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Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Should you have missed yesterday’s episode, please click back to it using link at bottom of this page – it will make more sense as well as being more entertaining!

Hello Brian ~

My Father and his five brothers were all framing contractors, so I was raised in a world of trusses two foot on center and vertical stud walls. Even in my first few years of prefabricated roof trusses (as a truss designer/salesman/manager) – we used to laugh when builders would order trusses for pole barns. 40 years of experience has taught me they were right (post frame builders).

Having personally erected a plethora of buildings, both stick frame and post frame, it is far less time consuming to erect a post frame building with widely spaced trusses (and purlins and ceiling joists) than it is to stud wall frame. With a minor investment into building a set of four ‘winch boxes’ entire sections of roof framing can be assembled on the ground and cranked up into place. Not only is this fast, it is also far safer.

Learn about winch boxes here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/winch-boxes-a-post-frame-miracle/

Mindi’s quote does not include OSB sheathing or either 30# felt or ice and water shield to go between OSB and roof steel. These can be added, however there is really no structural reason to do so – it is going to add to both investment and labor. Should you opt to have your roof sheathed, OSB (or plywood) will run from fascia to ridge across purlins 24″ on center, so spans would be no greater than trusses every two feet.

If you do opt for roof sheeting, you might want to consider going to 5/8″ CDX plywood and a standing seam steel. It will be more expensive however it does eliminate any through fasteners.

When you create an encapsulated building (spray foam to all interior surfaces), you do not want to ventilate it, as you would then lose your air seal. With your OSB’s underside sealed by closed cell spray foam and upper side protected with 30# felt or ice and water shield, there is no way for your OSB to become moist. If this is still a concern, an upgrade to plywood could be done.

Certainly one could place scissor trusses every two feet – it would then require adding structural headers (truss carriers) between columns to support them – reducing ‘line of sight’ beneath them. In order to place two foot tall windows in your knee walls above wing roofs, your building height would need to increase to allow for their height. This entails a whole bunch of connections – trusses to headers, headers to trusses and connections are always a weak link of any structural system. It would also mean having to add 2×4 flat on top of either trusses or sheathing in order to have something to screw roof steel panels to (you cannot screw directly to OSB only). Single trusses also require added bracing not required with ganged (two ply) trusses.

You will find drywall installs far better over horizontal framing (wall girts) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/. By utilizing bookshelf girts your exterior walls only have to be framed one time – saving materials and labor over stud walls with horizontal nailers. Building Codes also do not allow for studwalls over 12′ tall, requiring added engineering.

We do have sample building plans available on our website for your builder to review and get a feel for https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/. You may also want to invest (in advance) in our Construction Manual (please contact Bonnie@HansenPoleBuildings.com) – you do get one included with your building purchase (plus you have access to an electronic version through your login).

Please keep in mind – not only have I been involved in design, provision and/or construction of roughly 20,000 post frame buildings, I also happen to live in one. As technology brings about better design solutions, we have always been quick to adopt them, as our goal is to provide structurally sound buildings where benefits outweigh investments.

Feel free to have your builder reach out to me directly at any time.

Our Builder Has a Few Questions

Our Builder Has a Few Questions

Not a surprising statement, as few stick frame (stud wall) builders are willing to learn a new structural system, and few post frame builders have actually erected barndominiums or shouses (shop/houses).

I was a first group member (although willing to learn) and frankly lost my posterior financially erecting my first ‘pole barn’ because I had such a difficult time wrapping my head around left-to-right rather than up-and-down. I got my head on straight for building my second one and actually made $100 an hour back in 1980 erecting it!

For this second group, post frame home building takes in an entire new toolbox of concepts. Energy efficiency and ventilation concerns must be addressed, as well as a different set of efficiencies of material use. It is no longer just a ‘pole barn’  and requires a far greater degree of precision – it isn’t necessarily more difficult, but does take more thought.

Reader BRIAN in PETOSKEY writes:

Hi Mindi and Mike!

We’re really excited that we’re closing in on a final exterior design and starting to focus on the ‘fun stuff’ inside.

We shared the renderings and quote with our builder to keep him in the loop and he had some questions I wanted to share with you.

I’ve read your blogs and understand the argument for the truss arrangement that Hansen prefers. Trust me, I see the logic. That being said, he’s definitely one of those ‘trusses on 2′ centers’ kind of guys.

I explained all of the blog-based talking points on why it’s ‘better’. He was concerned that the material cost may be less, but the labor time would be significantly more to fill in between those spans with 2x10s, etc.

Furthermore, he usually covers the roof in OSB sheathing before putting on the metal. Is that included in this quote? Or is that something extra? He’s concerned about the logistics of applying the OSB with such wide spans between trusses. And in a similar vein, with drywall going on the full underside of all scissor trusses, he’s concerned about the additional lumber and labor needs to provide adequate hangers for sheetrock, etc.

And on top of that, he’s concerned about the lack of ventilation in the roof. I was under the impression that spray foam right onto the underside of the OSB for the entire roof was a best practice. He’s thinking we need baffles or something to allow airflow so as not to compromise the OSB over time.

So basically, a lot of questions on the construction logistics as it pertains to trusses and roof. Why not just run 31 scissor trusses on 24″ centers the length of the building and call it good? And how best to handle ventilation.

One comment he offered several times was that he understands the logic behind this construction style for a garage or storage building, but for a home with heat and sheetrock, etc. he thought this would be creating some obstacles for us.

If this is best answered via email, I’m happy to run middleman or add him as a CC on the answers. He also asked if Mike or someone from Hansen would be willing to talk to him on the phone? He’s open to the process, but wants to make sure he understands exactly what the construction process looks like. He said he would love to see a sample cross section or blueprint, but we both understand those are kept secret until we pay. He wants to wrap his head around it all.

One other concern was about wall framing. Some of the videos show horizontal studs as opposed to vertical. He wasn’t sure if that was always the case or if that is specific instances. Again, he’s a vertical stud kind of guy, but wants to understand if he can change that orientation or if it’s non-negotiable.

When it comes to truss space/between truss framing/wall framing, he’s definitely concerned about drywall logistics, OSB logistics (or not), moisture, and labor. And I want to make sure he feels heard and informed before we dump these plans and materials on his plate. I see both sides, but at the end of the day, he’s our builder and I need him to be fully on board before pulling the trigger. Could you help? I’m sure I’m not the first person with this quandary but I’ve also used enough pole barn builders in our area to know that he’s our best option for this project.

Thank you so much.

I see this dialogue as a parallel conversation to the design process. We’re forging ahead with design and working on our window and door placements this weekend.

Thank you!
Brian


Please tune in tomorrow for answers to Brian’s builder’s questions.

Builder Says

Builder Says, “These designs are the Worse”!

Like all good stories begin…..

“It was a dark and stormy night”

Oops, wrong beginning!

Once upon a time I was a post frame building contractor. From 1991 until 1999 my construction company could only have been described as being prolific – at one time we had as many as 35 crews erecting buildings in six states.

I had a few advantages going into being a post frame building contractor – architecture school, managing several (and later owning) prefabricated metal connector plated roof truss plants, and having provided nearly 7000 post frame building kit packages from my lumberyard.

mr owl tootsie roll popMy most important advantage was a thirst for knowledge. One of my favorite childhood books was 1967’s “The Way Things Work” by Neil Ardley and David McCaulay. I read it cover-to-cover repeatedly. This same thirst for wanting to know how things work led me to Dr. Frank Woeste at Virginia Tech. He challenged me with learning structural calculations involved in what made post frame (pole barn) buildings work.

This, in turn, led me to join ASAE (American Society of Agricultural Engineers) where I was a member of their structures committee. It also led me to be humble as I learned as I knew more, there was so much more to learn. I became an NFBA member – and found there was more than a single ‘right way’ to build post frame buildings.

Now it seems every small town in America has one or more post frame ‘builders’ and I will use this term ‘builder’ lightly as owning a jacked up 4×4, having a big dog and a loud stereo are not necessarily qualifiers for being a good builder. While there are actually some good builders (and a few great ones), far more a rule than an exception is “Chuck-in-a-truck” who believes he (or she) is Builder Bob – a legend in their own mind!

A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Do-It-Yourself client recently posted photos of their framed post frame building with commercial bookshelf girts.

Before being banned from the Facebook group for use of colorful language, builder Jason had this to say about this client’s photo:

“These designs are the worse! I don’t understand why anyone would do it this way. I really don’t understand why any company would promote such a design to a DIY. Book shelve wall girts are the weakest way to build building. All seams in wood is stacked. Not staggered. Toe nailed also is week. And if any system requires you to “hide” something or “never see it”, It’s a shitty design! Just run wall girts on out side of post and stagger seams. Simple!”

Well Jason, not everyone has your narrow view of structural design solutions (or your grasp of English composition).

People (both builders and DIYers) do bookshelf girts because they are, at a minimum, over 300% stronger in supporting wind loads than externally mounted girts (based upon 2×6 material of same grade at same spacing). They are also more resistant to deflection by more than 1300%. Moreover, with proper dimensional sizing, they allow for creation of an insulation cavity where clients can do interior finishes without having to add more framing.

Jason appears to have a belief staggering joints on externally mounted wall girts somehow makes a building stiffer! It is the use of diaphragm design to create a stiff roof plane to support column tops making a building more rigid, not some close to insignificant contribution from girts. Our ‘builder’ went off on his rant before noticing the ends of each girt are solid blocked to columns at each end and no toe nails are involved in their fully engineered connection (nor was anything required to be hidden).

Thinking of hiring a builder to erect your new post frame building? Look for one who is open to considering multiple design considerations rather than “this is how we have always done it and always will”.

For extended reading on bookshelf girts please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/04/creating-extra-work-in-barndominium-framing/

Designing a Dream Barndominium Loft

Designing a Dream Barndominium Loft

Reader BRIAN in PETOSKY writes:

“ Hi Mike,

Mindi told me to email you my lofted floor question for our project.

To avoid messing with truss-support floors, we were planning to build a full 26×60 main barn with scissor trusses the full length. Then on one end, we would make a 20’x26′ loft. Have the floor joists run parallel to the barn, perpendicular to the trusses, so we’d have 20′ floor joists. These would be supported by the gable end wall and interior posts 20′ in.

We live in a barn home with this configuration and it works well. Allows consistent and uninterrupted ceiling space the length of the barn but still get a 2nd floor in where we want it.

The question is, I guess, what, if anything needs to be conveyed to the engineer for this design? Does it influence anything on the gable end wall? How far apart can the posts be on the interior end? Can stairs be free-standing next to this loft?

Thank you!”

When I used to call on Home Depots, Petoskey was one of my stops. Every time I was there the weather was gorgeous, making it difficult to get motivated to move on to my next appointment!

There are some challenges with running dimensional lumber floor joists to span 20′. Even using #2 & better 2×12 Douglas Fir joists, they would need to be 12 inches on center! Other popular specie of framing lumber has lower MOE (Modulus of Elasticity) values, so will not even begin to approach being able to span 20’. Chances are good there will be both a fair amount of spring to this floor, as well as a non-uniformity in deflection from joist to joist.

For extended reading on floor deflection, please read https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/wood-floors-deflection-and-vibration/

This would be my recommendation – we can use prefabricated wood floor trusses to span 26′. Doing so would allow there to be no interior supports within this 26′ x 20′ area. As long as stairs run perpendicular to the floor trusses, no columns would be needed where they attach. When you and Mindi have your building details finalized, she will relay this information forward on your Agreement with us, so everyone will be on the same page. Further, we send plans to you for a final once over prior to engineer sealing them, just in case.

Splash Boards, Roof Loads, and Truss Spacing

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about shrinkage of splash boards installed wet, roof load capacity, and truss spacing for an RV storage building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have two questions (related) regarding splash boards and concrete floor top. My splash boards have been in place for quite a while, and have actually shrunk (they were quite wet when nailed in place). There are several that are not over 7 inches wide. I’m going to end up with only 3-1/2 inches of splash board above the concrete. Is this sufficient? The tops of the splash boards are very level, and I’m thinking of attaching treated 2x4s on the inside to screed against. It would be easier (and probably more accurate/consistent) for me to measure 3-1/2 inches down from the top rather than up from the bottom of the splash boards.

Also, wondering if there is a benefit to placing 3 x 1/4 inch galvanized lag bolts, 1 inch into the splash boards from the interior side 1 or 2 feet apart, to “anchor” the splash boards to the slab?

Thanks so much for sharing your experience and insights! GREG in COLVILLE

DEAR GREG: As long as you are measuring from a level point and top of your concrete slab will be below bottom of your base trim you will be all good with measuring down 3-1/2″ from splash board tops. While I have not done it personally, I know more than one person who has used a pressure preservative treated 2×4 to screed against as you describe. At a minimum it should be rated UC-4A (ground contact) for treatment.

There might be some small benefit to be gained by using a mechanical attachment of splash boards to your slab. As to how much, I have not seen any studies to verify.

Thank you for your kind words and please remember to send me progress photos!

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you know how much weight per square foot the roof of a pole building can hold?  My building is 64’ x 36’, if that matters. ROBERT

DEAR ROBERT: Weight per square foot (psf) will be dependent upon what your building was engineered to support. Every set of engineer sealed building plans is required to list all loads to be supported. Usually this will be specified by a value for sloped roof snow load (Ps) for roof plane live loads. Dead loads (actual weight of structure and supported materials) should also be listed.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m wanting to do a pole barn to park my RV under for the winter. My question is can I use a single truss spaced at 10’? Do I need to use two trusses per post? ERIC in BONNERS FERRY

DEAR ERIC: Without knowing how far you intend to span with your trusses it is difficult to provide a definitive answer. Boundary County does not require building inspections, so even though you are in an area of extremely high snow loads – risks end up being upon you as a new building owner.

While a single ply truss may work, in most instances your investment into true double trusses (nailed face-to-face as a pair) is minimal. Double trusses provide greater reliability as your probability of having two adjacent trusses having a same ‘weak link’ is small. Bracing requirements are also reduced when a pair of trusses are utilized.

Even though you may not need a building permit, I would strongly encourage you to only erect a fully engineered building. Protection for your RV is only going to be as good as what your building is designed for.

 

Steel Roofs Are Not Meant to Be Weather Tight?

Once upon a time I was a post frame building contractor. With as many as 35 crews erecting buildings in six states, we erected thousands upon thousands of buildings. If we would ever have told a client, “Steel roofs are not meant to be weather tight” it might (and should) have been our last job! Our Quality Control team would check in with each client every three months, post completion, to ensure they were satisfied and had no leaks. We actually warranted our workmanship against roof leaks for five years.

Reader STEVE in ROCKFORD writes:

“Hi, 

I had a local crew put a new 29ga pro-rib steel roof on my older pole barn.   Since then we have had a couple storms come through, one was very heavy wind and rain, and all was good, building was good.   The next was a light drizzle, and the roof leaks at the ridge cap – it looks like the leak was coming from the screw, not the top of the sheet. The next day I went up to take a look.  It looks like they screwed the ridge cap down the upper purlin next to the rib, and not into the rib.    Is this a problem?  How can I fix it?  A call to the contractor was no help, “that’s how we do them all, and they are not meant to be 100% weather tight” was the response.   It does have some kind of meshy vented like closure strip.”  

Under Illinois’ Roofing Industry Licensing Act, all contractors offering roof construction services must obtain a license from Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) before engaging in any work. This local crew needs to come and repair or replace their work so your roof is weather tight. I would recommend you spend $100 to have your attorney send a demand letter on Monday. Construction work comes with a minimum one year implied warranty on materials and labor, so as long as you are within this time frame, you have cause of action should he fail to repair. You can also file a complaint with your state (https://www.idfpr.com/Forms/Brochures/FilingAComplaint.pdf) –  you should do this immediately, as this contractor needs to be stopped before he rips off yet another innocent building owner with shoddy workmanship.


Your building’s ridge cap should have been attached to each roof steel high rib with a metal-to-metal stitch screw. Ridge cap to roofing screws should not be placed next to ribs.

11 Reasons Why Barndominium Crawl Space Encapsulation is Important

11 Reasons Why Barndominium Crawl Space Encapsulation is Important

Today’s Guest Contributor is Joseph Bryson. Joseph was born in Alberta, raised in NYC and is living in New Zealand. He has been working in 4 different industries and helped numerous businesses grow. Now, he is focused on writing as his next career from home and lives a peaceful life with his family and a whole pack of dogs.

No matter what kind of a barndominium you will have, if there is a crawl space present then it can potentially cause you a whole host of problems. People tend not to realize this because they don’t think too much about crawl spaces. 

Like it’s not a place people generally venture to in their own homes. It’s just down there beneath your elevated wood floor, out of sight and out of mind. And so various issues can arise in your house you don’t know how to fix because you don’t realize they’re originating in your crawl space. 

In a post-frame building, crawl spaces are set up a little bit different. Instead of having a perimeter of concrete and a concrete slab, it is instead a wooden framework on short pressure preservative treated timber or glu-laminated columns.

It’s a style of crawl space allowing for much better access to plumbing, ventilation ducts and electrical wiring, but without a concrete slab. It also makes it somewhat more susceptible to some of these problems. 

This leads us to crawl space encapsulation creating an unvented crawl space. A process involving installing a vapor barrier in your crawl space to cover ground, walls and seal up all vents and seams. Air is then conditioned using a humidifier or HVAC system.

International Residential Code (IRC) R408.3 addresses unvented crawl spaces. Exposed earth is covered with a continuous Class I vapor retarder. Vapor retarder joints shall overlap at least six inches and be sealed or taped. In post frame buildings, this vapor retarder must extend up perimeter walls to floor level and be attached and sealed to floor. One of four possible options outlined in IRC R408.3(2) must also be met.

Let’s have a look at what issues a crawl space encapsulation will help to prevent and why it’s so beneficial:

  1.   Controls Pests

One very important thing you’ll be doing by sealing up all openings is removing access to your crawl space for a wide variety of pests. You can get mice, rats, cockroaches, racoons and even birds have been known to find their way into crawl spaces.

