 foot bay.  Adding the two feet to the length makes for one 12 foot bay and three 10 foot bays. Same number of posts and trusses.  I want the remaining three bays to be a vaulted ceiling so the trusses over these three bays need to be designed for the drywall ceiling to be run on the underside of the roof purlins.  The trusses will be exposed to the inside main room.  I intend to have closed cell spray foam insulation sprayed on the underside of the roof steel.  IP indicates that the roof purlins will be 2×10’s and 2×8’s, which will allow for great insulation r values.

I intend to extend the interior wall between the main room and the bedrooms up the side of the truss to separate the unheated attic space from the vaulted ceiling area.  This internal wall will need to be insulated as if it were an outside wall.  The interior wall on the other end of the building will also extend up the inside of the endwall truss.  These higher walls will make for great places for the three 10 – 12 point deer mounts that are currently hanging in my garage.

Thanks, Mike for your sound advice as I worked through the planning of my pole barn cabin. I can’t wait for Spring so I can get started!

Monitor Barn-Heights of Wings and Raised Center

Monitor barns have a tall center portion (usually clearspanned with trusses) and lower single slope (knowns as sheds or wings) roofs on each side. Barns may actually be a misnomer, as many monitor style post frame buildings are used for things like homes and event centers.

Reader DANIELLE in SUMMERSVILLE writes:

“Is there a minimum distance between patch breaks? I would like the upper level of the main pole barn to have exterior riser walls of 4 feet high with scissor truss (for attic feel). The side shed sections are 10 feet wide and would have 4/12 pitch. This would put the lower pitch break extremely close to the upper. Can’t go with lower roof pitch for shed because of winter snow. I could go with 5 foot riser walls but was hoping to minimize drywall waste and keep exterior loft walls short. Picture attached is just for concept but gives good idea of style we want to build. Please advise.”

If you were considering a monitor style roofline without any overhangs (not a good idea in my humble opinion) then height difference between wing upper side and eave of raised center could be as little as a few inches.

Once overhangs are added to raised center portion, then everything changes. It is far less an issue of structural soundness, than one of practicality to assemble.

You might have noticed I wove in “structural soundness”. In snow country monitor style rooflines need to be analyzed by a RDP (Registered Design Professional) in order to account for weights of snow sliding off upper roof and impacting the wing roof. Drifting loads also play into RDP’s structural design.

If you do happen to be in snow land and decide to proceed without involvement of a RDP, then it is possible you are a fool and deserve what you get when your building’s roof collapses around you.

Assembly practicality comes into play with aforementioned overhangs. There needs to be enough room to operate a screw gun. With an open (no soffits) overhang it might be able to be accomplished within a foot. With enclosed overhangs there should be at least a foot between bottom of soffit and top of wing roof.

Keeping those “riser” walls short can prove to be literally a pain in your head. Our home has a four foot height wall. This has resulted in numerous cases of noggin’ smacking. For usefulness I would recommend this wall be no less than six feet in height.

Ready to plan your new monitor style post-frame building? Call (866)200-9657 to speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

Screw Holes: Predrill or Punch?

I happen to be very, very picky about how a finished post frame (pole barn) building looks. One thing I really notice is if screw lines are straight or not. I have seen some buildings where screw locations appear to have been predrilled using a scatter gun – up and down and everywhere except straight.

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual does provide instructions on how to pre-drill screw holes to achieve straight lines. There are other acceptable methods however.

Loyal and long-time reader VINCE in CHAFFEE writes:

“Is using an awl or punch an acceptable alternative to pre-drilling screw holes?”

And he attached this video:

https://youtu.be/DWltNxO-TT4

There are some things missing from this video.

Due to slight length variations, panels should be pushed so downward ends are all flush. Any variability will be covered by trims at top edge.

Steel panels should be held in place to prevent panel slippage. I used to use pairs of vice grips, with felt pads glued on to prevent scarring of painted surfaces.

Punching always seemed to work best when there was something solid beneath punching locations. I normally used a clean scrap piece of 2×4.

Bottom and top of steel panels need to be “double screwed” – a screw needs to be placed on each side of every high rib. Not only is this per manufacturer’s installation instructions, it also is necessary to adequately transfer shear loads, in most instances.

Recently I attended NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) 2019 Frame Building Expo. While there, I found County Line Concepts (www.CountyLineConcepts.com) has designed a better “mouse trap” for punching holes in steel panels.

Please check out this live Expo video featuring Gordon: https://www.facebook.com/polebarnguru/videos/2110669922360329/

Now a Ridge Runner 3:10™ may be too great of an investment for an average DIYer, however it is certainly something worth investigating for contractors.

Building Over a Basement, an OHD Modification, and Interior Photos?

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building over a basement, an OHD modification, and interior photos of one of our buildings?

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: If I order a pole barn knowing that it will be built over a basement will the plans show how to install the floor or do I have to figure that out myself? I would really like the answer quickly if possible. Thank you. MARYJANE in MANZANOLA

 

DEAR MARYJANE: Our third-party engineer sealed plans include connections of all members we supply in your complete post frame building kit package. This would include how floor would be attached to your basement walls.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 18’s by 10’ tall sectional door and need to add a section to be at least 11’-6” tall for a new camper to fit. Trying to find a garage door contractor that can do the modification on the door. I will raise the header and cut the barn metal to fit new section myself. Just wondering if you have a recommendation on a contractor or an opinion. Thanks. RALPH in RAY TOWNSHIP

DEAR RALPH: Before doing a structural remodel of your building, it would be prudent to discuss it with your RDP (Registered Design Professional – engineer or architect) who produced your building’s original design. Making structural changes without their approval could result in voiding any warranty and, at worst, a collapse – just isn’t worth it.

Each sectional door manufacturer has a slightly different panel design. You will need to ascertain whom manufactured your door, then contact them and ask for a referral to dealers closest to you.

As for contractor recommendations, I just will not make them, as if there is a challenge in dealing with them for any reason, chances are I will get blamed – even if I were to tell you to vet them thoroughly.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much is the pole barn shown on the front of this website. Do you, have any interior pictures? https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/img_0_5c9bda48b8f54.png

RHONDA in WAVERLY

DEAR WANDA: Thank you very much for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. As pictured, this building is $39,999. As we furnish only complete post frame building kit packages, rarely do we have interior photos, however you can configure interior walls wherever you desire, to best meet your particular needs.

 

Converting a Pole Barn into a Home

I happen to live in a post-frame home. It was designed to be lived in from day one, so we did not face obstacles in having to convert a pole barn.

Reader DAN in SIDNEY writes:

“I have an existing pole barn that has no current foundation. It looks like 6×6 pt poles right into the ground. I am trying to convert the pole barn into a home and my first task on my list was a foundation. I was told required by code I need a frost protected shallow foundation. My question is what is the best way to add these footers with my poles already in the ground? Do I just pour around it or extend my pour outside the poles a few inches? Thank you for your time.”

Well DAN I will gladly assist with answers to your challenge, however first I might end up bursting your bubble.

Your building itself could very well pose some other challenges. Most often these come from walls not stiff enough (from a deflection standpoint) to prevent cracking of any gypsum wallboard surfaces. This is an area to be looked into by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) you are going to hire (please nod your head yes).

 

Chances are excellent roof trusses in your building are not designed to support a ceiling load. If you do not have original sealed truss drawings for your building, you will need to contact whomever fabricated them. Every truss should have an ink stamp stating who manufactured them somewhere along their bottom chord.

Gambrel roof pole barnIn many cases it may be possible for an engineered truss repair to be made, to upgrade load carrying capacity of truss bottom chords to a minimum of five psf. I’m sorry to say, this is not free. Truss company’s engineer will need to put his or her license on the line in designing a “fix” for trusses designed for a load other than is now intended.  It’s not same as designing original trusses.  If you think about it, redesigning and augmenting something you have built, is always more time consuming (and brain challenging!) than first time around. His time and expertise are not without a charge.  It’s not usually “much”, like a couple hundred dollars.  Then there is cost of materials to do repairs. This will be final out-of-pocket expense if you are doing truss repairs yourself.  If not, a contractor’s charge must be added.  All totaled, it could run you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand or more.

Siding should probably be removed and reinstalled with a Weather Resistant Barrier underneath, or plan upon using a two inch or thicker flash coat of closed cell spray foam insulation against siding insides.  If a dead attic space has been created, attic area needs to be adequately ventilated to prevent condensation. You can find out more about adequate attic ventilation here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/ventilation-blows/.

Once you have decided to survive all of the above, let’s deal with your FPSF (Frost Protected Shallow Foundation). This article: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/minimizing-excavation-in-post-frame-buildings/ addresses an FPSF scenario for new post-frame construction. In your case you can follow along doing essentially the same thing, although your columns are already in ground.

Ultimately your conversions costs may exceed starting from scratch and erecting a new post frame building designed to be your home from start. If this is your case, please call and discuss with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at (866)200-9657.

2019 NFBA Frame Building Expo Recap

NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) Frame Building Expo is an annual event for post-frame industry builders and suppliers. It provides educational sessions, a trade show and an ability to interact with fellow members of our community. Below is an article I have submitted to F+W Media (www.fwmedia.com) publishers of Rural Builder and Frame Building News magazines for inclusion in an upcoming publication. For non-industry members (or those of you who missed this year’s Expo) I will share below:

Some things have changed and others have remained pretty much without change since my very first NFBA Annual Conference in Hershey, PA in 1987. Some once familiar faces are no longer with us and others have changed employers.

At this year’s 2019 Frame Building Expo, builder attendees were predominately from within a 500 mile radius of our host venue – Louisville, KY. While some might say post frame industry’s heart lies here, I can attest to there being thousands upon thousands of post-frame builders from outside this area who were not Expo participants, for whatever reason.

A solution to this may be to reach out to these builders as well as engineers, architects and vendors who have not attended an Expo for say five years. I am talking serious discounts – just enough to cover hard costs of them attending.

Stepping now onto my soap box. Let’s start showing our world what post frame can actually do. In my humble opinion, we should have a booth at this year’s National International Builders’ Show. If they have breakouts sessions, let’s offer to do one on post-frame homes. I’d donate my time to man the booth (provided I can get some time to interact with other vendors) and/or be a presenter, just cover my expenses – cheaper than an employee or contractor. And I actually have some sort of idea as to what I am talking about…..building our industry. Every convert to post-frame buildings brings us a step closer to mainstream. Off my soap box, thank you for your patience.

I will imagine attendance will be reported as greatest ever, however my informal visual tells me otherwise as breakout sessions I attended had a plethora of empty seats and there was plenty of walking room between trade show booths. Rarely did I have a significant wait to talk with a vendor and (kudos to them) they universally were willing to give everyone I saw their undivided and individual attention. Never once did I feel slighted.

What Was Best

I have to admit I was highly flattered when a gentleman Building Designer from an Eastern state asked if he could have his photo taken with “The Pole Barn Guru”. Instead we spent probably an hour talking post-frame buildings one-on-one in a hall. My Monday through Friday daily blog appears to have become widely read within our industry as I received numerous positive comments. I really appreciate your affirmations and am open to topics any of you would like discussed.

Courteous and knowledgeable vendors – they rocked it!

Breakout sessions by Kirk Grundahl, “Risk Management & Permanent Bracing of Long Span Trusses” and Aaron Halberg’s, “Vertical Loads on Post-Frame Buildings” were both well-presented and contained good solid information for post-frame builders.

On the trade show floor I was impressed by offerings from some more recent vendors. These would include County Line Concepts (www.countylineconcepts.com) with their RidgeRunner 3:10®. RidgeRunner 3:10® has a 36-inch long HDPE high-density plastic base with four custom-designed hardened spring-loaded steel punches. It allows six metal panels to be accurately punched at one time and has adjustable arms for instant spacing of rows of holes. Their Ridgeline9™ easily marks angles on steel panels for accurate cutting on gable endwalls.

Greiner Building Solutions, Inc. (www.greinerbuildingsolutions.com) has developed contractor friendly systems for column bracing, column marking and builder safety.

Permanent Post Systems (www.permanentpostsystems.com) is promoting their unique patented field height adjustable column base keeping building columns above ground as well as at a fixed height.

Numerous unscheduled discussions amongst show participants in regards to post-frame building collapses due to Upper Midwest snows as well as talk on how our post-frame industry is heading more and more into residential home markets.

What Was a Challenge

Breakout Sessions beginning at 7:30 am Wednesday and 7:00 am Thursday.  Just maybe a little too much content has been squeezed into too little time?

Breakout Sessions put on by those outside post-frame industry. They just are not as relevant as industry specific presentations.

Proliferation of trade show floor vendors who provide steel coil or roll forming equipment. While I am certain your investment into booth space is appreciated, I am unsure if beyond a small minority of Expo attendees are your client base.

Very few vendors who actually follow up on Expo made contacts.

What Was Missing….

A Commercial Post-Frame Building Design class. Professors Dr. Frank Woeste, P.E. and Dr. Don Bender, P.E. who in the 1990’s taught these on Monday and Tuesday pre-Expo.  Personally I found these classes to be a great resource and inspiration, however there has not been a class since International Building Code adoptions.

Round Tables. As a NFBA Board member from 1990-1993, I assisted in being a moderator at one of approximately 20 tables of 12. Each round table had a moderator and its own subject. Every 20 minutes there was a “musical chairs”, allowing participants to be able to attend as many as six different discussions over two hours. This was always a show highlight giving participants an opportunity to learn from their peers and brainstorm ideas.

Some sort of instruction on building and maintaining websites, blogging, social media, PPC and PPV ads. This might need to be done Tuesday in an all-day program. There could be a nominal charge to cover hard costs and be a “lunch on your own”.

A NFBA division for those who supply post frame building kit packages, as well as Building of the Year Awards to their clients who self-build.

Long time NFBA supporter and usual vendor National Hardware® (www.natman.com) provider of sliding door components.

Potential vendors who I feel should be participants:

The Home Depot® and Lowe’s®

Builders First Source, ABC Supply Company, Allied Building Products, 84 Lumber, U.S. LBM and BMC Stock Holdings.

Sectional garage door manufacturers such as Amarr, Clopay, Overhead and Wayne Dalton.

Alside, Anderson Windows and Jeld-Wen.

Bridger Steel and Union Corrugating.

Simpson Strong-Tie and USP Structural Connectors.

My Grade for 2019’s Expo?

I’d give this year’s Expo a C for being average, not exceptional.  Looking forward to meeting you at next year’s 2020 NFBA Expo in Des Moines, Iowa!

Steel Roofing and Siding with a Crinkle Finish

When I first wrote about crinkle finish steel roofing and siding, just over two years ago, I suspected there would be at least one in ten clients who would actually order it right away. This is a fairly given percentage of folks who always go with latest and greatest trends – they embrace cutting edge technologies. Strangely enough, I am still waiting upon even one client to place an order for it!

Maybe you will be first?

Since pre-painted steel roofing and siding first became available finishes have always been smooth and high gloss, generally losing its luster just like my ’66 Chevelle SS did.

Well, no more. Valspar Corporation has a new addition to its WeatherXL product line: WeatherXL Crinkle Finish. Crinkle Finish delivers the same durability as WeatherXL, but offers unique performance you can see and feel. This textured appearance on WeatherXL Crinkle Finish redirects light for enhanced visual depth, promising a step-change enhancement over flat-panels’ appearance.

Not to be outdone, AkzoNobel has introduced CERAM-A-STAR® 1050 Frost as a direct alternative.

 

WeatherXL Crinkle Finish has been responsively designed to create a shifting and shimmering effect mirroring an eye’s natural horizontal motion with its texture. Ranging from standard colors such as charcoal and rural red, to premium colors like silver sage and gallery blue, WeatherXL Crinkle Finish boasts an array of color options to fit any project. This coating also features strong color retention meeting current solar reflective (SR) standards for Energy Star™ ratings.

https://www.valsparcoilextrusion.com/en/news/crinkle-finish/

“WeatherXL Crinkle Finish is truly a product that you have to see and feel to understand its texture,” says Jeff Alexander, VP of Sales for Valspar. “We’re excited to bring this unique coil coating option to our customers and watch them transform buildings throughout North America.”

Formulated with an enhanced WeatherXL silicone polyester resin system to deliver maximum hardness, WeatherXL Crinkle Finish delivers superior quality for unrivaled performance against chalking, fading and scratching – making it ideal for commercial and residential, agricultural and industrial buildings, metal roofing and wall panels.

CERAM-A-STAR Frost, utilizing Cool Chemistry® pigmentation, can help reduce energy consumption by lowering cooling loads. All colors meet North America’s Cool Roofing requirements. AkzoNobel offers this soft touch and look finish in most popular and appealing colors. This two-coat system, using High-Performance Primer, provides exceptional durability and offers superior resistance to moisture and UV exposure, with excellent flexibility and abrasion resistance. This unique and highly durable topcoat provides best color stability and L

Want a look on your new post frame building unrivaled by your neighbors? Crinkle Finish or Frost may be just your ticket!

When Size (or Lack Thereof) Matters- 4×6 Columns

Prior to Hansen Pole Buildings’ client’s plans being sealed by our third-party engineers, their preliminary plans are uploaded for client review through a login. While review goal is to make certain everyone is working from a same left and ensure doors and windows are properly located, it does trigger some interesting discussions at times.

Here is a recent email received from one of our clients in Ohio:

“Just had the chance to look through the plans. Was surprised to see 4x6s on the corners of the main building. What is the rationale for that? If it’s simply cost savings, can I pay extra to have 6x6s in those 4 places?”

Here is my Pole Barn Guru response:

Prior to verifying the larger dimension (albeit weaker) member might work, this may prove valuable reading:

From the Hansen Pole Buildings Construction Manual:

Why might corner columns be smaller sized? Each building column carries a load equal to ½ distance to next column on each side!  This means corner columns are carrying about ½ other column’s loads. Further, on an enclosed building, corner columns are braced in two directions by girts and wall steel (or other sidings).

Why might a building have 4×6 columns, rather than 6×6? As mentioned in lumber defects section (Page 37), 4×6 lumber and 6×6 lumber are graded under different “allowable defect” categories. 4×6 material is held to much more stringent guidelines. As an example, if allowable defects from a 4×6 #2 grade, were applied to a 6×6, 6×6 would have to be graded as Select Structural. Conversely, if allowable defects from a 6×6 #2 grade were applied to a 4×6, 4×6 would be less than “utility” grade.

These allowable defect characteristics follow through to design values used for structural calculations. Without getting overly technical, 4×6 #2 Fb (fiberstress in bending) value is nearly double 6×6 #2 value.

As well as: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/

In the event you still wish a material change, please contact Materials@HansenPoleBuildings.com.

Post frame efficiency is achieved by every member and connection being checked and verified for ability to carry imposed loads. Software utilized by Hansen Pole Buildings and our third-party engineers verifies complete structural adequacy in all cases.

Living Quarters, Plasti-Sleeves, and Poly-carbonate Roof Panels

The Pole Barn Guru answers questions about living quarters, Plasti-Sleeve sizes, and poly-carbonate roof panels.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello there, 

I have a quick question that I’m hoping someone can answer for me.  For your metal buildings that feature “living quarters” such as (PROJECT# 04-0509), have any of these ever been built on a property in Washington state as the primary residence (not as an accessory building)?

I am searching for a piece of land in Thurston county, and plan to build a home and a ~3,000 square foot shop.  I love the idea of combining the two.  I know that this is common in other parts of the country (with companies like Morton Buildings), I’m just not sure if this is doable in Washington state.

If you have any insight, I’d love to hear it.

Thank you for your time!

ROBERT in OLYMPIA

P.S.  If you have any interior pictures of Project# 04-0509, I would love to see those.

DEAR ROBERT: Thank you for your interest. Post frame (pole) buildings are Code compliant structures and can be erected upon any buildable lot. You will have to meet Washington State Energy requirements Energy Code (as will any new residential construction). Your local Planning Department or a HOA may dictate specific types of roofing and/or siding to meet local covenants. This is not an issue for post frame as we can provide any type of exterior materials.

Because we supply only kit packages, we rarely get finished interior photos of our buildings. We will hope to be seeing ones from you in the not too distant future!

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: The pole sleeves are .25″ too small for all of the hem fir PT posts that are used for door openings. What do i do?  SCOTT in EAGLE

DEAR SCOTT:

This is from the manufacturer’s website:

Helpful Hints:

Wood, especially treated, can swell with moisture beyond its normal dimension. If your Plasti-sleeve (more on Plasti-sleeves here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/04/plasti-sleeves/) is too tight, here are some ways to ease installation without forcing it on.

  1. If your post has sharp corners, plane or shave with a saw to allow sleeve to slide on.
  2. Plane or saw sides of the post the length of the Plasti-sleeve.
  3. Use dish soap or similar slippery lubricant to aid in sliding on.
  4. In case of cold weather installation it may help to warm the sleeves to expand them.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Why do you have the clear (translucent) light panels on the side-wall rather than on the roof?
Thanks, MARK in LAKEVIEW

DEAR MARK: Rather than rehashing a subject I have expounded upon previously, here lies your answer: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/skylights/.

Challenges also exist with skylights and fires: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/one-more-reason-to-not-use-skylights-in-steel-roofs/.

 

Towards upper left hand corner of every webpage at www.HansenPoleBuildings.com you will find a magnifying glass adjacent to “Search”. To find information on any post frame building subject CLICK on Search and type your subject into this dropdown box, then ENTER. Magically answers will appear, in order of relevance to your request!

 

Placing Steel Trim Around Post Frame Shed Rafters

Reader HEATH in NACOGDOCHES writes:

“I am going to build a pole barn with shed roofs. I want to know what the best way to trim out under the sheds where the side wall meets the ledger board or bottom of rafters. Building will be sheeted with metal. There will not be any soffit under sheds. Rafters will be exposed. Do you have any pics that I could see of this detail?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

This is just one of a plethora of subjects covered in Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual:

Trim Around Rafters Through Sided Eave Wall

Install a 2x block (cut from scrap) to extend a minimum of 2-1/2” past most extreme edges of rafter combination to outside column face directly below rafters.  See Figure 42-8

 To avoid running out of J Channel, install all longer lengths first, and then use cutoffs for these shorter segments.

Cut to length a J Channel piece to fit between rafter assemblies. 1” face (3/4” for ABC trims, 7/8” for McElroy) will be cut back from “J” bottom at a 45-degree angle. Tack in place this J Channel piece to eave strut snug to roof steel. See Figure 42-6

Figure 42-6  J Channel Cutting for Rafter Tails

Square cut a J Channel piece to Distance “A” plus 2” long (for trims provided by ABC use 1-1/2” to Distance “A”; McElroy 1-3/4”).  

Using snips, cut 1” (for ABC trim 3/4”, McElroy 7/8”) in from each end along J Channel bends.  Holding J Channel like an inverted “J”, bend up two tabs created between cuts. See Figure 42-7

Figure 42-7  Cutting tabs on J Channel

Install this trim piece tight underneath overhanging truss tails, with folded-up tabs on each side.  See Figure 42-8

Figure 42-8 Cutting Trim Pieces for Through Rafters

Next install vertical J Channel pieces along front and rear faces of rafters. These piece lengths will vary depending upon roof slope and rafter size.

Top end (fitting tight against roof steel) will be square cut.  Lower end will again have bends each cut, with snips, up 1”.

