Tag Archives: architect

Hiring an Engineer is Terrible Advice?

Registered Design Professionals and Building Officials please weigh in on this one. Is hiring an engineer terrible advice?

In a Facebook ‘Barndominium Living’ discussion group this was posted:
“Curious as to how many of you consulted an engineer before building (for concrete and steel framing) or simply went with your welder’s design?”

First response, from a fellow group member, was:
“Most metal building manufacturers have engineers on staff as part of the design process.”

Original poster replied:
“Yes, when getting quotes directly from them we understood it would have an engineered stamp. We have chosen not to do bolt up, so the welders we have talked to would just order the metal and do their own design.”

Here is where I stepped in:
“Regardless of what type of building system you decide upon, please please please have plans sealed by a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer).”
Now this next poster may be suffering from Dunning-Kruger Effect (poor grammar in his post left for lack of clarity) (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/dunning-kruger-effect/):
“That’s some terrible advice you have given here. Plenty of builders that do a great job without the extra cost of a architect or engineer.”

My retort went something like this:
And why would it be terrible to insure every component and connection meets structural requirements? A building is only as strong as its weakest link and unless this “great job” builder is capable of running all structural calculations for a particular building, there exists a possibility of an under design.

There are also insurance companies giving discounts for having an engineered building.
I am not a RDP and I make no money promoting use of them. I do care deeply about properly structural designed buildings – any failure, especially of a barndominium to be used as a home, makes all of us – even those who do it right look bad.
Hopefully this article will generate some thoughtful responses.

An Oops from a Competitor’s Architect

The Pole Bar Guru reviews an oops from an architect in today’s blog.

Back in 2017 Hansen Pole Buildings was contacted by a gentleman I shall call “Dan” who had an interest in a post-frame home or ‘barndominium’.  For those not familiar with this term: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/barndominium/.

I have to admit, Dan spoke with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer who gave him bad advice – he recommended Dan go with a stick framed building! I would typically grill our Building Designer under high intensity lamps as to what was going through his head, however I cannot as for perhaps obvious reasons he has left us to seek other opportunities (I can put things so diplomatically when I try).

Well, our Building Designer caused Dan to seek out a different post frame building kit provider, who had an architect design Dan’s barndominium. Dan related some challenges in his process, however did not sound totally dissatisfied with his end result.

This may sound convoluted – but Dan and I began our discussions in relationship to deflection of wall girts. Dan’s building has “barn style” wall girts and from what information was provided, they appear to not meet Code deflection criteria: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/. Now this isn’t going to make his building fall down, but it does make his exterior walls fairly flexible between columns.

From here we got into floor deflection: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/wood-floors-deflection-and-vibration/. Dan’s floor appears to meet deflection criteria, however I may have slightly distressed him when I told him his 18 foot span floor joists could deflect up to 0.6 of an inch at center and still meet Code.

Now is where the fun begins, as Dan wrote (all of his writing will be in italics below):

Thanks for taking time out to chat with me yesterday and addressing my concerns.  Your information about lateral loads got me thinking and looking online for some other products.  When I looked, it occurred to me that maybe I miscommunicated my design.

What I have is an LVL lagged to the posts that acts as a ledger board and not as a band board.  The joists are then sitting on top of the LVL with their own bandboard/blocking at the ends.  I get why you would have a lateral concern in a deck where wind can essentially blow it on a hinge from the house, but I am struggling to understand how there would be lateral loads on these joists as all the force is going down.  I am also wondering how the additional bearing block would do anything for lateral loads as well.

If you could let me know what you think on this and if I relayed my design wrong, or help me understand the lateral load issue that would be a great help.  Here is what I am seeing online for lateral loads.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Think of a lateral load as being parallel to a surface a member is attached to. Your LVL is trying to slide along column’s surface (moving laterally in relationship). Connectors between LVL and column could fail in shear (connector fails) or from downward force of gravity (weight of what is being carried by LVL) this is a connection failure, not one of the connector. Weak link in this system is not the connector itself, it is connector’s ability to carry imposed loads.

“So are you saying that the connector will not fail but rather all the weight will shred the lvl beam off the connections?

Is it possible for you to send me the calculation that you used so that I can better understand it and use it to calculate some of my shorter span needs?

Thanks again for your time.”

Well, Dan’s building appears to have some structural design challenges, none of them caused by him. Tune in to this same channel for our next installment of “As the Architect Turns”.

New Pole Buildings Cost Money

New Buildings Cost Money

As I recently mentioned, I have joined several Barndominium Facebook groups. It has proven to be enlightening and has given me a great deal of information towards authoring a book or books on Post Frame Barndominiums.

