Tag Archives: builder

Do You Own the Land Your Barndominium Will Be Built On?

Do You Own the Land Your Barndominium Will Be Built On?

Barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes are not only a current rage, they may be America’s future home of choice. Pinterest has literally hundreds of photos of barndominiums. DIY network’s “Texas Flip-n-Move” feature a rusty old barn made into a beautiful home in Episode 6 of Season 5. Chip and Joanna Gaines took on a barndominium makeover in Season 3 Episode 6 of “Fixer Upper”. Tens of thousands of Facebookers join barndominium discussion groups of one sort or another.

However not everyone wants to take on the joys and challenges of trying to convert an old barn into a beautiful and functional new home.

Most potential barndominium owners are trying to escape urban or suburban living. They want to sneeze without hearing their neighbors say, “Bless you”. Oftentimes they have looked to buy an existing home, but could never find one exactly fitting their needs.

Here is where a blank canvas of vacant property has its allure. Within constraints of available space, budget and imagination anything becomes possible.
I accept my asking, “Do you own the land your barndominium will be built on?” in Facebook groups puts me in a position of being a brunt taker for jokes. There is, however, a method to my madness.

To begin with, I do not care if you own property free and clear (and let’s face it, your local property taxing authority owns it as well). It doesn’t matter if ‘your dirt’ is owned by a relative, a friend or a close enemy – just as long as you know where your new home is going to be.
For most this ‘barndominium build” is going to become their forever home (or at least theirs for a very long time).

Seemingly millions of canned house plans are available (for a small to large fee) across a plethora of internet websites. 99.9% of these plans have a similar problem – they were designed for a flat lot in suburbia! Yep, they look stunning on a website. Considering spending your hard earned money on one thinking you will save money by using cheap house plans? This would be an equivalent to everyone buying 34 inch waist 36 inch inseam Levi’s. They fit me just fine, but what if you are not 6’5”? Or maybe you do not even like Levi’s?

Your home should be planned to fit into its environment. Does it make sense to try to change (or ignore) your environment to fit your bargain house plans?
In order to craft ideal plans for your new barndominium, shouse or post frame home, your building site should be carefully considered.

If you are considering hiring a general contractor to turnkey your build, or merely an erector to put up your home’s shell, only once you ‘own the dirt’ and even better have a building plan developed to match your building site should you embark on a ‘builder hunt’. Builders are in short supply and their time is valuable. It is an unfair expectation to take advantage of them before they can reasonably ascertain you actually might have a need for their services.

Know where your barndominium is going to be built? Please reach out to me and I can give you some free advice on getting those ideal plans.

For extended reading on turnkey general contractors for barndominiums please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/does-my-barndominium-need-a-turn-key-general-contractor/

Commercial Post Frame Building Blunder

Commercial Post Frame Building Blunder

My Facebook friend Dan recently commented upon this article https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/there-is-a-right-way-and-this-way/ wanting to know if I could show some other building blunders.

Yes Dan, I can.

As Technical Director for Hansen Pole Buildings since 2002, I have gotten to assist a few DIYers and post frame builders with their building questions. DIYers are generally fabulous, and their stories usually begin with something similar to this:

“I have made a mistake worse than anything you possibly ever seen, can you help me?”

To them my response is most usually, “As a post frame building contractor, I ran as many as 35 crews in six states. If something could be done wrong, they probably did it, so how can I assist you?”

Most builders usually take a different tack, “Your plans are stupid and your engineer is an idiot!”

And from me, “Now we have this settled, describe your challenge and we can work towards a solution.”

Please keep in mind, our third-party engineer sealed blueprints are similar whether for a builder or someone doing DIY. We are not picking specifically upon builders by giving them less to work from.

In this particular instance, an allegedly professional builder has found a way to go above and beyond any bad I have ever previously experienced.

Far beyond.

This article’s photo shows a 60 foot span prefabricated roof truss, somehow hanging in air two feet past a building endwall. Builder contacted us because he was “short” on trim. From this picture, I am guessing trim is not all he is short on.

This truss was supposed to be notched into the corner and endwall columns by 1-1/2 inches, so it has full bearing at each point. Horizontal 2×4 framing (shown as being cut to fit between end truss webs) was to have been placed upon the end truss face to attach steel siding. Roof purlins, on edge, were to go across top of this truss to support a two foot overhang. Engineered Simpson brackets were provided to attach purlins to truss and solid blocking was to be placed between overhanging purlins above the truss.

I am totally baffled as to what is supporting this truss, or how the builder believed this was going to be correct. Certainly he did not look at building plans or open our Construction Manual. This is one of several  pretty much unbelievable FUBARs on this building – and it resulted in my making a recommendation to dig a deep trench at one end of the building and bulldoze everything into it!