Fold area between cuts to form a tab. 1” J Channel face (3/4” face for ABC trims, 7/8” for McElroy) is to be cut at a 45-degree angle.  

Install vertical pieces so area labeled A1 is on top of A2.  Tab B will be inserted into inverted J top below truss tails.  See Figure 42-9

Figure 42-9  Inserting Trim Pieces Below Rafter Tails

Face B1 will be on top of Face B2; C2 will be behind C1 and D2 behind D1.

Carefully determine where rafters will lie along sidewall steel. This can be done by installing full-length panels along wall until a rafter is reached.

Easiest, if grade allows, slide panel to be cut up against trimmed out rafter assembly underside and put light pencil marks on steel to align with front and rear faces of rafter assembly.

J

When done properly, no light will shine into building from this area.  If light does show through, use an appropriate mastic or caulk to seal area thoroughly.

5 Reasons to Use Post Frame Construction in Sustainable Architecture

Green building concepts are not a new trend, and so our planet can breathe a sigh of relief, there is increasing pressure on construction industries to go for green initiatives and use sustainable building materials having greater strength and stability. Post-frame construction is proving to be a huge asset to a building industry demanding delivery of high-quality sustainable architecture with good value.    

So what makes post-frame construction an ideal solution for green building concepts?

Growing Role of Post-Frame Construction in Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture aims to design and construct socially beneficial, eco-friendly structures. Sustainable structures may cost more upfront but they pay off immediately. These buildings have a smaller carbon footprint and their environmental impact is also much less. Post-frame construction provides great benefits when combined with clever designing, well-supervised construction and high-precision execution.

Here are five reasons why post-frame construction is perhaps a best alternative when it comes to sustainable architecture:

 

  • Makes Use of Natural Materials able to be Recycled at End of Life

Traditional construction materials are environmentally harmful but post-frame construction involves use of eco-friendly materials being equally strong, reliable, and durable. Also, post-frame components used in each building are made of wood and steel so they can be easily recycled.  

This ensures responsible management of waste with materials recovery and scrap recycling. Recycling construction waste not only boosts a brand’s public image but the company also receives government incentives for its recycling efforts.   

Requires Less Construction Materials

Post-frame construction requires fewer building materials to achieve required load capacities. This is because post-frame structures are supported by few large-sized columns  spaced far apart instead of installing many smaller supports. Post-frame design requires fewer materials meaning less waste and less environmental impact.

 

  • Reduces Use of Energy  

Post-frames are made from wood and it requires very little energy to convert wood to timber. This is because embodied energy in timber used for construction is low. In fact, it is lowest of most sustainable building materials.

 

  • Ensures Energy-Efficiency with Excellent Insulation

A timber frame provides more insulation space as compared to brick and mortar buildings and ensures superior air infiltration. Its natural thermal insulation properties require less power for heating and cooling, meaning less use of fossil fuels.

 

  • Lasts Longer Even With Little to no Maintenance

Building materials used for construction of post-frame buildings make a structure so strong it can easily last beyond 50 years with little to no maintenance. Traditional architecture puts all weight on walls constructed on flooring supported by a continuous foundation. So, if any component is compromised, the entire architecture is at risk.  

Post-frame construction is very different and so it does not crack or collapse when the structure is stressed. Timber columns flex and roof trusses attached to the post-frame keep it from separating from balance of the structure.

Post-frame construction is low-cost, eco-friendly, sustainable, uses fewer materials, consumes less energy, offers great insulation, is easy to work on, does not limit design concepts and build time is quick. All of these reasons make post-frame construction the best choice for green building concepts.

Also, with buyers becoming increasingly eco-conscious these days, sustainable architecture has become a new industry norm. Post-frames are one of many sustainable building methods. There are several other ways builders can go green and win buyers, post-frame possibly being best.  

Author Bio: Erich Lawson is passionate about environment saving through effective recycling techniques and modern innovations. He works with Compactor Management Company and writes on a variety of topics related to recycling, including tips and advice on how balers, compactors and shredders can be used to reduce industrial waste. He loves helping businesses understand how to lower their monthly garbage bills and increase revenue from recycling.

Pole Barn Guru Blog Review

This is the third year the Pole Barn Guru blog has been in competition for the Best Construction Blog. Last year this blog was second in the world, tying for first in quality, however losing the popular vote. Part of this process is a review of each blog by Mark Buckshon of Construction Marketing Ideas (www.ConstructionMarketingIdeas.com).

Below is Mr. Buckshon’s review:

Hansen Buildings’ Pole Barn Guru: Practical information about post frame (pole barn) structures

By Mark Buckshon

 –March 23, 2019

The Pole Barn Guru is currently leading in the 2018 Best Construction Blog’s popular vote and unless there is a surprising surge from supporters of another blog by the popular vote’s conclusion on March 31, this blog will probably earn the popular vote win status.

There are reasons for this support — the blog combines depth and focus as a “go to” resource for post frame (pole barn) buildings; and it doesn’t avoid the challenges with these low-cost structures, often used for outdoor storage and as rural outbuildings.

I’ve been reading some posts, for example, dealing with issues relating to condensation and insulation, some initiated by questions from outsiders — that is folks who have a pole barn structure not provided by Hansen.

Rather than brushing off these external inquiries with a: “Hey, that’s not my problem” attitude, this blog provides some practical answers, even as it indicates the issues probably wouldn’t have been problems if they had been considered in the initial design and purchase.

That educational aspect makes this blog truly worthy.

Consider, for example, this question in a recent blog post:

Hello! 

I have a pre-existing pole building that I am having a ton of trouble with. It is partitioned into two rooms, the back room is heated to around 50F. The attic space/loft space has a lot of condensation and I cannot seem to get this fixed. I have tried a lot of solutions, none of which have worked. I know that you build these types of buildings so I am hoping that you can recommend someone who might be able to come in and look at this issue and help me with a solution that works. I have no idea what to do next and I am a local business owner – my business is at a standstill right now until I can get this issue fixed. If you can recommend any general contractor, or anyone who might have expertise in pole buildings who I can contact I would greatly appreciate it. 

Thank you so much!”

The question is posed after a brief introduction:

Long time readers should be thoroughly drenched with solutions to condensation issues by now. As post frame construction has moved off farms and into suburbia, climate control has brought with it a plethora of condensation challenges.

So, what are the answers?

To control your condensation challenge you need to either remove warm moist air from inside your building, prevent this air from becoming in contact with surfaces at or below dew point, heat and/or ventilate. Here’s a brief summary, followed by solutions specific to your case: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-reduce-condensation-in-post-frame-buildings/.

If you do not have some sort of thermal break below your pole building’s roof steel – two inches of closed cell spray foam should be applied. This process will be best done by a professional installer. Make certain to not block ventilation intake and exhaust points.

Unless you know for certain a vapor barrier was placed under your building’s concrete slab, seal the floor.  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/ 

and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

Vent any dead attic spaces. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/adequate-eave-ridge-ventilation/.

Heating your building to a temperature above dew point will also solve this issue. Avoid heating with propane, as it adds moisture to the air.

Now in my opinion, that sort of detailed, practical advice shows how an effective, consistent and useful blog can provide real value to clients and potential customers alike (and serve a general community purpose, even for people who will never purchase a thing from Hansen.)

This value translates to search engine effectiveness and of course a reputation for knowledge and service. If you are thinking about purchasing a post frame structure, for example, I’m confident after reading through the relevant blog postings you’ll have the confidence to ask the right questions and share the site/usage observations to ensure that the structure serves its purpose and problems such as condensation or poor insulation don’t occur in the first place.

A Problem Good Structural Engineering Could Solve Part III

Part III, the conclusion by Dr. David Bohnhoff, Phd., P.E., Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Perhaps only people that engineer buildings understand and appreciate the true dangers and hence insanity of erecting (and then occupying) a structure of absolutely unknown strength.  To structural engineers involved in agricultural building design, NOT following the structural requirements of the governing commercial building code is crazy given the fact that the code sets MINIMUM criteria.  If you aren’t going to engineer a building in accordance with loads considered the MINIMUM for your project, then pray tell, what loads are you going to use????

The IBC, which was adopted (with modification) as the commercial building code in Wisconsin, is a code that is as applicable to agricultural buildings as it is to other commercial buildings.  The WI administration code exemption that allows for the construction of non-structurally engineered farm buildings is outdated.  In many cases, code exemptions for farm buildings are as old as the code themselves.  The first building codes were largely fire codes (much like today’s codes) that were put in place to protect loss of life and property from large conflagrations (e.g. fires that consumed entire villages in some cases).  Since farm buildings were small and located in rural areas where they were isolated from other buildings, there was little concern regarding loss of life and adjacent property when they did burn (which they often did) and hence they were exempted from building codes.  As codes have changed so have farm building exemptions.  While farm buildings are still largely exempt from fire, ventilation and energy codes, they seldom are exempt from electrical and plumbing codes, and some jurisdictions no longer exempt them from structural codes.  The latter recognizes that large farm buildings need to be structurally engineered.  In some jurisdictions (e.g. Arkansas) farm buildings must be designed and constructed in accordance with the governing commercial code, but there is no enforcement (i.e., there is no required plan submittal and no required on-site inspection).

The confusion surrounding the structural design of farm buildings has made it virtually impossible for insurance companies to offer better rates for buildings that are structurally engineered in accordance with a specific code, then for ones that have not been structurally engineered.  To this end, farmers that purchase properly engineered buildings are not getting the break due them, in fact, the more large, non-engineered buildings erected, the higher their rates become.

Builders who sell and erect non-engineered buildings (typically at the expense of reputable companies) have no incentive to change their practice.  Given that insurance companies continue to insure the buildings they erect, why change?  As soon as one of their buildings fails, he/they are right back in the farmer’s yard telling the farmer not to worry as they will take care of him/her like they always have.  They blame the failure on a rare heavy snowfall (or on the truss manufacturer or some other supplier), and then they put up the exact same non-engineered building.  It’s a double win for these builders (two buildings and two pay days).  So why should they change their practice?  Your answer may be “so they don’t get sued”.  To this I ask, when was the last time a hard-working, independent dairy farmer (not a horse farmer) sued a hard-working local builder?  Given that they could go to the same church, have friends in common, or even be related, you can pretty much guess the answer.

Make absolutely no mistake about it, the rash of agricultural building failures is virtually entirely due to the construction of buildings that are not structurally engineered by builders who in many cases could care less.  They are not among the farmers, the reputable builders, the component supplies (who often get blamed for the failures), or the insurance companies who would all benefit by requiring large farm buildings to be structurally engineered.

David R Bohnhoff, Ph.D., P.E.

Emeritus Professor

Biological Systems Engineering Department

460 Henry Mall, Madison WI 53706″

Thank you, Dr. Bohnhoff!

Issues with Condensation, Ground Water, and Overhead Door Size

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about, condensation, ground Water, and an overhead door size.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good morning,

My name is Brett and about to complete my Hansen Pole building.

I have having issues with condensation from my metal roof given the recent freezing weather. I do have a vapor barrier, but is not stopping the condensation that is now dripping into insulation and drywall.

Can you help me with this? Need a resolution quick

Thank you

BRETT in ARLINGTON

vented-closure-strip

DEAR BRETT: Your building’s dead attic space lacks adequate ventilation. You need to replace closed cell foam closures currently under ridge cap with Vented ones. Cut out any radiant reflective barrier between ridge purlins. Make sure to have an inch or more of free flowing air above insulation closest to sidewalls, so as not to impede air intake from building’s vented soffits..

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Does it make sense to build a pole barn on standard frost walls where ground water and subsequent frost heaves are a problem? JOHN in LANESBORO

DEAR JOHN: Ground water is going to be an issue no matter what you do. Frost walls are going to be very costly (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/foundations-2/), and you’d have to find a way to keep water out of your excavations long enough to set up forms and pour.

I’d be wanting to build up grade at building site for any type of construction.

For further reading – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/11/sonotube/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I install an 18 ft wide garage door in a 20 ft wide pole barn? WILLIAM in TOWNSEND

DEAR WILLIAM: With proper structural design, probably. There are some downsides of this application, however. You will be extremely limited in your ability to place anything along building sidewalls. Care will need to be given in opening vehicle doors so as not to smash them against each other, or sidewalls.

For an 18 foot wide sectional overhead door, I normally recommend a building width of no less than 24 feet.

 

A Problem Good Structural Engineering Could Solve Part II

Day 2 of a three part series by guest blogger Dr. David Bohnhoff, Phd. P.E., Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

If you understand the information from yesterday’s blog, then you know that when someone tries to sell a farmer a building “designed to withstand a BALANCED snowload of XXX psf” that farmer should slam the door in the salesperson’s face.  Obviously, that salesperson and the company he/she represents are not selling structurally engineered buildings.  More often than not, they are selling a building that includes a truss that has been sized using methodology only appropriate for a small, residential building, and it is quite likely that not a single load calculation has been performed, and thus not a single component or connection has been properly sized/detailed for the loads to which it will likely be subjected.  When you sell a structurally engineered building, you talk about the performance codes and standards that were used in its design.  You talk about the code-specified GROUND snow loads in the area that were used IN PART to determine the complex load combinations required to properly engineer the building.

The fact that some companies are selling large agricultural buildings which are not fully engineered is shear lunacy and highly unethical if not criminal.  When these same builders blame the failure of their buildings on a rare heavy snowfall, instead of their lack of providing a structurally engineered building, they are being deceitful/fraudulent.  They also must take farmers and the rest of the general public as idiots.  How else can you convince someone that a rare heavy snowfall is the culprit when the percentage of agricultural building failures due to a given snowfall is magnitudes greater than it is for other commercial and residential buildings in the same area.  Along these same lines, how misleading is it to state something like “the snow loads exceeded those we used in design” when you never structurally engineered the building in the first place?

Over the years I have visited and read about an incredible number of agricultural building failures.  I have seen piles of dead animals, and yet the problem with non engineered buildings has only gotten worse.  Why is this you may ask yourself?  Why does it happen in the first place?  Why hasn’t the government done something about it?  Why hasn’t the industry done something about it?  Why don’t the insurance companies care?  Where are the lawyers in all of this?  These are all great questions with reasonable answers.

First, why has the number of agricultural building failures increased, especially at a time when the number of farming operations has decreased?  Simply stated, larger and larger non-engineered buildings are being constructed.  Unfortunately, there is a double whammy that comes into play here.  As previously explained, larger buildings get hit with more complex loads, and if a building is not engineered to handle these loads, the probability of failure increases.  Second, when you double the size of a building, you double the number of components in the building.  In the case of a non-engineered building, you double the number of undersized components and/or connections.  Thus a building that is twice as large has double the probability of a localized failure.  The problem is that this localized failure can bring down a large portion of the structure if you are not careful.  For this reason it is fundamentally important to incorporate mechanisms into large buildings that limit the extent of a progressive collapse (something that is absolutely not done in a non-engineered structure).  

So as absolutely nutty as it is to put up a large building without structurally engineering it, why is it done?  The answer is simple, there is no law requiring structural engineering due to the exemption provided in SPS 361.02(3)(e) AND builders who engage in the practice of selling and erecting non-engineered buildings can undercut the sales of those who don’t.  The problem is, those who erect non-engineered buildings are putting people and animals in danger (extreme danger in many cases), and are sullying the reputation of the entire industry.  Almost without exception, those erecting non-engineered buildings are small, local builders who (1) do not have a national reputation to withhold, and (2) don’t have deep pockets. 

Come back tomorrow for Part III, the conclusion to Dr. Bonhoff’s expose on non-engineered buildings and why they fail under more than “normal” snow loads.

A Problem Good Structural Engineering Could Solve Part I

This is copied, by permission, from a blog post by Aaron Halberg, P.E. Aaron is a member of the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) Technical and Research committee.

(In one of the many discussions following the rash of building collapses experienced throughout the Midwest this winter, I received a copy of the email below from Dr. David Bohnhoff, PhD, P.E., Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I reprint it here with the other names removed and with Dr. Bohnhoff’s permission in hopes that his message will reach a wider audience)

“I’m responding to your email and copying a few others on it as I feel the need to get some talking points out in the general public.

For starters the State of WI Uniform Dwelling Code (SPS Chapters 320-325) has absolutely nothing to do with agricultural buildings.  It is a PRESCRIPTIVE code that is only applicable to small buildings.  This would be buildings, for example, whose clearspans seldom exceed 20 or 30 feet.

Larger buildings are structurally engineered in accordance with the governing commercial building code.  In the State of WI, this is a slightly modified version of the International Building Code (IBC) and is referred to as the WI Commercial Building Code (SPS Chapters 361-366).  From a structural design perspective, the IBC is a PERFORMANCE code and it contains verbiage specific to agricultural buildings.  For what could be argued as antiquated (historic) reasoning (more on this later), the State of WI exempts (via SPS 361.02(3)(e))) farm buildings from all provisions of the WI Commercial Building Code.

For reasons (sometimes sheer ignorance) there are a number of builders who believe you can build large buildings in accordance with a PRESCRIPTIVE code for small buildings.

Prescriptive codes are codes that PRESCRIBE exactly what size/grade/shape components to use at various locations and how to connect them.  Prescriptive codes are very limited in their overall applicability.  Prescriptive codes “get by with” using simple, uniformly-distributed loads (e.g., a balanced snow load) to determine component size.  Structural engineers are seldom required when prescriptive codes are in play (and that’s one of the main reasons they exist).

When buildings get large, structural engineering gets more complex.  Most loads are far from being nice and uniform.  Wind and snow patterns are highly variant and quite complex.  When you add in parapets, cupolas, ridge vents, asymmetric roofs, steep roofs, intersecting roofs and associated valleys, overshot ridges, and sudden changes in roof height, AND you combine these with snow that can be blown in any direction, THEN (simply put) you have pages and pages of calculations you better perform if you want both an efficient and safe building.  Calculation of loads and load combinations is the first step in the structural design of a building, and not only are these loads dependent on the size and shape of the building you are designing, but they are also dependent on adjacent structures and terrain.  In many areas of the county, seismic loads are a big part of the equation, and obviously add significantly to the work involved in structural design.

Once the engineer has his loads, he/she begins the process of sizing components AND CONNECTIONS to resist these loads.  To design an efficient structure (in order to keep cost down), the engineer is constantly figuring out (1) ways in which secondary structural components and cladding can best be used to reduce the size of primarily structural components, and (2) ways that components can be connected to reduce component and connection stresses.  This takes both knowledge and experience.  A couple hallmarks of buildings that lack structural engineering are primary framing components that have little or no resistance to buckling, and mechanical connections that have little or no strength because fasteners have been inappropriately sized, spaced and/or located (with respect wood connections, fasteners often induce high wood stresses because they are too close together, too close to the end of a component, too close to the edge of a member, or otherwise used in a manner that induces high tension stress perpendicular-to-grain).

Come back tomorrow as Dr. Bohnhoff continues his discussion of reasons post frame buildings fail due to higher than “normal” snow loads in Part II of a three part series.

Steps to Minimize Snow Load Failures

The following article will appear in April 2019’s Component Manufacturing Advertiser magazine (www.componentadvertiser.com).

Early every year NFBA (National Frame Building Association) holds its annual Frame Building Expo – where thousands of post-frame builders, design professionals and vendors meet for three days filled with break-out sessions, guest presenters and of course a trade show.

In 2019’s Expo, one breakout session was, “Avoiding Common Building Failures in the Post-Frame Industry” presented by Ryan Michalek, P.E. of Nationwide Insurance.

The “trailer” for this session was, “Would you find it surprising that Nationwide Insurance’s loss experience with post-frame buildings is disproportionately represented by newly constructed facilities? The company’s loss history is full of buildings that are less than 5 years old and that fail when subjected to their first moderate wind or snow loading event or to a modest commodity-loading cycle. This presentation discusses the common oversights in post-frame building design and construction which lead to building loss and offers strategies to eliminate these oversights.”

I quizzed Mr. Michalek myself as to how many of these failures were subjected to a structural plan review by a Building Official. His opinion was few, if any, failed buildings were designed by a registered design professional RDP (registered engineer or architect), as they are nearly exclusively “agricultural” structures, exempted from Building Permit processes in many states.

My personal belief – every building should be designed by a RDP, as well as being subjected to structural review by a Building Official. Knowing Insurance Industry size, I questioned why it was Nationwide® and other insurance companies were not lobbying for stricter rules for these now permit exempt buildings. Mr. Michalek minced no words in stating United States agricultural lobby having far more power than insurance industry lobby.

I am just not grokking thought processes of those who would invest in buildings which will underperform or fail structurally, all for saving a few dollars. Considering many failures come from poultry industry buildings, it seems costs and cleanup of a million dead chickens or turkeys would trump a few dollars saved on construction.

What was surprising to me, was an analysis of actual most prevalent failures – although column size and embedment always seem to be big concerns from informed purchasers, it wasn’t a contributor to three major causes of failures: lateral bracing of trusses; purlin to truss connections and unbalanced and snow drift loads on trusses.

Typically builders, when they do install bracing, will just run it laterally from building end to building end. This results in all trusses bending together, as loads being placed upon bracing are not being transferred to a very stiff surface – like a roof diaphragm. By utilization of properly designed “X” braces, lateral loads can be transferred into roof plane, and keeping trusses where they are happiest – upright.

Many post-frame buildings, especially those designed with widely spaced single trusses rely upon nailed purlin-to-truss connections woefully inadequate to resist uplift forces. This becomes even more crucial in critical areas such as “end zones” and close to eaves or ridge. A solution would be to use appropriate engineered hangers to attach purlins.

A third common area of failure occurs from designs where drifting snow causing unbalanced loads has not been accounted for. Roof truss designers have an ability to turn off a “switch” in their engineering design programs accounting for drift loading. This results in a less expensive, although under designed truss. With no structural design review, no plan’s examiner will catch trusses being inadequately or inappropriately designed.

Not only do trusses need to support unbalanced snow loads, so do roof purlins. It’s not unusual for an engineered building to have purlins either spaced closer together, or of higher grade or larger size in roof drift areas.

Fast forwarding to 2019’s NFBA Expo – where a frequently heard topic of discussion revolved around a plethora of snow related building collapses in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota. A great majority of these roof failures came from buildings exempted from Building Codes.

While it is impractical, unaffordable or unfeasible to retrofit existing buildings to meet Code loading requirements, we can make changes to minimize or eliminate future failures due to snow. Every time a post-frame building roof collapses, it reflects poorly upon our industry. When prefabricated wood roof trusses fail, truss manufacturers get blamed.

Together these two industries can lobby for changes ultimately making for better and safer buildings.

In my humble opinion, these would include:

Require all buildings over 200 square feet to be constructed from plans sealed by a RDP, as well as to be subject to a structural plan review and field inspections.

Eliminate “agricultural exemptions” from permits.

Eliminate Risk Category I as an IBC option. Risk Category I reduces design loads for snow and wind. This doubles annual probability of failures as compared to Risk Category II.

Eliminate use of Cs to downward adjust top chord live loads due to roof slope and “slipperiness” of roof surfaces. Too many buildings have snow retention systems added to roofs, after completion. This would be all well and good if RDPs and truss technicians were made aware when computing their designs.

Create minimum design dead loads of five psf (pounds per square foot) for both top and bottom chords of roof trusses. Some post-frame buildings have sheathing installed between purlins and roof steel, overloading top chords. Personally, I receive numerous inquiries every week from building owners who now want to install ceilings in their existing post-frame buildings and find their building’s trusses are not designed to support this weight.