In asking for input on chapters for my endeavor, I had one person respond with:

“Maybe you could have a chapter on how building a new building cost money. And that you shouldn’t expect other people have spent money to just give you their plans and all their knowledge that they spent their own hard-earned money on to get.”

Yes, building a new building of any sort is going to be an investment (not a cost or expense) of both time and money. Done correctly, it absolutely should be.

I have my opinions of plans sharing – everyone’s circumstances, wants and needs are individual. Copying or borrowing someone else’s plans with an idea they will be ideal for you is totally misguided. If their plans are sealed by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) as they SHOULD BE, it is unlawful (other than with RDP’s written permission) to either share them or to use them anywhere other than upon the originally intended site (not to mention it could come with serious, if not fatal, design deficiencies due to variances in load conditions).

I have been freely sharing my four decades of construction and post frame knowledge through writing blogs and my “Ask The Pole Barn Guru™” column since 2011. I do significant research and reading, besides reaching into a wealth of good to use and bad to avoid learned from personally participating in around 20,000 post frame building projects. Whether you are considering a new building, already have one and it has challenges, are a contractor, design professional or Building Official – I will gladly assist.

Why?

Because I care deeply about our industry – post frame building. Every properly done post frame building adds to the credibility of post frame as becoming a method of choice for homes and barndominiums. Whenever there is a failure or someone is dissatisfied with their end result I am saddened, as these circumstances are easily avoidable.

Post Frame Building Siding Choices

Your Planning Department May Dictate Your Post-Frame Siding Choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Blog

Guest Blog
This column has been recognized multiple times as a top construction industry blog. It also has a significant readership, with articles having been read as many as 150,000 times. Due to this popularity, I receive numerous requests to guest blog.

Who should consider submitting a guest blog?
Industry Suppliers – have a new product you want to make my readers aware of? Or maybe just to reinforce your current products’ benefits.

Competitors – why not? I hope you have learned a fraction from me as I have from you. Use this as an opportunity to educate me and my readership.

Contractors – want to share some of your experience? Have a great idea? Or maybe you know a faster, better way to assemble some portion of a post frame building. This blog presents an ideal forum to do so.

Clients – share your story. Using your building for a unique or interesting purpose? We’d like to have others read about it. Or, interesting tidbits during construction of your post frame building.

Registered Design Professionals – architects and engineers, keep it conversational. Talking readers’ level without thorough explanations isn’t what we or readers are looking for.

Building Officials – I am certain many of you have some interesting stories to tell about post frame buildings.

Anyone else who feels an interest or love for post frame construction and wishes to share will be welcomed.
There are some rules when it comes to submitting an article for consideration:

Length – it should be 300 words or more in length. If over 800 words, please break it up into approximately equal segments of no more than 800 words and it can be run consecutive days.

Content – has to be specific to post frame (pole building) construction. Must be informative or entertaining (both being preferred). Tell a story, make it interesting. No profanity, we have a PG audience. Also, nothing political or religious should be used. Article can speak to benefits of a product or service however it cannot be a blatant advertisement for you or your product. Article cannot include links to competing or non-relevant businesses.

Relevant photos or video tied to your content makes for even better articles and increases entertainment value.

Unless you specify otherwise, we will give you credit in article for your submission. A brief (line or two) bio will be appreciated.

Not all submissions get used. Articles are often posted several weeks, or months, in advance. Please be patient. We reserve rights to edit your content when deemed appropriate.

Please send all submissions in Microsoft Word to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com.

Oklahoma, Is it OK?

Oklahoma, Is It OK?

Last weekend my lovely bride and I attended an event hosted by her first husband’s sister and her husband. Event purpose was to celebrate this couple’s upcoming 40th wedding anniversary.

Adding to this fun, at least for me, was a new Hansen Pole Building being erected onsite (D.I.Y. husband doing some nice workmanship). Like most new construction this attracted a fair number of looky-lous who wanted to check everything out and offer their ‘armchair expert’ opinions.

One of these lookers was aforementioned husband’s brother, who (as I later found out) had his old pole barn collapse due to snow last Winter. Rather than contact us about a replacement building, he ended up buying a post frame building to be delivered from Oklahoma (keep in mind we are in Northeast South Dakota).

Now I happen to know these folks in Oklahoma who provided this kit package. I hadn’t visited their website in quite some time, so I went browsing.

