Tag Archives: cheap pole barns

Nationwide®Top Three Reasons Pole Buildings Fail

Nationwide® Insurance and Common Pole Building Failures

As my loyal readers know, I recently attended the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) 2014 Expo in Nashville, TN.  The NFBA (https://www.nfba.org) is the only national trade association which represents post-frame industry professionals. The association is the country’s primary source of post-frame building resources, research, networking, news and education.

While the NFBA Expo highlights for me are typically being able to interact with the hundreds of vendors who are displaying the latest pole building innovations and products on the trade show floor, this year the National Frame Building Association had a surprise in store for me.

The daily NFBA Expo “breakout” sessions included the fields of Sales and Marketing, Management and Technical Knowledge.

The surprise session for me was, “Avoiding Common Building Failures in the Post-Frame Industry”. The presenter was Ryan Michalek, a Registered Professional Engineer, who is one of several engineers employed by Nationwide® Insurance to help its policy holders avoid catastrophic structural building failures.

Let me begin by saying I am NOT a paid spokesperson for Nationwide® Insurance. In fact, I am not, nor have I ever had a policy issued by Nationwide®. Given their presenter’s informative presentation as an indicator, this could change in the future.

Nationwide® is one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world, focusing on domestic property and casualty insurance, life insurance and retirement savings, asset management, and strategic investments.  On December 17, 1925, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation incorporated the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in Columbus, Ohio and In 1955, Farm Bureau Mutual changed its name to Nationwide® Insurance, a name by which it is commonly known today.

Truss-FramingThe “trailer” for this session was, “Would you find it surprising that Nationwide Insurance’s loss experience with post-frame buildings is disproportionately represented by newly constructed facilities? The company’s loss history is full of buildings that are less than 5 years old and that fail when subjected to their first moderate wind or snow loading event or to a modest commodity-loading cycle. This presentation discusses the common oversights in post-frame building design and construction which lead to building loss and offers strategies to eliminate these oversights.”

I quizzed Mr. Michalek myself as to how many of these failures were subjected to a structural plan review by a Building Official. His opinion was few, if any, of the buildings which failed were designed by a registered design professional RDP (registered engineer or architect), as they are nearly exclusively “agricultural” structures, which are exempted from the Building Permit process in many states.

My personal belief is every building should be designed by an RDP, (engineer) as well as being subjected to structural review by a Building Official. Knowing the size of the Insurance Industry, I questioned why it was Nationwide® and other insurance companies were not lobbying for stricter rules for these now permit exempt buildings. Mr. Michalek minced no words in stating the Agricultural lobby in the United States is far more powerful than the insurance industry.

Myself, I am just not understanding the thought processes of those who would invest in buildings which will underperform or fail structurally, all in the name of saving a few dollars. Considering many of the failures come from the poultry industry, it seems the cost and cleanup of a million dead chickens would trump the few dollars saved on construction.

What was surprising to me, was the actual most prevalent failures – although column size and embedment always seem to be big concerns from informed purchasers, it wasn’t a contributor to the three major causes of failures: lateral bracing of trusses; purlin to truss connections and unbalanced and snow drift loads on trusses.

Roof trusses function very well when loaded in the manner in which they are designed to be strong – vertically. I’ve discussed truss bracing before in this forum: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/10/bottom-chord-bracing/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/09/truss-bracing/

Come back tomorrow and I will give you examples of just how easily the wrong bracing can help a building to fail.

Pole Barn Prices

At Half the Price…

Every once in a while there is an exchange with a potential client which I cannot resist sharing. This one is about pole barn prices…at half the price of!

In this particular case, as the request came in at 7:39 a.m., I was afterwards wondering if the inquiry came after a long night of watching QVC!

Single Slope BuildingHere is the background: we were contacted for a pole barn price quote on a 30 foot deep by 24 foot wide pole building with single sloping roof, the low side being 12 foot high. The building was to be for a log truck to be worked on.

After introducing myself to the client, I always make it a point of sending an email them with a questionnaire for their Building Official to complete.

Here is the email from me:

Dear xxxxxx,

There are over 7,000 Building Permit issuing jurisdictions in the United States. While we try our best to keep tabs on changes they make, to be able to know every one of them, instantaneously, would be impossible.

Your requested quote will be processed using our most current available data.

The attached will be very important information to have for the proper design of your new pole building.  Please have it completed and FAX back to me at (866)888-1611, or Email back to PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com.