Once pests find their way in, it can be a nightmare getting them out but an encapsulated crawl space removes a primary entry point for pests so you would be reducing possibilities significantly.

Roaches can be disastrous for a wooden framework and so you should be very serious about keeping them out of your crawl space and your home in general.

  1.   Improves Air Quality

Because air coming up through your crawl space will be going through HVAC or a humidifier, you can rest assured it will be much higher quality than if it was just blowing in unfiltered. A crawl space is a hot bed for low quality air, but not if it’s encapsulated.

  1.   Allows for Better Energy Efficiency

One thing you will probably notice after encapsulation is your energy bills will be lower. Your heating and air conditioning won’t have to struggle against crawl space damp air, meaning they’ll be doing less work.

And this will of course result in you having to spend less on utilities. While encapsulation might cost a bit, it is Code required and will be financially beneficial over time.

  1.   Keeps Floors Warm

As we just mentioned, the normal state for a crawl space is to be full of damp air. It’s exposed to elements and especially during winter months, this just means there’s consistent moisture and low temperatures blowing through.

All of this is prevented with encapsulation meaning the only thing rising from below will be heat. And while it won’t necessarily be equivalent to under floor heating as such, it will make floors more warm and comfortable to walk on, especially in a post-frame home where there isn’t concrete separating heat from floors.

  1.   Prevents Mold

Mold is very problematic. For some people it’s just an irritant causing things like coughing, sneezing and sore throats, but it can also be toxic if left to grow for too long. And for anyone with a compromised immune system or who suffers from asthma, it’s dangerous.

Mold and mildew are further consequences of dampness and moisture retention and most crawl spaces are full of it. It’s much more likely to build up on wood than it is on concrete meaning this is more common in wood frame structures.

  1.   Improves Storage

Not everyone opts for using their crawl space for storage, even after it’s been encapsulated, but  it can be done. If your encapsulation is neat, you should definitely have some room down there to store a few boxes.

If you did this with an unencapsulated crawl space, then anything you store could be potentially damaged by moisture or mold. So it’s basically a really safe storage space once encapsulated.

  1.   Prevents Flooding

I’ll start this point by saying crawl space encapsulation doesn’t necessarily prevent floods entirely, but it can help in a lot of cases. Excess rainwater and runoff can build up down below and can result in flooding, but not if everything is sealed and blocked up.

Flooding takes a much greater toll on wood than it does concrete and although your post-frame home will be sturdy by design, too much water over time could do some serious damage.

  1.   Protects Structural Integrity

If left for long periods of time without intervention, moisture and mold will slowly eat away at untreated wood under your home. This will eventually destroy structural integrity and you won’t have any idea it’s happening because it takes so long.

Just another reason why you should be slowing down, or entirely stopping mold growth and retention of moisture.

  1.   Keeps Allergens at Bay

Spread of allergens is primarily caused by moisture and dust. We’ve discussed to death how moisture is controlled by encapsulation, but because air coming through is unfiltered, dust shouldn’t be a problem either so if you’re prone to allergies you will benefit.

  1. Can be Done Without Professional Help

Key word here is ‘can’. Crawl space encapsulation can be done without professional help. Before hiring a professional it’s worth looking into how you would do it yourself.  

If you have an interest in DIY and are particularly adept at this type of handiwork, you could for sure give this a try. Again, not everyone will be up to this task, but if you are then it will save a lot of money.

  1. Enhances Longevity of Your Home

With all of these different things considered, it’s clear crawl space encapsulation will help make sure your barndominium is in livable condition for a long, long time. Every issue we’ve discussed here will gradually build up until it becomes potentially disastrous.

Crawl space encapsulation is a big job, but fairly easily accomplished DIY.

Vapor Barrier for a Ceiling

Reader GEORGE in LOUISVILLE writes:

“I am looking to install tin on the ceiling of my 54 X 75 pole shed. I was wondering if 6 mil plastic sheeting with all seams taped would work for a vapor barrier? My concern is not to have it rain in my building after the tin is up and the heat is on.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru:

Well George, this answer is not going to be nearly as simple as your question.

Prevention of internal rain (condensation) is going to be a function of several aspects.

#1 Controlling source – if there is not a well-sealed vapor barrier under your concrete slab on grade, you should be planning on two coats of a good sealant for it. If you do not know if there is a vapor barrier under it or not, leave a wrench on it overnight. Next day, pick the wrench up and if there is a dark place on the floor surface where the wrench was, you have no under slab vapor barrier.

#2 Source of heat – some heat sources add significant amounts of water vapor into your internal air (propane being a prime offender). Know what you are getting into before it becomes a challenge you do not want.

#3 How are you currently controlling condensation? If your building has a thermal break between purlins and steel roof – excellent. If not, your best solution is going to be two inches of closed cell spray foam applied to the underside of roof steel. This is not an inexpensive solution, but it is more practical than removing roofing, adding a thermal break, and reapplying roofing (plus roofing never goes back on as well as it was originally installed). Plan on $4000 to $4500 for closed cell spray foam.

vented-closure-strip#4 Ventilation – you are going to create a dead attic space above an insulated ceiling. If it is not adequately vented you are going to have problems. Best combination is vented eaves and ridge. Your building will require at least 1944 square inches of net free ventilation area (NFVA), distributed equally between eave and ridge. If this is not possible (building has no sidewall overhangs), then your choice is limited to gable vents and it will take many of them to provide adequate NFVA.

#5 You are in Climate Zone 5. This means a Class I or II vapor retarder is required for the interior side of framed walls. This could be 6 mil polyethylene (Visqueen) or Kraft-faced fiberglass batt insulation. For your ceiling a plastic vapor barrier should only be installed in vented attics in climates with more than 8,000 heating degree days. In Nebraska, heating degree days for a normal year is 6322.

Do Post Frame Barndominiums Need 26 Gauge Steel?

Through Screwed Steel Roofing for Post Frame Barndominiums – What Gauge?

If I need to have major surgery, I am probably not going to ask for expert opinions on social media. However apparently, when it comes to construction expertise, Facebook is where to go. Always plenty of armchair engineers, semi-educated builders and competing structural systems to throw out their two bits worth.

American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has published accepted measurement standards for steel thickness. 29 gauge steel (post frame industry’s standard) has an average thickness of .0172 of an inch (with a minimum of .0142). 28 gauge steel has an average thickness of .0187 (minimum .0157) and 26 gauge is .0217 (minimum .0187).

These thicknesses are all measured prior to application of any primers or paint.

Steel coil is sold by steel mills or wholesalers to roll formers by weight. Roll formers sell finished formed roofing and siding by lineal foot. Roll formers make the greatest profits by ordering steel coil as close to minimum thickness as possible, as it produces more lineal footage per pound. When roll formers order steel coil, they place orders by minimum steel thickness (e.g. .0145 min would be 29 gauge).

To give a perspective on steel thickness differences, from 29 gauge to 26 gauge difference in thickness is .0045 of an inch. A sheet of 20# paper measures .0038 of an inch. Roughly speaking, the thickness differences between these two gauges is about a sheet of notebook paper! In comparing minimum thicknesses, although a sheet of paper may not sound like much, 26 gauge steel is 31.7% thicker than 29 gauge, based upon minimum thicknesses.

Now more importantly – how much load will a steel panel carry? A post frame building’s “weak link” is not load carrying capacities of its steel roofing and siding, it will be found somewhere in its underlying framing system. Taking a look at span tables provided to us by Union Corrugating Company for their MasterRib® (MasterRib is a registered trademark of Union Corrugating Company) panel, when spanning 24 inches, 29 gauge will support a live load of 112 pounds per square foot (psf) and 26 gauge 150 psf. These differences equating basically straight line with thickness differences.

Unless a building is at a snow ski resort, roof snow loads are probably not going to approach 112 psf, but what about wind loads? The same 29 gauge MasterRib® panel will support 118 psf in wind load, roughly equal to 214 miles per hour! For a perspective, highest officially recorded wind speed measured in the United States was 231 mph. It was logged on 12 April 1934, at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory at the summit.

But, what about hail? Please read https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/11/steel-roofing-hail-dents/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/11/how-to-minimize-possible-hail-damage/.

But, but – oil canning?

Oil canning is a visible, wavy distortion affecting cold-rolled metal products. It’s seen in flat areas of metal panels, and can be characterized as a moderate aesthetic issue. Typically, rippling, waviness, or buckling is especially seen in the broad area of a metal roof or wall.  Most popular 36 inch net coverage, through screwed, steel panels are manufactured with high ribs every nine inches and two low profile ribs in between. These low profile ribs almost guarantee no eye-visible oil canning will occur.


Bottom line is… do you need 26 gauge steel?  No, you probably really don’t.  29 gauge is going to do everything you need it to do.  When would you need 26 gauge steel?  If you are going to purchase an all steel building and have 5 feet between your purlins and 7 feet between your girts.  On a wood framed building with half those spacings or less, it’s almost always just overkill.  Beware of those who try to sell you something you don’t really need.

A “Man Cave,” A Quote Request, and Snow Loads

This Monday’s PBG discusses a “Man Cave” designed with SIP panels, a quote request from Texas, and what our snow loads are for our buildings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Considering a monitor style pole building with RV storage in center and living quarters on one side (loft in rear of building only) When RV is not in the center garage it would become the “Man Cave”.

I am considering timber frame trusses in only the center section of the Monitor Roof (likely 14′) and sip panels for roof insulation above trusses. Would make for pretty cool ceiling!!

I have scoured the internet for plans such as this – have you ever encountered or see a plan such as this? SCOTT in CAMBRIDGE

DEAR SCOTT: The reason you are not finding plans is because it would be both very cool and amazingly expensive. I have investigated SIPs panels a few times and found them to be prohibitively spendy. I intend to add onto our post frame shouse next Spring with a similar roof system in mind. To get the look I am after, I intend to build glulam trusses with purlins above them, closed cell spray foam insulation and most likely corrugated steel panels on the underside of the purlins. If you are intent upon a design such as you envision, you will need to invest in services of a Registered Professional Engineer to provide structural plans.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am ready to build but I am in Texas. The plans were designed for traditional stick frame construction. Can you quote me from those plans? SOCRATES in McALLEN

DEAR SOCRATES: We most certainly can.

We would appreciate the opportunity to participate in your new home. Please email your building plans, site address and best contact number to Caleb@HansenPoleBuildings.com or call 1(866)200-9657

Thank you. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will also be reaching out to you.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the snow load on the roofs of your buildings? KAREN in ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR KAREN: Every Hansen Pole Building is fully engineered to meet or exceed Code required snow and wind loads at the site the building will be erected upon. We have provided buildings designed for snow loads in excess of 400 psf (pounds per square foot). Providing us (or any supplier) with answers to these questions will assist in making your journey to a new building a smooth process: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-1/ and
https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-ii/

 

 

 

I Think I Have Made Some Errors!

I Think I Have Made Some Errors!

If you are a post frame building kit provider or a builder reading this article – please STOP SELLING ONLY ON A CHEAP PRICE. You are leaving dissatisfied clients in your wake and doing a disservice to our industry.

Reader RICK in IDAHO writes:

“Hello Sir! I think I have made some errors when I had my PB built regarding insulation plans. 30×40 with 12’, 8” side walls on the inside. Cement floor. No Tyvek or other barriers on walls or roof, just steel on wood all around. Soffit vents all the way around and vented roof cap. Was planning to have insulation blown in walls and ceiling, with a vapor barrier (reinforced plastic?) facing interior occupied area. Did not use closure strips but used canned spray foam to insulate/seal the ribs and edges walls, top and bottom and roof. Trusses were engineered for sheet rock ceiling. Won’t have temps above 50 F in winter on occasion But will try to keep above freezing in winter. No AC in summer. South East Idaho- hot summers and some -10/20 degree nights in winter with generally low humidity year around. Edge of the Idaho desert. Any advice? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!”

Thank you Rick for your kind words.

I cannot fault you – an average person having a post frame (pole) building built doesn’t know what they don’t know. I see this situation occur over and over when building providers or builders do not thoroughly explain options and their benefits to clients, instead relying upon a cheap price.

If your concrete slab on grade does not have a vapor barrier under it, seal the top of your floor. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/

Use two inches of closed cell spray foam against your wall and roof steel – if not, you run a high risk of condensation troubles. If you are going to blow insulation into your walls, use a product such as BIBs. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/
Do not use a vapor barrier inside of either your walls or ceiling. Make sure the spray foam applicator does not spray over your eave or ridge vents.

All of these things are manageable, they just could have been solved far more economically if they had been done right to begin with.

What Hansen Pole Buildings Offers for Prospective Barndominium Owners

What Hansen Pole Buildings Offers for Prospective Barndominium Owners

If you are considering building a barndominium or shouse (shop/house), whether DIY or with a contractor’s involvement, there is one very important question to ask:

“Do you personally live in a barndominium?”

If you do not receive a resounding, “YES” for an answer, you may want to rethink your choice.

My lovely bride and I have lived in our Hansen Pole Building along South Dakota’s Lake Traverse for 15 years now. This being my third personal barndominium, dating back some thirty years, I can speak with experience few others can.

Hansen VisionAt Hansen Pole Buildings, we are literally “All About the Building” and we strive to provide “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™”. Every single one of our fully engineered post frame buildings is custom designed to best fit our client’s wants and needs. Rarely will we be least expensive, however we will always provide a best value solution.



This process ideally begins in infancy stages, with a determination of fiscal reality – highly tempered by individual tastes and how much effort one is willing or able to put into their new home. Those willing to be their own General Contractors can plan upon saving roughly 25% over hiring a builder to turn key and 50% for DIYing as much as possible. We have found any physically capable person, who is willing to read step-by-step directions in English can successfully erect their own beautiful building, and many do. We have even had septuagenarian couples do their own construction!

Most often a DIY barndominium turns out with better results than one could ever hire done – because you truly care about how it turns out.

Once a budget has been established, it is time to ‘find the dirt’. Without knowing where your barndominium will be located, it is impossible and impractical to determine how your new home should be planned. Important aspects such as direction of access, curb appeal and views play into a well thought out design.  Directional orientation is important, with heat loss or gain determined by location and number of windows, as well as design of shading from overhangs. Slope of site determines needs for significant grade work or placing upon a full or partial basement or crawl space.

Moving closer to actuality we provide direction and encouragement in determining your family’s needed spaces, sizes and orientation to each other. Work from your home’s inside rather than trying to fit what your needs are into some pre-ordained space. With this information in hand, we offer a potentially free, professional floor plan and building elevation service to take all of your ideas, wants and needs and actually craft a floor plan best melding them with realities of construction.

Whether you have utilized our plan service, or have a plan of your own, your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will work directly with you to make recommendations to provide a home most practical for you. You have total choice over a virtually unlimited number of aspects. Your being directly involved eliminates builders taking advantage of you in order to pad their bottom line. Hansen Pole Buildings does have a unique Instant Pricing™ system, allowing your Building Designer to make changes and have a near instantaneous answer as to what your investment will be as various dimensional and feature changes are contemplated.

We are very conscious about design for energy efficiency. Power is unlikely to ever become less expensive, so getting at or as close as possible to a net zero design is paramount.

Need financing for your new barndominium? We work with several lenders who actually understand post frame barndominiums and can assist with this phase.

After your building order has been placed, it moves from your Building Designer’s desk to our design team. Before going to one of our skilled draftspeople every building comes across my desk for personal review – mostly in an aspect of what will or will not work structurally, Building Code compliance and how to increase building efficiency without compromising functionality.

Once your structural building plans are completed, you get to review them for accuracy prior to our independent Registered Professional Engineer going over every member and connection as a final assurance of structural soundness. Only after all of these steps have been completed are your engineer sealed plans, along with verifying structural calculations, sent to you to acquire necessary building permits.

Even if your jurisdiction does not require building permits, structural plan reviews or do inspections, having engineer sealed plans is your assurance of structural adequacy. There are insurance companies who give discounts to those who build fully engineered homes, so ask your agent for yours.

You have access through our online portal to follow your building’s process, reschedule build dates, report any damaged or missing materials, as well as requesting unlimited technical support from those who have actually built post frame buildings.

Even after your barndominum is complete and you have sent us digital photos of your beautiful new home, our commitment to you does not end. Hansen Pole Buildings provides a Limited Lifetime Structural warranty covering your home and regardless of how many years you have had your building, should you have questions or concerns, we are available to assist.

Is #57 Crushed Gravel a Good Choice?

Thank you to reader KEN in BRECKSVILLE who writes:

“How do you secure the posts in the ground when you have a steep slope requiring longer posts in the back? 

The rear of a 48′ deep pole barn has about a 6′ drop in ground level from the front end. A retaining wall and 57 stone fill are planned to be used to level the site.  The wall height is 16′ and width is 36′.  The rear posts will need to be 6′ longer than the front to secure the posts in virgin ground not filled in with leveling stone.   At a 16′ wall height I will need posts at least 20′ long for the front and 26′ long for the back.  Do you provide posts this length or is it better to use shorter posts in the back to secure in the ground and attach additional posts on top of these posts for the wall heights.”

Before answering, I (knowing not nearly enough about stone) had to research 57 stone fill.

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s more than one type of gravel and selecting proper size and style is crucial to project success. One most commonly used and versatile type of gravel is #57 crushed.

When considering different gravel or crushed stone types, a number indicates sieve size a material is screened through.

A #57 sieve produces gravel materials approximately 1” – 1.5” in size. To put this into perspective, you can expect gravel in this size family to be around the same size as nickels and quarters.

Depending on where it was manufactured, #57 crushed gravel may be comprised of granite, limestone, trap rock. Because this type of gravel is so common, it is highly affordable.