Here are some things I found:

“Building codes and permits

In our recent annual post-frame construction industry survey, one of our questions to builders was about code enforcement in their areas. Of the 134 post-frame builders who answered this question, 55% said they have needed on occasion to change their construction to meet a code. Codes can be problematic if not clearly understood. Start with your local planning and zoning office or your local building inspector. They will be able to tell you the standards for your community.

Know the rules in your area:

  • Some cities will not allow a steel skin building – you must have a brick veneer.
  • Almost all residential areas will have a setback requirement, meaning the building must be so many feet from the property line.
  • Many neighborhoods have a restriction on how tall you can make the building.
  • Many areas want to inspect a building at each stage of construction, starting with the depth of the holes, then they will inspect the wooden framework, then the completed structure.
  • Some communities insist on bolting the trusses in place, adding hurricane clips, beefing up the top plate, digging the holes deeper and providing longer poles or adding gravel or a concrete footer in the hole.

Bonus Tip: Some local code expectations may seem over-engineered when it comes to equating cost with necessity. In our view, codes generally foster a better quality building and we have found it is best to give the inspector what he or she wants. Life, and your project, will go easier that way.”

Now I agree total with starting a journey to a new post frame building with visits to your local Planning  (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/) and Building (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/building-department-checklist/) Departments.

What amazed me was “55% said they have needed on occasion to change their construction to meet a code”. Thinking back over nearly 40 years of post frame buildings, I can only think of two sets of circumstances causing a change in construction to meet Code. First – not submitting plans prepared by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer), second would be not having correct design criteria (snow, wind and seismic loads, along with frost depth) provided.

In my humble opinion, a majority of these builders who had to change their construction were probably not building Code conforming structures! Think about this if you are considering investing in a post frame building from ANY builder.

While some jurisdictions will not allow steel roofing and/or siding, I have yet to have any demand a “brick veneer”. There are numerous alternatives to steel, they just happen to be less economical and less durable.

Only insistence from communities regarding how buildings should be assembled comes from those who have prescriptive requirements for non-engineered pole buildings. Read about challenges of prescriptive requirements here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/prescriptive-requirements/.

Path to best value for one’s post frame building investment nearly always involves having RDP sealed plans. Make everyone’s life easier (you, your building kit provider, any contractors, as well as your Building Department) and insist upon only using RDP sealed building plans. Headaches saved, will be yours!

 

 

 

What To Do With an Old Dollar General Pole Barn

What to Do With an Old Dollar General® Pole Barn

In the fall of 2016 the town of Reading, MI purchased the pole barn which had previously been the home of a Dollar General® store. The original plan was to convert the pole barn into a new city hall, but, after seeing the estimated price tag the idea was set aside.

The city’s maintenance man, Bob Jepsen, suggested tearing down the walls, replacing the building’s leaky roof and converting the building into a pavilion. It turns out the city’s planning commission thought this would be a great idea and held a public meeting to discuss.
In the early days of railway transportation, the brakemen rode in the last car of the train – the caboose (seen many of these lately?). He had one of the deadliest jobs in America, as the brakeman had to work from the tops of the railway cars in all sorts of weather.

In the case of the old Dollar General® pole barn, I am going to act as brakeman on the runaway train which is the remodel of the building into a pavilion.
Tearing the walls off of an existing post frame (pole barn) building sounds relatively easy – and from a labor standpoint it may be. Where it all gets dicey is when it comes to structural engineering.

When a post frame building has its walls removed, the columns (posts) now act as cantilevers. They are functioning similar to a diving board, where the end is very flexible. With the walls on the building, the columns are, in most cases, acting as beams supported at one end by the ground and the other by a relatively rigid roof diaphragm.

The difference in the loads which the columns must resist are increased by a factor of four without the walls present, as the posts become the sole structural members for transfer of wind loads from the roof to the ground. This potentially not only impacts the design of the columns, but also of their embedment into the ground.

Whether it is this particular Dollar General® pole barn, or any other post frame building where exterior walls are being considered for removal, a RDP (Registered Design Professional – engineer or architect) should be engaged early on in the process to make a determination as to what upgrades are necessary to result in a structurally sound building.

18 Foot Span Roof Purlins?

The Possibility of 18 Foot Span Roof Purlins?

Reader CHRIS writes:
“I have a building I want to build but I am not able to add the height I need on the side walls.  My plans are 24 deep by 30 wide with 8 foot walls.  Roof trusses would be 24 ft.  My problem comes from overhead power lines.  They are right in my way.  I really need 10 or more feet of ceiling.  The wall structure will be 2×4 residential style build with double top and bottom boards this should spread the weight out on the concrete well.