Have Building Departments re-evaluate values used for snow (and wind) loads in their jurisdictions. Allstate® Insurance has a TV commercial featuring actor Dennis Haysbert. Haysbert sits in an open field and questions why there have been 26 “once in 500 years storms” in last decade, when term alone implies they should only happen every 500 years.  An increase of design snow load of only 15% cuts annual probability of a failure in half!

Hopefully we will learn from this past winter’s collapses and become proactive together to make for better and safer buildings!

The Case of the Frost Heave and a Pole Barn Porch

Allow me to preface this post about a frost heaved porch with a reference to Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Watson solved fictional criminal dilemmas with deductive reasoning. In my cases, nearly 40 years of experience (plus knowing and relying upon input from many brilliant engineers) allows me to recommend solutions with a fair degree of certainty as to their outcome.

Reader RICHARD in WOOD STOCK brought to me this interesting case:

“My concerns pertain to my 50 foot by 72 foot pole barn which was built in 2008.
The barn has a brick paved porch that wraps around the length of the barn on the south side of the building. The interior of the barn has a cement floor, poured at the time of construction.

The barn has been very stable and sturdy since it was built, that is until this winter.
Shortly after the subzero weather we had in northern Illinois back in January, I was checking the barn for any issues and noticed that the pavers at the end of the porch had heaved up and the soffit of the porch was no longer level. Upon closer inspection I found that the two last support poles for the porch appeared to have heaved up causing the porch to lift and pull away from the barn to the point of wrinkling the steel siding. I have been closely monitoring the situation and have noted that the porch continues ton move up and farther away from the barn. M

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I’d say Richard is probaby correct as to heaving cause. His building might get some degree of return to normalcy after Spring thaw, however probably not back to straight and level.

Without involving services of a geotechnical engineer, who could actually do an onsite evaluation – about best I can offer will be how I would probably attack this challenge. I’d temporarily support the porch in the heaved column area. Cut both of these columns off at grade. Excavate ground below columns to remove embedded portions. Excavation needs to be deep enough so bottom of hole will be 1.5 times frost line depth below grade (probably around six feet). Place an appropriately sized Bigfoot® (https://bigfootsystems.com) in excavation bottom with a Sonotube® (https://www. sonotube.com) above. Use Sturdi-wall Plus wet set brackets (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/sturdiwall-brackets/) in top of concrete poured in Sonotubes® to attach remaining portion of columns. All of these above suggestions, as well as proper sizing of Bigfoot and diameter of Sonotubes®, should be confirmed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – architect or engineer), ideally whomever designed your building originally. Moving ground water away from your building will also prove to be an excellent idea to reduce or eliminate future challenges from frost heaves.

 

For extended reading about Bigfoot® Systems and Sonotubes® please see https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/05/bigfoot-systems/  and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/11/sonotube/

How to Wire a Winch, Floor Vapor Barrier, and Floor Sealant

Today the Pole Barn Guru assists reader with wiring a winch, vapor barriers for a floor, and floor sealant.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you know how to wire ATV warn winch to make electric winch boxes? MAX in SPOKANE

DEAR MAX: Thanks to magical miracles of internet and Google here is where you can locate appropriate wiring diagrams: https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=wiring+a+warn+winch+to+110+volts+diagram&fr=crmas&imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Ftops-stars.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F09%2Fwarn-winch-wiring-diagram-solenoid-how-to-wire-up-a-warn-m8000-regarding-warn-winch-controller-wiring-diagram.jpg#id=1&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Fcssmith.co%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F11%2Fwarn-winch-solenoid-diagram-starter-wiring-for-illustration-enjoyable.jpg&action=click

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Should I put plastic down under the stone floor in a steel building? BOB in WYALUSING

DEAR BOB: It certainly could not hurt and might help to lower humidity within your building, as well as minimize or eliminate condensation challenges. Look for a 15 mil poly. Here is some more information on vapor barriers: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/11/vapor-barriers-slabs-grades/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a garage without moisture barrier beneath. Is it possible to seal this? Thanks for any info you might have. SAM in EUFAULA

DEAR SAM: Chances are good you can use a sealant upon your concrete floor to keep some or all ground moisture from migrating through.

Here is how to properly apply a sealant: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/.

And information about one sealant in particular: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

 

 

 

 

 

Slab on Grade or Crawl Space?

Slab on Grade or Crawlspace?

Long-time readers of this column recall seeing a profuse number of articles written in regards to crawl spaces. These articles have been on a gradual increase since this first one six years ago: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/crawl-space/.

With residential post frame construction becoming rapidly more popular as more people discover this system’s benefits, this debate of slab on grade versus crawl space will continue.

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Senior Designer Wayde recently had a client order a new post frame building kit package with an elevated wood floor (to create a crawl space). After client has placed their building order, Wayde came back to me with this, “Can you tell me the Pros and cons of building this as we designed and sold it vs. lowering it three feet and adding a radiant concrete floor?”

I happen to be a big fan of hydronic radiant floor heat in concrete slabs, we have it in our own building: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/radiant-floor-heating/.

Biggest pro of “as is” – living upon a wood floor will be so much more comfortable than upon concrete. Wayde’s client could still do radiant floor heat, should they opt to not go with a forced air HVAC system.

Slab on grade the client will have to (or should) do a post frame shallow frost protected foundation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/minimizing-excavation-in-post-frame-buildings/. This perimeter rigid board insulation must be covered with rodent proof material.

If I went to slab on grade, I would recommend a minimum R-60 for ceiling, taking a 22 inch deep raised heel truss to allow for adequate depths of blown in insulation. (Read more about raised heel trusses here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/).

For an 8′ finished ceiling, they would then need an eave height of 10′ 4-5/8″. I like taller rooms, so you might want to experiment with eave heights of 11′ 4-5/8″ and 12’4-5/8″ (latter of these will be easier to drywall and will result in least waste).

Making a choice between living on concrete or wood will be one only able to be made prior to time of construction and should not be taken lightly. All factors should be taken into consideration most importantly being what creates a most comfortable living space.

How Lumber is Pressure Preservative Treated

How Lumber is Pressure Preservative Treated

Most people never have an opportunity to tour a pressure preservative treatment plant in operation. I have had this privilege several times and have always found it to be fascinating.

Rather than reinventing things, our friend Bob Vila (https://www.bobvila.com/) and Georgia-Pacific (https://www.buildgp.com/wood/lumber/) have produced this wonderful video for your enjoyment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOD2ffGE7yw

Note when watching, 20 bore samples are taken from each retort charge. Of these 16 or more must show adequate levels of treatment chemicals in order for any given treating cycle to be considered properly treated. This does leave some small chance for under treatment.

Here is some reading in regards to how long pressure preservative treated wood should last in ground: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/.


Take time to enjoy the videos!

Pole Barn Videos from Peru

I Went to Peru and All I Brought Back For You Is Pole Barn Videos

I’ve been working at reducing my “bucket list” of places to go and things to see and do. My list priorities include places where being physically able proves essential. A visit in Machu Picchu was way towards top of my list, due to extreme altitude and lots of hiking involved. Of course if you are going to make an effort to travel to visit Peru, might as well make it a best adventure. My trip included Lake Titicaca, flying over Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands and downhill sand skiing (more about sand skiing later in this article).

In order to acclimatize to high altitude, I flew from Lima to Cusco (roughly 11,000 feet above sea level) for day two in country. I had a guided tour of this Peruvian Andes’ city, once Incan Empire capital. Near Plaza de Armas  (old city central square) was Mercado Central de San Pedro de Cusco (“San Pedro Market”). Cusco’s main market and part of Cusco’s lifeblood. Founded in 1925, this market was designed by Frenchman Gustav Eiffel (yes, same Eiffel who designed a tower you might have heard about) and occupies about three city blocks. It’s a huge market where locals and visitors alike can find almost anything they’re after.

Approaching this huge steel roofed building, I had no idea of its structural composition. Once inside, I immediately recognized it as a post frame (pole) building! Cusco location has a high probability of earthquakes. So much so as no churches have high steeples or bell towers, for earthquakes knocked early ones all down! Well, this 94 year-old pole barn has survived all manner of tremblors, without being worse for wear.

Towards one end are vendors selling things like souvenirs, clothing, fabrics, cooking utensils, jewelry and more, but food proves to be a main reason to come here. All of Cusco’s flavors, and Peru in general can be found, from exotic fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, cheese, sweets and more. It’s a great place to sample lots of different things, and expose your taste buds to flavors you won’t find elsewhere in this world, or even in Peru.

Further along – a large market section dedicated to food stalls. Looks of raw meat hanging from hooks and carcasses being diced up might shock some from a hygiene point of view but, as long as you eat from stalls where locals are frequenting you’ll be fine. After all, if a place was making locals sick, it wouldn’t be in business. Plenty looks appealing in San Pedro Market, and a lot doesn’t – but might surprise you. Do try sampling a few things outside of your comfort zone – it’s worth it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEJrTqJC_hU

Oh, I promised you sand skiing. Check this out: https://www.facebook.com/mike.momb/videos/10215796184671123/

Participating in Rick’s Post Frame Cabin Planning

Participating in Rick’s Post Frame Cabin Planning

Happy readers have been following Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick’s journey towards constructing a new cabin. Rick has graciously asked me to jump in with sage advice (yep, Rick and I are both old guys), as well as answering some questions he has posed.

Rick mentions using a vapor barrier under his thin concrete slab. This should be a minimum 10 mil with 15 mil being even better in resistance to possible tears prior to floor being poured.  (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/11/vapor-barriers-slabs-grades/)

I’d believe Rick’s cabin floor could be insulated with closed cell spray foam two inches thick, providing approximately R-14. Any wiring or plumbing extending through sub-flooring could be routed directly vertical through foam and this should not pose a challenge of access for any future system modifications.

As only incidental heat will be provided into crawl space areas, using rigid foam insulation boards beneath a thin concrete slab might very well prove to be an undue expense.

Rick’s sub-slab insulation boards (if used) and approximately two inches of concrete will not pose any design issues when used with a 2×8 pressure preservative treated splash plank. With top of floor OSB three feet above grade, a clear height in crawl space of two feet will exist under the floor joists. A row of stub columns at building center will carry beams designed to support joists. Given relatively small floor joist and beam spans, there would be 20 inches or more between concrete and the bottom of beams.

A consideration for wall insulation might be to use a flash coating of two inches of closed cell foam against siding, then fill remainder of wall cavity with BIBs. This would eliminate a need for a Weather Resistant Barrier beneath siding and would provide as much as R-35 insulating value. If looking to super insulate and eliminate any thermal bridging, two inches of insulation board could be glued to inside of framing, further increasing R value.

So far, I am liking Rick’s plan of attack and look forward to reading more along his path to his best possible design solution.

Addition to House, Stone Floor Moisture Barrier

Today the Pole Barn Guru discusses a post frame addition to a house, whether or not one should use a plastic barrier under the stone floor in a steel building, and the ability of a truss carrier to handle imposed loads.

About Hansen BuildingsDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi! We are considering a sizeable addition to our 600 sq ft bungalow style home, somewhere in the neighborhood of 30×40 ft addition. Wondering if it’s possible to do pole barn construction for this addition, and what kind of considerations would need to be made? The current home does have an existing basement with block foundation. I’ve read information regarding attaching a pole barn build to an existing house for use as a garage, but wondering how this scenario changes things? We would work with a licensed designer to draw up plans, and a licensed contractor for the build, but are just in the brainstorming phase at this point. KARI in WILLMAR

DEAR KARI: There are actually no real considerations for post frame not applicable to a stick frame building. You should work with a Hansen Pole Buildings designer for your building shell and we can provide engineer sealed plans for structural portions of the addition. You can work with an independent designer (FYI – there isn’t a category of licensing for designer) or create an interior layout of your own.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Should I put plastic down under the stone floor in a steel building? BOB in WYALUSING

DEAR BOB: It certainly would not harm anything and will help to minimize condensation issues. Look at a 15ml thickness. For more information on vapor barriers see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/11/vapor-barriers-slabs-grades/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Really wondering if a 2×12 SYP MSR 2400 will hold my 32ft trusses 2ft oc poles 6×6 8 oc. 1 2×12 on outside and 1 on inside. Is the 2×12 SYP MSR 2400 strong enough to hold the weight? CHRISTOPHER in CHESTERFIELD

CHRISTOPHER: In answer to your question – maybe. It will depend upon a myriad of factors including (but not limited to) Ps (roof snow load adjusted for slope), Dead loads from roofing, any roof sheathing, truss weight, any ceiling or insulation.

If you are so inclined, you can try this calculation yourself:

complex formulaLOAD (in psf – pounds per square foot) X (½ building width plus sidewall overhang in feet X 12”) X Distance spanned by beam squared (in feet)

Divide this by 8 X 2400 X 2 (for two members) X 31.6406 (Section Modulus of a 2×12) X 1.15 (Duration of Load for snow).

If your resulting answer is less than 1 then your beams will probably work.

Caveats – LOAD is Ps + all dead loads. For steel roofing over purlins 5 psf would be my recommendation. If a ceiling is to be installed a minimum of 5 psf should be added (10 psf being better).

Some important factors other than just strength include deflection (especially if trusses support a gypsum wallboard ceiling), minimum required bearing area and shear force at edge of bearing.

Frequently overlooked is connection of beams to columns. Notching in would be preferred to each face of columns.

Ultimately, RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who provided your sealed plans should be making a determination as to adequacy as well as providing appropriate connections.

 

Pole Barn Cabin Part II

Today’s blog is a continuation from yesterday….Rick Carr, Senior Building Designer for Hansen Buildings shares his thoughts on planning his new pole barn cabin.

From JA Hansen, co-owner of Hansen Buildings….Thanks Rick!

Next I dealt with the crawl space:

After deciding that I want to do a crawl space, several design issues arise and decisions on how you will deal with those issues can affect how the building is designed and ordered.  All reading on crawl spaces emphasize making sure that you avoid moisture issues in the crawl space.  Next you need to do something to avoid losing heat to the ground and out the sides of the crawl space, this crawl space being above grade.   How tall do you make the crawl space?  Do you “condition” the crawl space?  How do you insulate it if you do “condition” the space?  Most crawl spaces are underground with a foundation wall, but that is not the case with post frame buildings so there is very little information out there on how to plan the post frame crawl space  and to “do it right”.  I have read the five blogs articles on crawl spaces, but there are still unanswered issues.

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/crawl-space/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/foundation-and-crawl-spaces/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/conditioned-post-frame-crawl-space/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/02/insulating-post-frame-home-crawl-space/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/cost-savings-crawlspace-vs-slab/

I will present what I think that I want to do and I’d like to get Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s ideas on it with a question or two.

I plan to condition the space, so I would put down between 6 and 10 mil plastic, then 2 inches of foam board insulation followed by pouring a concrete floor, just enough to keep critters out.  I plan to use BIBS insulation in the walls, so I would extend that down the exterior crawlspace walls to the concrete.

 

The radiant floor heating people that I am talking to have recommended that I put between R-13 and R-15 insulation on the underside of the sub-floor.  The reasoning is that heat wants to move to cold and that you don’t need the crawl space heated to the same temperature as the living space; so insulating the underside of the floor keeps most of the heat up in the living space.  I need to talk to the insulation contractor about what type of insulation to use here.  Spray foam might be good, but the spray foam would make working on any plumbing or electric that is run below the floor very difficult, partially defeating one of the purposes of having the crawl space.

The plastic with the concrete over the top should control the moisture issues coming up from the ground.  The 2 inches of foam insulation under the concrete should help to prevent losing heat to the ground. The concrete should keep critters out and allow using a “creeper” to move around down there.  I haven’t decided on the height, but I’m thinking that it should be three feet.  When on all fours, I am almost three feet tall.  I am 6’3” and it has to be functional.  I would need assistance to figure out how high to make the top of the floor to yield the three feet considering the concrete and foam.

I have not yet discussed this plan with the building inspector.

So Mike, the questions; do you think that this is a good plan?   Would I be able to put in the 2 inches of foam board and the 2- 2 ½ inches of concrete (normal concrete floor being 3 ½ inches) without doing anything different to the splash boards considering that the splashboards are 2×8’s and that there will not be any door thresholds to be worried about?

Stay tuned for Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s answers in an upcoming blog.

Development of My Post Frame Cabin Plans

Thank you to Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Carr for today’s guest blog.

Development of my Cabin Plans

I have been looking at both open land and existing “cabins” in the Southwestern part of the State of Wisconsin where I do a lot of fly fishing for trout in anticipation of eventually retiring.  I want to be able to go out and stay for four or five days to a week on short notice without having to worry about where to stay while having my own personal items and gear there waiting for me along with the ability to just fire up the grill for dinner rather than going out every night.  Space for friends bearing Bourbon to visit was also a consideration.

Existing Cabins were disappointing to say the least, either upper level sleeping (which doesn’t work for over 65 year old guys) or tiny showers, filthy kitchens. There was always something very wrong; and all this with a limited budget.  It became clear that building would have to be an option unless I was going to settle in some area or another. With my five year plus experience as a Senior Building Designer with Hansen along with two years on a post frame building construction crew in my youth, I knew that if I had to build, it would be a post frame building.

Last spring I found and bought a nine acre parcel with 1,600 feet of the headwaters of a crystal clear spring creek full of brook trout flowing through.  I have three of the four permits that I need to allow me to put in a driveway and culvert across the creek and the wetlands to the high ground building site on the far side.  The front porch/deck will have great views of both sunrises and sunsets looking over the valley.

Some of the deciding factors for post frame were, knowing that a post frame building can be built to be extremely well insulated for climate control, knowing the cost advantages, knowing the longevity, knowing the framing system, and the fact that I can do a lot of the building myself for additional saving. I have also been developing relationships with the local Amish community who I know that I can hire for reliable economic labor.

About Hansen BuildingsI plan to construct the building so that it can be used as a full time residence for resale value, although that is not my intended use.  Relative to a well-sealed and insulated building, I intend to use BIBS insulation in the walls using 2×8’s in a 7 ½ inch cavity and closed cell foam insulation on the underside of the roof purlins designed for drywall to create a vaulted ceiling in part of the cabin.  This combination will make an extremely tight building making it more comfortable and less costly to heat.

The cost advantages of post frame start with not needing a full foundation and the costs of a full foundation.  Then post frame is very efficient in terms of lumber usage. Over the years I have had client after client send finished building pictures with the tiniest of scrap piles in the background.  My experience and familiarity with our construction manual gives me the confidence that I can act as the general contractor and jobsite supervisor while hiring local Amish builders for more cost savings.  I have a lot of DIY experience so a post frame building from Hansen will allow me to finish most of the interior myself for additional savings.

I am not concerned with how long the building will last, rotting of posts, as some people are because I know that the testing of current pressure treating is good for 70 plus years.  At the age of 66, I will be able to use this Cabin for as long as I can manage, ten to fifteen years, and still have many years remaining of useful life for resale value.

My next consideration was a heating and insulating plan.  My experience as a Building Designer tells me that it is very important to have a heating and insulating plan before ordering a building to make sure that the correct options are designed into the building and are on the Engineer Sealed Plans, especially on a post frame building to be used as a residence.  I have a friend that has a similar building/cabin in the fishing area. A year or so ago on an early spring fishing trip, he asked me to stop in and check on his cabin that was last used back in the prior fall. I walked in and there was no dust, after no one being there for months. I was convinced at that point that I wanted radiant floor heating, but being close to a flood plain, (last year there was a 100 year flood in the valley).

I knew that I wanted a crawl space, which would give a few extra feet of protection in the event of a 150 year flood.  The other advantage is that the crawl space would provide access to plumbing in the event of a problem or change versus having the radiant floor heating and the plumbing encased in the concrete floor. The drawback is that a radiant floor in a building with a crawl space adds other design issues.

Come back tomorrow as Rick investigates his pole barn cabin’s crawl space issues, and asks for Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s wise advice.

Shingled Roof Valleys for Post Frame Buildings

Another true confession, while I carried plenty of roof shingle bundles up ladders and onto roofs when I was young and dumb – I have never installed any other than cedar. One of our clients was requesting a “how to”, so downing my best sleuthing clothes, it was learning time for me. This article took a fair amount of research, however was fairly interesting and entertaining.

In my humble opinion, a steel roof is a better design solution due to installation ease and freedom from maintenance.

Closed-cut valleys, also called closed valleys, are installed quickly and have a cleaner, sharper look than woven valleys. From the ground, it looks as though shingles meet in a clean line in valley center. In reality, one shingle layer actually crosses the valley beneath another.

 

 

In summary, during closed-cut valley installation, first install roof plane’s shingles into the valley. It is essential to only use whole (not cut) shingles during this step. As roof shingles are installed upon the second roof plane, allow them to lap over the valley on top of the first shingles. Shingles on second layer are then cut, ideally creating a clean line down the valley center. A chalk line can be used to guide as shingles are cut.

Unlike a woven valley, a closed valley will not have hollows. However, closed valleys still rely on shingles to protect the valley, having drawbacks. Valley shingles may lose their granules, and thus their coloration and protective capability, faster than other roof portions.

Here is a short how to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzWqSQ3G1gs

California valley is one closed-cut valley variation. For this method, last shingles on “cut” side of a cut valley are actually installed sideways, so they run up and down the valley. This saves shingle cutting time and is the fastest way to shingle a roof valley, but it does not provide adequate protection in most climates. Indeed, California valleys are prohibited in some areas. Always be sure to refer to local codes to see if they demand a particular valley installation type.

Is an Ice Barrier Required Under Post Frame Roofing?

Like a good novelist, I am going to torture you by forcing you to read this story prior to revealing a super- secret answer.

One of our clients will be constructing a Hansen Pole Building in Colorado soon. This particular building is very typical post frame construction as it has steel roofing over open purlins. There is not a “roof decking” of OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or plywood.

When applying for his permit to build his new building, he was told an “Ice Barrier” would be a requirement.

2015 International Building Code deals with a myriad of roofing products in Chapter 15 (check it out yourself here: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IBC2015/chapter-15-roof-assemblies-and-rooftop-structures). These include Section 1507.2 Asphalt shingles, 1507.3 Clay and concrete tile, 1507.4 Metal roof panels, 1507.5 Metal roof shingles, 1507.6 Mineral-surfaced roll roofing, 1507.7 Slate Shingles, etc.

Most of these roofing choices list a requirement such as:

“1507.2.8.2 Ice barrier.

In areas where there has been a history of ice forming along the eaves causing a backup of water, an ice barrier that consists of at least two layers of underlayment cemented together or of a self-adhering polymer modified bitumen sheet shall be used in lieu of normal underlayment and extend from the lowest edges of all roof surfaces to a point at least 24 inches inside the exterior wall line of the building.”

IBC 1507.4 Metal Roof Panels does NOT include a subsection for Ice barrier.

Tim Carter of www.askthebuilder.com explains what ice and water barrier is in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVzF5wE3ptc.

Now it is possible for any local permit issuing authority to make amendments to their adopted version of codes. However if my Building Department had such an amendment I would be asking to see it first, then ask how they propose to install it over widely spaced purlins?

