# Why Are You Stuck on Bookshelf Girts?

Why in World are you Stuck on Bookshelf Girts?

Reader JAMES writes:

“Why in world are you stuck on bookshelf girts. For instance with ‘normal’ pole barns one could SPF the walls and roof and have almost no heat loss through the lumber. One could argue your “bookshelf girts” and purlins between trusses makes the building VERY close to a “normal home”. Do you offer a traditional style built pole barn as there MUST be savings to be had.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
There are as many ways to structurally design post-frame buildings as there are providers and builders. Our way of building happens to be very similar to what would be considered as traditional style in Western states such as Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, etc.

We do happen to offer buildings with columns every eight feet, trusses every four feet – however very few clients ever pick this as an option.

We are always looking at ways to make our post-frame buildings more efficient and DIY friendly, without sacrificing performance.

Worst part of post-frame construction (and least easily to detect challenges in advance) is having to dig holes. By widely spacing columns (usually most cost effective is every 12 feet), number of holes having to be dug is reduced by roughly 1/3rd from eight foot spacings.

Let’s examine R-value, calculated using Type 1, conventional method.

For sake of discussion, we will use an 18 eave height (tall enough for two stories in most instances). I’ve chosen a flash and batt method, for sake of cost effectiveness of insulation.

R-value through cavity

Air film – inside 0.67

½” gypsum wallboard – 0.56

2” closed cell spray foam – 14

5-1/2” Rockwool – 23

Exterior cladding – 0.5

Total R = 38.73

R-value through girts

Air film – inside 0.67

½” gypsum wallboard – 0.56

2×8 girt – 9.06

Exterior cladding – 0.5

Total R = 10.79

On an 18’ wall, there will be 8 girts with an area of 1.5” x 12’ x 8 = 9.6 sft (Square Feet)

Total area of a bay = 18’ x 12’ = 216 sft

Hence girts makeup 9.6 / 216 = 0.044 (4.4%) of wall

10.79 x 0.044 + 38.73 x 0.956 = 37.5

37.5 / 38.73 = 0.968 (96.8% of a wall without girts)

How about pieces in say a 60’ long wall?

Your “traditional”

Splash planks:  1/12’ 3/16’

Girts: Exterior 2×6 8/12’ 24/16’ Interior 2×4 8/12’ 24/16’
NOTE: Exterior girts may fail in deflection, especially at wall corners where forces are greater

Columns (excluding corners): 7/22’

Truss carriers (will vary depending upon roof load): 2×12 2/12’ 6/16’

Me:

Splash planks: 5/12’

Bookshelf girts: 2×8 40/12’

Girt blocking: 2×4 10/16’

Columns(excluding corners): 4/22’

Your version has me handling 74 pieces of lumber, with 1582 bd.ft. (board feet) of lumber vs. 59 pieces with 984 bd.ft. of lumber

Your wall sets outside of external wall girts at Building Line and creates an 8-1/2” thick framed wall. On a 40’ wide building, net framed interior clear width is 38’7”.

My wall has outside of columns at Building Line, so only 5-3/4” is lost on each side. Net framed interior clear width is 39’0-1/2”

In summary, my being stuck on bookshelf wall girts loses only 3.2% to thermal bridging, reduces holes to be dug (per sidewall) by 43%, reduces pieces to be handled 20% and board footage of lumber used by 38%, while delivering a greater net usable interior space.

# Conditioning and Insulating a Shop/House in Spokane (Climate Zone 5B)

Conditioning and Insulating a Shop/House in Spokane (Climate Zone 5B)

My Social Media friend TYLER in SPOKANE writes:

“Hello Mr. Guru, I am planning to build a 48′ x 60′ post frame shop with a 48’x20′ finished living space inside and the remaining to be insulated and climate controlled shop space. I’m planning for 14′ floor to ceiling height in the shop area to accommodate 12′ tall overhead garage doors. I am thinking of doing an 8′ ceiling in the finished space with a framed platform ceiling so I could utilize the space above for storage. My question is how would you go about efficiently heating and cooling this building? I’ve seen that you’re familiar with Spokane Washington so I’m sure you’re aware the range of temperatures in the area. One would think it would be more efficient to climate control the interior finished space on a separate system or zone than the shop area. The shop area would be okay having more tolerance in temperatures but would still need to be controlled. What type of HVAC/insulation solution would work best in your opinion? Thank you”

Radiant floor heat – have shop and living space on their own zones. www.RadiantOutfitters.com can set you up with the right products, done the right way. If you can afford to do so, go with geothermal (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/modern-post-frame-buildings-geothermal/) as you can use it for both heating and cooling.

Insulation – Spokane is in Climate Zone 5B. Under slab, you want a well-sealed vapor barrier of at least 6mil (thicker is better and less likely to puncture while placing insulation, etc.). Code requires R-5 under slab insulation, however most people use R-10 under heated slabs. Slab edge insulation is required, but need not extend below slab, if heated.

Walls – from out to in: Weather Resistant Barrier (housewrap), bookshelf wall girts, R-30 unfaced Rockwool batts (fit perfectly with 2×8 girts), well-sealed 6mil interior vapor barrier.

Ceiling – vent eaves and ridge in proper proportion, order roof steel with an Integral Condensation Control factory applied, raised heel roof trusses to allow for full depth of blow- in R-60 insulation from wall-to-wall.

# Converting a Traditional Framing Plan to Post-Frame

Converting a Traditional Framing Plan to Post-Frame

Hansen Pole Buildings’ client SHAYNA in PHILADELPHIA writes:

“Hello, I am looking to convert my traditional; framing plan to post-frame framing to get my walls up quicker. I would like to know what requirements need to be followed. The information I already have is that it’s best for the post to be 4ply 2×6 for anything higher than 10′. The girts are to be 24″ on center. I will also be using the post frame with concrete block basement walls. I will wet-set the column brackets. I just need to know what other factors need to be addressed to get the plan reapproved. thanks so much for your help!”

You are correct about post-frame’s speed for getting dried in. Post-frame is extremely material efficient, eliminating redundant members found in prescriptive stick framing. This makes for both quicker assembly and better insulated exterior walls.

Our post-frame engineers have provided code compliant structural designs for thousands of buildings in all 50 states. They will determine column sizes based upon your building’s dimensions (width, length, height and slope of roof) and climactic conditions at your specific site. You will find they will specify either solid sawn or true glu-laminated columns, rather than nailed up (or nails and construction adhesive joined) as an appropriate design solution for long-term best results.

In order to minimize construction steps, material usage and create a deep insulation cavity, expect to see a design using commercial bookshelf girts. These will be placed horizontally 24 inches on center between columns. (Please read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/).

Bookshelf wall girts also provide an excellent design solution for obtaining optimum finishes on interior faces of exterior walls https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/

We have provided a plethora of fully engineered post-frame homes utilizing ICC-ESR Code approved wet set brackets mounted to concrete, ICF and CMU (concrete block) walls and your engineer sealed plans will include design of these walls.

Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly to further discuss your family’s wants and needs to assist you in ending up with your ideal dream home.

# Are Externally Mounted (Barn style) Wall Girts Stronger?

Are Externally Mounted (Barn style) Wall Girts Stronger?

Reader and prospective client DON in GARDNERVILLE writes:

“My cat got on my keyboard and sent my mail before I was finished. As I was saying I have been working with Tyson and I have some questions:

When I was on your website I watched a video that showed your wall girts with a guy standing on them in the vertical position and he stated this is why you should buy a Hansen building because we design them for more strength, but when I was talking with Tyson he said they were bookshelf, My experience as a retired general contractor says that a 2 x 6 laying on its side 10 feet long will sag in the middle, if I am screwing the metal to the sides it will not be a straight line?

He put 6000 10D nails in my quote, from looking at the drawings on the website I do not see where I would use 10D nails? All the material is 2 x material and a 10D is not long enough to hold a 2 x material. If they are for the hangers for the roof purlins or truss bracing, that is still not the proper nail for 2 x material it requires a cement coated truss nail 1 1/4″ lg x 11 gauge truss nail. So I am confused what they would be for?

Is there a list of materials that come with each load? My reason for asking this is when the poles are placed they need 2-2 x 4 each to hold them in place while the concrete is placed where is this material or am I supposed to buy it separate?

Thank you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for reaching out.

I am unaware of any video on our website showing externally mounted (wide face to wind) wall girts as being stronger. Bookshelf style girts are far stronger against wind loads. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/

From Chapter 19 of our Construction Manual: “Between initial installation time and wall sheeting bookshelf girts may sag or droop. Relax, bookshelf girts can be easily pushed up or down by hand, to straight, as siding is applied. Once installed, siding is strong enough to hold bookshelf girts permanently in place.” When wall steel panels are properly pre-drilled (as advised in our Construction Manual) it provides for perfectly straight screw lines.

10d common nails are 3″ long x .0148 diameter and are perfect for nailing two 2x members together without blowing through. Our engineers specify these for joist hangers where the nail is going into two 2x members (such as hangers to double trusses). For joist hangers to single 2x members, call out is for 1-1/2″ x .0148 HDG nails. This nailing meets or exceeds Simpson requirements for hangers.

You will receive a comprehensive Materials List in your online login. Each delivery to your site will also come with its own packing list of materials. Columns and lumber packages are nearly always delivered at same time, providing a plethora of materials for temporary bracing of columns.

# Stucco for My Post Frame Home

Stucco For My Post Frame Home

Reader SHAWN in WASHINGTON writes:

“I’m about to build a 110’x 50′ pole frame house using sono tube piers and wet set brackets. I am wanting to use the 1 coat (lighter weight) stucco on full exterior my question/ concern is what options do Ii have for my grade board contacting earth and also the transition of bottom of stucco on face of grade board? I have so much money in my land that I was really trying to save by not pouring a footer. Galvanized metal grade board? Wrap bottom and face of grade board with a custom j metal trim? Want it to be appealing to the eye with stucco stopping a few inches above ground level and just a few inches of grade board showing. Just want my grade board to last longer than 30-40 years since I will have roughly \$600,000 in my house. My initial house design, but have changed it to stucco only with no rock more like other photo.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

Of concern with your use of stucco, in general, is limiting wall deflection to L/360. This can be accomplished, however it will often require larger dimension and/or higher graded wall columns (often glulaminated). Wall girts will need to be bookshelf style. In order to confirm deflection limits are indeed adequate, your post frame home’s structural plans should only be designed by a Registered Professional Engineer. Failure to meet this high degree of frame stiffness will result in failure of your stucco.

Successful stucco installation obviously requires a solid substrate (typically OSB or plywood). Either of these must be no closer to grade than six inches, unless properly pressure preservative treated (or a material otherwise impervious to decay). You might want to consider sheathing lower four feet of your wall with Foundation Rated (FDN) CDX plywood or cement board, so you can run it even down to grade, if desired.

Your grade board (splash plank) can be special ordered as UC-4B pressure treated. This level of treatment is good in the ground for longer than anyone alive on our planet to witness it failing. Our clients, who have been using stucco, have merely finished the bottom of it with a weep screed and called it a day. In all reality, no one except you is ever going to look at or notice how this is detailed.

# A Baker’s Dozen Post Frame Home Myths Part III

A Baker’s Dozen Post-Frame Home Myths (#8 – #13)

MYTH #8. THERE ARE NO FOOTERS IN POST FRAMES

Without having footers to protect concrete slabs on grade from freezing, there is a potential your concrete slab can move or heave around edges in cold weather. In turn, this can shift interior walls, resulting in damage to drywall finishes and trim.

If you do go with post-frame construction, you will have to add footers to stay in IRC (International Residential Code) compliance. This will add cost back into your home’s total price.

Fully-engineered post frame homes are 100% Building Code Compliant and most typically have properly pressure preservative treated columns embedded in ground with both concrete footings and bottom collars. Alternatively your home can be mounted to steel brackets set in concrete piers.

Either of these are designed to extend to or below frost lines or are frost protected by use of insulation. Footers themselves do not protect a concrete slab from freezing and heaving, using rigid insulation around slab perimeters is required for either stick frame or post frame in Climate Zones 3 and greater). With fully engineered post-frame, there is no need to incorporate thickened slab edges or continuous concrete footings and foundations.

MYTH #9. POST-FRAMES WILL HAVE LARGER SPANS BETWEEN ROOF TRUSSES

This is an issue because they’ll have to be filled in before you can hang drywall. If you hang drywall “as is,” it will all sag over time, causing structural damage (and a pain in your wallet). Adding this extra framing afterwards will add to total price tag again.

