Tag Archives: bookshelf girts

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.

treated postDEAR 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.


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:


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:


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

Interior StairwellBENEFIT: 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.


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

For insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/09/making-framing-work-with-bookshelf-girts/

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

pole spacingConcept 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.


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:


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.
SIP PanelWithout 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:

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/

Pole Barn Wall GirtsOn 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!



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.

pole building frameOne 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!