# How to Square a Building

How to Square a Building

This question was recently posted in a social media group and when I went to search the over 2000 articles I have written – I found there was not one! Here are excerpts from the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual:

## Building Layout

The building layout establishes exact reference lines and elevations. Care in layout makes construction easier and helps keep building square.

REMINDER:  Building width and length are from corner column outside to corner column outside!

After installing all framing, finished framework will normally be 3” wider and longer than ordered or “call out” dimensions. Ignoring this will result in more effort during construction.

## Calculating Diagonal Lengths

Example: building is 50 feet wide and 84 feet long.

Explanation: A picture helps greatly with this problem, so we begin with a rectangular post frame building.

Distance (drawn in red) is diagonal of our rectangle, or k. We should also note this diagonal divides our rectangle into two congruent right triangles. We can therefore find the length of our diagonal by focusing on one of these triangles and determining hypotenuse. This can be done with the Pythagorean Theorem, giving us:

50^2 + 84^2 = k^2

2500 +7056 = k^2

9556 = k^2

Taking square root gives us

k=97.754795 feet or 97’ 9-1/16”

See Table 4-1 below.

 DECIMAL OF A FOOT TO INCH CONVERSION Feet Inches Feet Inches 0.9167 11 0.0781 15/16 0.8333 10 0.0729 7/8 0.75 9 0.0677 13/16 0.6667 8 0.0625 3/4 0.5833 7 0.0573 11/16 0.5 6 0.0521 5/8 0.4167 5 0.0469 9/16 0.3333 4 0.0417 1/2 0.25 3 0.0365 7/16 0.1667 2 0.0313 3/8 0.0833 1 0.0260 5/16 0.0208 1/4 0.0156 3/16 0.0104 1/8 0.0052 1/16

Table 4-1

To start, stake out a “base” line string.  This will become either building front or side. If trying to align a building with an existing structure, roadway or property lines, have the first wall line parallel to the reference point. See Figure 4-1

Figure 4-1: Base String Line

Locate and set the front corner stake “A” along the baseline. Drive a nail partially into the stake top as a reference point.  See Figure 4-2

Figure 4-2: Placing Stakes

Hook a tape measure on nail at Stake A. Measure building length along base line from Stake A and set corner Stake B.  See Figure 4-3

Use a construction level (transit) and drive Stake B in so Stake A and B tops are level. Drive a nail partially into Stake B top at exact building length (as measured from column outside to column outside).

Figure 4-3: Batter Boards

Next make the endwall perpendicular to the sidewall. Measure 12 feet along the baseline from Stake A and set a temporary stake. Intersection point 20 feet from this temporary stake and 16’ from Stake A is perpendicular to the base line. Set a second temporary stake at this point.

See Figure 4-3

Measure outside building width along this line and set Stake D. Drive Stake D into ground…level with Stake A and B tops. Drive a nail partially into Stake D top at exact outside building width. (Figure 4-3)

From the nail in Stake D top, measure outside building length. From the nail in Stake B, measure outside building width. At two measurement intersection, drive last corner Stake C, with top level with previous three corner stake tops. As before, partially drive a nail into Stake C top, at the exact outside corner point. (Figure 4-3)

Before proceeding, make certain all four corner stakes tops are level.  Then double check, in this order – baseline length (A to B), Width B-C and A-D and then length C-D. Adjust nails or stakes B, C, or D as needed.

Diagonals AC and BD are to be equal for a rectangular building. Adjust by shifting C and D along the rear wall line.

Do NOT move A or B.

Keep widths B-C and A-D equal. Recheck any shifted stake levels.

Drive batter board stakes 8 to 12 feet from all corners. While specific batter board materials are not provided with building kit, girts make excellent batter boards, as long as they remain uncut and undamaged. Batter boards provide a level reference plane for building layout. Place to avoid interfering with excavation, pre-mix deliveries or construction and to remain undisturbed until columns are backfilled.

Level and fasten batter boards to stakes at the same heights as corner stake tops.

Stretch building string lines between batter boards, barely touching nails on corner stake tops. Partially drive nails into batter board tops to line up string lines.

Temporary and corner stakes can now be removed. Corners will be located where lines cross.

Photo above shows a corner column in hole with batter boards in place.

# Square Up a Building Fast

In our Facebook discussion group for pole and post frame builders only, a builder recently asked about fastest easiest way to square up a new building. For a beginner, this task may prove both daunting and time consuming. There is a way to be accurate and fast and although for most making a \$1500 investment is not practical, you might be able to rent Stabila’s 180 layout system from your nearby equipment rental location.

Stabila LA 180L

Stabila’s LA 180L layout station (https://www.stabila.com/en-US/products-553/details/la-180l-layout-station-with-auto-alignment.html) can be used to lay out to 300 feet and is said to cut layout labor costs by 50%.
This product is designed for fully automatic, long range layout. Auto alignment allows you to layout square with only one person in just seconds. Layout over ranges above 50ft is a time-consuming and high risk job. When layout errors occur high follow-up costs will result. Stabila’s LA 180 L self-leveling multi-line laser allows you to layout greater than 20ft up to 300ft fast and accurately. A REC 410 Line RF receiver controls LA 180 L using STABILA wireless AUTO ALIGNMENT technology. One press of a button and laser adjusts automatically to position receiver.
Features include:
Self-levelling multi-line laser for precision layout.
AUTO ALIGNMENT function: Receiver automatically controls laser positioning laser at distances of up to 150ft – fully automatic axis transfer and creation of right angles on floors, walls and ceilings, all at the same time. Precise alignment without losing reference point.
Pulsed laser lines for precise measurements with receiver (up to 300ft) indoors and outdoors.
Versatile: 3 vertical lines, 1 horizontal line and plumb-line function.
Extra sharp, easy-to-see lines for fast and efficient work directly on laser line – visible range up to 100ft indoors.
Unique housing shape for positioning in room corners and over edges (e.g. concrete slab) – rapid checking of right angles.
5/8-11 tripod mount.
Includes: Laser, receiver with bracket, laser enhancement glasses, magnetic red target cards/plates, batteries, hard shell case.
Optional: Rechargeable battery pack, brackets for using laser with batter boards and forms.

Besides laying out your new post frame building it has other applications. This is a fast and precise layout tool. It is designed for applications >20ft up to 300ft. Commercial construction, HVAC, masonry, concrete and top end landscape jobs. Drywall construction – suspending ceilings, positioning interior and partition walls within a range of 300ft. Framing – layout wall positions at push of a button. Quickly establish square, even when a slab or foundation you’re working on is out of square. Concrete – Layout forms perfectly straight and square. Optional laser and receiver mounts available for most re-usable forming systems.