While some post-frame homes do have trusses spaced every two feet, most cost effectively your fully engineered post-frame home will have double trusses every 10 to 12 feet. If you desire to insulate at ceiling lines, ceiling joists are placed every two feet to adequately support drywall. This combination of double trusses and ceiling joists will still be less expensive than conventional stick framing’s trusses every two feet with structural headers required in walls. By widely spacing trusses, it allows for greater flexibility in locating doors and windows in exterior walls.

MYTH #10. POST-FRAME HOME TRUSSES HAVE VERY LIMITED SPANS

Prefabricated metal-plate connected wood trusses can easily span 80 to 100 feet without need for interior columns. Very rarely will spans greater than these ever be needed for a post-frame home.

IRC Section 802.10.2.1 further limits truss spans for stick-frame construction to a maximum of 36 feet and building lengths to 60 feet (measured perpendicular to truss span). Fully engineered post-frame homes do not have these limitations.

MYTH #11. EXTRA FRAMING BETWEEN POSTS WILL BE NEEDED

Comment from a stick frame builder: as opposed to traditional wall building, with post-frame you’ll have to build walls between posts. This is an added cost to an already built post-frame building shell.

Chances are this builder has never built (or probably seen) a fully engineered post frame building with bookshelf girts every two feet. All exterior wall framing is taken care of at initial installation, you get a deeper insulation cavity and a better surface to drywall.

MYTH #12. INSULATION COSTS ARE HIGHER

Your post-frame home will require more wall insulation because post-frame walls are thicker than typical two-by-four construction. Therefore, insulation cost will be higher to fill this cavity.

Proper insulation systems are an investment, not a cost. Would you really want an energy bill based off of R-13 insulation in a two-by-four exterior wall? Engineered post-frame construction allows for thicker insulation cavities – reducing your energy costs for your home’s lifespan.

MYTH #13. POST-FRAME CONSTRUCTION IS TYPICALLY NOT USED WITH BASEMENTS.

Post frame construction is not very conducive when building on a basement, as basement walls will be made from poured concrete. Trying to adapt post-frame construction to a basement will end up with higher costs than traditional home building techniques. Bottom line: If you want a home with a basement, post frame construction is not your best choice.

Fully engineered post-frame homes can easily be engineered to attach to a concrete basement foundation, ICFs or even incorporated into a Permanent Wood Foundation, at similar or lower costs than stick frame.

# Converting a Stick Framer

Converting a Stick Framer

As my long term followers may remember, I grew up stick framing houses, apartments and commercial buildings working for my Father and his framing contractor brothers. While our (myself and my male cousins) education was focused far more on “do” as opposed to “why we were doing” we all got a pretty good grasp of things like walls are composed of 2×4 or 2×6 studs running vertically to support loads from subsequent floors and/or roofs.

Now when I built my very first ‘pole barn’ in South Salem, Oregon in early 1980 it would have been a step up for me to have considered myself as even having a clue as to how they went together:

Builder STEVE is erecting a barndominium for Hansen Pole Buildings’ clients in ROYSE CITY, Texas. He wrote to Bonnie (in our office, she prints and transmits plans, among other things, to our clients), and copied his client’s Project Coordinator, Justine:

“I have a couple of question about the girts…

I will be the first to admit this is a different type of building than what I’m used to.
We build houses, not pole barns.

I’ve never seen Girts or this type of supporting walls so to speak in any of the houses I have built.

We typically use “sheer walls” or a totally different type of material when supporting “open portals” and bracing corners.

Can the engineer point to the locations, on the perimeter/outside walls that the girding is supposed to go.

If they’re telling us that these only go in specific locations I would like to know what those specific locations are.

Then after that please give me a detail of what runs between the Girts on the exterior wall where there are no Girts.

It was my understanding from previous emails that the Girts do not run continuously around the four exterior walls.

If they do, then please let me know that as well.

Thank you in advance.”

Even on a Sunday morning, Justine responded:

Good Morning Steve,

Bonnie is not tech support.

I have CC’D tech support in on this email.  Also, please find the construction manual that shipped with the hardware. This book will help you on many levels in building this post frame building.

On previous conversations – it was the Girt blocking that I stated isn’t continuous which was 2×4.  The “girts” which are primarily 2x6s per materials list and plans are what go between the posts horizontally.”

While our Construction Manual clearly lays out proper contacts (saving emails having to be passed from team member to team member), it does require actually opening and reading said manual.

Here our Technical Support Department got to join it (yes, on a Sunday as well):
Mike the Pole Barn Guru;
Justine is correct in instructing you to go to your best resource for understanding post frame structural systems, our Construction Manual.

Post frame differs from stick frame, as roof loads are transferred downward through columns to ground – eliminating need (in most instances) for structural headers over door and window openings. I grew up stick framing and it wasn’t until I was able to ‘wrap my head’ around framing running left-to-right, rather than up-and-down I was able to make any money building post frame.

You will want to carefully review Sheets S-4.1, S-5.1 and S-5.2 of your engineered building plans, as they detail location, orientation and placement of all wall girts and associated framing members. Bookshelf wall girts run from column to column, not continuously around the building perimeter.

Please keep in mind, your entire roof surface should be finished prior to any wall framing. Last page of Construction Manual Chapter 3 gives an outline of installation processes and for best success you will want to follow it explicitly.

# Why Pre-cut Studs are 92-5/8″ Long

Why Pre-cut Studs are 92-5/8” Long

Growing up with my Father and six framing contractor uncles (my Dad’s five brothers and Auntie Darlene’s husband Vern) all of us male Momb cousins (myself, brother Mark, Kim, Randy and Scott) eventually became M.E.I. (Momb Enterprises, Inc.) teenage slaves. My beloved Uncle Gil even has on his Facebook profile, “Former Mean Boss at MEI”. Whilst our generation worked hard, we were generally looked upon as strong backs and weak minds – there was very little explanation as to why things were done a certain way, and lots of do it, do it quick and do it right.

In framing stud walls, Uncle Gil would give us an evil eye if we had a stud even a minute fraction of an inch off being directly between his lay out marks on top and bottom plates. Never was there a discussion of why it was we were framing with studs 92-5/8” long, when all other framing lumber came in even two foot multiples (albeit those were always ½” to 5/8” greater in length than an exact two foot).

Now an average small home takes roughly 400 studs, can you imagine how time consuming it would be to have to trim back all of these if eight foot material was ordered and 92-5/8” was desired?

It wasn’t until I went to work managing Lucas Plywood and Lumber’s roof truss plant, where I became exposed to “P.E.T.” – Precision Trimmed Lumber. This was one service provided for by our lumber remanufacturing (aka reman) operation. While there, since I was good at math, I taught members of our lumber sales team how to do material takeoffs for stick frame home lumber packages.

Helpful hint to those of your reading along at home – want studs 16” on center (o.c.)? Take lineal footage of walls and order the same number of studs as feet of wall. 24”o.c. take lineal footage x 2/3rds. Works out to be remarkably close in actual use.

Anyhow, back to why studs are 92-5/8” long.

Anecdotally, supposedly the company who first pre-cut studs couldn’t close their 1943 delivery truck’s tailgate with eight foot material – so studs were cut to fit the truck bed.

When 92-5/8” studs are placed upon a single 2x bottom plate and a double top plate, wall height becomes 97-1/8”. This allows for 5/8” drywall on ceilings and keeps wall drywall ½” above the subfloor. This gives space for drywall to expand and contract without affecting flooring, as well as from absorbing any moisture on the floor.

Even though post frame buildings, with interiors to be finished, should be properly designed using bookshelf (horizontal girts) for exterior walls, these same rules are best followed for determining floor-to-ceiling heights. By use of heights 1-1/8” greater than whole feet, material use is minimized and drywall sheets can be run vertically without need for cutting. For extended reading on why this is best: www.HansenPoleBuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/.

# Insulation Options for an Idaho Barndominium

Insulation Options for an Idaho Mountain Post Frame Barndominium

Loyal reader LORISTON in NAMPA writes:

“We are in the initial phase of preparing for our residential post frame home and are excited to partner with Hansen Buildings when ready. Thank you for all the amazing information and supporting your clients. Question: I am targeting a highly efficient design, with >r-40 walls and >r-60 roof. There is a lot that I do not know and humble to learn from others. My mechanical engineering background helps. I would like your advice on a wall and roof design that meets my targeted R-values incorporating (from outside to inside) metal siding, >3/4″ rain screen, rock wool >2″ external insulation, Zip insulated r sheathing for WRB and thermal break/R-value increase, laminated Timber Tech glulam columns with bookshelf / commercial girts, closed cell spray foam internal insulation around 3″ thickness, fill remaining thickness from spray foam to inside edge column with insulation (recommendation would be helpful on type of insulation), internal insulation on inside of wall for thermal break if needed or helps, with final residential area having 5/8″ sheetrock and shop area having metal inside finish. We have not solved how to create a space for utilities on the outside wall as we would prefer to run them on inside of columns or thermal break insulation. We are contemplating internal framed 2×4 walls spaced away from post frame wall to create a space for utilities. No water will be run on external walls, only power, low voltage, gas, telephone as reference. Suggestion on how to run utilities with this highly efficient wall design would be appreciated. Roof is similar to wall, just horizontal with >r-60 performance, as we are targeting a conditioned attic space. Roof exception may be a second zip sheathing layer over the insulation (under rain screen/standing seam metal) but to be determined. Climate Zone 6 region in the Idaho mountains for reference. Post frame columns and wall will be on a full foundation wall with thickness based on wall design. Performance is priority over cost, targeting an air tight and efficient living space. Your experience and practical approach are greatly appreciated. Best regards and thank you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for your very kind words, they are greatly appreciated.

Rather than add an expensive and structurally unnecessary concrete foundation wall, I would recommend embedded properly pressure preservative treated wall columns (as my first choice), columns above grade set into wet set brackets on concrete piers as my second. Either of these can be insulated using R-10 EPS (Extruded Polystyrene) insulation boards. I would run them on the inside of the splash plank, with the top even with the top of the slab, extending down two feet, then outward horizontally two feet.

In Climate Zone 6, I normally would not look towards spray foam as my go to choice, however conditioning your attic and your desire for air tightness come into play, so here goes:

Walls (out-to-in): Steel siding over 2×8 bookshelf girts; 4″ of closed cell spray foam applied directly to inside of wall steel and balance of cavity with either open cell spray foam or rock wool (rock wool being my preference). No internal vapor barrier or continuous interior insulation boards as we want walls to dry to interior, without trapping moisture in the wall cavity.

Roof (out-to-in): Standing seam steel over 30# felt or synthetic ice & water shield (second preferred) over 5/8″ CDX plywood. Zip sheeting is OSB and screws just do not hold well into OSB. We can specify 2×12 roof purlins in order to get a deep cavity for insulation. Closed cell spray foam 5-3/4″ (R-40) plus R23 rock wool (5-1/2″).

This combination will require mechanical removal of humidity.

My normal recommendations would be:

Walls (out-to-in): Steel siding over a Weather Resistant Barrier, over 2×8 bookshelf girts. Fill the cavity with two layers of R15 rock wool. Add R-10 EPS well-sealed on interior. This wall will now dry to the outside.

Roof (out-to-in): Through screwed steel with an Integral Condensation Control factory applied, or standing seam steel over 30# felt or synthetic ice & water shield (second preferred) over 5/8″ CDX plywood. Roof trusses with 22″ raised heels, vent eave and ridge. Blow in R-60 on top of ceiling. This eliminates the expense of heating/cooling a dead attic space.

In either instance, I would have no fears or concerns about running non-plumbing utilities within your wall insulation cavity.

# Basic Stats for Post Frame Home Floor Plans

Basic Stats for Post Frame Home Floor Plans

If there is a single commonality among us humans it is this – we are dimensionally challenged. This situation is even more so crucial when it comes to planning your new post frame home.

Here are a few tips to help you out:

EAVE HEIGHT

Measure from the pressure treated splash plank bottom, to intersection roofing underside at sidewall columns. This is not to be confused with ceiling height (also known as interior clear height).

HOW TO GET AN EIGHT FOOT FINISHED CEILING

For discussion’s sake (and as most post frame homes are concrete slab on grade), set a “zero point” at exterior grade (pressure treated splash plank bottom), slab top will be at +3.5 inches.

