Tag Archives: Building Department Code

Building Site Preparation

I’m a Bit Confused…
No, not me – one of our clients who is about ready to invest in his new Hansen Pole Buildings’ Post Frame Building kit. Just like me, when I have something new on the way, Phil is chomping at the bit to be doing something! Anything!
DEAR POLE BARN GURU:  I’m trying to find a step-by-step guide in here somewhere. 🙂
I’m clearing off the topsoil next week, and I plan on digging the post holes soon after. Two questions: What should the diameter of the holes be? Do I lay out the gravel foundation before I do that? I’m a bit confused. (VIDEOS would be great!) Thanks PHIL in LOUDON

DEAR PHIL: After your order is placed, you will have immediate access to the online version of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual. You will also receive a printed copy of it in the mail, soon thereafter. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 which should help with your site preparation:
To allow proper drainage plan to keep building grade higher than surrounding site. On an ideal site, water drains naturally away from building. Since few sites are ideal, in most cases, grade work will be required to keep surface water away from building. Keeping finished building floor higher than the surrounding site reduces flooding chances during heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt.
In flood plains, consult first with your building department to determine their requirements. Typical recommendation is to establish grade level at finished floor top higher than flood level. This may require importing fill to raise grade. A surveyor can be hired to expertly determine these heights. In some cases, vents may be installed, below flood level, to equalize interior and exterior pressures,
Many sites can be graded with a skid steer (a.k.a. Bobcat) or backhoe. Some cases will require heavy equipment to properly grade site to allow water to drain away from building. If a professional is engaged for site grading, make certain finished grade prepared is adequate before making final payment. In far too many cases “flat” sites which are out of level have been experienced by disappointed owners.


At a minimum, site preparation includes:
· Remove all sod and vegetation.
· For ideal site preparation, remove topsoil and stockpile for later use in finish grading. In frost prone areas, remove any clays or silty soil
from within the future building “footprint”.
· Replace subsoil removed from around building with granulated fill to help drain subsurface water from building.
· Distribute all fill, large debris free (no pit run), uniformly around site in layers no deeper than six inches.
· Compact each layer to a minimum 90% of a Modified Proctor Density before next layer is added. Usually, adequate compaction takes more than driving over fill with a dump truck, or
earth moving equipment.
· When any building portion sits on fill, rest columns, as well as any concrete encasement, on or in undisturbed soil. In many cases, building inspectors will require a soils engineer to
confirm compaction adequacy on filled sites. Soils engineers can be expensive, but are even more costly when called in to do analysis “after the fact”. Our Building Engineers are
unable to visit sites, therefore they cannot perform or provide any soils or other similar reports, design retaining walls or any other work beyond the building shell.
Be certain to know local Building Department requirements before starting to move dirt.
In many jurisdictions, a separate grading permit may be required. In some cases soil may not be allowed to be moved until after a building permit has been issued. Get started on the right foot with permit authorities – ask first before digging!
Also, prior to doing any excavation call 811. This is a free service to mark underground utilities. Property owners and contractors can be held financially liable if they fail to locate underground utilities (like gas, electric, telephone, cable, water) and damage them in any way (not to mention potential for severe injury or death).
Grade actual building “footprint” area as level as reasonably possible. A grade change beyond eight inches will often result in having to acquire longer building posts.
Grade change is ideally checked before placing building order, however this is not often feasible as a practical matter. If grade has not been checked before order placement, do so within 24 hours. Longer posts are far more economical when provided with original lumber delivery. In some instances, building posts have been specially ordered (due to dimension, length, treating specifications or a combination) and cannot be returned to original producer for credit, even if they have not yet been delivered to jobsite.
Create an adequate work area. At a minimum clear at least 10 feet beyond each building side. Grade the area beyond building perimeter away from building with a minimum 5% slope to drain surface water away in all directions. A 5% slope is a six inch drop in 10 feet.
I would encourage you to do all site preparation, other than the final layer of compactable rock which will be directly below your concrete floor, prior to digging holes.

In the week or so following your order placement, your building plans will be drafted. You will receive a pdf version through your on line login to our website, which will include a page with all of the column locations as well as diameter of the holes. You will be able to print this, in advance of receipt of your engineered plans via mail. In the case of your particular building (subject to final engineering review), it appears all structural (roof supporting) column holes will be 40 inches in depth. The double truss bearing column holes along the eave sides will need to be 24 inch diameter, while the balance will be 18 inch diameter.
Have fun, Phil!

Life of Pressure Treated Columns

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the life expectancy of the 6×6 pressure treated columns that go in ground? MIKE IN SEARCY

DEAR MIKE: If you are investing in properly pressure treated columns which are designed for structural in ground use (they will be tagged as UC-4B rated) chances are excellent no one alive on the planet today will live long enough to see them decay.

The catch – many retail lumberyards do not carry properly treated columns in inventory. For more reading on pressure treating please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/pressure-treated-lumber-3/

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We would like a building that can have a floored attic for storage, as well as being insulated for heating and cooling. From what I have been told, Henderson County’s code doesn’t allow for this kind of building unless it is ‘stick built’. Are you familiar with our county’s codes? Any help would be appreciated. DAVID IN ROBARDS

DEAR DAVID: Regardless of what or where the jurisdiction is, it would be unlawful for them to attempt to preclude a Code conforming structural system (of which post frame – pole – construction is). They can have restriction upon types of siding and/or roofing, but those need to apply towards all construction types.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are looking for a Horse barn with a 3 bedroom apartment above the barn. Have you done any of these types of building before? Do you have any pictures/layouts that we could look at? JOE IN MONTROSE

DEAR JOE: We’ve done numerous horse barns with living quarters above – both as monitor style and as full two story buildings. Keep in mind, to get three bedrooms you will need at least 1000 to 1200 square feet of space, so a monitor style will probably not give an adequate area.

Not to discourage you, but you will want to consider the added costs of going this route as opposed to constructing two individual buildings. Two floors is always going to be more expensive than one. There will be fire separation issues to solve, as the barn and living spaces will need a minimum of a one-hour fire separation, and in some jurisdictions two hours. This is probably going to mean needing outside stairs for access. You will also need to contend with having to pay more for insurance….possibly quite a bit more, and it is an every year expense. With individual structures, the house would be insured and the barn becomes a rider as an accessory building at little or no added cost.

As for pictures and layouts – everything we do is totally custom, to best meet the needs of the individual building owner. I’d recommend calling (866)200-9657 and talk with a Hansen Pole Buildings Designer who can guide you through the process, as well as providing schematic drawings to give you ideas and representations of what your finished building will be like.

Because we furnish complete pole building kit packages in all 50 states, we end up with very few photos of our completed buildings. You will find some of them in our online photo gallery.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am wrapping my overhead garage door openings with aluminum coil stock. My question is in the upper corners do I bend any extra to place under the top piece. Or bend extra to place under the verticals. NICK IN FREDERICKTOWN

DEAR NICK: The rule when doing exterior trims is to install from bottom to top, making certain each newly installed piece has a watertight seal and overlaps the previous piece. This may mean you will need to run each piece long, so the verticals can underlap the top horizontal and the horizontal can overlap the vertical.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru