Tag Archives: concrete brackets

If You Think Red Iron Buildings Are Great

If You Thought Red Iron Buildings Are Great

Loyal readers, please join me in reaching way back to yesterday’s article espousing great benefits of PEMBs (Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings) aka “red iron” or “bolt up” buildings.

If you are planning a new barndominium, shouse (shop/house), shop, etc., and have decided a PEMB is your one and only answer – far be it for me to try to influence you to consider anything else. For those of you who are “on a fence” trying to make an educated choice, please read on. My comments are in bold.

Keep in mind 93% of all new residential construction is wood frame (either stick or post framed) and roughly 3000 all steel frame homes are built annually in America (this would include weld up, as well as light gauge carport type). While 3000 may sound like a large number – total single-family housing starts in 2019 were 888,200.

I gave a dozen reason yesterday as to why PEMBs are great, here they are (along with post frame notes in bold):

1. When working within defined standard dimensions high-tech engineering and design software simplify processes and make for efficient use of steel. For pennies per square foot of price difference, fully engineered post frame buildings can be customized to exactly meet one’s wants and needs.

2. As long as foundation bolts are properly placed and bolt holes are correct, no field structural steel cutting, welding or drilling should be required. Post frame is very forgiving – no cutting torches or welding required.

3. Building components and steel sheeting can be shipped from regional manufacturing and warehousing locations to minimize freight charges. Just like post frame.

4. Fully engineered buildings with third-party engineered foundation plans, simplify permitting processes. Fully engineered post frame buildings include foundation plans – no need to have to hire yet another engineer on your own.

5. Steel has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. Obviously footprint, height, roof slope and manufacturer will come into play, however an average weight per square foot for a PEMB shell seems to be roughly eight psf (pounds-per-square-foot). Fully engineered post frame construction takes advantage of this high strength-to-weight ratio by utilizing steel skin shear strength. Post frame also allows for easy application of alternative roofing materials (shingles and even tile!) as well as a plethora of siding options. And – an average post frame building shell weighs in at about eight psf!

6.  Once foundations are excavated, formed and concrete is poured, a contractor with proper heavy lifting equipment can erect a fairly significantly sized building fairly quickly. Post frame building shells can be erected without having to wait upon a slab-on-grade to be poured. They can easily be built on full, partial, or walkout basements, or have crawl spaces incorporated. They also lend themselves well to DIY assembly, without requiring heavy lifting equipment.

7. Fire resistant metal framing does not ignite. With addition of 5/8” Type X gypsum wallboard, steel furring and appropriate insulation options one and two-hour exterior wall fire ratings can be achieved. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (www.NFPA.org) 86% of all home structure fires are caused by cooking, heating equipment, electrical, arson or smoking – all of these being independent of what type of structural system is being utilized.

Fire retardant treated wood can be utilized where concerns for structural systems burning arise: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/07/dricon-fire-retardant-treated-wood/.

Post frame buildings can also be designed with one or three-hour exterior wall fire ratings https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/firewall/.

8. Insects do not eat steel. Nor do they eat properly pressure preservative treated wood https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/09/pressure-treated-post-frame-building-poles-rot/

For those who are still not yet convinced, structural columns can be placed above ground: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/

9. With high-quality paint on a proper galvalume or galvanized substrate, steel roofing and siding require very little upkeep. Post frame utilizes this same steel roofing and siding (unless non-steel claddings are preferred).

10. Fully engineered, properly constructed steel buildings withstand damage from earthquakes, winds, snows, hail and other weather extremes as well as an equivalent post frame building. Any fully engineered structural building system will support climactic conditions as indicated on sealed plans. There is no legitimate claim for an excess capacity beyond what has been engineer certified.

11. Dimensionally stable steel changes little with temperature – in a variance of 100 degrees a 50 foot width building expands or contracts just under ½ inch. Steel does not change dimension with shifting moisture content like wood framing does. Wood, in service (within a climate controlled building) generally ranges in moisture content from six to 14%. Expansion and contraction of wood is greatest tangentially with common framing lumber changing dimension by a factor of as much as 0.00267per 1% change in moisture content. From average to maximum or minimum a 2×6 might vary by 0.059 (under 1/16th) of an inch. Considering all wood members of a structure are shrinking or growing at fairly similar rates, this is a non-issue.

12. Clear span steel buildings promise endless floor plan possibilities, with no restrictive load-bearing walls required. Up to and including 80 foot clear-span (in some markets greater) fully engineered post frame offers this as well.