Without using DGA (Dense Grade Aggregate comprised primarily of ¾” minus crushed stone aggregate combined with a careful and precise mixture of stone dust as a means of reducing void contents), or a similar material, you will find this is not an ideal sized gravel for creating an extremely firm, compact surface. 

My answer to KEN:

We can get columns over 60′ in length (I have them up to 50′ long on my own personal shouse in South Dakota). Attempting to attach a post on top of a post is not a good structural solution, so I would eliminate it as a consideration.

My recommendation would be to build your retaining wall first. Place fill in maximum six inch lifts, compacting each layer to a minimum of 90% of a Modified Proctor Density before adding the next layer (you will need to do this sort of compaction to support a slab on grade properly anyhow). You can then treat your fill as if it is undisturbed soil and would not require longer columns. Your idea of using 57 stone fill is probably not going to yield a good result, as it is not ideally sized to create an extremely firm, compact surface (what you want).

How to Minimize Possible Hail Damage

Welcome back from Friday’s article. As a fan of long suffering professional sports teams (Vikings, Twins, Mariners) I had the opportunity to watch Randy Johnson’s epic relief appearance in game 5 of 1995’s ALDS.

Randy also helped Geico sell some insurance with this snowball (not quite a baseball sized hail chunk): https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=crmas&p=randy+Johnson+throwing+snowball+commercial#id=1&vid=2f0c9212ab8080ee8ad0b4b53361f2a3&action=click

Randy was clocked throwing a 5.25 ounce baseball at up to 102 mph (miles per hour).  A 1-1/2 pound hailstone will travel at speeds up to 105 mph – basically impacting whatever is in its way with nearly 3-1/2 times the force of a Randy Johnson fastball!

At this point in time, there is no solution providing a completely hail resistant roofing solution. No traditional roofing materials can come away from these types of hail stones without being dented or damaged. While there are suitable measures able to be taken to prevent damages from most hailstorms, largest hailstones will cause damage to even the most durable of roofing systems.

In order to understand how well a roofing material will hold up against hail, it is first important to understand how these materials are judged. A common test for measuring roofing material effectiveness against hail damage would be UL 2218: Standard for Impact Resistance of Prepared Roof Covering Materials. This test uses a steel ball to impact various locations on a particular assembly including edges, seams or unsupported joints or sections. While this test provides maybe a best gauge of how a roof will hold up against a hail storm, a steel ball is not a hailstone, and even this extensive test does not guarantee a material or product will hold up against a severe hail storm.

Fortunately, baseball-sized hailstones don’t happen every day. In a majority of instances, a Class 4 UL 2218 rating will be sufficient in protecting your barndominium from roof penetration due to a hail storm. A Class 4 test involves a steel ball weighing 1-2 pounds being dropped from a height of 12 to 20 feet on an assembly’s same location. This is considered by most professionals (and insurance companies) as the highest level of protection a roof covering material can provide.

While UL 2218 (and other testing standards) measures abilities of a material to stand up to rips, tears, holes and penetrating issues, it does not consider a material’s visual appearance once testing is complete. In other words, your roof may still be 100% structurally sound after a severe hail storm, but could also look like someone took a baseball bat to every inch of your roof. Beyond a visual nuisance, some insurance companies who provide a discount for metal roofing will not cover cosmetic damage caused by hail as your roof is still intact and structurally sound.

 To minimize cosmetic damage, take into account panel design. Many standing seam metal roofs have large, flat surfaces showing smaller imperfections due to their smooth uniform appearance. Breaking up a standing seam panel with striations or ribs will help minimize visual impact of dents, as well as help with expansion and contraction in areas prone to temperature swings.

A common misconception when it comes to protecting a structure against hail damage is steel roofing thickness. While thicker steel can be better at preventing dents and surface damage, provided it is not softer, it is also often less flexible than a thinner material.  Thinner steel panels may dent easier, but are less likely to tear. While most metal panels ranging from 22 to 29 gauge steel offer a relatively similar level of protection, there is a difference in how each thickness will perform against different aspects of a hail impact.

An important factor in choosing a roofing envelope able to hold up to most hail storms includes selecting the right underlayment material. Like visible roof coverings, underlayment materials are also tested for impacts. Often people spend a significant amount of time carefully choosing their roof system covering, without ever considering this second layer of defense. Underlayments can not only help protect your barndominium from impact, but are also tested for water, air and fire ratings.

Ultimately there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a roof to help hold up against severe hail storms. Choosing the right materials and speaking to your insurance company about actual coverage of your plan are among the most important choices to make.

Tips for designing a hail resistant roofing include maintaining a minimum roof slope of 6:12 and/or using roof decking (well supported plywood sheathing) and a tested underlayment.

Do your research – speak to professionals about your options, and make decisions on those factors most meaningful to you and your new barndominium.

Floor Trusses, Plywood Floor, and Post Frame Conversion

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building to FEMA Flood Code for a raised wood floor, use of a plywood floor instead of concrete pad, and finding a certified engineer to help with conversion of pole barn to a home.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have to build according to the current FEMA flood code here in new Orleans which means the house will above grade. I want to purchase a 60X32 pole barn and put a raised wood floor in it. I will be using I-Joists to span the 32′ across but I’m not quite certain how the I-Joist will attach to the rim board and be within code.
Will I have to notch the posts for the rim board and attach the I-Joist with hangers?
Or can I attach the I-Joist directly to the standard installed rim board with hangers? JON in PEARL RIVER

DEAR JON: Just my own personal preference, as I find I joists to be a relatively springy floor – I’d most likely recommend dimensional lumber joists and beams (I joists will not clearspan 32′). If your floor level is significantly above grade, you might want to consider manufactured wood floor trusses as they will give a very consistent floor and you will then have a flat surface below to attach your choice of finishes to.


Design of rim board for size and attachments will be determined by our engineers and spelled out on your sealed plans to ensure structural stability and adequacy. We also run a structural check for your buildings piers against flood loads as well – a requirement for any building within FEMA flood zones.

 

DEAR POLE BAN GURU: Hi, I would prefer a plywood floor instead of a concrete pad. This would be a shop space so it would be subject to moderately heavy loads. The soil is primarily rock,gravel,and clay well drained. If possible what kind of post spacing would work and what size concrete footings would be necessary. The building would be 30×120 Thanks, JOHN in FRANKLIN

DEAR JOHN: A plywood floor can certainly be done. The plywood and its supporting structural members should be pressure preservative treated.

IBC (International Building Code) Section 1607.7.1 “Where any structure does not restrict access for vehicles that exceed a 10,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating, those portions of the structure subject to such loads shall be designed using the vehicular live loads, including consideration of impact and fatigue, in accordance with the codes and specifications required by the jurisdiction having authority for the design and construction of the roadways and bridges in the same location as the structure.

Once actual loading requirements have been ascertained, our third-party engineers can determine most efficient column spacing, as well as depth and diameters of concrete encasement.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have an existing pole building with a concrete floor. I wanted to turn it into a living space. I called my local planning/permitting dept. the person that is head of area planning said I can do this but only if I have it certified by an engineer. She did add in that she had no idea who would do this kind of work but she thinks it would be expensive. I cant figure out what I am too certify. The building or my drawings nor can I locate an engineer in my area. I have been told that there are a lot of buildings here that have been converted to a home I just can’t find anyone who has done so it is difficult to get any information. You would think planning could guide me but they don’t have the knowledge so I’m reaching out to anyone who has went through this in the state of Indiana and may know the laws. Thanks in advance. KIM in METAMORA

DEAR KIM: Your local Planning Department director gave you good advice. Most post frame (pole) buildings are designed for Risk Category I occupancies (if they were designed at all) – meaning if they collapse chances are good no one will be in them when it happens. They use lower wind and snow loads than what is required for residential purposes.

To find an Indiana engineer go to www.nfba.org. In the upper right corner click on FIND A PROVIDER.  On the left of the page under “What are you looking for?” select “Designer”, enter your state and click on Find. This will give you several options to choose from.

 

 

 

 

Steel Roofing Hail Dents

When I first began providing Midwest post frame building kits nearly 20 years ago, I was stymied by Michigan clients who were asking for shingled roofs, instead of steel.

Initially, I thought this must be a regional aesthetics thing. My curiosity finally bested me, so I asked about it. Simple answer – fear of steel roofing being damaged by hail! I never would have guessed.

Back then, we dealt with as many as six different steel roll forming companies. My first reaction was to reach out to each of them to ascertain if there was truth to this fear. Only one of them had ever even had a claim submitted to them for hail damage! This certainly seemed contrary to perceptions of pole building clients in Michigan.

Metal roofs are very tough and highly resistant to hail damage.  Hail will not penetrate a metal roof.  Even a new asphalt shingle roof won’t protect a building from a severe hailstorm.  In fact, many metal roofing products have the highest impact resistance and hail rating (Class 4) granted by Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL).  This rating means a product sample did not crack when the same spot was hit twice by a 2-inch steel ball. In a storm, this would translate into a huge hailstone.  As a result of metal roofing’s superior performance in hail prone areas, some insurance companies even provide a reduced rate for buildings protected by metal roofs.

Now and then I read social media posts where potential owners of steel roofing are concerned about hail damage. Pretty well universally builders chime in telling buyers to order thicker steel. But what is actually a better choice, thicker steel or material yield strength?

America’s auto industry has had these same concerns and researched it ad nauseam. Based on testing using practical techniques, empirical formulae predicting force and energy required to initiate a dent have been presented in recent years. Typically:

where

  • W is denting energy
  • k is a constant
  • σyis material yield strength
  • t is panel thickness
  • S is panel stiffness

Panel stiffness depends upon elastic modulus, panel thickness, shape and geometry and boundary conditions. High strength steels offer more dent resistance at the same thickness as mild steel, or an opportunity for weight saving and equivalent dent resistance at reduced panel thickness.

Let’s look at thickness and yield strength. 29 gauge panels have a minimum bare thickness of 0.142”, 26 gauge panels 0.0187”. Nearly all 29 gauge panels have a minimum yield strength of 80,000 psi. While most 26 gauge panels share this high tensile strength, it is not universal and there is at least one very popular post frame building company roll forming 40,000 psi steel coil.
FBi Bui
Let’s explore this formula and effects of thickness and yield.

80,000^2 x 0.0142”^4 = 260.22
40,000^2 x 0.0187”^4 = 195.65

Under these considerations 29 gauge panels are more dent resistant than thicker, softer 26 gauge panels.

For those of you who are not into math, my friends at FBi Buildings have produced this outstanding video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCTQZXwMIFE

(Hansen Pole Buildings and FBi utilize identical yield strength and thickness steel panels)

Tune in next Tuesday to find out what you can do to minimize potential hail damage for your new post frame building.

Seven Reasons Why Your Next Barndominium Should Be Pole Frame Construction

Today’s blog comes from Don Howe, who is a retired sales executive but has a burning passion for barndominiums.

About Hansen BuildingsSeven Reasons Why Your Next Barndominium Should Be Pole Frame Construction

One of the first design details to consider when building a barndominium is the building process. Most barndominiums are built using a stud frame, steel frame, or pole frame construction. 

 

Wood frame construction uses stud walls to support the roof. Steel frame construction involves the use of large steel frames for wider designs. As with steel frames, pole frames allow for wide, open designs, but typically feature wood posts instead of metal.

So, why should you use pole frame construction for your next barndominium? Here are seven of the top reasons.

  1. More Energy Efficient

Pole frame buildings often have thicker wall cavities compared to other types of buildings. With thicker cavities, you can use more insulation and increase the energy efficiency of the property.

The frame itself is also more energy-efficient compared to steel. The thick timber used for the post columns has natural insulating properties. They also conduct less heat, which may help save on cooling during the warmer months.

Many pole frame barndominiums include an attic, which allows for space for ceiling insulation and enhances air circulation. With the combination of energy-saving benefits, your home is likely to experience less heating and cooling loss through the roof.

  1. Aesthetically Appealing Designs

A pole frame building provides a wide range of design options, including various overhangs and trims. You can also choose from a variety of exteriors, including brick, wood, block, and vinyl siding.

Compared to stud frame homes, pole frame homes also have wider column spacing. Studs are typically spaced up to 24 inches apart while posts are spaced up to eight feet apart. The wider spacing allows for more design flexibility, such as wider windows and doorways.

A pole frame also eliminates the need for interior support columns. This means the interior floor plans do not need to accommodate load-bearing walls. You can have a completely open design spanning the entire floor or add rooms to any area. 

  1. Greater Durability 

With the right contractors, a post frame barndominium can be more durable compared to a steel frame building. The posts are often anchored four feet or more into the ground. When severe weather and wind hit the side of the building, most of the energy is transferred directly to the ground. 

Horizontal girts also connect the post columns, which increases the overall structural integrity of the frame. Trusses are also attached directly to the columns. 

Due to the superior stability of a pole frame building, these types of homes also tend to last longer. The posts are anchored in concrete slabs or basement foundations, protecting them from moisture and bacteria.

  1. More Affordable

Post-frame construction is often more affordable compared to both steel frame and stud frame construction processes. Steel is a relatively costly material for home construction while stud frame designs require additional labor and materials, which increases the costs.

The efficiency of constructing a pole frame building reduces the cost of constructing your barndominium. Thanks to the durability of the design, you are also likely to spend less on maintenance and upkeep in the coming years. 

  1. Faster Assembly

With enough help, people often put up pole barns in a single day. Barndominiums that use pole frame construction may not be completed in one day, but they are quicker to build compared to other construction methods.

As the columns are spaced further apart, there are fewer materials and less work needed to complete the frame. After the frame is erected, the rest of the work can proceed, including putting up interior walls and adding exterior features, such as doors and windows.

  1. Available in Kits

Pole frame barndominiums are available as kits, which simplifies the construction process. You get almost everything needed, including house plans, building materials, hardware, and various prebuilt components, such as doors and windows.

The availability of barndominium kits gives homeowners more control. You are less likely to deal with an overage or underage of materials, reducing the risk of delays and unexpected costs.

While barndominiums are available as kits, most homeowners should still consider hiring a contractor to assemble the home. Contractors can ensure that the frame is erected properly and meets all local building codes.

  1. Add Space for a Barn or Workshop

The original barndominiums were extensions of barns and workshops on farms and rural residential properties, combining workspace with living space. Pole frame construction allows you to continue the original tradition and add space for a barn or workshop.

In the end, pole frame construction offers a wide range of advantages over your other options. Steel frames may offer wider spacing between columns, but they also tend to cost a little more and offer less energy-efficient designs. Compared to pole frames, stud frames are costly and take longer to construct.

If you want fast, affordable, durable construction, consider using a pole frame for your next barndominium.

Minimum Steel Substrate Coating

Minimum Steel Substrate Coating for Residential Steel Roof Panels

When it comes to residential buildings – whether your barndominium or shouse (shop/house) is stick frame (stud walls), post frame, PEMB (pre-engineered metal building) or some other structural system with a steel roof, there is one import aspect of this roofing material frequently overlooked.

Substrates

Most popular metal roofing steel substrates are Galvanized and Galvalume. Galvanized substrates are coated in zinc, while Galvalume substrates are coated with an alloy of zinc plus aluminum. Both Galvalume and Galvanized are good substrates for metal panels. 

With Galvanized substrates, greater zinc amounts mean greater protection against panel corrosion. Two commonly used Galvanized substrates are designated as G100 and G60. These designations relate to the total amount of zinc contained on both sides of panel surfaces. G100 contains 1.0 ounce of zinc for every one square foot of panel while G60 substrates contain 0.6 ounces of zinc. This means a G100 substrate contains 66% more protective zinc than a G60 substrate. This difference will have a direct correlation to panel longevity and long-term aesthetics of your barndominium.

For most applications, a Galvalume substrate offers best long-term solutions, and Galvalume’s superior performance has been field proven. Over four decades of testing has shown Galvalume delivers superior corrosion resistance compared to Galvanized panels. In fact, Galvalume’s construction industry performance  has been so superior, steel mills warranty it against rupture, perforation, or failure due to corrosion. Similar warranties do not exist for Galvanized.

In one test, unpainted Galvalume and Galvanized panels were placed in four different types of outdoor environments, including normal marine and a rural setting. After 23 years of side-by-side comparison in all areas, Galvalume was two to four times more durable than Galvanized.

For extended reading on Galvalume: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/galvalume/

SO what does all of this have to do with your new barndominium?

Plenty

Building Codes (IRC – International Residential Code and IBC – International Building Code) address substrate requirements for steel roofing.

IRC Table R905.10.3(2) requires a minimum of AZ 50 for 55% aluminum-zinc-alloy-coated steel (Galvalume) or G-90 for Galvanized steel. These same requirements can be found in IBC Table 1507.4.3(2).

What is absolutely amazing is – America’s largest roll former (at least in terms of quantity of machinery) has this on their website for their 29 gauge panels, “…..perfect for residential roofing….”, however when one digs deeper on this website, this panel has only G-60 galvanization, meaning it cannot be used for roofing on anything other than “U” buildings by Code. Only an upgrade to this manufacturer’s 28 gauge “Pro” product will meet residential Code requirements!

Be an educated buyer – know what you are investing in and be certain it is indeed Code conforming. Chances are your contractor, kit provider or maybe even your roll former is unaware.

Required Bracing or Not?

When he was just a tyke (I considered adding in ‘little’ however he was 3’6” tall on his second birthday) my son Brent asked me in all seriousness what it was like to watch space aliens building pyramids. While I am not quite as old as Brent may have thought I was then, it has been awhile since I was muddling through architecture school.

Architecture school, back in my day, was more about drawing pretty pictures than it was about how to make sure those pretty pictures would actually stand up. I do foggily remember having an eight a.m. structural design class at Montana State University (who in their right mind would schedule this class mid-Winter in Bozeman?).

ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) News had a summer guest contributor (Kyle Vansice) in 2012 who wrote about some of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. Some excerpts include:

“However, I believe that Mr. Wright more likely stretched the existing construction techniques past their previous limits, possibly to a degree that diminished the factor of safety.”

