Tag Archives: barndominium

Flashing Wires and Pipes Through Steel Siding

Flashing Wires and Pipes Through Steel Siding

There are some things one just does not give a lot of thought about and this subject is one where I am entirely negligent. My post frame buildings outside of Spokane are both sided with 1×8 Cedar channel. While it looks great, I would never do it against due to having to solid body stain it repeatedly. Maybe this will be a story for another day?

My negligence?

Not having paid attention to how to adequately and permanently seal pipe or wiring penetrations through roll formed steel siding. I went out and looked at our own steel sided shouse (shop/house) and for our contractors like to use liberal amounts of caulking. I just do not see this as a permanent design solution.

This was a post in one of my Facebook Barndominium groups:


“First this isn’t my building! But I will need to have some piping coming thru the side of my building soon. Also need to think about water spigots, securing them to the building (not just to the metal siding)

How do you penetrate a metal building siding and seal this penetration from water intrusion and/or prevent it from rusting in the future.

I have a hydraulic punch out tool to smoothly cut the size needed (i have up to 4in die’s) but sealing AM<he metal to piping (pvc, metal, copper what have you) is my hold up. I don’t want to just caulk it up, I feel there has to be a better and  more long term solution, metal/plastic flashing?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

There was a suggestion made of a silicone flashing product, however when I visited their website, I was unable to locate any data on exterior use.

There is a product available for sealing pipes going through roll formed steel roofing: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/dektite/. I have used them several times and find them to be 100% reliable.

I have spent some time Google searching for a solution similar to Dektites™, but to no avail. Somehow I believe there is a well-hidden product available. If you happen to know of a great solution, please share it with me. It is not often I am stumped – this one has me.

Airtight Post Frame Homes and Barndominiums

Back in my 1990’s post frame building contractor days, we constructed a shop for a client near Moscow, Idaho. We probably didn’t ask enough questions up front and our client didn’t provide enough information to adequately prevent what was initially quite a challenge.

After we had completed construction of this building’s shell, our client poured a concrete slab-on-grade. He placed fiberglass insulation in exterior walls, with a well-sealed vapor barrier. Walls and ceiling were sheetrock and insulation was blown into the attic. Heat was provided by a propane heater.

After the building was occupied, our client called us to advise every one of his windows was leaking!

Turns out these “leaks” were a symptom of a larger problem. Our client had sealed his building so tightly, in order to close an exterior door, a window needed to be open. There was no under slab vapor barrier, nor was a sealant applied. His propane heater was not ventilated to an outside source, adding moisture to interior air (and drawing moisture through his slab). With nowhere to exit, moisture was condensing on the insides of his building’s cooler windows! 

Owning and operating an airtight post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium will increase its energy performance and lower its carbon footprint. However, there are certain things one should keep in mind before building a new airtight post frame building.

A post frame building’s envelope consists of its roof, foundation and exterior walls, doors and windows, and this is what keeps indoor and outdoor air from mixing. When a post frame building envelope is not tight, it can lead to air leakage and drafts, decreasing a building’s overall energy efficiency and increasing utility bills. With a sealed building envelope and upgraded mechanical ventilation systems, energy costs can be controlled and a comfortable indoor environment can be created.

Airtight post frame buildings are passive buildings meeting Passivhaus standards for air leakage. This is a residential construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. This standard recommends (not requires), a maximum design heating load of 10 watts per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14.

Unlike most United States standards for energy-efficient homes, this standard governs not just heating and cooling energy, but overall building energy use, including baseload electricity and  domestic hot water.

These buildings have air leakage rates of less than .60 AC/H @ 50 Pascals (2012 IECC Code allows an air infiltration rate up to 3 AC/H @ 50 pascals). Use no more than 1.39kWh per square foot in cooling energy. Use no more than 4,755Btus per square foot in heating energy, and maintain a maximum entire building energy usage ratio of no more than 11.1kWh per square foot.

Airtight post frame buildings are extremely energy-efficient because mixing of indoor and outdoor air is extremely limited, reducing energy bills associated with heating and cooling. Besides a dramatic reduction in energy bills, expect improvements in building comfort, and whole house and heat recovery ventilation system energy efficiency. Moisture infiltration systems will be reduced.

When post frame buildings are constructed with airtightness and energy-efficiency in mind, it can lead to unintentional problems, like excessive moisture and CO2 levels. Thankfully, most of these problems can be corrected with proper installation of a mechanical ventilation system – condensation on exterior walls and windows, excessive indoor humidity, poor indoor air quality, mold and mildew.

Since airtight post frame buildings do not allow for a transfer of indoor and outdoor air, they need one or more mechanical ventilation systems to help ensure a building receives enough fresh air and indoor air, along with excessive moisture and particulate matter, is properly vented outside. This can be accomplished with fans, air ducts and ventilation control systems with sensors monitoring indoor CO2 levels.

Trained professionals can look at a proposed post frame building’s critical systems, including HVAC, lighting and plumbing, and help determine best upgrades to reduce consumption. These may include custom mechanical ventilation systems and sensors to help control indoor air quality and achieve optimum ventilation.

Show me Your Barndominium Plans Please

Like a bunch of little kids exploring differences in body parts – “You show me yours, I will show you mine.” Barndominium, shouse (shop/house), post frame home want to be owners are not far removed from here when it comes to floor plans. In numerous Facebook groups I see this request over and over!

Each family truthfully has their own wants and needs – ones where chances of anyone else’s plans being ideal for them being close to those of winning a major lottery.

Gambrel roof pole barnFor those who have been following along, I have covered preliminary steps leading to actually designing a functional and affordable floor plan.

Step number one, determining if a new barndominium is even a financial reality: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

Once fiscal reality has sunk in – your new barndo will need to be located somewhere: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/a-place-for-a-post-frame-barndominium/

And unless you and your significant others have been squirreling away stacks of Franklins or are independently wealthy, financing must be secured: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/borrowing-for-a-d-i-y-barndominium/

With all of these steps squared away, it is time to start considering a floor plan. Popular home spaces and sizes need to be determined: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/the-first-tool-to-construct-your-own-barndominium/.

I read about people in barndominium planning stages looking for free or low cost design software, attempting to put room sizes and orientations together in a fashion making any sort of sense. This becomes daunting and can be an all-consuming struggle, regardless of how many pads of grid paper you own.

Most people are not far removed from reader MARK in WAYNESTOWN who writes:

“Looking for a 3 bed- bath 1/2- open kitchen living room vaulted ceiling concept and maybe with 1 or 2 bedroom loft up top — and 2 car garage in back what size of pole barn should we look for?”

Here is where it is well worth investing in services of a design professional. Someone who can take all of your ideas, those wants and needs and actually craft a floor plan best melding them with the realities of construction. 

Hansen Pole Buildings has just this service available and it can be done absolutely for free! Read all the details here and we look forward to continuing to walk with you in your journey to a beautiful new home: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Planning for a South Carolina Post Frame Home

Planning for a South Carolina Post Frame Home

A barndominium, shouse (shop/house) and post frame home wave is sweeping across America. There are numerous articles available on Hansen Pole Buildings’ website – just click on SEARCH (upper right of any page) and type in BARNDOMINIUM and hit ENTER and relevant articles will appear for your reading pleasure.

Loyal reader LANE in NORTH AUGUSTA writes:

“Hello,

I’m currently planning a post frame home in North Augusta, South Carolina.

I’m planning to build 72x40x16 with a wrap around overhang around one end and part of the front or 84x40x16 with the last 12′ bay open to create the end porch then a lean-to on part of the front. 

I’m curious firstly on the shipping. There are a few local businesses here that sell kits and will erect the building as well if desired. How much will freight affect my final cost if I buy from you vs. sourcing it locally? I haven’t gotten any prices from the local companies yet. I decided to reach out to you guys first because I’ve been reading your blog and it seems like you really have this pole building thing figured out. I’m also really interested in the design and plans that you provide. Do these also include the interior walls, plumbing and electrical, or is it just the shell of the building?

I’ve already drawn up a simple floor plan for the living space that really fits our needs so I’d like to incorporate that.

Thank you for your time. Look forward to hearing back.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru answers:
Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. We have wholesale relationships all across America and will ship bulkiest items, in most cases lumber and trusses, from your locale – freight costs will be no more for you, than they would be to any other location.

We would like to believe we have at least a reasonable idea of what pole (post frame) buildings are all about :-). It is all we do, unlike your local businesses who also do other things – we are specialists.

With your investment into any complete post frame building kit are detailed structural plans showing every member and all connections. For those with living areas, we have available an offer for interior floor plans: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q. For a nominal fee plumbing and electrical can be provided (a hint – your plumber and electrician will normally provide these at no charge as part of their service).

One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you shortly to further discuss your ideal new building!

Partially Enclosed Buildings

Partially Enclosed Buildings (and Why It Matters)

I have previously written how a fully enclosed building could be less of an investment than a three sided building – even though a fourth wall has been added: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/three-sided-building/

For those of you who neglected to click and read my previous article, consider your building as a balloon, rather than a building. Until tied (enclosing your balloon), your balloon is partially enclosed. More air can enter through its neck and if over-loaded “BOOM”!

From a structural aspect on buildings, force multipliers are applied to adjust wind forces upwards in order to combat “BOOM”. But what actually constitutes a partially enclosed building?

A building is considered “Partially Enclosed” if it complies with both of these following conditions (ASCE 7-10, Section 26.2, “BUILDING, PARTIALLY ENCLOSED”):

  1. the total area of openings in a wall that receives positive external pressure exceeds the sum of the areas of openings in the balance of the building envelope (walls and roof) by more than 10%, AND
  2. the total area of openings in a wall that receives positive external pressure exceeds 4 square feet or 1% of the area of that wall, whichever is smaller, and the percentage of openings in the balance of the building envelope does not exceed 20%

IF EITHER IS NOT TRUE, ENCLOSURE BY DEFINITION IS NOT PARTIALLY ENCLOSED.
 
On occasion, building officials will assume a building originally designed as enclosed to be partially enclosed if storm shutters are not provided, a conservative worst-case approach, but is defendable by fact there is no written code provision for this and the structure won’t meet the above definition. Also, everything needs to be designed for partially enclosed, roof, connections, walls, foundation, beams, columns, etc. A building won’t stand if only one part of it is designed as partially enclosed and not the rest.

It is possible to have a building appearing to be fully enclosed, when in reality it is not. 

How could this occur?

Failure to use wind-rated doors and windows!!

Sliding “barn” doors are not wind rated. Neither are most entry (person) doors.

Most sectional overhead garage doors are not wind rated. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/wind-load-rated-garage-doors/

This becomes especially critical in cases of barndominiums, shouses (shop/house) and post frame homes. Many of these have a wall with one or more garage doors. If these doors are not wind rated doors, in an extreme weather condition they could be literally sucked right out of your home, leaving it prone to forces it was not structurally designed for!

Lives are priceless, please do not try to save a few bucks upfront by risking you or your loved ones.

Planning for a Post Frame Home

When it comes to planning for a new post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium, there are a myriad of questions and concerns to be answered and pondered.

Or, at least I hope you are – rather than just stumbling in blindly!

Reader NICK in NORTH CAROLINA writes:

“Hi, I’m looking into options for building a post frame home in the coming year in NC and wanted to understand more of the details regarding your current building products and suggested techniques.  

Do you provide a means to support the posts on top of the concrete pillars with a bracket vs the post being embedded into the concrete?

Your current package only provides for insulation of the roof, no interior walls, correct?

Can another 2×6 skirt board be added to the inside of the building to isolate the concrete flooring from the post and to provide a cavity for insulation to be installed between the outside/inside girts?

Do you have a listing of contractors that are familiar with your products in given areas that could be used to build the structure?

If using the design service listed for $695, does that include the design for all interior walls/rooms/fixtures as well as electrical/plumbing/mechanical?

Thanks for any information you can provide.”

All good questions. In answer to them:

Yes we can provide plans with a third-party engineered design for bracket set columns, as well as brackets. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/

We typically recommend using either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/) between roof framing and roof steel, or using roof steel with factory applied Dripstop https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/drip-stop/

We can provide batt insulation for walls and/or ceilings, however there are more energy efficient methods of insulating https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/

It (extra 2×6 interior splash plank) could, however there are structural advantages to having columns surrounded (constrained) on exterior splash plank interior. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/importance-of-constrained-posts/) I’d recommend doing a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation post frame style instead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/post-frame-frost-walls/

Although our buildings are designed for an average literate English speaking person to successfully construct their own building (most of them do, and do a wonderful job – because they will read and follow instructions), for those who do need an erector, in many areas we can provide contacts for you to vet.

Our floor plan and elevation package offer (http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q)  includes all interior walls, rooms and fixtures. For an added fee you can include electrical/plumbing/mechanical (note: typically all of these last three services can usually be provided at no charge by subcontractors who will be doing these specific trades).

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions. An answer to most questions can also be found at www.HansenPoleBuildings.com by clicking on SEARCH in the upper right hand corner of any page. Type in a word or two and hit ENTER and up pop relevant articles.

The First Tool to Construct Your Own Barndominium

Your First Tool to Construct Your Own Barndominium

Whether you are contemplating constructing (or having constructed) a barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or just a post frame home – there is one essential tool you should invest in long before you consider breaking ground. Even if you have hired this world’s greatest General Contractor who will do absolutely everything for you, without your involvement, you still need this tool.

What is it, you ask?

Well, first of all – I will assure you this tool will not break your project’s budget. In fact it is under $30 at your nearby The Home Depot™!

What I am talking about here is a General Tools 50 foot compact laser measure.

This Model #LDM1 compact laser will accurately measure up to 50 foot distances quickly. You can use it to measure full rooms within seconds (handy for discreet measurement taking), all with a push of a single button. Portable and compact, it will easily fit in a pocket!

Just last week you should have read my article on “Room in a Barndominium” (quick, go back and read it again: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/). In this article a litany of possible barndominium room choices were listed, along with general floor areas for each of them, based upon overall living space.  From this you have made a list of those rooms you cannot live without as well as ones it would be nice to have, provided they will fit within your available space and budget.

Begin by practicing measuring rooms in your current abode. Note dimensions and if they are too large (it does happen), too small or just right (sounds like a story involving a young blonde girl and three bears, I know). 

Now your real work begins. Saddle up your horse, or favorite other mode of transportation, and start visiting weekend Open Houses. Even better, if you can get into a Home Builders’ Association “Parade of Homes”, as these normally feature new and innovative ideas. You want to visit as many fully furnished homes as is reasonably possible. Why do I say fully furnished? Because empty rooms feel much larger than they actually are. Get out your new tool and start taking measurements.

Once you have accumulated your data, you can start to narrow down how much space will actually be needed to meet with your family’s needs and lifestyle. Keep in mind – all of these measurements are INSIDE dimensions. Eventually you will be adding walls and interior ones will take up at least four and one-half inches.

Starting to get excited?

If not, you should be. You are one step closer to your new dream home!

Room in a Barndominium

Room In A Barndominium

I read plenty of chatter in Facebook barndominium groups where people want to see other’s floor plans. In my humble opinion – this is a mistake. Building your own barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home from scratch gives you probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to craft a home specifically to fit your needs.

Home sizes can be split up into three groups – small (under 2000 square feet), medium (2000-2999 square feet) and large (over 3000 square feet). In discussions about possible rooms and sizes average square footage (sft) for each size will be indicated.

Entry Foyer  (65/89/138 sft)

Most homes have some sort of space inside the front door where coats and boots are removed, etc. Coat closet should be in this area as well. 

Our shouse in South Dakota has a tiled floor in this area located where top of stairs and  elevator are. Ours is on small end of spectrum, at well below average. My own personal favorite was in my Willamette Valley home where I created an ‘air lock’ entry – front door opening into an area where a nearly full glass door divided it from living spaces. This design was very practical for maintaining interior temperatures.

Kitchen (193/275/423)

Face it, we all have to eat. This is going to be your ideal dream home, so kitchen space is not a place to skrimp. Ours is most certainly beyond large average.

In our shouse’s case, I personally enjoy to cook, my bride to bake. Our kitchen tends to also become a social place where company congregates as meals are organized and prepared. Things I feel we really did right in ours include:

4’ x 8’ center island. We designed it with a two foot bank of cabinets on one side, a two foot space for a chair from each side (and grandkids can crawl through) and four feet of cabinets on other side. This chair space worked out to be ideal for my wife’s powered wheelchair after she became a paraplegic. 

Separate side-by-side refrigerator and freezer units. There is seemingly never enough space inside a standard combined unit. We also raised ours a foot above floor level so we didn’t have to stand on our heads to see what was at the bottom.

If one is good, two are better. This applied to our ovens, where one is stacked above another. This became even more important after my wife’s accident, as she can easily reach the lower oven. We also have two dishwashers – one of my pet peeves is fixing a meal for a large group and having dirty dishes remaining on counters and sinks. Two dishwashers solved this. We also raised each of them a foot off the floor and it has made loading and unloading so much easier! Our other duo is his and hers microwaves. Even though it is just the two of us here, it is amazing how often we have both of these in use at the same time.

We have large spaces (four feet) between island and surrounding kitchen counters.

Long eating bar (easily seats five on bar stools) – at the same height as the top of raised dishwashers, with sink and range on the other side and lower. With a passle of grandchildren, this makes serving and cleanup a breeze.

One thing I did miss (and I have had before) is a trash compactor.

Walk-In Kitchen Pantry (17/31/51)

Originally we did not have one in our shouse. After my bride’s accident, we ended up adding a full sized elevator, requiring a mechanical room. The space at living level, above mechanical room, became our pantry. Even with our kitchen having side-by-side refrigerator and freezer units, there just was never enough room, especially around Winter Holidays. Our pantry has both a refrigerator with a top freezer and an upright freezer. Refrigerator is a handy spot for 12 packs of soda and adult beverages, as well as when guests bring refrigerated items over for a get together. 

We also used heavy duty shelf brackets and have two foot deep shelves all up one wall and above cooling units.

Come back tomorrow for more on designing your new barndominium.

Solutions to Porch Overhang Clearance Issues

Recently KIM in STRATFORD posted this question to a Facebook Barndominium discussion group I am a member of:

“I am trying to finalize my plans today. Is it possible to have 8′ side walls and still have a 6′ overhang open porch on the eave side of the house? I have a 5/12 pitch on the house portion and actually wanted two separate roof lines, one for the house and a separate one for the porch overhang. House is on a slab so no built up foundation walls. I’m not sure if this porch will be too low with the porch roof UNDER the house roof and with a slight slope for water drainage…. Any experts out here?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

For starters, most steel roofing suppliers will not warrant steel placed on slopes of less than  3/12. Continuing out from your main wall six feet at a 3/12 slope will place underside of your overhang at roughly six feet and six inches. Not only could this become a head ringer (at least for my son who is 6’6” tall in his bare feet), but it is going to block clear view out windows in this area. It is also just plane going to feel low.

I did some researching, however I’ve been unable to find a Building Code requirement for clearance below an overhang, however I would have to believe seven foot to be a bare practical minimum. 

You could:

(a) Build over a crawl space, instead of a slab – raising elevation of home and affording a more comfortable surface to live on (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/slab-on-grade-or-crawl-space/) ;

(b) Increase house wall height – you could maintain an 8′ finished ceiling and have raised heel roof trusses to allow for full depth attic insulation from wall-to-wall (very good idea) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/ ;

(c) Use roof trusses wide enough to span from opposite wall to outside edge of porch, with a pitch change at junction between porch and home.

Dial 1(866)200-9657 and ask to speak to a Building Designer. Your call is free and we have great solutions for you.

See Your New Barndominium Here

In our last episode, we were escaping odors produced by mushroom people – now let us move forward to getting a clearer vision and a view from your new post frame barndominium’s windows!

Once you have narrowed your choices down to a handful, ideally you can watch each site over a year’s time – as well as gathering more information about your area. Watch for ponding after rains, or Spring runoffs, you don’t want to wake up and find yourself in a slough. In snow country – what sort of drifting occurs?

Spend a few dollars and buy a beer or two for a local geotechnical engineer. You want to build upon stable soils – not prone to undue shifting and settling. One of our sons has a home high above the Missouri River East of Pierre, SD. Years of nearby river flow created a huge sand hill, upon where his now neighborhood is located. His home, and those of his neighbors, is constantly moving!

