Tag Archives: building kit

Upstairs Conversion, Building Plans, and Basic Buildings

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about converting an upstairs space in a pole barn to a living space, Plans only packages, and a basic building kit.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 30×30 pole barn with upstairs 2 story shingle roof. Want to convert it to a living space for my grandchildren and their mom my son passed away she needs a place to live.


DEAR RICH: You should begin by finding out if your local Planning Department will allow you to convert this barn into a residence. Once you assured they will be happy, you should engage a Registered Professional Engineer to determine if it will be structurally adequate to be used as a residence.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, Do you sell plans for pole barns?  I live in Canada and work as a social worker working with at risk youth.  My wife and I use horses as a way to work with children who have difficulty in communication, self-esteem, anger and other concerns that prevent them from reaching their full potential. 

The struggle we have is that everything we do is outside which means we simply cannot do anything during the winter and early spring months.

I have talked to several builders and truss makers who insist that trusses must be spaced every two feet so for a 100 X 60 pole barn I would need 51 at a cost of $30,000; factoring in all of the other costs it is simply out of our reach.  I have read that you suggest trusses can be spread further apart and one of the builders I have spoken to said I should ask for some plans and he would see what he could do, however is very skeptical.

I sincerely hope you can assist and thank you in advance.

Many thanks. PETER in ST. GEORGE

DEAR PETER: Thank you very much for your interest. We are not a plans service, we do supply engineer sealed plans with all of our buildings (along with complete installation instructions). Currently we are unable to design to Canadian Building Code, however we hope to incorporate this option in 2020. Right now, all of our Canadian friends are ordering buildings designed to U.S. Codes. Trusses most certainly do not have to be every two feet. Depending upon your snow load, I would expect to see a pair of trusses every 10 feet. We do have a sample plan available on our website: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, are the base prices listed for the kit only or does that include shipping, tax and installation? NATE in EFFINGHAM

DEAR NATE: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Prices listed at https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-barn-prices/ are for engineer sealed plans, complete materials package delivered to your accessible site, 500 page step-by-step installation manual and unlimited free technical support. Sales tax varies by state (and sometimes city or county) and we only collect in states mandating we do so.

While our buildings are designed for an average physically able person to assemble their own beautiful new building, should you be not so inclined, installation services are available through our Independent Builder Network.


Barndominium: Building Kit or Building Shell?

Barndominium: Building Kit or Building Shell?

This was a recent post from a Barndominium discussion group I am a member of:

“Kit vs shell; I’m defining a kits as coming with everything like insulation and metal studs (the next step would be mechanical trades) whereas shell would be dried in with nothing. Kit companies would accept owner floorplans or have some stock floor plans and provide CAD to guide builders. Shells would perhaps provide instructions or rely on the knowledge of builders. Kits would have customer service and a modern web site; respond to emails and be familiar with barndominiums. Shells would be a business that sells barns and commercial buildings, expecting owners to know what they want. Kit metal and studs would be pre-cut in the factory. All window openings would be accounted for. Shells would be metal has to be cut on site. Shell would be all decisions are made before building begins via email; drawings back and forth. Shell would be last minutes decisions during building. Are these definitions even close to being accurate? If not what are the industry definitions? By my definition, I’m looking for a kit, not a shell. If kit is not the right word, what is the correct term? What are the top ten companies that provide what I call a kit? In this Barndo group, there are clearly differences in skill and knowledge levels. Recently on this site, a vendor posted a shell drawing and price. Some people posted questions that indicated they wanted to shop for what I call a kit; there was some misunderstanding, I think. It would be helpful to me, and perhaps others if these concepts were defined, I think. Please point out the fallacies in my thinking, if any, before I move from drawing floor plans into shopping for kits/shells.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s response:

About Hansen BuildingsWe provide custom designed engineered post frame building kit packages. As we are wood framing, we provide no metal studs. We can supply Weather Resistant Barriers and Reflective Radiant Barriers as well as batt insulation. We typically provide only structural portions of buildings – exterior shell, any raised floors (for crawl spaces, second or third floors or lofts) but can provide interior wall framing, if desired. We can work from any client supplied floor plans, elevation drawings or sketches. We do not have ‘stock’ plans, as every client’s needs are different. We expect our clients to layout their own interior rooms, to best fit with those needs and lifestyle.