“Unfortunately, Mr. Wright’s genius in architectural design was not matched by his understanding of engineering principles.”

“I believe the engineering behind his designs did not meet the exacting standards typical of a Frank Lloyd Wright space. Mr. Wright believed that the structures of his day were large, bulky, and overly engineered. He felt that it was possible to challenge conventional wisdom and beat back some of the conservatism in structural design. I think it is also true to say that while he knew existing limits were antiquated, he did not fully appreciate the actual physical constraints that his designs surpassed.”

“A good example of the need for structural remediation can be found in Mr. Wright’s riverside masterpiece, Falling Water. The iconic cantilevered portions of the home had at one point deflected close to seven-inches over their fifteen foot span, and analysis of the structure has revealed that the as-built design had placed these cantilevers dangerously close to their failure limits. Post-tensioning was eventually required to restore these portions back to their intended elevation and to prevent the sort of catastrophic collapse deemed inevitable (Tyler Meek, Fallingwater: Restoration and Structural Reinforcement).”

Falling Water

“Other well-known examples of Wright’s imprudence in engineering include the Guggenheim in New York and Taliesin; both of which encountered significant structural rehabilitation in order to restore serviceability and prevent failure.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments;
Hansen Pole Buildings’ Design Studio Manager, Caleb Johnson posed this to me earlier this year:

“Have you ever heard of a county that requires knee bracing or corner bracing via comment below from one of my clients:

“Architects and structural engineers are telling me that all buildings need knee bracing, corner bracing, etc., which in a traditional stick build is the norm”.”

If one is to venture into a Building Department and not have engineer sealed building plans, it is fair license for them to add in any structural members they desire (whether structurally necessary or adequate). These hard working folks are generally not engineers.

Most architects (even our iconic Mr. Wright) have a limited grasp of how to structurally make things work and rely upon engineers to come up with designs to prevent failures. When it comes to fully grasping nuances of post frame design, there are a limited few engineers who have done research necessary to achieve practical design within limits of safety.

Knee bracing, for one, would be a rare feature of traditional stick building and when applied to post frame construction could be detrimental. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/post-frame-construction-knee-braces/).

Corner bracing (also referred to as diagonal bracing) in most instances is a redundant member, should an engineer actually understand principles of utilizing shear strength provided by steel skin (roofing and siding). Extended reading on diagonal bracing can be found here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/diagonal-bracing/.

There is a moral to this story – unless you are building using prescriptive tables within building codes (IRC or IBC), you are best to only build from fully engineered building plans, both for safety and cost effectiveness. If you are hiring an engineer to produce your plans, look for a NFBA member engineer (www.NFBA.org) with extensive post frame experience. Or, even better, invest in a complete building package including engineer sealed plans specific to your building, at your site and including extensive step-by-step instructions and unlimited free technical support from those with actual post frame building experience.

Insulation Options, Building Plans, and a Swing Table

This week Mike the Pole Barn Guru discusses about insulation options, building plans for a back yard pavilion, and steel gauge for a “swing table.”

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are well on our way toward breaking ground. Our biggest concerns that we seem to keep going back to are these. We want a tight, dry efficient house. Although we get a little winter we are way more concerned with cooling. I love the dark metal for the roof but my husband thinks it will make the house hotter. Any advice you can offer to achieve our goals would be appreciated. We can afford to do it right but don’t want to overdo. JENNY in ARTEMUS

DEAR JENNY: If you are going to build a fully engineered post frame building, then you should be able to meet with all of your goals. By using flash and batt (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/flash-and-batt-insulating-barndominium-walls/)  for your wall insulation system, you will have tight walls. Kentucky is in Climate Zone 4 where ceiling R-value must be at least R-49 by Code. For the small difference in investment, I would suggest blowing in R-60 and using 22″ energy heel trusses to get full insulation thickness from wall-to-wall. Here in NE South Dakota we have a black steel roof and R-60 attic insulation. Our typical late summer is 90 degree plus days and with our attic insulated as it is, any heat gain from our black roof is negligible. For more information on energy efficiency please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: First, thanks for this website. I have found it very useful in my research. I work in tech and am not a carpenter, but I have worked construction before and I am taking on building an out door pavilion in our back yard. The dimensions are 20’x14′ hipped roof with posts at 18′ and 12′. I have found a couple of plans online and have purchased them and studied them inside and out to see whether or not I could take this on. I believe that I can. The plans that I have both have a 6 post layout. I would like to modify them a bit to eliminate the center posts and only have 4 posts. I have solved that by using an LVL microlam beam for the roof stringers. My real question though is around knee braces. the plans have knee braces in them, but I would like to not have them if at all possible. I have seen similar construction images that don’t have them. I am planning on using 6×6 posts and notching out the top for the stringers. Would not having braces influence the joinery choice of the stringers? Including a couple files for reference. Thanks for any and all help!! BJ in WASHINGTON

DEAR BJ: Thank you for your kind words. In all reality, when it comes to post frame construction, if you are physically capable and will read assembly instructions then you can successfully erect your own beautiful building. Your structure should be able to be done without a need for knee braces, however it would behoove you to have it designed by a Registered Professional Engineer. In most instances they will save you more money in eliminating inefficiencies than you will pay them for their services. Depending upon your building’s eave height and overall height of your roof, 6×6 columns may or may not be adequate for your purpose, again – your engineer can specify this as well as all needed connections.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I was going to make this for a client, probably 2 or 2.5 inch square tubing. Just curious to what thickness I should use? I was thinking 11ga- 1/8 inch thick steel. I just don’t know if that will be strong to enough to support a human. The part they will be hanging from will be about 4 foot wide. BLAKE

DEAR BLAKE: Sizing steel members is most certainly out of my wheelhouse, although I appreciate your inquiry. Given pricing of this unit, I would recommend you consult with a Registered Professional Engineer to size members as well as design connections – since people will be potentially injured (or worse) in event of a failure, you do not want to be in a liability position. My one recommendation would be to have it powder coated to minimize rusting potentialities.

 

My Pole Barn is Chilly

Reader TIM from INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, MN has a chilling challenge, he writes:

“Fabulous site, congrats.  I have a 40×60 pole barn with 10ft ceiling to the bottom of the rafters.  Last year I put a 150k btu heater in to try and take the chill out a bit.  It didn’t work so well because the building is not tight at all.  I know I could spray foam it.  Is there anything that I could do less expensive?  I was told to put 6mil ply sheeting under the rafters at 10feet to seal that space and the leaks that are on the end of the building away from the space below where the heater is.  Plus I would not be heating the area above anymore.  I only heat it for a few hours 4-5 days a week.  Thoughts?”

Possible solutions could end up making two dollars per square foot of surface (for two inch thickness) of closed cell spray foam a bargain.

If you do not have some form of condensation control between roof framing and roof steel, you are going to need to closed cell spray foam the underside of your roof steel (again two inches), otherwise it will rain inside your building.

As heat rises, let’s begin there. Determine if your roof trusses are designed to support a ceiling load. This can be found by examining your engineered truss drawings supplied when trusses were delivered. If not available, look for the manufacturer’s stamp located on truss bottom chords. If you contact them with your site address, they should be able to pull up your building’s records. You want to find at least a five psf (pounds per square foot) ceiling (bottom chord) dead load (although three psf would support a steel liner panel ceiling). If inadequate to support a ceiling, your truss manufacturer can provide (for a nominal fee) a repair design to upgrade your trusses. Once it is determined trusses can support a load (or have been repaired in order to do so), add ceiling framing between trusses (if over two foot on center) to support drywall (my personal preference – use 5/8″ Type X) or a steel liner.

Blow in R-60 of fiberglass or cellulose insulation on top of your new ceiling. Make sure to not block airflow coming in from sidewall vented soffits. Should you not have a vented overhang and vented ridge cap, you will need to add gable vents located in the top half of each endwall with a minimum of 576 square inches of net free ventilation area in each endwall.

Made spray foam sound easy, didn’t I?

Arnold Puts Moratorium on Barndominiums

Arnold puts moratorium on ‘barndominiums’

This article by Tony Krausz appeared in the Jefferson County, MO “Leader” October 25, 2020

An example of a barndominium.

The city of Arnold has temporarily prohibited the construction of “barndominiums,” which typically are metal barn-like structures that include living quarters.

City Council members voted 5-0 last month to place a six-month moratorium on building barndominiums inside the Arnold city limits. Ward 1 Councilman Jason Fulbright and Ward 2 Councilman Brian McArthur were absent from the meeting.

The moratorium says no building permits will be issued for the construction of pole buildings, metal-clad buildings and buildings clad with other construction material inconsistent with that of residential development within the city of Arnold, if those structures are intended to be used for residential dwellings.

Twice since March, people have reached out to the city inquiring about building a barn-like structure in Arnold to use as a house, said David Bookless, the city’s Community Development Director.

Currently, the city’s codes do not allow for barndominiums, so during the moratorium, city staff and officials will look at building codes to determine how and where the structures could be built in the city.

“It doesn’t have to take six months,” Community Development Director David Bookless said. “If the Planning Commission figures it out in two months, we are golden, or, if we get to six months and it is a bigger animal than we thought, it could be extended.”

One of the main code violations related to barndominiums is no step up between the living area and the barn or garage area of the structure, Bookless said.

He also told City Council members there are fire risks related to the unique residential structures, as well as risks for the structures to be damaged by seismic or high-wind events.

“We just want to be sure that if any of these come to Arnold that No. 1, they are structurally safe, and No. 2, they are going to be made out of materials and look consistent with the kind of single-family housing that we have in the city,” said Bryan Richison, the city administrator. “That is the whole point.”

During a presentation at a council work session in September, Bookless said barndominiums typically are found in rural areas on large-acre lots.

He said it is possible for someone who wants to construct one in Arnold to spend the extra money needed to meet the city’s buildings codes, which would pave the way for the barn-like homes to be built anywhere in the city.

“Right now, we don’t have design guidance that would stop somebody from building something in a neighborhood that is out of character or context with what is around it,” Bookless said. “If you are in a residential subdivision and there are four models of houses that are typical of a suburb and one house is a pole barn, is that appropriate? That is the type of thing the Planning Commission will discuss.”

Bookless said it is doubtful someone wanting to build a barndominium would want to spend the extra money on construction because part of the appeal is the less expensive construction.

A typical house costs about $115 per square foot to build, while a barndominium costs about $100 per square foot to build, according to the website BarndominiumLife.com.

Bookless said Planning Commission members and city staff will work with city attorney Bob Sweeney to draft an ordinance adjusting codes that would allow the structure to be built in Arnold and will present that to the council.

“There are other communities that have different types of guidelines in place for the design of buildings in commercial and residential areas that have been challenged in court and withstood those challenges,” Bookless said. “We will make sure we utilize the lessons learned from other communities.”

Pole Barn Guru’s comments:

This community has actually not banned barndominiums or post frame homes. Jurisdictional Planning Departments have every right to limit exterior cladding materials and even colors, just not Code compliant structural systems. 


Unless Arnold has enacted a local provision contrary to IRC (International Residential Code), there is no requirement for a step between a garage and a living area – indeed, such a barrier would pose an undue restriction for those who are mobility challenged.

A post frame home fully engineered for R-3 (residential) occupancy would pose less of a risk against extreme climatic conditions than would structures prescriptively constructed under IRC code and a steel exterior skin will be far less likely to be a fire risk than would be vinyl or wood sidings.

Questionably Designed Steel Truss Pole Barns

Being a member of numerous social media discussion groups, I see a plethora of photos of people’s new (or under construction) steel trussed post frame buildings. Most of these buildings are from Southeastern states where it appears structural building permits and plan checks are minimal or non-existent. This results in my receiving emails like this one from KEVIN in CULPEPER:

Hello! I am in the midst of building a pole barn, 40 wide x 90 long x 12 high posts.  We are using 6x6x16s and steel trusses. All is going well thus far my question is, would it be advisable to close in the long side walls and leave the ends open? Or leave all sides open? How does the wind load change in relation to this? I prefer not to fully enclose for now.  Also, what wind bracing would YOU utilize? Y braces, knee braces, X braces down the side walls, steel cables and turn-buckles spanning from gable peak to second post back? I’m in a windy spot.

THANK YOU in advance for any advice!” 


Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:

While I appreciate your reaching out to me, these are questions best directed to your building plan’s engineer. He or she has structural design responsibility for your building. If somehow you do not have fully engineered plans, you desperately need one’s (an engineer’s) services. My best guess is 6×6 columns are overstressed in bending either with or without sides and will require an engineered repair. On typical post frame construction covering long sides and leaving endwalls open is pretty much a recipe for a failure as wind loads going into the top half of your sidewalls and roof are transferred through endwall sheeting to ground. No endwall sheeting means a tremendous load is being placed on those corner columns. Required bracing will be called out for on your engineer sealed building plans. Your building site happens to be an Exposure C – it is open to wind coming from one or more directions. Effectively this requires your building to be designed to resist roughly 20% more load from wind, than would a protected (Exposure B) site. This wind condition should be specified on those engineered plans.

I realize it is a huge temptation to throw hard earned money at questionably designed, bargain priced buildings. There is a reason their prices are so cheap – and if you are willing to sacrifice structural integrity for low price, there is nothing I can do to save you.

For everyone else – unless you are investing in a stick frame building following prescriptive requirements laid out within Building Codes (not just a handout from a Building Department) you should demand your provider supply fully engineered plans for your building – specific to your building’s features and your site. Anything short of this is an invitation to a future disaster site.

Air Sealing Your Post Frame Barndominium

Unless someone reincarnates Nikola Tesla (and he is sane) chances are good energy costs are not going to decrease. Air sealing your post frame barndominium or shouse increases your comfort by reducing drafts and cycle time your heating and cooling systems are running.

Air sealing your barndominium reduces humidity increasing comfort levels. A drafty barndominium is more than just a waste of natural resources, it also means higher energy bills. Air sealing will automatically lower your energy bills due to less leakage of conditioned air.

Using two inches of closed cell spray foam directly inside steel siding panels not only air seals exterior walls, as it is an effective vapor barrier, but also provides approximately a R-14 level of insulation. Effective applications also require installing form fitted inside closure strips at top and bottom of every wall steel panel – including window and door openings. Closure strips keep spray foam in your walls rather than oozing out and keeps small crawling and flying critters out.

For those who opt not to utilize closed cell spray foam, air sealing begins with a totally sealed Weather Resistant Barrier (WRB) wrapping all framing before steel siding is applied. For further reading on Weather Resistant Barriers please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/

Care should be taken to effectively use WRBs around openings for windows and doors, as well as utilizing caulking and self-adhesive sealant tape for an airtight seal. Place sill gaskets under all exterior doors. Use spray foam or caulk to fill any gaps between doors and windows and adjacent framing.

In Floor Heat System InstallationWhen placing under slab vapor barriers, run up inside of pressure preservative treated splash planks and sealing to top and around columns. Install seal gasket under pressure treated base plate (mud sill) and caulk inside edge to concrete slab.

With wall insulation systems other than closed cell, use a clear visqueen vapor barrier on the inside of all framing. Seal every penetration in this vapor barrier.

Before installing interior window and door trims, caulk where trim will meet frames. Make sure door sweeps are installed and the threshold is properly adjusted.

Common infiltration paths include attic access and simply insulating envelope (or shell) isn’t enough. In fact, insulation’s ability to perform is almost cut in “half” if not air sealed first.

Expandable polyurethane is used in areas too wide for caulk. If an area is wider than 1/4″ caulk can fall out of grooves. Acrylic-latex caulk is for all gaps small enough for caulk to function properly such as base plate and seam between floor and wall and wall and ceiling. Fire-rated caulk is non-combustible and for any areas where wires penetrate through base plates, walls, etc. (This is a recently implemented new national code.)

While it seems obvious gaps and crevices in a barndominium should be sealed, most builders either have not yet begun or just recently started utilizing air sealing processes. If hiring a contractor, make certain complete air sealing processes are spelled out in contractual documents – money you will save over your barndominium’s lifespan.

Span, Vapor Barriers, and Planning a Pole Barn

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about the widest span a post frame building can be built, vapor barrier on a roof only structure, and the proper steps for planning a pole barn.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How wide can you span? And approx cost per sq ft for an erected shell, (no floor Hvac or electric. 100’x110′ bldg.. JOHN in LEWES

Arena Interior

DEAR JOHN: While we have quoted fully engineered post frame buildings up to 140′ clearspan with prefabricated wood trusses, 100′ is widest we have provided. Due to possible shipping and fabrication challenges, these spans are not available in all markets and further research would need to be done based upon your location and load conditions. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you for further discussion.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is a vapor barrier needed for metal roof if it is open, no walls? CRAIG.

DEAR CRAIG: While Building Codes do not require one – if it is absent you are likely to have periods (especially in Spring and Fall) where it will rain inside of your building. Most people erect new buildings with an idea of protecting contents from climactic conditions such as rain, so this result may be less than desirable.

I would recommend you order roof steel with a factory applied Integral Condensation Control (ICC). ICC is available with trade names such as Dripstop and Condenstop.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My wife and I may be obtaining property in western Oregon and have been kicking the idea around building such a structure. We really don’t know where to start and what this all entails. We really like the idea of having a simple open concept with a decent size shop attached so all our vehicles and RV can be stored inside. I was just really hoping to get a starting point and go from there. Thank you for your time! COLE in OREGON

DEAR COLE: Thank you for reaching out to us. Links in this article should assist you in getting off to a start in the right direction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

 

 

Blower Door Testing Your New Barndominium Part II

Continued from yesterday’s blog;

Aside from code compliance or indoor air quality concerns, another reason to get a blower door test is to properly size your furnace or air conditioner. How leaky or tight your barndominium is can change how much heating/humidification or cooling/dehumidification you need. This then ties into how carefully your mechanical system is designed. If in doubt, ask your HVAC designer whether and how they use air leakage metrics in their load calculations.