The span of the 1st section (north side), would need to be 18ft.   If I used a triple truss at 18 ft. and 2×8 purlins would I be able to get this to work.  I will be using a metal roof the 30 ft. wall will have a 16 ft. door and 9 ft. door Eve entry.  I know it’s not optimal.  But to get a lift inside the garage it will be a must to get this span.  Also my garage door will follow the roof line. In the 18 ft. area it will be hung from the purlins.  A winch will be used as an opener.  Also attached to the purlins but boxed to prevent movement.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
In most jurisdictions you are not allowed to build under power lines – you need to be consulting with your local power company and your Building Official first. Even if it is allowed, you would be wise to have the lines relocated, or buried so as to not have a future issue. A live wire comes down on your nice new steel roof and poof!

Depending upon your roof load and wind load, it might be possible to span 18 feet between trusses with purlins, however they are probably going to need to be larger than 2×8. With the proper truss design, it might very well be able to carry the end of the purlins with a double truss.

What you are proposing is well outside of the prescriptive portions of the Building Codes, so whether stick framed or post frame (post frame will be far more economical) you should be utilizing the services of a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) in order to make sure you have a new building which is adequately designed to support the imposed loads.

Indiana Class 1 Building Must Have Posts on 4′ Centers?

Indiana Class 1 Building Must Have Posts on 4’ Centers?

Reader GARY in CONNERSVILLE writes: “I am going to build a 60 x 160 , 18′ ceiling height for a sawing operation at our plant. I am told being a class 1 building, employee occupied, that the side posts need to be on 4′ centers, however the architect says otherwise. Can you shed some light on this? Thanks”

Best place to start is with the Indiana Code definition of a Class 1 structure:

IC 22-12-1-4

“Class 1 structure”

Sec. 4. (a) “Class 1 structure” means any part of the following:

(1) A building or structure that is intended to be or is occupied or otherwise used in any part by any of the following:

(A) The public.

(B) Three (3) or more tenants.

(C) One (1) or more persons who act as the employees of another.

(2) A site improvement affecting access by persons with physical disabilities to a building or structure described in subdivision (1).

(3) Outdoor event equipment.

(4) Any class of buildings or structures that the commission determines by rules to affect a building or structure described in subdivision (1), except buildings or structures described in subsections (c) through (f).

(b) Subsection (a)(1) includes a structure that contains three (3) or more condominium units (as defined in IC 32-25-2-9) or other units that: (1) are intended to be or are used or leased by the owner of the unit; and (2) are not completely separated from each other by an unimproved space.

(c) Subsection (a)(1) does not include a building or structure that: (1) is intended to be or is used only for an agricultural purpose on the land where it is located; and (2) is not used for retail trade or is a stand used for retail sales of farm produce for eight (8) or less consecutive months in a calendar year.

(d) Subsection (a)(1) does not include a Class 2 structure.

(e) Subsection (a)(1) does not include a vehicular bridge.

(f) Subsection (a)(1) does not include a structure that is intended to be or is occupied solely to provide periodic maintenance or repair of: (1) the structure; or (2) mechanical or electrical equipment located within and affixed to the structure. As added by P.L.245-1987, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.223-1989, SEC.1; P.L.23-1993, SEC.149; P.L.2-2002, SEC.72; P.L.141-2003, SEC.2; P.L.92-2012, SEC.2; P.L.142-2013, SEC.2.

With the definition of an Indiana Class 1 building in hand, I went on a search to see if I could verify the, “I am told”. I don’t know who is telling you sidewall columns must be placed every four feet, as I cannot find a shred of evidence to back the statement up. In the case of Hansen Pole Buildings, we have provided numerous Class 1 post frame buildings across the state of Indiana, none of which had columns every four feet – in fact I know of at least one which had sidewall columns every 14 feet!

My vote is you are smart in having the involvement of a Registered Design Professional (RDP – architect or engineer) who is capable of wading through the mire and muck to weed out the supposition from the reality. The IBC (International Building Code) is not a prescriptive Code, it allows qualified designers to use sound engineering practice to design post frame buildings which will last a lifetime or more.

Don’t Be An Engineering Fool

Don’t Be an Engineering Fool

Proverb: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client”. I would paraphrase this to, “A man who is his own engineer has a fool for a client”.

Donald Hamm is running for re-election to the Franklin (New York) town board. In a November 2, 2017 article published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, written by Glynis Hart, Hamm is quoted:

Hamm said the town board has achieved good things with the highway department barn and keeping costs low.

“I’m on the highway department committee. We built a new pole barn. Instead of having to hire an engineer to draw the plans for it, I drew the plans, and the architect stamped it at no cost. That saved the town thousands of dollars.”

Well, in my humble opinion, this is all great and wonderful to campaign on having saved the town thousands of dollars. Let’s now look at the realities of this circumstance.

Mr. Hamm happens to be, amongst other things, a building contractor. He does not profess to have any particular expertise at the structural design of complex buildings – of which post frame (pole barn) buildings certainly are. The Hansen Pole Buildings Instant Pricing™ system, as an example, also produces complete calculations for each building it prices. For even a simple two car post frame garage it is not unusual to have the calculations amount to over 100 typed pages as every member of the building is checked to assure its adequacy to resist all applied loads – whether wind, snow, rain, seismic forces or a combination thereof.

What has gone seriously wrong in this is Mr. Hamm having approached an architect to place his or her stamp on work not performed by them – and do it for free! Plan stamping is immoral, unethical and illegal, yet Mr. Hamm takes pride in proclaiming his involvement in it as a reason for re-election!

If Mr. Hamm had produced plans (along with the supporting structural calculations) himself, had the architect (or better yet an engineer) thoroughly review them and make needed corrections for accuracy – then charge a modest fee for services, I would see any savings thus garnered as a plus for his candidacy. As presented, not.

The moral of the story….all buildings should be designed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) specifically for the needs of the client, at the site the structure will be erected at. Please, I implore you – do not take shortcuts.

In the case of the building in the story, the architect who rubber stamped those plans probably also has no liability insurance, and in the event of a catastrophic failure – the township will be left holding an empty bag.

Pole Barn Footings

Some things in life amaze me – magicians are one of them. I have no idea how the do what they do, but I am totally fascinated by them (you can read about my college experience with a magician here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/). One of the other things which amaze me are how clients will invest tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on a new post frame building, only to cheap out on the footings!

Anything of high quality requires a good foundation.  In post frame buildings, the measure of a good foundation’s investment is small in comparison to the overall picture.

Reader CHRISTINE from SPOKANE writes:

“We see all these posts about footings. It seems here they just pour concrete around post with no footings. Is that due to the nature of our rocky soil. Our posts are in the ground, no footing and ready for concrete, architect plans, say “bottom of all footings to bear on undisturbed ,native, inorganic soil 1′ min below grade. Extend all footings 4′ min below finish grade.” Did I assume wrong and he’s calling for an actual footing? TYIA! ASAP”

Dear Christine;

For years we designed our post frame buildings without a concrete footing below the columns, instead relying upon the concrete encasement around the posts to adequately bond to the pressure preservative treated column. The bond strength between concrete and wood is documented and more can be read about it here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/pole-barn-post-in-concrete/. There were some Plans Examiners who did not look kindly upon this as a design solution.

The Building Codes do specify the requirement for a concrete footing, and as such we moved several years ago to a design which placed eight inches thick of concrete below the column.

As an architect designed your building and placed his seal upon the plans, you are obligated to construct the building per his/her solution. There should be a detail on the plans which shows exactly what the architect had in mind. If there is not, request a clarification as this is something you paid for in your fee for the work.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Looking for a post frame building with a column embedment design which both makes sense and works structurally? If so, only consider a building which comes with plans done specifically for your building, on your site, and sealed by a Registered Professional Engineer.

Spot the Post Frame Problem

Spot The Post Frame Problem – Reprised

In our last episode, I left you all with a cliff hanger. I did clue you into it being a structural issue, which rules out our builder in the air with his safety harness hooked to an invisible sky hook.
While you all ponder the photo and look at it closely, I will mention a few items which are not necessarily a problem, just maybe not what I would call “best practices”.

Note the trusses. One is on each side of the column. Chances are good this builder is marketing his product as a double truss system. What they actually have are two single trusses spaced 5-1/2 inches apart. These trusses do not act as a pair, because the blocking between them will not transfer the load from one truss to the other.

Each of those trusses is bearing on a block. The trusses are depending only upon the nails or bolts driven through the end of the truss and the blocks to keep them up in the air. There was a time when I did buildings this way also. Until the day I saw a set of trusses and the blocks below them driven down the sides of the poles by excess snow! They were only stopped from hitting the ground by the vehicles which were crushed inside.

Paddle blocks – if you do not know what they are, or their potential for future challenges, you will want to read here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/paddle-blocks/.
Okay, time to get serious here. Look at all the pretty wall girts. Nailed flat on the outside of the columns. They all fail due to not meeting the required deflection criteria set by the Building Codes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/.