We provide complete 24″ x 36″ blueprints for permit and construction sealed by third-party engineers, with full calculations. All openings, including windows are located on plans. There should be no “last minute” decisions made whilst building.

Our comprehensive (nearly 500 page) construction manual is designed for an average literate person to successfully assemble their own beautiful building, without requiring a contractor. We provide unlimited free technical support. Clients have an online portal to track progress and deliveries, etc.

Steel roofed and sided buildings come with cut to length steel panels, however some cutting will be needed in the event of oddly located openings or width and lengths of buildings other than a multiple of three feet.

At the risk of sounding redundant (I’m a proud owner of a “shouse”) go back to yesterday’s blog to see a picture of my and my wife’s shouse or barndominium.

If a post frame building is on your radar, then we are going to be #1, call us today 1(866)200-9657.

Building Instructions, Gutters and Spouts, and Crinkle!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I love your site and have used your detailed instructions to start my pole building. I wish I had found your site before I started. 

I was wondering if you sell partial pole building kits? I have been going back and forth to the lumber store several times a week and it’s getting old. I’m at the step of having the purlins up and working on getting the purlin blocks in place. I would need the rest of the materials.


DEAR JOSH: Thank you very much for your kind words, we are pleased you have found us to be of assistance. Sadly, your experience is one we hear far too often – those trips back and forth to the lumber yard end up being time consuming, when your efforts could be better spent being able to be actually making progress. We really are not set up to be able to take and work from a client’s partially constructed project and take it through to the end for them – there are just too many variables which could cause the project to turn out to be less than what you and we expected. If you need technical assistance or advice, going forward, please feel free to ask and we will do our best to assist you.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Have a quote from Hansen. Are gutters & downspouts included in the premium trim package? VAN in CINCINNATI

DEAR VAN: Gutters and downspouts are frankly just not practical for anyone to include in a post frame building kit package. In order to do so, we would have to ship you pieces – most usually ten feet in length or less. This leads to lots of seams and if gutters are going to fail and leak, they will most often do so at seams.

The way to go is truly with seamless gutters. Here is some additional reading for you on this subject:


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am intrigued by the Valspar Crinkle finish coating. Can this be added to a metal barn roof, or does it have to be done at the factory? SUNNY in WOODLAND

DEAR SUNNY: I am intrigued by it also. We have yet to have a client invest in the Crinkle finish, or even inquire about it. In my humble opinion it is due to lack of awareness upon the public. For whatever reason, our industry is fairly slow to offer new features to clients and our own staff is probably just as equally negligent in not having at least advised their clients as to it being an available option.

In answer to your question, it is not a retrofit, it is a product which is painted in a factory.

For more reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/crinkle-finish-steel-roofing-siding/



Building Materials: Inventory and Inspection

Like many suppliers of pole buildings kits, whether “standard” or completely “custom” kits, such as ours, I’m sure I am barking up a familiar tree.  What does building materials inventory involve?  Let me tell you about one of my most frustrating stories first.

The one which first comes to mind, in talking about inventory, is the guy who called up to say his posts and dimensional lumber had twisted and warped.  He wanted to know, “When are you going to send out the replacements?”  His name was familiar, but hazy – as if his building purchase was in the distant past.  So I did a quick check of our most recent projects.  Using his project number, I finally had to do a search in our database.  He came up alright, as having had his lumber delivered no less than 8 months ago!  And even worse, he lived in Arizona, and he admitted right off the bat his lumber had been sitting “outside” all Spring, Summer and Fall….in the sun and through monsoon rains.  But the comment which caused me to just shake my head was when I asked him, “How did the lumber look when you GOT it?”  He innocently replied, “Oh, it was really nice then – all straight and it looked great”!  Here it was 8 months later and he wanted us to just replace it?

As much as I’d love to make every single customer a happy camper when they call months and even over a year later to say they have things “missing”, damaged or otherwise, I’m not going to play Santa Claus.  No business can afford it.  When we’ve had folks claim they had hardware missing, due to very specific counting, weighing and tracking practices, it’s amazing how many “missing” pieces suddenly reappear.  I’m not saying folks are trying to “pull something” and get extra pieces for nothing (ok, some of them are).  Usually, it’s just a matter of poorly inventorying all materials, and carefully storing them so when they are needed, they can be easily found.

There are a lot of building materials and pieces in a building kit, especially if you have one of any large size or with a lot of features such as wainscot, cupolas, windows and overhangs.  So, what does inventory involve?

What it does NOT mean is having the delivery truck show up, signing the invoice and then walking back in the house never to look at what was delivered until it’s needed on the jobsite.  I get very frustrated (and am not very sympathetic) when a client calls from halfway across the country to report they “only got 5 rolls of insulation and I was supposed to get 45.  “And you need to overnight it to me.”  NO, I don’t.  And this demand came a good 6 weeks after delivery.

Sometimes folks balk a bit when we tell them they will get more than one delivery.  In fact, they may get 5 or 6 deliveries when you have as many different types of components as a building has.  I’ve seen toyboxes and desks have more pieces than our custom building kits, but its usually not such a big deal if you run short a few screws or pieces for something easily housed indoors, or there is not a contractor standing on the jobsite with the time clock running.  Because of the different deliveries, it’s actually to a client’s advantage to have deliveries on different days.  That way one can do a good job of inventorying, and not be overwhelmed with multiple deliveries on the same day.

Building materials inventory involves not just looking to see “yes, there is lumber in that pile”.  It means more than just taking a total count.  If you have the right number of pieces, but they are the wrong size, you are still going to be frustrated to run “short” when you are getting your new pole building constructed.  Or worse yet, your builder will be upset and want to purchase the missing pieces at full retail value, sending your budgeted building into “overtime”.

So – here we go – basic inventory rules:

  1. Count, measure and inspect every piece.  Yes, every piece, whether it’s lumber, steel or hardware.  Compare what you find to your MTO (Material Takeoff Sheet).  It’s a quick and easy checklist.  Be sure to note what is missing!
  2. Check for damages.  If pieces are nested together – take them apart – such as steel.  You may “find” the missing wainscot stacked under longer lengths of steel, so without taking each and every sheet off one at a time, you may not find it.
  3. Equipment roll forming steel can (rarely) not function properly – and damage the steel, leaving scratches or other blemishes on it.  Pieces may get accidentally damaged during shipment, so just because the top pieces look “ok”, doesn’t mean the bottom ones are.
  4. There are human errors – wrong colors selected, wrong sizes of overhead door panels.  Vendors don’t mean to make mistakes, but wherever humans are involved, there can be mistakes.  Give them the respect they deserve by being responsible and making sure everything is exactly as you thought it was going to arrive – in good condition.
  5. Most importantly – inventory soon after shipment.  What does “soon” mean?  We only give 48 hours. That’s right, 48 hours – to inspect, count and report damaged, missing or simply “wrong” items.  Waiting means vendors won’t replace things.  Theft is high for lumber on unsupervised lots.  Damages occur…sometimes on the jobsite.

Bottom line is, a good building materials inventory and inspection does two things.  One, it ensures the pieces you need to complete your building are there when you need them, and Two, it keeps “the honest folks honest”.

Say What? Find A Professional Contractor

One of the things I make myself available for is weekly individual coaching sessions with our Building Designers. In these sessions, the Building Designers can ask for advice on pole building design or features, discuss particular ongoing projects or share ideas on how to best serve our pole barn clients.

Every once in a while, up pops a subject out of the blue, which totally throws me for a loop.

Find A Professional Contractor

This morning, Bob starts off with the question, “What do you say to a client, whose builder tells him, if he (the builder) breaks, damages or misuses pieces of the building kit, that the client will have to pay to replace it”? The poor client was afraid he was going to have to purchase an insurance policy to cover this.

Before I could postulate an answer, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, and ask Bob to repeat the question!

Luckily, my Daddy raised my brother and me better than this. We were raised, as I am sure most of you readers were – to take responsibility for our own mistakes. In my years as a professional contractor, if I muffed something, there is no way I would have even considered having anyone else – either my client, or the providing vendor, cover the cost of my error.

This particular builder is akin to the girl who buys a dress for prom, then returns it the day after prom, expecting a full refund!

For the sake of this client, I can only hope he sends this want-to-be contractor packing and hires a true professional who takes pride is his workmanship, as well as his ethics.

Looking for a professional building contractor? Let Hansen Buildings help you with your search by calling and asking for a local builder or by using our online search for pole barn builders.