Make sure your potential site will not be in a habitat protected area. Don’t invest in land and find out some rare insect only lives or nests on what you thought was going to be your forever dream home site. Wetlands can prove problematic – get to know any possible restrictions.

Are wildfires a possibility? Is area a known fire hazard? Is your fire department supported solely by volunteers (if so, be prepared for higher insurance costs)? My Auntie Norma lost everything as 2018’s Camp Fire destroyed Paradise, California and surrounding areas. It can happen.

Avoid a site within a flood zone, unless you are prepared to invest extra to build above flood levels. Same goes for hurricane prone areas.

If not on a regularly maintained county road, who does maintain it? What might it cost you for your share to upkeep a private road? If access is across property of others, check for written easements. Investigate any easements across what could be your future property.

Order a preliminary title report, this will disclose easements and restrictive covenants or conditions. You might want to order a land survey as well, especially if property boundaries are loosely defined. Don’t count on fence lines to be accurate.

Water is important, and not all water is potable. Sometimes water rights don’t “run with the land,” this would mean you couldn’t dig a well.

If planning on a well, find out the depth of water table and determine difficulty of digging. 

It can be costly to bring electricity, telephone, or cable service to a property if they’re not already established nearby. Will you need to install a propane tank? What will it cost to install a septic system?

If you’re not planning to finance a land purchase through a conventional lender—requiring a lender appraisal—obtain your own appraisal to determine an appropriate price before making an offer. Comparable sales are sometimes difficult to find when you’re buying rural land.

It’s common to pay cash for land because getting a loan for this type of purchase can be tricky. Raw land can’t be leveraged by a bank.

If you do get a loan—and there are a few lenders out there who specialize in and will touch this type of transaction—don’t expect to be approved for more than maybe 50 percent of the purchase price. You might have more success if your land has utility access and is reasonably accessible by roadway.

Once you do acquire a place to build – then and only then is it time to move to your next step – designing your own ideal dream custom barndominium!

A Place for a Post Frame Barndominium

You and your loved ones have decided to take a plunge – building your own barndominium, shouse, or post frame home. 

But where?

Other than formulating a rough budget for building (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/) your journey is realistically at a standstill until you have acquired a place to build.

It is easy to idealize what it’s like to live on acreage away from city hustle and bustle, and there are indeed some advantages. Rural land costs are lower and generally further away from a city one gets, acreage becomes cheaper. Many people buy land because they want to build a custom home to their own specifications. They also want cleaner air and more space.

However, consider potential challenges fully before deciding to dump urban living and become Oliver Wendell Douglas (for those of you too young to remember Google “Green Acres”).

Now my lovely bride and I happen to have our own rural shouse. We live in a county of 10,278 souls scattered across 1136 square miles. Deduct our nearby metropolis of Sisseton and we average less than seven people per square mile!

Gambrel roof pole barnFinding skilled craftsman who are willing to travel to our location ranged from difficult to impossible. Few were interested in a jaunt of 60 miles from Watertown or 100 miles from Fargo. Those who would travel charged extra to compensate for driving time and distance. Transporting building materials and paying for delivery costs more than building near a major city.

Although modern conveniences are usually available, they aren’t always reliable. We are now installing a backup propane generator for those times when we can go days without electrical power. Cell service here can be problematic, “Can you hear me now?”. 

While we do have two grocery stores in Sisseton eight miles away, and serious shopping involves planning and a 100 mile drive. We’re in snow country and a blizzard means we could be stuck at home for days.

Take time to become familiar with any area being considered for your new home site. Get to know your potential community and hear stories from locals before diving in deep with a realtor.

Use some caution as all of your future neighbors might not be overjoyed to hear you’re going to buy up land behind their homes and erect your own palace there, obstructing their pristine views. You might meet up with some resistance—even organized resistance involving municipal and county authorities.

Consider rural resale values can be less in rural areas, due to a smaller pool of potential buyers. If demand is low and supply is high, prices will be more negotiable. 

Check with local authorities, including city, county, and state, to determine zoning ordinances. Find out any possible restrictions before committing to a land investment. Some areas prohibit construction on anything other than large parcels of five, 10 and even 20 acres.

Realize you might be subjected to sounds and lovely odors produced by nearby farms. In my past life I once rented a home, not realizing it was occasionally downwind of a mushroom growing plant. Mushrooms grow real well given dark and manure!

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode – where stench goes away and you move one step closer to making your dreams a reality!

Post Frame Home Construction Financing

Most people building their own post frame post frame home (barndominium or shouse included) need some amount of post frame home construction financing.  (shouse=shop+house)

Some important things to keep in mind with construction loans:

Obtaining one takes more time and financial investment than a conventional loan (loan on or against an existing building).

Lenders require more documentation – building plans, budgets, time lines, etc.

“Single Close” loans finance land and post frame home and serve as long-term financing.

“Two Step” loans finance land purchase and construction. New post frame home owners must refinance with a conventional loan upon completion.

Plan on needing at least a 20% down payment. In some cases, if property is free and clear, some or all of land value can be applied toward down payment.

Your lender’s equity will be based upon whatever is least – cost or finished appraised value. Be wary – some items or inclusions have a greater cost than their finished appraised value.

Typical payments are interest upon portion of funds used during construction.

Borrower/builder will take draws as needed to cover materials and labor completed. In an event a general contractor is hired, do not give him or her direct access to funds without you having to approve.

Borrower and builder must be fully approved by lender. This is one of the few cases where I recommend using a general contractor – but only if your lender will not allow you to self-build. 

Do NOT apply for your loan telling the potential lender it is a barndominium, pole barn/building or post frame home, etc. Your post frame home should be listed as a “wood framed with a concrete foundation”. Period.

Post Frame Home

While it sounds ideal to build a post frame home for your specific wants and needs, processes of applying for and closing a construction loan will require a much greater commitment of time and financial resources compared to financing an existing home with a traditional Conventional Mortgage. This is because those banks funding construction loans are investing a considerable sum into an intangible asset, one not yet existing. As such, their requirements for documentation and a greater down payment from buyer are greater than if they were financing an already existing home.

There are effectively two types of construction loans, and while they may go by different names by banks offering them. 

A single close construction loan is a single loan financing property acquisition and post frame home construction, it serves as long term financing as well. Since this bank is taking a leap of faith the home will be built “as advertised” with plans and specifications they’ve been provided, they’re still taking a risk in home buyer and builder. If something goes wrong during construction, they could end up being lien holder on a partially constructed post frame home. Since banks are NOT in the business of building homes, they will mitigate this risk charging higher interest rates on construction loans. Greatest risk to a bank closing a construction loan is having either builder or buyer default during construction and higher rates allow them to spread this risk.

A Two Step loan differs as home buyer will close on one loan solely used to finance land purchase and dwelling construction. Once completed, post frame homeowner refinances construction loan with a permanent conventional loan of their choosing.