Two Story House, Car Storage, and a Post Frame Basement

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building a two story pole barn house, condensation in a car storage building, and how to build a post frame house with a concrete basement.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are wanting to build a 2 story pole barn house, it will have an upstairs loft. Would the standard pole footings support 2 stories, or would it need a concrete footing foundation, like what is used in a stick built home? NICK in FAIRBURY

DEAR NICK: As long as you construct your building from engineered plans, your engineer will have properly sized your building’s “standard pole footings” to be able to adequately distribute weight across your soil. We live in a multistory post frame (pole barn) shouse with a 44 foot overall height and it has typical embedded footings and has performed admirably.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 20′ x 40′ closed in pole barn that I use for storing cars, it has a ridge vent & the soffits & eaves are open to the weather, how can I keep the cars from sweating? BILL in EATONTON

DEAR BILL: You will need to reduce humidity in your building.

Use a good sealant on top of your concrete slab.
Install 2x blocking snugly between purlins overhanging endwalls (directly above end trusses).
Spray 2″ of closed cell insulation on inside of all wall and roof metal (leave eaves and ridge open to provide attic intake and exhaust ventilation).
Install a tightly sealed ceiling (no air gaps to attic).

Add controlled mechanical ventilation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are potentially interested in building a pole barn home and have a few questions. Cost different from a traditional home build isn’t the major concern from us, we love the open rustic feel of a barn home. We would like to include a basement with the home. I read some previous blog posts and it seems like this is possible, however was wondering do the sidewalls of the basement need to be inset from the sides where the posts go into the ground?

If the walls are inset, is it possible to have a basement with egress windows below the pole barn home? RYAN in OSWEGO

DEAR RYAN: We can have your building engineered so columns will mount directly to top of your concrete basement walls. Makes everything far easier.


Dear Pole Barn Guru: Can I Use Concrete Brackets with a Foundation?

New!  The Pole Barn Guru’s mailbox is overflowing with questions.  Due to high demand, he is answering questions on Saturdays as well as Mondays.

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: Can you do metal plates with anchor bolts to mount the poles to? CAN I IN CANTON

DEAR CAN I: I will assume you want to either mount columns to an existing foundation wall, or to pour concrete brackets into a future foundation wall. If so, then the answer is yes, we can provide wet-set or dry-set concrete brackets for either situation. For more information on specifics, please read:


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: In a previous article, you discuss sliding doors for hangars and mention that you will be writing an article about better options (I assume to include bi-fold doors, stack doors, etc).  Did I miss this article in your index, or have you not yet written it?  Would be very interested in your ideas, as I am looking at constructing a 50×60 hangar with a 40-45’x12′ hangar door.  Have not yet decided whether I will pursue this in a steel or wood frame, thought budget may determine that.  The building is to be located in Boise, ID.  Thanks for your time. GLIDING IN GOLDSBORO

 DEAR GLIDING: You’ve caught me! So many topics to write about, and just not enough days of the week to post them. I’ve just returned from the 2014 Frame Building Expo, where Schweiss Doors (https://www.SchweissDoors.com) was one of the exhibitors. Keep a watchful eye open, as I will be writing about their products and other hangar door options in the very near future.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How do I insulate a pole barn cost effectively. COLD IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR COLD: This is one of the most often overlooked areas when people are planning their new pole buildings (as well as one of the most asked questions after construction). Provided you are still in the planning phase, here is some good reading on the subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/04/climate-controlled/

Dear Guru: Housewrap, Concrete Brackets & Wobbly Trusses

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: Can I set my poles, or posts, on concrete rather than set in holes?  And, can I attach floor joists across the pole building to create a floor?  The planned width is 12-16′   SOMEWHERE IN SEDRO-WOOLLEY

DEAR SOMEWHERE: The answer to both of your questions is yes.

 For further reading on brackets for the columns please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/09/concrete-brackets-2/

 We design a fair number of buildings which have elevated wood floors, over “crawl spaces”. Please keep in mind, any beams or girders which are within 12 inches of exposed soil, or joists within 18 inches of exposed soil, must be appropriately pressure preservative treated to resist decay.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: The instruction book is very clear about how to install roofing insulation, but silent on the correct way to install the housewrap on the walls.  I’ve used housewrap on stickbuilt walls, over the sheathing and under the siding, but never with the wrap just floating out there in space flapping between the girts.  Any tips to share about how to do this right? QUESTIONING IN CONNECTICUT.

DEAR QUESTIONING: When installing housewrap over bare studs in stick frame, or wall girts in a post frame building, run the housewrap perpendicular to the framing. In the case of a pole building –run in tightly placed strips running up the wall from the pressure treated skirt board, to either the soffit support (with enclosed overhangs) or the eave girt (with open or no overhangs).