Hoop Shed Wall, Ventilation, and Pole Barn Footings

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about adding a garage door wall to a hoop shed, ventilation with no sidewall overhangs, and how post frame buildings are “anchored” to the ground.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to close the open 1/2 of the basketball court hoop shed with a pole building face.  I would like a large garage door in the center, fiberglass windows, and a door. Would you consider doing this project? JOHN in GILBERTSVILLE

DEAR JOHN: With no building behind to tie an endwall into, it would be structurally unrealistic and economically unaffordable to build what would essentially be a billboard in front of your hoop building. We would recommend tearing down the hoop building and replace it with a new post frame building which would be structurally sound and a permanent structure.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 56×40 pole barn that I am working on lining and insulating. My question has to do with ventilation. There is no soffit. Does Hansen make an eave vent similar to their vinyl gable vents with the snap rings? They would need to be approx. 6 inches wide by 1 or 2 feet long. I would like to place something like that in between each truss (8ft centers) on the sidewall under the roof overhang. Or should I just do gable vents? We are installing a vented ridge cap. Thank You. DARRIN in ARKANSAW

DEAR DARRIN: Unless your trusses have raised heels deeper than whatever insulation thickness you intend to use plus vent height, adding vents at sidewall tops will not solve your ventilation issue. Ridge vents do not function well with gable vents as intakes, so I will make one of two suggestions –

If insulating at ceiling level, use gable vents only following this:

2015 IBC (International Building Code) ventilation requirements may be accessed here: https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/document/IBC2015/chapter-12-interior-environment please see 1203.2.

In areas closest to sidewalls, use closed cell spray foam insulation until you reach an area where full depth blown in fiberglass insulation can be used (20″ will provide recommended R-60 for your area).

Or – use no vents and closed cell spray foam underside of roofing and triangles of gable ends.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How is the plumbing in pole barn construction affected in an earthquake? I have heard that since the pole barn construction is not anchored down, it shifts during an earthquake causing all kinds of damage to the plumbing? CARLOS in SPRINGDALE

DEAR CARLOS: Pole barn (post frame) buildings are indeed anchored down – or least most should be. In our case engineers we utilize will specify a bottom collar of a minimum 18 inches diameter and 16 inches deep, at base of a 40 inch or deeper hole. Columns will be attached to a slab on grade, or restrained by an elevated wood floor, if over a crawl space. There should be no more damage to plumbing, due to an earthquake, for post frame construction, than there would be for any other form of construction.

 

 

 

Help Me Insulate My Pole Building

This story is sad, to me. As post frame building “experts” we (an industry collective we) owe it to our clients to educate them at design phase to avoid a situation such as reader ERIC in SPOKANE VALLEY has become happily (or maybe less happy) involved in.

Eric writes:

“I want to start insulating my pole building. 30x40x16, roof layers are metal, synthetic underlayment, osb, 2×8 purlins. My question is, can I leave an air gap between roof and insulation, as I plan on using R19 batting and covering with facing. Has an open ridge vent. Thank you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Placing batts between purlins is probably not a Top Twenty best answer for several reasons:

If you do not completely fill purlin cavities, Code requires airflow from eave to ridge over top of the insulation. You have no way to achieve this without a major remodel. You don’t even want to go there.

Getting a perfectly sealed vapor barrier under purlins would be nearly impossible to achieve.

You would have to seal the ridge vent (it isn’t working anyhow, because your building does not have an air intake from enclosed vented soffits).

While installing a flat ceiling at truss bottom chord height might appear to be a quick solution, it also is fraught with some perils:

Trusses are probably not designed to support a ceiling load. It might be possible to obtain an engineered repair from the company who produced your building’s trusses.

Ventilation system would need to be addressed for newly created dead attic space.

Closed cell spray foam insulation would need to be added in the area closest to eave sidewalls.

Weighing what you have to start with, my recommendation is to spray three inches of closed cell foam insulation below your roof sheathing. This will provide a greater R value than R19 batts and provides a vapor barrier. You will need to seal off the ridge (foam installer may be able to just spray foam underside).

Also, I notice in your photo what appears to be a total absence of truss web and bottom chord bracing. I’d have to have a copy of your building’s sealed plans, a truss drawing and some more photos to truly discern.

How Could This Have Been Avoided?

Whoever provided this post frame building should have been asking some important questions:

Will you, or anyone who might own this building in future years ever want to climate control (heat, cool or both)?

If yes, what method of roof insulation is being considered? I like insulation over a flat level ceiling personally, as I then no longer pay to heat or cool the attic area. In order to do this right, energy heels (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/) should be utilized. It also means having adequate attic insulation with soffit vents as intakes and ridge vents as exhaust.

It all could have been so much simpler.

 

Roof Collapses Due to Heavy Snow are Largely Avoidable

Roof Collapses Due To Heavy Snow Are Largely Avoidable.

Portions of this article are thanks to a February 25, 2019 article by Bill Steffan at www.woodtv.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Above pic. is the Negaunee Schools bus garage in Marquette Co., Michigan.  The roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow over the weekend.  There were 16 buses inside the garage when the collapse occurred.  The collapsed triggered the sprinkler system and that led to a substantial accumulation of ice.  This was one of several buildings that had a roof collapse due to heavy snow in Marquette Co. 

Another collapse occurred at Shunk Furniture.  The force of the collapse blew out windows in the building.  “The first buildings to be concerned about are the pole buildings, the large-span pole buildings with truss spacings of eight foot or greater,” said Gary Niemela, Owner of Skandia Truss.”Those are usually the ones to be concerned about. Probably want to take the heavy snowload off. If the snowload is three to four feet deep on those, you’re going to want to do something,” said Niemela.”

I am going to address several issues, all of them ones leading to a better investment of a new post frame building owner’s dollars.

What, a Building permit?

In a surprising number of jurisdictions across our country, post frame (pole barn) buildings are exempted from a building permit process for one of several reasons. In some areas, there are just no actual building departments. Next step up is a “Building Permit” is issued for a minimal fee (usually in a clerk’s office) usually to get it added to property tax reevaluations.

In my humble opinion every building should have RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) sealed plans submitted to an authority who can do minimally invasive site inspections via one of a myriad of online live chat options. Permits and payments could be obtained electronically. This type of system could even be contracted out to third-party providers on a percentage type contract with carefully worded expectations so there is not someone having hurt feelings at a later date.

But I Have to Pay for a RDP!

Yes you do and a good one will save you more money than they cost (or give you a greater value) in efficient use of materials and ease of construction. Favorite articles is on this very subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/08/minimum-design-loads-and-risk/.

Do Away With Risk Category I

I can hear people screaming now about how much more they are going to have to pay to get a building designed for a once in 50 year occurrence (Risk Category II) rather than once every 25 years. For practical purposes, you cut in half risks to life and property from a catastrophic failure. In many buildings added investment will be minimal, as compared to gain in reliability.

Insurance Company Discounts

Property insurers should offer some discounts for building from RDP sealed plans, as well as a further discount for buildings designed for above Code minimum climactic loads.

More Condensation Fun

Long time readers should be thoroughly drenched with solutions to condensation issues by now. As post frame construction has moved off farms and into suburbia, climate control has brought with it a plethora of condensation challenges.

Reader KRYSTA in SPOKANE writes:

“Hello! 

I have a pre-existing pole building that I am having a ton of trouble with. It is partitioned into two rooms, the back room is heated to around 50F. The attic space/loft space has a lot of condensation and I cannot seem to get this fixed. I have tried a lot of solutions, none of which have worked. I know that you build these types of buildings so I am hoping that you can recommend someone who might be able to come in and look at this issue and help me with a solution that works. I have no idea what to do next and I am a local business owner – my business is at a standstill right now until I can get this issue fixed. If you can recommend any general contractor, or anyone who might have expertise in pole buildings who I can contact I would greatly appreciate it. 

Thank you so much!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

To control your condensation challenge you need to either remove warm moist air from inside your building, prevent this air from becoming in contact with surfaces at or below dew point, heat and/or ventilate. Here’s a brief summary, followed by solutions specific to your case: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-reduce-condensation-in-post-frame-buildings/.

If you do not have some sort of thermal break below your pole building’s roof steel – two inches of closed cell spray foam should be applied. This process will be best done by a professional installer. Make certain to not block ventilation intake and exhaust points.

Unless you know for certain a vapor barrier was placed under your building’s concrete slab, seal the floor. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

Vent any dead attic spaces. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/adequate-eave-ridge-ventilation/.

Heating your building to a temperature above dew point will also solve this issue. Avoid heating with propane, as it adds moisture to the air.

Can You Provide Just Trusses for My New Pole Barn?

Back in my owning a roof truss manufacturing plant days, we sold trusses to a building contractor, who was uninsured, and new building owner neglected to insure building. When it collapsed due to builder error (building also was not engineered), our insurance company ended up paying for a replacement building as it was ruled we were 0.5% to blame, just because we provided trusses! 1/200th of fault was ours, yet we got billed!! Think trusses are expensive? Blame it on scenarios like this, causing insurance premiums to skyrocket.

To add insult to injury – builder’s check he wrote to us for these trusses, bounced and we never got paid for them!

Reader CORY in EXPORT writes:

“Hello.

Is it possible to just get the trusses or a design on the truss construction. Placement on posts. Thanks!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Our goal is to provide you with a complete, third-party engineered post frame (pole) building including complete plans, assembly instructions and materials delivered to your site.

We do not provide just trusses, as this lends itself to people believing they have an “engineered building” just because they have trusses built from engineer sealed drawings. In event of a collapse due to the balance of the structure not being designed by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) fingers start to be pointed towards whoever provided the trusses.

As for a “design on truss construction” you truly do not want to tackle building your own trusses at your site. Even if you were to have a prefabricated roof truss drawing to work from – it is impossible to buy most specified lumber grades from a drawing. You also have no way to acquire steel connector plates for the truss assembly and if you could somehow obtain them, you lack an ability to properly press them in. You might possibly be able to come across a substitution of plywood gussets for steel plates, however these plywood gussets would be significant in size and are usually required to be glued with a resorcinol glue (for further reading upon this subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/10/roof-trusses/).

When it comes to placement (attachment) of trusses to columns, this will be best left to an expert third-party engineer who will seal your building plans. He or she will have the needed education, experience and expertise to properly design all of your building connections to adequately support imposed climactic loads.

If you believe you can somehow save money by piecemealing together your own building, then this will be a must read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/diy-pole-building/.

Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be in contact with you soon, to assist in your journey to a new post frame building.

Insulation, Insulation, Insulation

The Pole Barn Guru discusses the always popular ceiling insulation, vapor barriers with insulation, and closed cell spray foam insulation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I read your article on unvented roofs. My building has a vapor barrier installed. I am at the point of insulation and plan on doing closed cell spray foam. What would be better spraying the roof deck or the attic floor/ top side of the ceiling. I was thinking spraying the roof deck and then doing blown in insulation above the ceiling to get my r value. I thought having the entire building done in closed cell would make for the tightest building. BRAD in FLANAGAN

DEAR BRAD: If you have a condensation control barrier (having a thermal break, not just a vapor barrier) of some kind between roof steel and framing, then there would be no need to closed cell spray foam underside of roof deck, unless you are going to use this as your only insulation.  Insulating ceiling line creates a dead attic space above, so it will need to be ventilated (either eave and ridge or gable vents). Closed cell spray foam will give you a very air tight building, applied properly.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Built pole barn installed 1-2 inch thermal sheathing in outside installed 8 inch batt would you install vapor barrier on inside been told I have two vapor barriers answers. JIM in HARTFORD

DEAR JIM: You are going to have insulation sandwiched between two vapor barriers, however air leakage into the cavity is a greater issue than through a vapor barrier. Goal is to keep insulation and wall framing dry. As long as you adequately seal all of the air leakage pathways you would not need an interior vapor barrier. In other words – if you install an electrical outlet or switch box, seal it, seal around any door or window openings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What do you feel is best insulation system for pole buildings building we got is 162 x 72 wood structure built on foundation wall columns on 6 ft on center girts nailed to outside of columns and also inside corrugated metal we installed 1/2 poly iso insulation and 8 inch batts in wall spray foamed  base to seal air leaks and plugged holes on top with 3 inch iso between columns and foamed around window frames poly iso has foil face and we taped seams wanted to install poly vapor barrier on inside but was told that I would have two vapor barriers which is bad what do you recommend? JIM in HARTFORD

DEAR JIM: My recommendation would be two inches of closed cell spray foam on inside of steel siding. Install another set of girts on inside of columns to support interior wall finish material. Fill wall cavity with BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/). Glue two inches of closed cell foam insulation board on inside of girts, sealing around any penetrations. Glue interior finish material to inside of insulation board.

 

 

 

 

Fight Knee Braces

Long time readers (as well as most people with a lick of common sense) know knee braces are not a good thing. Besides taking up valuable interior space, they do more harm than good.

Reader TY from QUINTON has run into a dilemma regarding knee braces. He writes:

“I pulled a permit to self build a 34x48x16 pole barn. I left knee braces off the plans- after reading that knee braces force the posts outward under roof loading. The county added knee braces to my plan. Shall I simply add the knee braces or contest them?
Thanks – love reading your blog.”

Pole Barn Knee Braces

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for being an avid reader of my blog. It is appreciated. It appears one thing I preach over and over is – never build a building not designed by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer). Even if you have read every one of my blog articles and have invested in a copy of the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) Post Frame Design Manual (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/post-frame-building-3/) and designed according to it, you are going to miss something. Probably something crucial.

I looked in our database and you do not appear – this means you didn’t ever contact us for a price on your post frame building kit. Our kit would have included engineer sealed plans and full calculations so you wouldn’t be battling with your Building Department right now.

Reality is – knee braces are bad. Very bad. Read why here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/post-frame-construction-knee-braces/.

If you insist upon following your current path (do-it-yourself plans), then your Building Official has a right to add anything they want to your plans and you truly have no leg to stand upon. If they are going to force you into knee braces, then you had better be talking long and hard with your roof truss supplier to insure they are on board with these excess loads being forced into their trusses.

Or – you could do it right (and easy) way and dial (866)200-9657 and talk with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer about your building. We can provide correct materials for your new post frame building at lower prices than you will ever be able to purchase them for – plus you will have engineer sealed plans and calculations enabling you to sail through permit processing.

Smartphone App to Test Lumber Strength

I have been a proponent of machine rated lumber since I bought my first truckload to be made into trusses at Coeur d’Alene Truss (http://www.cdabuilders.com/) back in 1978. Years later I spent five terms on the Board of Directors of the Machine Stress Rated Lumber Producers Council (http://www.msrlumber.org/).

I have opined previously on the merits on machine graded lumber: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/12/machine-graded-lumber/.

Mississippi State University™ has taken lumber testing technologies and placed them directly into the hands of the public. Please read on in this MSU article:

The “Smart Thumper” app, available for download in the Apple Store, uses sound waves or vibrations to determine stiffness, a quality that relates to strength, for individual pieces of lumber. (Photo by David Ammon)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Determining the stiffest piece of lumber is now easier with a new smartphone app created by scientists in Mississippi State University’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center. 

Called “Smart Thumper,” the app uses sound waves or vibrations to determine stiffness, a quality that relates to strength, for individual pieces of lumber.  

Developer Dan Seale, professor in MSU’s Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, said it will help carpenters, contractors, architects, engineers, lumber mill personnel and consumers. He pointed out that it can be particularly beneficial for the do-it-yourself market.

The Mississippi State team that has developed an app to determine stiffness of individual pieces of lumber include, from left, Frederico Franca, assistant research professor of sustainable bioproducts; Songyi “May” Han, an MSU sustainable bioproducts doctoral student; and professor Dan Seale. The team’s work is part of the university’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center. (Photo by David Ammon)

“All lumber is not the same, even though it may be graded the same. The grade is based on a range of values and characteristics,” Seale said. “Perhaps a consumer has a pack of lumber which meets the specification for No. 2 grade, but they need a couple of pieces for a header, something that might span the opening for a window or door. This app helps select the stiffest pieces that are least likely to sag over time,” Seale explained.

Frederico Franca, the app’s co-developer and an assistant research professor in sustainable bioproducts, first envisioned the app when he discovered that the equipment designed to test lumber costs around $84,000.

“The goal was to make something cheaper and more readily available to give consumers and stakeholders broader access to nondestructive testing equipment,” Franca said. “Now anyone with a smartphone can download the app to help pick out the stiffest pieces for whatever they are building.”

His love of physics, along with the desire to create something less expensive, fueled his idea for a smartphone app that would render lumber values through the use of sound and vibration. 

“With this app, I can show you which lumber pieces are stiffer and therefore stronger,” Franca explained. “This can’t always be done through visual inspection. You need vibration or you need sound.”

Lumber mills use both visual and mechanical means to grade all types of dimensional lumber. Pieces can be tested for strength and stiffness, and the numbers are crunched through an algorithm to determine grade.

“This app can help further evaluate lumber within established grades, potentially optimizing the longevity and cost efficiency of wood structures by selecting stiffer pieces for situations that demand higher performance,” Franca said.

Also a part of the code development team is Songyi “May” Han, an MSU sustainable bioproducts doctoral student whose 2017 master’s thesis relates to marketing the smartphone app.

The app is available for download in the Apple Store. Visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smart-thumber/id1436858557?mt=8.

Learn more by visiting http://smartthumper.fwrc.msstate.edu/.

Boots on the Ground With Rick Carr

Boots On The Ground With Rick Carr

Long time Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Carr has a lengthy history in post frame construction – back to his early years where he worked assembling them for a living. Rick is one of those inquisitive sorts, he wants to know not only what a best design solution is, but also why.

 

Well, Rick is putting himself into a client’s shoes, so I will let him best tell his story and I will comment as needed.

Here is how it all began with a recent email from Rick to me:

“Hi Mike,

I don’t know if you are aware that I plan to get a Hansen building for a fishing cabin that I hope to start in July of this year. 

I intend to build a 26 x 40 building using 34 foot trusses so that the trusses cantilever over an 8 foot deck.  I am planning a crawl space so that the deck would be at the same level of the first floor or slightly below.  Additionally, I intend to use radiant floor heating over the subfloor above the crawl space.

I am having challenges working out some of the details and getting conflicting information so I could have a series of questions for you as I learn more.

Today’s question is about building with construction screws versus nails and a nailing gun.  I plan to buy some new tools for the project.  I am looking at 20 V portable drill/driver packages.  They tend to combine drills with impact drivers as a package.

My question is would you build up your walls using construction screws or nails?

And, do you know if the impact drivers that come in these packages are strong enough to drive the Strong-Drive® SDWS Timber screws, ledger locks, to attach the double trusses to the columns?

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/connecting-trusses-not-dots/

PS, I could send the questions in a timely fashion if you wanted to do a series…..”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I would use screws to assemble everything, as they are superior fasteners. When I did my last remodel on our home at Newman Lake, Washington, I used screws for everything. It might have added a few minutes overall to my work, however it was sure handy to be able to back out a few screws when I decided something wasn’t exactly to my liking.

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/strong-drive-screws/

As to being able to drive a Strong-Drive® SDWS Timber Screw, I have successfully put them in using my regular old ¼” drill motor.

Read about Strong-Drive® SDWS Timber screws here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/simpson-strong-drive-sdws-timber-screw/.

 

I’d like for you to write about your entire process – what lead you to your decision to use post frame, and considerations in arriving at your design. More you can share, better it will be in helping others through this process.

Stay tuned, folks for more on Rick Carr’s building in future blogs.

I’d Rather Order My New Pole Building Myself

We humans want to do things ourselves. We love GPS because it keeps us from having to ask strangers for help or admitting we are lost.

I admit to, at one time in my life, being an extremist at “doing it myself”.

Then I learned….. by listening to experts I could learn so much faster.

Consider me – I’ve either personally made more mistakes or been a party to helping people fix theirs, than most can even begin to imagine.

Why should you repeat these sins?

Answer: You do not have to. Here is a case in point real life story thanks to reader ARNOLD:

“It would be really neat if when filling out information your page a potential customer could get the information without having to give name, email, and what all else.  Kind of a pain in the rear if you know what I mean.

Thanks”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you very much for your input. Certainly we could have our system set up so you could go online and actually even order a building, without ever having to talk to anyone. Think of it similar to be able to custom produce a massive set of somewhat Lego® like pieces online and have them delivered. We could do it……

And chances are you would end up regretting your decision forever.

Our system would allow you to make changes in climactic design. This could result in you not having a building meeting Building Code loadings. Worst case scenarios being you would either not be allowed to build, or (in jurisdictions with no plan reviews and field inspections) your building could fail and injure or kill someone. Decrease snow and/or wind loads or chose B for wind exposure instead of C could result in both savings as well as collapses. Your building department would also reject your plans…or even worse, your building, once you had constructed it. Planning on “doing it yourself” and not ever contacting your building department? In one word: Don’t!!! I’ve seen far too many customers snagged on their buildings after they were built. Worse case, the building department made them tear it down.

About Hansen BuildingsFace it, we humans are dimensionally challenged. Even though we have an idea a basketball hoop will be at 10 feet, we think our car needs a door this height. We want to make certain you design a building with adequate spaces for your activities. This includes properly sized doors, properly spaced, to actually allow prized possessions in or out without damage to your building or something treasured.

Our having you interact with a real live person has a goal of keeping you (as much as possible) from making crucial design errors causing you to hate your pole building forever. One of those mistakes would be us allowing you, as a serious future building owner, to order a post frame building from someone else. We firmly believe we have the absolute best value in a complete, engineered post frame building kit package – enough so we offer to go comparative shop for any client prepared to invest in a building. Call 866-200-9657 and ask us about this service. It’s free!

The “Best Price,” Increase Height? and the Hansen Buildings Way

Today’s Pole barn Guru answers questions about price and value, increasing ceiling height of a building, and if Hansen “builds” these structures.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the best price I can get for a riding arena 60 by 130 ft? MICHELLE in FREDERICK
DEAR MICHELLE: Free. Just place four immovable items at each corner and ride within their perimeter.
Now I will drop my snark and get serious. Shopping by “best price” becomes an absolute recipe for disappointment and disaster. In my humble opinion, you should be in search of best value for your investment.
Interior Clearspan ArenaAnyone can leave enough benefits (and features) out of a building to get to a best price. With your limited amount of supplied information, someone could easily quote you a galvanized roof only building with eight foot high walls! Certainly far too short to ride in and totally impractical. It would not surprise me to see you get responses for 12 and 14 foot eave buildings, when in reality it takes a 16 foot eave to truly make for a great arena.
You can find out a whole lot more about what makes a great riding arena here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/riding-arenas/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to increase the ceiling height from 9 ft to 13 ft. Is there a way to do this without tearing down and installing new poles? RICHARD in ROCA

DEAR RICHARD: You might be searching for a green handled board stretcher: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/snipe-hunting/.

In reality, there exists no easy solution for your challenge. In most instances, you will find a column size and grade working nicely with a nine foot ceiling, fails miserably with a 13 foot ceiling height. This will be due to beam forces (your poles act as beams to span from ground to roof) being distance of span squared. Your proposed taller building columns would need to withstand forces nearly double those of your shorter counterpart. This alone negates probability of splicing into posts to make them taller.

Best solution – saving most time, effort, angst and money, will be to construct a new, taller engineered post frame building meeting with your needs.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, do you build as well or you only provide the kits?
If you do build, can you build in Weschester, NY? Thank you. VERONIKA in YORKTOWN HEIGHTS

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualDEAR VERONIKA: I personally would like to believe I build very well, however I am not for hire.

