Tag Archives: bedrock

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Reader STEPHAN in OGDENSBURG writes:

“Dear Pole Barn Guru,

I have a 30ish year old 32 by 54 feet horse pole barn where half the poles heaved some for more than 1 foot over the years. I need to fix it this year because I am afraid that the strain will make the structure collapse. The code in my area says that post must be buried 5 feet because of frost.

The issue is that the bedrock is between 3.5 and 5 feet below grade. I have an 8 foot wide concrete pad/runway in the middle of the barn (the whole length of the barn). I would like to do it right to last many years.

I considered these different options:

– replacing each posts with sonotubes with bigfoot at the bottom sitting on the bedrock (a lot of work if done with bags of concrete because I would have to do them a few at a time to keep the integrity of the structure)

– replacing bottom of each post with footing sitting on the bedrock and permacolumns (a little less work because the volume of concrete is just a little less)

– pouring a “bond beam” or a full slab on the inside against the posts with thicker sides to support the structure (as per engineer) and then building walls on the inside with 2×6’s to support the roof, and then removing the posts ( I will be losing about 6″ all around because the new walls will be inside the existing shell). I like this idea because I could prepare the area over the winter and get it poured in the spring. My issue is what would I do with the existing slab in the middle of the barn? Should I attach it with rebar and epoxy, pour over or remove the existing slab?
If I go with the last option, what would I use to support the lean-to? If the slab does not have a full foundation that would mean that it is “floating”, should the posts supporting the extension also be “floating” to ensure that they move together?

Or do you have a better option to suggest?

I have attached pictures to show how bad it is. You can see how crooked the ends are by the siding angle and the window in the lean-to area. Thank you for your help.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I am not one to pull any punches – I’ll give my honest opinion, even when I don’t feel it is one you want to hear.

There comes a time when reality sets in….in your pole barn’s case reality will be it needs to be knocked flat, bulldozed into a big hole, lit afire and then replaced. Otherwise, you are going to spend a phenomenal amount of time and money for any fix, and all are just band aids for something truly not worth saving.

Your frost heave issues are due to poor site preparation. Please read this information about properly preparing a site: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/

and preventing frost heaving: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

If you absolutely insist upon saving your pole barn, you should hire a geotechnical engineer to evaluate your site and give you expert advice. If you decide to give your barn a proper burial, start over with engineer sealed plans and a kit that gives you a lifetime of safe use…for you and your horses.





Installing Insulation, Properly Treated Posts, and a Slab Solution

The Pole Barn Guru helps with installing insulation in wet seasons, properly treated posts, as well as a solution to embedded posts when bedrock is present.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello. I am ready to install the insulation and metal on our pole building’s roof. I remember reading how it is important to install the insulation and roof when things are dry as to keep the insulation dry. We have recently moved into a rather wet early fall, and dry weekend days have seemed very illusive.

Do you have any expert ideas or advice that you may be able to offer us? I appreciate all of the very useful help and insight you’ve provided us numerous times already! BRAD in MOUNT VERNON

DEAR BRAD: You want to avoid trapping water between Radiant Reflective Barrier and roof steel, as it can lead to premature deterioration of roof steel.

A helpful hint – in rainy weather only place one run of barrier and if upward surface gets wet, towel dry it and immediately install steel roofing to cover.

Just one reason I now recommend using roof steel with an Integral Condensation Control: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Opinion in using 9” x 25’ class #3 pressure treated utility poles as columns or posts? I have come across a grip of poles in coastal pacific Mexico. Pondering the use of them as my columns/posts in cabin and deck style construction. Their structural and dimensional properties suited for use as such? Thank you. CARL in ZIHUATANEJO

CARL: I personally would not want to use them as level of pressure preservative treating (as well as chemicals used) could very well be iffy at best, toxic at worst. Read more about utility poles in post frame construction here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/used-utility-poles/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: 26’ x 42’ pole barn planned. We hit rock 6” down. Builder now wants to consider option of to pour the 4” slab first and use post saddles to anchor the posts on top of the slab. He says “This is a good option and results in longer life of the treated posts. Included in this option is additional bracing on each post” Is this really a viable option???

Help! Thank you. VICTORIA in FAIRVIEW

DEAR VICTORIA: Unless your builder can provide engineer sealed plans for your building including his “solution” fire him now because he has no clue.

Why do I say this? A four inch thick concrete slab only will provide inadequate to mount a building to.

In photo of correct bracket below, concrete would need to be deep enough to have rebar entirely embedded in concrete:


While a properly pressure preservative treated column will last longer than any of us will be alive to witness, of course if it does not touch ground it eliminates potential of any decay due to ground issues.

Read more here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/attacking-pole-barn-rocks-holes/.


A Door Guide with a Roller, When to Pour Concrete, and Bedrock Anchors!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking for a bottom guide for a sliding barn door. I was hoping to get a guide with a roller vs. just a roller. I noticed some guides trap the roller in a channel on the bottom of the door. I would like to know if you have that and where to purchase in Lower west Michigan.


DEAR GERARD: I have found the very best sliding door guide systems do not use bottom rollers at all. Known as “stay rollers” the bottom rollers tend to be problematic, especially in tough climates or when large animals are present.