To create eight foot finished ceilings requires 8’ 1-1/8” (allows for 5/8” sheetrock on ceilings). This puts us at 8’ 4-5/8”.

Now allow for roof system thickness. With recessed (joist hung between trusses) roof purlins, 6-1/16″ for truss heel height with 2×6 top chord at 4/12 slope (provided you are using closed cell spray foam insulation between purlins).  Minimum eave height would then be 8’ 10-11/16”. If using blown-in insulation truss heel height should be insulation R value divided by 3 plus 2″ to allow plenty of eave to ridge air flow above insulation.

What about two floors?

In order to be able to run utilities (e.g. plumbing and ductwork) through second floor supports, I highly recommend 4” x 2” prefabricated wood floor trusses. Generally truss depth will be about an inch for every clear span foot with a 12 inch minimum.  Adding an arbitrarily chosen 16” deep floor truss and 8’ ceiling on second floor to example in previous paragraph puts eave height at 18’ 4-9/16”.

Stairs challenge even many experienced builders. Finished width must be no less than three feet (if planning allows, four feet is so much nicer), allow for drywall on each side when determining interior framing of stair opening width. In most jurisdictions maximum tread rise is 7-3/4” and minimum run is 10”. In above example, second floor top is 9’ 5-7/8”, so stairs would need at least 14 treads, taking up at least 140” (11’ 8”) horizontally. At stair top and bottom a space, in travel direction, equal to stair width must be provided. Headroom along every point of finished stairs must be no less than 6’8”.

ALLOW FOR WALL THICKNESS

Different providers measure their building footprints differently – some use wall girt outside at ‘call out’ while others use column outside and are three inches greater in width and length, this will need to be accounted for in room dimensions.

Exterior walls with bookshelf girts will be wall column thickness plus 1-1/2” for girts protruding outside of columns. With 3 or 4 ply 2×6 glulams or 6×6 columns allow 7-1/4” plus interior sheetrock thickness. Interior 2×4 walls with ½” sheetrock on each side end up 4-1/2” thick.

APPROPRIATELY SIZE SPACES

Below are popular post frame home rooms and their average square footage, in three categories (listed as small/medium/large):

Entry Foyer (65/89/138)
Kitchen (193/275/423)
Walk-In Kitchen Pantry (17/31/51)
Great Room (487/481/680)
Dining (148/196/281)
Living (256/319/393)
Family (311/355/503)
Recreation (216/384/540)
Entertainment/Media (140/192/280)
Master Bedroom (231/271/411)
Master Bathroom (115/144/210)
Secondary Bedrooms (130/139/178)
Other Bathrooms (93/146/313)
Laundry (67/87/145)
Utility/Mud Room (30/48/80)

Always allow adequate space for hallways (same minimum width rules apply as stairs).

# Things You Want to See On a Building Proposal

Things You Want to See on a Building Proposal/Contract

Maybe you (as a soon to be building owner, building contractor or provider) are satisfied with being overly vague when it comes to what you are buying or selling. From a contractor/provider standpoint, this gives you lots of leeway to add ‘extra dealer margin’ by providing minimal (or less than minimal) components to unsuspecting buyers.

Now, my employer happens to offer a “price match guarantee” for any comparable building package. If I had a dollar for every quote from a competitor where it was impossible to even determine what was being proposed to be provided, I would be sitting in a beach chair along an ocean, not writing this article!

Today I am going to address a few highlights, if you are pondering a building investment, you will want to pay close attention…provided getting best investment for your money is important.

Things like building dimensions (width, length, eave height and roof slope) as well as roof style (gable, single slope, monitor, gambrel, dual slope, etc.) might seem to be no brainers, however I find even some of these certainly important features to be overlooked!

While there does exist an actual ANSI (American National Standards Institute) definition of Eave Height – most builders and vendors are unawares or just plain choose not to use it. Somewhere your agreement should spell out what is proposed or provided so all have a clear understanding. (Please read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/eave_height/)

Will this building be fully enclosed, partially enclosed or merely a roof? It makes a difference in wind design, so should be clearly delineated.

FEATURES

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but is to provide an idea as to how extensive it should be.

Thickness (gauge) of steel roofing and siding, as well as warranty AND substrate should be called out. Caution here as IRC (International Residential Code) Table R905.10.3(2) requires a minimum of AZ 50 for 55% aluminum-zinc-alloy-coated steel (Galvalume) or G-90 for Galvanized steel. These same requirements can be found in IBC (International Building Code) Table 1507.4.3(2). Lesser coatings can only be used for “U” buildings. Will there be wainscot, and if so will there be trim between it and upper wall panels?

How will roof steel condensation be controlled? Not addressing this now will cause challenges later. Integrated Condensation Control (Dripstop or Condenstop), Reflective Radiant Barrier (aka Bubble – and it is NOT insulation), Metal Building Insulation (vinyl faced fiberglass), Sheathing (OSB or plywood) with 30# or heavier felt or a synthetic ice and water shield? Tyvek or other similar housewraps (Weather Resistant Barriers) are not effective for condensation control.

How will any dead attic spaces be ventilated? Soffits, gable, ridge?

If other materials are to be used for roofing and/or siding, specifics as to thickness, quality and warranty should be clearly delineated.

Overhangs – open (no soffit) or enclosed (with soffit). Length of overhangs. Soffit material to be used (vinyl, steel, aluminum) as well as vented or non-vented.

Any overhead sectional or roll-up (coil) doors should be appropriately wind rated. Residential or commercial doors? Smooth faced, long panel or short panel? And glass, and if so, inserts? Specifics as to any manufacturer’s stated R values, thickness of steel, interior backers, track options (standard, low headroom, high lift or with run of roof), color, finish painted or primed only, vinyl weather seals, steel trims on jambs,  openers and operators should be called out.

Entry door width and heights, is door wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl covered, fiberglass? Jambs wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl covered wood? Doors and jambs finish painted or primed only? Crossbucks? Raised Panel? Glass? Wind rated? R value? Keyed lockset, dead bolts?

Windows with dimensions, type of frame material (aluminum, vinyl, composite, etc.), type (sliding, single hung, double hung, fixed, casement, etc.). Glazing (single, double or triple pane, tempered or non-tempered glass). Color of frame. Integrated J channels? Screens? Gas filled? U-factor and SHGC.

Wall framing (girts) external or bookshelf? External girts rarely meet Code deflection requirements and framing will have to be added to create an insulation cavity or apply interior finishes.

Trusses designed to support a ceiling load? If for sheetrock, a 10 psf (pounds per square foot) bottom chord dead load is required.

Future Building Owners – if it is not specifically called out for, do not assume you are getting it. Building providers and contractors – if you are providing a feature and do not call it out, you are doing a poor job of selling yourself.

Our next article will delve into “Code” design requirements – don’t miss out!

# Post Brackets, Cross Bracing, and Pressure Treated Wood

This week the Pole Barn Guru tackles reader questions about a building set into a slope with use of post brackets, the possible use of “cross bracing” for wall girts, and understanding pressure treated wood.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to build a 32′ x 48′ 2 story pole building where two of the sides of at least the lower floor are at least partially set into the hillside on the property. I envision the two sides set into the hill to be concrete foundation walls. Sort of a daylight basement. The lower floor would be a woodshop and the upper floor a two bedroom apartment. I am assuming a concrete foundation with Laminated “poles” mounted in brackets as opposed to buried. the “poles” on the two sides set into the hill would be shorter than on the other two sides. With the available space, the two story concept works better than having everything on a single story. Is this even possible? What would a ROM cost for a kit like that cost?

Thank you BILL in WEST RICHLAND

DEAR BILL: Your idea is totally possible. I have done it myself. In my case I had 12 feet of grade change across my building’s 40 foot width. I used ICFs full height on one sidewall and stepping down across rear endwall. Columns on these two walls were mounted using wet set brackets, other two walls had embedded columns. This process could also be used with poured concrete or block walls. We have also developed a system to use columns placed in a permanent wood foundation.

Attached photo is of my own building.

This is being shared with your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer who will be reaching out to you shortly.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: When using bookshelf girts is cross bracing used between posts or are the girts when blocked provide the support? WINSTON in MOULTON

DEAR WINSTON: No cross bracing is required when using bookshelf girts. Once installed (ideally blocked solid to columns at each end) and sheathing (OSB, plywood, structural panels or steel siding) is applied, your wall and girts are more than adequately supported and this assembly is fairly rigid.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I read the article regarding treated wood. I am still a little puzzled as to what treating you would use for ground contact purposes, especially the upright poles. Do you have any other articles regarding this subject or have input you could email me? Much appreciated, thank you. KELLY in VICTOR

DEAR KELLY: Pressure preservative treated wood standards can be confusing even for lumber dealers, professional builders and building inspectors. For structural building columns, all end tags should have UC-4B marked on them. UC-4B is for “Heavy Duty” use. This American Wood Preservers Association infographic might prove helpful to understanding proper uses for pressure preservative treated wood: www.awpa.com/images/standards/ResidentialInfographic2020.pdf

# Insulated Bookshelf Wall Girts

While we United States residents like to think of ourselves as perhaps the center of our universe, post frame construction appears world wide.

Reader JONATHAN in HALIFAX picked Alabama as his state when he filled out his online request for information when he wrote:

“What insulation do you suggest between bookshelves of wall?”

With so many post frame buildings being used for residences, commercial buildings, shop/houses and barndominiums, properly addressing how to insulate has become of utmost importance.

I am going to take a stab and guess your Halifax is in Nova Scotia, rather than Alabama. My lovely bride and I made a stop there on a cruise from New York City a few years ago – beautiful area (and I got a Harley-Davidson T shirt).

If so, you are in what would be an equivalent to our IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) Climate Zone 7. For wood frame walls, this would require an R-20+5 or R-15+10, where your plus value is for continuous insulation.While continuous insulation is most often usually on exterior of framing, Martin Holladay – editor of Green Building Advisor feels confident in it working as well on inside of framing. Given this, I would put a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) between wall framing (bookshelf wall girts) and siding, then fill your cavity with rock wool (as it is not negatively affected by moisture), then use rigid foam insulation inside of your framing. You can glue these sheets to your framing (bookshelf girts) to eliminate any thermal bridging from fasteners and then glue your interior finish to it. Make sure to tightly seal your rigid foam boards and to caulk along the bottom of exterior walls to get a good seal. Built in this fashion, your walls will ‘dry’ to the outside, reducing the need for dehumidifying inside.

Of course you will want to get approval from your local permit issuing jurisdiction before moving forward.

For extended reading on rock wool insulation please see https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/roxul-insulation/

# Ladder Framing, Use of Red Cedar Posts, and Custom Steel Trusses

This Monday the Pole barn Guru answers reader questions about “ladder framing,” aka bookshelf girts, the use of Eastern Red Cedar posts in post frame construction, and if Hansen provides custom steel trusses.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I had a question about ladder framing on a finish shop. I was thinking about running my two by sixes horizontally between my poles. So I could insulate them horizontally with 24 inch batt insulation. Then I wouldn’t have to add nailers on the inside for when I finish it. What’s your opinion? Thank you. DAVID

DEAR DAVID: I am a huge advocate of using commercial bookshelf style wall girts for any post frame building where climate control might be anticipated. Bookshelf girts also lend themselves well to best possible application of sheetrock.

For extended reading on this subject please see https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/08/bookshelf-girts-insulation/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Greetings. We are looking at building a 40’x60′ pavilion. We live in Missouri and are overrun with Eastern Red Cedar. We have used them for posts before for porches and the like. I was wondering if a 10-12″ ERC would work as a post for a pole barn with a 10’roof and double truss construction. ROGER in IRONDALE

DEAR ROGER: Untreated Cedar, left exposed to weather in above ground situations probably has an expected lifespan of roughly 10 years (https://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/bridges/documents/tdbp/decayres.pdf). While you may have better results, it is not something I would or could recommend when properly pressure preservative treated columns are readily available and will outlast any of our lifetimes.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I’m putting a leanto on my barn, and I need 4 custom steel trusses.  Do you build and deliver custom trusses or only whole building kits?  The trusses would be ~19′ long for a 39’x19′ roof.  I live in Pennsylvania. KEITH in NEWTOWN

DEAR KEITH: Thank you very much for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. We do not use steel trusses in any of our buildings, however it is very possible we could provide a similar design solution using prefabricated metal plate connected wood trusses.

# Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Should you have missed yesterday’s episode, please click back to it using link at bottom of this page – it will make more sense as well as being more entertaining!

Hello Brian ~

My Father and his five brothers were all framing contractors, so I was raised in a world of trusses two foot on center and vertical stud walls. Even in my first few years of prefabricated roof trusses (as a truss designer/salesman/manager) – we used to laugh when builders would order trusses for pole barns. 40 years of experience has taught me they were right (post frame builders).

Having personally erected a plethora of buildings, both stick frame and post frame, it is far less time consuming to erect a post frame building with widely spaced trusses (and purlins and ceiling joists) than it is to stud wall frame. With a minor investment into building a set of four ‘winch boxes’ entire sections of roof framing can be assembled on the ground and cranked up into place. Not only is this fast, it is also far safer.

Learn about winch boxes here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/winch-boxes-a-post-frame-miracle/

Mindi’s quote does not include OSB sheathing or either 30# felt or ice and water shield to go between OSB and roof steel. These can be added, however there is really no structural reason to do so – it is going to add to both investment and labor. Should you opt to have your roof sheathed, OSB (or plywood) will run from fascia to ridge across purlins 24″ on center, so spans would be no greater than trusses every two feet.

If you do opt for roof sheeting, you might want to consider going to 5/8″ CDX plywood and a standing seam steel. It will be more expensive however it does eliminate any through fasteners.

When you create an encapsulated building (spray foam to all interior surfaces), you do not want to ventilate it, as you would then lose your air seal. With your OSB’s underside sealed by closed cell spray foam and upper side protected with 30# felt or ice and water shield, there is no way for your OSB to become moist. If this is still a concern, an upgrade to plywood could be done.

Certainly one could place scissor trusses every two feet – it would then require adding structural headers (truss carriers) between columns to support them – reducing ‘line of sight’ beneath them. In order to place two foot tall windows in your knee walls above wing roofs, your building height would need to increase to allow for their height. This entails a whole bunch of connections – trusses to headers, headers to trusses and connections are always a weak link of any structural system. It would also mean having to add 2×4 flat on top of either trusses or sheathing in order to have something to screw roof steel panels to (you cannot screw directly to OSB only). Single trusses also require added bracing not required with ganged (two ply) trusses.

You will find drywall installs far better over horizontal framing (wall girts) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/. By utilizing bookshelf girts your exterior walls only have to be framed one time – saving materials and labor over stud walls with horizontal nailers. Building Codes also do not allow for studwalls over 12′ tall, requiring added engineering.

We do have sample building plans available on our website for your builder to review and get a feel for https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/. You may also want to invest (in advance) in our Construction Manual (please contact Bonnie@HansenPoleBuildings.com) – you do get one included with your building purchase (plus you have access to an electronic version through your login).

Please keep in mind – not only have I been involved in design, provision and/or construction of roughly 20,000 post frame buildings, I also happen to live in one. As technology brings about better design solutions, we have always been quick to adopt them, as our goal is to provide structurally sound buildings where benefits outweigh investments.

Feel free to have your builder reach out to me directly at any time.

# Builder Says

Builder Says, “These designs are the Worse”!

Like all good stories begin…..

“It was a dark and stormy night”

Oops, wrong beginning!

Once upon a time I was a post frame building contractor. From 1991 until 1999 my construction company could only have been described as being prolific – at one time we had as many as 35 crews erecting buildings in six states.

I had a few advantages going into being a post frame building contractor – architecture school, managing several (and later owning) prefabricated metal connector plated roof truss plants, and having provided nearly 7000 post frame building kit packages from my lumberyard.

My most important advantage was a thirst for knowledge. One of my favorite childhood books was 1967’s “The Way Things Work” by Neil Ardley and David McCaulay. I read it cover-to-cover repeatedly. This same thirst for wanting to know how things work led me to Dr. Frank Woeste at Virginia Tech. He challenged me with learning structural calculations involved in what made post frame (pole barn) buildings work.

This, in turn, led me to join ASAE (American Society of Agricultural Engineers) where I was a member of their structures committee. It also led me to be humble as I learned as I knew more, there was so much more to learn. I became an NFBA member – and found there was more than a single ‘right way’ to build post frame buildings.

Now it seems every small town in America has one or more post frame ‘builders’ and I will use this term ‘builder’ lightly as owning a jacked up 4×4, having a big dog and a loud stereo are not necessarily qualifiers for being a good builder. While there are actually some good builders (and a few great ones), far more a rule than an exception is “Chuck-in-a-truck” who believes he (or she) is Builder Bob – a legend in their own mind!

A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Do-It-Yourself client recently posted photos of their framed post frame building with commercial bookshelf girts.

Before being banned from the Facebook group for use of colorful language, builder Jason had this to say about this client’s photo:

“These designs are the worse! I don’t understand why anyone would do it this way. I really don’t understand why any company would promote such a design to a DIY. Book shelve wall girts are the weakest way to build building. All seams in wood is stacked. Not staggered. Toe nailed also is week. And if any system requires you to “hide” something or “never see it”, It’s a bad design! Just run wall girts on out side of post and stagger seams. Simple!”

Well Jason, not everyone has your narrow view of structural design solutions (or your grasp of English composition).

People (both builders and DIYers) do bookshelf girts because they are, at a minimum, over 300% stronger in supporting wind loads than externally mounted girts (based upon 2×6 material of same grade at same spacing). They are also more resistant to deflection by more than 1300%. Moreover, with proper dimensional sizing, they allow for creation of an insulation cavity where clients can do interior finishes without having to add more framing.

Jason appears to have a belief staggering joints on externally mounted wall girts somehow makes a building stiffer! It is the use of diaphragm design to create a stiff roof plane to support column tops making a building more rigid, not some close to insignificant contribution from girts. Our ‘builder’ went off on his rant before noticing the ends of each girt are solid blocked to columns at each end and no toe nails are involved in their fully engineered connection (nor was anything required to be hidden).

Thinking of hiring a builder to erect your new post frame building? Look for one who is open to considering multiple design considerations rather than “this is how we have always done it and always will”.

For extended reading on bookshelf girts please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/04/creating-extra-work-in-barndominium-framing/

# Posts and Collars, Girts, and Non-Vented Soffits

This week’s edition of Pole Barn Guru visits the topics of post and footing sizes, bookshelf girts for drywall, and non-vented soffits for building with spray foam insulation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am currently 68 but I built pole barns as a younger man the biggest being a hay barn 24′ eaves X 80 clearspan trusses that we built X 160′ long. I am going to build a 30×60 and will use 6X6 posts 12′ to eaves, engineered trusses with 2X6 purlins 12′ span.

What diameter hole do I need?

I was thinking of using a 16 or 18 sonotube top of an 8″ footing below pour.

Does that sound reasonable?

I am in Grant county Wa.

Thanks for your time 🙂 JOSEPH in SOAP LAKE

DEAR JOSEPH: We have had clients much older than you, with no prior experience, successfully erect their own beautiful post frame buildings. Your 80 foot clearspan x 160 foot long and 24 foot eave must have been quite impressive structure!

Most of your area’s building sites are Exposure C for wind (open to the wind in one or more directions – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/), which is default value for Grant County. If this is indeed your case, neither 6×6 posts or 18 inch diameter holes would be adequate. One of our Building Designers will reach out to you to further discuss your building needs.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: After reading all of the advantages of bookshelf girts I still find the idea of installing drywall sheets vertically over them a bit perplexing. Is vertical “strapping” of some sort required in addition to the girts or is there enough rigidity between the girts to keep the seam together? I’m assuming this would require the use of 5/8 thick sheets. We are planning on doing as much of the work as possible so our plan would be to have all of the ceilings hung by a pro and do the vertical wall hanging ourselves. All of the details for top of wall to truss connections and the prep make perfect sense to me, why does this detail escape me.
Always thankful for all of the useful info we have learned from your site. We are getting closer by the day to being ready to have our plans prepared for building. RUSS in PIPERSVILLE

DEAR RUSS: Thank you for all of your kind words, they are appreciated. The horizontal bookshelf girts will be stiff enough being attached to both the exterior siding (whether wood or steel) as well as the interior drywall to keep your seams together, without need for blocking at seam edges. You will find your sheetrock joints will be much smoother with vertical installation across these girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/). I used 5/8″ Type X drywall in my own shouse (shop/house) – because it is much more durable, absorbs sound better and provides fire resistance, however 1/2″ would have worked equally as well for standard performance.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking at purchasing / installing a 30’X50′ pole barn style building with 16′ ceilings, including two 12’X50′ lean-to on each side and 12′ ceilings
I want to enclose about 12’X25′ of the left side lean-to for a canning kitchen area.

I am going to have a non-vented insulated roof assembly since we are using a closed cell foam spray, My question is would using 12″ closed soffit overhang be acceptable for the entire building.

Thank You in advance for the support, SAMUEL in CORINTH

DEAR SAMUEL: In my humble opinion most buildings without overhangs look overly industrial. Overhangs help to keep your building sidewalls cleaner and push rain runoff away from your structure. We can provide non-vented soffit panels and they would work perfectly for your application.

# Avoiding Being Driven Crazy With Barndominium Questions Part II

Part II of a two part series. If you didn’t see Part I, go back one day.

Mike’s answers are in italics.

In each house at ends of the “L” layout, I plan to have 1/3 open plan at two stories, for our great room, with nice windows for great views.

The other 2/3 areas will have 2 bedrooms and maybe a sitting area on the second floor.

• Do  really need 6” * 6” poles in this area for the 2nd floor?
• I was planning on building the upstairs like you do in a stick built house which would be use the 1st floor wall as load supporting, use 12” floor joists and  add a beam where needed and then use steel adjustable poles. (Cover poles later)
• Is this OK to do?
• Would the steel poles need to be on thicker concrete?
• Would the 1st floor walls that will load support the 2nd floor need to be on thicker concrete?
• You are free to say, “Greg if you had a decent floor plan, we should add a few poles, as it would be so much stronger, better, and other”.
• Thoughts? Mike: Personally I would clearspan your second floor using prefabrciated wood floor trusses. There would be supported by LVL beams attached to your perimeter columns. This allows for walls to be placed anywhere without having to create bearing walls or have interior columns. All mechanicals can then be run through this floor truss system. If you were to approach your second floor as if it was traditional stick frame – you would then be faced with how to support it at exterior walls, since they are horizontally girted. Any bearing walls would have to have thicker concrete below and adjustable steel pole locations would probably require some sort of concrete pier (or at least slab being thicker and perhaps requiring some extra rebar). If using adjustable steel poles, I would want them to at least be wrapped with two layers of 5/8″ Type X sheetrock so in event of a fire they would not lose their temper, deform and collapse.

Wall Girt System questions:

• If the posts are 6” * 6” what width are the horizontal girt boards?  Are they 2” * 6” *  X’ or 2” * 8 “ * X’? Mike: For glulams of 2×6 you would have 2×8 girts, for 2×8 columns, 2×10 girts. These will project 1-1/2″ outside of your perimeter building columns.
• If they are the 2 * 8’s, is there a little board you would put on the post, between the post and the outside metal? (This little stuff drives me crazy too!) Mike: Blocking would be placed on column exterior faces, aligned with wall girts to provide a continuous line for attaching steel siding with screws.
• Are the vertical spacer boards nailed to the side of the post as shown on the attachment, so horizontal bookshelf girts can be nailed vertically into the spacer to avoid toe-nailing all of the girt boards? Mike: Bookshelf girts will be supported at each end with solid blocking against columns – no toe-nailing of girts to columns.

Does the lowest board on the posts, (Grade Board?), does it actually contact the dirt floor before pouring the floor? Mike: Bottom of pressure preservative treated grade board/splash plank is set at grade, so it is in contact with ground.

So the board will have 4” – 5” of cement contact? Mike: Top of your concrete slab would be 3-1/2 inches above bottom of splash plank.

How far does the siding cover the lowest board? Mike: Bottom edge of steel base trim drip leg will be at four inches above bottom of splash plank. This allows for any exterior concrete (walkways, approaches, door landings) to be poured against treated splash plank rather than against steel siding or trims.

Do you ever use a composite board for the grade board? Mike: Splash planks are used to transfer wind shear loads from siding to columns and into the ground. Composites are not structural and do not have an ability to transfer these loads.

