Tag Archives: building designer

Subcontractors for Your Barndominium

Welcome – you are maybe here because you have followed my biggest money saving tip in building a new barndominium, you are acting as your own General Contractor. If you are not yet convinced, please take a brief pause to jump back to: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/does-my-barndominium-need-a-turn-key-general-contractor/.

There are those who have time and patience (or skills) to learn how to DIY everything. Most do not fit into this category and are going to need some skilled subcontractors to do more (or all) challenging tasks.

A subcontractor is an individual contractor or a contracting firm who contracts with a General Contractor (now you as an owner builder), to perform part or all of a specific barndominium building job. In construction industry jargon, subcontractors are also called subs.

With you in control as general contractor,  you will build your new home by subcontracting with others for specific jobs.

You will pay for your project by setting a predetermined contract amount with each subcontractor.

You will have no hourly wage employees working for you, meaning you will avoid mountains of governmental red tape and taxes concerning employees.

Your contractors and subcontractors are not considered to be employees.

Some subcontractors, or contractors, need to be licensed for their trade. Check with your local Building Department to confirm these requirements. For those needing to be licensed, be sure to ask to see a copy of their contractor’s registration and verify it!

Below is a list of barndominium contractors, subcontractors and professional people you probably will be contracting with, listed generally in order of need (along with links to relevant articles, where appropriate).

Real estate agent (for land search) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/a-place-for-a-post-frame-barndominium/

Real estate attorney (many states require them for property closing)

Loan officer at banks, credit unions, or mortgage lenders https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/06/things-to-complete-before-going-to-a-barndominium-lender/

Barndominium designer http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Structural engineer (every Hansen Pole Building comes complete with fully engineered structural plans, so this aspect is covered for you)

Surveyor https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/pole-building-20/

Well driller (if no public water)

Grading and Excavation Contractor

Septic system installer

Soil Treatment Firm if in termite country https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/pre-construction-termite-treatment/

Your Hansen Pole Building kit (www.HansenPoleBuildings.com 1.866.200.9657)

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualBuilding Erector (Hansen Pole Buildings are designed for average physically capable persons who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings and many of our clients do DIY). Our buildings come with full 24” x 36” blueprints detailing location and attachment of every piece, a 500 page fully illustrated step-by-step installation manual, as well as unlimited technical support from people who have actually built buildings. For those without time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states. We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders

Concrete contractor to pour concrete slab or concrete floors, as well as drives, walks and approaches.



HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning)

Insulation installer

Drywall contractor


Finish carpenter (Installs kitchen and other built-in cabinets and trim around doors and windows)

Flooring, carpet, and countertop contractor

Tile contractor

Cleaning crew contractor

Landscape contractor

Cross off from this list all tasks and trades you are willing and able to do yourself. You are now journeying a step closer to your barndominium General Contracting success!

Does an IRC Design Work for Most Residences?

In my humble opinion (and in one word) – no.

I have opined in past articles as to what Code is applicable to post frame (pole) building construction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/what-building-code-applies-to-post-frame-construction/.

Recently Louisiana engineer Steve M. Sylvest (www.sylvestengineering.com ) sent an email to Structural Building Components Association addressing challenges with non-engineered structures, particularly residences. Again, I stand on my soap box – if an engineer was not responsible for structural design of your building…..who was?

Here is a major excerpt from Mr. Sylvest’s email:

I read your article The Structural Design Process of a Building with interest since it relates to some observations I have made for some time. There is a wide disparity in design and execution of the structural portion of structures, particularly residential, in this region. Some are reasonable, but many are not. Yet they get built and permitted and pass inspection.

In the immediate area, many residential projects largely do not qualify to be designed per the IRC prescriptive standards (are at least some key portions do not since exceeding the limits). Many must be mimicking construction details they have seen and deem to be adequate. Some are obviously far from good mechanics (e.g. hinged tall walls, lack of adequate shear or braced wall lines, connections not consistent with load path, etc.). The permitting and inspection process does not seem to be at a level to distinguish when structural elements are outside of typical IRC provisions.

A majority of the residential projects are designed by Building Designers, though a smaller number by Architects. Few have structural engineers involved. The range of structural information on the design documents (of the ones I have seen) range from zero to more often just a collection of standard details based on IRC conventional framing, with little or no specifics. A small minority actually provided a viable level of specific information to tell the contractor what to do. Most leave it to the framer to do what he deems is reasonable. The inspectors must have a few hot-button feature to look for, but otherwise must not be too aware.

steel pole buildingVery few residential (1 and 2-family) structures in this region use CM components (e.g. roof or floor trusses or wall panels). Many use Engineered Wood Products (EWP). These are typically designed (for gravity loading) and supplied through a distributor. The process is similar to a performance specification leading to deferred submittal, but most often without any design engineer input at the design stage nor any review of the submittals. For gravity loading, this process usually works well. A couple of things are usually missing. One is any consideration to lateral loading paths in the building and the other is a design professional in responsible charge to confirm the members, load paths, and connections all are consistent with the rest of the structure. So, the final result is a structure with a few well-engineered EWP products (for gravity loading), and some portions of the structure (almost) in line with IRC, but the remaining is just whatever the particular framer deemed adequate (similar to what he is used to seeing).

Several things work against making meaningful changes. Most builders, even high-end ones and builders desiring quality results, do not realize there is a gap (or wide range of results getting delivered). Likewise, the buyer is unaware. Permitting and inspection is not attuned enough to discriminate. Nobody is interested in adding more cost. The already –completed projects are still standing (and working for the most part, as far as they know).”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds:

If you are considering investing in a new building, especially for use as a home, barndominium or shouse(shop + house) – insist upon a Registered Professional Engineer having sealed plans and calculations specific to your building project on your site. This is not an expense, it is an investment!