Figure 27-6

The most secure and effective method utilizes a bottom girt for the door which is most typically a galvanized steel channel 1-1/2” x 3-1/2” (think of a steel stud) with a slot in the 1-1/2” face towards the ground. A galvanized steel “L” is mounted via brackets to the wall in the direction the door slides open. The upward leg of the L engages with the slot in the bottom of the lowest sliding door girt.

This design solution provides stability for the bottom of the door, preventing it from coming away from the building, or slapping against the ribs of the steel as it opens. Hansen Pole Buildings does not provide sliding door components other than with the investment into a complete post frame building package. You might try the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot®, as they should be able to order the parts in without you having to pay an onerous amount of freight.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Would I have the concrete slab poured before the building is erected or pour the slab after the poles are installed? Thanks. JOHN in REMER

DEAR JOHN: One of the beauties of post frame construction is the ability to be able to pour your new building’s concrete slab on grade at any time after the columns are placed in the ground. My personal preference is to at least wait until the roof is on – as it provides greater protection from sudden unexpected rainstorms as well as sun. The best time to pour (in most situations) is after the building shell is fully completed. Premix concrete trucks do seem to have an affinity for running into building columns which are not part of a wall.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Dealing with a site that is less than 20 inches above bedrock and is a wet environment. Frost line construction standards normally require 48 inch depth. What foundation, site prep concerns are relevant. Hoping for a barn about 30 x 40 x 12 RON in ONTARIO

Footing DetailDEAR RON: Code specifies the depth of foundations (in this case your columns) must be either below the frost line, or to solid bedrock. You will want to discuss your particular site challenges with the registered design professional (RDP – architect or engineer) who provides the sealed plans for your building. Our engineers will often solve this anchorage problem by having you drill holes into the bedrock to epoxy in rebar pins which will be embedded into the columns, then backfilling the holes with concrete. To minimize potential frost heave issues, you will want to read my articles on site preparation (use the search bar at the upper right of this page) – as you will want to remove any soils which could contribute to heaving.


Design for Spray-Foam, Sonotubes, or Proper Fasteners!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My name is Wade, I purchased the design and material from

Hansen for my pole barn this past year. It is a 64×64 Pole Barn. My question is, what’s the best way to insulate with the wall girts being horizontal and at an odd measurement on center? Thanks WADE in HILLSBORO

DEAR WADE: Thank you very much for your investment in a new Hansen Pole Building. If you have an opportunity to do so, I would enjoy seeing photos of your completed building, as it has some unique features which other clients would appreciate seeing.

Insulating buildings, after the fact, is one of the most common questions I get asked about. If we were in the design phase of your project, my advice would have been to place the bookshelf girts at 24 inches on center

(https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/) and use housewrap between the girts and the siding. As we are past this point, my best recommendation is going to be closed cell spray foam (read more about spray foam here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/07/advantages-spray-foam-over-batt-insulation/). It is not inexpensive however it is very effective and can be sprayed directly onto the inside of the wall steel.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking into building a pole barn. In my area up north (Alpena Michigan) the ground is laden with heavy rock. 2 ‘ below the rock is bedrock. How will one set the main post for construction?? Digging this rock out would be near impossible while at the same time keeping things plumb and square! Please help! CHRIS in ALGONAC

DEAR CHRIS: I’ve actually been to Alpena! My first choice is always to dig holes to solid bedrock, probably requiring a backhoe. If the rock is such as to leave you with craters, sonotubes can be used to reduce the amount of concrete backfill required around the columns. If the bedrock is fairly shallow, or not below frost depth, the columns can usually be designed by the building engineer to be rebar pinned to the bedrock to prevent movement.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I recently bought a property and the 20 yr. old pole barn that is leaking inside from the eves on the sides. I have excessive overhang 4.5 inches on one side and 5 inches on the other. According to your sight, it should be 1 1/2 to 1 3/4. How do I repair/fix this problem?

DEAR DALE: Your challenge probably has nothing to do with the distance the roof steel overhangs past the sidewalls. The ideal length (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches) is based upon getting the runoff water from the roof directly into a gutter, without having the water just sailing over the top.

If your building is only leaking along the eaves, then it is a function of the original builder having used the industry standard #9 diameter screws. Over time, the cyclical nature of windloads will cause these small diameter screws to act like knives, cutting away at the surrounding steel until slots have formed around the screws – and water then leaks through the slots.

Provided this is indeed the problem, and the slotting is not too excessive, it can be fixed by using #14 diameter screws, which are greater in length than the existing screws. Remove all of the current screws at the eave, place the larger and longer screws back through the same holes and as long as no slots extend past the grommets, you have the job half done.

screwsProbably the roof only has screws on one side of the high ribs along the eave, if so, add another large/long screw at the other side of each high rib. The eaves and ridge are where roof shear forces (from wind) are the greatest. By adding the extra screws, it reduces the lateral force on each of the screws along the eaves.

If the slots are too great to be covered by a new fastener, the solution is to replace the roof steel and install it using the correct screws and with a pattern which will prevent the same problem from happening again in the future.