Both single close and two step loan have their distinct pros and cons and each individual home buyer/builder needs to evaluate those to determine which is best. While a single close loan only requires a borrower to sign one set of loan documents and they have one loan covering both construction and long term home financing, rates at closing are anywhere from .25 to .5% higher than a traditional conventional loan may be. Again, this is due to construction lender’s added risk. Two step loans offer client an ability to choose (after completion) a permanent loan of their liking. Typically this will be at a lower rate than a conventional loan, but two loan closings result in two sets of closing costs, two signings, etc.

Variables a post frame homeowner should consider include length of time they plan to keep the home, current interest rate environment (are rates rising or falling?) and their own risk tolerance knowing rates can and probably will either go up or down while the home is being built.

Borrowing for a D-I-Y Barndominium

Hansen Pole Buildings GuesthouseBarndominiums, shouses and post frame homes all fit into a similar category to me. This category heading would be titled, “Living in a Post Frame Building”, although other construction types may be used, post frame is going to give most bang for your investment.

What if you want to D-I-Y construct your own post frame barndominium, but need to borrow in order to build?

Only once have I ever gotten a construction loan for myself and then I happened to be an experienced General Contractor with a successful track record. It was also through a bank we did most of our commercial banking with and we had far more money in our account then what our construction loan was for.

Most new D-I-Y barndominium folks are not experienced General Contractors. Things could be somewhat more challenging if you fall into this category. Even with a high credit score and significant down payment, most lenders doing construction to permanent loans require a full plan, timelines, etc., and only pay out when certain milestones are met.

I am all for people doing it themselves. I see far too many horror stories from people who have hired contractors. Thankfully lots of happy stories from clients who did it themselves. If you are going to be your own General Contractor here are some things to keep in mind:

If hiring a sub-contractor to do any work get it not only in writing, but also with a contract covering all possible bases. Great contracts make great friends. Do not expect any contractor to perform more than exactly what is spelled out in writing.

Have good insurance. We live in a litigious society and there are too many people who avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. Don’t have your dream home train derailed due to an uninsured or under-insured construction project.

Pay people. Whether out of pocket or from construction loans – pay vendors and subcontractors promptly, provided they perform as anticipated. Take advantage of prompt or early pay discounts from vendors with a track record of reliability.

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.

Barndominium Costs Part II

Continuing my discussion of Barndominium costs from yesterday’s blog…
For sake of discussion, we will use 2400 sft (40×60) of finished living space (includes any bonus rooms) plus 1600 sft of garage/shop. To have a GC (General Contractor) turn-key this for you expect an average of:

2400 X $122.46 = $293,904
1600 X $61.56 = $ 98,496
$293,904 + $98,496 = $392,400 / .6977 = $562,419

This is having your barndominium built (turn key), not for owner-builders.
If your barndominium will be very simple, rectangle, standard sizes, with little to no upgrades on finish materials (counter tops, flooring, cabinets, showers, lighting, trim, etc) then your costs could be less per sft.

 

On spectrum’s other end would be for very intricate, high end, everything upgraded barndominiums. Including things like custom cabinets, real hardwood flooring, high end appliances, custom fireplace, built in entertainment options, oversized windows and doors, vaulted ceilings throughout, steep roof, extra bathrooms/kitchens, etc.

But what you really want to know is what it will cost for you to build it, right?
We will assume you are willing to do some legwork, so if you don’t do any physical work yourself and just act as general contractor (making phone calls, hiring people, ordering materials, dealing with problems, etc) you can build this average barndominium for $170,000 less than it would cost to hire a general contractor.

I can make a LOT of phone calls for this. In fact, I could easily take well over a year off work and still come out ahead!

Beyond making phone calls, hiring people, ordering materials, and dealing with problems, you can lower your price by doing some work yourself.
It’s all about what YOU are willing to do as an owner-builder.

Our prices above are for “stick frame” construction. By using post frame construction with embedded columns, rather than pouring a footing and foundation, a savings of $11,400 can be found: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/.
This reduces your $392,400 investment by about 3% to $381,000
NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) allocated percentages in their Construction Cost Breakdown. These included:

Site work 5.6% (of this 1.6% was for architecture and engineering)
Foundations 11.6% (this includes excavation and backfill)
Framing 18%
Exterior Finishes 15% (siding, roofing, windows, doors)
Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC rough ins 13.1%
Interior Finishes 29.6% (insulation, drywall, interior trims and doors, painting, lighting, cabinets, counter tops, appliances, flooring, plumbing fixtures, fireplaces)
Final Steps 6.8% (Landscaping, decks, driveways, clean up)

Of framing and exterior finishes (roughly 1/3rd of costs), if you invest in an engineered post frame building kit package and do your own labor (labor being roughly 1/3rd of this portion), save $43,164 (I can take a lot of time off work for this).

Hansen Pole Buildings GuesthouseAnd my engineered post frame building kit package includes engineering, saving $6278.
Obviously even more savings can be achieved for those capable of doing electrical and plumbing, however assuming nothing other than what has been listed, your $562,419 barndominium has been built and is ready to move in for $331,558!! This resulted in over a 41% savings and kept over $230,000 in YOUR pocket!!

Of course your investment and savings could be more or less depending upon your tastes and location, however this should give you a feel for where you will be headed. It would be prudent to budget another 1% for every month you delay your start, as well.

How Much Will My Barndominium Cost?

How Much Will My Post Frame Barndominium Cost?

This may be the most asked question in Barndominium discussion groups I am a member of. Or at least a close second to wanting to see floor plans. And why not? If one does not have a semblance of financial realty, they could end up finding themselves severely disappointed.

This is a really important questions because if you don’t know what your barndominium or shouse (shop/house) will cost, how can you plan on paying for it?

Hansen Buildings TaglineIt is also a really hard question to answer. You can probably guess standard cabinets and custom cabinets come with a very big price difference. This is merely one example of a myriad of differences between every single barndominium.

Sitting down and figuring out what each individual thing in your barndominium will cost, is a very difficult (if not impossible) thing to do.

There is no way for me or anyone to tell you exactly what your barndominium will cost. I can help you best I know how, but you also need to do your own homework in your own area.

Your own style and preferences will play a big role in your barndominium cost. Please use these figures as a guideline only, and know this is not an exact science. This is simply meant to help you figure out a good idea of how much money you will need.

Our International Code Council friends publish a table of average costs for new construction and update it every six months. https://www.iccsafe.org/wp-content/uploads/BVD-BSJ-FEB19-converted.pdf

Post frame construction is Type VB and homes are Residential R-3. As of February 2019, this places an average constructed cost at $122.46 per sft (square foot). An attached garage or shop would be S-2 storage, low hazard at $61.56 per sft. A detached shop or garage could be U utility, at $48.73 per sft. Unfinished basements would be $22.45 per sft.

NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) 2015 data supported these figures with an average total construction cost of $103.29 per sft. This is before General Contractor’s (GC) overhead, profit, financing, marketing and sales costs and does not include the price of land. Outside of land values, a General Contractor’s share added another 30.23% to total construction costs.