Envelope leakage is measured in terms of air volume per time unit or CFM (cubic feet of air per minute). From this number, a standard metric called ACH50 (air changes per hour at a 50 pascal standard test pressure) is calculated. ACH50 indicates how many times building interior air volume changes with outside air under test conditions, correlating to air leakage under normal or “natural” conditions. This ACH50 number is how leakage across different homes is compared. CFM per floor area square foot and CFM per building envelope square foot may also be used.

Blower door testing is often done near the building process, when paint is done,  doors and windows are in place, and all weather stripping is installed.

This is a great time to find out your final numbers, but not such a great time to try and fix any issues. Doing leakage testing at different construction stages can help diagnose issues and fix them while the primary air barrier is still accessible. Caveat to this early testing is all window or door openings must be sealed, otherwise you won’t be able to pressurize the building enough to look for leaks.

To find someone to conduct blower door testing Google for a testing company using keywords such as: energy code testing, HERS Rater, or energy auditor. Ideally, you’ll find someone who is RESNET- or BPI-certified, meaning they should have right equipment and experience to help get a leakage number and also identify where leakage is coming from.

One can even make their own equipment with a box fan or two, and some ISO board to seal up the door opening. This will not get any actual leakage numbers, but it can go a long way in helping find leaks. When pulling air in through leaks by blowing air out of your barndominium, you can usually feel where air is coming in.  Depending on temperature difference, you might also be able to see it with an infrared (IR) camera. Another great tool to use is a theatrical fogger to help make air movement visible. 

Energy amount saved by air-sealing your barndominium depends on many factors: what climate zone you live in, interior temperature, wind speeds, etc. International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) required a 7 ACH50 building envelope leakage in 2009, but now 2018 code requires 3 and 5 ACH50 in most areas. This downward trend in leakage requirements indicates building codes will continue to get more stringent over time as builders get used to these standards, and as products and technologies improve. Achieving a 3-5 ACH50 is more than doable. These days, Passive House projects are required to achieve 0.6 ACH50. All of this is done to save energy on a large scale.

Blower Door Testing Your New Barndominium Part I

Blower Door Testing Your New Barndominium

You only get one chance to put together your barndominium, shouse or post frame home envelope correctly. Once you conceal it with siding and shielding, it’s nearly impossible to fix. So, by not focusing on this crucial building process aspect, you’re ultimately creating a path to a leaky barndominium. This can lead to poor indoor air quality (IAQ), moisture deposits on cold surfaces, mold and even affect health.

Exterior building enclosure leakage impacts our health and well-being. Gaps and cracks in your barndominium’s air can cause several issues. These gaps aren’t just a place for bugs, dust, and pollen to get in. They allow cold or warm air, moisture, and contaminants to enter as well. Depending on what climate you live in, this leakage can have detrimental effects. In humid climates, high envelope leakage can cause excessive moisture amounts to infiltrate your barndominium, making it uncomfortably sticky and more susceptible to issues such as mold. In drier climates, the opposite is true, dry air comes in during winter months and makes for an uncomfortably dry environment and can cause dry sinuses, static electricity, and even increase viral spread. These leaks also impact energy usage, as heated or cooled air escapes your barndominium more quickly, increasing air conditioner or heater runtimes.

This is why a blower door test is so critical to your new barndominium. Industry professionals have long been aware of better duct sealing needs, enclosure sealing, and improved indoor air quality. This test determines if it has happened on a project.

A blower door test is used on buildings in order to quantify air leakage amounts through its enclosure. During this test, a calibrated fan is installed in an otherwise sealed door or window, while all other exterior openings are closed. Once the fan is turned on, it creates a pressure difference between outside and inside. Typically done under negative pressure, this fan sucks air out of your barndominium, causing it to come in through whatever pathways it can find — many unintentional. 

These unintentional leaks are what professionals measure when they conduct these tests. While pressure inside is steady, air going through the fan is the sum of all building leaks. Because the fan is calibrated, its airflow at various pressures is known. With a pressure differential constant, then we know air volume moving through a fan is the same as air volume leaking through cracks and gaps in your barndominium. 

These tests define indoor space by separating it from outdoors and quantifying leakage. Remember: you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Enclosure testing is more than just getting a number, though. Once leakage is located, recommendations can be made to address those areas. Air coming in through an improperly closed is much different than air coming in through a poorly sealed attic filled with fiberglass insulation. Airflow through a leaky window isn’t going to pick up pollutants or potentially cause materials to become wet like an attic air leak might.

People who care about health, comfort and/or efficiency should consider testing their new barndominium to see how it measures and locate improvable aspects. Blower door testing is a relatively new United States construction code requirement. While many builders get blower door tests done on their builds, not as many stick around and watch this process. For builders, watching this test can help improve their processes for their next build.

Come back tomorrow for the final part of blower door testing.

Vehicle Lifts for Post Frame Buildings

A trending garage accessory is an addition of a garage vehicle lift. Vehicle lifts provide many benefits for your post frame garage or shop than just being able to work on your vehicle.

A vehicle lift for your garage is exactly what it sounds like, it will elevate your vehicle so you can either work on it or benefit from extra space it’ll provide.

Garage Interior

There are a few standard types of garage vehicle lifts you’ll find in most people’s garages. Here are popular vehicle lift types:

Scissor lifts are most standard vehicle car lifts and are more for solely to work on vehicles.

They lie flat when not in use and you park over them before you elevate your vehicle. They are very easy to use and don’t take up a lot of space.

They do prohibit ability to work underneath your vehicle and are mainly ideal for wheel and brake work as well as some under-engine jobs. Scissor vehicle lifts are also the least expensive option.

Two-post vehicle lifts are commonly found in professional auto shops, however they’re starting to pop up in people’s personal garages.

They feature two heavy duty posts on each side with braces connecting them where your vehicle sits. When raised, you’ll have complete access underneath your vehicle to perform any repair.

They also take up relatively little space so you can still utilize the rest of your garage. Two-post lifts are more permanent options as they need to be bolted to the floor and require periodic maintenance to make sure everything stays tight and level.

Four-post lifts are becoming increasingly popular in residential garages for their ease of use and benefits.

They feature four solid posts and a set of tracks you drive onto so you can lift your vehicle up. Many homeowners are adding them due to ease of use.

They can support the heaviest of vehicles and are ideal for smaller garages where you want to create more space. Their only drawback – you can’t do any repairs to wheels or brakes as they’re sitting on lift tracks.

With an addition of a four-post lift, you have an ability to park another vehicle underneath the lifted vehicle. This is especially great for people who have smaller one vehicle garages.

No need to pick and choose who gets garage privileges anymore. Keep in mind you’ll need to move the bottom vehicle before you use one on top, so plan parking according to who needs to leave home first.

Now I have always told clients they need to design their new post frame garages with 12 foot clear ceilings, in order to accommodate a vehicle lift. My own garage happens to have only a 10’6” ceiling so I had always thought myself to be out of luck for a lift.

Car Shop Interior

Reader MIKE in FRANKLIN recently wrote: What is the minimum sidewall height for a simple car lift – 12 feet?”

While BILL in RAYLAND writes: Could you tell me the steps I would need to take to raise a 40Wx60L and ten foot high garage ceiling to a cathedral type ceiling from normal trusses to the cathedral type, in order to fit  a 2 post car lift?”

Well Bill, I am going to save you money and make you a happy camper! My lovely bride Judy and I just returned from NSRA’s (National Street Rod Association) Mid-America Nationals in Springfield, Missouri. A show exhibitor was Champion Auto Lift (www.ChampionAutoLift.com) and their lifts are specifically designed for those with lower ceiling heights such as yours and mine! They assure me 10 foot height ceilings are plenty sufficient for their lifts!

Busting Post Frame Barndominium Myths

Busting Post Frame Barndominium Myths

Yep, I have been web surfing again and I came across a stick frame building contractor’s website who obviously either doesn’t understand fully engineered post frame construction, or just frankly doesn’t care to add it to his arsenal of design solutions. My comments are in italics.

MYTH #1. MOST BANKS WON’T OFFER CONSTRUCTION LOANS ON POST FRAME POLE BARN HOUSES.
Many lenders refrain from offering traditional mortgages for pole barn homes. For example, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will not offer these loans at all.
The small percentage of entities that do offer mortgages for pole barn homes will typically have much higher requirements, because they’ll be using internal money to finance it.
They’ll likely require a 30% down payment (and oftentimes, more than this).

In reality, a fully engineered post frame building is no different than any other wood frame steel roofed and sided home and any lender will approve a mortgage for one as long as you do not use terms like “barndominium”, “pole barn house”, “post frame house”, etc. Apply the K-I-S-S method (Keep It Simple Stupid) and refer to it only as being a fully engineered, custom designed, wood frame home with steel roofing and siding. Period and 100% factual.

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

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

MYTH #2. THERE ARE NO FOOTERS IN POST FRAMES
Without having footers to protect the concrete slab from freezing, there is the potential that the concrete slab can move or heave around the edges in cold weather. In turn, this can shift interior walls, resulting in damage to drywall finishes and trim.
If you do go with post frame construction, you will have to add footers to stay in code compliance of the IRC. This will add that cost back into the total price of the home.

Your fully engineered post frame home is 100% Building Code Compliant and most typically has pressure preservative treated columns embedded in ground with both concrete footings and bottom collars. Alternatively your home can be mounted to steel brackets set in concrete piers.

Either of these are designed to extend to or below frost lines or are frost protected by use of insulation. Footers themselves do not protect a concrete slab from freezing and heaving, using rigid insulation around slab perimeters is required for either stick frame or post frame. With fully engineered post frame, there is no need to incorporate thickened slab edges or continuous concrete footings and foundations.

MYTH #3. POST FRAMES WILL HAVE LARGER SPANS IN THE ROOF TRUSSES
This is an issue because they’ll have to be filled in before you can hang the drywall.

If you hang drywall “as is,” it will all sag over time, causing structural damage (and a pain in your wallet). Adding this extra framing after the fact will add to the total price tag again.

Most cost effectively your fully engineered post frame building will have double trusses every 10 to 12 feet. If you desire to insulate at ceiling lines, ceiling joists are placed every two feet to adequately support drywall. This combination of double trusses and ceiling joists will still be less expensive than conventional stick framing’s trusses every two feet with structural headers required in walls. By widely spacing trusses, it allows for greater flexibility in locating doors and windows in exterior walls.

MYTH #4. EXTRA FRAMING BETWEEN THE POSTS WILL BE NEEDED
As opposed to traditional wall building, you’ll have to build the walls between the posts after you build on the post frames. This is an added cost to the post frame structure that has already been built.

We can tell this builder has never built (or probably seen) a fully engineered post frame building with bookshelf girts every two feet. All exterior wall framing is taken care of at initial installation, you get a deeper insulation cavity and a better surface to drywall. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/

MYTH #5. INSULATION COSTS ARE HIGHER
Your pole barn home will require more insulation on a post frame wall because the walls are thicker than the typical two-by-four construction. Therefore, the cost of insulation will be higher to fill this cavity.

Would you really want an electric bill based off of R-13 insulation in a two-by-four exterior wall? Engineered post frame construction allows for thicker insulation cavities – reducing your energy costs for your barndominium’s lifespan.

MYTH #6. POST FRAME CONSTRUCTION IS TYPICALLY NOT USED WITH BASEMENTS.
Post frame construction is not very conducive when building on a basement, as the basement walls will be made from poured concrete. Trying to adapt a post frame construction to a basement will end up with higher costs than traditional home building techniques. The bottom line: If you want a home with a basement, post frame construction is not the best choice.

Your fully engineered post frame home can easily be engineered to attach to a concrete basement foundation, ICFs or even incorporated into a Permanent Wood Foundation, at similar or lower costs than stick frame.

Column Height, a Hangar Door, and Splash Plank Boards

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about column height for an eight foot one inch interior ceiling, what size bi-fold door for a hangar, and specific boards for a splash plank.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: New at this. If I am building a pole barn house and want 8 ft 1 inch between slab and bottom of truss, have 4 inches of slab and 2 inches of Styro and need have top of footing at 42 inches, I come up with 145 inches. A 12 foot pole is 144. Can this work and pass code or do I need to go with a longer post.

Thanks for any help. BRADLEY in SHELBY

DEAR BRADLEY: My recommendation is for you to be building from a fully engineered set of building plans. When you are provided with a design frost depth from your Building Department, it is telling you the BOTTOM of the footing must be at or below the design frost depth.

If this was a Hansen Pole Building, our engineers would specify column holes to be 42″ deep from grade. The bottom 8″ of this hole would be filled with concrete (below the column) as part of a monopoured bottom collar. Your building footprint would be lowered two inches below grade to allow for your sub-slab insulation. Top of a nominal four inch slab will be at 3-1/2″ above grade. Normally height from top of slab to bottom of trusses to give an eight foot finished ceiling would be 8′ 1-1/8″. One thing you have not accounted for is raised heel trusses to allow for full insulation thickness from outside of wall to outside of wall. In your area we would recommend R-60 attic insulation, with 22 inch high raised heel trusses. Given this information, your columns should be 14′.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am contemplating building a hangar, planning at this point on a 60 x 60 hangar, and wondering what the maximum opening span would be with a bi-fold door. Thanks! KEVIN in BELLAIRE

DEAR KEVIN: On each side of the hangar door your building will need what is known as a ‘braced wall panel’ of solid wall. The width of this area is limited to a maximum ratio of panel width to building eave height of 1:3.5 (as an example on a 14′ eave building would be 4′).

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What boards do I use for outside band for first floor > 20ft by 40ft -6×6 posted 10 on center. JOSEPH in CLINTON

DEAR JOSEPH: First floors are at grade, so your ‘outside band’ would be called out for on your fully engineered building plans as being a pressure preservative treated splash plank of some dimension (in our case, with steel siding it will be a 2×8 treated to UC-4A or ground contact).

 

 

Seal Walls, Fill for Compaction, and Condensation Control

Let’s close out the week with another installment of Ask the Pole Barn Guru! First up is a resolution to seal up a building, followed by assistance with compacted fill, and finally an alternative to spray foam to control condensation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I purchased a pole building from you last year and there was an error that I wanted an insulated building. So I will be insulating this myself. What keeps all the drafts and bugs out at the roof eve and lower edge of side panels? I am doing house wrap on the exterior walls. MARK in MOUNT VERNON

DEAR MARK: Communication – we as humans do so much of it and all too often do not fully convey our intentions. I am just as guilty as any other person, so do not feel like you are alone in this. This is one reason we strive to do everything in writing, so both parties are clear on each other’s expectations.

 

Also, successful construction is not measured by how perfect things went initially, but rather by how challenges are solved to arrive at a great end result.

Your roof eaves should be sealed with inside closures, provided with your building package, to install between fascia board and roof steel, so should not be an issue there. If you have not yet installed siding, same inside closures can be placed at bottom of walls, on top of your Weather Resistant Barrier to keep any little critters from entering steel high ribs in your 1/4 inch space between base trim flat and bottom edge of wall panels.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve worked with a Hansen Building Designer, ordered my building, and materials will start arriving in two weeks. Looking forward to it, but also a little bit ‘trepidated,’ as it’s my first post-frame build (I completely remuddled a 100 year old farm house at our last place, so that’s what I have for previous experience).

My question has to do with the compacted fill that goes onto my cleared site after the poles are concreted in. Is crusher run gravel appropriate, or is a different type of gravel recommended for better drainage (I’m not familiar with the options, so please be specific if so)?

Also, please see the attached photo of the cleared site along with a drawing I created based on what I *think* are the correct dimensions based on reading the Construction Manual and a number of your blog posts. Note that I’m planning on a 5″ thick concrete floor, and have indicated same in the drawing at exactly 5″. ED in SUMMERTOWN

DEAR ED: Awesome drawing! You should have no difficulties in assembling your own beautiful building, as I can tell you are already reading directions!

Crusher run should be adequate for your sub-base. Most important is to get any clay removed from within upper levels of your grade and to have good compaction. Top two to six inches of your fill should be clean and drained sand or sandy gravel, again well compacted.

Photos: https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/7bea6f6c3d75e192515b8bd12303c72c.jpg
https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/5ccc84929f35cf3f29da7f8849defaa1.jpeg

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If not spray foam on the underside of metal roof then I saw you recommend reflective siding insulation. Would that suffice in lieu of spray foam?

DYLAN in BEDFORD

DEAR DYLAN: My first alternate choice would be to use an I.C.C. (Integral Condensation Control) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/09/integral-condensation-control-2/ easy to install and no seams to worry about. Next choice would be a Reflective Radiant Barrier – we have it in six foot wide rolls with an adhesive pull strip to seal joints. Contact Materials@HansenPoleBuildings.com for delivered pricing (rolls are 128′ long).

 

 

 

Site Prep,

Thursday’s edition will tackle three more reader questions. First up is about how level a site must be before erecting a shop, second is about pole barn homes and the many options available, and third is a question about the best method to fix an issue left by a previous builder.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning on building a 30’x 40’ post frame shop. The ground is dirt and has about an 8” drop from east to west. How level must the site be before erecting the shop? I will out in a concrete floor after it is built. JASON in JACKSON

DEAR JASON: Personally I would get my ground as close to level before building as possible, as it is far easier to place and properly compact fill without your building being erected. Of all things being neglected in building construction, proper site preparation and compaction probably ranks close to list tops. You will want to read my series of articles beginning here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

Photos: https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/0aaae906a4e86643f513e2c2c5b99bf1.jpeg

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I saw a few pole barn homes on your website and was wondering if that is all the plans you have?  We are interested in wood siding, not metal. TRACY

DEAR TRACY: Every post frame building Hansen Pole Buildings provides is 100% custom designed to best meet your wants and needs. We encourage our clients to design homes to best fit their lifestyle. By working from inside to out and not trying to fit what you need within a preordained box just because someone said using a “standard” site might be cheaper you can arrive at an ideal design solution. Differences in dimensions from “standard” are pennies per square foot, not dollars.

