Author Archives: admin

Spray Foam Insulation and Steel Roofing and Siding

Spray Foam Insulation and Steel Roofing and Siding 

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

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

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

Rick’s response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insulating an Existing Post Frame Building Attic

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

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

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

“Hi,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi, I Should be an Engineer

Hi, I Should Be an Engineer. Can You Tell Me What I Left Out?

Seemingly every Spring I receive an email similar to this one from JOHN in UNION DALE, who it sadly appears has not done much (if any) homework in reading my articles.

JOHN writes:

“ Hi, I have been doing a couple of months homework on making my pole barn, my plan is a 30×50. Right now my plan is using (16) 6x6x16 pole about 52 inches in the ground, the spacing between posts will be 10 ft, now I have not decided on a concrete cookie before the setting the post or gravel first has a drainage layer the set the pole and then use about 5 bags of concrete for uplift protection and the normal back fill, for the posts I got post protectors, so the wood is separated from the soil, my plan is to use double  2×12 for the top strapping with the posts notched at the top for added snow load, has far has the roof it will either be a 4/12 or 5/12 pitch my plan is using 2×6 rafters that I’m making on the ground and hoisting up by myself and they will be on 48 inch on center, my purlins are going to be 2x4s about 2ft apart and standard metal to finish it off, if you can can you please let me know if I left anything out, thanks ps I forgot to say the door opening on a non-load bearing wall will be a 12ft wide and 10ft tall, I’m thinking about putting a door  on a load bearing wall a 10ft, all doors are going to be sliding barn doors.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru Responds:

Well John, you have left out a crucial part. One no proper pole barn should be without. Plans designed and sealed by a Registered Professional Engineer specific to your building at your site. To build without them is, in my humble opinion, fool hardy and I cannot endorse your plan of attack or methods of construction without them. Outside of this – attempting to field construct your own roof trusses is not a good choice. Prefabricated trusses are truly a bargain, especially when considering risks involved should your home made trusses collapse injuring or worse killing you or a loved one. 

For last year’s related article, please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/self-designed-pole-buildings/

For extended reading on the misadventures of site built roof trusses: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/site-built-roof-trusses/

Percentage of Price Difference by Building Profile

This ended up being an interesting exercise and it yielded results pretty much as I had expected.

Reader RON in MONROE writes:

“Can you tell me the approximate percentage difference in pricing or cost of the different building styles? I know this will vary according to the size of the building, etc., so let’s pick a 38 by 38 by 17 foot tall building. How much more to move up from a single slope to gable style, to monitor, and to Gambrel?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

About Hansen BuildingsThere are so many variables involved in this question it is impossible to answer. And an answer for one given set of climactic loads (snow, design wind speed and exposure) would not translate to any different set of variables. Even as to where you are going to measure 17′ to is a huge impact. On a single slope – is this measure of low wall or high wall? Would it be clearspan or have interior columns? Is monitor measure to low side of wings, or raised center? If low side of wings, then how tall would center be? Gambrel, is your measure to eave side of steep slope or to pitch break? With a 17′ height, would there be an intention to have a full or partial second floor? Would this building be a garage/shop or a residence? It makes a difference as loading criteria are different and if drywall will be attached to walls or roof, a greater deflection stiffness is required. Even features such as overhangs can change your percentages as monitor style is going to have four eave sides.

If you are looking for cost effectiveness, footprint multiples of six feet are going to get you there (lumber comes in two foot multiples, steel roof and siding in three foot).

A gabled roof will be your least expensive and easiest to build, however not always aesthetically your best design solution. I recommend you determine what your finished space needs will be and discuss options with Rachel your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

RON wanted just a little bit more:

“Just use a peak height, no doors, no windows, same snow load, everything the same.”

Pole Barn Guru replies:

Drum roll …….

And the envelope please …….

Here are results:

I did have to change roof slope on the single slope to 2.84/12 in order to have an eight foot eave height on the low side.

Monitor was 5.6% more than gable, gambrel 10.4% more, single slope 17.6% more.

Two Story House, Car Storage, and a Post Frame Basement

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building a two story pole barn house, condensation in a car storage building, and how to build a post frame house with a concrete basement.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are wanting to build a 2 story pole barn house, it will have an upstairs loft. Would the standard pole footings support 2 stories, or would it need a concrete footing foundation, like what is used in a stick built home? NICK in FAIRBURY

DEAR NICK: As long as you construct your building from engineered plans, your engineer will have properly sized your building’s “standard pole footings” to be able to adequately distribute weight across your soil. We live in a multistory post frame (pole barn) shouse with a 44 foot overall height and it has typical embedded footings and has performed admirably.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 20′ x 40′ closed in pole barn that I use for storing cars, it has a ridge vent & the soffits & eaves are open to the weather, how can I keep the cars from sweating? BILL in EATONTON

DEAR BILL: You will need to reduce humidity in your building.

Use a good sealant on top of your concrete slab.
Install 2x blocking snugly between purlins overhanging endwalls (directly above end trusses).
Spray 2″ of closed cell insulation on inside of all wall and roof metal (leave eaves and ridge open to provide attic intake and exhaust ventilation).
Install a tightly sealed ceiling (no air gaps to attic).

Add controlled mechanical ventilation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are potentially interested in building a pole barn home and have a few questions. Cost different from a traditional home build isn’t the major concern from us, we love the open rustic feel of a barn home. We would like to include a basement with the home. I read some previous blog posts and it seems like this is possible, however was wondering do the sidewalls of the basement need to be inset from the sides where the posts go into the ground?

If the walls are inset, is it possible to have a basement with egress windows below the pole barn home? RYAN in OSWEGO

DEAR RYAN: We can have your building engineered so columns will mount directly to top of your concrete basement walls. Makes everything far easier.

 

Staging Deliveries for DIY Pole Buildings

For those who are considering a Do It Yourself (DIY) post frame barndominium, shouse or just a good old barn – not everyone can work at it expediently, or rouse enough person power for a barn raising. There do exist some options.

Reader LEE in LOUISIANA writes:

“I am in the process of conceptual design for an implement barn. However, my preference is to skin the exterior barn with old, milled reclaimed fir that I have available to me. From what I have found online, most Pole Building companies offer standard designs with conventional metal siding. However, it is my understanding that the same structural design for a metal building will not be adequate for the extra weight of woodplank siding, in lieu of the higher static and dynamic structural loads. Additionally, I would like to do most of the construction labor myself (with assistance from friends with construction background), in the interest of spreading out the construction process in different phases. As such, for this case, I am inquiring about a service to provide custom, stamped plans for a pole barn. I have read the advice and recommendations regarding engineered, stamped plans, and that it is not Hansen’s position to be in the ‘plans’ business. However, in this particular case, could Hansen work with me to provide custom, stamped plans to accommodate my preferred execution plan? I look forward to hearing your response. Thank you, Lee”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru  writes:
Actually structural design changes in post frame buildings are due to deflection limitations. Walls supporting other than just steel siding and/or steel liner panels do not have to be as stiff as ones to support other products (such as your reclaimed fir). While we do not supply engineered plans only, we can work with you to stagger deliveries to meet your phase schedule. If an impending price change to a component would occur, you would be given an option to either take delivery, or to delay delivery and pay differences in component costs. Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can further discuss this with you.

I would recommend using a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) under your barn boards, in order to keep any potential moisture from passing through your walls from outside.

For extended reading about Code requirements for Weather Resistant Barriers please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/04/ibc-requirements-for-building-wrap/.

Load Duration Factor in Wood Design

Load Duration Factor in Wood Design

Considering a barndominium, shouse or other post frame (pole) building with wood framing? While this article is somewhat technical, you (as a future building owner) can use it to determine if who (builder or supplier) really knows what they are talking about when it comes to structural design.

And if they cannot answer this one simple question, do you REALLY trust them with your new building?

Here it is:

“Please explain to me Load Duration Factor for Wood Design”.

Please read on.

Lumber has a unique structural characteristic: its ability to handle higher stresses under shorter periods of time. This characteristic is accounted for during design through what is known as a Load Duration Factor (LDF). Given this is a property unique to wood, it is worthwhile for building designers, in a heavily wood-based industry, to fully understand what this factor is and how it can affect their designs. LDF is not applicable to non-wood structural systems. 

Think about loads typically seen in a building. Dead loads are material weights making up a building from the day of construction until it is taken down. Actual dead load and design dead load can be (and often are) different, with design dead load being greater than actual dead load. Building designs can always be performed using actual dead loads when those are well known.

Live loads affect a building less but a portion are still applied through a building’s useful life. Roof live load rarely occurs and when it does, it’s for a very short amount of time. Typical roof live load (not snow, also considered a live load) is walking on roof during repairs, or having a tree fall on your roof. Each of these events are rightly considered short-term loading conditions.

All of this relates to load duration, accumulated amount of time during a building’s life they will be applied. All of these loads are relative to “normal” loading, defined as a “10-year load duration.” 

For reference, live loads are considered normal loads. 2018 NDS (National Design Specification for Wood Construction) Table 2.3.2 shows load duration factors for different durations. This LDF concept is based on engineering mechanics concept of elasticity. Elasticity means when a load is applied to wood it deforms, and when this load is taken off wood it springs back to its original position. Long ago, testing was done at Forest Products Laboratory to give wood a special feature called LDF to account for two things: wood is very elastic; and as more load is applied to wood, more creep deformation occurs over time. 

A good example is bending a yardstick. It can be bent frequently and come back to its original position. However, if you put a weight on a yardstick between two chairs causing it to bend six inches and leave it in this position for six months, what will it look like? 

LDF is a part of Allowable Stress Design (ASD), the analysis method used in wood design for nearly 80 years.

Load Duration Factor Curve shown is taken from NDS Appendix B where more information on LDF can be found.

LDF factor is applied like other loading factors, as NDS design value specified is multiplied by LDF to determine allowable stress. This factor is applicable to bending, tension, shear, and compression parallel to grain reference design values found in NDS Supplement 4. 

What happens if there are multiple load durations within a load case, for example, Dead + Live? Dead load has a load duration factor of 0.9, while normal duration live load (e.g., furniture, beds, people in a room, etc.) has an LDF factor of 1.0. Per NDS this is how LDF is applied:

Hopefully you, like me, want your beautiful new building to structurally withstand what nature throws at it.

Stilt Home Barndominium

Stilt Home Barndominium

For many challenging building sites (those with grade change, in flood zones or close to oceans or seas) stilt homes are a viable and practical design solution for barndominiums.

Reader DAVID in EMINENCE writes:

“We are planning to build in southern Missouri a 30′ x 36′ x10′ post frame home on a rocky slope terrain. We want it on stilts. It would be 3′ on one end and 7′ on the other end approximately. We are planning to put reflective bubble wrap on the floor joists with the subfloor on top then place down rock wool and another subfloor on top. We have 99% humidity most of the year (10 months for sure), lots of rain. We do not want a crawl space; we know the horrors of the crawl space. We may enclose the high end using a simple temporary enclosure to dry it out as needed. We are going to use a mini split heating system and composting toilets. No worries about placement of the utilities and pests. Would this be a sound construction system?

We would like to know your viewpoint on this since you are the wise guru.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for your kind words. Stilt houses are very easily done using post frame. I have a post frame combination garage/studio apartment/office at our home near Spokane, Washington on 14 feet of grade change and built it as a stilt building. Has been great for going on 30 years and would have been the only practical way to build on this site (for extended reading on stilt houses: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/stilt-houses/).

Not sure why you are considering two layers of subfloor. I would be inclined to use either steel or an exterior rated sheathing product on the underside of my joists (with a Weather Resistant Barrier between). Rock wool is a good choice for insulation between joists as it is not affected by moisture. Place a vapor barrier on top of joists and then your subflooring. A radiant reflective barrier (bubble wrap) can be used as a vapor barrier, but will not provide any benefits you wouldn’t get from well-sealed visqueen – and would be far more expensive.

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Our world (at least my world) of post frame buildings has evolved quickly into residential construction of barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame homes. Having built two shouses for myself, I have learned a lot about what to do and not to do, as well as receiving helpful contributions from thousands upon thousands of loyal readers such as JOE in BEDFORD who writes:
“Long time reader, first time poster. I’m in the middle of planning & prepping to build a post frame house (48′ x 60′ x 10′) for myself & I have some basic questions on how
to meet both the IRC & IECC codes for the foundation/floor systems. In PA (climate Zone 5) how is it possible to continuously insulate the “footings” (down 3′ – 4′) of my barndominium to prevent frost heave/moisture intrusion/etc? Wouldn’t that require digging a continuous “footing” thus defeating the main purpose of a post frame design?

To add to that thought, most “floors” of post frame houses are slab on grade concrete (with radiant heat in slab I assume), which to meet the IECC code for a heated on grade slab, it requires R-15 down 2′ on the slab edge (plus R-10 for the underslab insulation). See link below:
https://www.phrc.psu.edu/assets/docs/Webinars/SlabInsulation.pdf

>From my understanding, the savings & efficiency of post frame houses comes from not having to excavate, pour & then backfill a continuous footer + stem wall (or footer with a slab on grade floor). How is it possible to meet these challenges & codes with a post frame design method? If you have to excavate a continuous footing & then insulate the footing & the house floor is going to be insulated & poured either way, wouldn’t the “stick frame” method be more cost effective at that point then?

Thanks for the help & clarification!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Appreciate your being a long time reader, hopefully you have found my articles to be informative and entertaining.

Thanks to glories of rigid board insulation, you can still do standard embedded columns, pour a slab on grade and meet insulation requirements to prevent both frost heave and to keep from having to heat ground outside and underneath your building (see drawing). Requirements for insulation and thickness can be found here: https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/fpsfguide.pdf.

Even if you were to opt to pour a continuous footing, post frame construction will still prove to be more cost effective due to elimination of redundant members and structural headers inherent to stick construction. Post frame is easier to super insulate (fewer members touch both exterior and interior surfaces), you can create some unique architectural features not easily done with stick frame construction and you can easily DIY it should you be so inclined.

A Multi-Use Building, Backhoe or Auger, and Loft Floors

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a Multi Use building, using a backhoe to dig post holes, and the proper method to add floors to a post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking at building a pole building want it to be about 72 ft long, 50 ft wide and 14 ft high, I want to use the front for storage of hay, tractor want 20 ft of concrete then wanted to use the back portion to work my horse and cattle which would be a dirt floor. I wanted to have some living space about 1000 – 1200 sq ft have been advised to separate this from the rest of the building however not sure if later I will want to build a little bigger home after my farm sells then if this is separate there would be 3 buildings, I would not put up many walls in the living building so later it could be used for a heated work shop. Please give me your opinion I watch read your thoughts on Facebook. NANCY in LYNDON STATION

DEAR NANCY: It all depends upon what best serves your needs. If you combine them, living space will require at least a one-hour fire separation (and possibly two hours) from dissimilar uses. One-hour would be two layers of 5/8″ Type X sheetrock from floor to roof, certainly not overly cost prohibitive. You may want to discuss rates with your insurance agent, as these costs might prove to be a determining factor.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I just ordered my kit from you and am in the process of getting my permits. I’m very excited to take on this project. I have a question about digging post holes. I actually own an old backhoe. I had planned on hiring someone to come drill holes because that’s what I’ve always seen, but realized I could probably do it with my backhoe. Some of them anyway. My plans call for 18″, 24″, and 36″. I have 24″ and 12″ buckets for my backhoe. Are there drawbacks to doing this? I’m thinking about the shape of the hole not having side walls and flaring the bottom would be difficult. The only time it seems to be recommended is if the ground is rocky. Mine is solid clay. I’d rather hire that out if nice cylindrical holes are better. CHAD in MILLVILLE

DEAR CHAD: We are pretty excited about your new building also – as we live vicariously through our clients! Take lots of photos during construction and please share them with us.

It is entirely acceptable to dig column holes with a backhoe or mini-excavator. Your downside is you will slightly increase your volume of concrete required for hole backfill.

With your clay soils, you will want to carefully review site preparation in Chapter 2 of Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For a pole barn house do you do framing for floors? CHRIS in TAYLORSVILLE

DEAR CHRIS: Any raised wood floors, whether over a crawl space, second or third floor, loft or mezzanine should be included in your engineer sealed plans. This accounts for proper weight distribution to columns and footings as well as connections of components. These materials are typically included with your investment in your new Hansen Pole Building (as well as instructions for assembly). Here is some extended reading for you: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/barndominium-wood-floors/.

 

 

There is a Right Way and This Way

There is a Right Way and This Way

When it comes to building construction, there are a plethora of both right and wrong ways to do assembly. Pictured below is a wrong way (does not happen to be post frame construction).

Roughly 20,000 post frame buildings of experience has taught us virtually anyone who can and will read instructions composed in plain English, and is physically able, can construct for themselves a beautiful new building.

There does exist a certain subset of humanity who are incompetent. Not only just incompetent, they will fail to recognize their own lack of skill, fail to recognize genuine skill in others and fail to recognize how extreme their inadequacy is!

For extended reading on this subject, please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/dunning-kruger-effect/

Now we do make every effort to attempt to prevent even those who are incompetent from creating situations similar to what is pictured in this photo. For those without prior construction experience and have never really looked at a building under construction (or photos of one), this photo shows sloped rafters supported by engineered steel brackets (joist hangers). Properly designed and installed, joist hangers will support members from blowing away (uplift) as well as what I refer to as, “The Denny Lee Effect”.

As a college sophomore, at Bozeman’s Montana State University, I took Professor Denny Lee’s Physics class. Now Denny was quite a showman. First day of class – in a huge lecture hall filled with hundreds of eager students, he offered a semester’s A to anyone who could explain how gravity works.

Hands popped up everywhere, answers and theories were flowing like hot air balloons in Albuquerque in summer – and Denny shot them all down.

After we all gave up, Denny gave us his answer, “The Earth sucks”.

As pictured (installed upside down), gravity might not be a factor, however uplift would be.

Every Hansen Pole Buildings’ blueprint is fully engineered and detailed showing every component, where they are installed as well as how – down to each joist hanger, nail and screw!

If this is not enough, 66,000 plus words of step-by-step assembly instructions in the Hansen
Buildings Construction Manual walk either a DIYer or builder through every step.

But wait – there’s more!

(No, not a ginsu)

Lost, dazed, confused or just needing moral support?

Included in each and every Hansen pole building purchase also is unlimited free Technical Support from people who have actually built post frame buildings!

A Post Frame House Photo

A Post Frame House Photo – and More

Post frame buildings are amazing, after four decades in this industry I am still amazed at what can be accomplished with them. We are just now barely scuffing surfaces of a burgeoning residential housing market!

I will begin with a disclaimer, this is not a Hansen Pole Building. In fact, I am totally unsure of what this photo’s source is. Here we are using it merely as a teaching moment.

There is a less than lovely pile of wood filling an entire corner of this photo. My framing contractor father and uncles would have had a piece of me for ever having a waste pile like this on a jobsite. My first summer working for them as a teenager, we built two three story wood framed commercial buildings with a courtyard between. My primary function was as “cutoff” man. I cut to length every stud, trimmer, sill, header, etc., for this entire project. Having been properly indoctrinated to not waste anything, when our project was completed, my wood scrap pile would not have covered a card table.

Moving forward….

From experience it is far easier to square a post frame building up when the roof is framed and sheeted before any walls are framed.

Some things I would have done different with this build:

Note level at the base of steel siding on the endwall to the left of the entry door. Bottom of the siding is lower than the bottom of the door. This precludes any ability to pour a concrete apron outside of this door without pouring up against siding (not a good choice as it leads to premature degradation of siding due to water trapped between concrete and steel), or creating a step down. Lowering this apron (landing or walkway) could result in a top surface lower than surrounding grade resulting in ice or snow build ups if in a cool climate.

Wall girts have been applied “barn style” flat on column exteriors. This building might be in a region where design wind speeds are low enough to allow these girts to meet Building Code deflection criteria. However in order to insulate and finish the interior either studwalls will need to be framed between columns, or an interior set of girts added. It would have been far easier to have accomplished all of this using bookshelf style girts every two feet.

Diagonal braces have been framed in behind wall girts. These are probably unnecessary had diaphragm strength of steel skin been factored in by a Registered Professional Engineer. So why might they be a problem? If framing in a studwall between columns, these braces will need to be worked around.

Maybe exterior walls are going to have closed cell spray foam applied directly to the inside of wall steel. If not, then a Weather Resistant Barrier should have been placed between wall girts and siding.

This building is a residence. Unless the roof deck underside is going to be insulated and attic space conditioned, my educated guess is some form of attic insulation will be blown in over a ceiling. In order to do this right, roof trusses should have been designed with a raised heel, to allow for full thickness of attic insulation across exterior walls.

All-in-all it does not appear to be overtly a bad building, but for little or no added investment it could have been so much better!

Fire Separation Requirements for Barndominiums

Fire Separation Requirements for Barndominiums and Shouses

Loyal reader CHUCK in MERINO timed asking this question perfectly, as fire separation requirements for barndominiums, shouses and post frame houses had just made it to my list of subjects to research and comment upon.

Chuck writes:

“I was wondering if you could pen your interpretation of the construction details pertaining to the separation wall and/or sheetrock detail of each side of a shop and house all being under one roof?

I live in rural Logan County Colorado with no official construction inspection required (other than state electrical and plumbing). This is from the county website:

“Logan County has adopted the 2006 IBC building code and the 2006 Energy Conservation Code.  All new structures must be compliant with these codes. No building shall be erected, occupied, moved or structurally altered until a permit therefore has been issued by the Building Department.  Building Permits are required for roof repair or replacement”

Thank you Guru, you are the best!”

Good question, glad you asked and thank you for your kind words! I also appreciate clients who want to do things right, even when plan reviews do not exist and there are no inspections. Meeting Code requirements is a fire, life and safety issue.

I was always brought up believing it took 1/2″ drywall on the house side of a wall between garage and house and 5/8″ Type X on the garage side. If the garage side did not have a ceiling then drywall had to run up to the roof line. Even when I worked for a sheetrocker as a teen, this is how he did everything. All made sense to me.

Well Building Codes have their own ideas. If your shop (aka garage) is 1000 square feet or less, then it is classified as a “U” occupancy and these are requirements:

Garage to residence or attic – 1/2″ gypsum board on garage side

Gambrel HomeIf there is a habitable room above garage – 5/8″ Type X gypsum board on ceiling
Doors between garage and residence shall be 1-3/8″ minimum thick solid wood, solid or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8″ thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors, equipped with a self-closing or automatic-closing device.

If your shop/garage is over 1000 square feet, is becomes an S-2 occupancy and fire separation requirements get tougher:

If equipped with an automatic sprinkler system one hour fire separation is required, if no sprinklers two hours. If the area (shop/garage) is used only for private or pleasure vehicles, then it can be reduced to one hour. 

I have run into this two-hour rating requirement before with a gambrel style barndominium, where our client was living upstairs and parking below. Because it “looked” like a barn, our client’s Building Official required two-hour separation. Walls and columns supporting this second floor also were required to meet two-hour requirements! No amount of debate was going to change this Building Officials’ mind either.

To achieve a one-hour rating would take a layer of 5/8″ Type X gypsum wallboard on each side of a wall, or two layers on a ceiling. A two-hour rating would double these requirements.

I personally like 5/8″ Type X and use it on walls and ceiling everywhere in our shouse. It lies much smoother than 1/2″, does not dent as easily, plus it affords added fire protections, with minimal added investment.

Should My Barndominium Have a Vapor Barrier?

Should My Barndominium Ceiling Have a Vapor Barrier?

With barndominiums, shouses (shop/house) and post frame homes becoming immensely popular, I have been learning more than I ever thought I wanted to learn about them. Rather than me just spewing on, today’s expert advice comes courtesy of building scientist Joe Lstiburek.

Insulating WallsPlastic vapor barriers should only be installed in vented attics in climates with more than 8,000 heating degree days. You can forego the plastic and use a vapor retarder (kraft-faced insulation or latex ceiling paint) in all other climates except hot-humid or hot-dry climates. In hot-humid climates, attics should not be vented and vapor retarders should not be installed on the interior of assemblies.

In hot-dry climates a vapor retarder should also not be installed, but attics can be vented. All attics — vented or unvented — should have an air barrier (a properly detailed airtight drywall ceiling, for example) regardless of climate.

Omitting a ceiling vapor barrier by arguing that “you have to let the moisture escape” or “because the house has to breathe out the top” is actually correct, in a way. It’s also incorrect, in a way. Now, I’m a real fan (ha, ha) of controlled mechanical ventilation to limit interior moisture levels in cold and mixed climates, as well as to limit other interior contaminants in all climates. In other words, all houses require controlled mechanical ventilation in order to “breathe.” It is also my view that this necessary air change should not happen because of a leaky attic ceiling, attic vents, or even leaky walls. Hence the requirement for an air barrier and controlled mechanical ventilation in all houses regardless of climate.

Having said that, I do not have a problem with relieving some of the moisture load in the house via diffusion. This can be achieved through a roof assembly designed to handle it, such as a vented attic in a moderately cold or mixed climate. It’s important to understand that this is a climate-specific recommendation. In a well insulated attic in a very cold climate (more than 8,000 heating degree days), there is not enough heat loss into an attic from the house to allow for much moisture removal through ventilation. That’s because attic ventilation requires heat loss to remove moisture from attics. Cold air can’t hold much moisture. So ventilating a heavily insulated attic with outside air when it is really cold does not remove moisture. We do not want any moisture to get into an attic in a severely cold climate for this reason. As you move south into regions where it is not so miserably cold, this changes: Hence, the recommendation for a vapor barrier in a severely cold climate but only a vapor retarder in most other locations.

In the old days in severely cold climates, where attics were poorly insulated, it was okay to omit a plastic ceiling vapor barrier. The heat loss from the house warmed the attic sufficiently to allow attic ventilation to remove moisture from the attic. Cold outside air was brought into the attic and warmed up by the escaping heat loss, giving this air the capacity to pick up moisture from the attic and carry it to the exterior. This worked well until we added large quantities of attic insulation. With the added insulation, the attic stayed cold and so did the ventilating air from outside, which was now unable to effectively remove attic moisture. Hence the need to reduce moisture flow into the attic and the need for a vapor barrier.

There’s one other important qualification: Vapor moves in two ways, by diffusion through materials, and by air leakage through gaps and holes in building assemblies. Between the two, air leakage moves far more moisture than vapor diffusion. A vapor barrier in an attic assembly in a severely cold climate with the absence of an air barrier will likely be ineffective. On the other hand, an air barrier (a properly detailed air-tight drywall ceiling, for example) in the absence of a vapor barrier can be effective, since it stops the flow of vapor-laden air. You can’t just install plastic in a ceiling and assume it is also an air barrier. For plastic to be an air barrier, it needs to be continuous, meaning all joints and penetrations must be taped or caulked.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru; Good stuff to remember. Thanks Joe!

Adding Overhangs, Building Replacement, and Moving a Structure

Today the Pole Barn Guru assists with questions about adding an overhang to an existing structure, replacing two buildings on site, and moving an existing structure.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi I just saw your blog posts on the web and wanted to ask you my barn has no overhang on the ends and when it rains it comes in under the garage door. Is it feasible to take the last run of roofing off and scab in about 3 ft of rafters and then cover that with more metal or fiberglass and put the trim on.   

The roof Peak is about 18 feet to the floor and the building is 30 by 60 thank you I have attached a picture. WAYNE

DEAR WAYNE: You should have this reviewed by a Registered Professional Engineer, prior to moving forward.

Remove rake trim and slide a 2x4x10 #2 in on top of trusses next to each existing purlin, until truss at eight feet in has been crossed. Carefully screw upwards through truss top chord at an angle into new purlin with two Simpson 9212 drive screws on each side of truss, making sure to not penetrate roof steel. Maximum you can overhang end truss will be two feet, so you should be able to attach a 2×6 fly rafter to ends of your now overhanging roof purlins. I would recommend you enclose overhang underside with some sort of soffit panel to keep flying critters from making homes in your new end overhang.

rebarDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m in the early stages of replacing two attached buildings. One building is a 2 car stick built garage, the other is an pole barn for a total size of 24×60 they are attached at the roof. Long story short needs existing vinyl siding/asphalt shingle roof replaced and a couple poles in the barn. Concrete slabs in both are in great shape, we want to bring fill in and raise the grade about a foot. Now my question. Should the existing slabs be demoed and left in place, can we just bring in stone fill and raise the grade and leave slabs intact? BARRY in OWENSBORO

DEAR BARRY: Unless you have a void underneath your existing slabs, you should be fine leaving them in place. Use sand or sandy gravel over the top of existing and place a vapor barrier over your fill (I recommend a 15mil plastic).

Although you did not ask, since you are doing potentially significant siding and roofing replacements, you might want to consider using roll formed steel as it will be most durable and cost effective.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Had a 40 by 60 pole barn installed 6 years ago. Am taking it down and relocating to a new site. The main 6 by 6 treated posts (of course) had cylindrical blocks about 12 by 4 inches put in each hole, and back filled with dirt (no concrete to my knowledge)

Question: How would you reinstall the posts? Footings, same cylindrical blocks, dirt / concrete? ANDRE in OWOSSO

DEAR ANDRE: Those cylindrical blocks are known as cookies (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/) and are probably woefully inadequate.

Without knowing specifics of your soils conditions and loads, I (or better yet a Registered Professional Engineer) cannot make an informed recommendation as to required diameter, I would imagine a minimum of 24″ however. Holes should be dug to at least frost depth. An engineer would probably come up with a design solution similar to this: install an uplift plate along the lower edge of one side of the column (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/uplift-plate/), suspend column in hole eight inches off the bottom and pour 18-22″ of premix concrete into bottom of hole and around base of column. Balance of hole should be filled with compactable material (compacted in maximum six inch lifts).

 

 

 

Snow Retention in Building Codes

For all of my friends in locales where it does not snow, you are welcome to take a nap through this article. For those of us who are seriously tired of winter, but choose to endure shovels and plows, please read on.

Now snow retention is a subject well ignored by probably everyone you are discussing a new barndominium, shouse or other type of post frame building with.

Why?

Fear you will go to a different provider if the price is a few dollars more! 

Hint: someone has not learned to present benefits and you do not know to ask what you do not know.

I have searched every IBC (International Building Code) chapter for a section I was just certain I had viewed in an earlier Code edition – preventing accumulated snow sliding off roofs, in particular at door openings. I even went so far as to post a query in a Building Code Forum I am a member of. Other forum members confirmed I will be futile in my search. However one of them did come up with a link to a very sad story: https://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/02/27/snow-from-idaho-cabin-roof-buries-3-children-1-dead-2-in-hospital.html

These could very well have been your or my children or grandchildren – or even an adult, in event of a large snow slide.

I will admit to being sensitive to snow killing people, especially loved ones, ever since my cousin Kim’s tragic death, due to lots of falling snow back in 1986 (read more about Kim Momb here: https://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13198701502/Avalanche-British-Columbia-Selkirk-Mountains).

Snow sliding down mountains happens and is pretty hard to prevent in back country. Snow sliding off building roofs can be avoided and with it tragic events such as a child’s death.

How can snow sliding off a roof be prevented?

By using a properly designed snow restraint system.