Do you need a General Contractor? Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/04/general-contractor/

Tune in for our next action packed article, where an example barndominium will be broken apart for costs!

Barndominium is Popping Up Everywhere

Back in 1981 Barbara Mandrell recorded and released a hit song written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”. Well Barbara certainly has it over me in the looks department and I doubt I will ever have a Top Ten hit with, “I Had a Barndominium When Barndominiums Weren’t Cool”.

Read more about barndominium here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/barndominium/.

My first personal barndominium, built in 1994, was actually more of a shouse – a 40 feet wide by 36 feet deep, but not rectangular, post frame building! Seriously, it was built as a parallelogram 14 degrees out of square to follow property lines of a very narrow lot. Shop portion is on the ground floor – a garage level with three overhead steel sectional doors 9’ wide x 8’ tall, 10’ wide x 11’ tall and 8’ wide x 7’ tall. I would never recommend the latter of these for an automobile, but it works superbly for motorcycles and our log splitter.

Gambrel roof pole barnThis building is entirely clearspan – no interior columns to have to work around. Second floor has a 10 foot wide step-down by four feet. This area has its own vaulted ceiling at a 7/12 slope and is used for exercise equipment. With a series of nine windows overlooking a beautiful lake, it takes one’s mind off the agonies of treadmilling and lifting weights.

Upper level is only 30 foot by 36 foot, however it has a vaulted ceiling with a 4/12 interior slope. Another set of nine windows for lake view and a cantilevered deck facing eastward – perfect for a BBQ, with access from a sliding glass patio door.

A June 11, 2019 article by Becky Bracken and provided by www.realtor.com tells a story of bardominiums for sale from coast-to-coast: https://m.chron.com/realestate/article/Barndominiums-Blooming-The-Popular-Style-Is-13967497.php.

Ready to make your custom home dreams into an affordable reality? Then a post frame barndominium or shouse might be exactly what you need. Call 1(866)200-9657 to discuss your wants and needs with a Hansen Buildings’ Designer today.

Gambrel Barndominium Done Differently

What I Would Have Done Differently With Our Gambrel Barndominium

Pole Barn Guru BlogWhen we built our gambrel roof style barndominium 15 years ago we were in a position financially where we could have done most anything we wanted to. Our property was over two acres in size, so available space was not a determining factor. After having lived in it every day for going on four years, I have realized there are some things I would have done differently. For sake of brevity, I will only discuss main clearspan portions of our barndominium (it has 18 foot width sidesheds).

Footprint

Our center portion is 48 feet in clearspan width and 60 feet deep. Whilst this sounds really big, I wish we would have gone 60 feet wide and 72 feet deep. There is just never enough room and a portion of our half-court basketball court has been taken up with a workout area. Start parking a few vehicles inside and even smaller grandkids are looking for space to dribble and shoot the basketball.

Downstairs Height

16 foot high ceilings might seem like a lot. Doing it again I would go to 20. Makes playing basketball easier for those three point shots. At 20 foot, ceiling would not have been perfect for volleyball, but it would have made a serviceable practice are (given a larger footprint): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/09/pole-barn-11/.

Floor Trusses

Yes we could have spanned 60 feet, we just would have had trusses about five feet in thickness. I would have specified a lesser deflection than our current L/360 however (read about floor deflection here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/wood-floors-deflection-and-vibration/). I also would have installed a diagonal (top chord to bottom chord) bracing system every 12 feet along building width, tying three trusses together across four feet. This would have further reduced deflection by spreading loads across a wider portion of the floor system.

Knee Walls

Our gambrel trusses are set directly at floor level. In order to have some semblance of sidewalls, we placed a knee wall in four feet from each side, reducing our usable width to 40 feet. While this made our space more functional, ever try to hang pictures on a four foot tall wall? Doing it again, I would opt to raise trusses up either four or eight feet above the floor level. Latter of these would have given wall to wall usable space as well as a more standard wall height.

Upstairs Ceiling Height

We have a 16 foot high ceiling now. While this works, it does make for a short ceiling in my wife Judy’s craft/sewing loft above a portion of our master bedroom. With a 60 foot span, we could easily have had 10 foot ceilings both above and below the loft. Of course Judy would have had to have found a 20 foot tall Christmas tree! (and she would!)

Whatever size barndominium you decide to construct – it will not be large enough. At a minimum I would encourage going no less than 10% greater in space than you think you need. Ready to get serious about planning your new barndominium? Call 1(866)200-9657 to get started now!

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Space

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Usable Space With Trusses

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel and I recently had some discussions in regards to maximizing post frame gambrel truss useable space.  Most often gambrel roofs are supported by one piece clearspan gambrel trusses. Largest downside to this type of truss system is lack of bonus room width. Usually you can expect a room from 1/3 to ½ building width with smaller span trusses (generally 24-30 foot spans). Sort of like this:

My bride and I happen to live in a gambrel style barndominium (for more reading on barndominiums https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/the-rise-of-the-barndominium/). It is actually probably more appropriately a shouse (shop/house). We wanted just a lot more living space than what could be afforded by a bonus room in a gambrel truss.

This is what we did…..

Center width of our home is 48 feet. We clearspanned this using 48 foot long prefabricated wood floor trusses, placed 24 inches on center. These parallel chord trusses are close to four feet in depth. With our 16 foot high finished ceiling downstairs (it is a half-court basketball court), this made our second floor level 20 feet above grade. Ends of these trusses are supported by LVL (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/lvl/) beams notched into four ply 2×8 glu-laminated columns every 12 feet.

This got us across from column to column to support a floor, now we needed a roof system! We utilized trusses much like these, only much bigger:

Our trusses were so much larger, they had to be fabricated in two halves, split right down the center and field spliced to create a whole unit. We utilized the “Golden Ratio” (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/gambrel/) to create slopes and pitch break points. Our steep slope is 24/12 and our upper slope is 6/12/ On the inside, our slope is 12/12 and our flat ceiling ends up at 16 feet above floor!

We also ended up with a very, very tall building. Roof peak happens to be 44 feet above grade! Living at 20 feet above ground does afford some spectacular views – we look due south down Lake Traverse and can see the tops of tall structures in Browns Valley, our closest town six miles away.

In my next article, I will clue you in on things I would have done differently, so stay tuned!

Barndominium: Building Kit or Building Shell?

Barndominium: Building Kit or Building Shell?