Sorry for all the dumb questions. Mike: Only a question not asked would be considered as being dumb.

I appreciate all the effort from Hansen Pole Buildings.

Thanks

# Why You Should Install Post Frame Roofing Before the Walls

Over roughly 40 years of post frame construction, I have seen photos of one or two (or perhaps thousands) of post frame buildings under construction. I can pretty well tell from these photos if those doing assembly are (or were) stick builders.

I grew up as a framing contractor’s son (and later working for dad and my uncles stick framing), where we built walls with sheeting (and often siding) on them and tipped them up into place. This is all fine and dandy for ‘conventional’ stick frame construction, however not necessarily easiest or best when it comes to post frame.

In post frame construction, trusses extend from column outside to column outside (plus any overhangs). If walls have been framed (girts, headers and door jambs placed) trusses will have to be jockeyed around to be lifted in place from inside the building. This is especially true in applications with bookshelf (inset) style wall girts.

Most post frame buildings have one or more columns out of perfect placement along building length. Accept it, this is just going to happen no matter how perfect you or your builder might be. Most buildings have a far greater roof purlin quantity per bay, than wall girts per bay. By framing the roof first, all purlins (assuming they are inset) can be cut to the same length in each bay, this is determined by engineered plan column spacing, less truss assembly thickness. When trusses are in place, column tops will easily move forward or backwards so all truss supporting columns end up spaced per plans. This also aids in an overall building roof length creation matching expectations.

During the truss placement process (regardless of method used) there will come times when it is highly convenient to be able to walk ‘through’ a wall. Girts in place means having to fit through girts or walk around – either of which slowing construction processes.

It is far easier to square up the roof without wall framing member resistance. Once roof sheathing or roof steel is in place, it makes it simpler to plumb building corners.

With roofing in place and walls open, a concrete slab may be installed if desired. This helps protect concrete pour from weather elements, especially heat in summer or rain. Pre-mix trucks can access and chute through any accsessible sides or ends. This can eliminate the need to pay for a pump truck.

Want your new post frame building as perfect as possible and completed quickest? Then roof first, walls after is most probably your route to success.

# How to Install Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

How to Install Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

Reader SEAN in CAMAS writes:

“Please help! I have plans for a 48x60x16 pole barn here in the NW. I helped build a pole barn when I was in my teens and I think mostly for my young back and ability to swing a hammer. However I am a bit lost with these new plans. They call for bookshelf girts.  I sent a photo of the plans showing the details and the cut away. I get that the boards are on their side between the posts with a 2×6 “holding it up” on both ends that is nailed to the posts. However it looks like they all protrude 1 3/4″ beyond the outside of the post based on the bottom PT board being laid on the outside of the post. This would make sense to keep the siding all hitting a level board all the way up. Any photos or explanation would help greatly.”

Well Sean, you are finding a set of plans is only as good as installation instructions provided with them. Having thorough step-by-step instructions, such as those in Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual, can save countless hours of grief, wasted materials and doing and undoing work.

Here is an excerpt you can use:

Most Common Mistakes:

1. Installing wall girts before framing roof and roofing.
2. Placing first girt bottom at a height other than 27-1/2” above grade.
3. Girt end blocks cut to varying lengths.
4. Setting girts to project beyond column outsides other than by 1-1/2”.

Cut girt blocks to 22-7/16” lengths from 2×4 material provided. First girt block bottom edge starts 5-1/2” above splash plank bottom. After the concrete floor has been poured, a 2×4 pressure treated base plate will be inserted between floor top and girt block bottoms.  Base plate is toe-nailed to the pressure treated column at each end (exception being if columns are attached to brackets), as well as anchored to the concrete floor two feet on center (using concrete nails or nails “shot” into concrete). Base plate inside edge will be even with the inside edge of the girts above. Base plate should be installed over a sill gasket and/or caulked to the concrete floor. When space between treated columns is less than 24”, there is no base plate.

See Figure 29-1

Figure 29-1 Toe-nailing Base plate

Any pressure preservative treated lumber cut edge or end should be treated with a Copper Naphthenate solution. Copper Naphthenate is available as a brush-on (Cuprinol No. 10 Copper-Green® Wood Preserver https://www.homedepot.com/p/Copper-Green-1-gal-Wood-Preservative-176223/300502829) or spray-on (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Copper-Green-Wood-Preservative-14-fl-oz-Aerosol-CopperSpr/100191444).

Girt blocks are placed so the block inside edge is flush with the wall girt inside edge. This may cause girts, as well as blocking, to extend past columns on inside, without adversely affecting interior finish applications such as gypsum wallboard. Nail girt block with (2) 10d common nails at each end (unless specified otherwise on building plans).

In any event, the total nail number used to attach any girt block to a column should never be fewer than the nail number used to attach girt to block top.

Cut girt to fit snugly between columns, with “crown” out, resting on girt blocking at each end. Outside girt edge extends from columns outward 1-1/2”. See Figure 29-2

Figure 29-2 Commercial Bookshelf Girts For Insulation

Nail each girt end securely into girt block tops below, with two 10d common nails minimum. Repeat for each bay around building.

Where two adjacent wall columns are 2’ or less in between, 2×4 exterior (barn style) girts will be provided to nail on outside column faces, as insulation batts will fill space remaining.

Nail 2x blocking material to exterior column faces in line with girts.  This a good way to use up cutoffs from bookshelf girts. See Figure 29-3

This blocking will serve as backing material for any screws falling in this area.

Figure 29-3: Commercial Bookshelf Girts 2x Blocking

Install 2×4 inverted “L” sidewall drywall backing using 2-10d common toe-nails through “L” vertical member into columns. See Figure 29-4

4” shown in Figure 29-4 is for 2×6 girts; for 2×8 girts, it will be 5-3/4”.

Figure 29-4: L Sidewall Drywall Backing

For buildings without ceiling joists, install 2×4 inverted “L” endwall drywall backing using 2-10d commons toe-nailed through “L” vertical member into columns.

See Figure 29-5

Figure 29-5:  “L” Endwall Drywall Backing

This should give you a good start. Good luck and let me know how it all turns out. Pictures appreciated!

# See the Pretty External Wall Girts?

See the Pretty External Wall Girts?

Readers of my latest two episodes are probably beginning to feel familiar with this commercial post frame building. As well as its challenges.

I will first point out something in this photo I find to be odd, although not (surprisingly) necessarily a structural deficiency.

Outside board on this building’s roof eave line is known as a fascia or edge purlin. A fascia purlin is defined (in ANSI/ASABE S618 “Post Frame Building System Nomenclature”) as, “a purlin that helps form the fascia of a building”. An edge purlin is, “A purlin in the most outer row of purlins. All fascia purlins are edge purlins but not all edge purlins are fascia purlins.” Looking at this fascia purlin, note there is a dark portion roughly 4-1/2 inches in width aligned with each wall column. These are truss ‘tail’ ends. This builder installed fascia purlins between truss tails, rather than across them as indicated on engineer sealed plans and our Construction Manual.

Effectively this should have made precut soffit panels all 1-1/2 inches too long, leading me to believe it is possible this building is three inches narrower than planned!

How fascia purlins are attached is yet another issue, as through nailing into truss tail ends was specified.

Now onto what is really an issue, not structurally, but from a functional standpoint. This commercial building’s owner is planning upon climate controlling it. As part of being able to effectively insulate walls, materials for commercial bookshelf girts were provided (as well as specified on plans by the engineer).

For extended reading on commercial bookshelf girts, please see https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/.

As we have seen from previous articles, this particular builder was not too savvy when it came to looking at plans. I suspect they are neatly tucked away behind a rear seat in his crew cab pickup.

# Creating Extra Work in Barndominium Framing

Creating Extra Work In Barndominium Framing

A supposed downside of post frame (pole barn) buildings for barndominiums is having to frame a wall inside of an exterior wall in order to create an insulation cavity and a way to support interior finishes.

This myth is created and propagated by post frame kit suppliers and post frame builders who do not understand there is a solution – and a very cost effective one (in both labor and materials).

Rather than framing exterior girts (as shown in photo) and then adding vertical stud walls between columns, bookshelf girts can be utilized.

I’ve done several thousand pole buildings using this “bookshelf” or “commercial” girt method. I have two of them myself – in Northeastern WA, so I have a cold climate to contend with.

Use a commercial girt one size larger than wall columns (2×8 on a 6×6 post, etc.), setting commercial girts so 1-1/2″ hangs past the column’s exterior face. Wrap framing with a well sealed high quality Weather Resistant Barrier (for extended reading on Weather Resistant Barriers https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/).

As an alternative to using a Weather Resistant Barrier, closed cell spray foam can be applied to the interior face of siding as part of a flash-and-batt system https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/flash-and-batt-insulating-barndominium-walls/.

You will find this installation method compensates for any irregularities in column dimensions and creates a deeper insulation cavity. Side benefits – electrical can be run around column exteriors, without a need to drill through them to run wires. On walls a multiple of three feet in length, it also saves having to rip an edge of a panel off either the first or last sheet of steel on a wall.

In either case, block ends of bookshelf commercial girts solid against columns with what is called a “bearing block”.  Take 2×4’s or larger (depends upon engineering) cut 22-1/2” long to fit between commercial girts and install them flat against the post on faces where girts will attach.  Wide face of the block should be flat against the column and aligned with the post edge (not sticking out past column edge unlike girts).   Nail these girt support blocks to columns with a minimum of  two (2)10d galvanized common nails at each end (higher wind loads may require more nails).  This type of nailing is quick and easy and provides a solid support for commercial girt above blocks.  This is a far more solid and stable connection than toe-nailing. Toe-nailing is done by angling a nail upwards from bottom (or downwards from top) of commercial girt, at a 45 degree angle trying to catch enough post edge as the nail goes through to column to hold it there.  Toe-nailing is a very poor connection (and is subject to lots of installation errors).

For maximum cost effective R value, use BIBS insulation. I found it to be cost competitive with installed batt insulation, has a higher R value and completely fills all voids. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/

I fondly remember a gal who called me one day asking for “canning jar shelves”…you know like you did before for us.”  Checking our records, I quickly discovered we designed commercial girts on their first building.  They liked them so much – they wanted them again!

# A Post Frame House Photo

A Post Frame House Photo – and More

Post frame buildings are amazing, after four decades in this industry I am still amazed at what can be accomplished with them. We are just now barely scuffing surfaces of a burgeoning residential housing market!

I will begin with a disclaimer, this is not a Hansen Pole Building. In fact, I am totally unsure of what this photo’s source is. Here we are using it merely as a teaching moment.

There is a less than lovely pile of wood filling an entire corner of this photo. My framing contractor father and uncles would have had a piece of me for ever having a waste pile like this on a jobsite. My first summer working for them as a teenager, we built two three story wood framed commercial buildings with a courtyard between. My primary function was as “cutoff” man. I cut to length every stud, trimmer, sill, header, etc., for this entire project. Having been properly indoctrinated to not waste anything, when our project was completed, my wood scrap pile would not have covered a card table.

Moving forward….

From experience it is far easier to square a post frame building up when the roof is framed and sheeted before any walls are framed.

Some things I would have done different with this build:

Note level at the base of steel siding on the endwall to the left of the entry door. Bottom of the siding is lower than the bottom of the door. This precludes any ability to pour a concrete apron outside of this door without pouring up against siding (not a good choice as it leads to premature degradation of siding due to water trapped between concrete and steel), or creating a step down. Lowering this apron (landing or walkway) could result in a top surface lower than surrounding grade resulting in ice or snow build ups if in a cool climate.

Wall girts have been applied “barn style” flat on column exteriors. This building might be in a region where design wind speeds are low enough to allow these girts to meet Building Code deflection criteria. However in order to insulate and finish the interior either studwalls will need to be framed between columns, or an interior set of girts added. It would have been far easier to have accomplished all of this using bookshelf style girts every two feet.

Diagonal braces have been framed in behind wall girts. These are probably unnecessary had diaphragm strength of steel skin been factored in by a Registered Professional Engineer. So why might they be a problem? If framing in a studwall between columns, these braces will need to be worked around.

Maybe exterior walls are going to have closed cell spray foam applied directly to the inside of wall steel. If not, then a Weather Resistant Barrier should have been placed between wall girts and siding.