A snow and ice retention system mounting to a steel roof has to resist forces of snow and ice pressure by transmitting those forces from a snow fence or snow guard through roofing and into underlying roof purlins.

There are building codes for building roof system wind-uplift resistance on metal roofs but there are not for describing “shear strength” resistance for fasteners used to secure snow retention systems to steel roof panels.

Failures in mounting systems for snow retention devices can occur if not adequately secured to the building structure itself. Damage can also occur if total snow and ice load bends or breaks the roofing.  

It is plausible high snow and ice loading near roof edge, imposed against snow guards, could provide a bending force pulling fasteners out of the roof deck, bending or damaging roof, and sending snow guards and snow and ice to the ground below.

I had a snow retention system failure occur on one of my own roofs, where snow brakes were installed with stitch screws to only every third high rib of roof steel. My particular case had a dropped shed roof on one sidewall. When the upper retention system gave way, it came crashing down upon the lower roof, denting it and subsequently carrying away the lower roof system.

Before any modifications are done to an existing roof, a structure needs to be reviewed to determine if it is designed to support the weight of snow remaining on top, rather than sliding off. Provisions of model Building Codes, allow for reductions in design roof load for snow sliding off, especially in cases of unobstructed slippery roofs (e.g. steel roofing).

If your building is designed with a Cs value of less than 1.0, then it is not a candidate for a snow retention system (you will have to dust off your building’s engineer sealed plans to check).

Snow retention systems can be as simple as steel trim snow breaks I have properly screwed down to roofs of my home and two post frame buildings at Newman Lake, Washington. Without them, our 7/12 slope roofs will allow 18 to 24 inches of snow to accumulate, before sliding off, speeding like an oncoming freight train. When a mass of snow of this volume hits ground, noise is both deafening and frightening and an impact would most certainly not be healthy for anyone hit by it.

Where should snow retention systems be used? In snow country, anywhere it can slide off onto a lower roof, people, closely parked vehicles or adjacent buildings and above sidewall door openings.

For extended reading on snow retention systems, please check out this article on snow brakes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/snow-brakes/

Beginning a Shouse Journey in Washington State Part II

For many readers, you might be considering your new barndominium to be constructed in a jurisdiction without state energy requirements such as those in Washington State. Granted, Washington is a state either on the forefront, or totally out of control, when it comes to mandated energy efficiency, however fuels are not going to get any less expensive, so it is likely you should follow along to design a system combining practicality with efficiency.

Here is my response to yesterday’s writer, Robert:

Thank you very much for your kind words and for being a loyal reader.

Washington Energy Code would be adding to your expense if you were not planning on at least some sort of climate control in your shop area. You can review the current Washington State Energy Code at: www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/SCI/Codes/SeattleEnergyCode/2015WaStateResidentialEnergyCode.pdf

About Hansen BuildingsWith only 1200 square feet of living space, you should be able to easily exceed the state mandated required number of energy efficiency credits. We are currently changing our standard windows to U-29, meeting Washington’s standards. Lesser U values are available, however added expense may well not ever be recouped by energy savings. I would recommend two inches of closed cell spray foam on your walls, then BIBs or similar to fill the balance of wall cavity. R-49 attic insulation is mandated by Code, however your added investment to go to R-60 would be minimal. With either we would recommend raised heel trusses.

ERV systems appear to be a good investment. With a 90% or greater effective rate you could see an improvement of up to five factors in energy loss.

Your shop area will be classified as S-2 given it is over 1000 square feet. This will require a one-hour fire separation between living area and shop (two layers of 5/8″ Type X drywall will accomplish this). Only savings on insurance I can see by two individual structures would be in valuation of your contents, most typically 70% of your home value. You might reach out to your Insurance agent to further discuss your situation.

Radiant in floor heat is wonderful. You can create individual zones to allow you to heat areas individually. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/geothermal-heating-cooling/

On drainage plans, I would recommend you contact whomever did existing ones for this site. Chances are little modification would need to be done.

Caleb (a very savvy Hansen Buildings Building Designer)  will be reaching out to you to discuss pricing of your building shell or shells. We also have available a service to create custom floor plans based upon your individual needs. In this article are links to determine various rooms and sizes as well as a final link, to get floor plans for you. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/ .

While “turn key” does exist, you can look at a savings of roughly 25% just to act as your own General Contractor. 

I will look forward to accompanying you on your journey!

Beginning a Shouse Journey in Washington State Part I

A shouse (shop/house), barndominium or post frame house project may seem daunting, however by doing lots of reading, research and asking questions, an average individual can craft for themselves a home they love, tailored to meet their family’s wants and needs.

Loyal reader ROBERT in OLYMPIA writes:

“Hello to the Pole Barn Guru or whoever reads this!

​I came across Hansen Buildings a few years ago when I first became interested in pole barn homes, and have been following the content posted by the Pole Barn Guru in various places online- always great information!  I am finally zeroing in on purchasing a piece of land and I would like to get some more information on going the “Hansen route,” either for a shouse or a house and detached shop, or for just a shop.​

I’ve spoken with my county’s planning department and was informed that there would be no problems building what I want.  The land is already improved with water and septic, is nice and flat, is south facing, and is zoned accordingly.  There is actually a building permit currently active from the previous owner’s stick built project (who passed away, and never further than the dig out for his foundation).  They told me that I could bypass some of the headaches (such as the Pocket Gopher review process) if I renew the permit before it expires (4/2020) and submit the new site plans…​

My ideal setup would be:​

– 50x90x(16 or 18) building​

-around 1200 square feet of living space, 2 bath, 2 bed, 1 “office”​

-3300 square feet as shop space with 1 bath and 1 utility sink.  Wired with electricity & lighting.​

-Very energy efficient (insulation, doors, windows, leakage).  Prefer spray foam if budget allows.​

-ERV?​

-1 large garage door/bay, 3″ thick​

-All large windows to be south facing with appropriately-sized overhangs (passive house principal).  These overhangs could potentially be in the form of a covered porch.​

-Enclosed overhang with vented soffits, but only on the eaves & vented ridge cap.  Solid gables.​

-Concrete piers with post brackets.​

-slight outward slope in concrete where garage doors meet concrete to make water drain away from/out of shop.​

-at least 2 drains in concrete – 1 near door, and one near a corner​

-insulated concrete slab w/ hydronic heating, sealed concrete flooring throughout (no other floor covering)​

-Possibly add ductless heat pump mini-split for additional heating if necessary. ​

-No cooling system necessary.​

-modestly finished interior​

-Ikea or similar non-custom kitchen​

-self-sourced appliances​

Questions:​

Someone at the Thurston county planning department told me that while the project definitely is doable, it might make more sense to build the home and shop as separate structures.  He mentioned that because they were attached, the whole building would have to meet WA energy code.  I guess he was implying that it would be cheaper to construct the shop separately if it didn’t have to meet that code?  Because I would like the shop to be insulated, does this really apply to me?  I’ve heard that insurance could potentially be cheaper with a detached setup, but I can’t seem to find anything concrete about that.  Have you found that to be the case?​

As I mentioned I would like to do hydronic radiant heating (probably by Radiantec) throughout the home and shop.  From my research that seems like the most cost efficient way to heat (mass rather than air).  However, the shop doesn’t necessarily need to be kept at “living temperature” all the time.  I would like it to be comfortable while I’m in there, but beyond that I just need it to stay above about 40 degrees.  I’m interested to hear your input on this.  In reading, it seems like whenever people opt for something like a radiant tube heater or mini-split for the shop, they always regret not going with radiant floor heating.  Natural gas is not available at this location, so my options are propane, oil, wood, or electric.

Because I’m very new to the world of home building, I’m not sure what other requirements there would be in building this.  I know that there are some pretty detailed drainage plans that exist for the previous project on the property, and I’m wondering who is in charge of creating new drainage plans for my project?  Does Hansen do that type of thing?  Or someone local to me?​

Pricing/plans:  Is it possible to get some sort of idea about costs/cost breakdown for the type of building I described?  How about for separate structures?  I love the idea of doing some of the work myself, I’m just not sure how realistic that really is with my work schedule, especially in the summer.  I would probably need contractor(s) to take care of the majority of the major work.​

Do you have any floor plans similar to what I’ve described?  I have a few different ideas on different floor plan ideas but it’s probably easier/cheaper to just use some existing plans.​

I love the “Shouse” idea but I find it a little overwhelming because there is not a “turn key” option like what exists from traditional home builders like Adair Homes in Olympia.  So to get the job done would require basically managing the project with a crew of different contractors to finish the shell, concrete, insulation, electrical, plumbing, finishing, etc……I just would really prefer something a little different and more energy efficient than standard construction.​

As of right now, I think those are all of the questions that I have.​

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing back!​”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Come back tomorrow for Part Two.

A Mezzanine for Your Barndominium

A mezzanine is a common design feature found in all types of buildings- very possibly even your new barndominium, shouse or post frame home. Think of a mezzanine as being a lofted area above a room.

International Building Codes outline some basic rules for mezzanines to help determine if it is an intermediate level within the room it serves or if it is considered another story. 

A mezzanine is an intermediate level between floor and ceiling of any story. In regards to building codes, mezzanines must comply in accordance with IBC (International Building Code) Section 505.2. (Please note all references in this article are 2018 IBC)

Mezzanines can be great features within a building because they provide an additional floor level without being considered an additional story as long as they comply with IBC Section 505.2. Even though they don’t contribute to “building area” or number of “stories” regulated by IBC Section 503.1, they must still be included within “fire area” calculations when determining need for fire protection systems.

Another important piece of information is they should be constructed of consistent materials according to your building’s construction type per IBC Table 601. 

Clear height above and below a mezzanine shall not be less than seven feet.

Total area of a mezzanine within a room shall be not greater than 1/3 floor area of room it is located in (IBC 505.2.1)

Code has some exceptions allowing for a mezzanine to be larger given certain factors such as building’s type of construction and whether the building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. IBC 505.2.1 Exception 3 allows for an aggregate area of a mezzanine within a dwelling unit with an approved automatic sprinkler system which can be up to ½ floor area of the room it is located in.

Means of egress (exits) for mezzanines shall comply with applicable provisions of IBC Chapter 10.

A mezzanine acts like a room or space as it has an occupant load. This occupant load must have correct existing parameters per IBC Chapter 10 (egress chapter). IBC Table 1004.5 provides for maximum floor area allowances per occupant. For R-3 (residential) occupancy purposes, this occupant load factor would be 200 square feet per occupant.

A mezzanine shall be open to the room in which it is located, except for walls not more than 42 inches in height.

Code does also provide some exceptions related to mezzanine “openness”. If you meet these exceptions, your mezzanine would not be required to be open. One exception would be if the mezzanine occupant load is not more than 10 (IBC 505.2.3 Exception 1) and another is if it has at least two exits (IBC 505.2.3 Exception 2). In either case you could have an enclosed mezzanine space.

Photos are of the mezzanine within our barndominium. My wife wanted a space within our shouse (shop/house) which would be a totally dedicated space for her sewing and crafts. She has a sign in her sewing loft which clearly states “This is my happy place.” I can tell she is really happy up there as I often can hear her singing along with her favorite rock and roll tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. Lastly, access to her mezzanine is by a wheelchair accessible electric lift system.

Overhead Door Opening, Boat Storage, and Transfer of Plans

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the required height of an overhead door opening for an Airstream Trailer, options for a boat storage barn, and plans for a previous project transferred without consent of EOR.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Airstream trailer – 2020 Globetrotter
https://www.usadventurerv.com/product/new-2020-airstream-rv-globetrotter-23fb-954672-29

Globetrotter 23

Width – 8 ft
Height – 9 ft 9 inches
Length – 23 ft
The height of the door MUST be higher than 9 ft 9 in b/c the AC unit, solar unit and other items add additional height – perhaps 1-2 ft.

What is the height of the door? DON in BOERNE

DEAR DON: While I would normally recommend a 12′ x 12′ sectional steel overhead door for this, it would be best for you to call your dealer and ask for an exact height.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I need to construct a boat storage barn in a VE flood zone so I need breakaway walls and large span for a 16’ high by 14’ wide roller door. Suggestions as to how I achieve this? MARK in SEABROOK

FEAM walls –

DEAR MARK: I have read through FEMA requirements (www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1511-20490-8359/fema_tb_9.pdf) several times. As near as I can discern, your boat storage barn would need to be elevated to be above base flood elevation (BFE). Besides breakaway walls, you are also allowed open lattice-work or insect screening. I am seeing no way to create a wall able to support your design wind loads and be yet able to break away, so I would recommend lattice-work. A sliding “roller” door will not meet with applicable wind loads, I would recommend you meet with your local Planning Department for verification as well as to see if you could use a wind-rated overhead door.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We received a set of plans for a pole barn style garage/shop building with the name Bill Zxxx who bought the plans from Home Depot but he has since sold it to someone else.

What is your policy on transferring ownership of plans? DAN in NORTH BEND

DEAR DAN: These engineered building plans were part of a complete post frame building kit package provided to a The Home Depot client, they were not sold as just plans. Engineered plans are designed specifically for a single use at address specified. They remain intellectual property of the sealing engineer and may not be used by anyone else.

 

 

 

Some Barndominium Kitchen Appliance Ideas

Some Barndominium Kitchen Appliance Ideas

Barndominiums afford new home owners an ability to utilize their creativeness. We see it here at Hansen Pole Buildings every day – especially with uniqueness of exterior designs and features.

A few folks have been asking for interior photos of our shouse (shop/house). Originally our living area was not designed with an intent to ever be lived in. It was a space for our older children to be able to invite their friends in for a game of foosball or to shoot pool upstairs, or play basketball downstairs, rather than being out and about where trouble might find them.

Roughly seven years ago we got more serious about spending our few weeks a year here in South Dakota in more than a raw plywood covered floor with a folding table for our ‘kitchen’. We took a plunge and had oak cabinets custom built for our kitchen! You might notice our countertops are a bit taller than usual. I am 6’5” and my lovely bride 5’10”.  Our countertops are all 37” above finished floor and those raised areas are 44”.

We did not have a crystal ball available to know Judy would one day become a paraplegic and be confined to a power wheelchair, but surprisingly much of our design worked out very well.

Among things we did and highly recommend would be having dishwashers (yes plural) and refrigerator and freezer raised up a foot above finished floor. We frankly just got tired of having to stand on our heads to get things out of appliance bottoms.

Why two dishwashers?

I happen to do most of our cooking – I enjoy it, I find it very relaxing. My pet peeve is when dirty dishes, pots and pans overwhelm a dishwasher and have to be left piled on countertops or filling a sink. With two dishwashers, even when entertaining we are able to get all dirties to one of the dishwashers.

As you will see at a later date, our kitchen also has his and hers microwaves. Before it always seemed as though a single microwave led to waiting in line to use it! Not in our kitchen.

One appliance we missed in planning and installing was a trash compactor. We had one in our Spokane, WA kitchen and dearly miss it here.

No Leak Barndominium Windows

No Leak Barndominium Windows

Steel covered barndominiums, regardless of whether they are PEMBs, weld ups or post frame, if they leak it is in one of two places. First of these is when an errant roof screw misses a purlin or is improperly seated. Second of these is around windows.

As a builder I found a solution to most potential window leaks: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/leaking-windows/

And taking it one step further, using pan (aka sill) flashings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/02/use-window-pan-flashing/

Sill flashing is a piece of preformed plastic flashing sloping away from window opening, so any water getting behind siding won’t collect under the window and cause problems. Rough openings (ROs) provided by manufacturers don’t generally allow for sill flashing thickness. Add an extra ¼ inch of height to ROs. 

Don’t start hacking away at WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier), especially if you’re new to window flashing. Do not make an X or I cut. Instead feed the window opening through WRB, cut along all four edges and remove the cutout. Do NOT wrap WRB into the opening. At the upper corners of the opening, make a slit six inches long upward at a 45 degree angle away from opening. Temporarily fold this newly created flap upwards.

Keep in mind WRB is your last line of defense against any water finding its way past siding. So if you do blow any cuts, make sure you patch them with WRB wrap tape.

Follow instructions below for installing an aftermarket pan flashing, such as SureSill™ Sloped Sill Pans™ (available at The Home Depot™). 

Install self-adhesive flashing tape (3M All Weather Flashing Tape 8067 or similar) around the window, overlapping tape onto flange and WRB. Do sides first, overlapping drainage skirt. Then across top overlapping side tapes. Cut tape to length with a utility knife and peel a little bit of backing free and stick it to the window top. Then lay it alongside the window and peel away the rest of the backing as you smooth it into place. Embed it with a laminate roller for a good seal. For best adhesion in cold weather, hit tape with a heat gun while you roll. 

Fold down previously created top WRB tab and tape 45 degree cuts.

Where Your Barndominium Dollars Go

Where Your Barndominium Dollars Go

Recently published by NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) was their 2019 Cost of Construction Survey. I will work from their ‘average numbers’ to breakdown costs so you can get a feel for where your barndominium, shouse or post frame home dollars go.

Please use this as a reference only, as chances are your barndominium, shouse or post frame home will be anything but average!

2019’s average home had 2594 square feet of finished space and a sales price of $485,128. Without lot costs, general contractor’s overhead and profit actual construction costs were $296,652 ($114 per square foot).

Construction Cost Breakdowns as Follows:

Site Work

Building Permit Fees                                                                                  $5,086

Impact Fees                                                                                                   3,865
Water & Sewer Fees                                                                                     4,319

Architecture, Engineering                                                                           4,335

Other                                                                                                                 719

                       Foundation

Excavation, Foundation, Concrete, Retaining walls and Backfill        $33,511

Other                                                                                                                1,338

                     Framing

Framing (including roof)                                                                            $40,612

Trusses (if not included above)                                                                     6,276

Sheathing (if not included above)                                                                 3,216

General Metal, Steel                                                                                           954

Other                                                                                                                     530

                       Exterior Finishes   

Exterior Wall Finish                                                                                   $19,319

Roofing                                                                                                          9,954

Windows and Doors (including garage door)                                       11,747

Other                                                                                                                671

                       Major Systems Rough-Ins       

Plumbing (except fixtures)                                                                        $14,745

Electrical (except fixtures)                                                                           13,798

HVAC                                                                                                               14,111    

Other                                                                                                                 1,013

                       Interior Finishes       

Insulation                                                                                                  $ 5,184

Drywall                                                                                                        10,634

Interior Trims, Doors and Mirrors                                                           10,605

Painting                                                                                                         8,254

Lighting                                                                                                         3,437

Cabinets, Countertops                                                                             13,540

Appliances                                                                                                    4,710

Plumbing Fixtures                                                                                       4,108

Fireplace                                                                                                       1,867

Other                                                                                                                923

                                              Final Steps

Landscaping                                                                                              $6,506

Outdoor Structures (deck, patio, porches)                                           3,547

Driveway                                                                                                     6,674

Clean Up                                                                                                     2,988

Other                                                                                                              402

Other                                                                                                      $11,156

Considering using post frame construction, rather than stick built and foundation costs will decrease by roughly $10,000 (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/).

Architecture, Engineering, Framing and Exterior Finishes for this average home run an astonishing (to me) $97,614. If labor runs 60% of material costs, this would put a material package at $58,300! At over $20 per square foot, this would be one very, very nice post frame barndominium!

Looking to stretch your barndominium dollars? Considering Doing-It-Yourself, you absolutely can do it!

Condensation Above Metal Building Roof Insulation

Condensation Above Metal Building Roof Insulation

Only those few long time readers or those who had time on their hands and have read every blog I ever wrote will recall this story about my adventures with metal building roof insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/metal-building-insulation-in-pole-buildings-part-i/.

Reader JOSH in CORVALLIS is having issues with how metal building insulation is (or in his case is not) performing in his post frame hangar. He writes:

“I am a first time builder and finished a 40×50 Hangar by myself a few years ago. It all came out perfectly with one exception. Every year when the temperatures change rapidly and the moisture is high I get condensation that fills up the roof insulation along the intersection of the roof and the top girt. 

I used fiberglass backed with vinyl laid under the metal roofing. When I installed it I rolled it out from one side of the building up over the peak and down to the other side in a continuous piece. Each piece then was overlapped to the next one, folded over and stapled down to the purlin. I feel that was done well. Where the insulation meets the top girt (purlin) I finished it off there by folding it over on itself and stapled it to the top of the top girt (purlin) so the metal roofing was laid on top of it and screwed down to that top girt (purlin) only touching the vinyl backing. 

At the peak of the roof I have a gap of a few inches between the sheet metal from one side to the other, with the ridge cap covering that gap. I used a duckbill plier tool to bend up the sheet metal along the top edge before installing the ridge cap to help keep out a driving rain but let air flow through. 

The roofing tips I had received from other DIY builders influenced the way I did things and I now question if those things are causing this condensation issue I have. The 3 main things are how I tacked the insulation to the top girt (purlin) by folding it over onto itself. The droop of the insulation between each purlin (about 2 inches droop), now I think that maybe should be taut against the metal. And the bending of the metal sheet up under the ridgecap as I see they sell matching foam insulation strips for this area which would obviously block airflow as well as water. So my question is what did I do wrong here and what can I do to correct it?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
I lived for a decade roughly 40 miles northeast of you in South Salem so am vaguely familiar with your weather – two seasons, warm rain and cold rain. Now seriously, it was not so bad, until I moved back to Eastern Washington’s high desert and had to have webbing removal surgery from between my fingers.

I have given your scenario some serious thought since you wrote with your challenge.

My general method of problem solving begins with what is causing this situation, beginning with possible sources.

Usually I would point my finger at roof leaks, however you have narrowed this down to only when humidity is high. Most often increased humidity inside of buildings is due to no vapor barrier beneath a slab-on-grade. If this is your particular circumstance, I would recommend applying a sealant to your concrete floor.

Normally when water is collecting just uphill of an eave strut (aka eave purlin or girt) it is due to a raw insulation edge on top of the eave strut. You have eliminated this, however humidity laden air can still enter your system here unless you place inside closures between your fold over and roof steel (my guess is this is your source) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/the-lowly-inside-closure/

Using Metal Building Insulation as a Condensation Control usually fails due to seams being poorly sealed. A 100% tight seal is essential for adequate performance. Here is how they should be done:

You have no airflow at your ridge, due to having run insulation continuous from eave-to-eave. I would cut away insulation between your ridge purlins and install vented closure strips under your ridge cap. This will give a point for warm moist air to exhaust from inside your building and prevent any blown rain from entering.

I hope this helps….please let me know how it all works once you apply the remedy.

 

Pylon Sizes, Insulating a Pole Barn, and Plastic for Drainage

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about concrete pylon sizes, how to best finish and insulate an existing structure, and the best plastic for drainage.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What size do the concrete pylons need to be for a 24×36 building with an 11’ roof peak to be used for storage. No footer, just the basic building with 6”x6” posts. JAMES in VERSAILLES

DEAR JAMES: This information should have been clearly indicated on engineer sealed plans you are using for construction. Actual required depth, diameter and amount of concrete required to prevent settling, uplift and overturning is carefully calculated by your building’s engineer, once all factors can be considered. These include, but are not limited to: soil strength at your site, building wall height, roof slope, weight of building itself, snow load, wind speed and wind exposure, seismic considerations, whether building is fully or partially enclosed or is ‘open’, as well as spacing of columns. In most cases, I would expect to see an engineered design of roughly 40 inches in depth, 18 inches in diameter, with a minimum of 18 inches depth of concrete in bottom of hole (a bottom collar) and base of column held up eight inches from bottom of hole. A steel uplift plate is typically placed on columns in concreted area to prevent uplift. All of these factors as well as typical suggestions above should be fully reviewed and sealed by your building’s engineer prior to your moving forward.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve been reading through Mike’s information regarding post frame construction.

My wife and I moved into my parent’s old house, and would like to finish the inside of the pole barn that my father built 4 years ago. The trusses have a BCLL of 10 lbs. There’s single bubble between the purlins and metal, so the underside of the roof is always dry. We’d like to insulate the barn, but there is no housewrap (Tyvek) on the walls. My wife works and I’m disabled, so we don’t have very much extra money to spend. I’m physically not able to remove the metal on the walls and install housewrap. We can’t afford to hire someone to do this. We also can’t afford to have an insulation company spray foam the walls which would solve our problem. My father left about 60 new sheets of EPS foam board, and 50 – 60 new rolls of unfaced fiberglass insulation in the barn. Instead of taking the metal off the walls, would it be possible to wrap the interior of the walls in housewrap? It would be on the inside of the wall girts and wrap around the inside of the post. Would this prevent condensation from forming in the walls? Would it do any good to cut the EPS foam board and put it between the wall girts and fill all the edges of the EPS board with spray foam? I’m trying to come up with a practical solution to the problem, and was hoping Mike could help. I don’t want to ruin the fiberglass insulation, or the EPS foam board. I read one of Mike’s post about his wife being in a motorcycle accident and is now a paraplegic. I was driving home from work 19 years ago, and a big truck hit my car in the driver’s door. I was lucky to survive and was in a wheelchair for over 10 years. I still have the desire to do stuff out in the garage, but am very limited to what I can actually do. You never know what your future holds. Let me know if Mike has any possible solutions. I would appreciate it. GREG

DEAR GREG: Thank you very much for being a loyal reader.

Best possible solution would be to resell the EPS and the fiberglass and put those funds towards two inches of closed cell spray foam.

Trying to cut foam board and completely air seal it would be lots of labor and impossible to achieve. A Weather Resistant Barrier (Tyvek or similar) on the inside of the wall would either trap moisture in the wall or have it passing through into your interior without solving condensation against your wall steel. Chances are you would end up with some damp fiberglass over time.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am considering using 6 mil plastic sheeting about 5 feet wide from the bottom of the outside wall to drain any rainwater away from the building.  Do you know of any issues this might present? RON in WINSTON

DEAR RON: If I was going to do this I would use 15mil black plastic as 6mil will just not hold up over time. I would seal it to my building’s pressure preservative treated splash plank and make sure to have ground sloping away from my building beneath plastic minimum of 5% (three inches in five feet).

 

SIPS for Barndominiums

It has only been five years since I first opined about using SIPs for post frame building construction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/sips/. Since then, post frame homes (frequently referred to as barndominiums) have become quite the rage. Easily half of Hansen Pole Buildings’ inquiries are now for some combination of living space!

I had recently done some further research on SIPs and actually acquired pricing, reader STEPHEN from RAPID CITY was evidently thinking on a like-minded path when he wrote:

“I am a CAD student at Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City, SD and have been thinking about a way to use post-frame buildings as a cost-effective way to create very energy efficient (essentially passive house level insulation and airtightness) residential housing.  What do you think of the possibility of attaching appropriately sized SIPs to the outside of the posts instead of other sheathing and using their strength to do away with girts all together? I have seen SIPs advertised as being used this way with timber framed or post and beam construction (neither are cheap) but not with post-framed buildings.  The idea would be to have thick enough SIPs to not need internal dimensional lumber in the SIP thereby removing thermal bridges, but having it still be strong enough for racking and wind loads.

I know that the costs for SIPs mostly comes from the manufacturer having to essentially custom make each piece.  In this application the SIP panels could be made as rectangles that are as wide as your center to center post distance and as tall as is convenient. Any angled pieces for gable ends and any fenestrations could be cut on site, reducing SIP manufacturing costs.  The SIPs also would likely not have to have much dimensional lumber built into the SIP because it is just holding up itself and windows, not the whole building thereby drastically reducing your thermal bridging. You could also foam seal between the SIP panels to provide air sealing (which I believe is standard for SIPs anyway.)

I would think that you could either use thick enough SIPs to provide all of your insulation and just leave the posts exposed on the inside, or you could use a SIP that was just thick enough to, structurally, take the place of girts and sheathing and frame the space between the posts with 2x4s 24” o.c. flush with the inside of the posts and use fiberglass batts in that space.  

The first technique has the advantage of not needing to do any extra internal framing, but you do have to deal with the posts in your living space.  In addition, if you want to run any electrical to the inside face of any of those walls you either have to be ok with running it in conduit on the face of the wall or you are getting back to specially made SIPs with electrical chases.  The advantages of this technique over your suggestion of bookshelf girts and sheet insulation on the interior is that it doesn’t require interior framing (girts or traditional) and no need to glue drywall but the cost of the thick SIPS, even generic ones, might outweigh those advantages.

The second way of doing it does require extra framing and if your outside SIPs are air sealed you would have to be careful about using a moisture barrier on the inside of the wall (like you normally would in a heating climate) as you wouldn’t want to trap moisture in that space.  The advantages of this system over your bookshelf girts and sheet insulation is, again, no gluing of drywall, normal attachment systems for electrical boxes and cables, and the internal framing being slightly cheaper than full 2×6 girts. Again, the cost of the SIPs might make those advantages moot.

Finally, with either style, you could use a traditional (for post-frame buildings) ceiling with blown insulation above and a vented attic space or you could have full roof panel SIPs built with internal structure to span between your trusses, leaving them exposed inside, and get rid of your purlins as well (for both purlins and girts you would probably have to have some temporary bracing while the building is being built.)

What do you think? Have you heard of anyone doing something similar? Does this sound like it would be a viable way to get very high insulation and air sealing on the cheap?”

Mike the Pole Building Guru responds:

Thank you for your well thought out question, it is evident you have read some of my articles. I hope they have been informational, educational and/or entertaining.

I am usually a guy who jumps all over some brand new technology. My construction business had a website back in 1995 when there were only roughly 23,500 world-wide. This was not long after I had erected a post frame shouse (shop/house) for myself, not realizing there was such a thing as a barndominium. My first attempt utilized ICF blocks on two walls and a portion of a third to compensate for digging away a 12 foot grade change.

Getting on track, I have always thought SIPs would be “cool” as in neat, fun and interesting. It has only been recently I have been able to get some solid costs back on their use.  I approached this design solution from an aspect of eliminating all except columns, roof trusses, essential truss bracing and steel skin. I looked at this as applying SIPs to column exteriors and used a 36 foot wide by 48 foot length with 10 foot high walls. In order to span 12 feet between columns and trusses I was looking at R-52 panels. Wholesale raw cost difference (after eliminating typical wall girts and roof purlins) would add nearly $30,000 plus freight to this building. It would also require a crane onsite to place panels and some sophisticated fastening systems to attach SIPs to the framework.  It is relatively easy to achieve similar insulating values and air sealing for far less of a cash outlay.

Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? Not if return for investment is a consideration.

Anyone who can design an overall cost effective post frame building design solution with SIPs, I am all ears and eyes to hear and read about it. Until then, for those who just want to be neat and different without cost as a factor, it might be a great system.

What Makes Some Buildings Better Than Others

I answer literally hundreds of building related questions every day. These questions come from many different sources – our staff, drafts people, engineers, architects, building officials, clients, builders and social media (just to name a few).

This question, posted in a Facebook group, is an exceptional one and I felt it necessary to share:

Pole Barn Guru Blog“What makes some buildings better than others? And at what point does it not matter? (Ex: building A frames with 2x4s. Building B uses 2x6s and building C uses 2x12s obviously B is better than A but C is overkill) Does the metal come down just to the thickness of it? Thicker is probably better but to what end? I’m talking straight materials not warranty or service of a company. Thank you.”