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

If you find an existing plan somewhere you feel will meet your needs, we can adapt it to post frame construction and save you money. Hansen Pole Buildings can provide fully engineered post frame buildings with any type of siding or roofing materials.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am working on finishing an apartment above a garage with framed walls/OSB and steel on the roof. The contractor who walked off the job did not put any type of vapor barrier between steel and purlins. I priced closed cell spray foam which is more than homeowner wants to pay. I was then thinking about using Visqueen on the ceiling (bottom cord of standard truss) with unfaced insulation for an airtight vapor barrier. But after more research it looks like that may not be a good option. There is ridge and soffit venting. What do you think? If not Visqueen or faced insulation do you think one inch of closed cell on the metal and batted down on the ceiling would work in Pennsylvania or would just an inch still allow sweating?

DEAR JOSHUA: Exasperating when contractors cheap out and leave clients (or client’s next builder) with a mess to have to fix.

You have only a couple of realistic options – first one is ugly, remove roof steel and place a thermal break between conditioned space and roof steel. This could be as simple as adding a Reflective Radiant Barrier. It never comes back together as well as it did originally, and when all is said and done, option number two will be less expensive.

Option two is closed cell spray foam. It really takes two inches to be an effective vapor barrier, and should run roughly two dollars per square foot of roof surface. While homeowner might not want to make this investment, he or she did not do their homework to initially be an informed buyer and if they do not solve this challenge it will be a problem forever.

 

Tyvek, Truss Attachments, and Polycarbonate Panels

Continuing to play catch-up with the Pole Barn Guru reader questions, Mike answers questions about adding Tyvek under wall steel, attaching trusses to header on sealed plans, and the use of polycarbonate panels for use on post frame building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: About to start the build of a 36 x 50 pole barn. Should I add a Tyvek or a “Block-IT” type material under the metal on the walls? I don’t know if I will ever finish the inside (maybe?) but where we live we get a ton of dust from farm fields etc. in the spring and winter before crops, and I am thinking that some type of material might help with drafts and dust. Seems quick and cheap to add now. Seems like everyone is squarely divided on yes/no. Thank you. MIKE in FREELAND

DEAR MIKE: Only reason to not have a Weather Resistant Barrier between your wall steel and framing would be if you were going to use closed cell spray foam insulation (in which case it should be applied directly to wall steel inside). It is so much easier to install now, than to wish you had done so after your building is completed.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My pole barn plans (architect designed & engineer stamped) show a double 2×12 header bolted into the notched top of the pole frame. Can the trusses sit directly on the top of the headers or should I put a typical double top plate on top of the headers (not shown on the plans). DAVE in PEYTON

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR DAVE: You should erect your building exactly as shown on your engineer sealed plans, otherwise you have relieved your Engineer of Record of any responsibility for structural adequacy. Should you feel adding a top plate or plates to be necessary, please reach out to your engineer for clarification and a possible addendum to your plans.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are some kind of translucent panels an option for pole barn roofing or siding? Similar to UPS Truck roof. Natural lighting. THOMAS in CHICAGO

post frame garageDEAR THOMAS: Polycarbonate panels may be used to provide natural lighting inside of non-insulated post frame buildings. In my opinion (as well as those of others) translucent panels should not be used in roof plane for a variety of reasons (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/one-more-reason-to-not-use-skylights-in-steel-roofs/). They can be successfully used at top of one or both eave sidewalls or on triangles supported by end trusses.

Photos: https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/cde6e9e0628de407178fc59261af7f68.jpeg

 

Dry Set Brackets, Snow Loads, and Winch Boxes

The Pole Barn Guru continues to be inundated with reader questions, so we will be adding some mid-week PBG responses. First off is a questions about attaching posts to a square footing with dry set brackets, whether or not a Hansen Building can withstand a 40lb snow load (they most certainly can), and the use of winch boxes to raise trusses.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can poles or square posts be attached to cement footings? 30 years ago we started working on a post and beam barn, cutting traditional joints, etc. Well that project was not completed you can guess why. Now we still have the footings that were going to have sills attached and the timber frame joined to that. My other half thinks we can essentially build a pole barn by bolting posts to footings. I have my doubts because as I understand it part of the stability of the pole barn depends on the integrity of the pole and its depth in the ground.

Thanks, MIMI in CATHARPIN

DEAR MIMI: There are dry set brackets designed for attaching post frame building columns to existing concrete, however our third party engineers will no longer certify them for use. Here is some further information on them: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/dry-set-column-anchors/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do your buildings support a snow load of 60+ lbs per square foot? JARED in BONE

DEAR JARED: Every Hansen Pole Building is designed and engineered specifically for loading (wind, snow and seismic) conditions at your particular site. We have provided buildings with ground snow loads in excess of 400 psf (pounds per square foot), so your snow load should not be a difficulty. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you for further information and to assist you with your new post frame building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am working with Mindi on my quote. I found info on using hand crank winches to raise preconstructed sections of the trusses and purlins. In the different articles, the construct a steel box that the winch is attached to and the box/winch is placed on the top of the poles. If I use wet set brackets, how much extra length is provided on the column? Would I be able to use the winch method with columns bolted into brackets? If I have a 24 ft span and 3:12 pitch, about how much would one truss weigh?
Thanks, LEE in HUNTSVILLE

DEAR LEE: Kudos for you to look to using winch boxes! Your savings in time (and safety) will more than pay to build a set of boxes. With wet set brackets you might want to have Mindi add two feet in length to your truss supporting columns, otherwise you will end up very tight for column above trusses. Cranking up trusses with purlins attached works equally well with either embedded or wet set brackets. Two pairs of trusses and all purlins for a bay will weigh somewhere under a thousand pounds.

 

Posts and Collars, Girts, and Non-Vented Soffits

This week’s edition of Pole Barn Guru visits the topics of post and footing sizes, bookshelf girts for drywall, and non-vented soffits for building with spray foam insulation.

treated postDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am currently 68 but I built pole barns as a younger man the biggest being a hay barn 24′ eaves X 80 clearspan trusses that we built X 160′ long. I am going to build a 30×60 and will use 6X6 posts 12′ to eaves, engineered trusses with 2X6 purlins 12′ span.

What diameter hole do I need?

I was thinking of using a 16 or 18 sonotube top of an 8″ footing below pour.

Does that sound reasonable?

I am in Grant county Wa.

Thanks for your time 🙂 JOSEPH in SOAP LAKE

DEAR JOSEPH: We have had clients much older than you, with no prior experience, successfully erect their own beautiful post frame buildings. Your 80 foot clearspan x 160 foot long and 24 foot eave must have been quite impressive structure!

Most of your area’s building sites are Exposure C for wind (open to the wind in one or more directions – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/), which is default value for Grant County. If this is indeed your case, neither 6×6 posts or 18 inch diameter holes would be adequate. One of our Building Designers will reach out to you to further discuss your building needs.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: After reading all of the advantages of bookshelf girts I still find the idea of installing drywall sheets vertically over them a bit perplexing. Is vertical “strapping” of some sort required in addition to the girts or is there enough rigidity between the girts to keep the seam together? I’m assuming this would require the use of 5/8 thick sheets. We are planning on doing as much of the work as possible so our plan would be to have all of the ceilings hung by a pro and do the vertical wall hanging ourselves. All of the details for top of wall to truss connections and the prep make perfect sense to me, why does this detail escape me.
Always thankful for all of the useful info we have learned from your site. We are getting closer by the day to being ready to have our plans prepared for building. RUSS in PIPERSVILLE

DEAR RUSS: Thank you for all of your kind words, they are appreciated. The horizontal bookshelf girts will be stiff enough being attached to both the exterior siding (whether wood or steel) as well as the interior drywall to keep your seams together, without need for blocking at seam edges. You will find your sheetrock joints will be much smoother with vertical installation across these girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/). I used 5/8″ Type X drywall in my own shouse (shop/house) – because it is much more durable, absorbs sound better and provides fire resistance, however 1/2″ would have worked equally as well for standard performance.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking at purchasing / installing a 30’X50′ pole barn style building with 16′ ceilings, including two 12’X50′ lean-to on each side and 12′ ceilings
I want to enclose about 12’X25′ of the left side lean-to for a canning kitchen area.

I am going to have a non-vented insulated roof assembly since we are using a closed cell foam spray, My question is would using 12″ closed soffit overhang be acceptable for the entire building.

Thank You in advance for the support, SAMUEL in CORINTH

DEAR SAMUEL: In my humble opinion most buildings without overhangs look overly industrial. Overhangs help to keep your building sidewalls cleaner and push rain runoff away from your structure. We can provide non-vented soffit panels and they would work perfectly for your application.

 

 

 

My Fishing Cabin is Finished!

Hansen Pole Buildings’ co-owner Judy fills in for the Pole Barn Guru today!

Rick Carr worked for Hansen Buildings for several years as a Building Designer. We can’t say enough good things about the work Rick did for Hansen. He went the extra mile for our clients, always being available and answering questions about the buildings they wanted to purchase. Rick retired about a year ago, opening up time for Rick to build his own Hansen pole building. You can see for yourself the fishing “cabin” he built with the help of the Amish folks.

Here is Rick’s last email to us, along with his finished pictures:

I want to thank all of you for everything that you all did for me in getting this
project done.
I couldn’t be happier about how it all came out.  Spent lots of time researching
various aspects of this then rolled the dice on some of the decisions.  So far I
have been very happy with all of them.  Most far surpassed my expectations.  I
got the Gas stove concerted from natural gas to LP gas on Wednesday and on
Friday Joanne, my friend Rick Larkin and I had my Amish crew and their families
over for a celebration dinner, about 20 in all, three dozen ears of corn on the grill,
three racks of ribs and three beer can chickens.  The Amish Ladies were happy to
finally see the cabin that the men had been working on for almost a year and
they brought fresh bread and apple pies!
JAHansen: Have fun fishing Rick!

Avoiding Being Driven Crazy With Barndominium Questions Part II

Part II of a two part series. If you didn’t see Part I, go back one day.

Mike’s answers are in italics.

 In each house at ends of the “L” layout, I plan to have 1/3 open plan at two stories, for our great room, with nice windows for great views.

The other 2/3 areas will have 2 bedrooms and maybe a sitting area on the second floor.

  • Do  really need 6” * 6” poles in this area for the 2nd floor?
  • I was planning on building the upstairs like you do in a stick built house which would be use the 1st floor wall as load supporting, use 12” floor joists and  add a beam where needed and then use steel adjustable poles. (Cover poles later)
  • Is this OK to do?
  • Would the steel poles need to be on thicker concrete?
  • Would the 1st floor walls that will load support the 2nd floor need to be on thicker concrete?
  • You are free to say, “Greg if you had a decent floor plan, we should add a few poles, as it would be so much stronger, better, and other”.
  • Thoughts? Mike: Personally I would clearspan your second floor using prefabrciated wood floor trusses. There would be supported by LVL beams attached to your perimeter columns. This allows for walls to be placed anywhere without having to create bearing walls or have interior columns. All mechanicals can then be run through this floor truss system. If you were to approach your second floor as if it was traditional stick frame – you would then be faced with how to support it at exterior walls, since they are horizontally girted. Any bearing walls would have to have thicker concrete below and adjustable steel pole locations would probably require some sort of concrete pier (or at least slab being thicker and perhaps requiring some extra rebar). If using adjustable steel poles, I would want them to at least be wrapped with two layers of 5/8″ Type X sheetrock so in event of a fire they would not lose their temper, deform and collapse. 

Wall Girt System questions:

  • If the posts are 6” * 6” what width are the horizontal girt boards?  Are they 2” * 6” *  X’ or 2” * 8 “ * X’? Mike: For glulams of 2×6 you would have 2×8 girts, for 2×8 columns, 2×10 girts. These will project 1-1/2″ outside of your perimeter building columns.
  • If they are the 2 * 8’s, is there a little board you would put on the post, between the post and the outside metal? (This little stuff drives me crazy too!) Mike: Blocking would be placed on column exterior faces, aligned with wall girts to provide a continuous line for attaching steel siding with screws.
  • Are the vertical spacer boards nailed to the side of the post as shown on the attachment, so horizontal bookshelf girts can be nailed vertically into the spacer to avoid toe-nailing all of the girt boards? Mike: Bookshelf girts will be supported at each end with solid blocking against columns – no toe-nailing of girts to columns.

Does the lowest board on the posts, (Grade Board?), does it actually contact the dirt floor before pouring the floor? Mike: Bottom of pressure preservative treated grade board/splash plank is set at grade, so it is in contact with ground.

So the board will have 4” – 5” of cement contact? Mike: Top of your concrete slab would be 3-1/2 inches above bottom of splash plank.

How far does the siding cover the lowest board? Mike: Bottom edge of steel base trim drip leg will be at four inches above bottom of splash plank. This allows for any exterior concrete (walkways, approaches, door landings) to be poured against treated splash plank rather than against steel siding or trims.

Do you ever use a composite board for the grade board? Mike: Splash planks are used to transfer wind shear loads from siding to columns and into the ground. Composites are not structural and do not have an ability to transfer these loads.

Sorry for all the dumb questions. Mike: Only a question not asked would be considered as being dumb.

I appreciate all the effort from Hansen Pole Buildings.

Thanks

Avoid Being Driven Crazy With Barndominium Questions Part I

Avoiding Being Driven Crazy With Barndominium Questions Part I

Loyal reader and client GREG in KENTWOOD is planning his new post frame barndominium home and has questions no one else will answer. Mike’s answers are in italics.

Mike,

Good morning, I hope all is well with you.  

 I have some questions that I would like to understand and it is driving me crazy, because no one other than Hansen Pole Building, it seems will answer my questions and return my calls.  Most the crazy part is about the slab. I find cement workers are not great communicators.  I am 56, a mechanical engineer, have renovated several houses from the studs up, I can do plumbing without butt crack showing, I raced stock cars for 10 years, I tell you this, because I know how to build stuff and am not afraid of hard work. My job requires a detailed list of Bill of Materials, precision drills and reamers and very detailed processes to make fuel injection parts, ABS brake parts and other.  I hope you can help out, as I am ignorant about some simple facts that are driving me crazy.

Mike: We believe good communication is essential to successful completion of most any building. You will find we strive towards written communications in order to minimize (or eliminate) possible miscommunication of important facts and details).

I also would like to say Brenner is doing a fine job.

Mike: Brenner has a passion for post frame buildings and he is not at all afraid to reach out to higher authorities for answers to complex structural questions.

Due to your great level of communication, you so far are my #1 choice to partner with on my new house.  I also would be willing to visit you in MN if you have/think I could see examples of my questions first hand.  

Statements from details I learned at Code Meeting:

  • In Michigan, in my county I need to have a 2’ foam, below grade, with R10 barrier, around the full foundation or slab perimeter. 
  • So my building code staff recommends a Rat Wall 2’ below grade, or a crawl space with footers, or a slab with a wooden wall built to hold the 2’ foam below grade.
  • I don’t really have a problem with the Rat Wall, but it certainly will add more cost to cement.

My questions on this topic are:

    • If using a Rat Wall, it seems like the 6” * 6” poles will then be encapsulated in cement for about 2.5’ at minimum.  I thought the poles were not supposed to be in cement as it causes probably more decay than dirt.
      Mike: Concrete does not cause premature decay of properly pressure
      preservative treated columns.
    • What are your thoughts?
      Mike:
      Personally I would build over a crawl space because my knees are far happier living on wood than concrete.
    • What would you recommend for the 2’ below grade issue regarding the slab foundation?  Mike: With a slab on grade, you can use rigid perimeter insulation without a need for a ‘rat wall’ or wood foundation wall. It can be held in place by backfill on each side. It can be placed running from below base trim on exterior of splash plank, or on inside of splash plank. If on inside of splash plank, it eliminates having to protect it from possible UV degradation.

On attachment pictures in the middle pages show where the 6” X 6” poles go and spacing, listed are my questions:

I am concerned with spacing of 12’ and 14’ of the 6” X 6” posts.  (I’m sure the loading is OK, within code, but see below)
Mike:
Actually with your 21 foot eave height and Exposure C for wind 6×6 columns will not engineer out. Your building will have glulaminated columns manufactured out of high strength 2×6 or 2×8 depending upon location.

    • One concern is getting wood in today’s supply chain that are straight enough for the girt boards and purlins at 12’ and 14’, should I be concerned? ( I can’t get straight 2” X 4” at 8’ for the walls I have built in last year alone.) Mike: Lumber is obviously organic and we can no longer cut down those old growth trees where one might be able to get straight grained, narrow growth ringed lumber with few or no defects and very little warp, twist or cup. One beauty of steel roofing and siding is it hides a plethora of framing imperfections (like warp), due to high ribs of steel siding.

When using double trusses, at all locations, why not just go to 8’ centers on the poles?   I know it is more 6” X 6” poles, but really is not anymore trusses and may help get straighter girt and purlin boards. 
Mike: Wider spaced columns allow for more flexibility in location of doors and windows and an added advantage of not having to dig as many holes. If you were thinking of using a single truss every eight feet, rather than a double truss every 12, I would discourage it. Double trusses allow for true load sharing and eliminate any possibility of a single truss having a weak point, where under extreme loads (beyond design loads) it may fail and bring down your entire roof.

Come back tomorrow for Part II in Barndominium Questions!

Avoiding Oil Canning of Standing Seam Steel Roofing

BRETT in CUMBERLAND FURNACE writes:

“I was talking to a contractor and he really thinks it is a big mistake to use a 26 gauge thickness vs a 24 gauge. He is stating “I will have less issue with oil canning and it will look a lot better for the extra cost over the life of the roof. I don’t think Fabral even makes a 24 gauge for this roof panel. Any thoughts to his statement?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

If I would not have recently sold our home near Spokane, Washington I would have re-roofed it with 24 gauge standing seam steel panels. This thickness was not determined by avoiding oil canning, it was a function of being able to get my color choice with Kynar paint.