Performance Bonds

Performance Bonds for Post Frame Buildings and Barndominiums

Don’t get me wrong, most post frame and barndominium building contractors are honest folks who just love to make their clients happy. I, for one, get tired of reading horror stories of folks who have been ripped off by those who are not so scrupulous. And every rip-off builder makes it harder for honest contractors to be trusted.

Here is a solution for all – performance bonding.

These bonds provide a guarantee a construction project will be satisfactory completed, and a contractor will live up to all bond specified terms, to project owner’s satisfaction. Company selling bonds to a contractor is known as a surety company, and as collateral for backing a bond financially, a surety company will often require some form of property or equipment.

Surety companies can be either financial institutions such as banks, or they can be insurance companies making bonds available to contractors who apply for them.

How Do Performance Bonds Work? 

Both government and private sector companies require performance bonds as protection against noncompliance, or failure to complete a project by a contractor. When a contracting company fails to live up to its obligations on a project, and for whatever reason, cannot complete specified body of work, the bonding company may be obliged to pay for project completion, or secure the services of an alternative contracting company for project completion.

Bonds include terms contractor must live up to, and constitute project owner’s evaluation of what constitutes a complete project. If a contractor fails to meet any of these terms, construction job owner would then have the option of making a claim against bond, to recover any incurred losses.

If it turns out contractor would be bankrupted by having to pay the amount of any claim against him/her surety company is left as sole responsible party for making up any losses to project owner. Because there is so much at stake in this type of bond, terms and language used must be very specific, because as often as not, a case like this can go to court, where performance surety bond terms are subject to legal interpretation.

When a Bond Obligation is not Met 

When terms are not entirely fulfilled by a contractor, project owner is within his/her right to make a claim against the bond to recover any resultant losses. Initially, surety (company) is responsible for paying this amount to the project’s owner, assuming this claim can be validated, either privately or through legal means.

In many cases, however, bonding company would then have the option to pursue contractor to recover this same amount of money, since contractor’s failure to comply caused a claim to be made. It will depend on whether or not language is included in a bond, a bonding company has this option to pursue defaulting contractor.

When this language is written into performance surety bond, and surety bonding company requires a contractor to repay amount of a claim, a contractor is legally obliged to do so. If paying a claim would push contractor into a state of bankruptcy, bond issuing company would then have no recourse for being compensated for its losses, and would then have to absorb any financial setback. For this reason, surety companies make a point of thoroughly screening applications from contractors who are interested in purchasing this kind of bond.

PERFORMANCE BOND COST:

Almost every contractor who successfully bids on a construction project should have a surety bond in hand, simply because a project owner will require this kind of assurance job will be completed. As a general rule of thumb, a contractor can anticipate a surety company will impose a charge of roughly 1% of the total contract value as a cost of a bond itself.

Contractors who appear to be relatively unstable financially will, of course, be charged a higher amount for a bond than would a financially stable contractor with a good credit history. 

How to get a Performance type Bond 

Obtaining a performance bond is a relatively easy process, assuming the contractor does not have a bad credit history, or is considered financially unstable so a bond issuing company would be reluctant to take a chance. For credit-worthy applicants, this process is fairly simple, beginning with selection of a reputable bond company.

After having selected a surety company, a contractor can go online and apply on provider’s website. This application will be reviewed, and more than likely, a comprehensive check into the contractor’s credit history and financial condition will be undertaken by bond issuing company, to protect themselves against loss.

Assuming this application is approved, an indemnity document will be sent to the contractor, to sign before a notary, and then return indemnity agreement with application fee. Upon receipt of contractor’s indemnity agreement plus a fee, bonding company will then issue the bond and conditions will be in effect from then forward.

Why it is Essential to Supervise Professional Installers

Why It Is Essential to Supervise Professional Installers

In an ideal dream world, one would be able to hire a professional installer and know the job would be done right, without the need for hands on supervision.

RYAN in ELLENSBURG recently contracted out the roof steel installation of his new Hansen Pole Building kit package and this was his report:

“My roofer finally showed up yesterday and I wasn’t able to supervise the installation, so several mistakes were made but the one I’m most uncertain of is that the ridge cap was installed with diaphragm screws instead of stitch screws. He also left off all of the closures so the ridge cap has to come off anyway. My question is whether or not it can be reinstalled with stitch screws because of the difference in screw profile.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

It is a shame to have invested in a professional for installation and not be able to leave them alone and expect the job to be done correctly. The diameter of the diaphragm screws is larger than a #12 stitch screw (which was provided to attach the ridge cap). In the event the roofer placed the diaphragm screws so as they were driven into the solid wood of the ridge purlins, then you could do the same once again. Otherwise you are probably going to need to invest in some #14 diameter stitch screws.