This answer actually has a remarkably simple answer. It all comes down to what loads a building is engineered for.

Period.

Not what some under educated person says makes it better, but what a highly trained Registered Professional Engineer is willing to stake their career upon by putting their name and seal on a set of plans.

You want a stronger building (whether post frame, weld up, PEMB, stick frame, etc.) then increase snow and/or wind design loads. 

It is seriously just this simple.

It does no good to have super thick siding and roofing, if the supporting frame is not able to carry equivalent loads.

I once had a client who was “concerned about snow loads” so wanted 2×8 roof purlins (when 2×6 would easily have carried the loads). I asked him what was going to hold those purlins up (a sky hook maybe) when his building’s trusses failed beneath them.

A building is a complete system.

When you hear a supplier or builder talking about how their bigger/stronger/thicker whatever makes their building best, think B.S., because they do not have a clue about structural design.

When you find the rare gem who advises you they are providing a fully engineered building and recommends above Code required minimum loads – stick to them like super glue, as this is truly a better design solution.

Here is just one example of when bigger isn’t always better: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/

I hired my first staff engineer roughly 35 years ago, Jenny Wong.  Jenny’s previous experience was as a design engineer for a nuclear power plant (seriously). Jenny knew absolutely nothing about post frame buildings, but was willing to totally trust me – provided I could find documentable proof from reliable sources. This one requirement alone shaped my professional career.

Ask me any post frame building questions, any time. If I cannot get you an answer, I will let you know. My answers will always be based upon factual evidence. If you find some method or component with an ability to make buildings better, without unduly penalizing new building owners financially please share it with me – I will perform due diligence to prove or disprove it and if it is truly beneficial, expect to see it in your next Hansen Pole Building.

Things Roof Truss Manufacturers Should Ask

Things Roof Truss Manufacturers SHOULD Ask, But Don’t Always

I didn’t just fall off of a turnip truck yesterday, even though there are a few who may doubt my claim!

Prefabricated metal plate connected wood trusses and I became close friends back in April of 1977. Yes, we had electricity then and no, I did not watch space aliens build Egypt’s pyramids. Eventually I owned and operated two truss plants for 17 years. I know it may sound odd, but I did learn a couple of things.

Most of us do not know to ask (or tell) what we are not asked.  When Hansen Pole Buildings’ Wizardress of Ordering Justine gives information to our trusted truss suppliers, all of these factors below have been incorporated into our order. This insures your trusses will be adequate to handle loads being placed upon them.

Chances are you (as well as most other post frame building kit suppliers and/or contractors) have not taken all of these into account. In failing to do so, your building may not do everything you want it to do not only today, but also years from now (or could even fall down and go boom).

Here we go:

Span from outside of wall to outside of wall. Eave overhangs are not considered as part of a span.

Desired slope(s) – with scissor trusses to achieve a vaulted ceiling or added center headroom, provide an interior or exterior ‘must have’ and other slope will be determined from ‘must have’ slope.

Spacing (ideally you will be using double trusses spaced directly on columns) rather than going into some lengthy dissertation on truss spacing, please read this article: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/.

Overhangs on eave sides (measured parallel to ground), as well as beyond endwalls. Why is beyond endwalls important? For sake of discussion assume single trusses placed every two feet, unless specified and designed otherwise and end truss in this scenario can only support a foot of overhang past an end. Single trusses placed every four feet can support a maximum two foot end overhang.

 

Roofing material and any solar or rooftop arrays. How many psf (pounds per square foot) must your trusses support? Steel roofing is fairly light weight. If using shingles, Code requires incorporation of enough load capacity for a reroofing down the road.

Is roofing over purlins, sheathing? Maybe sheathing AND purlins. Whichever is your case, these weights need to be accounted for as top chord dead loads.

Ceiling? If not now, ever? One of my most asked questions is in regards to adding ceilings in existing post frame buildings. At a bare minimum to support steel liner panels bottom chord dead load should be three psf, for gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) five psf. Last year Hansen Pole Buildings opted to increase bottom chord dead load for all trusses spanning 40 feet or less to five psf. We do not frankly do a very good job of promoting the benefits of this feature.

If attic is insulated, weight of ceiling material, ceiling joists and attic floor insulation.  

Design wind speed and exposure. More buildings fail from roofs blowing off, than from snow. Depending upon Code year and version, wind speed may be expressed as Vult or Vasd. There is a difference and whoever is going to build trusses needs to know. If you do not fully understand differences between B and C wind exposure, learn quick: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/

Heated or Unheated? There is a factor relating to whether your building will be heated and it influences design snow load. Heated buildings help melt snow off.

Overall building dimensions: width, length, height above grade. These factors impact wind design.

Risk Category – How your building will be used impacts design snow and wind loads. Buildings with infrequent human occupancy have less risk and can be designed for a greater probability of failure in event of an extreme weather event.

Energy heels for full depth attic insulation? If ever insulation might be blown into a dead attic space for purposes of climate control, to be effective it should be full depth from outside of wall to outside of wall. For extended reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/

Siding material (so proper gable truss recommendations can be made). If supporting other than roll formed steel siding, end truss probably will require vertical studs. Without a continuous wall beneath an end truss, it must be ordered as a structural gable.

Is the building fully enclosed, partially enclosed or open? This will again influence wind design.

Are you interested in parallel chords with a heel height to create a vaulted ceiling? You can get the same slope inside and out with this method.

Done right you would be offered options to increase load carrying capacities against either wind, snow or both. This is true value added design. Builders most always want bare minimums, while people who are doing DIY homes or barndominiums are most likely to increase capacities. If in doubt – own the last building standing!

When I was building trusses I  had extremely high expectations of my truss staff, we always wanted to offer designs to exceed our client’s expectations.

Too many factors to juggle? You do not have to fret with an engineered Hansen Pole Building. Please call 1(866)200-9657 today.

P.S. Remember, I have no current interest in any truss manufacturing facility so please don’t contact me for truss prices, thanks.

Proper Screw Location for Post Frame Steel Cladding

Proper Screw Location for Post Frame Steel Cladding

It was a pleasant October evening back in 1985 in Blacksburg, Virginia. My friend Dr. Frank Woeste was then a College of Agricultural and Life Sciences professor at Virginia Tech (officially Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) and he had invited me to teach one of his classes for a day, in exchange for him providing some basic engineering software to design post frame building columns, roof purlins and wall girts.

Back in 1985, Virginia Tech had not yet become a NCAA football powerhouse it grew into under the direction of Hokies’ head coach Frank Beamer – having participated in post season bowl games for 23 consecutive seasons starting in 1993. This also long predated an April 16, 2007 tragedy when Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 faculty members and students, wounding 17 others before killing himself on campus. This shooting remains as the third deadliest mass shooting committed by a lone gunman in United States history.

Mid-way through an evening with Frank, after digesting a hearty meal and debating whether hops in our consumed liquids were a fruit or a vegetable (they actually are neither – they are flower cones), we digressed into Dr. Woeste’s research’s true essence at Virginia Tech – post frame buildings and prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses.

Narrowing things down, a lively discussion occurred (including some of his grad students) on whether steel roofing and siding for post frame buildings should be attached with screws through ‘flats’ or on high rib tops.
You may be wondering what brought this particular subject to mind after so many years? In case you happened to, my Facebook friend Trenton had asked me this very question recently.

For years steel roofing and siding had been attached with ring shanked nails (read more about this and Dr. Woeste here:

( https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/12/ring-shank-nails/). Traditionally nails were located upon high rib crowns – knowing not all nails would be identically driven through steel into underlying wood. The belief was that rain running off a roof would never get high enough to leak around improperly seated nails on high rib tops!

So, what would happen if screws were improperly placed in those steel high rib tops?

Properly designed post frame buildings are dependent upon diaphragm action provided by the steel skin (roofing and siding). Numerous tests have been done to confirm shear strength of panels as properly fastened. When screws are placed through high ribs, there is a 5/8 to ¾ inch gap between high rib underside and framing below. Screw shanks can flex within this space, reducing shear load carrying capacity of this sheathing system.

Furthermore, screw flexation in this gap, allows steel panels to move slightly under wind or seismic loads, eventually contributing to slots being formed in steel around screw shanks, and over time, causing leaks.

Ultimately Frank and I agreed with every steel roofing and siding roll former – screws in flats, not on ribs!

Monitor Style, Cost to Build a Floor Plan, and Adding OHD Openers

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the possibility of an open floor plan Monitor style building, what the costs of building s specific floor plan might be, as well advice on adding overhead door operators to a building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you design a truss system for a monitor style building that has a complete open floor plan. 50 Ft front x 40 Ft depth. RON in SANGER

Monitor Barn Interior

DEAR RON: Absolutely. My first one was about 25 years ago, when I was a post frame builder. It was not near this wide, but I have since been involved in many others, both lesser and greater in width.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much would it cost to build this? I do not two RV doors. Can go with a smaller or shorter door on one side only. We would like it plumbed for sinks and showers ect but do not need to include the sinks, shower, toilet, cabinets ect. Just the walls. REBECCA in OLYMPIA

 

DEAR REBECCA: To some extent it will depend upon how you run rooflines. I would be inclined to recommend your garage area be 20’ x 42’ with a ridge line running front to back (peak gable end above where you show an RV door) with a 15’ eave height. For your living area, I would put a gable on your far right with ridgeline running towards garage area.

Other than rough-in for plumbing, you can probably safely budget $25-30 per square foot erected including a slab on grade. To get exact pricing of your building shell and discuss options, please reach out to a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at 1(866)200-9657.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m considering purchasing a home that has a pole building with two overhead garage doors that never had openers installed. One of the doors is very high- for RV clearance. There doesn’t look like much structure above to hang them from. What would be the best way to do that or is there other opener alternatives? DAVID in WESTMINSTER

DEAR DAVID: You have stumbled upon one of my pet peeves – when sectional overhead garage doors are sold without openers. Let’s face it, almost every garage door truly should have one. It does not take much to hang an opener, should you purchase I would recommend you contact two or three of your local garage door installation companies to take a look at your building and provide a quote for openers and installation.

 

Barndominium: One Story or Two?

Barndominium: One Floor or Two?

Welcome to an ongoing debate about whether it is more cost effective to build a one story or two story barndominium. Commonly I read people advising two stories is less expensive than a single story. Reader TODD in HENNING put me to work when he wrote:

“I’m curious why “Going to multiple stories will be more expensive than building the same amount of finished square footage on a single level”? Everywhere I read it says it’s cheaper to go up than out. For example wouldn’t there be more cost with bigger footprint of concrete, in-floor heating, roof trusses, and more steel on roof? Thanks.”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

It turns out Todd has requested a building quote from Hansen Pole Buildings, so I was able to work scenarios from his requested 40 foot wide by 48 foot long scenario. I arbitrarily merely doubled his building length when looking at a single story. It may have been more cost effective to have done this exercise by going greater in width and less in length (as one gets closer to square, there is less exterior wall surface to side, insulate and drywall).

Included were colored steel roofing and siding, commercial bookshelf wall girts to create a wall insulation cavity (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/), dripstop/condenstop under roof steel to minimize or eliminate condensation (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/), ceiling loaded energy heel trusses (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/) with ceiling joists for sheetrock, 24 inch enclosed vented overhangs, vented ridge and one entry door. In the two story version I added floor trusses and a four foot wide set of stairs.

In order to maintain eight foot finished ceiling heights, two stories requires a 21 foot eave and single story 10 foot. Engineered plans and delivery were included.

I did not include materials for a bearing wall at the floor truss center. Features listed above ran roughly $6000 more to go two floors. Also, with the two floor version, you will lose 50 square feet of usable floor on each level due to stairs.

In this particular instance best overall buy could come down to what you pay for your slab and in-floor heating. Labor to erect a single story will be less expensive (I would predict at least a $3000 difference). Some other thoughts – two story has 1/2 as much attic insulation and 45% more wall insulation. Two story (excluding interior walls) has 30% more wall to drywall. This added exterior wall surface will likely result in more windows.

Personally, I own three multiple floor post frame buildings, these are my considerations:

Accessibility roughly 10% of all Americans will spend time in wheelchairs in their lifetimes. My wife is a paraplegic and we cannot get into one of her son’s homes because it is a split entry. Two of her other sons have built ramps for her, but they also have multi-story homes and it greatly limits areas she can have access to. In our own shouse (shop/house), we added an elevator after her injury (elevators are NOT cheap).

Stairs in general – you are probably much younger than my 62 years, going up and down stairs gets to be a chore as we age.

Heating and cooling – unless each floor is on their own system, one floor is always either too cool or too warm. I put one of my own buildings on two separate heat pumps for this very reason.

In conclusion, whether one story or two, go with what best fits your wants and needs and your property. Love what you build and it will result in a happy ending.

Barndominium on a Daylight Basement

As post frame construction moves into a world filled with barndominiums, shouses and homes, there are of course those who would prefer (or need due to lot slope) to build upon either a full or partial (daylight) basement.

Post frame buildings are ideal for this situation.

Reader LOUIE writes:

“Hi, I just started the process of building my first home and came across your website, hoping maybe you can help. So far I have purchased the land, got the septic design and have started to clear it. I have a good idea of what I would like to build but have a few questions. Can you design buildings to be built on daylight basement foundations? Also I see that the kits on your website include the windows, doors and exterior finish. Would it be possible to buy a kit for just the the framing?  Ideally I want to build something like this roughly 28×36. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Yes, we can design to build on a daylight basement, columns on the basement’s open side would be long enough to extend into the ground and be embedded. My shouse (shop/house) in Washington was engineered this way. In my case we dealt with 12 feet of grade change on a 40 foot wide site. Our solution was to have a 12’ tall ICF block wall on one side and 10 feet of front, then step down across the rear endwall to follow grade. Engineered wet set brackets were poured into top of ICFs (read about wet set brackets here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/).

Besides your framing package, we would like to provide your building’s steel roofing. If you are using some sort of board or plank siding, we would like for you to obtain it and we would provide OSB or plywood sheathing as well as a Weather Resistant Barrier.

We would need to have some wall at the corners of the window end in order to adequately transfer shear loads from roof to foundation. Ideally for a 10′ tall wall, roughly 3.5′ at the corners.

To achieve your vaulted ceiling as shown in the photo, the best method would be to place a column at peak 12′ in from each endwall. If your interior plans cannot stand columns, we could run a ridge beam down the center from end to end.

If you do opt for interior columns, I would also recommend using engineered prefabricated floor trusses for your floor system. This would provide a clearspan lower level and allow for all ductwork and utilities to be hidden in your home’s floor.

For extended reading on barndominium floor trusses please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/floor-trusses-for-barndominiums/

Barndominium Egress Windows

Barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame homes have become a popular alternative to ‘conventional’ stick frame construction. This creates a radical mind shift for those of us who have been focused on non-residential structures for years or even decades. An important consideration is including adequate windows for egress.

Dedicated readers will remember my oldest step-son, Jake. Although he is a high school physics/biology/chemistry teacher by vocation – he seems to have a bit of the “builder gene” in him.

For those who missed out on some of prior adventures – they begin here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/07/construction-time-2/

Jake’s dad is a successful farmer in South Dakota. Growing up on a farm, Jake got plenty of dirt under his fingernails, and after spending several years in Tennessee, he, his lovely wife and their then two children (now three with two-year-old Liam) returned to his roots – to farm with his Father – Dan.

Needing a place to live, convenient to Dan’s farm, they remodeled Jake’s paternal grandmother’s house – adding a 24’6” wide x 32’ two-story “wing”. In effect, they made it a four-level home.

I have been involved with roughly 20,000 post frame buildings across four decades, and until recently very few have intentionally been designed as houses (or at least I was not told they were going to be houses). When it came time for Jake’s bedroom windows – I bounced “minimum egress size” off him. Jake (being a scientist) had fast answers at his fingertips via the internet on his smart phone.

An egress window is one large enough to allow entry or exit if there is an emergency. Egress window requirements are used to guarantee a minimum window size and maximum height above a floor.

Egress window requirements are designed to make sure windows can open enough to climb through when there is an emergency. Egressable windows are only required in bedrooms and basements. Heights and widths of clear openable space are designed to allow a firefighter with an oxygen tank on, to climb through windows.

From 2012 IRC (International Residential Code):

R310.1 Emergency escape and rescue required. 
Basements, habitable attics and every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room. Where emergency escape and rescue openings are provided they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) measured from the finished floor to the bottom of the clear opening. The net clear opening dimensions required by this section shall be obtained by the normal operation of the emergency escape and rescue opening from the inside. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.

R310.1.1 Minimum opening area. 
All emergency escape and rescue openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet (0.530 m2).

Exception: Grade floor openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5 square feet (0.465 m2).

R310.1.2 Minimum opening height. 
The minimum net clear opening height shall be 24 inches (610 mm).

R310.1.3 Minimum opening width. 
The minimum net clear opening width shall be 20 inches (508 mm).

R310.1.4 Operational constraints. 
Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.

Key phrase here is “net clear opening”. While a four foot wide by three foot tall sliding window would “appear” to have a sliding two foot by three foot panel, when physically measured the actual opening falls just below a 5.7 square foot threshold.

Typically sized sliding windows for egress are four foot wide by four feet tall, or five foot wide by three feet tall.

With single or double hung windows, they must be at least three feet in width and five feet in height.

Building a new post frame building to be your next home, or a mother-in-law apartment? Keep these window egress sizes in mind when planning for sleeping areas – and help keep everyone safe.

Getting the Best Deal on Your New Post Frame Building

A price quote is merely a number without a complete understanding of exactly what is or is not included in said quote.

You have requested quotes for your new post frame building from a dozen or more providers and actually gotten four back, even after having to hound all of them for pricing! Frustrating when you are ‘knocking at their door’ trying to spend your cash.

One quote stood out above all others with an exceptional price, so you place your order. Only after “everything” arrives and you try to assemble it do you find out what you thought you bought and what you really purchased are not quite equal.

Disappointing.

If you prefer to read books by starting with the last chapter, you can skip to there to find a solution.

Here are a few points to be aware of:

Will Your Building Meet Minimum Building Code Standards?

Those quotes you got….few, if any, will specify what loads your building are designed for.

Some of them will just be a list of materials! Are they right? Is there even enough there to construct a building?

Every quote should include (at a minimum): engineer sealed plans specific to your building at your site. Complete Building Code information – including Code version (there is a new one every three years), Ground snow load (Pg), Flat roof snow load (Pf), Design wind speed (Vult or Vasd), Wind Exposure (there is a big difference between Exposure B and C) and assumed soil bearing pressures.

You can easily acquire this information for yourself, so you have a point to check from: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-1/

If Code information is not on a quote, chuck it.

Do Roof Trusses Quoted Meet Your Needs?

Here is where investing in an engineered building comes into play, as your Engineer of Record (person who seals your building plans) should be reviewing prefabricated roof truss drawings for their adequacy for his or her building.

Planning on supporting a ceiling, either now or at a later date? If so a ceiling load of no less than five pounds per square foot (psf) should be indicated on engineered plans as well as a BCDL (Bottom Chord Dead Load) to match on sealed truss drawings.

At Hansen Pole Buildings, we ran into this situation so often, we decided to upgrade all trusses up to 40 foot clearspan to support a minimum five psf load.

 

How is Roof Steel Condensation Being Controlled? Most providers are not even going to mention this. Most of us prefer it not to rain inside of our new buildings. 

I answer questions online every Monday. Problem/question number one is regarding condensation.

From cheapest up – a Radiant Reflective Barrier (aka bubble wrap – if going this route you only need single bubble, six foot wide rolls with an adhesive pull strip); Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/); Sheathing with 30# felt; Closed cell spray foam.

Planning on insulating and finishing walls? If not using closed cell spray foam you will want to apply a Weather Resistant Barrier between wall framing and steel siding.

What Written Warranty Comes With Your Building?

If it does, how long does it last? What does it include? When it comes to Post Frame Building kits, Hansen Pole Buildings stands alone with a Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/11/pole-building-warranty/).

Are Assembly Instructions Included?

If not, there is plenty left to chance. Hansen Pole Buildings provides a fully illustrated, step-by-step 500 page Construction Manual. And, if you get stuck, there is unlimited FREE Technical Support from people who have actually assembled buildings!

 

How About Your Potential Provider?

How long have they been in business 2 years, 5 years? How about 18 years? How many post frame buildings have they provided? How about roughly 20 thousand buildings located in ALL 50 states!

Here is how to vet any potential provider: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/pole-building-suppliers/

I promised you a solution (aka Last Chapter of Book)

We are offering to shop for you.  Seriously? Yes! You provide up to three names of competitors to Hansen Buildings, where you can purchase a complete wood framed post frame building kit package, and we will shop them to get quotes for you.

Now we say three, because frankly, some people just are not very prompt or cooperative when it comes to getting back with price quotes.

Why would we do this?  Comparing “apples to apples”, we know our price will beat theirs, every single time. We offer to do this for your peace of mind.   We guarantee all other prices will be higher.  And we will provide you with documentation to prove it!

There is a catch…..before we go shopping you have to place your order for your new Hansen Pole Building kit….. subject to us “proving our 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 our 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 after sale service will you get?). 

After we email you proof, if you seriously want to purchase from one of these competitors, just let us know before ten days pass and we tear everything up and go away friends.

Footing Size? A “Reverse Barndominium?” and a Loft Bedroom?

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the footing size for an open car porch and why a person should use a registered design professional, building a “reverse barndominium” where one build a post frame shell around an existing structure, and if one can build a loft bedroom in a footprint of 20’x 30′.

treated postDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am building an open car porch, the inside will be connected to another building and on the outside I planning on using 3 – 8 inch x 8 inch x 8 feet posts 12 feet apart. The open car porch area is 24ft x 24ft and the roof is 6 on 12 with 2 x 6 rafters and joists landing on the outside plate. What size footing will I need for each pole? JAY in MORGAN CITY

DEAR JAY: This is a question best answered by the Registered Professional Engineer who designed your building, as he or she will be able to do a complete analysis including soil bearing capacity, design wind speed and wind exposure. With columns only eight feet long, I am guessing you are planning on using wet set brackets into concrete piers https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/. I would not be surprised to see piers up to three feet deep and two foot diameter in order to adequate resist uplift forces.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are you aware of anyone ever building a “reverse barndominium”? Usually barndominiums are built shell (outside walls) first then the interior, but what about building entirely around an existing structure? I really want to buy this historic house built in 1861. It is currently gutted down to the dirt floors, needs a roof, garage, etc. Why not just enclose the whole thing and DIY the interior without dealing with the outside elements? The primary structure is 19’x38′, but the side structure is an additional 20′ (39′ total wide) with a 6/12 roof. The eave height is 15.5′ and about 20′ at the ridge. The basement is about 4′ deep. I could go 42′ wide with a structure and have the exterior posts completely outside of the current footprint. The lot is 60’x150′ and I’m looking at a 40×80-ish building with a second story.

Is this feasible or have I succumb to the Dunning-Kruger Effect? I have attached an image of my sketchup drawing to give a better idea of my concept.

Thank you great guru. I love your philosophy and transparency throughout your blog posts. I have learned a lot at the cost of otherwise being productive at work. JAMES in WESTON

DEAR JAMES: Thank you very much for your kind words, although I am not as certain your employer would be as happy with me 🙂

Perhaps surprisingly, you would be far from the first person to attempt such a project. Is is entirely doable and actually becomes very similar to what people do with a PEMB (Pre-engineered metal building aka red iron) or a weld up barndominium, where a shell is erected and a building is built inside of a building. You just happen to have your insides prebuilt!

Outside of my loyal readers, most have never heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/dunning-kruger-effect/)

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m interested in a residential building approximately 20ft x 30ft. How tall would the walls need to be to include a loft bedroom with headspace to approximately 4ft from the sides? JUDE in DUPONT

DEAR JUDE: I will answer your question from a standpoint of you getting best value for your investment – meaning using both floors from wall to wall.

Assuming a concrete slab-on-grade for main level, bottom of framed ceiling would be at 8′ 4-5/8″ this allows for 5/8″ drywall on ceiling and 1/2″ at bottom to be able to account for any variances in your building slab and to keep drywall from soaking up moisture from floor, plus 3-1/2″ for actual thickness of a nominal four inch thick slab.

I would recommend using premanufactured wood floor trusses between floors (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/09/floor-trusses/). Plan on a 20 inch thickness, plus 3/4″ for subflooring and 8′ 1-1/8″ putting bottom of roof trusses at 18′ 2-1/2″. In Pennsylvania I would recommend R-60 blown in attic insulation (just under 20 inches thick), resulting in needing a 20 foot eave height.

 

 

A Barndominium Can Be a Carbon Storage Warehouse

Designed right, your new barndominium can help prevent global warming. By utilization of a wooden post frame structure, rather than steel or concrete, carbon can be stored (like a warehouse), rather than being released into our planet’s atmosphere.

The carbon cycle demonstrates various phases of carbon through living things, soil, water and atmosphere. If carbon cycle was in equilibrium, the rate at which carbon is removed from stores would equal the amount being taken out of the atmosphere. Current carbon cycle concerns are that it is considered to be out of equilibrium in response to human intervention. 

Burning of fossil fuels high in carbon has disturbed this natural carbon cycle balance and enhanced rate of carbon returning to a gas. This increase in atmospheric carbon gas, particularly as carbon dioxide and methane, is believed to contribute to global warming and is referred to as ‘man-made greenhouse effect’ – a process where greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation in our atmosphere causing our planet to warm.

Concrete and steel don’t store any carbon, and they require far more energy consumption than is required to produce wood products. This results in increased greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, compared to building with wood, it takes more than nine times as much energy to produce steel, and nearly four times as much energy to produce concrete.

Making concrete, for instance, involves heating limestone to very high temperatures, resulting in a chemical process called “calcination.” This amounts to about 50 percent of concrete’s CO2 emissions, helping explain why concrete, the second most consumed substance on earth, accounts for around five percent of total global CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. 

Yale University’s Chadwick Dearing Oliver, Pinchot Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies, recommended, “Build with wood instead of steel and concrete, and we can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent.”

There are a number of reasons building with wood instead of other materials can help reduce CO2 emissions, as Oliver points out. For one, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as they grow. Carbon (the “C” in CO2) is stored in the wood of the tree. 

Carbon constitutes approximately 50% of a tree’s dry mass and when wood from these trees is used to produce wood products carbon is stored for life in it. For post frame buildings (such as barndominiums, shouses and pole barns) this carbon storage life is around 100 years. Carbon stored in wood is only released back to the atmosphere when the wood product is burnt or decays when it re-binds with oxygen (the “O2” in CO2) and becomes carbon dioxide again.

The amount of carbon in sawn timber logs can be calculated using average rates of recovery after processing, estimated at around  50% for softwoods such as pine. Standard moisture content for air dried timber (and wood products) is 12% or another way to look at it is that 88% of moisture has been removed. So to calculate CO2 in construction timber variables you need an air dry mass of log, percentage of moisture removed and recovery rate. CO2 sequestered in construction timber = air dry mass of saw log x 88% (oven dry mass) x 50% (carbon %) x 3.67 x recovery rate (%) Example: For a 330 pound softwood saw log seasoned in a timber yard then processed into square posts,  amount of carbon sequestered in timber posts = 330 lbs x 88% x 50% x 3.67 x 50% = 187 pounds of carbon dioxide. Remaining mill waste from processing has various uses such as providing sawdust for manufacture of engineered wood products and biomass for renewable energy production.

An average American home is roughly 2600 square feet and requires 16,380 board feet of lumber to build, weighing about two pounds per board foot (obviously weight varies by species). Doing the math, if your post frame barndominium is average in size approximately NINE TONS of carbon are being stored, rather than released as greenhouse gases!

Are YOU a Potential Hansen Buildings’ Client?

Please note, I use “client” rather than “customer”. 

A customer is someone who buys a commodity from a shop.  A client is a person or company receiving a service from a professional person or organization in return for payment.

Unfortunately, too many future barndominium, shouse and post frame building owners are either unable or unwilling to spot differences between a well-designed building and one barely (or even perhaps not) meeting construction standards.

And when things go awry (as can happen in construction), all too often fingers get pointed everywhere except at the person who did not do their homework prior to purchase.

“The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™”

Long time readers will recall my saga of purchasing a Jaguar XJ6 in 1988 (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/12/pole-building-options-and-jaguars/). 

I wanted ‘it all’ and was willing to pay a goodly price in order to get it all.

When we at Hansen Pole Buildings talk about delivering “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™” we are absolutely serious about it.

It is why we want to talk personally with every client, not just send a plethora of emails and text messages back-and-forth. 

Why? Because none of us know…what we don’t know.

When I am shopping for a big ticket item – I want to speak to experts, and I expect expert advice. Just like the dashboard switch on my Jaguar, I don’t want to find out later on there is something I could have (or worse should have) done to have had an ideal end result.

We expect to deliver good old-fashioned personalized service and we hope you have an expectation of anyone you hire doing an exceptional job.

I am always heart broken when a client goes elsewhere and orders a new building.

Why?

About Hansen BuildingsBecause I know in my heart-of-hearts they will end up getting less of a building than they expected or deserved, and paying too much for what they settled for.  Sadly, companies with common names in our industry rely on their name to sell buildings, and not on the quality of their product. I’ll give them credit for doing a great marketing job. But are your needs quickly and responsibly serviced? Do you get your quote back without so much as a conversation about what you think you need? And does their sales staff really try to fit a building to your wants and needs and not shove your needs into one of their standard buildings? Think about it!

Regardless of whom you ultimately pick as your new building supplier – begin in a proper frame of mind. Throw out any preconceived notions about what your new building dimensions ‘should’ be, and instead, focus on what is needed to create your ideal dream building – one which will function as ably 10 or 40 years from now, as it does on completion day. And make darn sure your building supplier is designing your building to fit you, not you to their building.

Share with your Building Designer what problems your new building will solve for you. Discuss what this building absolutely must house and be used for, as well as what it might also do for you. And not just for today – imagine you can get out a crystal ball and look into the future.

Engage “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™”.

You’ll be glad you did.

Working With a Building Official for Footing Design

Working With a Building Official for footing designs

Long time readers have read me opine on how Building Officials are our friends: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/04/i-like-building-officials/

One of our clients recently received this email from his Building Official and shared it with me (red added by me):

“The Town of xxxx stopped plan review on your project because pole buildings with the type of foundation that was called out on your plans have a track record of failing in a short period of time in this area and the soil conditions that exist at your location won’t allow piers to be dug as called out in the plans The ground is full of rock. It was our intent to not have you try and build something that was not going to work and cost you a lot of money. With a frost depth of only 18” “T” foundations are the acceptable method of construction in that area and should be a lot less expensive.”

I responded asking for more explanation of wording in red, and heard back:

We have a few pole barns in xxxx that are much larger in size and in areas that will allow piers to be dug without interference of large rocks below grade. The pier design that they used allows the wood post to sit on a gravel base so any water that might drain down along the side of post after the wood shrinks from age is allowed to drain away.

They also pour concrete up to 3” above the top of the pier and slope the concrete away from the post. Your design traps water at the bottom of post and allows the water to be wicked up by the end grain of the post and promote rot. Although the building codes does allow treated wood foundations to be buried we strongly discourage the use in our jurisdiction.