Now the particular jurisdiction where this building is being built has their own prescriptive solution to this problem. I’ve railed against prescriptive requirements in this forum previously: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/prescriptive-requirements/. Look closely at the wall in the back of the photo. Look at the right hand bay. Note how every other wall girt has another board nailed to it to form an “L” as a stiffener. Truly wonderful as this solves the deflection issue for these particular girts only. The girt in between, without the stiffener, still fails!

Again I preach and beseech – please, if you are going to construct or have constructed for you a new post frame building, only do so with plans which are design specifically for your building and your building only, which are designed by a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer).

Free Engineered Pole Building Plans

FREE Engineered Pole Building Plans!

Yep, you heard it here first…. on Roller Derby (borrowed from Cheech and Chong’s 1973 album Los Cochinos from a skit about the “Evelyn Woodhead Sped Riddin’ course”).
Today’s article was sparked into being by an email I recently received:
“I’m an architect trying to provide bid documents for a client using a building system like yours. If the footprint of the building is going to be 50’x70′, what is the column spacing on both the long and short dimensions?”

Thanks
Hunter Greene
Hill Studio
Roanoke Virginia
DEAR MR. GREENE ~

“Thank you very much for reaching out to us, we enjoy working with design professionals.

The column spacing which will give most clients the best bang for the buck is usually going with 12 foot centers. The best way to get more information would be to provide as many details as possible – such as…are dimensions carved in stone? 48′ x 72′ might be a better investment. What is the eave height (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/eave_height/)? Where will the building be physically located, what are the Code parameters (snow, wind, seismic and soil bearing pressures, as well as Code version)? What is the wind exposure at the site? Building heated or unheated? What are the requirements for doors?

HPB-Instant-Pricing_Edited-150x46From all of the above, we can use our Instant Pricing™ system to arrive at the best value for the dollar spent.

Also – if this is a project for a governmental agency which will be let out for bid, we will supply the structural plans up front, at no charge – so it may be sent to interested parties. I would encourage your client to divide the bid process into sections – one being the engineered plans, materials delivered and instructions provided, the second being for the labor to construct (which would include providing any nails which would typically be driven by a nail gun).”

Back to the topic at hand – in the event you are any sort of governmental agency, from a township to Uncle Sam himself, you need a low rise building (typically no more than 50 foot high walls and/or three stories) and it has to go out for bid – we can help you!

Working with an architect already? We can make their life very simple – and allow you to negotiate a lower fee with the architect!

For more fascinating reading about bid jobs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/bid-jobs-how-do-contractors-blow-budgets-and-still-get-paid/

Registered Design Professional

National Lampoon’s Vacation

In the iconic 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, the Griswold family plans a trip to Wally World to see Marty Moose

Just like the Griswold’s plans, sometimes best laid plans for buildings don’t come out just as anticipated. Wrong turns are made, dimensions sometimes go astray. Face it. In life, stuff happens.

And sometimes, when the stuff has happened, there is a Building Official who wants proof the stuff which has happened will work. Or, some higher authority to come up with a “fix” or “repair” to make what is referred to “as built” on the jobsite stand up structurally.

Most Building Officials are not as forgiving as Wally World owner, Roy Wally in the movie

Engineers SealWhen a pole building is constructed from engineered plans (not just the use of prefabricated metal connector plated trusses, built from engineer sealed truss drawings), oftentimes the Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) can provide a brief letter to the Building Official, in the event things have gone astray. Sometimes a sketch needs to also be provided, but (provided this method is acceptable to the Building Official) this fix is going to prove far less expensive than having to rework one or more pages of the blueprints.

The calamity occurs when a Building Official wants an engineer sealed fix or repair for a set of plans which was not designed by a Registered Design Professional. There are very few RDPs who are willing to take on this type of work, when they are not the Engineer of Record for the building. A “letter” from the engineer is probably not going to be forthcoming. In most cases, the solution is going to result in having to hire an RDP to do a complete analysis of the structure.

Can you see the $$$$?

I believe Hansen Pole Buildings to be an exception to the norm – as we use the very same structural design programs as our engineers. The difference between a Registered Design professional sealed set of plans and calculations, and the non-sealed plans….the engineer’s review and seal.

This is not the case if an individual has drawn up something of their own, or purchased a building kit from their local lumberyard. Even otherwise “reputable” pole building kit package suppliers often have significant differences between their non-engineered and engineered buildings.

The easiest solution is to have a plan which is checked out in advance. Don’t just rely upon Clark Griswold’s knowledge base (and become the next National Lampoon comedy of errors) – invest in a pole building kit package which comes with plans specific to your building, sealed by a Registered Design Professional.