Well, it turns out it was worse than originally imagined, as Ryan wrote back:

“Yes, I agree. That’s just the beginning of the list of issues with the installation. On top of that none of the insulation seams were taped together, screws that missed the purlins were just left in place with no wood block placed behind them so they will leak at some point, the insulation was placed over the peak of the roof so the ridge cap that is supposed to be vented can’t flow any air, and none of the closures (vented closures and eave closures) were installed. It’s really disappointing because he did the roof on my house 3 years ago and I thought he’d done a good job on that, now it makes me wonder what corners were cut on that job, too.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru:

There are ways to avoid being sadly disappointed by a contractor:

(1) Do it yourself. Hansen Pole Buildings are designed with the Do-It-Yourselfer in mind. The step-by-step construction manual covers every aspect of assembly. If you can and will read the instructions, chances are you will have a better finished product than what any builder will construct for you.

(2) Still want to hire a “professional”? Require a performance bond. (read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/).

(3) If you hire a contractor, familiarize yourself with the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual and be onsite during construction to make certain the contractor does the work correctly.

 

The Contractor Factor! When Plans Go Awry!

The Contractor Factor

I hear too many stories where well-intentioned folks hire a contractor to erect a pole barn (post frame building) and end up with less than they bargained for.

This is avoidable, with an ounce of prevention.

Reader DONNA in REMSEN writes:


“I had a pole barn put up in Sept this year, contract said contractor would fill area with gravel to raise the grade as it was being built on a slope. So instead the builder just dumped 4 loads of sand on top of the grass, pushed it around with a bobcat till fairly level, and built the pole barn on top. I live in an area that calls for pole to be 4 feet in virgin soil, the builder put some down 2 feet, in the sand and some 3 feet, in the sand. Now the whole thing has huge pits around the poles and the doors won’t shut any longer, it’s been a month!! Builder says it is normal. I am afraid of what else it will do with the posts not down too deep, any suggestions.”


Hopefully you have not paid the builder. It sounds like you have a plethora of potential challenges going on. This is the order in which I would address them:

First – contact the Building Inspector who signed off on the building inspections. He or she should be asked to prepare a list of corrections which must be completed in order to obtain an occupancy permit.

Second – have the Engineer of Record who sealed the original building plans do a field inspection of the building and prepare a list of deficiencies which need to be corrected.

Third – take the two lists from above and the contract between you and your contractor to an attorney who specializes in construction law. The attorney can then prepare the appropriate documents to be sent to the contractor giving the builder a set time frame (which may be spelled out in the contract documents) in which to correct the deficiencies.

There is a strong possibility the contractor will ignore your attorney, hopefully the contractor has sufficient assets for you to attach in the event you are the prevailing party in legal action. This is one of the reasons I strongly encourage anyone who is hiring a building contractor to require the posting of a performance bond as a guarantee the work to be performed is actually completed in accordance with the contract documents.

More about contractor bonding can be read here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/.

 

Sharing the Pole Barn Blame

Sharing the Blame

Welcome to 2017!

As you may recall, 2016 ended with me sharing an email from a builder who is constructing a new Hansen Pole Building and may possibly be a legend in his own mind.

Our company policy, when a challenge arrives, has always been to begin by looking to see what, if anything did we do wrong. In this particular case, we (and yours truly) share in some of the blame.

For you, gentle reader, I will paint a picture of the building in question, so you may get a better feel for the entire process.

The building is a 40 foot clearspan in width, 100 feet long with an eave height of 16 feet and five inches. It is designed under the 8th edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code, with a 90 mph (mile per hour) design wind speed and a 50 psf (pounds per square foot) design flat roof snow load.

It features 12 inch enclosed overhangs on all four sides, as well as three 14 foot wide by 14 foot tall overhead doors on one sidewall.

The most practical design solution actually (which is a rare case) turned out to be based upon the traditional “East coast” style of post frame construction, with a single truss spaced every four feet on top of “truss carriers” (beams) spanning sidewall columns generally every eight feet (other than at the overhead door locations).

This building happens to be narrow in width in relationship to length (1 to 2.5 ratio) and is fairly tall. As such, the wind load was great enough to exceed the shear resisting capacity of the steel roofing in the eight feet closest to each endwall.

