Tag Archives: Building Inspector

Steel Roofing Over Living Areas

 Steel Roofing Over Living Areas Requires Solid Decking?

Barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes have become a recent and trendy rage. Seemingly everyone wants one, at least as gauged by hundreds of weekly requests received by Hansen Pole Buildings would attest to.

Reader STEVEN in BOONE writes:

“I visited with the building inspector with your planning guide and asked if there were any metal roof over living area requirements. IE attach to purlins or deck required. I received an email response that states per IBC 2012 the living space requires a deck first. This seems to defeat the cost savings of using steel and purlins.  Is this correct and if so what materials would be used? Would it be regular roof sheathing? (OSB or plywood be it?) How do pole builders handle the height difference incurred by adding the sheathing. Does this required design change to make trusses closer together in the living area?”

Building inspectors have to deal with not only building codes themselves, but also literally hundreds of referenced titles mentioned within these codes. Thorough knowledge of the contents of this many documents proves to be an impossible task. Your inspector most probably deals with very few residential steel roofs.

From International Residential Code (“R” subsections) and International Building Code (IBC):

R905.10 or IBC 1507.4 Metal roof panels. “The installation of metal roof panels shall comply with the provisions of this section.’

R905.10.1 Deck Requirements. “Metal roof panel roof coverings shall be applied to solid or spaced sheathing, except where the roof covering is specifically designed to be applied to spaced supports.”

IBC 1507.4.1 Deck requirements. “Metal roof panel coverings shall be applied to a solid or closely fitted deck, except where the roof covering is specifically designed to be applied to spaced supports.”

Roof purlins qualify as spaced supports and through screwed steel roofing is designed specifically to be so applied under most wind and snow loads (an exception being hurricane areas of Florida, where a solid deck is required). Properly engineered to support extra dead loads being induced, one could install either plywood or OSB (Oriented Strand Board) sheathing between purlins and steel roofing, using 30# asphalt impregnated paper (felt) or a synthetic ice and water shield. Post frame builders deal with this extra roof thickness by adjusting building eave height downward by sheathing thickness adjusted for slope. Roof truss spacing would not need to be adjusted for sheathing, as purlins will be supporting any underlying sheathing, just as they support your roof steel.

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/.


Why Pole Barn Columns Settle

Don’t be Like Jimmy’s Parents

A new post frame (pole) building or barn is an investment, a very permanent investment. Readers have been following a couple of articles involving Jimmy’s new building, which is NOT a Hansen Pole Building and Jimmy is not very happy.

This is how the building was purchased (in Jimmy’s words): “This was an impulse purchase by my parents, basically picking a builder from a hat, and signing a contract before I could check around, and it’s been a mess ever since.”

Here is the most recent round of conversations:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:  The mess of it is….you call guy #1, tell him what you want, he orders the materials, guy #1 calls guy #2 the excavator, guy #2 excavates, calls guy #1 when he’s done, guy #1 then calls guy #3, the builder. I did get a chance to talk with the builder and I asked around, he’s very reputable.

The building inspector said the same thing you did about the engineered plans, about not knowing if the 4×6’s could support the attic trusses, without them. But couldn’t those be doctored to say whatever they want? He did say something odd to me though, the more trusses on the supports, the less the support is stressed because of weight dispersion (not sure I’m explaining it the way he said).

If I can get the info you requesting, I will surely send it to you. But the contract isn’t in my name, and is out of my hands.

Here’s another thing, the 4×6 posts were buried 4ft without concrete, the explanation was most builders will put a couple of feet in the hole and fill the rest with dirt, so when it rains the water cant drain  beyond the concrete, and the dirt above the concrete stays moister longer and will start to rot the posts. I don’t know, wish I did.

About the vehicle lift, I don’t need one to be able to stand under the vehicle, just one to get it about 3ft off the ground so i can work under, if need be, and it won’t have any attachment to trusses, maybe anchored to concrete, but that’s a ways off.

In the end it will be right, even if it has to be torn down and redone.

Thanks- JIMMY

engineer-sealDEAR JIMMY: Engineered plans include the “wet seal” in ink of the engineer who produced them along with an original signature in another color of ink. Could the plans be changed after the fact? Well yes, but it would take some work to do so and not have it show up as being a forgery. I am not a gambling man, but I would be will to wager there is no engineering on the building which is being constructed for you.

How do I know this?

Because no engineer in his right mind would be sealing a set of plans with posts just buried four feet in the ground and no means to prevent settling or uplift.

Many builders will at least try to resist settling by the use of a minimal concrete footing below the columns – however in your case, I can pretty well guarantee the columns are going to settle and perhaps drastically.

Here are some of my thoughts on how people have tried (and failed) to resist the forces of gravity: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/concrete-cookies/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/ and a few words about uplift: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/wind-uplift/

If your builder has supplied properly pressure preservative treated columns (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/10/pressure-treated-posts-2/) then the columns should last pretty much indefinitely regardless of whether the posts get damp or wet.