Fabral Stand N Seam

Oil canning in metal roofing is an observed waviness or buckling across sheet metal panels not normally affecting a roof’s structural integrity. While sometimes caused by inferior metal or too-low-gauge thickness, too often, it is caused by under- or over-tightening of roof fasteners causing metal roofing to stretch, pull and dimple in various directions. An over-tightened fastener will pull cladding down locally and can create deformations. Generally speaking, thicker metal means less likelihood there will be oil-canning. Other causes include:
• Uneven substrate
• Width and spacing of seam
Don’t start a panel installation out of square. Leave room for thermal expansion at eaves to lessen oil canning. Most panels accommodate transverse thermal expansion by flexing of webs and by “take-up” at sidelaps. When panels are over-tightened, these relief features are hindered or eliminated, particularly for flat panels without corrugations.

Substrates are often a source of oil canning. Substrate must be made of a material, or set of materials, not adhering to metal underside or restricting metal’s normal thermal movements. Deck deviation, bows, ridges and camber all induce stress in finished panel installation. Substrate needs to be in a level plane. Make sure the substrate has no defections and shim panels when needed. Also, “slip sheets” between metal and underlayment can prevent oil canning. Some underlayments have a surface acting as a slip sheet.

Improper storing, handling, carrying and installing panels can contribute to oil canning. Twisting, buckling and other mishandling of panels can introduce oil canning into a previously flat panel.

Narrower width panels help to alleviate the appearance of oil canning. Darker colors accentuate oil canning, while earth-tone colors hide it best.

Floor Plan Ideas, An “L” Shaped Building, and Floor Insulation

This Monday the Pole barn Guru answers questions about floor plan ideas for a monitor style building, plans for a “Zen Den” or “Party Barn” in an L shape, and whether or not it is worth adding reflective radian barrier under slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I am wondering if you have any floor plan ideas for a monitor style pole barn home for 4/5 bedrooms? I am running into a wall trying to create one and can’t find many online. I have 1 friend who recently bought a kit from you with a usable upstairs area and that is something that I’m definitely interested in. I believe her plan was 48×50. Any info would be extremely helpful. Thank you! NATE in PEYTON

Hansen Pole Buildings GuesthouseDEAR NATE: Your friend happens to be one of my most favorite clients – they have been an absolute joy to work with. One beauty of post frame buildings is an broad adaptability to interior layouts. With a monitor style of these dimensions, you could easily have as much as 3600 square feet of floor space. For creating ideal floor plans, here are some tips:
Plan tips – consider these factors:

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

‘Curb appeal’ – what will people see as they drive up?
Any views?
North-south alignment – place no or few windows on north wall, lots on south wall

Overhang on south wall to shade windows from mid-day summer sun If your AC bill is far greater than your heating bill, reverse this and omit or minimize north overhangs.

Slope of site

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

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

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are considering building a “zen den” or “party barn” scenario in our backyard. I have sketched a L shaped scenario that would be perfect for our needs. Is it possible for you all to do L shaped custom? How do I get started? We don’t want to mortgage the house for this thing 🙂 CHRISTY in NASHVILLE

Hansen Buildings TaglineDEAR CHRISTY: Our oldest daughter happens to be the Midwest version of a neighbor to you (here in South Dakota anything under 100 miles is a neighbor LOL) – she is a very successful professional Walking Horse trainer in Shelbyville!

Every building provided by Hansen Pole Buildings is entirely 100% custom – designed to best fit wants and needs of our clients. Whether L, T, Y or U shaped, your only limitations are your imagination and available space. One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you for more information, or you can email your ideas to Caleb@HansenPoleBuildings.com (please include your site address and best contact phone number if you do).

 

slab edge insulationDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Going to have floor poured in 40×40 pole barn, the barn will be well insulated. My question is putting radiant barrier under floor help at all with losing heat and cold coming through the floor will not be heated be an overhead shop heater. Walls will be r30 and ceiling is roughly r50, or is it a waste of money? Thank you. SHANE in FOSTORIA

DEAR SHANE: A reflective radiant barrier under your slab will not make any appreciable difference. You would be money better spent to use two foot of rigid R-10 insulation vertically below your sidewall steel base trim and backfill it on both sides.

 

 

Post Frame Home Zero Barrier Entry Over a Crawl Space

Post Frame Home Zero Barrier Entry Over a Crawl Space

Reader MARC in AUBURN writes:

“I am asking what might be an odd question, but I need to ask it to see if it is even an option.

Is it possible to build a post frame home with part of it having a concrete floor (garage area) and the other part be built on a raised wood joist subfloor spring that I have a 4 foot crawl. The trick is, I want zero barrier entry so the sub floor and the garage floor would need to be level. Same with porches, etc.  is this doable without building an actual foundation wall around the home section?  I want to avoid traditional foundations and want to rely on the superior properties of a properly engineered and constructed post frame building. Am I better off just going all slab without a crawl?  

Thank you!”

Not an odd question at all and yes it is an option. I (and my knees) personally prefer to live on wood floors, rather than concrete. Our household also relates to zero barrier entry as my lovely bride Judy is a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair.

We can design your living space using permanent wood foundation walls between roof supporting pressure preservative treated columns.

Treated wood foundations are load-bearing, pressure-treated wood framed walls, used below grade to support light frame construction. Treated wood foundations are commonly called Permanent Wood Foundations or All-Weather Wood Foundations. Since being developed in the 1960s, this unique building system has proven to be a durable building system in thousands of physical applications. Treated wood foundations have undergone extensive research, analysis, and testing by several highly respected building construction industry organizations. They have been approved for use by model building codes, federal agencies, and by lending, warranty and insurance institutions. A treated wood foundation, when installed, waterproofed, and drained properly, and used in conjunction with other waterproof materials, is a viable alternative to poured concrete or concrete block foundations. When I added onto my home near Spokane, Washington 30 years ago, I utilized pressure preservative treated wood as a foundation around an irregular crawl space supporting two floors and cantilevered decks above. It has performed admirably, even in a severe lakefront environment.

Treated wood foundations are built on most types of soils (Group I – III), with an exception of unsatisfactory soils (Group IV) as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Group IV soils typically have over 40% clay, less than 50% sand and may have a high shrink-swell potential. Similar to conventional foundation systems, sites should be cleared of organic material and top soil prior to work onset. Crawl space is then excavated, and a footing is placed on undisturbed soil below frost line. Footings under a treated wood foundation wall can be made of poured concrete or a wood footing plate on top of granular fill. In my case, I used a poured concrete footing, however in your instance, since vertically carried loads would be minimal, gravel should prove more than sufficient. as footing size is engineered based on foundation wall loads. Adequate, unobstructed drainage around a treated wood foundation is achieved by having continuous granular fill on building sides and underneath structure. Granular material can be up to 1/2 inch crushed stone, 3/4 inch gravel or 1/16 inch sand depending on where it is intended to be used. All granular material should be clean and free of silt, clay and organic material, and be covered with a 6-mil polyethylene sheeting. Sump pumps, perimeter drains, and dry wells may be used under your crawl space floor and around the exterior to promote drainage.  Storm water control including gutters, downspouts, splash blocks and drainpipes, in addition to a properly sloped finish grade, is also important to direct water away from the structure. 

Materials used to construct treated wood foundations include: plywood, preservative treated lumber, fasteners, termite protection (where appropriate), a moisture barrier, sealing, and insulation. All framing lumber below grade in a treated wood foundation is required to be pressure treated with preservatives in accordance with the American Wood Preservers’ Association (AWPA) Standard C22, “Lumber and Plywood for Permanent Wood Foundations – Preservative Treatment by Pressure Processes.” An important consideration when building a treated wood foundation is the metal used in the fasteners. Due to the high levels of copper in wood preservatives, fasteners are required to be a corrosion-resistant. Type 304 or 316 stainless steel nails are recommended.

An essential part of a treated wood foundation system is moisture and termite protection. In addition to a 6-mil polyethylene sheet wrapped around exterior plywood sheathing, all sheathing joints must be caulked with a high-performance acrylic latex or polyurethane caulk. Preservative treated wood eliminates termites from crawl space framing, because termites cannot penetrate it; however, additional steps should be taken to protect untreated floors above.

Several advantages make treated wood foundations an attractive option. Construction of a treated wood foundation is simple to erect, in comparison to concrete foundations. Treated wood foundations also offer advantages over concrete foundations such as an ability to install insulation between studs, affording a higher R-Value in comparison to uninsulated concrete foundation walls, leading to greater energy efficiency.

How to Install Roof Reflective Radiant Barriers

How To Install Roof Reflective Radiant Barriers

DAVE in SPRING HILL writes:

“Can you please tell me how the reflective radiant barrier is applied? Does it go directly on top of the fully recessed purlins and then the steel is screwed over top of that? Is it applied vertically or horizontally? All of the videos that I’ve seen say there needs to be an air space between. It should have been stressed to me at the time of purchase that this was a critical material of the construction of my shop and it was not portrayed to me in that manner. I purchased it separate and I am at that step.  I believe the sales person must have been new because a lot of mistakes were made.”

Any steel roofed building should have some sort of provision made to prevent warm moist air from inside contacting cooler roof steel and condensing. There are many possible solutions to this – two inches of closed cell spray foam, an integral condensation control or a reflective radiant barrier being most popular (as well as being aligned from greatest to least in terms of financial investment of materials). Chapter 14 of your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual does give detailed instructions for this installation.

Post frame buildings have a myriad of possible options and accessories, as well as being utilized for a plethora of end uses. Considerable discussion is most often involved prior to an order being placed – and on occasion there are cases where important features are lost during discourse.

We do attempt to avoid situations such as yours and you may recall having approved this Dripstop to help control roof condensation.
Here are your requested installation instructions:

Start roof reflective radiant barrier at same building end roof steel installation will begin. galReflective radiant barrier roll end begins flush with eave strut outside edge. Reflective radiant barrier leading “long” edge begins flush with building end truss outside. 

Reflective radiant barrier is installed to run eave to eave over ridge. Splices are best made directly on fully recessed purlin tops.  

Other than to make a roll end square, starting edge will remain untrimmed.  Start flush at eave strut outside edge.  Opposite end is cut flush with opposite eave strut outside edge (or ridge purlin upper edge for translucent or Vented Ridge applications).

Using a minimum 5/16” galvanized staple, staple through reflective radiant barrier to eave strut top.  As an alternative to staples, 1” galvanized roofing nails (with big plastic washers) also work well.  Roll out reflective radiant barrier across fully recessed purlins (up and over ridge) with aluminum side up and white side down (towards building inside). 

Pull reflective radiant barrier past opposite eave strut edge and staple to top. Trim roll off flush with opposite eave strut outside edge.  

Install next roll in same manner, stretching roll tightly, align properly and close butt sides.

For A1V reflective radiant barrier with an “adhesive tab”: These rolls have an approximate 1” tab (without air cells) extending along one reflective radiant barrier roll long side.  At a seam, where two reflective radiant barrier rolls are joined, pull tab across adjacent roll by 1”, remove “pull strip” from adhesive, and firmly press two rolls together. Properly installed, each roll will have a 72” net coverage.

For square edge rolls, use a butt joint and seal seams properly with tape.  

2” white vinyl tape or a silicone bead can be used to make permanent seams between ends and reflective radiant barrier roll sides. 

For maximum air and vapor tightness, keep perforations in reflective radiant barrier to a minimum. Seal all perforations with reflective radiant barrier tape. 

Exaggerated claims are often made for insulating value of reflective radiant barriers and all of them rely upon a dead air space in a completely sealed scenario – great in a laboratory situation, however impossible to achieve in real life building construction. Reflective radiant barriers should be looked upon (when seams are properly sealed) as a condensation deterrent.

Post Frame Shouse Column Options

Post Frame Shouse Column Options – Risk vs. Reward

Loyal readers will recall a recent post involving GREG in KENTWOOD (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/09/dont-want-pressure-treated-columns-in-the-ground/).

Our discussion continues and I share below:

“Mike,

Thanks for the quick response.   

If I was a sane man, not sure I am, if properly pressure treated lumber will last a few generations, why would I not go with that?   

 

  • The time to DIY yourself wet set brackets could add a few weeks to the projects. ( I probably have the time.)
  • Using a Perms Precast Columns which are $152 each will be costly with probably needing 50 to 60 posts. (Adds about $10k to project)
  • I might be able to be talked into using pressure treated poles. 
  • Does the plastic help or does it add more risk of trapping moisture or other?
  • I will cost out each method, on a little “nerd chart” to determine what risk and reward I can accept.

Do you think your source for the pressure treated poles is better and more consistent than say a Menards or other source a non-builder would get supplies?

For a (2) story would you use laminated posts or solid?

Would you use only treated on the first 8’ to prevent shrinkage and warping at a (2) story height?

This will hopefully be all my questions prior to submitting a plan. 

Thanks Mike!”

Greg is probably going to be very satisfied with his end result – he is reading, asking questions and learning. Hours spent in preparation can save tens of thousands of dollars later.

I live in a million dollar shouse (shop/house) with roughly 8000 square feet finished. It has glu-laminated columns with pressure treated bases, embedded in the ground. I could easily have chosen any alternative solution, as cost was not a deciding factor.

Wet set brackets are probably only marginally more time consuming, however to minimize concrete needed for piers, you will (or should) be using insulated forms. When all is said and done plan upon roughly $100 per column for budget.

Precast columns have not just column investment, they are also heavy to handle onsite and do require a concrete footing or bottom collar to prevent settling.

Plastic sleeves might be effective, however I felt they were redundant given modern pressure treating technologies.

In most cases, it is impossible to walk into a lumberyard or big box store and get UC-4B treated lumber, it most usually has to be special ordered in. Our providers know, in advance, of this being our expectation (not to mention minimum requirement by Building Codes).

I would go with true glu-laminated columns (I did on my own building). They will be lighter, straighter and stronger than solid sawn columns and not have challenges as do nailed up columns. Lower portions are typically treated so laminations are a minimum of six feet of treatment (usually a 6′, 8′ and 10′ member are bottom treated segments). Pressure treating does not prevent shrinkage or warping – shrinkage is limited due to this lumber being kiln dried after treating in order to get moisture content low enough for proper glue adhesion. Warping is a by-product of laminations being oriented so lumber grain is all one direction and is a rare occurrence with glulams.

Ask as many questions as you need to feel confident in your decisions.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Loading Gambrel Loft Space

Loading Gambrel Loft Space

Loyal reader ANDY in OXFORD writes:

“Mike,

First, thanks for providing so much useful information to all of us. I’ve read about 1,200 of your blog entries so far, and I’ve learned so much.

I have already priced a 30X36X11 Gambrel Roof building from Hansen for a woodworking shop. I’m committed to the Gambrel roof for aesthetics and just because I’ve always wanted one.

Am I dreaming?? I’d like to hang a steel H-beam from the roof trusses in the loft, extending about 4 feet outside the front wall – just like the old-time hay barns. I’d use it to hoist lumber into the loft for storage. I wouldn’t need to lift more than about 200 pounds per load. I can insure against overloading by using a very light-duty electric hoist. I’d inform your designers so they could design the trusses for the added load.

The thing I can’t get my head wrapped around is how to completely weatherproof such a setup so that rain doesn’t get in the opening for the rail and hoist. Do you have experience or ideas to share? Should I drop the whole idea and just plan to manhandle the lumber from the back of my pickup up into the loft? I’m vertically challenged, so it’s not as easy for me as for you.”


I am impressed you have done so much reading, and thank you for your kind words, they keep me writing more content!

I might be bursting your bubble here, however honesty is always the best policy.

In order to store hay, your loft area would need to be designed for a ‘light storage’ load. By Building Code this is 125 psf (pounds per square foot) – more than three times required load for residential applications. If your intent is to utilize clearspan trusses for this, it may very well prove to be prohibitively expensive. Less costly (although perhaps an interruption of main floor materials’ flow) would be to support your upper loft with strategically placed interior columns.  Almost universally, loft spaces tend to be where things go to die – as access and going up and down stairs becomes tiresome and inconvenient quite quickly.

I would instead encourage you to go with a larger footprint and store your lumber at ground level. You will find it to be less expensive, as well as more readily accessible. If you love gambrel looks, by all means keep it as your design.

Should you be dead set upon utilizing this second floor space for light storage – design with a widow’s peak to cover rail and hoist outside of the building and always keep outside. Materials can be loaded through a “bale” door unit, placed in the endwall, sealed against wind and rain (granted you will be limited to materials in length two times the distance from building face to most extreme point of rail).  In old time barns, being totally weather sealed was not usually high on priority lists – an ability to get materials easily loaded would have been way higher.

A Future House, Eave Height, and Pricing for Horse Arena

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about an ideal pole barn to convert into a house, the height of the exterior wall with an 11′ interior ceiling height, how clear span affects the costs of a horse arena.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good Morning, We just put in an offer on land in Chattaroy, WA. The parcel number is 39261.0106.  Ideally, we will like to build a pole barn structure and then convert it into a house. I was wondering if you offered a service where someone could inspect the land to make sure it was buildable for this sort of structure. 

Also, do you offer a military and/or teacher discount (I work at DPMS… can’t hurt to ask, right!). We have 20 days to get the testing done. I appreciate your time and your response!
Have a great day! EMILY in CHATTAROY

DEAR EMILY: We have provided our fully engineered custom designed post frame buildings on virtually every imaginable type of building site in all 50 states. As Eastern Washington’s largest post frame building contractor in the 1990’s, my firm erected hundreds of buildings annually in Spokane County, many in Chattaroy. Unless you have a truly unusual circumstance, a post frame (pole barn) structure should be ideal for this parcel. We would recommend you have it permitted as a R-3 (residential) use structure so you do not have future challenges.