Thanks for your understanding.”

Thank you very much for your timely response. 

 

I am probably remiss in not having offered a better introduction of myself. I studied architecture at the University of Idaho and have been Technical Director at Hansen Pole Buildings since 2002. I joined ASAE (now ASABE) and ICBO in the mid-1980s. The IBC references ASABE work for post frame buildings which was produced by the structural committee of which I was a member of. I am a frequent contributor as a writer for publications such as Structural Building Components, Frame Building News and Rural Builder magazines. I have also reached out to you on Linkedin, should you wish to know more about me.

We are currently working with Mr. Bxxx on a design solution to incorporate a continuous footing/foundation or thickened edge slab with bracket mounted columns. We and our engineer had not been advised by Mr. Bxxxr as to the soils/rock conditions at his site until quite late in the game. It is my expectation, with Mr. Bxxx’s continued assistance, to have an acceptable design solution arrived at shortly.

While an embedded column pier design on a gravel base sounds wonderful, Code does require a concrete or otherwise approved footing below isolated columns in order to properly distribute weight of building and applied loads. Actual testing of pressure preservative treated columns for over 60 years has proven there to be no decay of properly waterborne pressure preservative treated wood even in the most severe climates (this testing is ongoing in Mississippi). UC-4B rated pressure preservative treated wood is rated for structural use in fresh water, so a column being wet would not increase its chances of decay. In order for decay to occur there must also be oxygen, which is only present in the upper few inches of soils.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding any post frame building structure. I would also invite you to subscribe to my blog, where there are currently over 1800 searchable articles regarding post frame construction.

“Thank you for your comments. The failures we have seen may have quite well been from pour constructions procedures done 10 to 15 years ago. No way to tell. 

I will look into your articles and may have to change our policies”

Building Officials are not our adversaries and provided with accurate data policies can be crafted to create a winning solution for all parties involved!

Does my Barndominium Need a Turn-Key General Contractor?

Does My Barndominium Need a Turn-Key General Contractor?

Often a goal of barndominium (especially post frame) construction is to be able to get your most building, for your dollars invested (think biggest bang per buck).

When a turn-key general contractor is hired to provide a constructed building, normally about 25% of what you pay is going to said general contractor, who never lifts a tool or picks up a board at your building site.  This is a different person than an erection contractor, who heads up a team of builders, but who also drives nails and screws along with his or her crew.  A “general contractor” could be someone who drives nails, but usually doesn’t.  They often sit in an office and act as coordinator. Sometimes they visit your building site, and often they do not. They may have a salesman or other assistant who actually occasionally visits your jobsite.

If you are not a “hands on” person or one who is willing to invest a few hours of your own time to save thousands of dollars, then maybe hiring a general contractor is your answer.

When people start thinking of “General contractors” visions of dollar signs, disappointment and reality TV shows start floating through their minds – and often for good reason.

In most cases, you don’t need or can’t afford a general contractor to be involved in your new post frame barndominium. If you have a very complex project, one involving a plethora of different trades, it could be worthwhile to hire one.

Remember those hours a general contractor will save you on your jobsite? Plan on spending twice this amount of time to find a good general contractor. 

Please carefully reread previous paragraph. Hiring a general contractor will not save you time.

Do your due diligence and hire someone with excellent references and enough professionalism to do what he or she was hired to do.

What exactly is due diligence?

Before even picking up your cell phone to call a contractor (both general contractors and those who drive nails) – check online to verify they are registered to do business in your state and to verify their contractor’s registration is current. Check their Better Business Bureau rating, as well as any listings on Angie’s List. Google them, by looking for, “Phred’s Construction complaints” (obviously Phred is a made up name). If they have complaints, read through them, as sadly people are quick to complain about minor, or even imagined incidents.

Once you have narrowed your potential contractor choices down to no less than three, have them meet with you in person, at your building site to discuss your new barndominium. Unless you are absolutely 100% certain as to dimensions and features of your barndominium you want, you are best to tell him or her your needs (what problems is your building going to solve) and ask for recommendations as to best design solution.

Each contractor is going to have different recommendations, so be prepared, after round one, to go back to each one of them, with your final design.

By now, you should have started to form relationships with these general contractors. Time to start asking for documentation from your “leading” candidate. You want a copy of their contractor’s registration, a certificate of liability insurance with you named as additional insured, all warranties in writing, three written references, and names and phone numbers of their accountant, banker, and at least three major suppliers. It is up to YOU to call all of these people and verify they are financially stable, they do not bounce checks, they pay their bills on time, etc. If you hear a “little voice” inside of your head whispering bad things to you – move on to the next candidate.

A general contractor is supposed to be your lifeline to everything you need done. He or she supposedly knows the right people to hire, best places to get supplies, and he or she will coordinate all those tiny jobs which need to be done so you aren’t on your cell phone constantly trying to coordinate what should be happening.

If I sound completely negative on this subject, remember, I was a General Contractor at one time.  I ran 35 crews in six states and I had really good crews….and I had those who had no business pounding nails.  What I am saying here is to be careful – and check out everything you can on a General Contractor, before you hire him or her.  I appreciated every client who did due diligence and checked me out from top to bottom before they hired me.  I knew they would treat me with a high degree of professionalism, just as I treated them.

If you begin without unrealistic expectations and do your homework, you can have a satisfactory experience when hiring a general contractor. Just remember, it isn’t free.

Not scared enough yet? Then please read this article (and its two subsequent friends): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/a-contractor-for-your-new-barndominium/

Price Per Square Foot, Proper Post Treatment, and XPS

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the price per square foot for a hangar, the proper post treatment for in ground use, and use of XPS insulation between steel and wall posts.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the approximate price per square foot for a 62 x 130 t hangar? KENNETH in PUEBLO WEST

DEAR KENNETH: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Your question is rather like asking what is an approximate price for a new car – what type of car?

A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer has been attempting to reach out to you to get more specifics on what you have in mind in order to get even a close price range for you.

Will this be a T hangar https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/09/airplane-t-hangar/ or a nested T? https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/09/nested-t-hangar/

What opening widths and heights will you require? Hangar doors can impact building height (and price) greatly. Sliding doors are a less expensive design solution than bi-fold or one-piece hydraulic doors, however present their own unique challenges.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have built post frame buildings on and off for 43 years. What is the industry doing to correct the problem of the post rotting off at ground line on post frame buildings? I have attempted to repair buildings in this condition that are settling into the ground. MATT in CLAREMORE

DEAR MATT: In my humble opinion, this could be resolved by having clear markings on Pressure Preservative Treated wood to not leave any doubt as to what proper use is. I have stomped my feet on this very issue for years: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/building-code-3/.

Over my 40 year post frame building career I have yet to see a documented case of a properly pressure preservative treated column rotting off.

 

DEAR POLE BAN GURU: Good Afternoon .

I have been exploring building a post frame home. Is using a combination of XPS and the external sheathing (~2.0 to 2.5″) and bat insulation in the bays (~R19-R26) possible. These two articles seem to me that the dew point would move inside the XPS during the MN winters and make the wall assembly much more durable. Do you think this might be correct? If so, would Post Frame construction easily adapt to this type of assembly?

https://www.buildingscience.com/documents/digests/bsd-controlling-cold-weather-condensation-using-insulation

https://www.buildingscience.com/documents/bareports/ba-1301-guidance-taped-sheathing-drainage-planes/view

TIM in ST. PAUL

DEAR TIM: Designed right, post frame homes are wonderful. My lovely bride and I live in an 8000 square foot post frame shouse (shop/house) not too far distant from you (we are roughly 200 miles due West).

Post frame buildings work structurally very similar to why jet airlines hold together – their ‘skin’ is holding everything together. With post frame, wind loads are transferred from building to ground through this steel roofing and siding skin.

When non-structural insulation boards (XPS) are inserted between framing and steel siding, screws holding steel would have to be exceedingly long. Screw shanks through XPS sheathing would deform (bend) under extreme wind events, causing a reduction in abilities to properly transmit loads. This could contribute to premature building system failure.

An easier solution would be to use two inches of closed cell spray foam insulation between wall girts on steel siding interior surface. This would accomplish a similar end result, without a compromise in building strength.

 

Post Frame Building Wainscot

Whether your post frame building will be a garage, shop, commercial building or barndominium wainscot an extremely popular option is wainscot.

Roughly 25 years ago I had an 80’ x 150’ x 20’ post frame building erected for my prefabricated wood truss manufacturing business. Whilst a great deal of thought went into this building’s design, there is one crucial element I missed.

Down each long side of our building we placed bollards (read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/07/a-real-life-case-for-pole-barn-bollards/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/lifesaving-bollard/) to protect steel siding from units of lumber and forklifts.  As there was no storage across our front wall, we did not place bollards there. A week before we moved in, someone backed a truck into a steel panel directly adjacent to our main entrance door. Of course this steel panel was nearly 30 feet tall, so to replace it would be no small undertaking. Instead of fixing it, I walked in and out of this door and fumed because of this dent! Had I planned appropriately and used wainscot panels, this dented panel could have been replaced in a matter of minutes, saving me untold hours of grief and aggravation!

By common definition, wainscot is an interior wall lower portion whose surface differs from upper wall. Wainscot was borrowed from Middle Low German wagenschot. It is not altogether clear what these origins were, but a generally accepted theory is it is a compound of wagen ‘waggon’ and schot ‘planks, boards’, and it therefore originally meant ‘planks used for making waggons’. Originally it was applied in English to ‘high-grade oak imported from Russia, Germany, and Holland’. This wood was used mainly for paneling rooms, and by 16th century wainscot had come to signify ‘wood paneling’.

Homeowners used to apply wainscoting, especially in dining rooms, to protect walls from damage from chairs and tables. A chair rail atop wainscoting serves as a “bumper,” protecting wall from dings and chips created when a chair or table gets a little too chummy. This wall decoration was often also used to add interest and texture to stairways, while protecting them, too. In fact, it first grew in popularity during Elizabethan times, and it’s quite common in historic English and American Colonial homes.

For post frame (or pole) buildings, wainscot has moved to building exteriors. In simple terms, it utilizes an alternate siding panel to cover approximately three feet of exterior wall lower portions. A most common application, with steel sided buildings, is to use a different color steel panel on the lower wall than the upper. Most often steel wainscot panels are the same color as roofing, however this is certainly not mandatory. This allows for an aesthetic look many find pleasing, while affording an ability to quickly and easily change out a short steel panel, if it would become damaged. This would prove to be a most cost affordable solution and is easier than changing out a full length wall panel.

Alternatively, other materials may be utilized, such as T1-11, cement based sidings, vinyl siding or even stone or brick. Mortarless masonry is a popular wainscot (for extended reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/mortarless-masonry-exterior/).  Pretty much any siding applicable to any other building exterior, can be incorporated as post frame building wainscot. It not only serves a useful purpose, it just plain looks good too.

Quonset Hut Homes

With the proliferation of barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes there is always someone looking for a cheaper answer. I have found cheaper generally gets me exactly what I paid for – cheap. Well for some, cheap may be living in a Quonset hut.

Considering a Quonset building for your new home? Consider resale value – there are very few people who want to live in a Quonset!

You may have heard Quonsets advertised on television, radio, online (even on Ebay) and in  back of Popular Mechanics.

I came across this query from a gentleman from Wake Forest, NC, “I have found some really good deals on the local craigslist from private individuals who have bought them and never put them up for one reason or another.” He wanted, “…to hear anyone’s input, good or bad. Yes, there are a lot of horror stories out there about poor schmucks that got hosed trying to buy from some less-than-scrupulous purveyors of these structures, but like I said, I plan on purchasing from a private individual who already has it in his possession.”

Now all of this got me thinking, so I started my research. It turns out Quonset huts were named for where they were first manufactured – Quonset Point, Rhode Island. First built for our Navy in 1941, as many as 170,000 Quonset huts were produced during World War II.

According to Wikipedia, “The erection of Quonset huts has been banned in the US state of Alaska for many years due to so many already being in the state and the majority of those falling into disrepair and becoming environmental hazards.”

I’ve never been involved in construction of a Quonset hut myself, as my background is in conventional stick frame and pole buildings. Due to this, I relied upon the experiences of four people.

When I was a post frame building contractor, Jay and his crew subcontracted labor on several pole barns we sold. Jay also did concrete work. On his own, he contracted to do concrete and assembly of a Quonset for a golf course driving range not far from me. This building was 40’ x 60’ and they worked on it every day for a month. Jay’s comments were anything but positive about concrete requirements and he said, “I’ve never seen and installed so many bolts in my life”. Of course when up and done, it had no endwalls, so those had to be constructed, and round walls precluded anything from being attached to them (not to mention it was near impossible to insulate.)

This insulation issue brought me to a comment from a Bob in Paisley, PA, talking about a local feed store, “The feed store has had issues with theirs and the original owner said it was a bad choice. They had a company come in and spray adhesive type insulation to the entire inside. As the metal expands and contracts portions of the insulation failed to follow the same rates which in turn resulted in chunks of reflective insulation falling from the ceiling area. Condensation and drips formed after the insulation fell.”

A second experience was told to me by one of my oldest daughter Bailey’s friends. Her friend’s father bought a Quonset for a garage. The pieces for it lay in a pile next to their house for several years, untouched. He finally sold it.  I can only surmise from comments it was quickly discovered to be far too much work to erect it, once purchased.

Online, I found this post from a gentleman who was actually espousing how wonderful Quonset buildings are:

“One of the few frustrating things about our Quonset is water leaks. The shell itself is engineered to be completely watertight. But, as with most well-planned projects, reality has a way of challenging the ideal. After checking all the bolts and tightening a few, we were able to seal all but a couple of leaks. The remaining few were due mainly to small tears in the metal at the bolt holes caused by over-stressing the skin in an effort to line up holes. After we made these mistakes a couple of times we realized our errors and corrected them. But the damage was done. 

Our biggest problem was sealing leaks at the base, where the shell meets the concrete and where it ties into the base plate. We were advised to fill the void created by the shell meeting the channel with concrete, which we did. We also used a heavy application of caulking between the base plate and the concrete. In spite of this, when it rained, we had an indoor pool. We then caulked all around the concrete where it met the metal. It still leaked. We then coated the whole area with water-stop concrete, a kind of latex/cement material that is supposed to seal concrete and bond to metal…it still leaked. We caulked again…to no avail.”

Lastly, one of our former Building Designers, Paul, related from his personal history as a Quonset salesman. His words were, “Less than 50% of the ones sold, are ever constructed.”

My summation is – even if they were easy to construct, Quonsets generally come in a single color – galvanized. They are difficult to insulate, with condensation control certainly being an issue. The purchase price often does not include endwalls, and certainly not doors (and sometimes not even delivery). And, speaking of doors, how do door and window openings work with curved (or even extremely high ribbed) sides? In Bob’s words, “Unless you get one of the tall ones you end up with an area along each of the sidewalls that becomes unusable except for collecting junk on the floor. Then it can be a head banger along the wall whenever you walk directly toward it while looking down for the junk.”

If anyone has a great, glowing story about Quonset huts, I’d love to hear it, I really would.  Because so far, I’m not impressed.  But I am always willing to listen to….”the other side of the story.”  Obviously I’m looking for objective evidence from those using quonsets…not just those selling.

Building Codes Apply to Shouses

Building Codes Apply to Shouses

Recently I shared with you, my faithful readers, a Park Rapids Enterprise article penned by Lorie R. Skarpness as Nevis, Minnesota attempts to deal with a shouse.

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/12/a-shouse-in-the-news/

Below is Lorie’s update from January 18, 2020:

“The discussion of a proposed shouse (a word that means a shop with living quarters inside) that began at the December Nevis council meeting was continued at their Jan. 13 Nevis meeting.

Planning commissioner Dawn Rouse shared a report from the city’s planning commission about discussion of shouses from their December meeting.

Their consensus was that any requirements should apply to all residences and not single out one specific type, noting that the Minnesota Building Code already addresses many of potential issues. The city also has a building inspector who determines whether a proposed building meets code.

Council member Jeanne Thompson said the way the building code is written is vague and open to interpretation.

“People up here don’t go and buy expensive plans with these beautiful entryways for their shops for the most part,” she said. “They do it themselves. That’s where I think something needs to be addressed so we don’t have industrial and “garageish” looking buildings in a residential neighborhood.”

Concerns about the building material of the shouse were brought up by council member Rich Johnson. “I don’t want something that looks like a pole barn built right next to me because I don’t know if someone would want to move into that neighborhood.”

“We can set more stringent regulations than what is in the building code regarding materials used and things like that if that’s what you want to do,” Rouse said, pointing out that Walker has residential performance standards stating corrugated metal is not to be used on exterior finishes.

Thompson asked Rouse to bring information on existing residential regulations to share at the February 10 council meeting.”

Where their council members get confused is Building Codes address structural components, not aesthetics (such as colors or exterior covering materials). Post frame shouses and barndominiums are Building Code conforming structures. What any jurisdiction can do is to set aesthetic requirements, however they need to be applied equally across all building systems of an Occupancy Classification.

Is a jurisdiction resistant to your proposed barndominium, shouse or post frame home? If so, provide me with specifics and chances are pretty well close to 100% I can assist with a positive resolution.

Barndominium Brick Wainscot

Actual Brick Considerations for Barndominium Wainscot

With post frame buildings becoming a ‘rage’ for use as homes, barndominiums and shouse (shop/houses) alternatives to dress them up are quickly arising. Amongst these options are clients looking to have actual brick wainscot, as opposed to using a different color of steel siding, thin brick, or other cultured stone.

I have opined upon this subject previously (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/08/brick-ledge-on-a-pole-building/), however it is now time to dive deeper into it.

Preparing an exterior surface of a post frame building wall for a brick veneer is a simple and straightforward procedure. This article will supply you with some helpful information if you are planning to install a brick veneer on your barndominium’s exterior.

First, term “veneer” can have a dual meaning. In construction terminology,“veneer” is applicable to any exterior finish material and this includes standard brick masonry installed onto an exterior wall. “Veneer” can also be taken literally to mean a thin superficial layer of material installed directly onto an exterior wall surface. There are many thin-brick wall systems available utilizing brick only ½ to 1 inch in thickness as opposed to a standard 4-inch nominal (3 ¾-inch actual) thickness. It typically consists of a thin layer of stone or brick mounted with adhesives directly onto a substrate material and is installed in panels. 

Step 1: Structural Support for the Brick Veneer

A fully assembled brick veneer is quite heavy and requires adequate structural support. Support is provided by a brick ledge as part of a foundation wall above wall column’s bottom collars. A decision to install a brick exterior is therefore made during conceptual design phases of your new barndominium’s construction. A brick ledge is constructed simply by adding a 6-9/16 inch thick concrete foundation wall outside your post frame building’s wall column. Ledge height will be six inches lower than top of finished concrete floor. Without an adequate structural support by a brick ledge, brick masonry is not an option for your barndominium’s exterior.

Step 2: Be Sure to Provide a one inch Air Space between Sheathing and Brick

Brickwork bears directly upon the concrete ledge, wide enough for both nominal width of brick and a building code required one inch air space. This one inch air space between sheathing and brick allows wall to “breathe” by providing an outlet for air and moisture. It also accommodates any irregularities in the wall surface.

Step 3: Install Weather Resistant Barrier

A weather resistant barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) must be installed onto sheathing to prevent water from entering the inner wall assembly since brick veneer itself is not water-resistant.

Step 4: Install Wall Ties to Anchor the Brick to Sheathing

Lateral support for brickwork is provided by wall ties or brick anchors. They generally consist of L-shaped strips of corrugated metal 1 by 6 inches long nailed through sheathing into wall girts (https://www.strongtie.com/clipsandties_miscellaneousconnectors/bt_tie/p/bt). Horizontal component of brick tie penetrates into brick veneer at a mortar joint. Ties are installed at every fourth brick course and at two-foot horizontal spacings.

Wall Girt Spacing, Roof Only to Fully Enclosed, and Dade Cty

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “proper wall girt spacing,” enclosing and insulating a roof only building, and if a post frame meets code in Dade County Florida.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I just contacted a contractor to build my pole barn and he said 2 x4 wall girts at 36″ I don’t think that is strong enough.
What size, spacing do you recommend? DARREN in BREMEN

DEAR DARREN: Chances are good you are correct and builder is wrong. The size, grade, orientation and spacing should be spelled out on your building’s engineer sealed plans. If he intends to build a non-engineered building for you, please run away as quickly as possible.

Many factors go into correctly determining wall girts. My long-time friend John and I had a conversation regarding this: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/02/formula-calculating-wall-girts/.  Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Wayde will be reaching out to you to assist in getting your new building safely back on track before it is too late.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: About a dozen years ago I had a Hansen roof only building erected. It’s a great structure and I’ve always spoken highly of it. Since original setup a concrete floor was added, and last summer it was framed with ‘commercial’ girts and metal screwed to the outside
Fully enclosed now there is some appeal to the thoughts of insulting the walls and ceiling.
Occasionally heat, via wood stove will be provided and most likely plywood walls to 8’up
I’d appreciate your ideas on insulation install design. Where does vapor barrier belong and etc.

Thanks for your attention
I do like this building

Warm Regards JEFF in HOOD RIVER

DEAR JEFF: Thank you for your kind words and we are so happy you are enjoying your Hansen Pole Building. Hopefully my “Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation” will help: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can a pole barn meet Miami Dade wind standards? DAVID in SARASOTA

 

DEAR DAVID: Yes we most certainly can provide an engineered post frame building to meet their requirements. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly to assist.

 

 

 

Top of Barndominium Slab

Where Should the Top of Barndominium Slab Be?

Loyal reader DANIEL in OWENSVILLE writes:

“Mike,

First I want to say thanks for all that I have learned from your Blog. I am confused on a couple of points you made concerning floor height…

“Occasionally we have clients who ask why they can’t run the concrete to the top of the splash plank, as they want to use the splash plank to “screed” the concrete slab top. Using any other measure for the concrete slab top, will result in wall steel and doors not properly fitting, as well as possible interior clear height loss.”

This really is not answering the question… the building could be designed with the door openings, ceiling heights, etc. to compensate for a higher floor height/thicker floor. Request it in the design and build it to the plan.

Also, “Your new Hansen Pole Building has as the bottom horizontal framing member, connecting pressure treated column to pressure treated column, is a pressure preservative treated splash plank. The building design is such so the top of any concrete floor is set at 3-1/2″ above the bottom of the splash plank.” and, In another post you stated the splash plank rests on the finished grade. That would put the finished concrete floor only 3-1/2″ above the finished grade. And below the weep screed, rat guard, any water being shed on the outside of the sheathing, and what codes require for an occupied building.

Please explain if there is any “real” reason for not raising the interior floor to 6 inches or more above grade (as is required for a house)?”

Daniel ~

Thank you for your kind words. Certainly any building could be designed for door openings, ceiling heights, etc., to be adjusted for top of slab on grade to be at any point. This would entail leaving greater amounts of splash plank exposed on exterior beneath siding in order to prevent concrete aprons, sidewalks, driveways, etc., from being poured up against wall steel. Some people find great amounts of splash plank being exposed to be aesthetically unpleasant however. By being consistent in design, it also allows for one set of assembly instructions to be used – rather than having to rely upon making adjustments for whatever custom situation individuals (or their builders) deemed their particular case.

I went back and read through both IRC (International Residential Code) and IBC (International Building Code) codes and there is no requirement for an interior concrete floor to be at six inches or more above grade for an occupied building or a house.

From 2018 IRC R506.1 “Concrete slab-on-ground floors shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the provisions of this section or ACI 332. Floors shall be a minimum 3-1/2 inches thick.”

From 2018 IBC 1907.1 “The thickness of concrete floor slabs supported directly on the ground shall not be less than 3-1/2”

Both of these imply top of concrete floor at 3-1/2″ above ground (grade) is totally acceptable. 

Having been involved in tens of thousands of post frame buildings successfully engineer designed and approved in structural plan reviews leads me to believe how we are doing it both works and is code conforming.

For extended reading on this subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/05/concrete-floor/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/where-is-the-top-of-the-concrete-slab/.

Cabin Design Over a Crawl Space

Loyal readers may recall recent articles guest written by recently retired Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Carr as he designed and erected his post frame hunting cabin over a crawl space (his journey began here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/development-of-my-cabin-plans/).

Today ROB in DENVER writes:

“Hi Mike.  I was given your contact info by one of your designers; she suggested I contact you with my questions.

 I’m currently looking at options to put up a cabin in Colorado.  The location is up near Leadville at around 10,000’ elevation and the soil (I’m told by local engineering) does not have much clay; it is more a mixture of sand and rock.  Frost level up there is 4’ down.

 Question A):

 I’ve checked out some of the construction options Hansen lists and I like the option of a pole foundation but I’m a little concerned about possible shifting due to temperature changes, etc.  I definitely would want to do a raised/suspended floor with crawl space underneath (rather than building on slab).  The cabin size I’d like to build is about 24×48’ and I don’t want to have to chase it going “caterpillar” downstream since I’d have no way to raise/lower points if they’re locked into poles.

 Do you have any data/literature you could point me to and/or just provide anecdotal background from your experience putting in these types of cabins under these conditions?  I’d actually like to go 2 floors but I’m then concerned about the additional load it might put onto these poles.

Question B):  My other concern is critters tunneling in and making an unwanted home in the crawl space.  If I’m not going with concrete pad and/or block stem wall foundation around the edges, what means are available to prevent animals from digging under any skirting I’d put on and making their home in the warmer space underneath?

Thanks in advance.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Thank you very much for reaching out to me. We are used to dealing with all sorts of rather extreme conditions, especially temperature change, since we can go from -40 to 110 where we are located.

Question A: Temperature changes are not going to perceptibly cause any shifting of columns, unless you had conditions where frost depth would be greater than four feet and there was enough water in your soil to create a frost heave. Given soil with little or no clay, it is probably a non-issue.

Building columns are actually very strong loaded vertically. We have a lakefront home outside of Spokane, Washington where our 22′ x 24′ garage sits on 14 feet of grade change. Soils are similar in condition to what you describe. Our garage has a four inch thick concrete floor on top of a wood framework 14 feet above grade on downhill side. Above garage level we have attic trusses with a bonus room we use as office space. Below the garage level we have a 16′ x 22′ studio apartment. This building is now 30 years old and has performed admirably with no noticeable settling or column movements, even with two SUVs parked inside. I would have no undue concerns of two stories in your setting.

Question B: You could do what I did and stop the siding at the bottom of floor framing, covering underside of floor joists with OSB, plywood, T1-11 or even steel siding. In Michigan we have run into a “rat wall” ordinance on occasion: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/rat-wall/. Besides solutions offered within the article, one could also use a metal rat wall – constructed out of quarter or half inch mesh (aka hardware cloth). Rolls of mesh are typically three feet wide, so you could dig a trench around your building perimeter two feet deep and a foot in width. Attach top edge to inside of pressure preservative treated splash plank then down and out into trench. Overlap at any splices and use a separate piece on each corner to provide seam corners.

Good Luck! And let me know what you did and how it worked out.

Your Barndominium’s Planning Department

In most parts of our country (and probably most other developed countries), it will be a necessity to acquire a building permit in order to construct a new barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home. Easiest way to find out is to contact your local authorities to find out if indeed this is your case.

Whether a structural building permit will be required or not, there is some homework to be done before ever considering contacting anyone to get pricing on a new building.

Don’t worry –this homework is not difficult and there is no final exam!

Call your local Planning Department.

If no Planning Department is listed when you do a Google search, a call to city hall, or your county courthouse can get one directed to proper authorities. Just let them know a new home is being considered to be constructed, and they will tell you what you need to do to satisfy any local requirements.

When planning folks are reached, give them the physical address or parcel number where your barndominium (shouse) being thought about will be constructed.

Tell them what you would like to build.

Approximate footprint size is a place to start. Let them know where on your parcel your new building will ideally be placed.

Ask your planning people what restrictions there may be on a new building. Is it limited in size or in height? Setbacks – how far away must it be located from other buildings, property lines, streets, sewer lines, septic systems or drain fields? Are there any other restrictions prohibiting your building from being constructed, such as amount of square footage of residence in relationship to garage/shop areas? Are there restrictions on roofing and/or siding types, materials or colors?

While a telephone call will often handle most of these questions, it may be necessary to draw a scaled drawing of your property. If so, this drawing should show all property lines, existing structures, your new proposed building, as well as anything else acting as a possible impediment. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but please do use regular sheets of plain white paper, and not your local coffee shop napkins or paper towels!

A personal visit to your Planning Department, with this drawing in hand, should help to get all answers needed, in order to move on to the next steps.

A hint – if told there are restrictions keeping your ideal dream building from being able to be built, ask what processes exist to be able to move past some or all of these “objections”. Sometimes it’s just a matter of filing for a special type of permit or “variance”, and having your local commissioners vote on it.  You’d be surprised how many local jurisdictions have laws or rules which are “behind the times” and are happy to discuss changing them to better suit public wants and needs.

Building PermitI’ve found some Planning Departments are allowed to administratively go “beyond the rules” right there at the counter, without a need for costly and time consuming hearings. One example is within Spokane, Washington’s city limits. The largest allowable detached accessory building within city limits is 1000 square feet, however if requested at the counter, this footprint can be increased by 10%, right then and there!

As my Daddy used to tell me, “the asking is for free”, so don’t be shy.  Often a planning department official is not going to offer this information, so it’s up to you to ask lots of questions.  If you see other buildings near your building site similar to what you want to build, you can bet someone else figured out “the right questions to ask”.

Floor Trusses for Barndominiums

In my last article I discussed limiting deflection for barndominium floors. Today I will take this one step further with a floor truss design solution.

Most of us don’t think too much about floors we walk upon – unless they are not level, squeak when we walk on them, or are too bouncy.

Traditionally wood floors have been framed with dimensional lumber (2×6, 2×8, etc.), usually spaced 16 inches on center. Often floor joist span limitations are not based upon lumber strength (ability to carry a given load), but upon deflection criteria. Building codes limit floor deflection to L/360, where “L” is span length in inches.

“Stiffest” (by MOE – Modulus of Elasticity values) commonly used framing lumber is Douglas Fir. A #2 grade Douglas-Fir 2×12, 16 inches on center will span 18’1” when carrying standard residential loads. An L/360 deflection event, would cause the center of one of these floor joists to deflect as much as 6/10ths of an inch!

Lumber is organic, so it varies in consistency from board to board. It also varies in size, and it is not unusual for a dimensional variance of over ¼ inch, from one end of a board to another. Combine this with probability some of these boards will be crowned with bow down and it means an uneven floor will result.

One of our friends lives in a fairly new home. In a hallway between her kitchen and sleeping areas, there is a good ½ inch dip in her floor – more than noticeable when walking across it!

I first used floor trusses in my own post frame shouse (shop/house) 25 years ago. My trusses were designed so they were only 1-1/2” in width (most spans up to this can be done with a 3-1/2” width), but these 30 foot floor trusses are only 24 inches in depth. They allowed me to create some unique interior areas, without a need for interior columns or load bearing walls.

When we built our post frame barndominium in South Dakota, we utilized floor trusses again – here to span 48’ (yes 48 feet)! We live upstairs in a gambrel building, with a clear-spanned half-court basketball court size garage/shop downstairs!

