Tag Archives: boat storage

Financing, Vapor Barrier, and Boat Storage

This Friday’s daily blog will feature three questions and answers from the Pole Barn Guru. First is a question about financing, followed by a question about a vapor barrier for an add-on lean-to, and then building a quite lengthy boat storage facility.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi there. I’m looking to utilize a VA loan for 10 acres of property in West Texas. However, as a requirement, there must be a livable structure built with electrical and AC.

It was always our intention to build a pole barn or barndominium on the property but with the requirement of having such in place to qualify, we now need to consider doing this as part of the loan process.

So, my question really is, do people typically DIY with these barn kits or do they hire to build? I believe we’ll have to hire to build but I’m not sure who to contact or what is decent pricing for a build outside of the kit. I’m making a basic assumption of a 40 x 40 kit with 12 – 15 tall ceilings and basic foundation. We would convert it as a living space with insulation and electric as well during the process. We do intend on also building two separate living areas along with it in the future and then using the larger area for Entertainment.

Any guidance would be extremely helpful. Thank you! CORY in HURST

DEAR CORY: Obviously you are finding some challenges when it comes to being able to utilize your VA benefits: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/08/va-loans-for-a-pole-barn-residence/

I would say our barndominium clients are pretty much evenly split between those who erect their own shells and those who hire it done. In order to get your best possible appraisal value to cash outlay – DIYing as much as possible will be to your advantage. A fair price to erect your shell is usually about 50% of what your investment is into your building kit.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are adding a 30×60 lean to shop area to out existing 40×60 insulated pole barn. I have been told a hundred different ways to insulate it, but my biggest concern for tomorrow is I have to make a decision. I pre built all of the walls and they are ready to go up. I am getting so much conflicting advice. We are connecting to the pole barn. (Yes it has been engineered)! Do I need to put a vapor barrier, vapor retardant, or any material against the existing outside wall that will become an inside wall? I have a crew coming over to help carry the walls and stand them up. I do have a couple of other questions, but this is the most pressing.

So my husband is really sleeping as I type this. It is midnight. He works late and has to get up early and I am up trying to research for him. When I read your story about you and your wife it reminded me of my husband and myself. We have worked on a lot of projects together.

Thank you in advance. JOLENE in WICHITA

DEAR JOLEEN: Kudos to you for having an engineered building! Just so much more prudent than not.

If your lean to and existing pole building are both conditioned then your inside wall needs no vapor barrier or retarder. Your new outside walls will need something however what it is will depend upon how you plan upon insulating.

Ask The Pole Barn GuruDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m looking to put in a boat storage facility, it will be 30′ wide by 600′ long and 15′ tall. What do I need to look at? GREG in PERRY

DEAR GREG: Column spacing will depend upon whether you are stacking boats (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/09/boat-storage-pole-barns/) or placing them individually in bays. For 600′ in length, you will need to have interior shearwalls running 30′ direction probably no less than every 120 feet along your length. One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you Monday to further discuss your needs and best design.





Overhead Door Opening, Boat Storage, and Transfer of Plans

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the required height of an overhead door opening for an Airstream Trailer, options for a boat storage barn, and plans for a previous project transferred without consent of EOR.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Airstream trailer – 2020 Globetrotter

Globetrotter 23

Width – 8 ft
Height – 9 ft 9 inches
Length – 23 ft
The height of the door MUST be higher than 9 ft 9 in b/c the AC unit, solar unit and other items add additional height – perhaps 1-2 ft.

What is the height of the door? DON in BOERNE

DEAR DON: While I would normally recommend a 12′ x 12′ sectional steel overhead door for this, it would be best for you to call your dealer and ask for an exact height.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I need to construct a boat storage barn in a VE flood zone so I need breakaway walls and large span for a 16’ high by 14’ wide roller door. Suggestions as to how I achieve this? MARK in SEABROOK

FEAM walls –

DEAR MARK: I have read through FEMA requirements (www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1511-20490-8359/fema_tb_9.pdf) several times. As near as I can discern, your boat storage barn would need to be elevated to be above base flood elevation (BFE). Besides breakaway walls, you are also allowed open lattice-work or insect screening. I am seeing no way to create a wall able to support your design wind loads and be yet able to break away, so I would recommend lattice-work. A sliding “roller” door will not meet with applicable wind loads, I would recommend you meet with your local Planning Department for verification as well as to see if you could use a wind-rated overhead door.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We received a set of plans for a pole barn style garage/shop building with the name Bill Zxxx who bought the plans from Home Depot but he has since sold it to someone else.