Storage in Trusses

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday or Saturday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My shop is in a 30×40 pole barn. I would like to put storage up in the trusses, and have some of the shelves that hang from the ceiling also (really there is no ceiling right now, just the trusses and roof). The trusses span the 30ft and I am worried about putting too much weight on them. I really would rather not have any supports in the middle of my floor…I was wondering if I could just sister up to the truss with some 2x6s or bigger to strengthen them…or should I just limit my upper storage? ONLY IN OHIO

DEAR ONLY: Unless specifically ordered for light storage loading, pole building trusses are rarely constructed so as to support any weight from their bottom chords other than limited electrical and lighting.

As you are considering “beefing up” the existing trusses, you should consult with the company which manufactured the trusses. There is typically a stamp on every truss with the truss company’s name on it. For a nominal fee, they can usually provide an engineered “repair” to upgrade your trusses.

In the event the truss company cannot be located, a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) should be hired to design a repair for you.

Only with one of these two solutions would I be able to recommend placing anything for storage in the truss system.

An alternative may be to build a raised “loft” floor in the building, at the level of, but not supported by the trusses. Again, this is a design best accomplished by a RDP.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I am contractor assembling one of your pole building kit packages.
Would you send me details for flashing the building please?
Need:
-Corner flashing.
-End capping the cut ends at top.
-Where do the corrugated foam strips reside?
-Roof panel overhang on the sides and ends.
-Door trim flashing

Thank you, WISHING IN WASHINGTON

DEAR WISHING: All of these are covered in depth in the Hansen Buildings Construction Guide which was provided to your client after purchase. If your client has not shared it with you, you should ask him for the big white binder which was sent to him. Every piece of trim has a diagram showing what it is along with the code used by the steel company. Detailed drawings show where each piece goes on the building.

Building Code: Things Which Make My Head Hurt

International Building CodeThe International Building Code (IBC) is the resultant of years of practical experience and sound engineering practice. The authors are a collective group of Building Officials and engineers, whose mission is to protect the safety of those who will be utilizing the structures built under the auspices of the Code. For practical purposes, every word, of every section of the Building Code has been scrutinized, analyzed, hashed over and rehashed to produce what can only be considered as a magnificent work. Even at this, amendments, additions and subtractions are proposed and made or rejected, providing an updated version every three years, which reflects changes which have come about from better science and research.

The Code also allows individual jurisdictions, to make local amendments to the Building Code. Oftentimes this is done without a sound engineering basis, or research to confirm the reasoning behind the amendment(s).

I am going to now pick upon a single permit issuing jurisdiction. This unnamed county has, as is their right, adopted the following:

15.16.060 Post Frame Structures (pole buildings).

A. Post frame structures over twelve hundred (1200) square feet in area shall be designed by a professional, licensed by the State of (Name Withheld) to design such buildings. The licensed professional shall affix his/her certification and signature to the design, including design drawings and details, specifications, and calculations. Any changes to the design, drawings, details, specifications, and calculations during review or construction shall be prepared and certified by the licensed professional designer of record and submitted for approval of the building official prior to incorporating such changes into the work. The minimum design criteria for post frame structures are as follows:

1. Minimum snow load is thirty-five (35) pounds per square foot (PSF). Reductions in live load/snow load are not permitted.

2. The minimum roof purlin dead load is 5 PSF.

3. The maximum total load deflection is:                       

 a. With ceiling: L/240

 b. Without ceiling: L/180

4. The maximum wall wind load deflection is L/120.

We recently had a plan review done, in this county, and the Plans Examiner/Building Inspector threw in this curve:

“Our standard design for accepting engineered plans for pole buildings over 1200 square feet, require that purlins/girts are spaced no more than 24” O.C.  Your plans call for girts spaced at 31 5/8” and purlins at 29 ¼”. “ 

After some discussion with the Plans Examiner the resultant was (as relayed from one of our owners):

They don’t have a 24” oc girt and purlin requirement – just the change to deflection that we looked at. His (building officials) reasoning was ‘experience’ – that engineers use code to under design buildings.

I will only address issues which I feel are either contrary to the Building Code, do not make sense from an engineering standpoint, or do not have a rationale under the Laws of Physics.

Minimum snow load. The Code addresses how to calculate Pf (flat roof snow load) and Ps (sloped roof snow load) based upon Pg (ground snow load) as well as factors such as Is (building importance), Ct (temperature factor – is building heated or not), Cs (sloped roof factor), and Ce (roof wind exposure factor).