This was a recent post from a Barndominium discussion group I am a member of:

“Kit vs shell; I’m defining a kits as coming with everything like insulation and metal studs (the next step would be mechanical trades) whereas shell would be dried in with nothing. Kit companies would accept owner floorplans or have some stock floor plans and provide CAD to guide builders. Shells would perhaps provide instructions or rely on the knowledge of builders. Kits would have customer service and a modern web site; respond to emails and be familiar with barndominiums. Shells would be a business that sells barns and commercial buildings, expecting owners to know what they want. Kit metal and studs would be pre-cut in the factory. All window openings would be accounted for. Shells would be metal has to be cut on site. Shell would be all decisions are made before building begins via email; drawings back and forth. Shell would be last minutes decisions during building. Are these definitions even close to being accurate? If not what are the industry definitions? By my definition, I’m looking for a kit, not a shell. If kit is not the right word, what is the correct term? What are the top ten companies that provide what I call a kit? In this Barndo group, there are clearly differences in skill and knowledge levels. Recently on this site, a vendor posted a shell drawing and price. Some people posted questions that indicated they wanted to shop for what I call a kit; there was some misunderstanding, I think. It would be helpful to me, and perhaps others if these concepts were defined, I think. Please point out the fallacies in my thinking, if any, before I move from drawing floor plans into shopping for kits/shells.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s response:

About Hansen BuildingsWe provide custom designed engineered post frame building kit packages. As we are wood framing, we provide no metal studs. We can supply Weather Resistant Barriers and Reflective Radiant Barriers as well as batt insulation. We typically provide only structural portions of buildings – exterior shell, any raised floors (for crawl spaces, second or third floors or lofts) but can provide interior wall framing, if desired. We can work from any client supplied floor plans, elevation drawings or sketches. We do not have ‘stock’ plans, as every client’s needs are different. We expect our clients to layout their own interior rooms, to best fit with those needs and lifestyle.

We provide complete 24″ x 36″ blueprints for permit and construction sealed by third-party engineers, with full calculations. All openings, including windows are located on plans. There should be no “last minute” decisions made whilst building.

Our comprehensive (nearly 500 page) construction manual is designed for an average literate person to successfully assemble their own beautiful building, without requiring a contractor. We provide unlimited free technical support. Clients have an online portal to track progress and deliveries, etc.

Steel roofed and sided buildings come with cut to length steel panels, however some cutting will be needed in the event of oddly located openings or width and lengths of buildings other than a multiple of three feet.

At the risk of sounding redundant (I’m a proud owner of a “shouse”) go back to yesterday’s blog to see a picture of my and my wife’s shouse or barndominium.

If a post frame building is on your radar, then we are going to be #1, call us today 1(866)200-9657.

A Shouse in Andover?

Shouse (from www.urbandictionary.com):  “A portmanteau of “shed” and “house”; A structure that outwardly resembles a shed (typically having a roll-formed steel-sheet exterior) that is primarily used as a dwelling / house. Though not required to fulfill the definition, a shouse generally has garage(s) incorporated into the structure.”

I did not even realize I was shousing before it became cool! My first personal shouse experience was at our home at Newman Lake, Washington over 25 years ago. We needed a garage to winter our boat in. One thing lead to another (including an expensive lawsuit with our neighbors – we won) and before we knew it, we were putting up a three story garage. Well, more technically a three story post frame building with a garage/shop on lowest floor and two more habitable floors above! Oh, and a rooftop deck!

Some jurisdictions are having challenges grappling with getting their heads wrapped around shouses and barndominiums. Here is a case in point:

From a June 4, 2019 a Quad-City (Davenport, Iowa) Times article by Lisa Hammer

“Someone has approached Mielke (Village President Mike Mielke) and asked about building a combination shop/house in a pole building, called a “shouse,” in village limits. Mielke did not give him a definitive answer. Village attorney Mike Halpin will look into it and bring back suggestions. It was noted Andover already has one such structure. “We have one, but it just kind of happened,” Mielke said. The existing “shouse” is located between Cedar and Elm on 7th Street and originally had a farmhouse on the property that was eventually taken down. Village Clerk Bev Josephson noted there can’t be only a pole building on a property without a house, so people would have to build both at the same time.”

Gambrel roof pole barnAs long as your proposed shouse or barndominium meets planning and zoning requirements – adequate setbacks, allowable footprint, within any height restrictions and doesn’t use unapproved siding and roofing materials you should be good to go. Post frame (pole) buildings are Code conforming – so an attempt to prohibit one strictly due to its structural system is a battle I will take up for you at no charge.

I will add that in fact my bride and I live in a 48×60 shouse with a full garage on the lower level, the “house” portion on the second level (complete with an elevator), a 18’ width boat shed/shop on the west side and my 18’ width office on the east side. It is a beautiful building, inside and out and we love it! The attached photo is our lovely shouse.

Ready for your new shouse? Give a call to a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at 1(866)200-9657 today to get started!

General Material Storage for Barndominiums

General Material Storage

I have recently signed up to join several barndominium groups on Facebook. If you are unfamiliar with this term, here is a detailed explanation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/the-rise-of-the-barndominium/.

Overnight I have had an ‘ah-ha’ moment where a light bulb turned on and I decided to take a plunge. I am going to write at least one book on post frame barndominiums. I posted my mission in these groups – looking for advice on what chapters would prove to be most meaningful. And I have received feedback. Lots and lots of feedback.

One of my fellow group members has suggested a chapter on how to store post frame building materials once received. In looking at how chapters appear to be laying out so far, it appears this subject may not get covered until Volume Two of my series. Of course this gives me an ability to have commercials like – “Call in next 10 minutes and we will throw in Volume Two at no charge – you just pay for shipping and handling!”

This happens to be a subject covered at length in Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual, so rather than having to wait for book publication, here is how to safely store materials.

General Material Storage

Store off ground any materials not being used within construction’s first few days (or more than a week after delivery) and cover with a tarp.

  • Some materials will be delivered in cartons. Avoid storing cartons in stacks.
  • Store cartons protected from falling materials or tools as they could damage enclosed contents.
  • Keep cartons dry. Best place to store cartons is indoors.
  • If cartons are stored outside, cover with a loose-fitting, light colored tarp, arranged to allow ventilation. This is critical, because some materials (especially vinyl) can be damaged if heat builds up around cartons.
  • Take special care storing any screws.
  • Store bolts, nuts and washers in a location where they will stay dry to avoid rust.
  • Windows, entry and overhead doors will frequently be delivered in cartons or crates. Store upright leaning against a solid surface such as a wall or workbench.

Stay tuned in for subsequent articles on how to safely store materials for your new building!

Pole Barn Decks

A Decked Out Lesson

I keep telling people after over forty years in the construction industry I am still learning new things each and every day.

Today being no exception, I found out things I did not know about decks.

I’ve spent most of my building career immersed in post frame buildings, which (until the past few years) were rarely used as residences. And, even when they were designed to be dwellings, rarely were they designed with attached decks.

Then along comes the rise of the barndominium.  Read more about barndominiums here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/the-rise-of-the-barndominium/

My lovely bride and I happen to live in a post frame building. It has no decks at this point in time. However, the idea has been bandied about in regards to perhaps someday having one which would be located off our living room.

In the 1980’s I had a business located on Highway 99E in Clackamas County, Oregon. With this personal history, it was not surprising to me to find myself being schooled by this county’s Building Department. This happens to be the very same county which was responsible for the creation of “Arborvitae Green” tree paint (the somewhat comical story is available to peruse here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/06/painting-steel-siding/).