What is your policy on transferring ownership of plans? DAN in NORTH BEND

DEAR DAN: These engineered building plans were part of a complete post frame building kit package provided to a The Home Depot client, they were not sold as just plans. Engineered plans are designed specifically for a single use at address specified. They remain intellectual property of the sealing engineer and may not be used by anyone else.




Is Mini-Storage for You?

Is Mini-Storage for You?

My brother and I were pole building contractors in 1991, when we got a contract to construct 3 self-storage buildings along rural Highway 95 just north of Athol, Idaho. We’d done other work for the same client, and had met with the property owner, who was providing the financing for the project. As luck would have it, just as we completed the third building, the financing collapsed and we ended up as the default owners of the property and the buildings. I learned a lot from being the “I don’t want to own it” owner.

In this particular project, the client had specified the unit mix – 100 units all 10’ x 20’. If I was going to do it all over again, I’d start with a single building 40’ x 100’ with either (20) 10’ x 20’ units, or (18) 10’ x 20’ and eight 10’ x 10’ units.  In my case, it took a year to get 100 units to 50% occupancy. At 20 units, we could have filled before we opened the doors.

Once the first building was filled, we could have monitored requests for other unit sizes. By gradual growth, fill one, then build another, a hundred units probably would have been filled in a year, rather than just half. Being fairly close to the south end of Lake Pend Oreille, we could have expanded to 10’ x 25’ units, which will accommodate most pleasure boats, and then grown to units for larger boats and recreational vehicles.

While I thought getting into mini-storage units, in 1991, was “too late”, I did discover this not to be the case. In more recent years the climate has changed. Anything commercial has declined – maybe it is the financing and maybe it’s because people are leery of going to the bank.

Most mini-storage owners are repeat clients; they own one or more buildings and are increasing the size of their complex. The majority of mini-storages are in communities with populations of fewer than 15,000 people. Starting with 20 units with room for expansion seems to be a recipe for success.

Units in more populated areas can be smaller; however there is no real advantage to units which are 5 feet x 5 feet or 5 feet x 10 feet unless it is conveniently located in a larger city. If your units are out of town, like mine were, smaller units are generally not worth it. There are more defaults on smaller units than larger units. With the big units, they have a lot more to lose.

A customer also is not likely to go extra distance for the few dollars a month they might save in rent. If they’re renting a small unit for $20 a month, they’re not going to travel farther to save $3 a month. But if they can save $15 a month by driving out to the country, they’ll do it.

If you do plan to build, here are additional observations and suggestions:

Have a maintenance program and follow up on things. Most of your maintenance issues will be parking lots, driveways and electrical lights.

Accept theft is part of the business but be proactive with deterrents. You’ll have people cutting doors and tearing doors off. You’ll have an ex-spouse breaking in; they don’t have the combination to the lock or key, so they might take a chain and pull the door off. All the good stuff comes with it.

Don’t be tempted to spend money on all steel buildings, when a pole building will do everything you need it to do. The building absolutely has to have a well-sealed vapor barrier under the concrete slabs, and reflective roof insulation to prevent condensation drippage.

Map out your property. Know what you’ve got and know where your expansion area is, otherwise you waste a lot of square footage. When lots are too tightly packed there is a lot of damage to the doors. The more land you waste the more yearly income you waste. But if the customer can’t get in or they can’t get out, they won’t come back.

Mini-storage can be a nice secondary income. If you’re an existing business, this is a nice add-on, especially if you’re close to your existing business.

I had lots of people ask me if mini-storage is a pretty good business. The answer is: it’s a business. It’s like any other business: it’s as good as you can make it or it’s absolutely as tough as any other business. You have headaches, you have repossessions, you have deadbeats, and you have all the stuff which goes with a business. And there is no such thing as “easy money”. But with careful planning, starting small and leaving room for expansion, along with taking necessary precautions, it can be a well-earned “milk check” you’ve been looking for.

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