In order to carry the load, the building was designed so the trusses in the affected areas would have a traditional ¼ inch butt cut (educate yourself on what a butt cut is here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/05/truss-butt-cuts/), while the balance of the trusses would have 11/16 inch butt cuts. This would allow for the top of all truss carriers to be placed at the same height, and 7/16” OSB (Oriented Strand Board – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/10/osb-versus-plywood/) to be installed on top of the lower heel height trusses.

Pretty darn skippy sounding ……. Until we get to tomorrow!!

Yep – yet another cliff hanger!!

Secret to A Successful Relationship

Whether a building contractor, pole building kit supplier or someone considering investing in a pole building, this is going to be important to you. Important enough so if you are a competitor you should consider adding it to your agreements with your future clients to ensure a successful relationship.

“GENERAL: This Agreement constitutes the only agreement between Hansen Pole Buildings, LLC (herein known as Seller) and Purchaser and supersedes all previous Agreements, conditions, contracts, designs, discussions, negotiations, quotations, plans, promises, representations, and/or terms on this sale either written or verbal. It is understood there are no oral or other agreements between Seller and Purchaser with regard to the subject of this Agreement which are not incorporated herein. The extent of Seller’s obligation is covered in this Agreement and this Agreement only. This clause is not a mere recitation of fact, but is intended to be an absolute and binding acknowledgment of legal consequences. ”

If you are unsure of why this is important, let me explain.

Find A Professional Contractor

There are three keys to any successful relationship – whether personal or business. They are communication, communication and communication. Unless both parties are able to clearly express their wants and needs, the relationship is going to be headed for struggles at best, or failure at worst.

Most people, when shopping for a new pole building, will discuss their wants and needs with multiple different potential providers. Each supplier will relate differently with you and most will provide a plethora of features which they will attempt to influence you to pick them as “the one”. Trying to sell on features alone makes the end result a commodity. Commodities are great and wonderful if shopping for the best price on an exactly identical item (e.g. getting the best deal on a new car), however it is the benefits which make the difference. It does not matter if the price is wonderful, if the end result does not meet the needs.

Confusion can occur when the discussions between providers begins to blur – who said what to whom?

This is why the ONLY things which apply are those which are actually stated on the actual contract document(s). At a bare minimum what should be included is: all building dimensions (width, length and eave height) and roof slope; all design loads and Code information (Code and Code version, Ground and Flat roof snow loads, Wind Speed and Exposure, Seismic Category and Soil bearing capacity); as well as all included features.

As a consumer, don’t sign or approve any document without fully understanding what it is you are investing in. It will save a world of disappointment and hurt feelings later!

Fire Your Building Contractor

One of our clients has been speaking with Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick about a new post frame building.

Building Designer Rick CarrRick related to me this from the client:

“Talked to a client Saturday that is going to walk away from the $1,900.00 he put down to get plans from this guy, for a lot of reasons.”

I just cringe every time I hear of someone getting nothing for something in our industry. It makes it so much more difficult for the majority of those who do really care about the clients.

I asked Rick, “For what reasons?”

“Oh, I heard them. Takes a week to get on phone, asked to borrow client’s f-350 to move equipment to site, requested that an additional 4 feet be cleared behind the pad to allow for scaffolding for a 10 foot building, after the work has already been done.  Wants more money to have his friend come and do it.  I think there were more, but that’s enough.

Client is in stage four cancer and wants to be sure the building goes in before the snow to be used this winter, has no confidence in this guy at this point.”

I’ve related over and over how to find a reliable contractor, in the event one is not doing their own work. You can find several of these articles at:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/category/building-contractor/

Red Flag #1 – can’t get prompt responses to calls, texts, faxes, emails – whatever the communication method of choice is…..if it takes over 24 hours, more than once, there is a problem.

I’ve spoken with far too many folks who are just shopping for a new building – and can’t get a response for a week or more!! Communication is the key to any good relationship, and crucial to successful construction.

Red Flag #2 – contractor wants to borrow anything from the customer! I was a registered contractor for years, and in several states. As a builder, never ask to borrow anything from a client. Not only is it unprofessional, but it is a near guarantee of whatever is being borrowed – will be returned broken.

Red Flag #3 – wants more money for a “friend” to do extra work! If extra work actually is needed, it should be up to the client’s discretion of who to pick, and what to pay them.

Please – if considering purchasing an entire building (materials and labor) from a contractor, start with a visit to their website. If the website looks cheap or unprofessional, it is a pretty good indicator of the work which will be done on your new building.

If they are not a member of the Better Business Bureau (just because the BBB logo is on their website, does not mean they are a member – click on the logo to confirm it links to the BBB) and the National Frame Building Association (www.NFBA.org), my humble opinion is to run (do not walk) away from them as quickly as possible.

As the sage Benjamin Franklin once said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”