Chapter 16 of the 2014 Oregon Structural Specialty Code gives us this:

“1604.8.3 Decks. Where supported by attachment to an exterior wall, decks shall be positively anchored to the primary structure and designed for both vertical and lateral loads as applicable. Such attachment shall not be accomplished by the use of toenails or nails subject to withdrawal. Where positive connection to the primary building structure cannot be verified during inspection, decks shall be self-supporting.”

The International Residential Code (IRC) does not apply to post frame buildings. But because it is a prescriptive code, and does not even mention post frame, it does address the deck to building connection.

The section from the International Residential Code (R502.2.2) says decks have to be designed for both vertical and lateral loads. This part has been on the books for years and is meant to keep the deck from pulling away from the house. But the 2009 IRC does have a new provision which gets specific about what’s required to support a lateral load.

The new code section (R502.2.2.3) states “hold-down tension devices” be installed in at least two locations per deck. Whether you are attaching a deck 3 or 30 feet long, it is required to use the hold-down tension devices in two locations.

Each hold-down device must “have an allowable stress capacity of not less than 1500 lb.” The hold-down devices might be tough to find, though, because right now, only Simpson’s DTT2Z Deck Tension Tie (www.strongtie.com) meets the design-load requirements.

All non-cantilevered Hansen Pole Buildings’ deck designs now include the above mentioned deck tension ties.

Oh, by the way, the plans reviewer did happen to note (in regards to our engineer’s deck attachment), “I’m sure his calculations are correct”!

The Rise of the Barndominium

barndominium-2 When you look at a barn, what do you see? A space for hay or machinery storage? Living quarters for livestock? If you’re like the increasing number of people in the market for a barndominium, you may see it as something completely different: a home.

So what is a barndominium? It’s any barn or pole building that has been converted into a residence, with all the amenities and comforts of a traditional house. In some cases, homeowners will choose to leave the bottom floor of their barndominium as open storage space (e.g. for farm equipment or a classic car collection). while building a loft apartment on the top floor.

Other homeowners will turn the entire building into a luxury home, with stained concrete floors, high ceilings, and large sliding doors. Barndominiums can also be weekend retreats, seasonal hunting lodges, or year-round residences.

Benefits of Barndominiums

While still not a well-known housing type, barndominium homes are becoming increasingly popular, especially in Texas and the Southwest. What’s the appeal? Part of the draw for some people is the affordability. The cost to build a barndominium is significantly lower than the cost to construct a traditional house, and in many cases, this type of pole building will come with lower insurance and tax rates.

gambrel-barndominiumBarndominiums can also be constructed relatively quickly and easily. Barndominium material kits are readily available, allowing the do-it-yourselfer to assemble their own home or bring in a contractor for a reasonable price. Once barndominium contractors have completed their project, the exterior maintenance requirements are minimal.

One of the other major advantages of the barndominium is the amount of flexible space it provides. Thanks to post frame design, builders can add walls wherever they want—or leave the space completely open. As you’ll see if you perform a quick online search for barndominium pictures, there are few limitations with this kind of structure.

Ideas for Barndominiums

Although it’s certainly not a requirement, many barndominium homes include workshops, storage spaces, or even stables. (In fact, for horse owners, eliminating the cost of horse boarding may be reason enough to construct a barndominium.)

Of course, other homebuilders want their barndominium to look more like a traditional home—and to include some luxury amenities. Some barndomonium builders opt to take the money they’ve saved on construction and put it towards features like granite kitchen countertops, patios, or swimming pools. Some also turn the large open space that their barndominium provides into an area to entertain large groups of guests.

barndominium-interiorIn terms of decorating a barndominium, the sky’s the limit. While pole buildings may naturally have a more simple look, many barndo owners customize their homes to have a more rustic appearance, using features such as wood beams, faux brick walls, and antique decorations. Of course, it’s just as easy to opt for a modern design, with open, airy spaces and wide glass doors and full-length windows. A common misconception is that barndominium pole buildlings must have metal sidings or a metal roof. That’s just not the case. A pole building can be designed and built with any roof or siding materials!

While barndominiums may still be somewhat niche, it’s easy to see why more and more people are starting to search for barndominium kits for sale. If you think this sounds like the right type of home for you and your family, contact Hansen Buildings for a quote on a custom pole barndominium kit.

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Pole Barn Guru on Crossbuck Doors

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 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: I have a client in Akron, Indiana with a new horse arena.  The new horse arena has custom crossbuck doors on it, but the owner does not like them due to overall weight, and that they are constructed with a plywood backing.  The plywood baking is a problem because my client waters down the sand inside the barn and that moisture is starting to warp the doors.  If you would, can you provide me with information on how you construct your custom crossbuck doors?  Do you have an option that would eliminate all wood and reduce the weight?

The door sizes are as follows: (2) 10’x10’ (1) 16’x14’ Please feel free to give me a call to discuss. ARCHITECT IN AKRON

DEAR ARCHITECT: We actually do not construct custom crossbuck doors ourselves, we purchase them from third party vendors – who use plywood on the inside of the doors (appears to be pretty much an industry standard). While they look very lovely from the street, the issues your client has raised, along with the extreme cost make them less than the idea choice for most applications. The best option, for most people, is to use a steel framework door which has 29 gauge steel siding screwed to the outside face of the framework – it will be lightweight, won’t twist or warp and is affordable.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m building a barndominum and would it be ok to pour a flat slab and have the sheet metal come down over the edge of slab? BARNDOMINIUM BUILDING

DEAR BARNDOMINIUM: As long as the bottom edge of the steel (or any base trim) is at least four inches above the highest point of the outside grade, it should not be an issue. In most instances, a 2×8 pressure preservative treated splash board is installed to a level point with the highest point of grade even with the bottom of the splash board. (You can read more about concrete slab installation here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/09/concrete-slab-3/)

The steel siding will later be attached to the outside of the splash board, with the bottom point of the base trim drip edge being at four inches up from the bottom of the splash board. This allows for any exterior concrete landings, sidewalks or driveways to be poured against the splash board, without being against the steel.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I have an existing 6×6 pole building with a center clear span of 20ft., two side bays of 12ft. each and a thick cement slab. I would like to raise the center clear span by 4 feet. Would it be reasonable to bolt taller poles to the existing center ones and then add new trusses to those? EAGER IN ENUMCLAW

DEAR EAGER: The operative word in your request is probably the term “reasonable”. What you have in mind is at the best a major undertaking which should only be considered after review from a qualified RDP (Registered Design Professional – engineer or architect), who can evaluate your circumstances thoroughly from a site visit. Your Building Department is going to require engineer sealed plans and calculations for any proposed project of this nature, so you might as well start off on the right foot, in the event you actually decide to move forward with this project.

And a quick word for those planning on “putting up a pole barn”….make sure you plan for any possible future additions/changes.  What may seem “tall enough” now, may not be down the road (taller RV, combine, adding in a vehicle lift, etc.).

Mike the Pole Barn Guru