Hansen Pole Buildings provides only complete post frame building kit packages, including fully engineered plans and complete step-by-step assembly instructions. We provide delivery to any continental United States accessible location.

We are not contractors. 

 

 

3M All Weather Flashing Tape 8067

3M™ All Weather Flashing Tape 8067

Like a bad novelist, in my last article I introduced a character in a final book chapter, who had not been previously mentioned.

3M™ All Weather Flashing Tape 8067 is a self-adhered, waterproof flashing membrane designed for sealing around openings and penetrations in exterior walls. This product has a unique acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive aggressively sticking and staying stuck both at lower and higher application temperatures than traditional flashing tapes. It even adheres to damp surfaces.

Available in a variety of widths to meet your project needs

Bonds to Most Common Building Materials without Primers and Staples 
3M™ All Weather Flashing Tape 8067 has been engineered to increase productivity while solving most critical flashing problems. Unique acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive sticks and stays stuck to seal around windows, doors and other openings. To prevent moisture intrusion, thin backing construction effectively conforms and seals around nails and staples with less buildup under siding. Proprietary construction will not liquefy, bleed, or melt in contact with many building sealants or in extreme summer temperatures. 

Recommended Applications

  • Sealing joints around sills, jambs and heads of rectangular windows in wood frame construction
  • Sealing around other wall interruptions in non-roof areas, such as thresholds, dryer vents and hose bibs
  • When installed properly as a concealed flashing in vertical walls in frame construction, it prevents moisture intrusion or water leaks and avoids costly problems caused by water infiltration.
  • Stays Stuck, Even in Extreme Temperatures 

3M™ All Weather Flashing Tape 8067 resists UV exposure for up to 12 months. It can be applied to materials without primers or staples and bonds in surface temperatures from 0° to 176°F (-18° to 80°C) per AMAA 711-05. Its proprietary backing seals around nails and staples to prevent moisture intrusion. This tough backing resists punctures and tears, yet thin enough to fit conveniently into corners and under siding. Split paper release liner provides fast application with easy and accurate positioning of tape. 

Details

  • Apply with surface temperatures as low as 0°F (-18°C) or high as 176°F (80°C)
  • Resists UV exposure for up to 12 months
  • Passes nail sealability before and after thermal cycling according to AAMA 711-05
  • Bonds to most common building materials without primers and staples
  • Service temperature -40ºF to 240ºF (-40ºC to 116ºC)
  • No adverse reaction with many building sealants
  • Split-liner for easy and accurate positioning of tape, especially long lengths
  • Eligible for LEED Compliance Credits

 

 

The Case of the Leaking Post Frame Building Window

The Case of The Leaking Post Frame Building Window

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero – renowned sleuth Sherlock Holmes, was forever solving mysteries entitled “The Case of Something or Other”. To solve this particular mystery neither Holmes, nor Dr. John Watson’s skills will be required. Nor shall we need a call to Scotland Yard.

Reader Justin in California writes:

“Hi

I’m hoping you can tell me the truth about why windows might be leaking in a pole barn with metal siding.

I’m in California and had a local builder put this building up.

All of my windows leak…well they seep.

 

 

 

 

It’s not a lot and only happens when it rains a lot or rains with winds.

 

 

 

 

 

I see there is a water trail starting at the bottom of all windows and goes down.

 

 

 

 

I have attached photos of the inside and outside.

 

 

 

 

I was told that water hits the J channel then goes down and goes between the metal siding and the window wrap (Tyvec) and out the bottom….is this true?

 

 

 

 

 

Not asking for a fix just does that water travel between metal and the wrap?

Thanks.

P.S.

The blue frog tape marks where the leaks are.

The photos w/ the pex pipe…the water has been turned off so no water leaks coming from the pex pipe.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

There’s truth as to why you are getting leakage around your windows (drum roll please) – poor installation.

Another truth – water hits your building’s J channel then goes down and goes between the metal siding and window wrap (Tyvec) and out the bottom. This does not make it a correct installation however.

When I was constructing post frame buildings two decades ago we initially were doing an installation similar to what your builder did. We used a typical flanged vinyl window and trimmed it out with a surround of four sticks of J Channel. I had some really great building crews, guys who took a great deal of pride in their workmanship. Even then, we had call backs for over 10% of our window installations due to leaks! Construction callbacks are costly and crews hate going back to do rework. We solved this problem by going to vinyl windows with integrated J Channels. Poof – leak problems pretty much disappeared.

Your building has a Weather Resistant Barrier (good choice as it allows moisture from inside wall cavity to pass out, while keeping outside moisture out).

Before placing a window in a framed opening, a generous bead of caulking should be applied to seal between nailing flange and Weather Resistant Barrier. After installing window in opening, place self-adhesive flashing tape (3M All Weather Flashing Tape 8067 or similar) around the window. With steel trim J Channel, a serious bead of caulking must be placed between flashing tape (or flange if tape was omitted). As J Channel corners are overlapped, caulking needs to be placed between each overlap. Special attention needs to be given to lower corners of window to adequately and completely seal tops of ribs, so water running down panels cannot get between steel siding and Weather Resistant Barrier.

Inside closures (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/the-lowly-inside-closure/) or Emseal Self Expanding Sealant Tape Closures (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/emseal-self-expanding-sealant-tape-closures/) can be placed between top edge of steel siding below window and Weather Resistant Barrier to further limit a possibility of water entering your walls.

Wa-lah! Case solved.

 

Do Vapor Barriers Trap Moisture?

Vapor Barriers Trap Moisture?

Do vapor barriers trap moisture in walls of post frame buildings? They can, but only if they are installed on both sides of a wall insulation cavity.

Regular readers of this column will recognize a prevailing trend towards climate controlling both new and existing post frame buildings. An ability to control interior climate extends far beyond merely what one happens to be doing for insulation. It also includes what one does for weather resistant barriers and vapor barriers.

Insulating WallsThe purpose of a vapor barrier is to stop warm, moist, indoor air from infiltrating fiber-type insulation (think fiberglass or cellulose) during cold weather and condensing. Visible moisture or frost on the inside of a vapor barrier is either caused by a leaky vapor barrier or moisture migrating into the wall cavity from the outside. Leaky siding can cause this, and it often happens in basements that are apparently leak free. Vapor barriers are essential for any kind of insulation that air can pass through. Never do the really foolish act of slashing a vapor barrier that you find has moisture behind it or forgetting to install a vapor barrier in the first place. Today’s best vapor barriers prevent moisture from moving into wall cavities while also letting trapped moisture escape.

Recommendations below are for cold-climate construction. As a rule of thumb, if you have to heat your building more than cool it, this probably applies to your circumstance.

A weather resistant barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) will prevent moisture from entering a wall from outside of building. It also allows any moisture within a wall to exit. Pretty slick stuff, as it is smart enough to be directional.

Inside of this wall, once unfaced (recommended) insulation batts are installed, should be a vapor barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/11/vapor-barriers-post-frame-construction/). It is imperative this vapor barrier not have unsealed tears or holes. It should be sealed to floor and ceiling and any joints, rips or tears should be adequately taped. Where problems most often occur, with vapor barriers, is when penetrations are made for things such as electrical boxes. Properly sealing of these penetrations with closed cell spray foam from a can does more to prevent warm moist air to pass through into your post frame wall insulation cavity, than anything else.

 

 

 

Dress for Winter Post Frame Success

Dress for Winter Post Frame Building Success

My most recent winter-time post frame building experience was a few years ago when my lovely bride and I assisted her brother Mark with construction of his 36’ x 48’ shop. Temperatures hovered around zero as we shivered our way towards getting a roof installed.

Given frigid temperatures recently affecting most of our country, now seems a particularly good time to discuss how post frame builders and do-it-yourselfers can best deal with jobsite cold temperatures.

First, have correct clothing and gear, and though it may seem clichéd, dressing in layers helps.

Right clothes can save you a lot of trouble and investing in expensive yet effective gear isn’t a waste of money. If I were to build in 0-degree weather (like today) I would be wearing five or six upper body layers. Take advantage of microfiber moisture wicking apparel (think Under Armour®).

Essential pieces to invest in are good gloves and boots. Gloves are particularly important because post frame builders need warmth but also enough dexterity to be able to pick up a nail or screw. Gloves offering a right balance can be difficult to find. I am still searching for a perfect pair of gloves. Closest I have found to keeping my hands warm would be layers, with a thin pair of gloves inside a heavier pair. When it comes to footwear you get what you pay for in work boots. Boots offering 400 milligrams of insulation are highly effective. Although I have not tried it, apparently some have experienced success with cutting pieces of radiant reflective barrier to use as insoles!

Overalls are particularly effective for trapping in heat. Often overlooked, is importance of keeping one’s neck warm. There are a myriad of options, although personally I wear a thick scarf.

While clothes are important, they of course won’t entirely eliminate cold as a jobsite factor. After right clothes, mental fortitude comes in second most as an important element of successfully post framing in the cold. Remember to keep moving around. You are less likely to become frostbit if you keep fingers and toes moving. Stay hydrated. A thermos of hot coffee or chicken noodle soup helps to keep the body core temperature set at “warm”.

It’s really easy to be defeated. And it’s really easy to be sitting in your warm truck in mornings, not wanting to turn it off. Most veteran post frame builders, when they’re going out to work near zero degrees, don’t talk about it. They don’t complain about it, they just go out and do it because they have this mental wherewithal it’s just another day.

 

Electrical Planning, Moisture Issues, and Ceiling Barriers

Today the Pole Barn Guru fields questions on electrical planning, moisture issues, and ceiling barriers.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good Morning/Evening:     I currently have a 36′ wide x 48′ long with 12′ tall ceiling pole barn that I would like wire for lights and outlets.   I intend to run main power from the street pole to a meter base and into a internal breaker box.  I know you have/sell electrical planning layouts for the internal pole barn light/outlets and I would like to purchase a set for use as a general guide.  Can you tell me how I might purchase your pole barn electrical layouts, etc.??    Thanks for your help in advance.   Very Respectfully. BILL in AMHERST

DEAR BILL: Thank you very much for your inquiry. We do not involve ourselves in any sort of electrical. No electrical materials, no layouts, no plans. Try visiting the ProDesk of your local The Home Depot for assistance.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi I’m emailing because I’m having issues with moisture in my building it happens when it freezes and then thaws and it only drips from the pillars and I have moisture barrier inside can you please explain why that’s happening. ROBERT in CHEHALIS

DEAR ROBERT: We receive a handful emails with challenges such as yours every winter, from clients who recently had their buildings completed. It all goes back to where is moisture source?

If no concrete slab in your building, it is because ground outside of your building freezes before ground inside. When this occurs it is like pulling a cork from a bottle – all ground moisture from area surrounding building tries to escape through your building.

Have a fairly new slab on grade in your building? Moisture will be coming from it. As long as you have a well-sealed vapor barrier under your slab, you should only experience this issue for one winter. You can speed this process along by keeping large door(s) open on days when dew point stays lower than outside air temperatures (lower humidity, faster water will exit your slab).

If a well-sealed vapor barrier was not installed under your building’s slab, then slab surface should be sealed (once it dries out).

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello. I plan to use foil backed foam sheets for my ceiling in my 28 x 34 Pole Building / garage. Reading your article, you would NOT put up a plastic barrier to control heat loss before hanging the Foam board? 4 / 12 pitch. Recommendation for hardware to secure sheets to trusses?
Thank you DAN in BUTLER

DEAR DAN: A plastic barrier would not make any difference in controlling heat loss, as it has no insulating value. Your foam board, if installed properly with joints sealed, will act as a vapor barrier. I’d glue it to truss bottoms to eliminate transfer of heat through nails or screws. Make sure to adequately ventilate dead attic space you are creating and a provision for preventing warm moist air from contacting roof steel underside exists.

 

 

Free Post Frame Foundation Building Calculator

Free Post-Frame Building Foundation Engineering Calculator

No, such a thing as a free post-frame building foundation engineering calculator does not exist. However there always seems to be someone out there who is in search of “engineering for free”.

Reader KELLY writes:

“Guru,

Do you have a link to a pole foundation engineering calculator?

Looking for column depth / diameter for:

40x60x14

10 ft column spacing

35 PFS load

115 wind load.

No floor for constraint.

thanks.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

There is no such thing as a “pole foundation engineering calculator” therefore, there is also no link to one. The design of post frame (pole) building foundations is one which is best left in the hands of RDPs (Registered Design Professionals – architects or engineers). When provided with all the pertinent information about your proposed building, they can design not only a structurally sound column embedment, but also your entire structure (which I whole heartedly recommend).

You’ve provided some of the information a RDP would require, but I will expand upon it:

Will the building have adequate sheathing (which could be roll formed steel roofing and siding) to transfer wind loads from roof to ground through endwalls? And will the sheathing be adequately fastened to underlying frame to take advantage of sheathing stiffness? If yes, diaphragm design can be utilized in your building design.

The difference in forces carried by sidewall columns with and without an adequate diaphragm is a factor of 4! If diaphragm design cannot be utilized, expect significantly larger columns, deeper holes and more concrete around columns.

What type of soil is at building site? Strength and stiffness of your soil will impact both depth and diameter of holes.

How are you measuring your 14′? It should be from bottom of pressure preservative treated splash plank, to underside of roofing at sidewalls. It does make a difference.

Does your building have overhangs?

What is the roof slope?

What is wind exposure at your site? The difference in force against columns between Exposure B and Exposure C is roughly 20%.

In the event you are not interested in procuring services of a RDP, the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) has available a Post-Frame Design Manual and you could attempt to do calculations yourself. For more information please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/post-frame-building-3/.

Of course you could always invest in a fully engineered post frame building kit package. Besides engineer sealed blueprints and calculations, you would also get materials delivered to your site and a multi-hundred page Construction Manual to guide you through to a successful completion.

 

Safety Information for Post Frame Truss Installation

Safety Information for Post-Frame Truss Installation

The following article, written by Frank Woeste, P.E., appeared in the February 2018 edition of The Component Manufacturing Advertiser, and is reprinted here, in its entirety. The BCSI-B10 document referenced is included within the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual as part of every building kit package provided by Hansen Pole Buildings.

The recent jobsite installation accident involving truss construction, “Three injured in north Washington County barn collapse,” is a reminder of the incredible value of BCSI-B10 for truss installation contractors who install trusses spanning up to 81-ft. and spaced up to 12-ft. on-center. In some collapse cases that I have investigated, the installation contractors had successfully installed typical “house trusses” without incident, but had not previously installed 60-ft. (or greater) widely-spaced trusses, 14–16 ft. above grade. The safe erection of typical long-span trusses used in pole barn (post-frame) construction is challenging and requires knowledge of special truss erection techniques.

While I am not aware of details of the planned construction and Washington County accident, the news report sounds all too familiar. From the news report, the situation sounds like a typical failure mode of long-span trusses during the installation process:

“The men were putting up trusses….when they noticed ‘a sway or a bend in the trusses’.”

The “sway or a bend” is typically caused by “compressive stresses” in the top chords. When the compressive stress reaches a critical level, buckling of the chords can occur and cause a catastrophic collapse.

Fortunately for contractors, guidance on how to safely erect long-span widely-spaced trusses was developed and published in 1998 by the Truss Plate Institute (TPI). The 1998 document, HIB-98, was later revised and updated by SBCA and TPI, and published as BCSI-B10 by SBCA: http://support.sbcindustry.com/images/publication_images/b10.pdf.

It should be noted that the special installation techniques presented in the B10 were written by a small group of about 5–6 post-frame engineers with long experience in both post-frame design and truss installation as well. While the BCSI-B10 method for safely installing widely-spaced long-span trusses is well illustrated for the contractor, the purpose of this article is to draw attention to important building design details and installation steps that must be coordinated by the Building Designer and truss installation contractor.

Creating a “Truss Sandwich” for Safety

The proven technique used by the most experienced design-build post-frame designers and contractors is to create a “truss sandwich” by extending the gable end wall columns up to the top chords of the gable end truss. As depicted by Figure H from HIB-98 Post Frame Summary Sheet shown here, the gable end trusses are stabilized from “rollover” by structural connections between the end-wall columns and top and bottom chords.

Importantly, these safety precautions have been maintained during the document’s evolution from HIB-98 to BCSI-B10. Page 2 of BCSI-B10 provides the following instruction under Important Notes on Limitations of Recommendations:

  1. For gable style roofs, the end-walls shall have columns that extend to the top chord of the gable end truss with adequate contact between the top chord and column for a structural connection. The gable end trusses are stabilized against rollover by connecting the top and bottom chords to the end-wall columns or engineered bracing system.

This focus on end-wall stabilization is critical to successful installation (picture 1).

Another important feature of the “truss sandwich” method is to stabilize the truss heels against rollover by extending the side-wall columns to the mid-height of the truss heel plus a structural connection between the truss heel and side-wall column. The BCSI-B10 Important Notes section on page 2 continues with Notes 4 and 5:

  1. Side-wall columns extend above the mid-height of the truss heel at the connection of the column and the truss.

    5. Truss heels are connected to columns or headers (i.e. beams, girders) to resist rollover at the heel.

An example detail for meeting the requirement of Notes 4 and 5 is shown in the picture 2.

Conceptually, based on the full implementation of Notes 3, 4 and 5, the gable end trusses and truss heels are stabilized against rotation. Thus, the building design details inherently enhance the likelihood of a safe truss installation process by virtue of the fact that the truss support columns provide support to the trusses when they are lifted onto the roof and (positively) connected to the side-wall columns.

Once the truss heels are stabilized by the side-wall column connection, roof purlins (acting as Continuous Lateral Restraint [CLR]) can be installed at the Maximum Spacing Between Rows of Lateral Restraint per Table 1 on page 5 of B10. In Table 1, the maximum spacing between rows of lateral restraint, either 10, 8, or 6-ft on-center, accommodates the later installation of purlins at 2-ft. on-center. From B10 Table 1, the application of the Top Chord Temporary Lateral Restraint Schedule is limited:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Table 1 is applicable for symmetrical triangular metal plate connected wood trusses with pitched top chords of 3:12 or greater and flat bottom chords. Other truss types are expressly excluded. … FOR TRUSS CONFIGURATIONS, SPANS AND/OR TOP CHORD GRADES NOT COVERED BY TABLE 1, CONSULT A REGISTERED DESIGN PROFESSIONAL.

Care must be taken at each step to ensure proper installation.

Chronological Steps are Critical for Success

Beyond the BCSI-B10 recommendations for critically important wall-column design details that enable the wall framing to help stabilize the trusses during installation, a unique feature of B10 for post-frame is the detailed sequence of steps needed to ensure a safe truss installation. On page 3 under TEMPORARY INSTALLATION RESTRAINT/BRACING PRINCIPLES, it states:

Use the following chronological steps to provide temporary installation restraint/bracing for truss installation.

In this section, you will find four pages describing four detailed Steps in chronological order, that is, 1, 1.1, 1.2, 2, 2.1–2.3, and so on. The order of installation work matters such that all forces present and generated during the truss installation process have a “complete load path” to the columns, braced walls, and eventually to the ground.

Permanent Bracing Addressed

BCSI-B10 also addresses permanent bracing. Pages 7 through 12 contain design data and figures that clearly show the need and position of “diagonal braces” for stabilizing continuous lateral restraint (CLR) bracing. This practice would help mitigate what I have observed throughout my career—the collapse of long buildings (400–600 ft.) with webs having one or two CLRs and, at best, only a couple diagonal braces. On page 9, Figures Q, R, and S depict the diagonal bracing required for web members. This information is important for all parties using long-span and widely-spaced trusses.

Opportunity for Component Manufacturers

Component manufacturers have an excellent opportunity to inform post-frame/pole-barn project customers on the availability of BCSI-B10 Summary Sheet and its value for accomplishing a safe installation. This critical information is easy to obtain and distribute.

In my opinion, the 12-page document (in color), https://docs.sbcindustry.com/sample/113, is a “truss safety treasure” for the post-frame method and common applications that range from barns to schools. To my knowledge, the method or special technique for long-span widely-spaced truss installation has been successful without a reported accident.

 

Where Oh Where Should My Purlins Go?

Where, Oh Where, Should My Purlins Go?

There are almost as many methods for assembly of a post frame building, as there are post frame buildings! I kid you not.

Amongst differences are how to space trusses – two, four, eight, 12 foot or numerous other possible centers. Along with different truss spacings are how to install roof purlins across or between trusses to support steel roofing.

Reader KELLY writes:

“So, I would like some info on purlins.  One builder has them laying flat on top of truss, one on edge on top of truss, and one on edge with hangers between trusses?  I have my thoughts but wonder what is technically better.

I like the hanger between trusses, for roof load,  but I wonder if you give up some of the diaphragm strength that is accomplished by purlins laying flat on the truss.  

To me, with a purlin that lays across multiple trusses, you get the benefit of added strength because you are tying multiple trusses together and the lateral stress is on the edge of the purlins.  When they are in hangers, the load stress in on the purlins edge, but the lateral stress allows the trusses to move independently.  

Trusses most likely on 8’s.  Purlins 24 spacing.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Purlins placed flat will not span eight feet, so eliminates this option. If you are planning upon going with edgewise purlins across a single truss, you are going to run into an uplift problem. Usually builders want to drive a 60d nail through purlins, into truss tops, however this connection doesn’t calculate out as being able to keep purlins from ripping off the building during severe weather. Most builders are not willing to spend time to install an engineered steel tie-down for purlins in this scenario. Over top also means purlins get staggered when they overlap. This precludes abilities to predrill roof steel. Predrilling gives nice straight screw lines and also eliminates possibilities of missing a purlin with a screw.

This leaves “in hangers” between trusses as your only viable (and practical) design solution.

Diaphragm stiffness of your roof will come from your building’s roof steel (and method of attaching steel to purlins), not how purlins are connected to trusses. Purlins tying multiple trusses together are not going to make your end resultant any stronger or stiffer.

Ultimately your RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who places his or her seal upon your building plans will be making a determination as to adequacy of any of these connections. If you are talking with a builder whose brilliant idea will be not building from engineered plans …run away from them as quickly as possible. This would be a risk not worth taking. If an engineer didn’t design your building…..then who did?

Hansen Pole Buildings Pictures

Hansen Buildings Pictures

Today’s blog courtesy of one of Hansen Buildings’ owners, J.A.Hansen.

Pictures! I know I can speak for myself and the rest of the Hansen Pole Building staff when I say we love to get pictures emailed to us showing the completed kit, the new building in all its glory.

We get tons of photos of holes, poles being concreted in and even those with trusses being raised into place. But very few of the final building. I can only surmise by the end of the building process the clients are so happy with being done with their building and putting their building into use, pictures are the furthest thing from their minds.

And what about those pictures we do get? There is only one way to explain 75% of the pictures sent to us. Most people are crappy picture takers! I know that’s a bit harsh, but how something so easy gets so messed up is beyond me. So what does it take to get a good picture of a post frame building…or anything else that’s outside?

Follow this step by step process and you’ll take better pictures…of your new pole building, or anything else you want to photograph.

1. Start with choosing a cloudy or even an overcast day. Why not a sunny day? The sun makes shadows on the building so when you get the final picture the siding or steel looks like its a different color. The “other color” is dark and detracts from the beauty of the building. And the portion of the building in the shadows does not look pleasing to the eye. If you have people in your pictures, they are probably squinting and their expressions are not the most pleasing. One sees grimacing instead of smiling.