A few years ago, our oldest son Jake needed a new post frame garage at their home near Knoxville, Tennessee. His mom convinced him this plan would be so much better with a mother-in-law apartment upstairs. We used 4×2 (2x4s turned flat) floor trusses to span a 24 foot width!

I’d forgotten how fast a trussed floor can be done – until Jake ordered them for a second-floor  addition he put on his home when he moved back to South Dakota. In a matter of just a couple of hours, I framed this entire 24 by 32 floor by myself and was ready for sheathing. All ductwork and plumbing can be run through open truss webs, making for nice clean ceilings downstairs.

Considering a full or partial second floor in a post frame building? Don’t want posts or bearing walls down below to prohibit full space utilization? Then floor trusses may be your answer.

Make sure to allow adequate height for truss thickness. As a rough rule-of-thumb, I plan upon one inch of thickness, for every foot of span. While it will nearly always be less, it is better to design for having a couple of extra inches, than not enough.

Plans Only? Moisture Barriers? and Two Story Houses?

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “plans only” purchases, proper use of moisture barriers when adding insulation to an existing building, as well as the possibility or building a two story post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you offer just the plans? I own a sawmill and would like to mill my own lumber for my project. With the exception of the trusses. I can also source the metal roofing locally. THERON in WALDEN

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR THERON: Thank you for your inquiry.

We are unable to provide just plans as it becomes a liability issue for our engineers – it takes away insuring materials specified actually end up being delivered to your building site.

 

There are also issues with attempting to use home milled lumber: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/free-home-milled-lumber/

As an example, in sourcing your own metal roofing locally, even if steel quality was equivalent, they will not be able to provide powder coated diaphragm screws to attach it.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Purchased property with existing fairly new pole barn. Question is regarding wall insulation. Some installers say use double backed 6 inch glass rolls insulation under my drywall. Then I spoke with another & he says mandatory to spray closed cell foam or condition will ruin insulation…..there is no vapor barrier wrap on outside. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, DAN in GRANBURY

DEAR DAN: You should have some sort of barrier between wall framing and wall steel to prevent condensation within the wall cavity. Wall cavity moisture can lead to a plethora of challenges – premature rusting of steel siding, rot, mold and mildew on wood framing and lack of performance of fiberglass insulation.

 

You could remove wall steel and add a Weather Resistant Barrier (highly labor intensive and things never go back together as well as they were originally assembled), or do a two inch coating of closed cell spray foam, then use fiberglass inside of it.

Here is my Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi there! I was wondering if y’all do two story residential pole houses? Second question, if I sent you guys a rough sketch of a blue print would you guys be able to give me an estimate off of that? (with included trim choices and such)

Thank you! MAX

Gambrel roof pole barnDEAR MAX: I happen to live in a two story post frame shouse (shop/house) with a partial third story. Back in the great state of Washington, I also have a three story post frame building with roof top deck! We can provide any low rise building with up to 40 foot tall walls and three floors (or 50 feet and four floors with sprinklers).

 

Send us what you have and chances are very good we can get you an estimate from it (we might want to ask you a few questions about what you intend to build).

 

Barndominium Wood Floors

Barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame homes have become a true ‘thing’. As they have developed from bootlegged boxes to serious planning being given to them, there has been a rise in people wanting them over full or partial basements, crawl spaces and multiple floors. In nearly every case, these floors are made of wood (because wood is good).

In my career, I’ve designed a plethora of wood floors for post frame buildings. I’ve never yet had a client question me about one thing which may later seem very important – how much will their floor deflect?

Barndominium buyers naturally take for granted a wood floor system in a new home will be safe and building code compliant – and rightly so. But buyers also have expectations for their floors unrelated to safety or building code. In particular, many clients are aware of their floor’s “vibration” in response to foot traffic and some people find annoying or disturbing.

Canadian building code includes limits on floor vibration, but U.S. codes don’t regulate floor vibration. So most U.S. builders design for deflection only—typically by holding deflection due to live load to a maximum of L/360 (where “L” is floor joist span), or perhaps a more restrictive L/480.

But what does L/360 actually mean? In a 12 foot span center of floor can deflect as much as 4/10ths of an inch, 16 foot span over half an inch. A 48 foot span (yes, our shouse has a 48 foot clearspan floor using floor trusses) 1.6 inches!!

Unfortunately, however, code compliance does not automatically equal customer satisfaction. Some components of a floor system greatly influencing a floor’s response to foot traffic—such as presence of a ceiling, floor sheathing, supporting beams or girders, and partition walls—are not captured in live-load deflection analysis required to satisfy code.

To make things even more complicated, floor vibration is highly subjective: A floor feeling fine for one person may seem annoying to another. For example, a client who previously occupied a slab-on-grade building may have a different performance expectation from one who has been living in the upper levels of an apartment complex. Additionally, problems not related to floor vibration, such as squeaks or sound transmission between rooms, often create a perception of poor vibration performance.

Subtle changes in floor usage or joist spans may also result in floor performance complaints. One common problem area is a kitchen with an island, where a homeowner may notice rattling dishes or ripples in a glass of water. A change in joist span at a bay window may also be a trouble spot, even if difference in spans would seem to be slight. A short stiff member will make longer spans feel softer.

Increasing joist depth (say 2×10 to 2×12) or increasing sheathing thickness improves floor response. Increasing both at once leads to a very high rate of customer satisfaction. But, reducing vibration requires joists be much stiffer than required by code.

Laboratory research at Virginia Tech has shown client perception of floor vibration is related to vibration frequency. Using lab built test floor systems built, researchers found people were particularly sensitive to vibrations of about 8 or 10 Hz (cycles per second). At higher frequencies, vibrations were perceived as less annoying. Field investigation in real homes confirmed occupants were not bothered once vibration frequency went above 14 Hz.

Increasing joist depth greatly improves client satisfaction rating. But you can achieve a comparable degree of improvement by increasing sheathing thickness, without increasing joist depth. And if you increase both joist depth and sheathing thickness, you can achieve a level of customer satisfaction approaching 100%.

Looking for a wood floor providing exemplary performance with a minimum of “bounce”? The solution is to specify an upgrade to a lesser deflection than Code required L/360. Ask your Building Designer about investment difference to increase stiffness to L/480 or even L/720. You might be surprised at how little the difference in price is!

Avoiding Oil Canning With Standing Seam Steel for Barndominiums

Avoiding Oil Canning With Standing Seam Steel for Barndominiums and Post Frame Buildings

As post frame construction grows by leaps and bounds into post frame homes (barndominiums and shouses), more clients look to them for upgraded features. Standing seam roofing may appeal to some who appreciate the aesthetics of no visible screw fasteners.

Standing seam roof, or SSR as it is commonly abbreviated, has a profile of flat panels intersected with evenly spaced vertical legs or seams. Fastenings are concealed on these panels – hence why this profile is commonly called “concealed fastener”. SSRs can be attached to 5/8” plywood roof decks with a fastening flange.

Fasteners are driven into roof deck without piercing metal panels. (In order to maintain a building’s structural integrity, a plywood roof deck is required: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/08/standing-seam-steel/). All fasteners are then hidden within standing seams. Thus, panels are locked together by snap-fit seam geometry. SSRs come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, single-folded, double-folded, T-Shaped, even Bulb-Shaped. Industry consensus favors standing seam, for its higher quality, ability to respond to “thermal cycling” and aesthetic design.

Sidebar – I am actually having our fourth generation family home outside of Spokane, Washington reroofed with SSR panels! Yes me, who has specified, sold and/or installed tens of millions of square feet of through screwed steel!

While material and finish warranties are generally equal, most standing seam systems are offered with better entire system warranties. Some manufacturers also offer extended assurance their roofs won’t leak (weather-tightness warranty) over some given period of time. Absence of exposed fastening lends itself to a much lower possibility of leakage as compared to exposed fastener systems where thousands of screw fasteners with EPDM washers are subject to installation error and because they penetrate weathering surfaces, and “pin” panels to roof purlins.

Exposed Fastener (EF) roofs involve driving screws through panels and directly into roof purlins, remaining visible. Keep in mind, properly installed these screws will never leak (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/solving-steel-roofing-leaks/).

EF roofs are less expensive than standing seam systems. Lower cost comes from these panels being able to be manufactured with thinner gauge and wider-dimensioned panels, reducing material handling aspects of installation. This generally means less roofing material is needed overall and thinner panels typically cost less. Additionally, EF roofs don’t require use of expensive plywood decking and 30# felt (or an ice and snow shield) further reducing costs (i.e. fewer components, and cheaper to install so overall total cost of roof is less).

EF roofs do still offer substantial protection against harsh weather elements. But it is important to note industry standards for standing seam versus exposed fastener are not necessarily equal. So, for example, wind uplift testing may or may not have been performed on EF roof profiles. Also, don’t expect weather-tight warranties to be included. Holes are required to secure roof attachment to purlins – a process more prone to installation error. It’s not called an exposed fastener roof for nothing.

SSRs require more finesse during installation. Common exposed fastener roof panels DIY project-ready for weekend warriors.

I have always had an aesthetic complaint with SSR roofing – it oil cans. Oil canning is a perceived waviness in flat areas of steel panels. Generally “period” and “amplitude” (in layperson’s terms – frequency and size) of waves depends upon continuous width of flat portion of panel.

Mason from Metal Roofing University provides quick tips to avoid oil canning of SSRs:

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

As much as aesthetics are touted with standing seam roofs, this lack of hidden fasteners on roofs is still appealing to many for practical reasons. If cost, ease of installation, and a need to match it to surrounding buildings are aspects you are weighing in your decision, then EF might be a good choice.

 It is always advisable to perform routine maintenance on any roof (metal or other). One should still remove debris, clean gutters, remove stains, scan for scratches, and check for trouble-spots for potential corrosion. 

 Standing seam and exposed fastener are distinctly different concepts for metal roofing. Ultimately these two steel roofing options serve different purposes depending on location, weather, design, and more. Aesthetically-speaking and weather-wise, standing seam offers secure zero-panel-penetration as well as a long-lasting roofing solution. If cost is a big one for you, and you are also considering installing it yourself, exposed fastener may be a smart choice.

Barndominium Warrantees

Barndominium Warrantees

Regular readers of my articles are aware I have joined and regularly read and contribute to every Facebook and Linkedin group about barndominiums and post frame buildings I possibly can find. My goal always is for people to get their best possible value for their investment, even should they somehow decide Hansen Pole Buildings is for some reason not an ideal fit.

In all of my group participation I have racked my brain trying to recall any conversations in regards to warranty.  

Truthfully I had not given it much thought until reader ALLIE in BRAINERD wrote:

“Hello, 

My husband and I are looking to build a building and deciding what vendors we would like to move forward with. Can you please provide details on all of your warranty information for the below list and any additional warranties you may have?

Columns:

Steel:

Paint:    

Workmanship/Leaks:

Timber:

Thank you, Allie”

Thank you very much for asking, Allie! Weirdly, very few people seem to pay attention to warranties when it comes to buildings. As consumers we seem to be obsessed with warranty coverage on seemingly everything we purchase – retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart try to sell extended warrantees when you check out even!

To my knowledge Hansen Pole Buildings offers what may be our industry’s only written structural warranty on a complete post frame building kit: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/11/pole-building-warranty/

Various levels of warranty are available for steel roofing and siding – up to and including lifetime. If you are concerned about paint chalking and fading like I am, I would highly recommend you specify Kynar paint (provided it is available in your region).  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/kynar/

Any workmanship/leak warranty would be covered by your builder of choice. When I was a post frame building contractor two decades ago, we offered a five year warranty against roof leaks. In reality, if proper screws and screw pattern are specified and properly installed, screws either leak right away, or are good forever. 

We are not contractors ourselves and our buildings are designed so an average person who can and will read instructions can successfully construct their own beautiful building. If you are not so inclined, we can provide names of one or more builders to erect your building anywhere in the continental United States.

Other warranty information is available here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-building-faqs/product-warranties/.

While not a ‘warranty’ per se, maybe your best warranty investment will be in a fully engineered building. This is your assurance your new building and all of its components and connections have been reviewed and designed by a highly trained professional.

Ganged Wood Trusses & Closed Cell Spray Foam Post Frame Condensation Control

Ganged Wood Trusses and Closed Cell Spray Foam Post Frame Condensation Control

Ganged wood trusses are most usually two individually fabricated metal connector plated roof trusses, fastened together with either nails or even better Simpson Drive Screws (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/simpson-drive-screws/), so they work together as a conjoined pair.

True doubled trusses (not two single trusses spaced apart by blocking) afford many structural advantages (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/09/true-double-trusses/). However if closed cell spray foam is being used to control condensation underneath steel roofing, a little extra prevention is worth a pound (or two) of cure.

Most often conditioned post frame buildings are designed around having a flat (or slightly sloped using scissor trusses) ceiling. Warm moist air from this conditioned space rises into building’s attic and hopefully has a place to go. Most generally best design solution involves venting this dead attic space. Appropriate amounts of air intake provided by eave soffit vents and air exhaust utilizing a vented ridge will eliminate most moisture.

As those of us who did not nap during science classes are aware – warm air rises. Some of this warm air will get trapped below roof purlins or other attic framing members and not exhaust as imagined.

There are many methods of controlling or eliminating this warm and moist air from coming into contact with cooler roof steel. Least expensive (although potentially labor intensive if windy) would be a reflective radiant barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/). One step up in investment, but very easily installed, would be an Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/).

Some folks opt to sheath over trusses and roof purlins with OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or plywood, with 30# asphalt impregnated paper (roofing felt) placed between sheathing and roof steel. This can tend to run up one’s investment, as not only will more material and labor be directly involved, but trusses also must be appropriately designed for added weight carrying ability.

Enter closed cell spray foam. Long time readers have grown tired of me solving condensation challenges by people who did participate in one of these solutions and are now faced with a drip-drip-drip. Two inches of closed cell spray foam applied beneath a steel roof between purlins and trusses will create an almost entirely effective thermal break and take care of nearly all condensation issues.

Except…..
Metal connector plates trusses have pressed steel plates on each side. These plates project slightly from lumber faces and when two trusses are joined together, some gaps will occur between them. Gaps wide enough to allow for a significant flow of warm moist air to reach your roof steel, condense and start wreaking havoc.

There is, however, a simple fix, easily done during building framing. Before conjoining two or more trusses, place enough urethane or acoustic caulking between top cords to provide a complete air seal when in service!

Builder or DIY? In ground or Brackets? and Remodel or Rebuild?

Today’s Pole Barn Guru discusses finding a builder or DIY, posts in the ground or use wet set brackets, and whether or not to remodel or to rebuild a new structure.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Thank you for this great website.
I have learned so much reviewing the blog articles.
I will definitely buy one of your kits (I have submitted an initial request today)
My only concern is finding a qualified builder to put it up.
Thank you again for sharing all your knowledge
Looking forward to working with you all :). TODD in MONERA

DEAR TODD: Thank you for your very kind words.

Keep in mind, all of our buildings are designed for the average person who can and will read English to successfully erect their own beautiful building. Most of our clients do build their own and frankly do beautiful work – better than what they can pay for in most instances. Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can assist you in finding one or more possible builders, should you not have the time or inclination to assemble yourself. You will want to properly vet them out and follow this guide: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/vetting-building-contractor/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Posts in the ground versus above grade or on the slab – After inquiring about mortgages for a “Pole Barn” house I was informed that if I put the posts in the ground the interest rate would be higher (approx 2%) versus having the posts on top of the slab or above grade by using something like the Perma Columns with Sturdi-Wall Brackets or using the Sturdi-Wall Brackets (wet set or placed after the concrete is poured). My question is — If I pour a 24″ column say 4 foot deep(of course engineer designed) and Wet Set the Sturdi-Wall brackets into the concrete column – How do I install 2″ styrofoam insulation vertically 2 foot down the side of the slab? STEVE in WHEATFIELD

DEAR STEVE: It is unfortunate lenders just do not understand longevity of properly pressure preservative treated wood. Moving forward, most economical solution for above ground is poured piers with wet set brackets. This is a regularly used option we offer. You can install insulation boards on exterior of splash plank, from below base trim down. Your foam insulation does not have to be in direct contact with your slab on grade – you just need to create an adequate thermal break.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Just bought a property with an old pole barn and I want a workshop and storage and assume restoring the barn is my best bet, partially because I am not sure of what I would be getting into if I built a new barn dealing with the local planning people who seem not to be able to give straight answers. The existing building seems to have good structure and the poles seem to be similar to telephone poles. The siding is old metal that was nailed on. There are sliding doors that are in bad shape, one half gone, and they seem stuck. I would like to make a second floor inside the barn and assume I could do something like an interior deck. Also want to concrete the floor. Any suggestions? DOUG in LOUISVILLE

DEAR DOUG: Before making a decision, I would ask to meet face-to-face with your Planning Department Director and get some clear answers (and in writing). My guess is worst case will be you can replace your old pole barn with a comparably sized new post frame building.

In regards to what you have – rarely will an old pole barn be adequate in design to meet current Building Code standards. If you do decide (or have no other option) to restore the barn, you should invest in a Registered Professional Engineer to do a thorough inspection of what you have and provide any structural modifications needing to be done to insure you are not throwing good money after bad.

Having been involved in several remodels, unless work to be done is minor, you are normally best to dig a big hole and push your old barn into it.

 

 

Flash and Batt Insulating Barndominium Walls

Flash-and-Batt Insulating Barndominium Walls

We’re in a seemingly never ending cycle of racing towards net zero post frame homes, shouses (shop/houses) and barndominiums (read more on net zero post frame here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/net-zero-post-frame-homes/). 

One possible design solution involves what is known as “flash-and-batt” where two inches of closed cell spray foam insulation is applied to steel siding interior surface between barn style wall girts, then balance of insulation cavity is fitted with fiberglass batts.

Today’s expert opinion is rendered by Martin Holladay, former editor of the Green Building Advisor web site. You can read more about Martin at www.MartinHolladay.com.

Even though thicker is always better with any type of insulation, applying a thin layer of spray foam is a good way to get air-sealing benefits at considerable cost savings over full-thickness spray foam.

Some spray-foam contractors dismissively call the technique “flash-and-dash”; they point out that fiberglass batts may fail to remain in contact with the spray foam, creating an air space and the potential for convective air currents through the insulation. But I think this is a relatively insignificant problem, particularly if the cavity is fairly airtight. Besides, it’s easy to minimize the chance of a potential air space by simply choosing a thicker batt. In fact, batts that are compressed slightly as they are installed will yield higher R-values than ones that just fill the cavity.

Another concern is that in a heating climate, the flash-and-batt method creates a vapor retarder on the wrong side (the cold-in-winter side) of the fiberglass batt. But whether the spray foam actually becomes a vapor retarder depends on the type of foam used. Open-cell foams — that is, foams with a density of about 1/2 pound per cubic foot — are very vapor-permeable. However, since many low-density-foam manufacturers, including Icynene, recommend against the flash-and-batt method, most proponents use closed-cell foam with a density of about 2 pounds per cubic foot.

One inch of closed-cell foam has a permeance of about 2 perms, while 2 inches has a permeance of about 1.2 perms, so closed-cell foams are effective vapor retarders.

But does installing a vapor retarder on the cold-in-winter side of a wall create a problem? Actually, research has shown that exterior foam can safely be used as part of a cold-climate wall or roof — as long as the foam is thick enough. As a rule of thumb, walls with exterior foam sheathing or flash-and-batt closed-cell foam will avoid condensation problems as long as the foam is at least 1 inch thick in climate zone 5 (Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada) or 2 inches thick in climate zone 7 (northern Minnesota).

Since exterior foam reduces a wall’s ability to dry to the exterior, it’s important to choose an interior vapor retarder that allows drying to the interior — such as kraft-paper facing or vapor-retarder paint — instead of sheet poly.

How Not to Sheetrock Your Barndominium

How Not To Sheetrock Your Barndominium

Gypsum wallboard (aka Sheetrock or drywall) is used as wall and ceiling covering of choice for nearly every barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home. It affords a plethora of advantages over other interior finishes – for many, it is about cost savings. For others it is fire protection or a desire for sound deadening.

For shop areas, I see too many (in my opinion) using steel liner panels as an interior finish – usually in a misguided belief they will be a less expensive solution. Rarely is this true and liner panels are not without their own issues, as I have expounded upon previously: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/08/steel-liner-panels/

Drywall can be installed quickly. My first summer out of high school I worked for B & M Inland Wallboard as a laborer primarily doing taping and texturing.  My boss, Joe Borg, was several things – reasonably priced (material and labor for standard homes ran 50 cents per square foot of sheetrock – hung, taped and textured with 5/8” on ceilings and firewalls, ½” elsewhere), quick (his hanging crews would do 2000 square feet of rock per man, per day for a nickel a square foot) and a fanatic about quality.

Sheetrock back then (40 plus years ago) was even more of a bargain than today, roughly 1/3rd cost. Even then, I saw some jobs not far removed from what is pictured above! When I was Sales Manager for Coeur d’Alene Truss, we did a truss job for a contractor, Joe Michielli, directly across the street from a rival truss company’s sales person. Following up, to see how everything went, Joe was busily and proudly hanging drywall. Little pieces of drywall – as Joe was bound and determined to not have any scraps larger than a foot square. I can’t even fathom how he ever managed to tape and texture it!

(As a seven degrees of separation thing, in 2017 Hansen Pole Buildings provided a post frame building kit package in Laramie, Wyoming to Joe’s son!)

There are methods of hanging, taping and texturing drywall to get a finished product my boss Joe Borg would have been proud of. And post frame buildings are perfect for this, as you can read here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/.

Putting Everything Under One Post Frame Roof

Putting Everything Under One Post Frame Roof

I have been an advocate of one larger roof, rather than an enclosed building with a roof only side shed for years. This allows for greater headroom in ‘shed’ area without having to deal with pitch breaks (transition from a steeper slope main roof to a flatter shed roof), making for easier assembly. In almost all instances, this will result in a less costly design solution.

This also happens to be a lesson I have tried to impart upon our Hansen Pole Buildings’ Design Team, however they have been slow to embrace this concept.

Reader RYAN in SUN RIVER writes:

Hansen Pole RV Storage“I have plans to build a 52x48x14 this spring.  The idea is 52×48 roofline 4/12 pitch. Under that roof is a 16×48 open side for rv parking and then 36×48 enclosed with concrete floor.  My original thoughts are to 2×6 stick frame the wall separating the open area from the enclosed area after the pad is poured (any suggestions). 16×12 insulated door and a 4’ man door on the front gable end and a 3’ man door to get in from under the open area towards the rear.

How much would you charge to draw this up with your building techniques?  

I am planning on sourcing materials local but wouldn’t mind a quote from you either.”

I do like your idea of having your enclosed portion and roof only under one gabled roof, rather than a smaller gable over enclosed portion and balance as a shed roof off one side. You gain headroom, it is easier to assemble and usually less costly.

I would frame separation wall with wall girts, rather than stick framing and having to add on horizontal framing to attach wall steel. Code also will not allow for a stud framed wall greater than 10 feet in height without it being engineered. To minimize possibilities of water from your RV area migrating into enclosed areas, your concrete should be two separate pours, with RV parking slab slightly lower at main building wall and sloping away from it.

Your choice of having a four foot wide person door is one you will not regret. For a minimal added investment you will save your knuckles repeatedly. 

As for building plans, we are not a plans’ service, however your investment in a new Hansen Pole Building does come with complete third-party engineer sealed structural plans, along with verifying calculations. This alone will usually save you thousands of dollars in engineering costs, plus you have our roughly 20,000 buildings of experience to arrive at what will be your most practical and cost efficient design.

Why people think they are somehow going to get a “better deal” by sourcing materials locally is beyond my comprehension. We have buying power an average individual (or contractor even) is never going to have, plus our control over materials being provided allows our engineers to be certain what they specify on plans, gets delivered to your building site. Some materials we have produced only for our clients – you cannot buy them elsewhere. 

For continued reading on this subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/diy-pole-building/

What to Consider in a Post Frame Garage Door

What to Consider in a Post Frame Garage Door

Today’s guest contributor is Irene Trentham, Content Marketing Strategist of Arizona’s Best Garage Door and Repair Company, a locally-owned enterprise specializing in installing new garage doors and repairing defective ones for Phoenix Arizona area residents. She loves to do camping, hiking and yoga and to spend time with her family and baby girl, Tatum when not writing.

“Post frame buildings are becoming increasingly popular because of their versatility.  They’re a great choice for every type of low rise building whether a commercial garage or storage facility to a post frame home, shouse or barndominium because they’re not only economical, they’re also fast and easy to build.

A key feature to many post frame buildings is a garage door – often serving as a main or primary entryway. With this said, anybody who’s planning to build a post frame building certainly should discuss garage door options with their potential post frame building supplier.

 When selecting a garage door, many people usually go for least expensive or one they like most. There is a lot more going into choosing a garage door than looks and budget. It is also instrumental in safety and protection of your building and everything in it. Choosing one is not a decision you should take too lightly.

 From commercial garage door installation to looks and aesthetics, here are important things to consider when buying a new garage door.

Security

 Safety and security are essential to any building. This is why it should be a paramount consideration when looking for a new garage door. It is standard for garage doors (operators) to have safety sensors, but newer ones may have more advanced and sophisticated detectors. This feature is especially crucial if your post frame building is located in a high traffic area. When a sensor detects a person or an object as door closes, it stops or reverses direction, preventing unwanted accidents.

 For additional protection, you can opt for more recent garage door (operators) models equipped with rolling code technology. This feature changes your door’s security code every time someone uses a remote, preventing unauthorized access into premises.

Design and style

 One main difference between commercial and residential garage doors is their size. Residential properties typically have a two-vehicle size garage door, while commercial properties often prefer a wider garage door to accommodate several company vehicles.

 

When picking a garage door for your business, choose something blending with style and ambiance of your workplace. Garage doors come in a range of designs and make, so you’re bound to find something suiting your taste and aesthetics of your workplace.

 If you’re not too sure about how a specific style will look on your commercial space’s garage, check out manufacturer websites for samples. There you’ll find photos of garage doors and probably get an insight into how they’ll look on your space.

Material

 Garage doors come in a variety of materials, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Steel, for example, is the most common because it is least expensive. Steel doors are available in a myriad of styles – flat panel, short and long raised panels and commercial panels. Carriage house options allow for affordable classic looks. Wood may be best aesthetically, but they’re expensive to maintain and have a relatively short life span.

 You can often find garage doors in wood, steel, fiberglass, aluminum, and vinyl materials. Vinyl is a new garage door material option becoming increasingly popular because of its durability and ease of maintenance.

Installation and maintenance

 Building owners are often tempted to  DIY when installing garage doors, thinking it will save them some money. But unless you have knowledge, experience, or will read and follow installation instructions, this idea may not be as good as it initially seemed.

 When considering overhead doors in your new post frame building, choose to work with reputable and experienced professionals who can recommend adequate door sizes, aesthetic and insulation options, wind-load ratings, and openers. You’ll be glad you did!”

More Information, Pricing for a Kit, and Site Work and Grade Changes

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “more information” on Hansen Pole Building’s product, pricing for a kit, as well as site work and grade changes.

Hansen Buildings TaglineDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hey, I was wanting to see if I could get some more information on a steel house. My wife and I have 5 acres in Kings Mountain, NC and are wanting to start the home buying/ building process at the end of next year. Do you guys take care of the structure, concrete slab, flooring, electrical, grading, plumbing, well, etc? I am trying to find more information on the steel house process and how I can go about getting started. Looking forward to hearing back from you. SAWYER in KINGS MOUNTAIN

DEAR SAWYER: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Here is a great resource to get you started: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

Our goal is to provide you with the best possible building value and to help you avoid making crucial mistakes you will regret forever. We take care of custom design and structural aspects of your home along with delivery to your site. We include detailed step-by-step assembly instructions for you or your builder as well as unlimited free Technical Support from people who have actually built buildings.

Sign up for our every weekday blogs, friend us on Facebook, or give us a call at 1(866)200-9657.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have seen your kits available other places so I decided to go to you directly. Where do I find pricing for 48 ft. x 60 ft. x 20 ft. Wood Garage Kit without Floor. LEAMARIE in NEW RICHMOND

DEAR LEAMARIE: Your quickest way to obtain pricing on this (or any dimension post frame building) is to call 1(866)200-9657 and ask to speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I live on the side of the mountain and planning on building a 36×40 shop, I have to do a little of grade work and may need to bring in some pit fill. Wondering if these pole barn kits will work for me? My plan is to have a concrete slab… was thinking of a Thickened edge slab because of my concern of frost heaving of a floating slab, does a pole barn make sense in my situation? Or should I just do a stick frame… DAVE in BOZEMAN

DEAR DAVE: Beautiful area – I spent a year in Bozeman when I was studying Architecture.

There have been many questions recently on dealing with grade change and fill…..all clear, level sites must be used up!


Regardless of what building type you are going to do, here is some information on site preparation, fill and compaction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/soil-compaction-how-to/.

Thickening your slab’s edge is probably not going to be a solution for frost heave. Here is some further reading on frost heave: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

Post frame (pole) building construction is going to be easiest and most cost effective design solution.

What Is Keeping Posts Above Ground Worth?

What is Something Worth?

I can be overly anal. Sometimes I have to really work hard to get around it – I purposefully have conundrums on my desk and for some perverse reason I feel comfortable in them. 

I inherited my maternal grandmother’s counting gene. Even into her nineties, if I called her up and asked what she had been doing, she could tell me she picked 384 strawberries. Passing trains are my worst – if I see it right in front of me I have to work to not count cars.

Back on track – traditionally post frame buildings have been pressure preservative treated columns, embedded in augured holes.  Pretty low tech – as most people have available technology to dig a hole.

I will share a recent Facebook exchange, regarding a drawing posted by a potential barndominium owner:

MK:  “Looks great if its stick built on a poured stem wall.”

Me: “Looks like it would be a challenge to stick build. Those poured stem walls also add significantly to costs.”

Here is an article I had authored on foundation costs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/

MK: “I imagine $20k extra. But you more than doubled the lifespan of a “AG building” with a wood foundation, which average is 60 years depending on soil. Usually less.”

Me: “Your $20k is probably pretty close. Properly pressure preservative treated columns will last far longer than any of us will be around to witness. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/

MK: “I’ve personally seen rotted pressure treated wood. For AG buildings, use perma columns. You won’t catch me building my dream home on a wood foundation. That would fall under the same term as “throw away society”, and what about our children who inherit a house that’s rotting? I understand these shomes are driven by demand, but please inform people about the differences between a AG building and a house.”

Me: “I have seen it also and every single case I have seen documented the pressure treating was unrealistically low what its intended use should have been.

The treating standards in the past were much more lax than today. 30 years ago you could treat wood to “.60 or REFUSAL” with CCA. Lots of really not treatable wood was ‘treated’ – I personally know people who did it. A past employer of mine used to send 6×6 DouglasFir to be CCA treated. DougFir will not take a waterborne treatment except with heat and different chemicals.