This building is a residence. Unless the roof deck underside is going to be insulated and attic space conditioned, my educated guess is some form of attic insulation will be blown in over a ceiling. In order to do this right, roof trusses should have been designed with a raised heel, to allow for full thickness of attic insulation across exterior walls.

All-in-all it does not appear to be overtly a bad building, but for little or no added investment it could have been so much better!

# Tstud for Post Frame Bookshelf Wall Girts

Tstud™ for Post Frame Bookshelf Wall Girts

I have been somewhat enamored of Tstuds’ potential since one of our clients asked if they would be a viable option last summer.

First I had to find out what a Tstud even was, as I had never heard of them before. Once you skip past ads at the start of this video, it gives a pretty good idea of how Tstuds work in traditional stick frame construction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=140s&v=mxDSulcLpAE.

Framing with Tstuds minimizes air infiltration, reduces carbon footprints and saves on electrical energy costs.

A lumber frame is obviously great for providing post frame buildings’ structural integrity. However, this same framing is also a massive weak spot in a wall insulation system – where external air can easily infiltrate. Traditionally a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) is used to cover a post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium and blanket those weak points.

Tstuds are a new engineered framing product, essentially framing lumber with an insulated core. Tstuds consist of two long wood 2×3 members connected by crisscrossing dowels factory filled with closed cell spray foam. A 2×6 has an R-5.5 value, where a similarly sized Tstud is R-20 (or equivalent to a 2×6 wall cavity filled with fiberglass batt insulation).

Tstud’s thermal benefits are undoubtedly their main draw. Their closed cell foam core gives it roughly three times as much insulation value as a typical 2×6 bookshelf girt. By framing with Tstud wall girts and filling in wall cavities with batt insulation, there is no need to consider having to add exterior insulation.  As long term readers of this column are aware, exterior insulation, for post frame buildings, takes away or eliminates diaphragm strength of steel siding.

Another structural benefit with using Tstuds for bookshelf wall girts is they have engineering tests showing they are up to three times stronger than a #2 graded 2×6!

Now some possible downsides, distribution and availability is highly limited. And (according to Tstud), “We are retailing about the same price as an LVL stud but we are obviously a 5 in 1 solution. In the future we will be about the price as an LSL stud”.

The Home Depot® currently has a 2x4x8 foot LVL stud at \$50 or \$9375 per thousand board feet. This would make a 12 foot long 2×8 Tstud wall girt roughly \$150 or over 11 times more than equivalent sized dimensional lumber. Picking arbitrarily a 36 foot by 48 foot post frame building with a 12 foot eave, this would add nearly \$10,000 to your cost of materials! While nifty in design, it is not for the pocketbook faint of heart.

# Tipping Up Post Frame Walls

Reader JIMMY in ROCK HILL writes:

“I want to get your opinion on the pole barn building method seen in the linked video. (RR buildings) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVwUl4cm8fQ I am impressed at the built in efficiency of his process. Is there a benefit to his post ground connection, (i am aware that his method will use lots more concrete. and I assume those brackets aren’t cheap)
I know you don’t recommend attaching the girts till after trusses are on…
I’d appreciate your thoughts.”

Rural Renovators has done a fabulous job of producing videos – if nothing else it is helping to make awareness of post frame construction more widespread. There have been over a million views of this particular video alone!

Things to consider with this method of mounting columns, rather than embedding them – cost of sonotubes (an 18″ diameter tube 4′ long will run around \$20), a little over twice as much concrete will be needed for holes (roughly \$15 on an 18″ diameter hole), brackets (roughly \$50 plus shipping) and mounting hardware. This will be offset slightly by columns being four feet shorter in length. Due to soil bearing capacities, there are many instances where larger diameter holes will be needed, but for this discussion’s sake – probably \$75 per hole in minimum added investment is not unrealistic.

As to a structural benefit, I personally prefer to avoid creating a hinge point at grade. Embedded columns take away needs for this connection and connections are a wink link in any structural system. Let’s face it, placing a relatively small column in a relatively large hole and shifting it to where you want it is pretty low tech and fairly forgiving.

Rural Renovators accurately sets all column bases to an equal height, allowing for walls to be framed on ground and tipped up. This does require the use of one or more pieces of equipment – ones your average DIYer does not own, so would have to borrow, or in most cases rent. Due to end and sidewalls sharing common corners, it precludes being able to frame up two walls completely on the ground.

In most cases 2x girts placed wide face (barn style) to wind do not meet Building Code requirements, making bookshelf style girts a common structural solution. On buildings without eave overhangs (extended truss tails) trusses can still be raised straight up column sides with barn style girts, however bookshelf girts take this option away. This means lifting equipment would be necessary to get trusses into place successfully.

For Rural Renovators, they have built themselves a niche in their geographic service area by doing things differently than any possible competitors. This is at the very least brilliant marketing – as when everyone constructs things identically, it forces price to become a defining difference!

# Torn Between Two Lovers

In reader JEREMY from GOSHEN’s case, he is torn between two methods of post frame construction, rather than one hit wonder Mary MacGregor’s 1976 tune “Torn Between Two Lovers”.

JEREMY wrote, “I’m torn between trusses on 4′ centers and what you do the double trusses every 10 or 12”.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

It can be a tremendous pressure to build ‘just like everyone else does’. Because if everyone else is doing it a certain way, then it must be right. Right?

I can assure you trusses placed every four feet is merely how most builders in your area choose to assemble their buildings. In much of post frame construction’s world, engineers, architects and builders happen to place double trusses every 10 to 14 feet, with 12 feet happening to be most common. From a structural aspect, I prefer this wider spacing and doubled trusses. Every pair of trusses rests securely into a notch cut into columns. This physically makes it impossible for a truss to slide down a pole. Trusses are physically connected to each other face-to-face. This reduces risks of one single truss having a weak point, failing and pulling the rest of the roof down with it. With trusses ganged in this fashion, need for lateral bracing of truss chords and webs is reduced.

All roof purlins are connected to truss sides with engineered steel hangers. Trusses on carriers (headers between columns) often have under designed connections – not enough fasteners from carrier to column and truss to carrier. Nailed connection between purlins flat across truss tops is also problematic and in most instances is inadequate to resist design wind uplift loads. (more about this subject here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/nationwide-2/) Most post frame buildings with columns every eight feet also have ‘barn’ style wall girts – placed wide face to wind on column faces. Other than in very low wind applications and sheltered sites are these adequate to meet minimal building code wind loads. To read why girts installed this way fail to meet Building Codes please read https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/.

From an aspect of ease of construction – wider spacing means fewer holes to dig (worst part of any post frame building). It reduces the total number of pieces having to be handled by roughly 40%. It makes it possible to assemble entire bays of roof on the ground and lift or crank into place using winch boxes. Safety and speed are paramount to how I prefer to build, being able to do this much assembly on terra firma meets both of these requirements.

# North to Alaska

While Alaska is America’s last great frontier, it doesn’t mean when we go North, we throw proper structural design out of a window.

Reader CRAIG in WILLOW has more challenges going on than he has dreamed. He writes:

“Hello,

I’m building a 42Wx50D pole barn. I have 6×6 columns spaced 10’ apart on more than adequate footings. Slab on grade 5-6inches thick (poor final grading ) with 6” mesh and pens tubing. Willow has a snow load of 90:10:10. With a 4:12 pitch, truss companies up here are recommending a set of two two-ply trusses for a total of 24 trusses. 2’ overhang.
My problem is figuring out how to support the load between the trusses. They won’t give me a recommendation. I was planning on using 2×6 between top chords spaced every 2’. These would be oriented vertically and installed with joist hangers. I don’t think they’d be strong enough. The top chords on the trusses are called out at 2×6 so it’d be difficult to hang a larger member on them.

If I can’t make this plan work should I frame in between the columns and build a stick frame wall to set normal trusses on every 2 feet? What about laying some size beam across the tops of the columns and then setting trusses at 2’ centers? I’m dead in the water and want if anything to have overbuilt. Can you help? Thanks.”

Here is my response:

You have a plethora of challenges going on. This is why I always, always, always (did I mention always?) tell clients to ONLY build post frame (pole barn) buildings from engineer sealed plans produced specifically for their building at their site. It is not too late to get one involved and it will be money well spent.

Challenge #1 It is highly doubtful 6×6 columns you have placed along your building sidewall are going to be adequate to carry combined wind and snow loads. An engineer can design a repair – probably involving adding 2x lumber to one or both columns sides.

Challenge #2 Your wall girts placed on column faces “barn style” will not meet Code requirements – they will probably fail in bending and absolutely will not be adequate for deflection. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/
Again – an engineer can design a repair and there are several choices. You could remove them and turn them flat like book shelves between columns – you would need to add material for blocking at girt ends. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/09/making-framing-work-with-bookshelf-girts/ Or, more girts could be added to your wall. Or, a strongback (2×4 or 2×6) could be added to your barnstyle girts to form an “L” or a “T”. My personal preference would be a bookshelf design, as it creates an insulation cavity.

Now – on to your trusses and roof purlins.

Your snow load is actually 90 psf (pounds per square foot). 10 and 10 are dead loads – you may not need ones these large. If you are using light gauge steel roofing over purlins top chord dead load can be as low as 3.3. Steel over sheathing 5. Shingled roof 7. If using steel roofing, make sure it is capable of supporting this snow load over a two foot span. If using sheathing, 7/16″ OSB or 15/32″ CDX plywood will not span two feet with a 90 psf snow load. Second 10 is bottom chord dead load. It is adequate to support the weight of ceiling joists, two layers of 5/8″ Type X drywall and blown in insulation. For a single layer of sheetrock and minimal lighting five psf is probably adequate. No ceiling – 1 psf. Important – make sure truss people are using 1.00 for DOL (Duration of Load) for snow. With your snow load, chances are snow is going to sit upon your building’s roof for a significant time period. Again, an engineer can determine what loading is adequate for your situation.

Trusses – how about placing three of them every ten feet? They can be notched into your columns from one side so you have full bearing – when two trusses are placed each side of a column, they are not acting together to load share.

Your roof purlin dimension can be larger than truss top chords – just utilize larger purlin hangers and balance of purlin can hang below top chord of truss. An engineer can confirm adequacy of hanger nails to support imposed snow and wind loads. Given your load conditions, your engineer should be looking to use something like 2×8 #2 purlins every 12 inches or 2×10 #2 purlins every 19.2 inches. You would not want to go to 2×10 unless truss top chords are at least 2×8.

You could stick frame between columns to support trusses every two feet. Any stud walls over 10′ tall do need to be designed by a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer) as they would be outside of Building Code parameters. Your slab edges would also need to be thickened in order to support added weight. A beam could be placed from column to column to support trusses, you are probably looking at something around a 3-1/2″ x 14″ 2800f LVL.

If you are considering insulating an attic space, be sure to order raised heel trusses. They are usually no more expensive and they afford full insulation depth from wall-to-wall. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/

With all of this said – go hire yourself a competent Registered Professional Engineer today to resolve your challenges. Otherwise you are placing yourself and your building contents at peril.

# Metal Building Insulation

Building Has Metal Building Insulation

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel received an inquiry from a client whose existing post frame (pole) building has metal building insulation.

Rachel sent this to me:

“STEVE would like some advice on insulating.  He has a Cleary Building which has blanket insulation in the walls and roof and he would like to insulate over the top of this insulation and wondered if there would be issues.

Steve mentioned that as your standing in the building you see the white vinyl on the inside.  Is there vinyl on both sides?  If not, shouldn’t the vinyl by facing the steel?

Any information or assistance you can give him would be appreciated.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

I am not much of a vinyl faced metal building insulation fan to begin with (read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/metal-building-insulation-in-pole-buildings-part-i/]. Even though I have it in roofs of my two older personal post frame buildings, it isn’t a product I would use if I were to construct a new building for myself.

Problems would come from having insulation sandwiched between two vapor barriers.

I would do this personally –completing each wall individually, I would remove wall steel, remove  wall metal building insulation. Cover each wall with a Weather Resistant Barrier (like Tyvek) and reapply wall steel. Spray two inches of closed cell foam insulation upon the inside of the wall steel. If full wall thickness bookshelf girts were not used in the walls (flush or extending inside of columns), another set of girts should be added to the inside surface of columns. Your engineer of Record (engineer who sealed your building plans) should be consulted to determine proper size and spacing of girts. Once installed, fill insulation cavity completely using BIBs. Glue two inches of rigid closed cell foam insulation board, taping all seams, to the inside face of girts. Glue interior finish (typically gypsum drywall) to the inside of foam boards.