2. This step should probably precede step one….choosing a cloudy day. When you finish with putting on the last piece of trim or driving that last nail or screw, clean up the building site! Piles of cut off lumber, discarded pieces of siding or steel, tarps and garbage cans need to be cleaned up and/or moved. They really stand out in a picture and detract from the beautiful building you have just spent countless hours to build. Take an hour or two to clean up!

3. Take pictures from several angles. Don’t forget to take a few from a corner, showing two sides of the building. These angled shots are really the best. They make even a small building look grand.

Car Shop Interior

4. Take several pictures with the animals or farm equipment in them showing what the building is being used for. Don’t forget interior pictures! It’s time to show those classic cars or motorcycles which make the building shine! One picture on our website and in the Hansen Buildings’ brochure that’s a favorite of clients, readers and our staff shows a classic car…a Corvette up on a hoist. It makes clients want to have a building to house their favorite “toys” or hobbies.

5. Don’t forget to put people in the pictures. We love to see the smiling faces of the proud building owners…and their family. And please move the pickup sitting in front of the building! We want to see the building, not your favorite truck.

6. Finally…email these pictures to us. We’ve worked hard too…putting your building kit together, scheduling all the deliveries and lending a listening ear when you needed tech support.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take pictures that are vivid and tell a story. No matter what you are photographing, following these steps will guarantee pictures which are clean, beautiful and are website or brochure worthy.

Happy picture taking!

LP Siding, Ceilings, and an Inspector’s questions!

This Monday, the Pole Barn Guru discussed attaching LP siding on a post frame home, installing ceiling panels, and an Inspector’s questions.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking at the possibly of installing standard LP lap siding on a post frame home, in that case it would seem like I would need to go with vertical studs. As a look at cost and installation time, metal siding is starting to look a little better. TRENT in WALLA WALLA

DEAR TRENT: My own home features steel siding and wouldn’t consider doing it any other way. Besides being less expensive to install (both material and labor), steel siding will prove to be extremely durable and requires no maintenance. For sidings such as LP lap, you can still use bookshelf girts, reducing girt dimensions from 2×8 to 2×6 and placing vertical 2×4 nailers every two feet upon girt exterior face running from pressure preservative treated splash plank up to soffit supports. This results in a savings of around 20% in assembly framing lumber.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How far apart should the strapping be for installing metal on a ceiling. Trusses are 4ft apart metal is Tuff Rib 3/4 inch I think. BERNIE in ARMSTRONG

DEAR BERNIE: By “strapping” I will guess you are meaning supports for the steel ceiling liner panels. If you install panels perpendicular to trusses you can screw directly to bottom chords without any additional framing.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My building inspector is requesting information on the direct to ground treated aspect of the glulaminated timbers in my building.  The wording on the posts for the direct to ground side are covered with concrete.  The color alone isn’t enough.  Where can I get this info?  Also the LU28 hangars call out 3 1.5 inch nails per side to truss, and 2 1.5 per side to Purlin. Which is 10 mails per Purlin bracket. He is requesting all holes being filled.  Do I argue or do I fill the holes? RICK in PARMA

DEAR RICK: Justine forwarded to you manufacturer’s warranty information in regards to your building’s glulaminated columns, specifying level of treatment as adequate for structural in ground use.

Your inspector will be merely enforcing information denoted upon your engineered building plans. Unless called out for otherwise, all holes in hangers having wood to nail into must be filled. If nailing into a two ply member (e.g. double truss) 10d common x 3″ nails should be used. I also just happened to have a Simpson LU28 sitting next to me atop my desk – I count three holes per side to nail into purlin and four holes per side to nail into truss, total of 14 holes per bracket.

 

Insulation Values Reflect Real-World Energy Performance?

Insulation R Values Reflect Real-World Energy Performance?

Energy efficiency has become huge for post frame building construction. More and more people are discovering post frame buildings as being a cost effective design solution for residential and commercial construction.

Long time readers of this column have seen article after article in this vein, increasing with time. You have also had an opportunity to witness questions from many current post frame building owners who wished they would have designed appropriately to begin with. Proper advance planning can certainly help to achieve desired results.

Let us assume, for a moment, you have created a post frame building with commercial 2×8 bookshelf wall girts and 22 inch high raised heel trusses. In your walls, BIBs https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/) fiberglass insulation 7-1/4” deep has been used. This will give a laboratory R value somewhere in excess of 30. In attic space, 20 inches of blown in fiberglass will provide a R value of over 60. You have done your work and are happy your decision will give a more than satisfactory end resultant.

Then along I come and poke holes in your investment.

Keep in mind, my very own post frame home has fiberglass insulation very much like our imaginary scenario above.

The most common yardstick for measuring insulation performance will be R value, but there’s a problem. Insulation packaging shows lab analysis of R values, but it’s based upon used testing completely eliminating air movement from results. This matters a lot with fluffy insulation materials because air movement greatly lowers real-world insulation performance. Drafts and air currents often happen within wall cavities and attics and this will be why real-world insulation performance can be significantly lower than advertised values.

Alternatively, insulation products not allowing air movement through them (spray foams and rigid foams, for instance) have real-world insulation values almost identical to what you see printed upon packaging and used in advertising. Their performance doesn’t decline. Air-impervious insulations can be more than twice as effective as air-porous insulations of identical R value under real-world conditions.

Where does all of this leave us as post frame insulation specifiers and building owners?

When I added an exterior elevator shaft to our post frame home two years ago, my insulation choice was closed cell spray foam. I did make an error in that I did not listen to my own inner voice. Our local installer made recommendations for thickness I felt were insufficient, so I had roof and wall sprayed one inch thicker. I should have gone thicker yet as there was plenty of space available to fill. As a result the elevator shaft is cold and drafty into our living space.

Considering closed cell spray foam? Think it may be expensive? Consider its performance will probably be twice as effective as fiberglass and closed cell spray foam suddenly doesn’t seem so costly.

 

Minimizing Excavation in Post Frame Buildings Part II

Minimizing Excavation In Combination With Post-Frame Frost Protected Shallow Foundations Part II

In our last thrilling episode Snidely Whiplash had tied our fair damsel in distress, Nell Fenwick, to railroad tracks.

Oops – railroad engineers are not what most of you were expecting!

Continuing with a simplified solution response to reader DAVID’s ideas regarding site preparation and Shallow Frost Protected Foundations (SFPF) for post frame buildings.

Dear David ~

Thank you for your patience. As you may know from reading this column, I tend to research everything to best of my abilities prior to writing an article or responding to questions. Areas of site preparation and concrete flatwork are ones where I have a more limited amount of personal experience, so I have been doing a plethora of reading and contacting (and discussing) with concrete experts. I also am not married to a position, as better information becomes available, I take advantage of it.

Article you reference in (1) has been updated since you last perused it. Even though many RDP (Registered Design Professionals – architects and engineers) specify sand over under slab vapor barriers, I have now become a “no sand above vapor barrier” school convert.

To follow, a summation of my thoughts in regards to this subject, with top of slab being fixed 3-1/2” above grade.

(a) Excavate entire site to remove organic materials. Area to be excavated should be a minimum of three feet outside of actual building foot print. Depth of excavation below zero point (grade) should allow for any concrete thickness greater than a nominal four inches (3-1/2″ actual), two inches of insulation board (if desired), two to six inches of sand or sandy gravel and six to 12 inches of sub base. Assuming a nominal four inch slab, total depth of excavation should be 16 inches if doing a FPSF.

(b) Auger holes for columns, stand columns in augered holes and backfill with concrete per engineered plans.

(c) Install splash plank/skirt board, with board bottom even with grade (zero). There would be no reason to increase dimension to greater than 2×8, as vertical insulation boards prevent any concrete in a slab thickness greater than a nominal four inches to “leak” to outside world.

Side bar – 2×10 or 2×12 pressure preservative treated material will be available, however many times only via special order. If any portion were to be entirely embedded below grade, then appropriate treatment level would more probably be UC-4B – as UC-4A treatment levels are strictly for ground contact.

(d) Place vertical and horizontal insulation boards for FPSF – backfilling with sand or sandy gravel sufficiently to hold vertical insulation boards in place.

(e) Place sub-base, then base material, compacting in lifts.

(f) Place 15mil vapor barrier (make sure to run it up insides of splash planks); Under slab insulation (as desired); pex (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/), rebar and/or mesh, and then pour the slab.

This minimizes excavation by eliminating need for a trench.

 

Minimizing Excavation in Post Frame Buildings

Minimizing Excavation In Combination With Post-Frame Frost Protected Shallow Foundations

Regular readers of this column recognize a groundswell movement towards energy efficient post frame building design.

Reader (and Mechanical Engineer) DAVID in CONNECTICUT had some thoughts (after reading a volume of my article pages) in regards to FPSF (Frost Protected Shallow Foundations) and radiant in floor heat.

He writes:

Good Morning, Mike!

In regards to this post, I’m having a lot of trouble understanding just how this all fits together…

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/concrete-slab-3/

Firstly, I have read thru many (if not all) of your blog posts about foundations/slabs, browsed more than 40 pages of 80 blog list pages, as well as plenty of external references.  Thanks for all the info you’ve put up!  So trust me I’m not just trolling and looking for inconsistencies, just trying to get the best understanding possible before building and hoping to condense some of the knowledge that is spread through your blogs.  I‘m a mechanical engineer by trade but my thoughts stray into many other areas!  Because of your focus on engineering, Hansen is a front runner for getting my money.  Also, I thought maybe I could contribute to the evolution of your build process to make things easier for the insulated slab folks here in frost country!  I am in CT, frost and cold are an issue for heating my near-future garage.  I’d like to run PEX in slab, and r10 foam under slab was recommended for max efficiency. How to install PEX Tubing in a concrete slab I’ll also likely be doing at least a partial FPSF at the edges.

In your blogs there seems to be a little bit of conflict on what you recommend for site prep. 

  1. Here, in the “thoughts” section at the bottom,  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/soil-compaction-how-to/ you recommend the gravel go in after the posts, but that seems to require plenty of back excavation to get the recommended gravel depth.  How is the builder supposed to remove 6+ inches of ground from underneath and not disturb the soil under the skirt board?  Plus, in the case of the people to do have gravel put in, you just spent all that effort putting it in and compacting it now you have to dig it out?
  2. What I read at the “concrete slab -3” link above seems to indicate that I do organic removal, use at least 6”of properly compacted crushed processed stone to bring it back to (or just above) the previous grade, build the structure with skirt/splash board on that grade.  Then for a 4” slab, re-excavate down 2 more inches for the insulation/ vapor barrier.  That might be fine, but you also mention “prior to pouring (concrete),” use 2-6 inches of sand/ sandy gravel below the vapor barrier and 3-4 inches of sand above it.  That would be a minimum of 5 additional inches (+2 for foam= 7”) of internal excavation after building!  Or did you mean the first layer of sandy gravel would go on-grade and be built on?  That’s still 5 total inches of post-build excavation (3 more of sand + 2″ of insulation board).  Something still doesn’t quite add up.  Not to mention the effort/ difficulty of re-leveling and re-tamping the internal excavated surface again!
  3. You specifically mention in several places never to exceed 3.5” up the 2×8 skirt board, which is also fine, but what if we look into deeper slabs and less work to excavate?  What if we did all the gravel/sand down 2” from FINAL grade, and used a 2×10 ground contact skirt board? Then there would be no interior excavating.   I designate “final” grade because the area would be leveled, then building built and 2” backfilled against the skirt.  OR in the case of a FPSF, the vertical insulation would be there anyhow.  If there must be 2” of sandy mix above and below the vapor barrier you could use a 2 x12 skirt, right?

4. Also this article recommends against sand pre-pour.  https://www.concreteconstruction.net/how-to/site-prep/subgrades-and-subbases-for-slabs_o Thoughts on that?

5. Lastly, I had an idea to more easily prep the area for both insulated slabs and FPSF. This also prevents disturbance of the sub-grade area during the install of the FPSF external insulation.  Please see the illustration below.

6. Prep the area with appropriate sub-base compacted gravel but at a lower than “finished grade” level.  This would be an area consisting of the building size plus 3 to 5 feet in each direction.

7. Install the poles and footers.

8. Install the 2 x12 skirt board on surface of the lower than final grade area.

9. Trench the outside for the vertical and horizontal FPSF insulation,

Backfill in lifts, compact, and re-grade the area outside the skirt board insulation.  This supports the subgrade area UNDER the skirt board and behind the insulation so you don’t accidentally leave voids behind it.

THEN you add and compact the material inside the skirt board like sand/ stone-dust, vapor barrier, insulation foam, rebar and PEX tubing.  This prevents weakening of the material under the skirtboard as well, because it’s never disturbed!

Last you pour 4” of concrete leaving a 3.5” reveal and you have the same  post length, siding material and eave height/ clear height as before.

Can you even get 2 x 12s treated that might work in this application?  Is UC-4B needed as it’s not exactly structural, right?  Plus it’s surrounded by foam and well drained soil.

I know this is long, I apologize again, but I appreciate your careful review and answer in advance! 

Thanks, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!  Feel free to edit/ take snippets out for another FPSF blog post if it’s helpful.  The post to end all FPSF/ slab prep/ frost blog posts!  Honestly, 80 pages of blog post lists is very cumbersome.  I’m thinking a digest of some kind is in order!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Tune in to our next episode for a thrilling (and simple) conclusion!

 

 

 

Minimizing Post Frame Ice Dams

Minimizing post frame ice dams

November 1996 in Northern Idaho will probably forever be known as “Ice Storm”.  About six weeks prior to this event, my construction company had completed a post frame building just south of Sandpoint. When massive snow and ice storms hit, our client kept his new building warm by use of a wood stove. Heat from wood stove melted accumulated roof snow and ice. This snowmelt then proceeded to freeze along his building overhangs, forming ice dams.

Solid ice weighs roughly 57 psf (pounds per square foot). When our client’s roof ice buildup got to be over two feet thick, they caused a roof collapse – probably no surprise being as this weight was almost triple the building’s design roof load!

In cold climates getting a lot of snow, heat from inside a post frame building escaping into a traditional attic can warm the roof. Combine this with rooftop snow load insulating from cold exterior temperatures and roof deck can increase in temperature above freezing. When this happens, the bottom layer of snow can melt, and the resulting water will run down the roofline to roof’s edge.

If this occurs while average exterior temperatures are still below freezing, perimeter overhangs will likely be below freezing, and this liquid water can freeze near a roof’s perimeter – leading to icicles and possible ice dams.

You are probably familiar with icicles, but an ice dam occurs when a ridge of ice forms near roof edges and prevents melting snow/water from draining off the roof. Ice dams will grow as more water flows down the roof, builds up behind ice and freezes, However ice will only form when roof portions are below freezing temperatures, so as snow melts, liquid water will collect behind ice. When this water finds small cracks, crevices and openings in roofing it can flow into the building, causing damage.

Ice dams can break gutters, lift roofing and can cause water to back up and leak into pole buildings. Of course when water gets into a building, real damage occurs – wet insulation, peeling paint, warped wood, stained and sagging ceilings and more.

How do we solve ice dam problems?

A short-term fix – remove snow from the roof, such as by sweeping it off or using a “roof rake”, because no snow means no melt, so there will be no eave ice buildup. And for long-term solutions there are some mechanical options, like heat strips (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/hotedge/), and there are some sound building design principles helping to lower ice dam risk.

Ice dams occur because of uneven roof deck temperatures, so the key principle in lowering ice dam risk will be to maintain more consistent roof deck temperatures. This can be done by reducing heat loss from conditioned space to attic and thereby keeping heat away from roof underside.

In practice this means reducing air leakage, increasing attic insulation value and verifying good natural roof ventilation, when applicable.

There are a couple of ways use of spray foam insulation can help mitigate ice dam risk in cold climates.

Spray foam attic floor, providing an air seal across ceiling, reducing air leakage from conditioned space to attic, and we can put in as much insulation value as desired, either with all spray foam or a hybrid system incorporating spray foam with blown in insulation above. With a vented system like this, we also want to make sure we have good natural ventilation through soffits, eaves, gables, ridges, etc. This design combines all key design principles to reduce ice damming risks.

Spray foaming underside of roof deck moves thermal boundary and air barrier to underside of roof deck. It means attic space resides inside building thermal envelope and creates a sealed, unvented attic. In this design, key plane of protection becomes spray foam layer under roof deck, protecting the roof deck from interior heat and attic air. The roof deck will now be primarily exposed to exterior conditions and more likely to remain cold.

Roof Loads for Solar Panels, A “Square” Building, and Post Rot

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about installing solar panels on the roof, the “squaring” of a building, and rotting of posts.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Will a Pole Barn roof be able to hold solar panels? CARMEN in ORANGEVALE

DEAR CARMEN: We can have your new post frame building engineered to support any amount of snow load, as well as any weight of solar panels, or other materials or systems you might want to either place upon, in, or hang from the roof system, and of course the building frame which supports it.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We purchased our home and it has an unfinished pole barn. I was told it was stopped due to not being square by the township. What I have found is it is 18x48x14ft tall. I would like to add on to it and finish it which would require a 12×48 lean to and the rest of the materials to finish the building is this something you would consider quoting? JAMES in CEDAR SPRINGS

DEAR JAMES: Our hope will be “square by the township” merely means prior owner neglected to acquire needed permits (rather than building as constructed happens to be out of square). Before moving forward you should be visiting your township planning and building departments to determine exactly what issues exist. It could be your unfinished pole barn has been started in a disallowed portion of your property.

Once you have cleared things up with your officials, we could provide structural plans and materials for an attached lean to (again providing it meets with your Planning Department’s requirements).

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: One of my clients sent me this reply, can you sent me a link or information to answer his question: “As I have researched pole barns many folks talk about not setting the pole in concrete due to rot from water?”

Thanks. GREGG (a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer)

DEAR GREGG: I would sure like to see scientific proof from these “many folks”. Properly pressure preservative treated columns rotting from any cause would be just another old wives’ tale (no offense meant to old wives).

Another urban myth debunked here:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/07/isolating-pole-barn-poles-from-concrete-slabs/

 

 

Unvented Post Frame Attics

Unvented Post Frame Attics

Energy efficiency concerns have literally become a “hot” (pun intended) topic in new construction, and post frame construction methods are no exception to inclusion. Traditionally buildings have had insulation placed or blown into dead attic spaces, directly above a ceiling. Unvented attics have entered fray as an alternative.

 

To construct an unvented attic, air-impermeable insulation (think closed cell spray foam) will be applied in direct contact with steel roofing (or sheathing) underside and gable end walls so as to tie roof insulation into wall insulation below. Moving insulation boundary to the roof deck underside allows temperature and humidity conditions in the attic to be reasonably close to those of the conditioned building interior.  No attic floor vapor retarder or insulation should be installed with an unvented attic assembly.

Closed cell spray foam insulation products meet code requirements for use of an air-impermeable barrier applied to underside of roof. This prevents air infiltration and limits accumulation of airborne moisture in the attic. Using closed cell spray foam insulation applied to underside of roof deck eliminates a need for alternative methods of condensation control such as reflective radiant barriers or CondenStop (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/07/condenstop/).

In hurricane or wildfire prone areas wind-driven rain or embers cannot enter an unvented attic assembly, as there are no vents.

Spray Foam

Vented attic designs originated in cold climate areas. In these cold climates, attic ventilation is commonly used to remove warm, humid air from attic spaces. Air leakage from conditioned spaces below a ceiling greatly increased likelihood of moist air entering attics. Without adequate attic ventilation, the underside of the roof deck can have condensation form and interior heat can cause roof surface snowmelt leading to ice damming.

Use of venting to control moisture in cold climate attics comes with some inherent challenges. In high snowfall areas, snow accumulation and drifting can often block ridge vents. This limits venting and increases potential of damage due to ice damming, roof leaks and condensation.

Closed cell spray foam does not come without added upfront investment costs, however some of these can be mitigated in materials and/or labor savings.

Considering climate control of your new post frame building? If so, an unvented attic may be a viable solution worth investigating.

 

A Case for Minimum Post Frame Truss Loads

A Case for Minimum Post Frame Truss Loads

Portions of this article were written specifically for Component Advertiser, a monthly truss industry publication. However I feel strongly enough about this subject to use my column to pitch it to both my employers and other post frame building kit suppliers and contractors.

In my career I have done about everything imaginable when it comes to post frame (pole) building trusses. I have been blessed to have been able to spend a better portion of over two decades working within or owning prefabricated MPCWT (metal plate connected wood trusses) manufacturing facilities. I have designed, engineered, fabricated and delivered trusses. As a builder, I raised my first set of post frame trusses nearly 40 years ago and many more have followed.

I have also been a provider of post frame building kit packages across most of my adult life. Our industry (post frame buildings) is one where low price, rather than service and quality, drives most sellers and buyers. Sellers, more often than not, have not learned well how to convey value of benefits they offer – instead they live in fear of being a five-spot more than their competitors when it comes to price.

For nearly seven years I have been writing a weekly advice column, “Ask the Pole Barn Guru™”, where I answer post frame building oriented questions from anyone. One repeatedly asked question is in regards to adding ceilings to existing post frame buildings. Most roof trusses for these buildings were not designed to support ceiling loads, generally due to a fear of increasing building price.

Many post frame buildings are constructed in areas where pole buildings are exempt from building permits, or there are little or no structural plans reviews done. This contributes to an attitude of “make it cheap” by encouraging use of minimal loads for trusses.

A great majority of post frame buildings are used as residential accessory buildings – garages, shops, RV parking, man caves, she sheds, etc. Nearly all of these buildings have truss spans of 40 feet or less, so my proposal for voluntary minimum loading requirements for post frame buildings will be directed towards these structures.

Why not apply these minimums to larger span structures? Many wider span buildings are going to be used as horse riding arenas or equipment storage for farming and are never going to have ceilings in them. Costs to design for greater loads, for spans of 50 feet and greater could result in some significant costs. Wide span buildings being used for more humanly occupied (and therefore more critical in protection of human life) purposes are likely to have a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer) involved, who will specify roof loads based upon building use and function.

In areas of minimal or no snow, with Pg (ground snow load) values of under 20 psf (pounds per square foot) Top Chord Live Load (TCLL) should be fixed using a minimum of 20. For areas where white stuff has a greater possibility of occurrence 25 psf appears to be a reasonable minimum.

Most post frame buildings have light gauge steel roofing over purlins. Hopefully they also have some sort of minimal weight material between these to minimize or prevent condensation issues. In most instances, total dead loads required in order to support truss weight, condensation control, purlins and roofing will be less than 2.5 psf. There are folks who have ideas not always shared with truss designers – like using OSB or plywood sheathing between purlins and roofing. Also, rooftop solar panels are becoming more and more popular and find their way onto more than a few roofs not designed to support their weight.

My proposal (again for buildings of 40 foot spans and less) would be for a minimum TCDL (Top Chord Dead Load) of five psf. While this does not solve every possible case, it does allow for greater end user flexibility.

Traditionally, most post frame buildings did not have ceilings installed, so a very minimal BCDL (Bottom Chord Dead Load) has been used. Most typically a one psf loading will be selected, more than covering bottom chord lateral bracing and limited lighting. However, as post frame have moved from farms to suburbia, more buildings are getting interior finishes – meaning ceilings. I like to use 10 psf, in cases where I am designing for a drywall covered ceiling with insulation above, however even five psf would handle most ceiling loads.