Picking an arbitrary roof snow load, leads to the possibility of either gross over design (causing more cost to the building owner) or gross under design (leading to a possible failure).

As espoused by this jurisdiction, a roof for an Essential Facility (think fire station), which is unheated, has a 4/12 slope shingled roof, and is protected from the wind, would have the very same load as a heated storage building with an 8/12 pitch metal roof, which is exposed to the wind. Common sense says this is just not the case.

Minimum roof purlin dead load of 5 psf. The dead load should be set by the RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who designs the building to reflect the actual imposed loads. As 60% of the dead load is used to calculate the wind uplift forces on the building, an arbitrarily high dead load could result in the under design of the connections between purlins and trusses, as well as trusses and columns.  Potentially this could result in a design, by statute, which results in an overstress of these connections.

In reality 2×6 roof purlins at 24 inches on center, supporting a 29 gauge steel roof induce an actual dead load of about 1.5 psf (pounds per square foot). The 5 psf requirement is 333% higher than reality.

The Building Code allows for purlins supporting a light gauge steel roof to have a deflection of L/150, rather than the stiffer L/180. Deflection criteria have nothing to do with the structural integrity of the roof, merely esthetics under high loads.

The Code allows for wall girts supporting light gauge steel siding to have a deflection of L/90, rather than the stiffer L/120, as long as brittle finishes (such as plaster or drywall) are not being supported. Again deflection criteria have nothing to do with the structural integrity of the siding, merely esthetics under high loads.

Creating criteria which are counter to the majority of the jurisdictions in the country only creates confusion for RDPs, building providers and contractors, as well as increasing costs (without reciprocal benefits) to building owners. These criteria appear to be arbitrary and capricious in penalizing post frame construction against other forms of building construction.

If the feeling is the Building Code allows RDPs to under design buildings, then the jurisdiction should move the International Code Committee (along with providing rational proof as to why) to change the IBC. If snow load is their concern, the utilization of higher Pg values than have ever been historically seen (while not a reality), would allow for a uniformity of calculations by registered engineers.

Can a Building Official Legally Change Engineered Building Plans?

I will preface my answer with the statement I have used more than once: “If anyone, including any building department plan checker, field inspector, other official, or a contractor, makes any changes or deviations from provided engineered building plans my advice is to obtain a signed statement to the effect they have now become “designer of record”. In effect, they have assumed all liability for the building’s structural design.”

pole-barn-plansWith this said, here is where things get dicey. Always pick the battles. Some requests by Building Officials are so minor, it is not worth getting into a fight over. The risk is always in putting forth a challenge, which might raise the ire of the plans checker or inspector. More often than not, a change asked for by the Building Department is a preference item only, which has no code to back it up.

If he wasn’t a building official, it wouldn’t really matter much whether he gets rankled or not. If he was a supplier or subcontractor, fine, take the risk; if he can’t handle it, hire a new one. But you can’t hire new building officials. Get on the wrong side with one and run the risk of installing yourself on the person’s or jurisdiction’s blacklist. Navigating the regulatory quagmire is hard enough without painting a sign on your forehead which says “I am a jerk.”

Trust me on this one – getting into the jerk line at the Building Department is tantamount to waterboarding. Life…will….become….miserable.

I have heard of projects where during construction the engineer of record got calls from the contractor asking for interpretations to the cryptic red marks all over the structural plans. This is alarming because engineers do not release construction plans with red marks on them. If corrections are to be made, engineers make them in the office and reissue the plans. What has happened is an overzealous plans examiner took it upon himself to change the engineered plans via red marks and then issue the plans for construction without bothering to ask or tell the engineer!

In changing the engineer’s design, the Building Department superseded the actual registered engineer as the engineer of record and assumed all sorts of liability. If their risk manager ever got wind of this, heads would roll. And roll they should.

Oftentimes, engineers do nothing about this, especially if it is near an Act of Congress to obtain a building permit in the particular jurisdiction. Sadly sometimes the only way to obtain a permit is via the building department redoing the design and assuming the liability. Raising a stink could cause long delays in the issuance of a permit.

Before questioning the Building Official, weigh the costs. If the building inspector is a reasonable person, ask the question. If, on the other hand, the inspector is seemingly “out to get you”, maybe let the issue pass and then at the end of the project bring it up to his superior.

If you are a Building Official and reading this, please do give me feedback on “smoothing the road”. Trust me; I am on your side. My goal is always the same: To provide adequate support and education to clients to assist them in getting a well-designed pole building which is safe, sound…and built to code.