Hopefully your offer is subject to being able to pass a perc test for a future septic system, as if anything would be a stumbling point, this could be it.

Please reach out to me any time with questions.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If my ceiling is 11′ tall, how tall are my outside side walls to the bottom of the eve? GREG in COLUMBUS

DEAR GREG: Depending upon your building’s truss span, in most instances a 12 foot tall eave height will get you an 11 foot finished ceiling. Here is some extended reading on this subject https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/eave-height-2/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I know the width of a pole barn has a drastic impact on price but does the increase in price go up steadily or are there certain widths that jump the price up more drastically?

I am planning to build a horse back riding arena and am deciding between the following widths: 60′ vs 66′ vs 70′ vs 72′ vs 80′

I know from 60′ to 80′ there is a huge jump in price (about $30,000 roughly based on the quotes I’ve gotten so far), but does it go up equally for each step up in size? Does being a multiple of 12′ vs 10′ make a difference? SARA in DAYTON

DEAR SARA: Our oldest daughter Bailey is a highly successful Walking Horse trainer in Shelbyville, Tennessee. She is having a new home constructed currently on acreage and had asked Dad to check out arena prices for her. I priced 60′ x 120′, 70′ x 140′ and 80′ x 160′ buildings, all with identical features. Surprisingly to me, they were all within pennies per square foot of being equal! Being as you are in a more snow sensitive area, I would suspect your pricing curve to have more of a gradual increase as spans increase from 60 feet.

In order to get some exact figures, a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you. Our system has an ability to adjust column and truss spacing to provide a most economical design solution at any span. Meanwhile – here is some extended reading for you https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/the-perfect-indoor-riding-arena/.

 

 

 

 

Insulation, Spray Foam Issues, and Floor Plans

Lets close out the week with a fifth installment of The Pole Barn Guru. Today he’ll answer questions about the best insulation for a building with steel roofing over a vapor barrier over plywood, potential issues installing spray foam, and a request for a floor plan example– we now have a third party provider of interior floor plans!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My barn has metal roofing over a vapor barrier over plywood. How can I best insulate the ceiling if I want to keep the slope and not enclose it into an attic space? DARCY in TURNER

DEAR DARCY: Closed cell spray foam insulation between your purlins is really your only choice, as any other method requires venting from eave to ridge above the insulation layer. You can expect somewhere close to R-7 per inch. First inch should be roughly $1.30 per square foot, with 70 cents per square foot for each additional inch.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am thinking of spray foaming my steel pole building, have you heard of any issues? Thanks TOM in LINO LAKES

DEAR TOM: In a not too long ago addition to our home, as well as Hansen Pole Buildings’ Productions Building warehouse, we applied closed cell spray foam directly to steel panels with excellent results. You can read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/04/spray-foam-insulation-3/. You do have to protect interior spray foam surfaces from flame and make sure your installer is experienced and well trained to avoid potential issues with stink from a poor installation.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have a floor plan example for model #08-0602 LORRIE in CLARKSDALE

Prefab pole barn cabin

DEAR LORRIE: We provide only the structural portion of most of our buildings, so do not have a floor plan for this particular building. You can have a floor plan custom designed for this particular building while best fitting your wants and needs via this link:  http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

 

Double Doors, Insulation, and an Alaska Project?

We’ll continue this week with a third day of Bonus PBG’s! Today Mike take care of reader questions about adding “double doors” to the high side of a lean to, insulation to building in Climate Zone 4A with R-49, and the feasibility of building in Alaska.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi Mike, I am looking to build a lean-to that 20’x7.5’. I’m wanting to put 12’ Double doors on the high side. How would I go about framing in a door for that or are there any special requirements for that big of a door with that wide of a roof? ALISSA in GROVE CITY

DEAR ALISSA: We will have your building engineered to properly structurally support your door and door opening given wind and snow loads at your particular building site. All of this information will be included on your engineered blue prints.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I am going to build a post frame building with a metal roof, with OSB and synthetic roof felt. What would you recommend to insulate the underside of the OSB with? They are scissor trusses with a cathedral ceiling. The walls will be OSB and wrapped with house wrap so, looking what to insulate them with too. Please help. Thanks, JEREMY in CLARKSVILLE

DEAR JEREMY: Please keep in mind, you cannot screw steel roofing down to OSB, you will still need to have purlins. You are in Climate Zone 4A so R-49 is required for attic insulation. Order your trusses with an 18″ raised heel and blow in 16″ of fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Vent your eaves and ridge. For walls, a minimum R-20 is required. Use a minimum of 2×6 bookshelf style girts and BIBs insulation (ideally) or unfaced batts, with a well-sealed 6mil visqueen vapor barrier on the inside.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking to build a barndominium in Alaska. Is that feasible and if so are there any builders? LAUREL in ST. CLOUD

DEAR LAUREL: We have provided numerous fully engineered post frame buildings to clients in Alaska, however we are fairly certain they all provided their own labor to assemble (DIY). Typically we have delivered all materials to Port of Tacoma docks and our clients have secured barge/container space for transport to Alaska. We have also had clients schedule flat bed trucks to pickup their buildings from our shipping locations in Washington, however this would be a much more rare circumstance.

There are builders from the lower 48 states who would travel to Alaska to build, obviously for the right price.

 

 

Pole Barn Guru Wednesday!

Bonus Wednesday! The Pole Barn Guru has been inundated with questions. Let’s answer a few more. Move a hay barn? Building a Shouse, and the answer to “What all is in the pole barn kit?”

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I may move my 40 x 60 hay barn, wooden trusses, 6 x 6 poles. How much do you think this barn would weigh? Thank you. DAVID in HILLSBORO


DEAR DAVID: How you would ever move this without destroying it is beyond me. Personally, I would build another barn. Approximate weight should be somewhere around 12,000 pounds – if you do try it, make sure to film it for YouTube (as either a success or a failure would be highly watched).

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to build a roughly 60′ X 40′ house over a garage. I’m not sure if I want 3 or 4 garage doors. I was thinking of maybe making 1 side tall enough for a lift. Is this possible for you and if so would you have a rough estimate on price? Thank you JEFF in SHAWANO

DEAR JEFF: Pretty much anything is possible – you are only limited by your imagination, budget and available space. I always caution clients to give some real consideration to living above their garage (like we do), due to potential accessibility challenges at a future date. Whilst we think it will never occur to us, roughly 10% of all Americans will face mobility challenges in their lifetimes – in our case it was my lovely bride becoming a paraplegic due to a tragic motorcycle accident.

A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you to further discuss your wants and needs.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What all is in the pole barn kit? Does it include exterior wall covering material, roofing material? Can a buyer determine number of walk through doors and windows?

Thank you in advance. PAM in BOYD

About Hansen BuildingsDEAR PAM: A typical fully engineered post frame (pole barn) kit from Hansen Pole Buildings includes two sets of full sized 24” x 36” blue prints detailing locations and connections of every piece of material. Our third-party engineers also provide complete calculations to verify all materials are structurally adequate.

You will receive a detailed Materials List of all components, as well as listing their function on your building. We provide a 500+ page Construction Manual, walking you step-by-step through every phase of your assembly process – including detail drawings and actual photos. If this is not enough, we provide unlimited Technical Support from people who have built post frame buildings!

Typically we provide everything you will need to erect your beautiful new building other than concrete, rebar and nails normally driven from a nail gun. You can have us customize your building down to length, width and heights in fractions of an inch, any possible roof slope and whatever combination of doors and windows will best meet with your wants and needs.

Your only limitations will be your imagination, budget and available space!

 

 

Bonus Pole Barn Guru Tuesday

Bonus Pole Barn Guru Tuesday- Today’s extra answers questions about cupolas, heating a monitor style building, and steep grade changes on a build site.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are considering putting two cupolas on the roof. Can we run our drain waste vents through them instead of through the roof itself? BRANDON in CALVERT CITY

DEAR BRANDON: Provided they are vented cupolas, I am finding nothing in Building Codes prohibiting this. You will want to confirm this with your local Building Inspector.

A caution, however, you may experience undue condensation caused by warm moist air escaping your vent and contacting cooler metal surfaces of your cupolas. It may be beneficial to have closed cell foam insulation sprayed on interior of any metal surfaces of vents of your cupolas to create a thermal break.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is the Monitor style bad for heating/cooling costs? Also, what style is best for energy costs in a metal home? If we want a loft area do you need to have a vent up top to aid in the summer heat in such cases? HEATH in LEIGHTON

Hansen Pole Buildings GuesthouseDEAR HEATH: The most economical for heating and cooling will be a square building on a single level. Your challenge with any two-story or lofted building is heat rises – so to cool to a comfortable level upstairs, it is frigid downstairs. I had this problem with our two story home in Washington, so when we built our multi-level shouse, we had individual heat pumps, heating and A/C units for each floor. Your need for venting will depend upon how you are insulating. If you are doing a finished ceiling across bottom of trusses, with blown insulation directly above, then your dead attic space being created will need to be vented (ideally with eave and ridge vents).

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you design a cabin pole building to set on a lot with about a 30% slope? Thanks. STEVE in ANDREWS

DEAR STEVE: When our mountainside home near Spokane, Washington needed a new garage with 14 feet of grade change in 24 feet, we went with post frame – doing a ‘stilt’ house. Unless you are in a flood zone, this is normally far less expensive than excavating your bank to do a footing and foundation, or bringing in a plethora of truckloads of fill in order to get to a level building site. This should work well with your new cabin.

Bolt to Slab, Metal Distortion, and a Moisture Drip Issue

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about use of dry-set brackets to existing slab, spray foam distorting metal, and a problem with drip when temperature is just right.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How thick does the edge of concrete need to be to support a pole barn if using the bolt on top of existing slab? CHRIS

DEAR CHRIS: Our independent third party engineers have determined brackets dry mounted to existing concrete slabs are not a good structural solution and will no longer certify such connections. We would recommend either saw cutting holes in your slab to use either embedded or wet set bracket mounted columns, or to place columns around your slab’s perimeter.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Why does the spray foam distort the metal? LARRY in KALISPELL

DEAR LARRY: Properly installed closed cell spray foam insulation should not distort either roof or wall steel. My lovely bride and I used it when we added an elevator shaft on the rear endwall of our shouse and it was used to insulate a recent approximately 3000 square foot addition to Hansen Pole Buildings’ warehouse. Both were done with no noticeable steel deflection. Here is some further reading on this subject https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/04/spray-foam-insulation-3/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a moisture problem in our 36×45 pole barn when the weather is right it drips when the sun warms it up. I understand I need more ventilation. Along the top center ridge there is formed foam gasketing like you have talked about. Some of it is falling out. Can I remove that to improve ventilation or is that there to stop rain or snow from coming in? Really appreciate many of the tips you have on your site. RON in MAZOMANIE

DEAR RON: I will suspect your dripping issue is due to there being no thermal break between your building’s roof framing and roof steel. If this is your circumstance, your only real solution is to have two inches of closed cell spray foam applied to inside of your roofing. While adding ventilation may remediate some of your challenge, there is still going to be some degree of warm moist air trapped inside.

In order to adequately ventilate, you will need to have both an air intake and an exhaust. You could remove your ridge cap and replace your present formed ridge closures with a similar vented material (vented closures). For air intakes, if your building does not have vented sidewall overhangs, you could add gable vents at each end.

 

Don’t Want Pressure Treated Columns in the Ground?

Loyal reader GREG in KENTWOOD writes:

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

Here is my first question(s):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks

How do I create a client account?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pressure Treated Post Frame Building Poles Rot

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

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

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

Zero.

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

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

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

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

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

You ever been to Saucier, Mississippi?

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

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

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

When will those properly pressure preservative treated timbers rot?

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

And there you have it, research and all.

Checks and Splits in Post Frame Lumber

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Kitchens for the Handicapped

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

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

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

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

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

What we did right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we could have done better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

DIY Post Frame Construction and Winch Boxes

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

“Hello Mike,

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to your opinion!

Thanks.”

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

Why? 

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

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

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

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

Helping a Student with His Post Frame Thesis

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pole Buildings Quality, Price and Service

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

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

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

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

As a potential purchaser, when you tell me:

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

Give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?

I think not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Searching for a Builder Embracing Hansen Building’s System

Loyal reader RUSS in PIPERSVILLE writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Figure 27-3

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

Can you assist …O’ Great Guru!? …lol

Thanks~ ELAINA in LODI

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

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

 

 

 

New Zealand Eases Permit Requirements for Pole Buildings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Integral Condensation Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

Installing Steel Liner Panels in an Existing Pole Barn

Installing Steel Liner Panels in an Existing Pole Barn

Reader JASON in WHITEHOUSE STATION writes:

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

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

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

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

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

Taking the Bow Out of a Glulaminated Column

Taking the Bow Out of a Glulaminated Column

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

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

“Good Morning Mike,

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

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

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

Thank you.”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

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

I shared this with Josh:

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

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

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

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


He reports, “Working well so far”!

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

Top Chord Repair, Little Voices, and Building Use

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEE in LIVINGSTON

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Skylights in Barn You Built for Us Need Replacing

Skylights in Barn You Built for us Need Replacing

Reader MICHELLE in ASTORIA writes:

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

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steel Roofing and Siding Over Purlins

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

Reader DYLAN in BEDFORD writes:

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

My question starts with is this ok? 

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

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

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

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

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

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

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

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

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

Building Department Checklist 2020 Part II

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

Let’s talk about these last seven….

#8 What is accepted Allowable Soil Bearing Capacity?

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

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

#9  Is an engineered soils test required?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#12 Verify Building Risk Category.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Department Checklist Part I

BUILDING DEPARTMENT CHECKLIST 2020 PART I

I Can Build, I Can Build!

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

Provide answers to these questions to your potential building providers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

#4 What is Flat Roof Snow Load (Pf)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please Take a few minutes to understand their differences:

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

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

#7 Are “wind rated” overhead doors required?

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

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

Gothic Arch, Steel Board and Batten, and Engineering Services

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Final Inspection, Framing Lumber, and Trusses

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Struggles to Define What a House Should Look Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:

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

Why You Should Install Post Frame Roofing Before the Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improved Vapor Retarder Requirements Part II

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

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

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

A Shouse, Eliminating Condensation, and Building Trusses

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

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

Thank you! STEPHANIE in BELLE VERNON

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

Plan tips – consider these factors:

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

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

Any views?

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

Slope of site

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

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

 

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

 


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

2021 IBC and IRC Adopt Improved Vapor Retarder Requirements Part I

2021 IBC and IRC Adopt Improved Vapor Retarder Requirements Part I

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

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

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

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

Exceptions:

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

TABLE R702.7(2)
VAPOR RETARDER OPTIONS

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

 

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

 

TABLE R702.7(3)
CLASS III VAPOR RETARDERS

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

[or all of 4 for 2021 IBC]

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

VA Loans for a Pole Barn Residence

VA Loans for a Pole Barn Residence

Reader MATTHEW in BIRMINGHAM writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Dog Trot Post Frame Home

A Dog Trot Post Frame Home

Welcome back!

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

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

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

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

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

Planning for a Dogtrot Barndominium

Planning for a Dogtrot Barndominium

Reader JIM in HOLIDAY writes:

Dear sir,

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

A little background:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time and ideas on this.  

Jim

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

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

Tune in tomorrow for Mike’s response!

Tyvek Weather Barrier, Overhead Door Sizes, and Slab Insulation

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Can We Do This?

Can we do this?

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

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

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

I can see some potential challenges occurring here.

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

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

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

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

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

What would I have recommended?

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

Stick Frame and Some Limitations

Stick Frame and Some Limitations


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stick Framing?

Stick Framing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in Tomorrow for our exciting conclusion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Can We Get a Charitable Discount?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working With Your Barndominium Subs

Working With Your Barndominium Subs

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

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

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

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

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

Paying Your Subcontractors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barndominium Subcontractor Bids

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: GET ALL BIDS & ESTIMATES IN WRITING!

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

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

Plumbing:

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

HVAC:

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

Electrical:

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

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

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

How to Find Barndominium Subcontractors

How to Find Barndominium Subcontractors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Frustrated Shopper, Sealant Around Posts, and Vapor Barriers

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

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

Thank you for a speedy response. TIFFANI in TULSA

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

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

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

 

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

Help would be appreciated. EVERETT in DUCHESNE

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Subcontractors for Your Barndominium

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your contractors and subcontractors are not considered to be employees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well driller (if no public water)

Grading and Excavation Contractor

Septic system installer

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

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

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

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

Electrician

Plumber

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning)

Insulation installer

Drywall contractor

Painter

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

Flooring, carpet, and countertop contractor

Tile contractor

Cleaning crew contractor

Landscape contractor

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

Truss Spacing and Design

Truss Spacing and Design for Sheathed Post Frame Roofs

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

Reader CARROLL in PORTER writes:

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

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

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

 

Where Future Barndominium Owners Come From

Where Future Barndominium Owners Come From


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steel Roofing Over Living Areas

 Steel Roofing Over Living Areas Requires Solid Decking?

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

Reader STEVEN in BOONE writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financing a Shouse, Drawings, and Roofing advice

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

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

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

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

Here are some plan tips – consider these factors:

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

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

Any views?

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

Slope of site

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Rock Letters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lofty Barndominium Ambitions

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

Reader Devin in Porun writes:

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


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

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

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

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

Barndominium High R-Value Overhead Doors Part II

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

Are reported R-values even accurate?

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

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

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

What about air leakage?

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

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

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

Bottom line

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

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

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

Back to why your barndominium needs an insulated overhead door.

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

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

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

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

Barndominium High R-Value Overhead Doors Part I

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

Advertised R-values are inaccurate, irrelevant — or both

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actual R-values are one-third the advertised values

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

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

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

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

All over the map

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

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

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

Connecting Structures, Help with Connections, and a New Home

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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