Load duration – no snow, I am good with 1.25, snow areas 1.15. However, in my humble opinion, if TCLL exceeds 50 psf, chances are snow will be piled on top of these trusses for more than two months across structure’s lifetime and a DOL (Duration of Load) of 1.0 will be most appropriate.

A hidden side benefit to establishing these voluntary minimums will be stronger trusses able to withstand more abuse in handling. Some lumber members will be larger dimension or higher grade material and steel connector plates will increase in size. All of these factors increase probabilities of reduced truss damage.

Hansen VisionNow, I believe, time has come to stop selling price to post frame building clients and sell benefits. Safety becomes easiest to sell – no one wants to live with a fear of their building collapsing and injuring them, their loved ones, or destroying their valued possessions. Flexibility in future use – also an easy sell, if a future building owner decides they want to add a ceiling they can safely do so.

Minimum post frame truss loading benefits all, by raising the overall quality of finished buildings  with a negligible investment.

How to Properly Apply Post Frame Concrete Sealant

How to Properly Apply Post Frame Building Concrete Sealant

Condensation in post frame buildings can be problematic. In order to reduce condensation probabilities, minimizing water vapor sources proves to be paramount. Concrete slabs, especially if no vapor barrier was placed beneath them, are a prime source of water vapor. Proper application of sealant can greatly reduce or eliminate water vapor transmission from slab into the building.

Concrete sealant will make your concrete more resistant to weather exposure, water, grease and oil stains, abrasion and deicing salts. What’s more, they will help to make it easier to clean. But in order for a sealer to work its magic, it must be applied properly. Each step, from surface preparation to choosing right application method for product, will have a big impact on final outcome.

Following are some tips for applying concrete sealer properly. Whichever brand of sealant you use, be sure to follow specific instructions recommended by product manufacturer, since they may differ from general guidelines given here.

When you apply sealer can be important as well. Allow new concrete to cure completely (28 days or more, as recommended). Most sealers must be applied under dry conditions, since applying sealant to damp concrete could cause haziness or loss of adhesion. Air temperatures are also important and should typically be above 50°F during and for 24 hours or more after sealer application. Always allow sealer to dry completely before exposing it to foot or vehicle traffic. Drying times before exposure to heavy traffic can be as long as three days.

Surface preparation before applying a sealant will be extremely important. All oil, grease, stains, dirt, and dust must be removed or they may prevent sealer from adhering properly. Some manufacturers recommend etching surface first with an etching solution to ensure best adhesion.

Two most common methods of applying sealant to concrete surfaces are by roller or sprayer, often depending upon whether choosing a solvent or water based sealer. Always refer to manufacturer’s specific application guidelines.

Regardless of application method always strive for maximum coverage. Typical coverage rate should be 250 to 300 square feet per gallon, depending upon concrete porosity. Most important rule to remember – it’s best to apply two thin coats, making sure sealant doesn’t puddle or form uneven, thick areas. When applying a second coat of sealant, apply it in opposite direction (or perpendicular) to first coat to ensure even coverage. Wait to apply second coat of sealant for 24 hours or time recommended by the manufacturer.

 

How to Reduce Condensation in Post Frame Buildings

How to Reduce Condensation in Post Frame Buildings

Condensation occurs when excessive atmospheric water vapor comes into contact with a cold surface. Post frame building condensation will be particularly common in winter time, in regions where temperatures reach dramatic lows, and also in spring and early summer when ground temperatures are still cool but humidity increases. Post frame building condensation can be a serious problem, as excess moisture can create an uncomfortable environment and even contribute to mold and mildew growth.

Heat Building

For condensation to build up, temperature of building floors, wall and other solid surfaces must be lower than dew point (temperature where water condenses). So if you want to keep condensation away, maintain a warm post frame building. Avoid using propane heaters, because combustion process creates water vapor. Electric heaters can effectively keep temperature and condensation under control.

Use Vapor Barriers

Vapor barriers can help to keep condensation under control if installed in right places. Ceiling level vapor barriers are a bad idea, because they keep water vapor trapped inside the building, rather than allowing it to exhaust through a continuous ridge vent. Wall vapor barriers, can prevent condensation from penetrating your building’s drywall and insulation. Look for an insulation product with a built-in vapor barrier (e.g. fiberglass batts with a kraft paper facing), or consider installing plastic vapor barrier sheets directly over your existing unfaced insulation.

Keep Water Out

If vehicles or equipment become covered in rain or snow, and you then park them in your post frame building, this added moisture can contribute to condensation. If you must park something wet inside, try drying it as best possible before moving it inside. Also, if you have water seeping into your post frame building from rain or snow melt, try installing a drain outside to keep water issues in check. Put simply, do not let water in.

Seal Floor

A garage floor coating, or epoxy, can help to dramatically reduce condensation by limiting water vapor passing through your building’s concrete slab.

Other Solutions

Remove anything from your post frame building containing or requiring water. This can include houseplants, drying laundry, and even bags of trash containing moisture. Installing continuous ridge vents (in combination with vented eave soffits) can also reduce condensation by drawing out warm moist air containing water vapor. In some cases, a dehumidifier can help to remove light to moderate condensation, because dehumidifiers are designed to attract stray water vapor onto specialized coils, trapping it and draining resulting liquid into a reservoir.

 

Crawlspace Skirting, Adding Spray Foam, and Rafters

Today the Pole barn Guru discusses crawlspace skirting, adding spray foam, and building with rafters instead of trusses.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning on building a post frame home with a standard wood framed floor structure. It will have a crawlspace below but will not have concrete stem walls. The building site slopes down, some of the crawlspace may be excavated below grade, some areas will be above grade. Looking for ideas for skirting the crawlspace to provide the most appealing look at exterior side and keep out water and pests. TRENT in WALLA WALLA

DEAR TRENT: In areas where your building’s crawl space would involve excavation below grade, it might behoove you to place a permanent wood foundation between columns (https://www.awc.org/codes-standards/publications/pwf-2015).  In other areas most of our clients have run steel siding down to four inches above grade, just like typical post frame construction.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking to spray foam the Hansen pole barn we built.

I have some questions.  We ordered the kit with roof insulation and it was installed when built. I’m thinking of leaving the ceiling open so the trusses are exposed. Can the foam be sprayed over the insulation? If the insulation is removed can the foam be sprayed directly to the roof? If so do I just close off the ridge vent? On the side walls do I just close off the top that opens to the eaves? MARK in MT. AIRY

DEAR MARK: Make sure to use only closed cell spray foam. I have heard arguments both for and against using spray foam against either a weather resistant barrier (such as Tyvek) in walls or a reflective radiant barrier. For this one I would defer to an answer from whomever will be doing your foam application, since they will have to warranty their installation. Certainly you can spray foam directly to inside of steel panels – I did this in a recent addition to my own post frame building home. You will need to close off both vented ridge as well as soffit.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is it possible to build a pole building roof structure with rafters rather than trusses? FRED in GREENBANK

DEAR FRED: As long as building can have either interior columns, or single sloped (within reasonable span limits) it can certainly be raftered, rather than trussed. Please see this prior article in regards to pole and raftered buildings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/stall-barn/

 

Dear Building Officials

Dear Building Officials

I have met (either in person, via phone or technology) more than just a few Building Officials, Inspectors and Plans Examiners over my nearly four decades of post frame buildings. I have even been privileged to be a guest speaker for several groups of these fine folks, regarding Code conforming post frame construction. My expert opinion – collectively folks who work in Building Departments most genuinely go above and beyond their call of duty to assist building owners in building safe structures.

Several members of Building Departments are either subscribed followers of this column, or regular readers of it via Linkedin posts. These are most likely ones who are providing excellent service to those venturing into their offices.

My most recent two articles covered questions we require our clients to ask of their building officials in regards to pre-construction of a new post frame building. With these answers in hand, we can assure our contracted Registered Professional Engineers have data necessary to design, meet or exceed structural requirements.

Unfortunately, there does not exist a central clearinghouse database for structural design criteria by jurisdiction. For builders and RDPs (Registered Design Professionals) who provide services over more than just limited geographical areas, this would be a tremendous tool.

Now I do have a “hero” building department and will give them kudos here. Kittitas County (Washington) Community Development Services provides a parcel-by-parcel load analysis covering their minimum design requirements (https://www.co.kittitas.wa.us/cds/building/cgdc-form.aspx).

Many building departments have posted climactic design requirements in their websites. When kept up to date, we find these to be quite handy. I would imagine RDPs appreciate availability of this information.

Recently, one of our clients in Wisconsin was facing a challenge – their Building Official would not provide them with minimum loading requirements for their proposed new building! Although rare, I have seen this occur before. In one instance, I had a Building Official refuse to provide accepted loading information. Instead they wanted us to submit engineer sealed plans and then they would tell us if what we had guessed for loading was correct or not!

Why this information was withheld baffles me. In some cases (especially where permits are issued without any sort of structural plan reviews) it could be a permit issuing authority just frankly does not know!

In my humble opinion, an expedient way to streamline permit acquisition processes would be to have readily available design criteria. For sake of public safety, I also feel all building plans not falling under prescriptive code requirements should be produced by a Registered Design Professional.

Building Department Checklist 2019 Part II

BUILDING DEPARTMENT CHECKLIST 2019 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 side of caution. As a rough rule – easier soil to dig, weaker it will be in supporting a building. A new post frame 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 Category (such as A, B, C, D-1, D-2)?

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. Other 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 should be constructed.

Engineer sealed pole barnMy recommendation – invest in 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, is frost depth greater than 40”?

All building columns or foundations must extend below frost line to prevent heave. We don’t design for any depth less than 40”, and have designed for up to seven feet deep in some areas!

#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 whom 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 world’s smartest structural minds, who have actually written the Code. 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 step in the right direction.

 

Building Department Checklist 2019 Part 1

BUILDING DEPARTMENT CHECKLIST 2019 PART I

I Can Build, I Can Build!

(First published six years ago, it was more than past time to update to reflect current code requirements!)

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 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 post frame building outcome.

#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 the small investment of a firewall. 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. IBC (International Building Code) only applies to post frame buildings, not IRC (International Residential Code:

(https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/what-building-code-applies-to-post-frame-construction/).

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 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 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. Now 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.  Don’t assume a friend of yours who lives in your same city has your same wind speed.  The city of Tacoma, WA has six different wind speeds within city limits!

Vult and nominal design wind speed Vasd are NOT the same thing. Make certain to always get Vult values.

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

Take a few minutes to understand the 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 the 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!

 

Bookshelf Girts or Stud Walls?

Why Use Bookshelf Girts Rather Than Studs?

Long time readers may recall my Grandpa Pete was a home builder and his sons – Sid (my father), Neil, Lyle, Gil, Dave and Amund were all framing contractors. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/06/before-the-pole-barn-guru/. Besides being raised with “wood is good”, I had a concept of vertical stud walls permanently ingrained in my head!

Stud walls led to my losing my posterior erecting my first post frame (pole barn) building. I struggled with this 90 degree ‘flip’ in framing concept far more than I needed to. Luckily, I was able to wrap my head around left-to-right rather than up and down when it came to my second building and I actually made some very good money!

Reader TRENT in WALLA WALLA writes:

“I am currently working on plans for building my first post frame home. It will be 30×48 single story. I am trying to figure out the best wall girt design. I am looking at going with 2×8 bookshelf wall girts or vertical stud walls between the posts. I see more people going with bookshelf girts vs vertical studs. Is there any drawbacks or reasons not to use vertical stud wall framing between the posts?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Installing a ceilingPretty straightforward – vertical stud walls will take more lumber. Besides increased material investment, more pieces mean more connections and more labor.

Imagine, if you will, a pole building with a 10′ eave height and columns every 12 feet. Bookshelf girts take (1) 2x4x12′ pressure treated, (4) 2x8x12′, (2) 2x4x8′ for blocking girts ends and (2) 2x4x12′ to attach drywall at the ceiling level – 98.67 board feet of lumber. For stud walls (1) 2x6x12′ pressure treated, (7) 2x6x10′ studs, (1) 2x6x12′ top plate, (1) 2x4x12′ to attach drywall at ceiling level, (4) 2x4x12′ horizontally to attach steel to wall studs – 134 board feet of lumber. From a structural aspect, care will need to be exercised in attachment of the top plate and end studs to adequately transfer wall bay wind loads to columns. It may necessitate some sort of Simpson strap to properly anchor the plate to columns.

 

 

 

 

Moving a Building, Moisture Issues, and Siding Options

This week, the Pole Barn Guru discusses moving a building, a building with moisture issues, and siding options other than wainscot.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a 50 year old Morton machine shed 45X90X12. The posts and trusses are in excellent condition. The roof steel needs to be re-screwed and painted . The side wall steel probably needs to be replaced. The big problem with the building is its location. Our grain drying and storage has grown over the years and now we use semis instead of straight trucks and wagons. the machine shed blocks the grain dump so we have to back every semi in to unload and load. If we could move the shed about 60 feet north and 15 feet east we could still get a lot of use out of it. Otherwise we will probably take it down. Is moving it a practical idea to pursue? TED in DEXTER

DEAR TED: Sadly I just cannot see a scenario where moving this building becomes truly practical. If you have lots of free time, you could completely disassemble it and rebuild in a preferable location. However, you are reusing materials and things never seem to fit back together as tight as they did originally. If you are not going to rebuild, you might consider offering it to someone who will take it down and haul it away – it would save you time and effort and someone else can have headaches of teardown and rebuild.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I had a 30×40 built 14 feet high. Vapor barrier was used, insulated walls and vapor shield on top of the trusses, Vented over hangs and a ridge vent, insulated ceiling and metal on the walls and the ceilings.

Whenever I pull in my vehicles wet and leave them in there I get moisture all over everything. Now I am noticing green mold on the plywood work bench and in some various spots on the loft I built. I do not have any heat in there as I was not concerned about it being real warm in there, but I am wondering if am going to have to heat it to get rid of the moisture?
Any help would be appreciated. GREG in ELMA

DEAR GREG: Your steel liner has created a surface trapping any and all moisture inside of your building. In my humble opinion you have just one more example of why steel liner panels are not a good design solution for most buildings.

Just water alone, dripping from your vehicles, will probably not add enough moisture to create your described situation.

Step number one in solving your challenge – unless you know a well-sealed vapor barrier exists underneath your building’s concrete floor, use a good concrete sealer upon it. This might be a product you should consider: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

Unless you have taken steps to prevent moisture from migrating through your concrete slab, adding heat will merely draw even more water up through this slab into your building.

Secondly, you need to get moisture out of your building by adding a powered exhaust vent, a dehumidifier or both.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Another design question from me, I have too much planning time on my hands. With my house I made the mistake of having the vinyl siding too close to grade and it is showing lots of damage from typical yard maintenance, i.e. trimmers. I want to do a wainscot on my pole barn and probably correct the problem with my home siding at the same time. Not a huge fan of the metal siding for wainscot, not enough style contrast for me. Ideally I would do a stone veneer, but that is pricey. I am considering all options at this point. Stucco, fiber cement board, wood, even toying with the idea of veneering the outside with concrete pavers. Do you have any experience gems to share or any out of the box ideas? Thanks. ROB in ANNAPOLIS

DEAR ROB: Even with Code mandated six inch minimum hold up above grade for vinyl siding, it experiences a significant amount of damage just as you describe. Our house has steel wainscot and it has performed admirably other than where our daughter-in-law drove a riding lawn mower into it.  All it took to repair was removal and replacement of a few short steel panels.

Given your preferences, I’d recommend you look into products such as

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/mortarless-masonry-exterior/

or Thin Brick (http://thinbrick.us/).

 

 

Build Safe in Winter Weather

Build Safe in Winter Weather

Post frame building construction lends itself well to winter weather building, as concrete pours are minimized to just a minimal amount around building columns. Once columns are poured, time for full speed ahead – or as much full speed ahead as can be garnered in frigid weather.

Prior to my lovely bride’s motorcycle accident (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/10/when-life-changes-in-the-blink-of-an-eye/), she and I helped her brother erect his 36’ x 48’ post frame garage/shop – installing steel roofing on a 5/12 roof slope in sub-zero temperatures in January. Oh what fun!

Back in my M & W Building Supply days, I recall near-horror stories from Jim Betonte’s crew as they assembled a ski resort pole building in mid-winter: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/2014-winter-olympics/.

Here are some winter building tips from National Framers Council’s Mindy Caldwell:

As you consider day to day hazards with regard to winter weather safety, a recent article from EHS Today suggests “using the hierarchy of controls to eliminate and minimize winter hazards can reduce risk and the potential for injuries.” While it’s not possible to eliminate low temperatures or substitute warmer weather, there are changes that can be made to minimize risk of accidents. For example, wearing ice cleats instead of work boots and using enclosed aerial lifts instead of ladders can reduce slips and falls. The article also suggests a variety of simple engineering controls such as wrapping the handles of metal tools and using tarps to shield workers from the wind.

NFC’s FrameSAFE program includes a Toolbox Talk on preventing hypothermia and frostbite that provides a quick reminder of the primary symptoms of these conditions.

Consider reviewing this information with your employees regularly. While OSHA does not have a specific standard for working in cold weather, employers are still required to identify hazards and provide a safe workplace.  OSHA’s requirement to provide potable water to employees (see 1926.51(a)(1)) is also applicable in cold weather as the dry air affects hydration.

OSHA provides more specific recommendations on its winter weather web page. This guidance includes information on staying safe while clearing snow from walkways and rooftops. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has also recently revised its information on protecting workers in cold environments. Learn more about cold stress on the CDC website.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds:

Regardless of weather conditions, always err towards caution side when building, lives can be saved and one might just be yours!

 

When Your Pole Barn Roof Grows

When Your Roof Grows

Today’s worthless trivia question: What one-hit wonder sang 1970’s popular song, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”? Please read to this article end for the answer.

While one’s love might grow, it proves less than ideal to have this occur when it comes to overall length of a post frame building roof. To follow, a case study of why not:

Our client writes:

“Our roofing installer has come up 6” short on the roof steel on both sides.  He has requested one additional roof panel, and also 4 flat charcoal sheets 4’ x 10’ to break for some of the trims.  He said the gutter sides of the roof trim are also coming up short.  I went back and rechecked the plans, and it looks to me like the roof steel was 6” short on both sides per the take off.  Can you check the take-off on your end too, and help us get these pieces out to him quickly?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

This client’s building should measure 60 feet in length from outside corner to outside corner. Building has 18” overhangs past each endwall. With a Hansen Pole Building, this causes ideal overall roof length to be 63’3”. Client’s roofer provided a photo, including tape measure, of overall length being 63’4” and roof steel running out of coverage about three inches before there.

Here (from Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual) how it should have been done:

“First roof panel positioning is critical. This panel establishes alignment and layout for installation balance. Accurately position and square before fastening.

Starting at roof edge, hold first steel sheet “overlap” edge even with end truss top chord siding backing center.

Important hint – Keep panels from stretching or compressing in width as they are installed. Panels cover 36” from major rib center on one panel side to major rib center at other side of panel. Measure each panel as installed or pre-mark building frame (or underlying reflective radiant barrier) every 36” to check panel width.

Why would this be important? If roof plane is square, endwall is straight and a 36” panel coverage is maintained, eave edges of each panel will come out straight. If eave edges begin to “stair step”, this is a sign one of these has occurred: roof plane out of square, eave strut boards are out of straight alignment, or each panel net coverage was other than exactly 36”.

Provided overall roof length is a three foot multiple (plus 3” to allow for framing), upon roof plane completion, last panel should not require trimming.”

As I advised client: With first panel of roof steel beginning at center of varge/fly rafter (3/4″ in) and a net panel coverage of 36″, with extra distance gained from overlap of panels (approximately 1-1/2″) other end should have ended right in center of opposite varge/fly rafter from beginning.

This is why it is essential to confirm each panel, as installed, covers exactly 36″.

Also, since you need two steel panel overlaps, it will require two more roof panels. As an alternative, we can supply (for rake trims) two “Dick Corners” (named after one of my 1990’s crew chiefs who needed them all too often) custom bent with a longer leg in order to cover area left open.

Today’s worthless trivia answer: Edison Lighthouse, remarkably they still tour despite only having a single hit and no original band members!

Foil Insulation is Not Insulation

Foil Insulation Is Not Insulation

Products being incorrectly marketed and sold as “foil insulation” are actually nothing more than a radiant reflective barrier. They are not insulation. I have previously covered this very subject, so will not rank and rail more: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/reflective-insulation-wars/

Today’s learning article has inspiration in this from reader BOBBY in GRASSTIN who writes:

“I have a 24×36 Morton Pole building built in early 80s. I am trying to insulate and heat the building. Currently I have ridge vent and soffit vents. I was not intending on putting a ceiling under the trusses. This fall I lined the whole building roof and walls with foil insulation and hung 2 natural gas infrared heaters as a temp fix. I currently have two 9×7 overhead garage doors which are un-insulated and leak pretty much on all sides and a sliding door on the table end which leaks. Needless to say my gas bill is atrocious and because I sealed the ridge vent and soffit vents with foil I have a bad condensation problem mostly because the heaters put out so much water. Aside from sealing the doors with new insulated doors, how should I tackle the insulation and the condensation problem? Do I spray foam the roof and leave the vents plugged? Or spray foam the roof and install ceiling and unblock the soffit and ridge vents? Or spray foam ridge and soffit vents and install Gable vents? Which would probably be cheaper than a ceiling. Would I lose all my heat out of the Gable vents? Newbie here and appreciate the help.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Lots of things happening here, so let’s dive right in.

Ditch your current heaters and replace them with vented units. There are efficient vented gas heaters available, providing same type of heat you are used to, but they exhaust all their combustion by-products outside through a wall vent. You’ll lose not only water vapor, but also carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other contaminants.

Use a high quality sealant over your building’s concrete floors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

So far we have eliminated sources of most condensation, moving next to how to best insulate what you have.

Chances are very small your building’s trusses will support a ceiling. This would have been an ideal case, as it would have kept you from having to pay to heat an area above truss bottom chord level.

Replace your present overhead and sliding doors with insulated overhead doors. Tear out foil “insulation” and throw it away. Keeping eave and ridge vents sealed, use closed cell spray foam insulation across walls and underside of roof deck. An absolute minimum thickness will be two inches, providing approximately R-14. You will need to weigh benefits of greater R values against investment.

Me – if allowed by my Planning Department I would build another building properly designed to be energy efficient. Chances are it will be comparable in investment to what you are going to throw into a three decades old building, plus it will be brand new!

 

North Carolina Students Learn Post Frame Construction

North Carolina College Students Learn Post Frame Construction

The following article by Dan Grubb appeared first in the December 5, 2018 Sampson Independent

“Sometimes the building blocks to success look more like beams than blocks. Students at Sampson Community College’s Building and Construction program know this first hand as work continues on a facility the class is building on campus.

“Every day that we can put equipment into the hands of these students and let them go out and build things, the closer we are to them seeing a successful career, “says Dustin Hatcher, Building and Construction Instructor at SCC. “We allow the students to work from top to bottom, start to finish—the entire project. This building will be used as a storage unit for the college’s Maintenance department. This is something they can go to an employer with and say ‘Hey, I’ve done this!’”

This week, students installed engineered wood structural beams onto posts that will be supporting the roof trusses of the building. They are learning how to set up and move scaffolding platforms and accurately measure, mark, then cut the beams with saws and fasten beams in place with nail guns. This provides experience working from elevated platforms and the use of some of the most common tools used in framing carpentry.