In my humble opinion, what is a shame is your builder could actually have done your building right, with little or no extra expense. In his efforts to shave a dollar here and a dollar there, he is providing you with far less of a finished building than what you bargained for.

Considering a new building? Even if you are absolutely not going to invest in a Hansen Pole Building, I implore you to at least become educated in making what is most likely the biggest permanent investment you will ever make, other than perhaps your home. Read the blog articles, they are easily searchable, subscribe to our free emailed newsletters (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/tag/pole-building-newsletters/) and make use of our free Planning Guide (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-barn-planning-guide/).

Pole Barn Gone Awry with Building Contractor

When things appear to be going from bad to worse

The original question was posed by the reader, Jimmy, as to the adequacy of materials supplied to construct his new pole barn (by a builder, not a Hansen Pole Building). His story first appeared in my column just a few days ago.

Here is Round #2:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Thank you for your response, no I am not in your data base, I’ve been searching everywhere and anywhere I can for help on this as I am in a dire situation. This was an impulse purchase by my parents, basically picking a builder from a hat, and signing a contract before I could check around, and it’s been a mess ever since. Enough of the drama, all I know is that the metal for the side walls are 11ft tall, the ceiling in the lower level will be adjusted for 11ft instead of the normal 10ft. this is for extra room for a vehicle lift later down the road. I live in Northern Indiana, about 30 miles of South Bend. The pole barn is being built in a wooded section of land, not sure if that helps or not. The builder is (in my opinion) as slick as they come, he doesn’t like talking to me because I ask too many questions. I appreciate your time on this, I know you’re busy, If I ever do this again I will be sure to check with you first.  I’m going to email the building inspector and hope he shows up for work on Monday and reads his emails over morning coffee.

Thank you again for your time, JIMMY IN SOUTH BEND

DEAR JIMMY: You are very welcome. Hopefully I have been of some help to you, as I agree, you are in a dire situation.

It does certainly sound/feel like you are in a situation with plenty of drama. Time for you to take control of the situation.

#1 STOP THE BUILDER FROM MOVING FORWARD. Until you are totally satisfied all is the way it should be, there is no reason to escalate a situation from being bad, to being worse. This pole barn is a permanent structure and if it is messed up, you will be stuck with the consequences of it forever.

#2 Don’t expect the Building Inspector to be the “traffic cop”. It is going to be up to you, and you alone, to resolve this one.

#3 Before you allow the builder to move forward, demand he produce the engineered plans for your building. CALL HIM TODAY and let him know.

#4 An 11 foot high ceiling is inadequate for a car lift – it takes 12 feet of clear height. In the event the 4×6 columns would happen to be adequate to carry the load, the 18 foot length they shipped would allow for more height. This could be accomplished by adding wainscot around the bottom of the building, so as to be able to utilize the already delivered steel panels.

Because I care about our industry and hate seeing people get less than they bargained for (or a potential failure looking for a place to happen), I will do a couple of things for you, for free. First, scan the agreement with the builder – both sides if there is information on the reverse and email them to me. I can perhaps give you more insights once I have it in hand. When you get the engineered plans from the builder, scan and send them to me as well – you may have to go to a Fedex/Kinkos and have them reduced in order to send them.

To my faithful readers – don’t sign an agreement with a pole building kit package supplier, or especially a builder for a new building without thoroughly having vetted them. Here are some points which may prove helpful in dealing with contractors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/contractor-6/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/successful-relationship/

Building Officials

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Building Officials

Building Officials…..these words alone spark fear in the hearts of some folks, although they shouldn’t. Your local Building Inspector or Plans checker is there to help make certain the next building project undertaken by you, your neighbors or friends is Code compliant – protecting the safety of those who will be future occupants of the structure.

I happen to have a particular fondness for Building Officials: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/04/i-like-building-officials/

In a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) for the International Code Council (ICC) is was found 30 percent of all building safety professionals (your Building Officials) are planning upon retiring within the next five years!

Let this one sink in for a moment…..30 percent is nearly one out of every three!

Part of this is due to the greying of those in the profession, where over 55 percent of the Building Officials are 55 years of age or more. And, less than 16 percent are under age 45!

Interestingly, the survey reveals 57 percent of Building Officials work in departments with nine or less employees, with most having to perform multiple job functions – from plan reviews to field inspections.

These hard working folks are having to wear many hats!

Adding to the challenges of adequately staffing Building Departments are the number of building officials who were let go during the great recession, and did not come back when the building industry began to recover.

Maureen Guttman, president of the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) says part of the problem is also, “Municipalities can’t afford to pay a professional who really has the qualifications to do the work”.

Ms. Guttman also expressed concern for the under-staffing or nonexistence of code enforcement in several jurisdictions across the country, noting a lack of checks and balances for the building industry could have a grave impact.

In my humble opinion, jurisdictions should be encouraged to invest the appropriate resources to maintain proper levels of adequately training Building Officials to protect their citizens and their citizens’ property.