 

Hansen Buildings only uses properly treated lumber to UC4B. UC4A doesn’t cut it. After over 30 years and 20,000 buildings I have yet to see a member treated to UC4B rot.

I could live in any type of building anywhere in the world I choose. Even though our weather can be brutal, rural Northeast South Dakota has its own charm. We live in a million dollar post frame building by choice and we love it. How much do I believe in our product? Good enough to live in it every day.

If you become a reader of my blog articles, you will find me referring people to Professional Engineers and promoting the use of plans from a Registered Design Professional. A great post frame engineer will design a stronger building, with few(er) materials. It actually costs less to do the job right.

Permacolumns are expensive and difficult to handle – in my humble opinion. It is more economical to pour a pier with a wet set bracket and far easier. If the bottom of the column is an inch above the top of the slab, the columns do not have to be pressure preservative treated even.”

For information on Permacolumns: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/perma-column-price-advantage/

All of this got me thinking and thinking hard. For four decades I have been standing upon a soap box extolling longevity of properly pressure treated wood embedded in ground. Perhaps I have been making this issue more difficult than it had to be.

In this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVwUl4cm8fQ Kyle from Rural Renovators demonstrates how to pour piers and place wet set brackets: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/.

I conducted an informal and not overly scientific poll on Facebook:

“Traditionally post frame (pole barn) buildings have been designed with pressure preservative treated columns embedded in holes. Research proves properly pressure preservative treated columns, in ground, should last a lifetime without decay. There are at least two very popular post frame building companies who use only columns above ground, in brackets. We are investigating if there are enough perceived benefits to justify an added investment.

Along with this we would consider going to all high strength glu-laminated columns. These would be stronger than any other regularly utilized post frame columns in the industry. They are also very straight and lighter weight.

Per column, what range do you think is reasonable?”

Out of 22 respondents, exactly 50% felt an added investment of over $100 per column would be reasonable.

The good news is – we can make this happen for about half of this!

Calculating Stairs Rise and Run

What is Wrong With this Picture?
Stairs, they seem to confound and befuddle just about everyone. In my early years as Sales Manager at Coeur d’Alene Truss, I used to volunteer to go measure houses up to confirm plan dimensions would match up with what was actually being built. Usually yes, but on occasion – not.

One of this area’s best framing crews used to call me to measure trusses just so I could tell them how to cut stairs. Even though they had framed hundreds of houses, math skills to determine stairs were outside of their toolbox. For this reason every third-party engineer sealed set of Hansen Pole Buildings’ structural building plans including stairs has tread rise and run spelled out.

Back on task to this photo.
2018 IBC (International Building Code):
“2304.12.1 Locations requiring waterborne preservatives or naturally durable wood.
Wood used above ground in the locations specified in Sections 2304.12.1.1 through 2304.12.1.5, 2304.12.3 and 2304.12.5 shall be naturally durable wood or preservative-treated wood using waterborne preservatives, in accordance with AWPA U1 for above-ground use.”

This means those portions of stairs in contact with this concrete slab-on-grade must be pressure preservative treated.

Stair stringers per 2018 IBC Table 1607.1 must be designed to support a minimum 40 psf (pounds per square foot) uniformly distributed live load for stairs and exits of one- and two-family dwellings and 100 psf for all other uses.
Let us assume a minimal rise from top of slab to top of next floor of nine feet. With a maximum rise of 7-3/4 inches per tread and minimum run of 10 inches, this would require 13 treads with a horizontal distance of 130 inches (10.83 feet).

Here is how to calculate what it takes to carry residential stair loads:

Moment = (40 psf live load + 10 psf dead load) X 36 inches wide X 10.83 feet^2 / 8 = 26,390 inch-pounds

Learn about Bending Moments here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/bending-moment/
With this given rise and run, remaining portion of 2×12 after cutouts is 5-1/8 inch. Using Fb (Fiberstress in bending) for SYP 2×12 #2 of 750 we will solve to determine if what is present is adequate structurally:
26,390 inch-pounds / (750 X 2 X 6.566) = 2.68 where it must be 1.00 or less to adequately carry this load.

But, you might ask, where did these other two variables appear from? Two (2) is because we have two stair stringers to carry loads. 6.566 would be Sm (Section Modulus) of remaining portion of 2x12s after cuts are made to accept treads.
So our photo has stringers 268% overstressed – not good.
This can be resolved by adding another 2×12 stringer at center of stairs and nailing a 2×6 alongside each 2×12 stair stringer.

IBC 1015.2: Guards shall be located along open sided walking surfaces that are located more than 30” measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point.
This means a guardrail must be on each side of these stairs.

IBC 1015.4: Required guards shall not have openings that allow passage of a sphere 4” in diameter.

Easiest solution here would have been to have vertical supports for hand railing spaced with a maximum distance between of four inches.

A “toe plate” should be incorporated into these stairs at the rear of each tread to fill space between treads and meet with four inch maximum space requirement.

Granted, this requires some math but given the variables, just plug them in and away you go!

Free Home Milled Lumber

Every few years it seems there arises a need for young (remember I am only 62 years young) men to head into forests and become loggers. I have been there personally – there is just something manly about hacking down some snags with a chain saw! Myself, there is a sudden rush when a tree starts to fall….makes my arm hairs stand on end!

These newly felled trees often become raw material for backyard sawmills. I have seen a few requests for post frame buildings recently where prospective clients want to use their own home milled lumber.

BAD IDEA.

I equate this concept of “free” home milled lumber to my sons who hunt and fish to provide “free” meat for their families. 

Now if these persons would have been doing any sort of internet searching on this subject, they might have stumbled upon a previous article of mine: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/ungraded-lumber-using-home-milled-timber/

Adding to this article (better actually go read it, eh?), are these excerpts from 2018’s IBC (International Building Code):

2303.1.1 Sawn lumber.

Sawn lumber used for load-supporting purposes, including end-jointed or edge-glued lumber, machine stress-rated or machine-evaluated lumber, shall be identified by the grade mark of a lumber grading or inspection agency that has been approved by an accreditation body that complies with DOC PS 20 or equivalent. Grading practices and identification shall comply with rules published by an agency approved in accordance with the procedure of DOC PS 20 or equivalent procedures.

2303.1.1.1 Certificate of Inspection.

In lieu of a grade mark on the material, a certificate of inspection as to species and grade issued by a lumber grading or inspection agency meeting the requirements of this section is permitted to be accepted for precut, remanufactured or rough-sawn lumber and for sizes larger than 3 inches nominal thickness.

Keep in mind, Code requirements are only bare minimum standards for safe construction.  In my humble opinion, pushing risks of a failure from an ungraded piece (or pieces) of lumber used structurally is a face slap to already minimal practices. 

Be safe, be sane and be practical. Don’t use home milled lumber for any part of a post frame building.

Barndominium Airplane Hangars and More

I really suppose it is unfair of me to limit this article to just airplane hangars, as I have had instances to design hangars for helicopters as well.

As an elementary school student, my pre-teen friends and I were all very impressed when a girl down our street’s father landed his helicopter in a field behind their house. We made certain to keep this area free from weeds, so he could land more often!

When I was a post frame building contractor, we were approached by a gentleman who lived in a very exclusive neighborhood a few miles north of our office in Millwood, Washington. His idea was to land his helicopter in his driveway and roll it away into its own post frame hangar to be attached to his home. Somehow his neighbors were not overly enamored of this idea and sadly mounted successful efforts to see his idea did not come to fruition.

A project actually coming together as it should have was a barndominium/hangar just outside of Las Vegas. When most think of how difficult it could be to acquire a Building Permit in Clark County, Nevada, they turn tail and run. Either I was not smart enough, or was too stubborn, to realize it could be a challenge and happily dove right in.

Our client wanted to combine living and flying. Moreover, he wanted to live above his hangar. This would be no simple accomplishment, as he required a 42 foot clearspan width to allow for his hangar door as well as to provide enough wall each side of this door to prevent racking due to wind shear. Our client’s original idea was an attic truss, one giving a bonus room at center. This proved to be too limiting as he would end up with only a long and narrow room at the middle of his second floor.
Instead, we designed for a solution using 42 inch deep parallel chord floor trusses and placed a second floor on top of this system. Post frame to his rescue!

Looking to live where you fly? Or fly from where you live? Give Hansen Pole Buildings a call today 1(866)200-9657.

Airplane Hanger

Interested in more light reading on hangars? Go to www.HansenPoleBuildings.com – navigate to SEARCH at upper right and click on it. Type HANGAR in this search box and ENTER. Magically you will be treated to numerous relevant articles on hangars for your reading enjoyment. You can do this with any term, try BARNDOMINIUM for instance.

Scissor Trusses, Hanger Bolts, and Foundation Options

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about scissor trusses, wood framing and hanger bolts for sliding doors, as well as a foundation option for a post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 30×40 pole barn. And my lower beam on the trusses is to low for my car lift. Is scissor trusses as strong or stronger then common trusses and I know without a engineer doing the math it’s hard to say. ZACH in ATASCOCITA

DEAR ZACH: Scissor trusses can be engineered to be every bit as strong as conventional trusses. If your idea is to swap out some or all of them, you would be looking at a highly labor intensive project. It might very well be less expensive to just add a taller bay onto one end of your building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: The round rail hanger bolt on our sliding door got pulled out of the hole drilled through the 2×6 at the top of the door. We have made angle iron for the top and bottom of the 2×6 with 1/2in holes but are finding it difficult to get the bolt through the holes. Is there an easy way to reinstall the door hanger without removing the entire door from the track? AARON in MARYSVILLE

DEAR AARON: You have just discovered one of many reasons why sliding doors should not ever be framed out of lumber. Steel door components (such as horizontal girts) are far superior in every way. They are stronger against wind loads, they do not warp or twist, doors are phenomenally lighter weight and trolley hanger bolts never pull through!

In direct answer to your question – you are going to have to remove entire door, reinstall trolley hanger bolt and rehang door. This might be an ideal time to totally replace your wooden components.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can a pole barn be a permanent house residence, and can they be built on a walled foundation? TERRY in AKRON

DEAR TERRY: Post frame (pole barn) buildings can be permanent residences – I happen to live in one myself, with about 8000 square feet of finished space. They can be built either with embedded columns, or on a partial or full foundation. For more information please visit www.HansenPoleBuildings.com , navigate to upper right corner of the page and click on SEARCH type BARNDOMINIUM in search box and click ENTER. This will bring up a plethora of relevant articles for your reading enjoyment.

 

 


.

Exciting Times for Post Frame Construction

Exciting Times for Post Frame Construction

Welcome to 2020!

My fifth decade of post frame buildings and I could not be more excited.

Pole Barn Guru Blog40 years ago today if you would have told me I was going to embark in an exciting career in post frame buildings I would have looked at you quizzically – and then asked what a post frame building was!

Now I realize 40 years is greater than a lifetime for many of you readers. Or, if you had arrived on this planet, you might have not yet been school aged even! A few of you may look upon me as being ancient. Trust me I know ancient –  probably 20 years ago my son (in all seriousness) asked me what it was like watching space aliens build the Great Pyramid!

 I have no qualms about being 62 years old – and am still excited to see what each new day will bring.

Well, back on task, if you would have told me a post frame building was a pole barn, at least I would have heard about them.

I had migrated from Northern Idaho to Oregon late summer of 1979, when home mortgage rates topped 10% and home loans were no longer available there due to a state mandated cap on interest rates. By January 1980, interest rate issues brought housing starts in Oregon to a screeching halt as well.

 My truss plant typically produced eight to 10 buildings worth of trusses a day. In January 1980 we had only four orders in an entire month! Not good – however there was a single common denominator among those four orders, they were all for pole barn trusses. I didn’t have the slightest idea what a pole barn really was, but it was time to find out. Long time pole barn builder George Evanovich allowed me to pick his brain and I was an apt student!

Frankly (knowing what I know now) these buildings were not very good. I suppose they do resemble some buildings I see people buy from their local lumberyards – a great price and not much else! At least I established quickly a firm policy of always supplying all materials to assemble a building. It might not have been much of a building, but it was all there.

Virtually every building 40 years ago was nothing more than a barn. Very few ever required building permits and if they did, engineer sealed truss drawings usually got a permit acquired!

Technology has changed our everyday lives. I grew up actually dialing a rotary phone! These same technologies allow us today to structurally design intricate post frame buildings for virtually any use – with walls up to 40 feet in height and three stories high (add 10 feet and another story for sprinklers).

True residential construction, not just a garage or shop out back, is becoming a driving growth force for post frame buildings. Today’s post frame homes (also known as barndominiums and shouses) are quickly becoming our business core. They can be erected quickly, even by DIYers, are more cost effective than any other Building Code conforming permanent structure and can meet exacting demands of energy efficiency.

Ready for your new building? Think no further than post frame construction. Call Hansen Buildings at 866-200-9657 and talk to a Building Designer today!

Supporting Fill When Considerable Grade Change Exists

Supporting Fill When Considerable Grade Changes Exist

Everything in post frame (pole) building land seems to be predicated upon a clear level site. While many parts of our world (Upper Midwest) are fairly flat, most live where ups and downs, swirls and contours exist.

Reader ROBERT in RIVER FALLS writes: 

“I have a considerable slope from front to back where I want to place my garage. I will need to haul in considerable amounts of fill to bring to level. My question is what is the best way to support the fill on the back side. A concrete wall is expensive. Hauling in enough fill so it supports itself seems like it could lend itself to problems of erosion. Any suggestions?”

Our eldest son was faced with this situation 10 years ago when we help to construct his two story 24 by 30 combination garage/shop/in-law apartment near Maryville, TN. In his building’s small footprint he had just over five feet of grade change. His cure for this was to have a concrete block wall built on one side and one end to reduce how much fill would be required. With his lot continuing its precipitous fall in these two directions, it would have been impossible to ever bring in enough fill to have had a stable site.

Back in my post frame building contractor days, I erected a shouse (shop/house combination) at our property near Spokane, WA. With a dozen feet of grade change across 40 feet of building width, our solution began with digging (and digging and digging). You can read more of this story here:  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/grade-change/.

In many instances the best scenario is to cut away from a high side, fill on low side. High side should be cut far enough back from building to allow for a 5% downward slope away from building and to allow equipment to get past building. Provided adequate space exists, the bank can be tapered to slope down towards the edge of slope away from the building. If space does not exist, a retaining wall (or terraced walls) can be placed to hold the hillside from caving towards building.

Ecology blocks can make for low cost retaining walls as well – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/ecology-blocks/

Whether your site is level or sloped, Hansen Pole Buildings can assist you in arriving at as close to an ideal of a solution as possible. Please dial 1(866)200-9657 to speak with a Building Designer today.

Remodel or Not?

Remodel or Build New?

I am as guilty as most – my initial reaction is always to remodel, rather than build new. Even when it makes no practical or economic sense.

Reader JIM in LAWTON is working through one of these situations. He writes: 

“I have a 30 x 40 pole barn 32 years old. I want to take the 4/12 pitch trusses off and add bonus room trusses with a 10/12 pitch and a shingled roof, it is now metal. The new trusses will free span the 30’. My concern is the 4×6 posts holding everything up. They are 8’ on center, 54” down. I met with the building inspector and he inspected the poles and footers on two poles, one on each side of the building. The footers are a concrete block 4x8x16, poles are 4×6. I drove two nails in the two exposed posts 6” and 12” down and the centers didn’t seem soft at all. The building inspector says go ahead and beef up the headers and build up. I don’t want any issues. I am doing the work myself. Do you feel there is anything else I should do to confirm the posts will support the additional weight? The room is going to be an extra bedroom. Anything else meaning contact a structural engineer and pay big bucks for their opinion. Thanks, Jim.”

You are aware your remodel will be more expensive than erecting a brand new building?

Chances are good your existing building was built as a low risk building, if it was engineered and permitted at all. Adding in a bedroom makes it a higher risk building, increasing design loads for both wind and snow. From your limited information provided, your columns will not be large enough, footing diameters will need to be increased, headers (truss carriers) will need to be increased to support probably at least a load twice as much as what was there.

If you do indeed decide to move forward as you suggest, you would be making a grave error to not have an engineer inspect what you have and make recommendations to bring your existing building up to current Code and to be adequate to support your remodeled design.

 Mike the Pole Barn Guru

P.S. Due to shingles’ very short lifespan, I would recommend you go with a steel roof.

Bare Splash Planks

Oh What to do About Bare Splash Planks

Pole Building ShopMost people rarely notice or pay attention to splash planks (skirt boards) below their post frame (pole building) siding. They are so far below eye level frankly most people just do not notice them!

Reader TOOD in SPRINGFIELD worries about them. He writes:

“Hi there, 

I called the Hansen number and the lady told me I could ask a question in here for a quick response. I wanted to ask, on the finished Hansen buildings, the bottom of the building is exposed—there’s just the wood trim there. You would think there would be some metal trim over top… not just for appearance reasons but to protect the wood. I believe the wood is pressure treated, which I know lasts awhile but it would start to warp/crack over time. I don’t think Hansen would put trim over it, but do you think it would help if I added metal trim over it at a later date? I know the metal would have moist soil up against it a little at the base, so I don’t know if that’s ok. I’m just trying to protect it long term (30+ years). Would it be better to push dirt or gravel against it to cover it up or would it not matter either way? The downside to gravel is I’d have to buy it but also weeds would grow up through it, so it would be more maintenance over time to get rid of the weeds. Anyway, I’d really appreciate your input on all of this and I really appreciate your time. Thanks! Todd”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru answers:

Around the bottom of any properly designed post frame (pole building) there should be exposed four to six inches of pressure preservative treated splash plank. In our case, splash planks are treated to a minimum UC-4A standard, making them acceptable and appropriate for a lifetime of use in contact with ground. This exposed treated wood is ideal for pouring aprons, landings, sidewalks and driveways against and it keeps concrete from being in contact with your building’s steel siding and trims, as either of them will decay with direct contact to chemicals in concrete. You want to avoid having soil or gravel against steel as it will rust. If you feel it imperative to cover your splash planks, we can provide vinyl plasti-skirts to cover them (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/08/plasti-skirt/).

Column Types, SW Missouri, and Site Preparation

Today’s Pole Barn Guru discusses reader questions about types of columns used in Hansen Pole Buildings, what type of car for a small 2 story barn, and the best site preparation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good morning. I was just running through your website looking at the different materials you guys use for your buildings and I could not find the type of column you use. I know some people have 6x6s, some use 3ply 2x6s and others use the glulam columns, both spliced and un-spliced. If you could let me know now your method that would be great. Thanks! BLAINE

Concrete slab in a pole barn

DEAR BLAINE: We supply either solid sawn timber columns or glulaminated columns depending upon where building is located, client request, and/or climactic conditions. Glulaminated columns have finger jointed and glued splices – unlike some nailed up columns.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m looking at wanting to build a 30 x 40 2 story pole barn with the barn roughed in for a second floor and just one small garage door what kind of car should I be looking at? Do you do work in Southwest Missouri?

DEAR SOUTHWEST MISSOURI: Well, you are probably best to get a car fitting your family’s needs. Personally, I drive a 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche – because if something hits me I would like to survive.

For a single vehicle overhead garage door 10 feet of width and seven feet of height should keep your mirrors on. For sake of resale value, you might want to consider going with a 16 foot wide door, as it offers wider appeal to future owners of this building.

Hansen Pole Buildings provides custom designed engineered post frame buildings kits everywhere in the United States – even Southwest Missouri.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What preparations must be made for the ground for the area that a pole barn is to be built on? Is a base such as a concrete slab, or gravel required, or may one be built only with the poles in the ground, and the concrete holding them in place? JOSHUA in BECKETT

treated postDEAR JOSHUA: Simplicity is a part of post frame (pole barn) construction. If your building will not need a concrete slab on grade, then you could merely auger holes, then place them with limited amounts of concrete in hole bottoms to resist settling, overturning and uplift. If your future plans include a concrete slab, then more extensive site preparation should be done to insure proper results: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

 

Jai Alai Court

Jai Alai Court

In my now rapidly approaching 40 year career in and around post frame buildings, I have covered lots and lots of very diverse things. These have included train and trolley car refurbishing, Las Vegas zoo’s giraffe barn, a United States Marine Corps rifle range, steer roping, basketball and volleyball courts, baseball batting cages, but never before a Jai Alai court.

Well, first time for everything, right?

We recently received this request from Senor Frogs Restaurant in the Bahamas:

“Good Morning,

We are building a Jai Alai court in Mexico (photos attached)

We would like to install a roof like the one in the picture also attached. (we found this photo in the internet and had your website)

The structure will be done locally but the need the material to cover it.

Is that something you can help us with?

Thank you very much

Kind regards”

My sum total of knowledge about Jai Alai is I had heard of it. Not much of a basis to work from, however I do have internet access!


Jai Alai originated in Spain’s Basque region some 400 years ago. Today Jai Alai is played in Spain, Cuba, South America, Mexico, The Philippines, Italy and even in the United States of America, primarily in Florida. The first court was made in 1748 and more than 300 have been built since.

Jai Alai is typically played up to a score of seven with points being scored when the opposing team fails to return to serving team. A return must be one swift motion with player catching the pelota and throwing it back in one fluid movement. The Pelota is the hardest ball in all of sports and is tougher than a rock. If the pelota is held too long a return can be considered void.

Known as a fronton, a Jai Alai court is 176 to 180 feet long by 35 to 50 feet wide by 35 to 40 feet high. It is comprised of three walls, side, back and front. Primary playing surface is the three part sidewall.

In order to play Jai Alai players must have some equipment. Most important piece is the cesta, meaning basket in English. A cesta is attached to a player’s right arm and is used to catch the pelota.   A helmet must also be worn to protect player’s head as the pelota can go up to 200 miles per hour!

Whether in Mexico, or anywhere else on our planet, Hansen Pole Buildings can custom design a third party engineered post frame building to cover or enclose any low rise structure (up to 40 foot tall walls without sprinklers) – even a Jai Alai fronton!

Building a Barndominium on an Existing Concrete Slab

Building a Barndominium on an Existing Concrete Slab

Whether a simple pole barn or an elaborate barndominium, shouse or post frame home, there are some challenges when it comes to constructing on an existing concrete slab on grade.

Reader NATHAN from PITTSFORD began this article when he wrote: 

“I have a 28x 80 foot pad. How hard would it be to build a pole barn house on the pad. It has a singlewide trailer on it now but want to build on this pad.”

While an existing concrete slab may be able to be integrated into a pole barn or barndominium as a floor, in most instances it will be inadequate to structurally support any structure, unless it has been specifically designed to do so in advance. In most cases, it will need to have been placed with a Building Permit and have had appropriate inspections by a Building Official.

Concrete slabs, such as Nathan’s, can be a resultant of several different circumstances. In his case, it appears to have been poured merely to park a manufactured home on it. Other times they have been poured with an idea of placing a future building upon, however without (in most cases) adequate structural considerations. I have run into more than one person who has an existing slab as a result of a previous building having burned down.

Usually I would avoid attempts to erect a structure on top of an existing slab unless I knew it to have been adequately designed and properly inspected, or knowing a Registered Professional Engineer had done a thorough inspection to determine adequacy.

If able to support a building, dry set anchors can be used to anchor columns in place (read about dry set brackets here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/dry-set-column-anchors/).

For flat slabs, without curbs or raised perimeter foundations, square holes for columns can be cut with a concrete saw to allow for holes to be augured and columns placed. Space between columns and saw cut edges can be later filled in with concrete.

A simple solution, for those who feel they must use their existing flat slab, is to build outside of slab edges. This allows for holes to be dug, without any need for concrete cutting.

Have an existing slab to be incorporated into a new post frame building? Please call 1(866)200-9657 and speak with a Building Designer today.

A Shouse in the News

A Shouse in the News!
Casual readers might not understand what a shouse even is. My lovely bride and I happen to reside in an 8000 square foot shouse (combination shop and house) in Northeast South Dakota. (The shouse in this article is not our house.)

Whether shouse, barndominium or merely post frame (pole barn) house – chances are good you will be seeing more and more of them cropping up as people are recognizing their architectural aesthetics, cost effectiveness and ability to be self built.

Photo from Google images
Below is from a December 14, 2019 Park Rapids Enterprise article by Lorie R. Skarpness

“Have you ever seen a shouse? A shouse is a relatively new word for a combination shop and house, and a Nevis resident approached the planning commission recently with a request to build one that is 40 by 60 feet.

Described to the Nevis City Council Monday night as a “glorified man cave with storage,” it would have to meet state requirements to classify it as a living structure.

As far as council members can tell, this is the first such request in the city’s history. The building inspector said the council could make suggestions for the finishing of the building. Plans have not been received for the shouse, but the individual who wants to build it stated he plans to use siding for the exterior.

He also requested having shipping containers approximately 25 feet by 9 feet to store belongings for less than a year while constructing the shouse on a large lot located in a residential zone.
Mayor Jarod Senger said he has friends who built a shouse. “There are some very nice ones,” he added.

“It can be a pole barn that’s like a gigantic garage and they finish off one corner of it with a front door,” council member Jeanne Thompson said. “They come in there to the living space and the rest of it can be storage or a personal woodworking shop they can putz around in.”

Thompson said her concern is the aesthetics of these structures. “If it does look more homelike versus a metal shed someone is living in, all of those logistics,” she said.

Building on the proposed shouse would likely not start until April, if approved.
Council member Rich Johnson suggested the planning and zoning commission look into the proposal and draft some ideas for acceptable finishes for a shouse before proceeding along with an ordinance to cover future requests that may come in.

The Minnesota state building code addresses minimum size issues required for shouses.”

Considering construction of a new home? Give a barndominium or shouse some consideration, you might be surprised. Here is an article with several helpful links for prospective barndominium owners: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/.

Ready to take the plunge? Please call 1(866)200-9657 today and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

Prefabricated Endwall Trusses

Most post frame (pole) buildings use prefabricated wood roof trusses to support their roof systems. Luckily (as well) most of these also use a truss on each endwall, rather than having crews (or unsuspecting DIYers) cobbling together rafters onsite.

As a former owner of two prefabricated metal connector plated truss companies for 17 years, this photo makes me cringe. Why?

This 40 foot span truss is being picked up at its peak alone!

A document known as BCSI-B10 is produced jointly by WTCA (Wood Truss Council of America) and TPI (Truss Plate Institute). This eight page document covers “Post Frame Truss Installation and Bracing”. It is in the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual (included with an investment in any Hansen Pole Buildings’ post frame kit package) and should be furnished at any post frame roof truss delivery as well.

On Page Three under ‘Mechanical Installation’, is specifically stated (in red even), “Do not lift trusses with spans greater than 30’ by the peak”. Pretty clear and is even written in Spanish, “No levanter trusses con vanor mas de 30 pies por el cumbre”.

Doing so risks truss failure due to damaged steel connector plates or cracked truss members. Just do not do it.

Now, an even bigger cringe!

Trusses with only vertical studs for web members (like in this photo) are designed only to transfer vertical loads directly downward to a continuous bearing wall. Looking at this photo, there is no bearing wall for this truss to rest upon. In reality, only rarely would a post frame endwall be designed with structural provisions for a truss like this to be used on an end!

I see this incidence all too often and am unsure if it is due to ignorance by whomever is placing orders or ignorance by truss manufacturers.  In either case, this is an improper use of a non-structural endwall truss and could easily result in a building failure.

Adding insult to injury, vertically studded endwall trusses are usually more expensive than structural trusses AND they are only effective with non-steel siding!

Looking for a post frame building done right? Please dial a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at 1 (866) 200-9657 today.

A Workshop, A Sliding Door, and A Metal Gauge of a Beverage Can

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a new a heated floor in a new workshop, adding a large sliding door to a building, and the metal gauge of a beverage can.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, New fan of your site 🙂   We are designing a 40×80 pole building workshop for heavy equipment, with radiant in-floor heating.  Contractors want to use rigid foam board under the concrete, we are concerned about crushing under the weight of equipment, and then the concrete cracking.  What do you suggest?

Thank you, AL and LORI in COLUMBUS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DEAR AL AND LORI: Welcome, I am hopeful you have gained some information of value. Your 40 x 80 pole building workshop would be very happy as a new Hansen Pole Building.

Your concrete contractor is correct you will want to install XPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam sheets over your vapor barrier (and below concrete). You can specify a product’s compressive strength, but it appears even standard 25 psi should be adequate.

Although I have not tried it myself, I have read of others who have had two to four inches of closed cell spray foam applied directly over their prepared site. This would both act as a vapor barrier and as under floor insulation.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much does a 20 foot wide x 13 foot high metal single sliding door with track and hardware cost installed in zip 51561 CHARLEY in PACIFIC JUNCTION

CHARLEY: We are not building contractors, so would have no idea. You might try contacting the Pro Desk of your local The Home Depot® to see if they could recommend a contractor who could tackle your project.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What gauge metal is the wall of an aluminum beer can or Coke can? How many millimeters thick is it? LETITIA in ONEONTA

DEAR LETITIA: My now adult children have accused me of being a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things of worthless trivia. It just so happens I have written an article on this very subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/steel-thickness-2/

 

Spray Foam for Barndominiums

Spray Foam for Barndominiums – Is a Thermal or Ignition Barrier Required?

Although it’s certainly not used in every green building project, spray foam insulation has become a popular way to build an air-tight (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/airtight-post-frame-homes-and-barndominiums/) barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or even just a well-insulated post frame building. Early on building codes hadn’t caught up with how best to use spray foam insulation, however this has changed. Change creates confusion though, and requirements for thermal and ignition barriers are one area where there is a lot of confusion.

If you put spray foam insulation in a barndominium, it needs a thermal barrier. This is what separates it from occupied spaces. If there is a fire in your barndominium, a thermal barrier keeps separates combustible spray foam and flames to increase fire resistance. International Residential (IRC) and International Building Codes (IBC) both include requirements for thermal and ignition barriers.

Standard prescriptive material to be used as a thermal barrier is 1/2″ gypsum board (drywall or sheetrock). Anything else has to be approved as an ‘equivalent thermal barrier’ by undergoing tests for temperature transmission and fire integrity. 

If a barndominium has spray foam insulation in an attic or crawl space, code requires using materials or assemblies offering some fire resistance but not as much as is required for a thermal barrier. If you’ve got spray foam insulation in an attic, for example, it’s probably already separated from living spaces by a thermal barrier. Most ceilings are made of 1/2″ or 5/8” drywall. But spray foam is still attic exposed and thus needs an ignition barrier.

In this case, you have a choice of several prescriptive materials approved by code as ignition barriers. These would include: 1.5″ mineral fiber insulation, 1/4″ wood, 3/8″ particleboard, 1/4″ hardboard, 3/8″ drywall or 0.016″ corrosion-resistant steel.

You can also use specialized paint, such as TPR FIRESHELL®. FIRESHELL® is a proprietary non-flammable, intumescing (expands up to 2000%) interior coating providing oxygen starvation to fire. It is a non-toxic, water based, drain safe, no fuming GREEN product. FIRESHELL® is NFPA 286 and E84 class A certified and meets the requirements for a 15 minute thermal barrier. FIRESHELL® does cost around 85 cents per square foot.

Other materials and assemblies may be allowed based on International Code Council Evaluation Service tests as described in their Acceptance Criteria 377. There are limited types of spray foam insulation qualifying to be sprayed without an ignition barrier.