The Building Construction Technology curriculum at the college is designed to prepare individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to the fields of architecture, construction, construction management, and other associated professions. Graduates will qualify for entry-level jobs in architectural, engineering, construction and trades professions as well as positions in industry and government. The course offers instruction in construction equipment and safety; site preparation and layout; construction estimating; print reading; building codes; framing; masonry; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; electrical and mechanical systems; interior and exterior finishing; and plumbing.

Employment of these types of positions are projected to grow 12 percent from now until 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds:

Although this particular project does not happen to be a Hansen Pole Building, we do work closely with interested high schools, colleges and universities in support of Building and Construction or Vocational Education programs. For more information on how you and your school can participate: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/high-school-classes/.

 

Placement of Sliding Doors, Extreme Snow Loads, and Custom Quotes

Today Mike addresses questions about placement of sliding doors, extreme snow loads, and quoting for a specific design.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m building a 32 wide 48’ long 14’ tall hay barn. 6×6 posts. Looking at my barn I have one post in the center and want two 16’ wide sliding doors to access my whole barn. Not sure if I should put them both on the outside and have one side slide behind the other or have one sliding door on the inside. Was worried about doors rubbing each other and scratching metal siding. Your opinion would be awesome. I can’t find any pictures online. Thanks. JOSH in BELT

building problemsDEAR JOSH: In answer to your question – most typical would be to use a double track system where sliding doors could be exterior mounted. Guides attached to center column can assist in keeping doors from rubbing upon each other.

Now my concern – having one endwall be all doors does not allow for wind shear loads to be adequately transferred from roof to ground. You should consult further with the RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who designed your building. If, by some chance, a RDP was not involved, you need to hire one now, as there exists a strong potential you are planning upon constructing a building doomed to fail.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can a pole building be supplied to meet a 390 pound snow load? Will it work well in snow country? KURT in TRUCKEE

DEAR KURT: We can design a post frame (pole) building to meet any snow load you can imagine and perform admirably. Of concern would be keeping snow sliding off roof from accumulating along building walls and exerting forces against them (same issue with any building type). Your 390 pounds per square foot snow load works out to be nearly 15 feet of snow (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/calculating-loads/).

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do u quote from our design? JAMES in MT. HOPE

DEAR JAMES: If “our design” means dimensions and features you desire to have in your new post frame building, then yes. If “our design” means you have a set of plans you want us to quote materials off from, based upon how you or your RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) think your building should be structurally assembled, then no.

We have found structural designs other than ours to almost universally be one of two choices. One of these choices would be under design, meaning if your building was built to those specifications it would stand a tremendous possibility of failure under less than design loads. Opposite would be over design. Usually over design will not be universal throughout a plan, instead one or more components are highly oversized or over specified adding to project cost, without adding benefit.

 

 

My Pole Barn Heats Most of Southern Michigan

My Pole Barn Heats Most of Southern Michigan

Most post frame (pole barn) buildings were not designed with an idea of efficiently and effectively being able to climate control them. Likely very little (if any) thought was put in by the salesperson other than giving his client a lowest possible price to secure a signed contract.

Reader CHRIS in SOUTHERN MICHIGAN now has become owner of one such pole barn. Chris found contact information for Hansen Pole Buildings’ Materials Wizardress Justine and wrote to her:

“Hi Justine,

I recently bought a house with a heated 30’x50′ pole barn. However, my heating cost is obscene after two months of (mild) Michigan winter. The building has soffits and a ridge vent, so I’m assuming all of my heat is just going out the roof right now.

I’d be interested in acquiring some engineering consultation regarding if I can put a ceiling in this building or not, and what the best method may be. I had thought about seeking out local structural engineers to Southeast Michigan but Hansen seems like well-regarded experts on this subject.

I found your e-mail from this article:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/will-my-post-frame-building-support-a-ceiling/

Thank you!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru answers:

There exists an inexpensive and easy way to determine if your roof trusses will support a ceiling load as constructed, or if an engineered repair will be required. Every pre-manufactured wood truss must (by Building Code) have a permanent stamp affixed to indicate manufacturer. Locate one of these (should be along truss bottom chord) and simply contact the manufacturer. They should be able to find records for your pole barn’s truss order by an address lookup. Worst case scenario – you can send them information as to the dimensions of your building, spacing of trusses, roof slope (probably 4/12) and some digital photos of your trusses. If a repair will be necessary, the most cost usually engineering from the truss company will run $100 or less.

If, by some chance, original manufacturer has closed, contact a nearby truss company for recommendations as to an engineer who would be capable of examining your building and providing a repair, if necessary.

 

Cement Versus Concrete

Cement versus Concrete

Scraping a chalkboard (also known as a blackboard) with fingernails produces a sound and feeling most people find extremely irritating. Basis of this innate reaction to sound has been studied in the field of psychoacoustics (branch of psychology concerned with perception of sound and its physiological effects).

mr owl tootsie roll popIn response to audio stimuli, a human mind’s way of interpreting sound can be translated through a regulatory process called Reticular Activating System. Located in the brain stem, the Reticular Activating System continually listens, even throughout delta-wave sleep, to determine importance of sounds in relation to waking cortex or rest of body from sleep. Chalkboard scraping, or noises illiciting an emotional response, have been known to trigger tendencies from the fight or flight response acting as the bodys primary self-defense mechanism.

Superman has his Kryptonite, mine happens to be misused construction terms. Here, in Middle America, I have gradually adapted to term “rafters” being used for roof trusses. My favorite chalkboard scrape happens to be with use of “cement” when the correct term would be “concrete”.

Although terms cement and concrete often are used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. Aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; paste is water and portland cement.

Cement comprises from 10 to 15 percent of concrete mix, by volume. Through a process called hydration, cement and water harden and bind aggregates into a rocklike mass. This hardening process continues for years meaning concrete gets stronger as it gets older.

Portland cement isn’t a brand name, but a generic term for a cement type used in virtually all concrete, just as stainless is a type of steel and sterling a type of silver. Therefore, there is no such thing as a cement sidewalk, or a cement mixer; proper terms are concrete sidewalk and concrete mixer. I rest my case.

 

Concrete Apron Around a Pole Barn

Concrete Apron Around A Pole Barn

My lovely bride and I live in a post frame (pole barn) home along South Dakota’s Lake Traverse. Long time loyal readers of this column have seen photos of it more than once. For those who have missed out, our home was featured on NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) Post-Frame Building Design Manual (second edition) cover: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/post-frame-building-3/

Along our home’s west eave side are a steel-sectional overhead garage door as well as two entry (person) doors. A three foot width concrete apron has been poured along most of this wall, from pressure preservative treated splash plank (skirt board) out, serving as a sidewalk. In front of entry doors, sidewalk width at three feet was also adequate to meet with building code requirements for egress door landings https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/landings/ .

Only issue I have had with our sidewalk – finisher neglected to slope finished concrete surface away from building wall! While it may appear self-evident to have had a slope, remember our average contractor’s level of education.

Reader JOE in NORTH PLATTE has been pondering a concrete apron around a future building. Joe writes:
“Hello pole barn guru. We are planning to build a 50×80 insulated ag shop. We are contemplating pouring a 24” apron around the entire building. The cement would be sloped away from the building so water would run away. Do you think this is a good idea for some added protection from deterioration of the skirt board? I don’t know if the cement against the skirt board would help protect the skirt board? Or would the cement against the skirt board hold moisture and be more likely to rot? It probably won’t be a problem in my lifetime but would appreciate your opinion.”

(NOTE: “cement” as used by Joe in paragraph above should more appropriately be “concrete”)

Pole Barn Guru writes:
Sounds like an expensive proposition. I would only do it if you either like this look, or were going to increase width to three feet so it could be a functional sidewalk. If your concern would be skirt board (splash plank) longevity you might be better off and money ahead to invest in Plasti-skirts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/08/plasti-skirt/) and can be provided along with your post frame building kit materials.

Reader Put Up a Competitor’s Shed

We Put Up a Competitor’s Shed

Sadly not everyone does adequate research to realize how outstanding of a value added a Hansen Pole Buildings’ post frame building kit package truly will be. Long time readers of these blog articles (nearly 1600) and questions answered in Monday’s “Ask the Pole Barn Guru™” column (around 1000) have come to understand most problems solved by me come from other people’s buildings.

How serious am I about our value:
I am offering to shop for you. Yes you heard me right. You give me up to three names of competitors to Hansen Buildings, where you can purchase a complete wood or steel framed pole building kit package, and I will shop them to get quotes for you.
Now I say three, because frankly, some people just are not very prompt or cooperative when it comes to getting back with price quotes.

Why would I do this? Comparing “apples to apples”, I know our price will beat theirs, every single time. I am doing this for your peace of mind. I guarantee other prices will be higher. And I will provide you with documentation to prove it!

There is a catch…..before I go shopping, you have to place your order for your new Hansen Pole Building kit….. subject to me “proving my point” by going shopping. Your payment to us will not be processed for ten calendar days. Within seven days of order, you’ll have competitive quotes in hand, or my documentation of having hounded them every week day for a week trying to get pricing for you (seriously, if you have to hound someone for a price, what kind of service will you get after they have your money?).

After I email you proof, if you seriously want to purchase from one of these competitors, just let me know before ten days from your investment and we tear everything up and go away friends.

Ask The Pole Barn GuruReader DAVE in ROBERTS apologizes for buying from a competitor and writes:
“Sir. Your blog has been most helpful. We put up a shed not one of yours but a competitor. (sorry). Shed size is 36×48. First mistake was we did not put a barrier under the concrete. Our plan now is R 19 in walls. One inch of foam plus R 39 in ceiling. I wired in two ceiling fans to move air with natural gas heat. Does this sound like a good formula, oh wise one?

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:
Start by sealing your building’s concrete slab. This will be a possible solution: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

I am just not a fan of natural gas heat as it adds a tremendous volume of water vapor into your building. You’re going to have to find a way to exhaust all this water, else your building will have humidity issues.

Although now too late for you, there would have been alternatives: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/modern-post-frame-buildings-geothermal/.

Let’s discuss your ceiling. I am hopeful you have trusses designed to support a ceiling load of five psf (pounds per square foot) or greater. Also hoping you have ventilation covered with enclosed vented eaves and a vented ridge. Unless you specifically asked for it, your building’s roof trusses probably do not have raised heels to allow for full insulation thickness above walls and in area closest to sidewalls.

Provided your trusses will support weight of gypsum wallboard, install any necessary framing to reduce drywall spans to two feet or less. Place 5/8” Type X sheetrock across bottom of ceiling framing. If you do not have a vapor barrier under your roof steel, spray two inches of closed cell foam insulation across the entire underside. Once you have paid for this, you will regret not having made other condensation prevention decisions.

While spraying foam – have it added to area closest to eave sidewalls (spraying onto top of ceiling drywall). Make certain to leave an inch of airspace minimum above foam, so air can flow in from eave vents. Foamed area should continue towards center of building until it reaches at least a six inch thickness. Balance of ceiling should have no less than R-45 and ideally R-60 of fiberglass insulation blown in.

For walls, I am hoping you have placed a Weather Resistant Barrier (WRB – like Tyvek) between framing and siding. If not, you have a couple of choices. You can remove wall steel from a wall, install a WRB and reinstall steel (repeat for each subsequent wall), or spray two inches of closed cell foam to inside of siding. Unless your building has full thickness bookshelf girts, install framing across inside of walls to eventually support wall finish (I recommend sheetrock). Fill entire insulation cavity with BIBs https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/.

Glue two inch thick closed cell rigid insulation panels to inside of wall framing, sealing all joints. Glue sheetrock to inside of insulation. Now you have a truly well insulated post frame building.

Elevated Floors, Snow Loads, and Species of Wood in Posts

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about elevated floors, heavy snow loads, and what species of lumber posts are cut from.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We own a site that was fully treed so the soil is not so great. We are interested in doing a pole barn design however a few engineers recommend doing a pier and beam foundation. Do you have details that would allow the house finished floor to be elevated off the soils to create a typical crawl space? JOHN in AZLE

DEAR JOHN: A quick answer would be YES! Post frame (pole) buildings are ideal as homes over a crawl space. For more reading about this subject, please check out: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/crawl-space/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can the Hansen pole barns be designed/built to 100 or 120 pound snow loads? CHUCK in WALLACE

DEAR CHUCK: Hansen Pole Buildings can be designed for any snow load you desire. Over my career I’ve been involved in many high snow load post frame buildings including ski resorts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/2014-winter-olympics/), in Glacier National Park, and right close to you in Wallace along I-90 – you may be familiar with a large blue building occupied by Spunstrand®.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What species lumber used for the posts 16 feet long? RICH in CHICAGO

DEAR RICH: Further reading regarding popular framing lumber species can be found here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/lumber-species/.

If you are talking about solid sawn timbers, they are most often Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) or Hem-Fir (primarily Western U.S.). With glu-laminated columns, most manufacturers use #1 SYP for pressure preservative treated portions and 1650 msr Spruce-Pine-Fir for uppers. For more information about msr lumber, please read https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/12/machine-graded-lumber/.

 

 

 

 

 

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Reader STEPHAN in OGDENSBURG writes:

“Dear Pole Barn Guru,

I have a 30ish year old 32 by 54 feet horse pole barn where half the poles heaved some for more than 1 foot over the years. I need to fix it this year because I am afraid that the strain will make the structure collapse. The code in my area says that post must be buried 5 feet because of frost.

The issue is that the bedrock is between 3.5 and 5 feet below grade. I have an 8 foot wide concrete pad/runway in the middle of the barn (the whole length of the barn). I would like to do it right to last many years.

I considered these different options:

– replacing each posts with sonotubes with bigfoot at the bottom sitting on the bedrock (a lot of work if done with bags of concrete because I would have to do them a few at a time to keep the integrity of the structure)


– replacing bottom of each post with footing sitting on the bedrock and permacolumns (a little less work because the volume of concrete is just a little less)

– pouring a “bond beam” or a full slab on the inside against the posts with thicker sides to support the structure (as per engineer) and then building walls on the inside with 2×6’s to support the roof, and then removing the posts ( I will be losing about 6″ all around because the new walls will be inside the existing shell). I like this idea because I could prepare the area over the winter and get it poured in the spring. My issue is what would I do with the existing slab in the middle of the barn? Should I attach it with rebar and epoxy, pour over or remove the existing slab?
If I go with the last option, what would I use to support the lean-to? If the slab does not have a full foundation that would mean that it is “floating”, should the posts supporting the extension also be “floating” to ensure that they move together?

Or do you have a better option to suggest?

I have attached pictures to show how bad it is. You can see how crooked the ends are by the siding angle and the window in the lean-to area. Thank you for your help.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I am not one to pull any punches – I’ll give my honest opinion, even when I don’t feel it is one you want to hear.

There comes a time when reality sets in….in your pole barn’s case reality will be it needs to be knocked flat, bulldozed into a big hole, lit afire and then replaced. Otherwise, you are going to spend a phenomenal amount of time and money for any fix, and all are just band aids for something truly not worth saving.

Your frost heave issues are due to poor site preparation. Please read this information about properly preparing a site: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/

and preventing frost heaving: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

If you absolutely insist upon saving your pole barn, you should hire a geotechnical engineer to evaluate your site and give you expert advice. If you decide to give your barn a proper burial, start over with engineer sealed plans and a kit that gives you a lifetime of safe use…for you and your horses.

 

 

 

 

What Kind of Trusses Are Pictured?

What Kind of Trusses Are Pictured?

This question was posed by Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug. Photo isn’t of a Hansen Pole Building, probably raising questions in Doug’s mind as it looks rather foreign.

Only actual trusses in photo are in raised center portion of this monitor style building. Interior trusses were probably sold to building owner as being “double trusses”. In actuality this system has only a single truss placed upon each side of columns. These trusses, even though only inches apart, do not load share. They are only as strong as weakest individual truss. Between trusses, sticking up beyond top of top chords are paddle blocks (read about paddle blocks here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/paddle-blocks/) to attach roof purlins.

Monitor wings (or side sheds/lean-tos) have rafters placed each side of columns with paddle blocks as well. Second floor (aka loft) extends out into wing areas, although quickly loses functionality as headroom decreases close to eaves.

More headroom could have been garnered throughout entire second floor had trusses and rafters been positioned to allow roof purlins to joist hang into their sides. When placed as “top running” purlins, interior clear height decreases by purlin thickness. Positioning of roof trusses as lowered, below purlins causes builder to have to frame outriggers (or tails) above truss in order to support sidewall overhangs. Each paddle block makes for a purlin stagger and eliminates one’s ability to predrill roof steel panels. This adds to possibilities of roof leaks being created by each stagger point.

Other concerns exist in this photo. Where roof purlins overhang single end truss, attachment has been made with yet another set of paddle blocks. With an assumption overhangs will be enclosed, this allows for outside air to enter in spaces created between purlins. This decreases efficiency of dead attic space airflow from eaves to ridge.

Solid blocking should be placed between end overhanging purlins to provide continuity of a load path from roof diaphragm to ground. As being built, load path has been divided.

Perimeter beams in this photo show to be inset between the columns. My curiosity wonders how they adequately attach? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

Help! My Cupola Leaks

Help! My Cupola Leaks

If you have a leaking cupola, I can understand why you would be looking for help. Only twice ever have I gotten feedback from a client with a leaking cupola. In first case client’s builder somehow neglected to read installation instructions in Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual.

Aforementioned builder decided to defy Isaac Newton (Laws of Gravity) and installed cupola and flashing directly to top of roof purlins, then butted steel roofing and ridge cap up to cupola. According to Mr. Newton, things like water will flow downhill, resulting in water leaking around said cupola.

In today’s dilemma reader PAT from TRAFALGAR writes:

“If possible I would like a direct response via email

My 30×40 pole barn was completed in September. When it rains it get very small amounts of water leaking in through the cupola. Is this normal? Should I require my contractor to repair, under the warranty? Will repairing result in other problems?”

As much as I would like to have sent a direct response via email, Pat neglected to share his email address. For those who are curious, Pat did not invest in a Hansen Pole Building.

Water leaking in through or around a cupola would be abnormal. Your contractor should indeed repair it and a proper repair should not result in other problems.

Most often provided cupolas are pre-manufactured. If site built instead, it should probably be replaced with a manufactured unit.

Pre-manufactured cupolas come with either standard flashings or a universal base. Universal bases do involve a slightly greater investment, however save a significant amount of labor as well as greatly reducing (or probably eliminating) chances of a leak. Many builders are short sighted and will go the cheaper route, ignoring end result challenges.

Assuming the builder wants to fix rather than replace – find the leak (sounds pretty simple, eh?). This requires a hose and someone to stand inside and tell a person upon the roof when water starts coming through. Begin with downhill edge flashings, run a pretty good stream of water onto them (one side, then other) for a minute or so. Even if the leak happens to be along one of them, keep checking along the way, as it could be multiple points. Next, check ridge cap side flashings, using the same process. Then check each side of the cupola individually (letting water run down from cupola roof).

If a leak exists, it should have shown up in the hose test. With leak isolated, a repair can be done using the best silicone caulking money can buy. If a flashing edge happens to not be sealed to the roof, Emseal AST expanding closures work quite well to fill those gaps. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/emseal-self-expanding-sealant-tape-closures/

 

Metal Building Insulation

Building Has Metal Building Insulation

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel received an inquiry from a client whose existing post frame (pole) building has metal building insulation.

Rachel sent this to me:

“STEVE would like some advice on insulating.  He has a Cleary Building which has blanket insulation in the walls and roof and he would like to insulate over the top of this insulation and wondered if there would be issues.   

Steve mentioned that as your standing in the building you see the white vinyl on the inside.  Is there vinyl on both sides?  If not, shouldn’t the vinyl by facing the steel?

Any information or assistance you can give him would be appreciated.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

I am not much of a vinyl faced metal building insulation fan to begin with (read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/metal-building-insulation-in-pole-buildings-part-i/]. Even though I have it in roofs of my two older personal post frame buildings, it isn’t a product I would use if I were to construct a new building for myself.

Problems would come from having insulation sandwiched between two vapor barriers.

I would do this personally –completing each wall individually, I would remove wall steel, remove  wall metal building insulation. Cover each wall with a Weather Resistant Barrier (like Tyvek) and reapply wall steel. Spray two inches of closed cell foam insulation upon the inside of the wall steel. If full wall thickness bookshelf girts were not used in the walls (flush or extending inside of columns), another set of girts should be added to the inside surface of columns. Your engineer of Record (engineer who sealed your building plans) should be consulted to determine proper size and spacing of girts. Once installed, fill insulation cavity completely using BIBs. Glue two inches of rigid closed cell foam insulation board, taping all seams, to the inside face of girts. Glue interior finish (typically gypsum drywall) to the inside of foam boards.

PBG NOTE ADDED: Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Carr aptly pointed out to me WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier) purpose would be defeated by spray foam application. Correct application should be one only, however only after metal building insulation removal.

For your roof, provided trusses are adequate to support applicable dead loads, I would install a truss bottom chord level ceiling. This would allow insulation to be blown into dead attic space. In order to achieve adequate insulation above the sidewalls, it may prove necessary to use closed cell spray foam insulation above the ceiling in areas closest to the sidewalls. If eaves have ventilated soffits, ensure an inch or more of free air space exists between insulation and roof deck (or metal building insulation). Appropriate ventilation must be provided in dead air area above insulation.

 

Eave Lights, Building Plans, and Foundations

Today Mike answers questions about eave lights, drawing building plans, and foundation plans.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How to I attach the poly eave lights to the building frame? RUSSELL in BOISE

DEAR RUSSELL: Polycarbonate panels are best predrilled for screw fasteners using a 3/8” bit. Screw pattern for eave lights is same as for sidewall steel.

Drive #10 x 1” white screw fasteners perpendicular to light panel’s surface and tighten moderately. Fastener head and washer/gasket is to sit snugly and fully on panel’s face, without squeezing gasket and distorting washer. Over tightening will distort washer, panel and ruin gasket, causing leaking and panel damage, resulting from undue internal stresses. Tilted fastener insertion will deform washer, damage gasket, cause leakage and originate undue stresses on panel eventually leading to failure. Tighten fasteners by hand or by an adjustable torque power-screwdriver.

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m have a question related to the construction of a custom building. I see that you have some sample building plans on your web site. Do you typically produce the plans for the buildings that you construct or do you recommend that a client work with an architect to have plans drawn up before accepting a construction project? If you do recommend that clients provide plans, do you have a list of architects that you prefer to work with?

Thanks in advance, MATTHEW

DEAR MATTHEW: We (Hansen Pole Buildings and our contracted third-party engineers) produce plans for post frame building kit packages we provide. For clients who feel more comfortable working with an architect, we would recommend contracting their services for conceptual work (aesthetics, room layouts and sizes, etc.) and leave structural aspects (permit/construction plans) to our team.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have any experience with anchoring a building to an existing slab?

I talked with you before about door options, but now have ran into the problem that the building I am going with will now sit on the anchor plates that I had installed in the slab. Just curios if you know what my best options could be for anchor bolts. Thanks. MICHAEL

DEAR MICHAEL: All steel buildings usually do not come with engineering for a foundation. You are going to have to consult with your foundation engineer and get a fix from them, as no one else can legally make this change.