PBG NOTE ADDED: Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Carr aptly pointed out to me WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier) purpose would be defeated by spray foam application. Correct application should be one only, however only after metal building insulation removal.

For your roof, provided trusses are adequate to support applicable dead loads, I would install a truss bottom chord level ceiling. This would allow insulation to be blown into dead attic space. In order to achieve adequate insulation above the sidewalls, it may prove necessary to use closed cell spray foam insulation above the ceiling in areas closest to the sidewalls. If eaves have ventilated soffits, ensure an inch or more of free air space exists between insulation and roof deck (or metal building insulation). Appropriate ventilation must be provided in dead air area above insulation.

# Net Zero Post Frame Homes

Net Zero Post Frame Homes

Energy efficiency has become a huge focus in every type of home construction. Post frame homes can be net zero, just as well as stick frame.

Our environmental commitment allows us to design post frame homes to reduce environmental impact. High performance design and advanced engineering make it easier and more attainable to build a home producing as much energy as it needs through renewable energy, known as net-zero energy.

A net-zero home will be more than a house with solar panels. It’s a house designed to put energy conservation first: from framing to finishing. An airtight structural shell paired with additional options – such as highly insulated wall systems, high performance windows, passive solar design and more – mean any Hansen Pole Buildings’ post frame home can be designed to achieve net-zero energy.

Reader IAN from MIDDLETON writes:

“Mike-

First, I want to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. I started reading through it topically to answer some of my questions, but because I have been finding so much good information, I resolved to start at the beginning and read through chronologically to make sure I don’t miss anything. Thank you for sharing your lessons learned from decades of experience.

I’ve been exploring options for a cost effective and energy efficient single family home. Reading on your blog has convinced me of the advantages of post frame construction, but I have also been reading about ways to achieve high energy efficiency. In particular, I’m interested in ways to incorporate thorough air sealing and extra insulation (in particular for walls) into a post framed structure. I have found numerous references on the internet to the ways that post frame construction is generally moderately more energy efficient that stick framing, but I have only found a few examples that specifically address trying to achieve a very high level of energy efficiency in a post framed house. The clearest example I’ve found is the following short video that profiles the construction of a net zero single family home in upstate New York: https://youtu.be/PKXNwdvUNj4

My questions for you:

Have you designed a post framed home with high energy efficiency in mind? What kinds of strategies did you use to achieve high energy efficiency?

Have you ever designed a super-insulated post framed home, and if so, how did you incorporate the additional insulation? Some approaches used in stick framing are double stud exterior walls, or supplemental rigid foam insulation between the sheathing and siding (likely not ideal for a steel clad post framed building). Have you seen these or other super-insulation strategies used on post framed buildings?

Finally, have you ever had a post framed home blower door tested for airtightness, if so, how did it perform? Do you have any recommendations for air sealing strategies specific to post frame construction?

Thank you for considering my questions; keep up the good work!”

Thank you for your kind words. Sadly, most post frame home clients are just not savvy enough to be willing to make an extra upfront investment to super insulate their buildings.  I have designed several post frame residential buildings for my own use, so I have learned from mistakes. Also, technologies have improved greatly in recent years, making energy efficient designs more practical.

For walls, my current best recommendation would be to use two inches of closed cell spray foam against siding insides. Walls would be framed with bookshelf style girts to create a deep insulation cavity. BIBs insulation would be used to entirely fill the wall cavity. Inside of the  girts, covering columns as well, two inches of rigid closed cell foam board would be applied with glue, and all seams sealed. Gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) would be then glued to the foam board. Using rigid foam board inside eliminates any thermal bridging as well as creating a vapor barrier.

With 2×8 bookshelf girts, a wall system of over R-50 could be obtained using description above.

I am not yet sold about creating a warm attic – so I’d use 22 inch raised heel trusses and blow in 20 inches of fiberglass to go R-60 and beyond.

I haven’t seen any post frame air tightness tests, however even 25 years ago (when I was building post frame buildings) we had instances where our post frame homes and commercial buildings were so tight, a window had to be opened in order to close exterior entry doors!

Good Luck! And let me know how it all turns out. I’d love to see pictures of your progress!

# Wall Girts Are Not Sexy

Wall Girts Are Not Sexy

Thought I had forgotten about Features and Benefits? Guess again!

My 1990’s salesman Jerry was proud of his ability to rattle off a litany of features, without explaining to clients benefits of any of them. This one feature I can imagine meant little or nothing to clients, as wall girts are not sexy!

FEATURE: Bookshelf style 2×6 #2 and better, kiln dried wall girts

BENEFIT: Set flat like shelves, girts oriented this direction are strong enough to withstand wind loads, stiff enough to meet Code deflection requirements and keep finishes such as gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) from cracking. Spaced 24 inches on center, they create a deep wall cavity for insulation.

EXTENDED READING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT:

On deflection limitations: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/

WHAT OTHERS DO: Most often, “barn” style girts placed flat on outside of wall columns.

Concept of girts being nailed to column exteriors is they (in theory) do not have to be trimmed therefore saving labor (as well as any need to measure). Being ignored in this is lumber typically comes approximately 5/8 inch over specified lengths, making trimming needed anyhow. Most common column spacings are multiples of exactly two feet – eight, 10, 12, etc., and those 5/8 inches add up across a very long or wide post frame building.

Usually girts as specified upon plans (or plans themselves) have never been checked by an engineer and they sail right through most plan checks, in part because they are done “how we’ve always been doing them”.

In some cases every other girt will have another member attached to form a “T” or an “L” – however intermediate member (one between T or L girts) still fails to meet Code deflection limitations and often proves insufficient to resist wind loads.

Generally, little or no consideration has been given to additional forces upon girts when buildings are partial enclosed or three sided: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/three-sided-building/

WHAT WE DID IN 1980: Remember, Lucas Plywood & Lumber was in a region where low grade green lumber was king! We used green 2×6 #3, barn style, spaced upon two foot centers. Ignorance was bliss and we were happy, as this solution was cheap, however not structurally adequate.

If you are not well versed regarding issues surrounding green lumber, you will want to read this information: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/499green-lumber-vs-dry-lumber/

# Supporting Drywall in Post Frame Construction

Loyal reader SCOTT writes:
“Good Morning,
First, thank you for the amount of information you post through the Pole Barn Guru section.  There have been a wide variety of questions, and thoughtful responses posted.
One of the points my father had was, why do a post frame if you have to go back and stud to support drywall?
I am still curious about the proper finishing of the interior or perimeter walls, but I can see you spoke much to deflection and making sure the building was engineered to withstand natural forces.
All this said, I am close to Fort Wayne, IN, and was curious if you offer and service this far away, or if you have knowledge of a reputable company that has tacked post frame residences.
The design we have in mind is quite simple, as we are really only looking at post frame due to the simple fact we could have half (or more) of our house completely open.
We like the idea of having our kitchen, dining, entryway, and living room all part of one open space.
Thanks for the great info on the site, and good luck in your future projects!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
Thank you very much for your kind words, they are appreciated. If we are able to inform and entertain you then our mission has been successful.

Even if one decided to stud frame to support drywall (there is a one-step framing method for exterior walls: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/08/bookshelf-girts-insulation/) there is a huge savings to be had from post frame construction (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/).

For interior walls – they can be studwall framed and since they are not supporting a roof load, they can be placed wherever you desire (or large portions can be left open). In our own post frame home, 3/4 of our floor plan is wide open without interior walls. Our home happens to be entirely on a second floor, and given the challenges of accessibility I normally encourage clients to keep their home designs on a single level and for comfort and ease of living construct them over a crawl space.

We provide post frame homes in every state in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii – so Indiana almost feels local!

One of our Building Designers will be in contact with you to further discuss your needs.

# It Is Exactly the Same Building: Part II

Well, maybe not exactly the same building.

Yesterday I ran a beginning list of comparison’s between a Hansen Building quote and a quote by one of our competitors espoused to be “exactly the same” by a client of ours.

The saga continues:

Powder coated diaphragm screws vs. #10 diameter painted screws . Those who are familiar with the properties of paint and powder coating know the first is far superior. Some more information on powder coated screws is available here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/lobular-powder-coated-screws/. There are structural challenges which occur when using industry standard small diameter screws, which we found out about only when we went to test a building roof: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/this-is-a-test-steel-strength/.

Recessed purlins vs. stacked purlins. Stacked purlins go over the top of the interior roof trusses, which effectively lowers the truss by the thickness of the roof purlin, hence reducing interior clear height – you get less volume of usable space! Stacked purlins also attach to the trusses via “paddle” blocks, which are highly problematic: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/paddle-blocks/.

Bookshelf girts vs. flat girts. Wall girts placed flat on the outside of columns rarely meet with the deflection criteria of the Building Code as can be found here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/.

Inside closures at eave vs. no eave closures. Inside closures keep the flying critters out of your new post frame building. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/the-lowly-inside-closure/.

True doubled trusses vs. Single trusses each side of columns. When two trusses are spaced apart by blocking, they no longer act as an integrated pair, each truss functions on its own. In the event of a critical roof load, if the weakest link is a flaw in one of the trusses, the entire roof could easily land on the ground. With true double trusses, they load share – and since the probability of two trusses having the exact same weak point is extraordinarily small, an overloaded roof is more likely to stay standing after the single truss roof has gone boom.

Engineered steel hangers to attach purlins and truss bracing vs. Nailed connection. There is a reason Building Officials like engineered steel connectors – they are a stronger connection! https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/08/simpson/

Ledgerlocks to attach trusses to columns (eliminates drilling huge through bolt holes) vs. Bolts. We are into providing buildings which are structurally sound as well as easily constructed by the average person who can and will read English. This truss to column connection is both!

Engineer sealed plans and calculations vs. not sealed plans. My long term readers have read my harping on engineered plans. Here is why: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/10/engineer-stamped-pole-barn-plans/

500+ page Construction Guide. Let’s face it, it does not matter how good the design or materials are, if there are not explicit instructions on how to get everything together right. I’ve seen plenty of post frame building kit packages instructions in my nearly four decades in the industry. Absolutely nothing compares to what we provide.

Getting a better “deal” on a post frame building than what was quoted by Hansen Pole Buildings? And of course it is “exactly the same building” – let us review any competing quotes you are considering. The service is absolutely free of charge and if it is indeed an equal to or better building, and a better price, we will be the first ones to tell you so!

# The Straight and Narrow of Fascia: Hansen Building Disaster Part III

The Straight and Narrow of Fascia:  Building Disaster Part III

Look at the board on the far right. The one which resembles the coastline of New Jersey. It is what is known as a fascia board and it is pretty important it be straight.

Why?

Because not only do vinyl soffit panels attach to the underside of it, but steel trim covers the face of it. Steel trims are very happy to be installed on straight boards.

But other worries are looming in this photo.

The roof trusses were manufactured in a plant which seemingly has some challenges with plumb cutting (which was specified on our order) Read about plumb cutting here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/09/trusses-9/. None-the-less the builder might have stumbled upon reading in the plans or the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual and seen the necessity to have cut the tails plumb. He instead has opted to just nail the fascia board onto the ends of the square cut tails.

This creates more problems – such as the inability to install the soffit panels. Which, since he left the framing off the sidewall to support the soffit panels, might have been why he quit where he did.

Notice, if you will, how the outside face of the bookshelf wall girts and the wall columns are in the same plane.

They are not supposed to be. The wall girts should extend outside of the columns by 1-1/2 inches. This allows for the outside of them to be flush with things such as the skirt boards, which the builder has installed on the face of the columns! I suppose the thought was the wall steel would just curve to make up the difference?

Tomorrow, the client proposes some solutions to some of the issues and I will give my take on why those solutions may, or may not work.

# Insulating a Barndominium

Residential post frame buildings are becoming more and more prevalent as consumers are beginning to realize they can save thousands of dollars in foundation costs and actually build their own beautiful and well insulated barndominium homes.

Steve from Northglenn posed this question:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Now that the “Barndominium” style home is more popular than ever, have standards and practices been developed for creating a well insulated/air sealed pole structure?