When do you need an ignition barrier? According to Code, an attic or crawl space needs an ignition barrier over spray foam if it can be accessed but will not be used for storage or auxiliary living space. You don’t need an ignition barrier if these spaces cannot be accessed without cutting into it and if it is not connected to other spaces.

Building Code enforcement of spray foam insulation is spotty. Some jurisdictions are sticklers about it and some don’t even know about it. Best policy, as always, is to find out what they require and what they’ll accept. Then use your best judgement and err on the side of being conservative.

One thing to be aware of is not everything claiming to be a thermal or ignition barrier actually meets requirements. If it’s not on your building department’s approved list, ask the company selling it for their test data and evidence of code approvals. You may need them to satisfy your building inspector.

What if your local Building Department doesn’t require anything? Well, it sure is tempting to keep your costs low and omit ignition barriers in attics and crawl spaces. But what if your barndominium burns, and insurance company refuses to pay because there was no ignition barrier? Keep in mind, insurance companies hire people like me (and smarter) to find ways to keep from paying out. No ignition barrier? It shouldn’t take a genius to know you are out of luck!

Bottom line is if you are using spray foam insulation, know applicable code regarding thermal and ignition barriers and use them where necessary.

Concrete: Cured or Dried?

Concrete: Cured or Dried?

Recently I posted an article in regards to finishing a concrete slab-on-grade. I admit to knowing slightly more about concrete than I do about plumbing. Muy poquito – one of the few Spanish terms I can actually pronounce (and have used all too frequently when visiting South America).

For those of you who missed my previous article (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/12/how-to-finish-a-concrete-slab-on-grade/) I made reference to concrete drying out. I was corrected, as one reader felt I should have used ‘cured’ rather than ‘dried’.

Being fairly ignorant and having relied upon wisdoms (and terminologies) from actual professional concrete finishers, I broke out Google and went on a search. www.cement.org seemed to be a likely prospect for correct language and here is what I found:

“The terms curing and drying are frequently used interchangeably with regard to the moisture condition of new concrete slabs. The following definitions clarify these terms.

Curing

Curing of concrete is defined as providing adequate moisture, temperature, and time to allow the concrete to achieve the desired properties for its intended use. This would mean maintaining a relative humidity in the concrete of greater than 80 percent, a temperature greater than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and for a time typically ranging from three to 14 days depending on the specific application. When these recommendations are properly specified and performed in the field, the final properties of the concrete mixture will be achieved.

Drying

Drying of concrete is defined as providing the proper conditions to allow the concrete to achieve a moisture condition appropriate for its intended use. The moisture condition of a concrete slab is of significant importance for the application of moisture sensitive floor finishes such as vinyl composition tile, linoleum, wood flooring, and non-breathable coating like epoxy. The moisture condition is specified as a maximum relative humidity by percent or a vapor transmission rate in lb/1000 ft2/24 hr. A typical value specified for relative humidity may be less than 75 to 80 percent to assure the successful application of the flooring materials, while a commonly specified value for vapor transmission rate may be 3 lb/1000 ft2/24 hr.”

Personally I can live with these terms being used interchangeably, just don’t try to do it with cement and concrete (read why here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/cement-versus-concrete/).

Lumberyards-Don’t Burst Customer’s Dreams

Lumberyards – Don’t Burst Customer’s Dreams

A week or so ago I was contacted in regards to a 42 wide by 48 foot long 12 foot eave post frame (pole) building kit. This person had actually ‘purchased’ this building from a vendor local to him for just over 12,000 dollars with steel roofing and siding, with him to provide his own doors. He was also planning upon adding a front deck (as in photo) at a later date.

Now this seemed to be a heck of a deal. Client had lined up a builder to start right away and all was lovely until his Building Department asked for engineered plans. And his provider of choice could not provide them!

This client was nice enough to provide his earlier provider’s invoice, so we could do a comparison. It was only then that I discovered there was more than just engineer sealed plans absent from this equation.
Look at trusses specified on this invoice. 30 foot span would need a major board stretcher to cover 42 feet. Good news is there are 25 of them, enough to go 48 feet of building length. Bad news is, there is no material for truss carriers (aka headers or beams) to run from column to column to support these trusses. No idea why trusses would have overhangs on only one side.

Posts are perfect in quantity for a 10 foot on center spacing, however there should have been four more (ignoring wrong building width) to have placed client’s three nine foot width overhead doors. In case you are curious, these three doors would not have fit across a 30 foot wide endwall.

Endwall steel is plenty too long for a 12 foot sidewall, however no provision has been made for shorter panels above overhead doors. Where this gets dicey is when roof steel is looked at. 19’3” would be a correct length for a 10-1/2” eave overhang, at 30 foot wide and 8/12 slope. Assuming no end overhangs, each 48 foot roof side takes 16 three foot width pieces. 20 are on the order? Maybe just 30 feet on each side of roof?

No idea what was planned to cover 48 feet of ridge using four 10 foot long ridge caps.
Sidewall steel exhibits similar problems – only 20 pieces 14 feet (again too long for a 12 foot eave), however there is a mysterious 10 pieces of 8’2”.

By now – I am sure you are getting an idea as to how upset this client would have been with his 12 foot too narrow building. How about his builder? Even had 30 foot been accepted, there would have been many a trip back to this supplier (over 50 miles away) to even come close to being able to assemble this mess.
This is what upsets me – this unknowing client has scrimped and saved for his dream building and now believes he can afford it. Only to have those expectations and dreams smashed by a supplier who (in my humble opinion) had no business even leading client to believe they could supply what he desired, wanted and needed.
At Hansen Pole Buildings, we guarantee we will furnish a complete and ENGINEERED post frame building kit per invoice and plans. Along with all step-by-step instructions on how to assemble and unlimited free Technical Support from people who actually know how to erect post frame buildings.
Want it done right? Please dial 1 (866) 200-9657 and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer today.

A Skid Lift for Post Frame Building at Heights

The Use of a Skid Lift for Post Frame Building Safely at Heights

Long time readers will recall my penchant for safety on roofs, given my own Father’s untimely demise from a rooftop fall back in 1988. Today’s guest solution is thanks to Paul Wick. Paul is Sales Manager at Skid-Lift, LLC located in Fargo, ND. He has a BSME in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University. He is also a founding partner of Skid-Lift, LLC.

Post frame (Pole) builders and post frame Do-It-Yourselfers often are faced with an issue of how to work at heights on a building and be productive while staying safe. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, ladder falls rank as 2nd leading cause of U.S. death, behind transportation incidents.  One option for staying safe and improving production is with the use of a Skid-Lift which works well with skid steers or tractors. One post frame builder in Western Nebraska said this after using a Skid-Lift for 6 months, “The Skid-Lift was a life saver!  Wish we had one years ago. The time we saved using the Skid-Lift was amazing”.

Skid-Lift is designed to pair with a skid steer or tractor and use their positioning and hydraulic capabilities to position and power lift. This not only simplifies lifting but also greatly reduces Skid-Lift maintenance. It also gives Skid-Lift versatility to go anywhere a skid steer or tractor goes. Being attached to this power unit not only gives this scissor lift a large footprint, but it also adds 5000 to 8000 pounds or more depending on power unit size. This makes user much safer being attached to this large anchor weight.

Many builders see a large increase in productivity as stated by one builder in Minnesota, “We have used it a lot putting up the wall sheeting, fascia, eaves, etc. I don’t know how we did it before the Skid-Lift, a lot of wasted time with scaffolding and up and down ladders I guess… We already have at least a half dozen jobs lined up that we will definitely be using it on, it has become essential on a few jobs now”. Skid-Lift is also much easier to maneuver and transport as it goes easily onto a trailer attached to a skid steer or tractor.

Skid-Lift is offered in three different models with varying heights and Standard or Heavy-Duty configurations. These lifts are USA built in North Dakota and can be shipped direct to customers in areas where a dealer is not close to them. Skid-Lift can help keep people safe and productive while working at heights! Check out Skid-Lift at http://skid-lift.com/ or contact Skid-Lift at info@skid-lift.com.

Pole Barn Guru thoughts – if your local equipment rental does not have a Skid-Lift, you might recommend it to them. Another option for D-I-Yers is to purchase equipment pre-build, then sell it when project is completed. My brother-in-law did this when he erected his post frame building and actually made money when he sold it!

Building Permits, Building Changes, and Frost Protection

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about ability to “build … without any problems…” permitting, adding wall skirting to an open building, and appropriate frost protection.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I build my pole barn in Hernando County without any problems from the county for permitting which is located in Brooksville, Florida? CHARLES in BROOKSVILLE

DEAR CHARLES: Maybe – you need to be discussing with your county’s Planning Department at (352)754-4057. It will depend upon zoning of your property, restrictions and lot size.

This will help you along: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Bought a home with existing pole barn and need to find a local contractor to skirt it. How do I find someone to do underpinning? JANE in HIXSON

Roof Only Riding ArenaDEAR JANE: Before making changes to your building, such as this, it would behoove you to consult with engineer who originally designed. If they are unknown or unavailable, you should consult with an engineer who can evaluate what you have and what you want done, in order to determine if structural upgrades will be necessary. Many pole barns with little or no sides were not originally designed to support this added wind load, and it is best to be safe, rather than sorry.

Once you have engineer approval, check to see if a Building Permit is required.

Only then could you go to your local Craigslist and post what you want done under “Gigs”. Be fairly specific and you should receive several qualified responses.

 

slab edge insulationDEAR POLE BARN GURU: We plan on installing a cement slab floor inside our pole building for our farm shop. We were planning to install hard board insulation 2 ft deep 2 inches thick around the perimeter of the building. But we have a footing and wall of 42 inches underneath insulated garage doors. Do we need to have insulation on the outside of the walls below grade to keep frost from migrating inside under the floor? We have a 48 ft door, plus a 24 and a 16 ft door on this building. We will drive trucks or combines inside this building. We are doing this project right now…we have finished first wall. Thank you for your help. ED in FREELAND

DEAR ED: Yes, you should be placing insulation outside of your building walls, below grade, to prevent frost from migrating under your concrete floor. Please read this article for more information: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/

 

 

Barndominium Flooring Over Radiant Heat

Our shouse (shop/house) has radiant in floor heat on its lower level and we love it! (read about it here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/radiant-floor-heating/) I encourage anyone who is building a barndominium, shouse, post frame home or even a garage or shop to at least have Pex-Al-Pex tubing placed in any slab-on-grade concrete floors (research Pex-Al-Pex here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/pex-al-pex-tubing-for-post-frame-concrete-slabs/).

Radiant heat has many benefits. Walking on heated floors in winter is very cozy. And radiant heat can be very economical.

In Floor Heat System Installation

If you are considering the installation of a radiant heat system, some flooring options work better than others. Here are the top four flooring options for use over radiant heat.

Tile Flooring

Porcelain and ceramic tile are great conductors of heat, so your barndominium gets radiant heating system’s full benefit. In addition, tile flooring will not expand as it warms or contract as it cools. Such expansion and contraction can cause cracking. This is not a problem with tile.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring replicates solid hardwood or tile flooring’s  look without requiring a huge investment. It also does a great job over radiant heat. Laminate material is built up with layers of wood running in opposite directions. This creates a more stable material than solid hardwood. Laminate won’t expand and contract, in other words like solid hardwood flooring would. Much of our shouse’s second and third floors have oak flooring – we can vouch for it growing in humid weather and shrinking when humidity is low.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Like laminate, it is produced in layers, so it has a more stable base and will not react to heating and cooling processes. Top, or wear layer, is solid wood and comes in all the same varieties found with other solid hardwood flooring. Engineered flooring even comes in bamboo. It looks great, wears great and warms great.

Natural Stone Flooring

Granite, travertine, sandstone and other natural stone flooring types conduct heat wonderfully. You might think of stone as cold, but not when it has warm water flowing beneath it. If you never thought you would like to walk on stone flooring bare-footed in January, you never considered radiant heat!

What Flooring Should Not Be Used Over Radiant Heat?

Carpet has insulation value, so it will prevent some heat from transferring through into your barndominium. You can use a few area rugs, but avoid large rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting. Vinyl flooring is not a good choice either. Heat may discolor vinyl or cause off-gassing of chemicals. Finally, solid hardwood flooring will swell and shrink when heated or cooled, especially in barndominiums using a humidifier during winter. You don’t want to invest in pricey hardwood flooring only to have it cup, buckle, crown and crack.

Planning to install comfortable, efficient radiant heat, your best choices for use with radiant heating are tile flooring, laminate flooring, engineered flooring and natural stone flooring.

Square Up a Building Fast

In our Facebook discussion group for pole and post frame builders only, a builder recently asked about fastest easiest way to square up a new building. For a beginner, this task may prove both daunting and time consuming. There is a way to be accurate and fast and although for most making a $1500 investment is not practical, you might be able to rent Stabila’s 180 layout system from your nearby equipment rental location.

Stabila LA 180L

Stabila’s LA 180L layout station (https://www.stabila.com/en-US/products-553/details/la-180l-layout-station-with-auto-alignment.html) can be used to lay out to 300 feet and is said to cut layout labor costs by 50%.
This product is designed for fully automatic, long range layout. Auto alignment allows you to layout square with only one person in just seconds. Layout over ranges above 50ft is a time-consuming and high risk job. When layout errors occur high follow-up costs will result. Stabila’s LA 180 L self-leveling multi-line laser allows you to layout greater than 20ft up to 300ft fast and accurately. A REC 410 Line RF receiver controls LA 180 L using STABILA wireless AUTO ALIGNMENT technology. One press of a button and laser adjusts automatically to position receiver.
Features include:
Self-levelling multi-line laser for precision layout.
AUTO ALIGNMENT function: Receiver automatically controls laser positioning laser at distances of up to 150ft – fully automatic axis transfer and creation of right angles on floors, walls and ceilings, all at the same time. Precise alignment without losing reference point.
Pulsed laser lines for precise measurements with receiver (up to 300ft) indoors and outdoors.
Versatile: 3 vertical lines, 1 horizontal line and plumb-line function.
Extra sharp, easy-to-see lines for fast and efficient work directly on laser line – visible range up to 100ft indoors.
Unique housing shape for positioning in room corners and over edges (e.g. concrete slab) – rapid checking of right angles.
5/8-11 tripod mount.
Includes: Laser, receiver with bracket, laser enhancement glasses, magnetic red target cards/plates, batteries, hard shell case.
Optional: Rechargeable battery pack, brackets for using laser with batter boards and forms.

Besides laying out your new post frame building it has other applications. This is a fast and precise layout tool. It is designed for applications >20ft up to 300ft. Commercial construction, HVAC, masonry, concrete and top end landscape jobs. Drywall construction – suspending ceilings, positioning interior and partition walls within a range of 300ft. Framing – layout wall positions at push of a button. Quickly establish square, even when a slab or foundation you’re working on is out of square. Concrete – Layout forms perfectly straight and square. Optional laser and receiver mounts available for most re-usable forming systems.

Swinging Doors for a Post Frame Building

On Facebook I am a member of a group “Pole Barns and Buildings”. Recently a group member posted this question:

“I’m new to the group so thanks for letting me in. I’m having a 30’x48’x16′ pole barn built for a shop that will be insulated with a concrete floor. I am also putting an enclosed pull through lean-to on it for our fifth wheel with a sliding door on one end and am planning on double swinging barn doors on the other end. I can’t put a sliding door on both ends since the roll up door on the shop wouldn’t allow for the track across the front. My question is since each door is going to be 14’x7′ has anybody made swinging doors this big and what issues have you ran into? Any tips on the door construction? I’m planning on 4 12″ t hinges per door with a chain pull latch at the top, a cane bolt at the bottom and an old fashion 2×4 bar across the inside on z brackets (there is a walk through door from the shop). Sorry for the long post but I want to make sure I get this right the first time.
Thanks!”
A disclaimer, this is NOT a Hansen Pole Building.
Our friend is actually looking to cover this open shed end with a 14 foot by 14 foot door, made of two seven foot width leaves. If I had been designing this building, I would have made some recommendations to head off this challenge before it began.
But, why not use swinging doors?
Unless they are made from a welded steel framework, it is going to be fairly difficult to eliminate sag. And (very important for most) a remote operated garage door opener is just not going to be practical.
My design suggestion would have been to construct a 44 foot width building all at 16 foot eave. This would allow for a 12 foot side by 14 foot tall overhead door instead of dealing with swinging doors. It would also eliminate a pitch break currently shown between main clearspan and shed. When all is said and done, my option would most likely have been less expensive and more practical.

How to Finish a Concrete Slab on Grade

How to Finish a Concrete Slab on Grade

Concrete is not my friend, it ranks right there with my ability to do plumbing.  My Dad was awesome, he could do either of these with ease. Neither of these tasks, done by me personally, have given me results I am pleased with. So I hire professionals. For those who are braver than I, here are words of wisdom from those experts.

If you have a small concrete slab or floor and you want to achieve a smooth finish, using a steel trowel is going to be your best bet.

A hand trowel will give you a very smooth concrete finish. Know the proper procedure on how and when to start using it.

Basic steps for finishing concrete are:

After pouring concrete let it firm up enough so you can only press your fingers into surface about 1/4 of an inch.

On your first finishing pass, use a mag float to smooth surface. With moderate pressure, move mag float in a back and forth motion. This motion will change surface texture surface, working up some cream and cement paste.

Once you’ve gone over entire surface, let it dry a little before using your hand trowel.

Start troweling using same back and forth motion as you did with mag float. Slightly tip trowel edge up a bit in the direction you’re moving it. Go over the same area 2 – 3 times and it will start to look smoother.

Don’t worry if you’re leaving a few small trowel lines, you will remove them on next pass.

After troweling entire surface, let concrete dry a bit more.

Trowel surface again same as first time you troweled it. Surface should be drier and harder now. Smooth out your trowel marks from previous pass, surface should be looking smoother.

Continue this process as many times as necessary to get desired smooth finish you want.

If you have a large concrete floor or slab, the best way to get a smooth finish is to use a power trowel.

Learning how to use a power trowel will take some practice.

If you’re renting one, make sure rental company shows you how to start, hold on to, and move machine right and left. This is very important for your own safety.

Most important part of getting your concrete floor smooth using a power trowel is knowing when to start.

If you start troweling too early, you could potentially create humps, dips, or a wavy surface you won’t be happy with.

If you start too late, it’ll be hard to get concrete as smooth as you like.

There’s a couple ways to test concrete to see if it’s ready to start power troweling.

Press your fingers into concrete. If you can only press into concrete about 1/8 to 1/4 inch, this tells you concrete is close to or ready to start power troweling.

If you can only press your fingers into surface 1/8 inch, try walking on the surface. If you only sink into the surface 1/16 to 1/8 inch with your feet, concrete is ready to power trowel.

IMPORTANT: If you start power troweling and you start “sinking” in more than this or power trowel starts digging into surface and creating waves or humps, just stop and wait a little longer then try again.

If concrete seems ok, then run trowel in an east to west motion across the surface, covering the entire floor. Start furthest away from where you want to stop and work your way backwards.

When you’ve troweled entire surface you may have to stop and let concrete “dry out” awhile before going over it again.

Time it takes it to “dry out” will be greatly dictated by outside temperature and if it’s in direct sun. 

It should take multiple passes with power trowel to get a very smooth finish. Maybe three to five depending on how fast concrete is curing.

Cross your pattern each time you power trowel surface. If you started with an east/west pattern, go north/south next time and so on.

If you want a non-slip surface on your concrete, then a broom finish is what you’re looking for.

In my opinion, learning how to do a broom finish is a little easier than doing a smooth steel trowel finish.

If you’re broom finishing basics are the same.

Knowing when to start is key to success. Much like above, you start finishing process when:

Start to mag float surface when you can only press your fingers into surface about 1/4 inch.

After you mag float surface, drag broom across surface in a backwards motion pulling it towards you.

Continue this process working your way from one end to the other until you’ve broomed the entire surface.

If you can’t reach the entire area from outside edges, you will need a set of concrete skids to get onto the concrete.

With patience and courage, you can successfully finish a concrete slab!

Horizontal Sheeting, Framing for Insulation, and Alternative Siding

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about overlapping horizontal sheets of steel, the best plan for framing to insulate, and best way to install vinyl lap siding on a post frame building.

Horizontal Steel SidingDEAR POLE BARN GURU: When installing horizontal sheeting, does the top sheet always cover the bottom sheet when joined? GARY in EUFAULA

DEAR GARY: In order to prevent water infiltration, yes. Provided overlaps have sufficient overlap, gravity will pull water downward across this overlap.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking to have a pole barn put up and wanted your opinion on how to best construct the shell if I want to insulate it down the road. From some of the things I have read I should include some type of foam board under the roof sections and maybe tyvek under the metal walls? Please let me know your thoughts. ROBERT in TIPP CITY

DEAR ROBERT: You do not want to place foam board between roof steel and roof framing as this will create a potential ‘slip’ between steel and framing, reducing or eliminating your roof’s diaphragm strength and resistance to wind loads.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I want to put vinyl siding on my pole shed. Do I need to frame 16″ on center walls between poles? What do you recommend? Thanks. TRAVIS in ANDOVER

DEAR TRAVIS: I would recommend using roll formed steel siding.

If your building is not yet erected, contact your engineer who designed your plans to have him or her confirm this is adequate. Place 2×6 wall girts bookshelf style between columns, with outside of girt and outside of columns flush. Install 2×4 Standard & better with wide face to wind at 24 inches on center vertically between pressure preservative treated splash plank and eave strut – nailing 2×4 to each girt with two 10d common nails. Toe nail at top and bottom.

Install 7/16 inch OSB or ½ inch CDX plywood to 2×4 per engineer’s recommendations. Wrap with a Weather Resistant Barrier and install vinyl siding.

 

 

 

Overhead Door Jambs

Overhead Door Jambs With Bracket Mounted Columns
Of course there are many methods of post frame construction-ours just happens to be best (at least we like to think so)!
Reader TOM in BOSCOBEL writes:
“I set laminated 2×6 beams into wet set anchors. I am ready to attach the 2×6 jambs to the rough opening, to prepare for overhead door installation. I secured the posts to the wet set anchors using carriage bolts. What is the best way to attach the 2×6 jambs when the anchors are protruding into the opening 1/4″ plus the head of the carriage bolts? Thinking I could router the bottoms to fit over the brackets, giving me a flush and plumb fit jamb.”
Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
Well, Tom could router out vertical overhead door side towards bracket to fit over tab of wet set bracket (for extended reading on wet set brackets please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/), however there is an easier approach as outlined in this excerpt from Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual:
Overhead door columns: Usually 4×6 pressure treated, if required, will typically be oriented 6” toward wind, unless wall columns are 6×6 or larger. Correct orientation will be shown on building plans. Space between columns, for residential doors, will be approximately door width plus 1”. For commercial (ribbed) doors space between columns will be approximately door width plus 3”.

As overhead door columns have been set from dimensions called out on building plans, the only requirement is to create a “picture frame” to place the overhead door behind.

Vertical jambs will be cut from pressure preservative treated lumber and installed first. If a choice is available, use the straightest possible boards for these.

If overhead door opening columns are 6×4 (with 6-inch face towards wind) jambs will be 2×6 (with sidings other than steel or vinyl 2×8).

If overhead door opening columns are 4×6 (with 4-inch face towards wind), 6×6 or 3-ply 2×6 glu-laminated, jambs will be 2×8 (with sidings other than steel or vinyl 2×10).

If overhead door opening columns are 4×8, 6×8 or 3-ply 2×8 glu-laminated, jambs will be 2×10 (with sidings other than steel or vinyl 2×12).

In steel sided applications, jambs maybe multiple members (e.g. two 2×4 or a 2×6 plus a ripped 2×4, rather than a 2×8), as they cover with steel trim.

Cut vertical jambs to length first. They will be 1-1/2 inch less in length than residential overhead door vertical height (e.g. 9’10-1/2” long for a 10’ tall door), ½ inch less for commercial doors. When installed, vertical jamb bottom edge will begin 4 inches above splash plank bottom. Install with cut end up. See Figure 24-1

Figure 24-1: Overhead Door Column

Hold vertical jamb in place with any “crown” out and vertical jamb edge top and bottom 1-1/2” outside column edge. See Figure 24-2

For vinyl siding hold vertical jamb 1-15/16” outside column edge. For other (non-steel) sidings, hold inside jamb edges flush with column inside faces.

Figure 24-2: Vertical Overhead Door Jamb – Plan View

Tack into place with one 10d common nail at each jamb top and bottom.

Important: Do NOT drive door jamb nails in completely yet!

 

Place shims between vertical jambs and overhead door columns so jambs are plumb in both directions. For installation when overhead door column(s) are wet set bracket mounted, use shims thick enough to avoid having to notch into vertical jambs to accommodate bracket and bolt heads.

Ideally, space between vertical jambs for residential doors is approximately equal to overhead door width, less 2”. Commercial doors space is equal to door width.

For example: For a 10’ width residential door, space between jambs will be about 9’10”. If this varies slightly, rest assured, doors will still seal.

OK, now nail jambs securely into place!

Cut horizontal jamb to length: at width between jambs plus 3”. Place horizontal jamb flat, on vertical jamb tops, flush with vertical jamb outside edges and with any crown out. Nail downward through horizontal jamb ends into vertical jamb top butt ends to secure in place.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds: And there you have it! Good Luck and let me know how it all works out.

Post Frame Standards or Extras?

On Facebook I am a member of a discussion group for Pole and Post frame building professionals only. Recently one of our group members posed a question, “What are the extras you do to set yourself apart”?

It was only then I realized there are some significant differences between a Hansen Pole Building and other alternative suppliers:

Most important is every Hansen Pole Building is fully engineered (not just engineered trusses) specifically to match our client’s building features (all doors and windows placed) and individual jobsite conditions (snow, wind, wind exposure, seismic loads). Not only are building plans sealed and signed by a Registered Professional Engineer, but also a complete set of verifying calculations is provided. This ensures to our client his or her new structure is designed to withstand this given set of load conditions and will be structurally sufficient. A few thoughts on non-engineered buildings here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/10/non-engineered-building/.

Entry doors are important as they are one of very few moving parts on a post frame building. Ideally you want your building to be secure – without a threat of it being kicked in by a miscreant due to having wooden jambs.  All Hansen Pole Buildings entry doors are insulated steel doors with steel jambs and are factory finish painted. These are sturdy enough to keep honest people honest and they will not have to be painted (or repainted), unlike most wood jamb doors. Why your entry door is important: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/09/pole-building-door-safety/.

When it comes to steel roofing and/or siding we tested actual steel sheeted assemblies to determine shear strength. Our testing led to development of an entirely new screw design to provide maximum system strength (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/this-is-a-test-steel-strength/).  We couldn’t leave well enough alone, so we had these ‘super screws’ powder coated to minimize or prevent paint chipping. Beauty and strength, a great combination: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/01/powder-coated-screws/.

Prefabricated wood double (ganged) roof trusses directly aligned with sidewall columns. There are a myriad of structural and ease of assembly benefits to this system, read about them here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/is-the-double-truss-system-stable-for-the-midwest/.

Prevention of condensation below roof steel is an essential feature in any use structure. Reflective Radiant Barriers are a very popular design solution. Most often these are provided as square edged four foot width rolls, requiring taping of all seams in order to maintain continuity.  We found this system to be inefficient, so we went to having this manufactured just for us in six foot widths plus including an adhesive pull strip tab along one side to eliminate seam taping. This wider width matches up well with two, three foot wide steel panels and reduces the amount of product having to be handled. Extended reading is available here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/.

Most common sidewall column spacing is every 10 to 14 feet. This allows for greater flexibility in wider doors in sidewalls, without a need for expensive (and occasionally difficult to install) structural headers. It also minimizes probably the worst part of post frame construction – digging holes. You won’t want to miss this: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/efficient-buildings/.

Bookshelf style wall girts, for all spans over eight feet. Turned in this direction makes for very stiff walls, meeting Code requirements for both strength and deflection limitations.  Read about how this works and why it is important: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/.

Most Hansen Pole Buildings come with overhangs (in my humble opinion they all should). And most of these overhangs are enclosed (they have soffits). Besides superior looks, when factory perforated the soffit material becomes an integral part of a properly vented attic. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/overhangs-2/. Our most popular soffit material is vinyl, which is manufactured in 12 foot long panels. Most overhangs are 12, 18 or 24 inches in width, necessitating having to cut them into smaller pieces. As a service to our clients, we have developed an in-house precutting line to eliminate field cutting.

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Instant Pricing™ program allows for total customization of  building width, length, height and roof slopes – without paying a premium to do so. More about Instant Pricing here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/hansen-buildings-instant-pricing/.

500+ page illustrated step-by-step Construction Manual. It does matter how good post frame building plans are (and ours are specific down to showing every piece), if there are not great instructions to guide contractors or Do-It-Yourselfers to an excellent installation. There is nothing even remotely close to ours! Find out how this manual has made my life easy: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/07/how-often-and-why-building-technical-support/, even though we also offer unlimited free Technical Support! If you, or your builder, get stuck or are just unsure actual experienced experts will answer your questions or just reassure you (when necessary).

And, something no other post frame building kit provider has – a Written Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty on all non-commercial post frame building kits. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/11/pole-building-warranty/.

These benefits clearly show why Hansen Pole Buildings provides The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™.

Post Frame Condensation and Insulation Challenge

Solving Yet Another Post Frame Condensation and Insulation Challenge

Long time loyal readers will sigh as yet another post frame building has been erected without thoughts to how to properly insulate and control condensation. Had our new friend invested in a Hansen Pole Building, chances are good we would not be having this question and I would have had to write about something else today! Our Building Designers follow with these recommendations: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

Our new friend COREY in POST FALLS writes: 

“I have a 36×48 pole building with trusses on 12’ with BCDL 5psf, the roof is plywood sheeted with composition roofing with ridge vent and gable vents. The wall Purlins are on the exterior of the poles and there is no vapor barrier. I would like to install a ceiling with insulation and insulate the walls. I am looking for vapor barrier and insulation recommendations. Was thinking of installing 2×4 on 24 centers to bottom of trusses and installing OSB and blown in insulation, and then framing in between poles adding batt insulation and sheeting with OSB, but am unsure of controlling vapor. Thank you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Small world, many years ago I graduated from Post Falls High School!

A vented ridge relying upon gable vents as an air intake is usually very inefficient. You should make sure your vents in each end are located in the top half of your attic and have at least 415 square inches of net free ventilating area on each end. This means you are probably going to have to add more vents. Effective ventilation of this area is essential to preventing mold and mildew in your attic.

Wall girts flat on column exteriors are inadequate to carry imposed loads and will not meet deflection limitations. I would suggest you reinforce each of them to create either an “L” or a “T”. Assuming you have 6×6 wall columns, you could place a 2×8 bookshelf style girt on top or bottom of each girt, nailing through 2×8 into existing girts with a 10d common nail at say 12 inches on center. This will create an insulation cavity and allow for easy interior finish.

For ceiling joists between your trusses, 2×4 will not be adequate you should use 2×6 #2 with joist hangers on each end.