For more information on Building Codes and criteria please read:”


Now somehow I had the idea the request was fairly non-threatening. Apparently not, as I got this response:

“Our town has no zoning. Your ad said a quote for building, where does that involve how many plans I have.

Please just disregard my request. I was looking for prices from you to be able to compare you with others.

Do Not reply !!!”

Well it was too late for me to not reply, as my quote went out by email almost at the exact time I received the cheerful reply above!

But wait, it gets even better….

“Thank you for the quote. However I got one for the same building at half the price. Also I do not need Vermont certified building plans. I live in a no zoning area which means a mansion can be built beside a dump. I value my property and will make this respectful but it is to put vehicles under cover. No heat needed therefore the open front would be just fine. 

Please disregard my request, I prefer to not do business with you.

Again thanks for the quote.”

At this point, impossible for me to let it rest….

“Dear xxxxxx,

Would you mind sharing who would provide the identical building at 1/2 the price? We’d like to buy from them, as we could make a lot more profit than we do now buying everything mill and manufacturer direct.

Thank you”

I seriously did not expect a response, and I do not gamble, but would put money on there NOT being a quote for the same building at half the price. Pole barn prices don’t vary that much…if you are comparing apples to apples.

I’ve been pretty open about sharing what kind of profit margins are in the pole building industry:


To my surprise, I did actually get a response:

“No thank you”

I do have to thank this person however, for not ordering a building from us. There are some marriages which are made in heaven, this one was best left never getting near the altar!

Chuck in the Truck: Pole Building Prices

Our company prides itself on only offering the highest quality products and services to our potential clients. Because of this, our pole building prices are usually inherently higher than the “chuck in the truck” competition. The only way to get around this is to emphasize the quality of the product, and that we work to the customer’s advantage to not have a product where you will be replacing components or your entire pole building in only five or six years.

Hansen Pole Building prices mean:

Providing seven or more page, full 24” x 36” blueprints – custom drawn for every building is not cheap, but it does give the location and placement of every board on the building, as well as a layout for all steel siding panels.

Mailing out a printed Construction Guide which walks through every step of assembly includes written instructions, diagrams and actual photos, along with the prints, saves clients or their builder hours of time in assembly. Between the two, little or nothing is left to the imagination.

Yes, there are places in the country where “Chuck” is providing not only green framing lumber, but also pre-fabricated trusses which are built from green lumber. Besides the possibility of warp, twist and cup from the natural drying process, these members are also significantly heavier.

No ungraded, utility or #3 grade lumber used, even as blocking or bracing. This minimizes or eliminates downfall and unusable pieces.

All of our structural building columns are treated to UC-4B standards for structural in ground use. As many lumber yards and big box stores carry nothing treated to beyond UC-4A, there are a lot of under treated columns being used.

Splash planks (skirt boards) are again all at least #2 grade and are minimum 2×8, while Chuck may send 2×6 and/or utility grade.

Standard design features two ply double trusses, rather than using single trusses, which are prone to catastrophic failures under extreme loads.

Prefab trusses on the ends of the building – instead of having to field cut rafters and try to align them 14 or more feet in the air.

Standard designs use all 2×6 roof purlins and wall girts which are 8’ or more in length.

Steel roofing and siding which is cut to correct lengths – minimizes cutting, again saving time in assembly. No #2 grade or seconds are used for roofing and siding panels.

Powder coated screws keep the paint on the color matched screws, where it belongs – not in chips on the ground, leaving “shiny spots”.

Full trim packages, which include base trim (rat guard), fully trimmed overhead door openings (with one piece trim), trim at tops of sidewalls, fully trimmed fasciae (with overhangs). We leave no untreated wood exposed to the weather.

Form fitted closed cell foam closure strips at eaves and ridge on the roof – as opposed to either no closures, or open cell strips which decay in a matter of just a few years.

All entry doors are commercial grade steel with steel jambs, and factory finish painted. No $119 primed lumberyard doors with wood jambs.

Sliding doors are all metal framed, no wood to warp, twist or split. Light weight and durable.

All overhead doors come with vinyl weather seal around the opening for a superior seal.

Most reflective insulation is 48 inch wide and square edged, requiring hours to tape the seams. Not us.  We have it manufactured with a tab which includes an adhesive pull strip.

Hansen Pole Buildings offers value added at every step. Chuck’;s pole building prices may be cheaper, but he doesn’t do many things with anyone’s benefit in mind other than his own pocket making a quick buck.