Particularly, how would you recommend designing well insulated/air sealed pole barn home with cathedral ceiling/exposed joists in climate zone 5b?
I would like at least r49 in the ceiling and r28 in the walls, but the more the better. I would like to avoid spray foam due to the costs, and the steel replacement factor; replacing damaged exterior steel which has been sprayed with foam insulation sounds like a nightmare.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru:

My thought is bookshelf girts with BIBS(blow in blanket insulation), plus 1.5″ of XPS sheathing (fully sealed/taped) outside of the posts, then either attach the steel to the girts through the XPS, or place 2x4s on the XPS and attach the steel to that to maintain an air gap.

The ceiling I am less sure of. How is the ceiling finished if exposed trusses are desired? Is drywall screwed directly to the underside of the girts? If so, what supports the edges of the drywall on the 2′ span between girts? What is the largest girt size that is reasonable? In order to get a r49+, the roof would need 2×12 girts with BIBS plus 1″ of XPS, then steel, or 2×10 girts with BIBS then 2.5″ of XPS.

Have you ever used roof SIPS to get higher R-values? If so, how are they attached to the girts?

What is the best way you recommend to accomplish this?

Thanks! Steve

Dear Steve: Might as well start at the end and work forward.
SIPS – (Structural Insulated Panel System) No, I have never used them. They would provide high R values, however they appear to be extremely expensive. As far as I can surmise, the savings in energy costs will never offset the added cost of the SIPS. I had done some preliminary research on the use of SIPS for post frame. However the people “in the know” never shared the information I needed to be able to write further about them:

SIPS

I would think to use SIPS would require the use of very long screws to attach them to the underlying roof system adequately enough to maintain structural integrity of the building.
For the roof, you are not going to want to place XPS (Extruded Polystyrene rigid foam board such as Owens Corning FOAMULAR®) between the roof purlins and the roof steel, as this will compromise the shear values of the roof steel.
Without going to the expense of deep I joists or prefabricated parallel chord trusses for roof purlins, the largest readily available dimensional lumber would be 2×12, which even with BIBs is only going to net you about R-45. Plus the upper foot of the roof trusses would then be “buried” by the thickness of the purlins.
If your goal is to have an exposed truss, you might want to look at doing parallel chord scissor trusses to create an attic space in which you could blow in even R-60 insulation, then use a non-structural truss below to create the look you are after. Our friends at Timber Technologies are just one possible source of this type of truss:

(https://www.timber-technologies.com/titan_trusses.phtml)
On the walls, you have the same potential challenge with attempting to place XPS between the girts and the siding, as on the roof. The best results are going to be obtained when as much of a thermal break as possible can be created. Bookshelf girts can provide for a deep insulation cavity, then the XPS panels can be placed on the inside of the girts, and GYB (Gypsum Wall Board) can be installed on the inside of the XPS panels. You will want to have a quality Weather Resistant Barrier between the wall framing and the steel siding. Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/
The XPS panels will serve as a vapor barrier on the inside of the walls, so you will not want to have another vapor barrier (such as Visqueen) on the inside of the wall insulation.
Looking for a super insulated new home? Post frame construction is most likely the answer!

# Book Shelving? Ceiling Insulation

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have to set laminated pole so you see the 1.5 side of the 2×6’s while looking in or out of the building? I was thinking of using 4ply 2×6 post 10′ out of the ground every 8′ while book shelving with 2×6’s in between posts. I thought it would be a lot faster to notch both sides of the post for the 2×10’s to sit in, just cutting out one 2×6 off of each side leaving 2 in the middle seems a lot faster than notching all 3 plays on a standard laminated post. My building won’t be very high and I heard book shelving greatly improves racking from side to side. Was planning on the book shelf being 2’OC didn’t know if going 16″OC would improve this design or if it is just unheard of turning the post sideways. I do understand that this makes the post 5.5″x6″ but the extra .5″ is of no concern since it is for a garage and I will just be sheeting it with 7/16″ OSB anyway.

Thanks in advance Mike CHRIS in DUNCANSVILLE

DEAR CHRIS: If by laminated you mean a true glulaminated column – then you can set it any direction as it has become a true one piece unit. If you are talking nailed up columns, or ones which use nails and construction adhesive (or through wires), those must be set with the 1-1/2″ sides of the 2x6s towards the wind. A 4ply 2×6 glulam will measure 5-1/2 inches by 5-3/8 inches, so there is no extra 1/2 inch to worry about.

Now I will totally upset your apple cart – how about doing away with the truss carriers entirely? And place the columns every 10 or 12 feet, instead of every eight? You can use a double truss system, with purlins on edge between the trusses and eliminate about 50% of the pieces you would otherwise need to handle and install – with the added benefit of not having to drill so many holes!! You can view sample plans for post frame buildings constructed in this fashion here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/.

Book shelf girts are going to be far stronger against wind loads, I’ve used them on all of my current buildings and wouldn’t do them any other way. Two foot centers will adequately support far greater loads than will ever be imposed on most buildings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can a cloth type material like is used with BIBS or house wrap be used as a “ceiling” to hold up the insulation above it, or would there be excessive sagging or other problems? Not so concerned with aesthetics given my needs. Thanks. DAVID in MARYVILLE

DEAR DAVID ~ Depending upon how far you are spanning between trusses or ceiling joists there may be a fair amount of sag – however it should work as long as you can adequately attach the material. I’ve seen people use chicken wire stapled to the underside of double trusses which were spaced every 12 feet to support unfaced insulation batts.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How can I become a certified contractor/builder of Hansen Pole Buildings? BRANDON in BALTIMORE

DEAR BRANDON: Here is the link to the application on the Hansen Pole Buildings website, please fill it out completely in order to be considered: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/hansen-buildings-contractor-program/.

# Pole Building Wall Girts

Movin’ On Up!

Well Leroy will never be confused with Sherman Hemsley of the iconic TV series “The Jeffersons” but his crew was certainly movin’ on up!

Leroy mentioned the man he works for provides neither plans nor a materials list for his crew to build from. They just make the building “work” from the materials which are dropped off. Somehow, this seems less than scientific, especially as they cut all of the notches in the columns for the single trusses spaced every eight feet, then had to go back and cut them all again! It seems they had forgotten to compensate for the purlins, which would run over the tops of the trusses. The crew easily burned several hours in this adventure!

It was of interest to hear Leroy espousing how much money was being saved by his employer using rough cut 5×6 (yes, 5×6 for those in most of the rest of the country) for posts instead of surfaced 6x6s.

At 4-3/4” x 5-3/4” the Section Modulus of the rough 5×6 is 26.17, as compared to the slightly greater 6×6 at 27.73 (within 6% anyhow). As long as the site of this building was Exposure B or C for wind, either size would work – Exposure D, either is a failure (assuming we are talking about Southern Pine lumber, not some lesser species).

For more fun with posts: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/

What I found particularly interesting was the attempts to cut truss notches in the posts, while they will settle further into the ground due to the lack of an adequate footing underneath. If you didn’t read the past two days’ blogs, go back and find out how much concrete was put in the posts, and why it’s nowhere near adequate to keep this building from settling (or heaving due to frost).

I’ve always built by doing the roof first, it made things easier to square up. Leroy’s boys were putting up wall girts as quickly as they could, however. I was impressed by the use of 2×4 1650 msr lumber for the wall framing. This was the first good idea I found my neighbor’s pole building experience.

Learn about msr lumber here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/12/machine-graded-lumber/

On this building, the girts were unusually spaced – 31 inches from the top of the pressure treated skirt board, to the bottom of the first girt, then 25-1/4 inches on center above. This means the bottom girt has to carry a tributary load of 29 inches.

With an Exposure B wind condition, they will carry the bending loads (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/), however with spans of greater than 24 inches on center, which they all are, results in excess deflection beyond the limitations of the building codes. Adding two more rows of wall girts would have at least been something to even things out.

Now the clincher –only the 40 foot sidewalls were framed prior to all of the windows and the entry door being installed. No apparent attempt was made to insure the corners were plumb, and no apparent connection to the other walls was constructed. The entry door was installed without adding a post on one side for stability! It just sort of “hung there” on the one post.

On the windows, if the wall has to be racked very far to have a plumb corner, undue stresses will be placed upon the frames, resulting in windows which bind when being opened, or possibly cracking from the stresses induced! I’d not want anyone standing below this building if they do decide to square it up.

Come back next week and we’ll see if this saga comes to a close!

# I Love Pole Building Photos

My wife, not so much – because she says I manage to pick out things which are wrong in nearly every one of them. Weirdly enough, when I do find errors, it is nearly always on buildings which have been constructed by “professional” barn builders. More often than not, when our clients do the work themselves – the pole building photos prove they followed the directions!

Weird?

Hardly.

I have made this statement repeatedly for years – the average building owner who can and will read instructions will construct a better finished building for himself, than most contractors will erect for them.

Read more about doing it yourself here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/01/build-it-yourself/

We don’t make a fortune on the buildings our clients invest in. The little we do get paid for, is because we have spent decades going over minute details to make construction as easy as possible for the average Joe (or Jane) to arrive at a successful result.

One of those “maybe simple” things is the overall footprint of our buildings. In the photo is a partially framed 30 foot wide by 48 foot long building. When we measure those dimensions, it is from outside of column, to outside of column. All of the wall framing is to extend out 1-1/2” past the posts. Done correctly, the finished framework of this building will be 30’3” by 48’3”.

Why might this make things easier?

Steel panels have a net coverage of three feet (36 inches). They also have an overlap. This means 10 sheets of steel will cover approximately 30’2”. The Hansen Pole Buildings Construction Manual has the first panel of wall steel starting ¾” outside of the pole, so at the far end of the wall, the last panel of steel does not have to be ripped to fit. So much easier to avoid the extra cutting!

Now, take a gander at the pole building photo. Look close – notice the wall girt framing does not extend out past the poles. Bookshelf girts, as described and shown in the Construction Manual and on a specific “blown up” detail on the plans, should project 1-1/2″ outside the building line. This client’s builder took it upon himself to disregard the building plans and instructions. He created a lot more work for himself, by cutting all of the 2×8 pressure treated skirt boards (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/08/composite-grade-board/) and headers to fit between the columns, instead of applied (more easily) to the outside face of them. He also ended up having to rip steel panels which would not have been otherwise cut lengthwise.

The Hansen Pole Building kit is the product of easily 100,000 pole buildings of experience. The great majority of folks follow the instructions and avoid extra work and pitfalls…..the few others, not so much!

# Them Girts, They Be a Bending

In order to follow the deflection criteria of the International Building Codes, other than for fairly small wall column spacings with low wind speeds, pole building wall girts need to be installed in a “bookshelf” fashion.

What even is “deflection criteria”?

Dictionary.com defines deflection as, “the deviation of the indicator of an instrument from the position taken as zero.”

In layperson’s terms, when you push on something with a known force, how far does it bend (or deflect)?

Prior to the adoption of the International Building Codes, wall members which did not support a brittle finish material (e.g. drywall), were not limited in how far they could deflect.

Not so with the new code.

For those of you who care to look it up and read along, Table 1604.3 lists deflection limits. For walls with brittle finishes, the limitation is L/240 (where “L” is the span or length of the supporting member). For flexible finishes, the limit is L/120. Footnote A includes, “For secondary wall members supporting formed metal siding, the design wind load deflection shall not exceed L/90.”

The smaller the value L is divided by, the larger the allowable deflection is.

Ignoring the width of nominal six inch building columns the allowable deflection of wall girts for an 8’ bay (with steel siding) would be 1”; a 10’ bay 1.27”; 12’ bay 1.54”.

Using the least possible loads allowed by code – which would be 85 mile per hour winds, B wind exposure and a building Occupancy class of I (I = a building which represents a low hazard to human life in the event of failure) combined with the stiffest possible commonly used lumber (Douglas Fir or Southern Yellow Pine #2) and spaced 24 inches on center, some problems occur.

Using 2×6 lumber on 10’ bays the actual deflection is 1.507” and on 12’ bays 3.226”. On 8’ bays IF 2×4 #2 is actually used (it is rarely available in lumber yards), then it would deflect 0.924” and be OK. Another issue with the 2×4 girts on 8’ bays, is this style of construction is most prevalent in areas where the minimum wind speed is 90 mph.

Keeping all variables the same, except increasing the wind speed to 90 mph, increases the deflection of a 2×4 #2 to over an inch on an eight foot bay!

Shopping for your new ideal dream pole building? If so, ask specifically how the wall girts are placed. Anything other than “bookshelf” style pretty much guarantees the building being proposed, is not code conforming!