Unless you have a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) between framing and wall steel, my recommendation would be to have two inches of closed cell insulation spray foam to the inside of wall steel. Then fill balance of wall cavity with BIBs insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/ with a well sealed vapor barrier towards the inside space.

Tstud for Post Frame Bookshelf Wall Girts

Tstud™ for Post Frame Bookshelf Wall Girts

I have been somewhat enamored of Tstuds’ potential since one of our clients asked if they would be a viable option last summer.

First I had to find out what a Tstud even was, as I had never heard of them before. Once you skip past ads at the start of this video, it gives a pretty good idea of how Tstuds work in traditional stick frame construction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=140s&v=mxDSulcLpAE.

Framing with Tstuds minimizes air infiltration, reduces carbon footprints and saves on electrical energy costs.

A lumber frame is obviously great for providing post frame buildings’ structural integrity. However, this same framing is also a massive weak spot in a wall insulation system – where external air can easily infiltrate. Traditionally a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) is used to cover a post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium and blanket those weak points.

Tstuds are a new engineered framing product, essentially framing lumber with an insulated core. Tstuds consist of two long wood 2×3 members connected by crisscrossing dowels factory filled with closed cell spray foam. A 2×6 has an R-5.5 value, where a similarly sized Tstud is R-20 (or equivalent to a 2×6 wall cavity filled with fiberglass batt insulation).

Tstud’s thermal benefits are undoubtedly their main draw. Their closed cell foam core gives it roughly three times as much insulation value as a typical 2×6 bookshelf girt. By framing with Tstud wall girts and filling in wall cavities with batt insulation, there is no need to consider having to add exterior insulation.  As long term readers of this column are aware, exterior insulation, for post frame buildings, takes away or eliminates diaphragm strength of steel siding. 

Another structural benefit with using Tstuds for bookshelf wall girts is they have engineering tests showing they are up to three times stronger than a #2 graded 2×6!

Now some possible downsides, distribution and availability is highly limited. And (according to Tstud), “We are retailing about the same price as an LVL stud but we are obviously a 5 in 1 solution. In the future we will be about the price as an LSL stud”.

The Home Depot® currently has a 2x4x8 foot LVL stud at $50 or $9375 per thousand board feet. This would make a 12 foot long 2×8 Tstud wall girt roughly $150 or over 11 times more than equivalent sized dimensional lumber. Picking arbitrarily a 36 foot by 48 foot post frame building with a 12 foot eave, this would add nearly $10,000 to your cost of materials! While nifty in design, it is not for the pocketbook faint of heart.

Structural Screws? Pine or Spruce? and How Many Windows?

Today’s Pole Barn Guru addresses questions regarding structural screws for bearing blocks, the strength of pine vs spruce, and adding more windows than plans indicate.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How many structural screws should I use in a bearing block for supporting a 2×12 rafter? KENT in OTIS ORCHARDS

DEAR KENT: In case you were unaware, Otis Orchards and several surrounding communities were originally part of a land swindle scheme. Marketed to Easterners with picturesque names such as Otis Orchards, Veradale and Opportunity practically untillable land was sold sight unseen. Those folks were mightily disappointed to find this area as being pretty much high desert gravelly soil covered with glacial moraine!

Back to your question – this connection (as well as all connections for your building) should be detailed on engineered plans provided for your building. Actual number required will be determined by your engineer by calculating imposed wind and snow loads upon this connection, resisted by screws’ holding power. A structural screw’s load capacity will be affected by species of lumber being used as well as depth of penetration into members and direction loads are being applied.

If this has not been addressed on your plans, you need to contact either your engineer or whomever provided you with your building kit package.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Could you give me a link or tell me pros and cons of using Pine or Spruce? Half of the load of lumber I ordered is warped, bowed, not usable for purlins. I am considering spruce if it is ok for 10’ and 12’spans. Thank you CALEB in TEXAS

DEAR CALEB: I personally prefer working with SPF (Spruce) as opposed to SYP (Southern Yellow Pine). SYP tends to warp and twist very quickly and is more difficult to drive nails and screws into. SPF is stronger than SYP of an equal grade. You will want to confirm it being okay with your engineer who designed your building plans.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m wondering about the windows, if we want a lot more than you provide, how are they added in? Is it structurally sound to have walls of windows? MEGAN

DEAR MEGAN: All openings, including windows need to be considered and placed in your third-party independently engineer sealed plans provided with your post frame building kit. While you can have a large number of windows (or openings) in a wall, they do need to be accounted for.

 

 

 

Rebar for Post Frame Concrete Slabs on Grade

Building with concrete involves many steps to achieve best results, including grading, forming, placing and finishing. One crucial step is placing reinforcing bars (rebar) correctly.

An engineer should do technical design work and provide specific information regarding sizes, configuration and placement of rebar. Slabs-on-grade for post frame buildings do not usually carry building loads, these are usually carried from roof and walls, through building columns to ground. This makes for far less complicated applications, unlike PEMBs (Pre-engineered Metal Buildings) or “weld ups” either being far more convoluted and beyond the skill level of all but experienced professionals.

rebarFor slab reinforcement, necessary rebar can usually be obtained from a big box store (like The Home Depot®) or your local building supply. Should your specific application be more involved, it may behoove having a fabricator supply rebar. A fabrication supplier can review your building’s engineered drawings and produce a shop drawing with details and identifying tags for each type of rebar to be used in your building. For simpler projects, your building plans should provide spacing requirements and bar sizes. Use these documents to determine where and what rebar is needed in individual locations.

Most often rebar is tied with annealed steel wire, either purchased in four pound bulk rolls, or if using a bag tie spinner, in bundles of pre-cut wire pieces with loops formed on both ends. Bulk rolls are easier for novices to use, however are slightly more expensive.

Prior to placing any rebar, grade and properly compact the ground after all grading and any utility rough-ins are completed. Make sure all compaction testing has been completed and you have your geotechnical engineer’s sealed report in hand before moving forward. Any termite pre-treated should be completed, as well as a moisture barrier installed.

As post frame construction places columns and splash planks prior to pouring your slab, this gives you ready made forms for your slab perimeter.

Determine the size of bars to be used in each direction and mark several of them with layout measurements in each direction (front-to-back and side-to-side). Bars can be marked with a soapstone marker, a paint pen, lumber crayon or even spray paint.

This will be an ordinary slab mat concrete, the force interacting with rebar during placement is minimal. As mat movement is unlikely, a simple single twist of wire around each rebar intersection, twisted together tightly will be adequate. This tie can be done easily with a pair of nine inch lineman’s pliers.

To use your pliers to tie these efficiently, pull feeding end from wire reel with your non-dominant hand (for sake of this article, we will call this your left hand, with pardons to lefties). Grip wire end with pliers in your right hand. Push wire behind (under) rebar at an intersection. Angle end towards where you will be grabbing it, reach from this side, grip it again with pliers, pull towards next location pulling enough slack to complete tie. Hold resistance on wire with left hand, so wire bends snugly against bar being wrapped, at each stage. Release wire so pliers can be used to grip it. Pull end around bar and twist two ends together, pulling wire with pliers so tie is tight.

Once mat is assembled it must be held in place so concrete will cover it completely. Rebar chairs or concrete brick are often used for this. Place these positioners close enough together so rebar will not sag enough to reduce desired coverage of concrete – usually about 1/3rd distance from bottom of slab.

Watch rebar configuration as concrete is placed. If shifting occurs, support rebar with a shovel or alter direction of concrete flow so force is applied in the opposite direction.

Use caution when working around exposed rebar. Construction workers have suffered serious injuries or been killed when falling on projecting rebar.

Flashing Wires and Pipes Through Steel Siding

Flashing Wires and Pipes Through Steel Siding

There are some things one just does not give a lot of thought about and this subject is one where I am entirely negligent. My post frame buildings outside of Spokane are both sided with 1×8 Cedar channel. While it looks great, I would never do it against due to having to solid body stain it repeatedly. Maybe this will be a story for another day?

My negligence?

Not having paid attention to how to adequately and permanently seal pipe or wiring penetrations through roll formed steel siding. I went out and looked at our own steel sided shouse (shop/house) and for our contractors like to use liberal amounts of caulking. I just do not see this as a permanent design solution.

This was a post in one of my Facebook Barndominium groups:


“First this isn’t my building! But I will need to have some piping coming thru the side of my building soon. Also need to think about water spigots, securing them to the building (not just to the metal siding)

How do you penetrate a metal building siding and seal this penetration from water intrusion and/or prevent it from rusting in the future.

I have a hydraulic punch out tool to smoothly cut the size needed (i have up to 4in die’s) but sealing AM<he metal to piping (pvc, metal, copper what have you) is my hold up. I don’t want to just caulk it up, I feel there has to be a better and  more long term solution, metal/plastic flashing?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

There was a suggestion made of a silicone flashing product, however when I visited their website, I was unable to locate any data on exterior use.

There is a product available for sealing pipes going through roll formed steel roofing: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/dektite/. I have used them several times and find them to be 100% reliable.

I have spent some time Google searching for a solution similar to Dektites™, but to no avail. Somehow I believe there is a well-hidden product available. If you happen to know of a great solution, please share it with me. It is not often I am stumped – this one has me.

Post Frame Building Insulation

Pole Barn Guru’s Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation

When it comes to insulating any building (not just post frame ones – like barndominiums) there is a certain point of diminishing returns – one can spend so much they will never, in their lifetimes, recoup their investment.

Here my ultimate guide to post frame building insulation is based upon practicality and obtaining the best possible value for investment.

There are some basics applicable to any steel covered building:

Under any concrete slab on grade inside a building, place a well-sealed vapor barrier. Read about under slab vapor barriers here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/11/vapor-barriers-slabs-grades/.

Between roof framing and steel roofing – please do not assume condensation is not going to be a problem. At some point in time it will become one and if precautions are not taken regrets will happen. Condensation under roof steel is maybe number one of the issues I am asked to assist with.

Least expensive financially, but does take some extra labor hours, especially if it is windy – a single air cell layer reflective radiant barrier. Six foot widths will install much quicker than four foot. Make sure to order with a six foot width NET COVERAGE and an adhesive tab along one edge with a pull strip. Without an adhesive tab all butt edges will require seam tape, not expensive, but adds lots of time. Do not waste your money on adding an extra approximate R 0.5 for double bubble (two layers of air cells).

For a slightly great investment in materials, hours of labor can be saved by the use of an Integral Condensation Control bonded to roof steel. This would be my product choice. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/.

Next higher cost would be sheathing the roof with either OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or plywood on top of roof purlins. Roof purlins will need to be spaced appropriately so sheathing seams fall on purlins (16, 19-3/8 or 24 inches on center). Roof truss top chord live load must be increased to allow for greater dead loads. Either 30# felt (asphalt impregnated paper) or an Ice and Water Shield must be placed between sheathing and roof steel. Roof screws must still be placed to go into purlins, as thin sheathing is inadequate to adequately hold screws.

Bigger financial investment, but no extra labor involved is to have two inches of closed cell foam sprayed on the underside of roof steel. This will prevent condensation and is noise deadening. As a rough budgetary figure, plan upon spending roughly two dollars per square foot of roof surface.

Storage/Utility Buildings

If you ever believe anyone might ever have a future desire to climate control your building then provisions should be made for making it easiest to make future upgrades.

For now we will assume this building is totally cold storage. If it might ever (even in your wildest dreams) be heated and/or cooled include in your initial design, walls with a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) between framing and siding. 

Taking walls one step further would be ‘commercial’ bookshelf wall girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/).

In roof – have trusses designed to support a ceiling load, ideally of 10 pounds per square foot (read about ceiling loaded trusses here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/ceiling-loaded-trusses/). 

Trusses should also be designed with raised heels to provide full depth of future attic insulation above walls (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/).

Make provision for attic ventilation, by having an air intake along sidewalls using enclosed ventilated soffits and exhaust with a vented ridge.

Any overhead doors should be ordered insulated – just a good choice in general as, besides offering a minimal thermal resistance, they are stiffer against the wind.

Equine Only Use

Same as storage/utility however ventilation is essential (and often overlooked). (Read more on stall barns here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/stall-barn/)

Garage/Workshop/Man Cave/She Shed/House/Shouse/Barndominium

Many previous recommendations are going to be repeated here. Ultimately it is going to depend upon willingness to include higher R values in initial budget, rather than having increased utility bills forever.

Start with a Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation – post frame version (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/) with sand on the inside rather than a thickened slab. This makes for an excellent and affordable design solution.

For walls, we will again work from generally ascending price and R values.

On low end would be having installed a weather resistant barrier beneath wall steel, in conjunction with commercial bookshelf wall girts. Fill insulation cavity with unfaced batt insulation and cover inside face of wall with a well-sealed six ml clear visqueen vapor barrier. As an alternative to fiberglass would be mineral wool insulation as it is not affected by moisture (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/roxul-insulation/). This method can be entirely done D-I-Y.

I have personally used BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/) in several buildings, including my current barndominium home. It does require a certified installer.

A Weather Resistant Barrier can be eliminated by the use of a ‘flash coat’ of two inches of closed cell spray foam against the inside of wall steel. Balance of wall cavity can be filled with batt insulation. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/07/advantages-spray-foam-over-batt-insulation/).

For added R value and a complete thermal break, add two inch rigid closed cell foam boards to inside of framing. To maintain thermal break integrity, glue foam boards to inside of framing and properly seal all seams. Gypsum wallboard can be glued to the face of foam boards.

After ceiling has been installed, have insulation blown into dead attic space, following Energy Star™ guidelines (usually R-45 to R-60).

Truss Spacing for Shingled Roofs

Roof truss spacing seems to be a topic with no consensus. Most Americans live in traditional stick framed houses, apartments or condominiums, where roof trusses (if they were utilized, rather than using dimensional lumber rafters) are most typically spaced every two feet.

Reader CHARLIE writes:

“Dear Hansen Pole Buildings, May I ask how far apart was the Truss placement in your “Re-roofing with Shingles” article? 

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/re-roofing-with-shingles/

I’m considering a 24’x 36’ pole barn for a recording studio build but would need asphalt shingle type roof. I’m concerned that a suitable design would need additional rafters to meet the 7 lb/sq ft load requirement.

Most designs I have seen are showing the trusses 4’ OC. 

Respectfully, Charlie”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
In this particular article roof trusses were actually spaced with a pair every 12 feet – directly aligned with sidewall columns. This style of post frame construction affords several advantages:

Fewer holes to dig. There is nothing more deflating than getting down to digging one or two last column (pole) holes and hitting a rock larger than a Volkswagon Beetle! Minimization of holes to be dug reduces chances of underground surprises.

No need for truss carriers (structural headers) between columns in order to support trusses. Structural failures are almost always due to connection issues. Truss carriers rarely have adequate fasteners from header to columns and trusses themselves are rarely anchored sufficiently to them.

By far my most read article of all time has been on pole barn truss spacing: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/.

Asphalt shingles need to be installed over asphalt impregnated paper (felt) or ice and snow shield, most usually over OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or plywood. Weak link of this system is spanning ability of this underlying sheathing.

In order to be within spanning capabilities of common sheathing, dimensional lumber roof purlins, on edge, were joist hung between truss pairs, every two feet.

When you order a post frame (pole barn) kit from Hansen Pole Buildings with asphalt shingles, we automatically have our engineers design for this added load, as well as reducing deflection criteria so you end up with a nice, smooth roof. We also take into consideration Building Code requirements to account for a future overlaid reroof (even “lifetime” shingles will not last anywhere near a lifetime).


Considering a shingled roof due to how long they are warranted? You might want to read this article first: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/shingle-warranties/.

Overhead Doors, One or Two Stories, and a Wedding Venue

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about placement of overheads doors to accommodate an exercise pool, the cost differences of building a single story building or adding a 2nd floor, and a post frame wedding venue.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I want a two car garage on a concrete slab adjacent to driveway turnaround area. I need either a double or two single overhead doors on that side. I plan to use one car space for a exercise pool. I would like the side of the garage adjacent to the backyard to also have a large door preferable overhead but sliding or other also may work. I see no such plans with large door or doors on the front and also one side of the building. Can this be done? Thanks. I have up to 28 feet available adjacent to 3 car turnaround area but would like to use 24 ft max there. I can go up to 24 ft deep on the side but prefer 20 ft max there. GARY in CHARDON

DEAR GARY: It is entirely possible to have either a double, or two single, sectional overhead doors on one wall, and another overhead door on a wall directly around a corner – provided overhead tracks do not conflict with each other. As an example, your building could have a 16 or 18 foot wide door on a peaked endwall and a single overhead door say nine feet wide on one eave sidewall 10 or 12 feet from front endwall.

Due to a plethora of reasons (lack of security, inability to insulate, not wind rated) I would discourage you from considering a sliding door.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Which is less expensive to building a pole barn house/cabin with a loft with two bedrooms & bath or three bedrooms or 2.5 bath all on one floor? LINDSAY in LARAMIE

DEAR LINDSAY: In almost every case it will be more costly to go up as opposed to out. With going up, you entirely lose space on each level dedicated to stairs, anywhere from 30 to 50 square feet per floor, depending upon width and slope of stairs, height of lower floor ceiling and even more of your configuration includes a landing or two.

Loft or bonus room spaces typically do not have full headroom from wall-to-wall, further reducing fully usable space. Having all living space on one level is also desirable from an accessibility standpoint – a loft area could entirely preclude any ability for a wheelchair bound person to access these areas.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking to build a pole barn venue for weddings. Can you help? LOU in BLOOMINGDALE

Monitor Barn

DEAR LOU: Hansen Pole Buildings has assisted clients from coast-to-coast custom design event centers and wedding venues. From simple to complex, we are available to provide you with a fully engineered post frame building to best fit with your wants, needs and budget. Please dial 1(866)200-9657 to speak with a Building Designer in regards to your proposed project.

 

 

 

 

Why Not Use 6×6 or 8×8 Posts Up North?

Reader DARRELL in LUCEVILLE asked this question and included photo below.

While this photo is not of a Hansen Pole Building, I can comment upon it. Featured in this building photo are glulaminated columns – they are a great product, high strength to weight ratio, straight, highly resistant to warp and twist. They are strong because they are most generally manufactured from high strength materials, most three ply 2×6 columns have a Fb rating (Fiberstress in bending) of roughly 1900 psi. Your local lumber dealer or big box store will gladly sell you a 2×6 #2 with a Fb rating of anywhere from 1000 to 1170 (depending upon lumber species, with SYP lowest and Douglas Fir highest), so a glulam’s three members start off being about equal to five every day individual 2×6.

What about strength comparisons to solid timbers?

To determine bending strength of a member, multiply Fb X Sm (Section Modulus). A three ply 2×6 glulam would be 1900 X 19.86 = 37,738 in-lb. A 6×6 #2 SYP would be 850 X 27.73 = 23,570 in-lb. A 6×6 #2 Hem-Fir (treated species of choice in Western U.S.) has a base Fb of 575 with a reduction for incising of 20% (X .80). 575 X .80 X 27.73 = 12,755 in-lb.

Clearly, when picking for strength, glulam columns are going to be a better choice.
When it comes to practicality on a jobsite, would you prefer to carry a 20 foot long glulam weighing roughly 100 pounds, or hefting a same length 6×6 tipping your scale at 180 to 300 pounds? Not much to think about there!

Glulams columns are more prevalent in northern states due to locations where they are manufactured – primarily Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and South Dakota. We do offer them as an option on any Hansen Pole Building. Give a call to a Building Designer today at 1(866)200-9657 for your post frame building design solution.

Performance Bonds

Performance Bonds for Post Frame Buildings and Barndominiums

Don’t get me wrong, most post frame and barndominium building contractors are honest folks who just love to make their clients happy. I, for one, get tired of reading horror stories of folks who have been ripped off by those who are not so scrupulous. And every rip-off builder makes it harder for honest contractors to be trusted.

Here is a solution for all – performance bonding.

These bonds provide a guarantee a construction project will be satisfactory completed, and a contractor will live up to all bond specified terms, to project owner’s satisfaction. Company selling bonds to a contractor is known as a surety company, and as collateral for backing a bond financially, a surety company will often require some form of property or equipment.

Surety companies can be either financial institutions such as banks, or they can be insurance companies making bonds available to contractors who apply for them.

How Do Performance Bonds Work? 

Both government and private sector companies require performance bonds as protection against noncompliance, or failure to complete a project by a contractor. When a contracting company fails to live up to its obligations on a project, and for whatever reason, cannot complete specified body of work, the bonding company may be obliged to pay for project completion, or secure the services of an alternative contracting company for project completion.

Bonds include terms contractor must live up to, and constitute project owner’s evaluation of what constitutes a complete project. If a contractor fails to meet any of these terms, construction job owner would then have the option of making a claim against bond, to recover any incurred losses.

If it turns out contractor would be bankrupted by having to pay the amount of any claim against him/her surety company is left as sole responsible party for making up any losses to project owner. Because there is so much at stake in this type of bond, terms and language used must be very specific, because as often as not, a case like this can go to court, where performance surety bond terms are subject to legal interpretation.

When a Bond Obligation is not Met 

When terms are not entirely fulfilled by a contractor, project owner is within his/her right to make a claim against the bond to recover any resultant losses. Initially, surety (company) is responsible for paying this amount to the project’s owner, assuming this claim can be validated, either privately or through legal means.

In many cases, however, bonding company would then have the option to pursue contractor to recover this same amount of money, since contractor’s failure to comply caused a claim to be made. It will depend on whether or not language is included in a bond, a bonding company has this option to pursue defaulting contractor.

When this language is written into performance surety bond, and surety bonding company requires a contractor to repay amount of a claim, a contractor is legally obliged to do so. If paying a claim would push contractor into a state of bankruptcy, bond issuing company would then have no recourse for being compensated for its losses, and would then have to absorb any financial setback. For this reason, surety companies make a point of thoroughly screening applications from contractors who are interested in purchasing this kind of bond.

PERFORMANCE BOND COST:

Almost every contractor who successfully bids on a construction project should have a surety bond in hand, simply because a project owner will require this kind of assurance job will be completed. As a general rule of thumb, a contractor can anticipate a surety company will impose a charge of roughly 1% of the total contract value as a cost of a bond itself.

Contractors who appear to be relatively unstable financially will, of course, be charged a higher amount for a bond than would a financially stable contractor with a good credit history. 

How to get a Performance type Bond 

Obtaining a performance bond is a relatively easy process, assuming the contractor does not have a bad credit history, or is considered financially unstable so a bond issuing company would be reluctant to take a chance. For credit-worthy applicants, this process is fairly simple, beginning with selection of a reputable bond company.

After having selected a surety company, a contractor can go online and apply on provider’s website. This application will be reviewed, and more than likely, a comprehensive check into the contractor’s credit history and financial condition will be undertaken by bond issuing company, to protect themselves against loss.

Assuming this application is approved, an indemnity document will be sent to the contractor, to sign before a notary, and then return indemnity agreement with application fee. Upon receipt of contractor’s indemnity agreement plus a fee, bonding company will then issue the bond and conditions will be in effect from then forward.

Tall Door in a Low Height Restriction

In an attempt to preserve “pristineness” of neighborhoods, Planning Departments can come up with some interesting requirements. Amongst these are often restrictions upon building heights. Sometimes restrictions for detached accessory buildings (garages or shops) are related to primary dwelling heights, sometimes they appear entirely arbitrary.

In the case of our “shouse” (shop/house) in South Dakota, there was a restriction on any building having a sidewall height of 10 feet. We solved this by erecting a gambrel with sidesheds, where sidewall steel lengths were just under 10 feet (although overall building height is 44 feet)!

Gambrel roof pole barn

*Our “shouse” with 10′ sidewalls

Reader BILL writes:

“Good morning,

I have a customer who wants a pole barn for his RV. We have issues with height restriction. He wants a 10 x 14′ high garage door but we have a max height restriction of 14′ to the mid span of the roof. My question to you is this: can we get a building that can have say 10′ high side walls, a 10′ wide x 14′ high garage door on the end and meet the height requirement? Not sure if you can design a truss to accommodate this. It can be a gable roof, gambrel roof, or any other roof that will work. The side walls can be any height as long as the roof height meets the requirements (I only said 10′ as a guide).

They would like 30′ width but that may be too wide for the coverage. I was thinking 24′. They want it 60′ deep.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Provided they can stand 8 interior columns, you could go with a gambrel formed by using a 12′ x 60′ x 16’6″ center portion where overhead door would be placed. With a 4/12 slope your peak height would be 18’0″. On each side of center, place a 6′ x 60′ single sloping shed from 16’6″ to 10’0″ (13/12 slope). This will put average roof height at 14′ and will give an exterior gambrel appearance. If they want to go 30′ wide, make sheds 9′ wide and change steep slope to 8.67/12.

While this appears to sound like it is a circumvention of restrictions, it does meet with the “Letter of the Law”.

Faced with what feels to be an overwhelming challenge of height restriction vs. wants and needs? Please call 1(866)200-9657 and speak to a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer. Chances are good we can find options for you.

My Barndominium Windows Are Leaking

Common questions we hear from barndominium, shouse (shop/house) and post frame home owners are, “Why are my new windows leaking?” or “Why do I have condensation inside of my windows?” In fact, many new barndominium owners think their windows are defective and need to be replaced in an effort to cure this problem. To answer these questions, let’s review what causes window condensation.

Condensation is visible evidence of excess air moisture. It may appear as water, frost, or ice on window or door surfaces. This occurs more frequently during winter months because of extreme differences between inside and outside air temperatures. Warmer air holds more water meaning air in any given room center will hold more water than air adjacent to window or exterior door walls, since this area is always cooler. When warm, moisture laden air moves toward cooler window or door walls, it becomes cooler and cannot hold as much moisture as it held when it was warmer. This moisture is dropped and appears as water on glass and frames of windows and doors.
Windows do not cause condensation, they just happen to be where moisture is most visible. Condensation is a sign of excess moisture in barndominiums. This can be caused by temporary conditions such as:
Building materials contain a great deal of moisture. As soon as heat is turned on, this moisture will flow out into the air and settle on door and window glass. This will usually disappear following first heating season. During humid summers, houses absorb moisture. This will be apparent during the first few weeks of heating and then should dry out. Sharp, quick, and sudden drops in temperature especially during the heating season will create temporary condensation problems.

Condensation can also be caused by more permanent conditions:
Insufficient attic ventilation and/or soffit ventilation traps moisture in barndominiums. Having sufficient soffit vents to allow adequate air flow in and ridge vents for exhaust will allow moisture and humidity to escape. Excessive humidity may be a result of poor ventilation but can also be a result of an imbalanced heating and air system or a need to add additional ventilation. Inadequate (or missing) vapor barriers under concrete slabs on grade. While Building Codes require a vapor barrier under any concrete slabs in heated buildings, it is all too often overlooked.

Controlled ventilation and elimination of excessive indoor moisture can keep humidity within bounds. Here are some suggestions to help reduce indoor moisture:
Turn off or set back furnace humidifiers until sweating (condensation) stops. Remove pots of water on radiators or kerosene heaters. Use exhaust fans or open windows slightly in kitchen, bathroom and laundry room during periods of high moisture production such as cooking, taking showers, washing and drying clothes. Clothes dryers must be vented outside. Do not hang clothes to dry indoors. Waterproof concrete floors. Make sure attic vents are unobstructed. Place all house plants in one sunny room where the door can be kept shut and avoid over watering. Opening windows slightly for a brief period of time will allow humid air to escape and drier air to enter. Use a properly sized dehumidifier, to reduce humidity.
Excessive indoor humidity and moisture are not a result of your windows. You should view the amount and severity of window condensation as a clue moisture damage may be taking place inside walls or ceiling cavities of your barndominium. This can lead to rotting wood, deteriorating insulation, and blistering paint.

Contact Information, Moisture Barrier, and Insulation

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about contact information to build a structure, whether or not to use a moisture barrier in a non-conditioned attic, and guidance to insulate a post frame building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I have a quick question, do you have any regional contact information for people to build these barns?  Thank you,

EARL in LOWER MICHIGAN

DEAR EARL: In many areas Hansen Pole Buildings can provide contact information of one or more possible contractors to erect buildings. We can let you know in advance if your area is one or not, however we will not provide names and numbers until after you have invested in a new post frame building kit package from us.

Why?

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, not every client or contractor is morally trustworthy. We have provided builder information to potential clients and had these same wonderful clients try to get builders to go around us and cut a better deal for their building materials. Conversely, we have had builders tell our clients to buy everything direct from them and they will get a better deal.

When either of these situations occur, clients are shortchanging themselves as they are not getting a genuine third-party engineered Hansen Pole Building. We hear about these when problems occur (they almost always do) during construction and clients call our office looking for help! My sympathy level for these people is very low, as they have gotten themselves into their own predicament – generally with disastrous results. Often times these same builders fail to see Building Permits are obtained, or neglect to call for required inspections. Or, builders will provide non-engineered and under design buildings – prone to failing under snow or wind loads far below minimum standards.

If it sounds shady, it probably is.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Mike, thank you for all the great info…

If I build a pole barn with attic storage and insulate only the walls and ceiling with blown in cellulose such that really only the interior ground floor space is insulated (and it will be heated in the winter), should I still worry about condensation on the roof sheet metal up in the attic, since the air up there should be at a similar temperature to outside? (There will be soffit vents and a ridge vent for attic air flow)
IE, do I need the bubble wrap material, or is it then unnecessary if the attic space is uninsulated?

Thanks! JESSE in CLEVELAND

DEAR JESSE: Thank you very much for your kind words!

Absolutely, you should be concerned about attic condensation. Warm moist air from inside your conditioned space will rise into attic and when it comes in contact with your building’s roof steel’s cooler surface it will condense (even with ventilation). For sake of ease of construction I would recommend an integrated Condensation Control Membrane (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/07/condenstop/ ). It will be slightly more expensive for materials than a Reflective Radiant Barrier, however time saved should make it well worth your investment.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: In central KY, would it be best to have outside metal, then house wrap on the girts, then plastic vapor barrier, then have blown or fiberglass insulation in the walls, then install metal interior? Is this the correct order or would this be wrong? Also on the ceiling and roof, would you put house wrap under the metal roof, then insulate directly against roof from inside, or just insulate directly on top of the ceiling, which would be metal, like the interior walls? Thank you!! BRAD in LEXINGTON

DEAR BRAD: Here is my definitive guide to post frame insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/

In your case – you want moisture to be able to pass out of your wall cavity, so any vapor barrier needs to be on inside directly behind your finished wall surface material. House wrap (Weather Resistant Barrier or WRB) is not a vapor barrier. If installed directly under your roof steel it will allow warm moist air to pass through and you will have condensation between WRB and steel. Not good.

Directly between roof steel and purlins use one of these:

Properly sealed Radiant Reflective Barrier, Steel with Condenstop or Dripstop factory applied, 30# felt or Ice/Snow Shield over plywood or OSB, or (if none of those previously mentioned) two inches of closed cell spray foam. Me, I’d vote for Condenstop/Dripstop as it is a relatively low investment and easy to install. Blow in insulation on top of your ceiling.

And think hard about steel liner panels – they are more expensive than drywall, they reflect sound, there is a potential for condensation from your ceiling and it is difficult to attach things to walls (shelves, cabinets, work benches, etc.).