Don’t leave the housewrap exposed to any wind.  Similar to putting the insulation on the roof with immediately putting roofing over it – do the same thing with your housewrap. Only put housewrap on as far as you can immediately cover sections with steel. On a day with little wind, you may be able to put housewrap on an entire wall before covering with siding.  On a windy day, you may have to do 3’ sections at a time to keep it all “tight” and intact.

The housewrap manufacturers typically recommend fastening to the framing with plastic capped staples or plastic capped nails long enough to penetrate the stud every 32 inches(vertically and horizontally).

 Although you will rarely find this done in the real world – ALL housewrap seams are to be taped.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Regarding knee braces; most of the comments above appear related to sheathed structures. What about their usefulness on open pavillion pole barns? Have a lot of movement in one barn and am putting braces on poles to beams and to trusses to try to alleviate this. Comments or suggestions welcome. WOBBLY

DEAR WOBBLY: Unless the roof trusses have been designed to support the loads being induced into them from the knee braces, don’t do it….a high wind could cause a catastrophic failure. Usually excessive movement in pavilions is due to one or more of the following: Columns are undersized or column holes are not completely backfilled with concrete. If you can provide the dimensions of your building, as well as some digital photos, I may be able to make some recommendations which would improve your situation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you also offer wooden pole barn designs? LONGINGLY IN LANGLEY

DEAR LONGINGLY: As all pole barns are wood framed, I will assume your question is in regards to buildings which would have wood siding. The answer is yes. Any type of siding which can be used on any other structural building frame can be used on a pole barn. Whether you are looking for sheet sidings, such as T1-11, boards or planks, any can be utilized.

 Keep in mind, wood sidings are not going to be maintenance free – they require frequent staining or painting, in order to keep from deteriorating.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a customer with an existing Hansen pole barn with a metal roof.  We would like to install solar modules on the barn, but are not sure the structure can take the additional weight and/or the wind uplift from the modules.  Where can I go for more information?  We don’t have money in the project to hire a structural engineer, so if I could find some of the original structural calculations, that would be great.  SUNNY IN SANTA CRUZ

DEAR SUNNY: Although solar panels are relatively light weight, chances are the roof structure would not be designed to adequately support any extra load over maybe a pound per square foot. If you could provide for us the information on the original purchaser of the building, we could verify the actual capacity of the roof system. Give me a call and I’d be happy to research this for you.



Perma-columns are manufactured by the same company who produces the Sturdi-Wall brackets.

Paraphrased from the company’s information:

Perma-Columns are five foot precast concrete columns which are designed to keep wood out of the ground, ensuring a post frame building’s foundation will never rot. They are the first product to combine the economy of post frame construction with the durability of a concrete foundation. Simple installation. No waiting on concrete trucks. No treated wood in the ground.

Perma-Columns use the latest in SCC precasting technology to provide three times the strength of standard concrete. Microfibers add shock resistance and durability. Microsilicia enhances flexural/compressive strength and erosion resistance. A corrosion inhibitor protects the rebar reinforcement from rusting, and a final admixture is added to give freeze/thaw protection. The technology incorporated in this special mix guarantees a lifetime of durability.

The wood column is attached to a “U” shaped steel bracket made of 1/4” steel with 1/2″ thru-bolts and 1/4″ lags. This bracket is robotically welded to steel reinforcement which runs the entire length of the column. All the steel is a premium high strength alloy, purchased domestically.

A sleeve is precast into the base of the column to allow easy attachment of innovative uplift or extender systems.

Perma-Columns have been extensively tested by both Wisconsin and Purdue University. In comparative strength tests, Perma-Columns have proven to outperform the industry standard for wood columns. As a general rule of thumb, Perma-Columns are as strong as the wood they are replacing.

Now, my turn….

I really have no issues with the expected durability of properly pressure treated wood columns embedded into the ground. As millions upon millions of pressure treated posts have been admirably supporting countless pole buildings for decades, the track record alone proves their durability.

I’ve walked on concrete roads poured by the Roman legions, when they occupied what is now England. This attests to the longevity of concrete, in most circumstances (I say this as my 21 year old concrete floor in my garage is crumbling).

Whether using an all wood column or a Perma-Column, concrete footings will need to be placed below the columns. Because prefabricated “cookies” are rarely sufficient in diameter to carry even a minimal load, in most cases a footing will need to be poured – meaning a pre-mix concrete truck, or lots of mixing.

I look at the logistics. A 5-1/2” x 5-1/2” x 5’ chunk of concrete (roughly 1.05 cubic feet) is going to weigh in at roughly 160 pounds plus the rebar and mounting bracket. The total assembly could be pushing 200 pounds. An average sized building could easily have several tons of Perma-Columns, which need to be shipped to the jobsite, unloaded with equipment, and then placed with equipment (as even those strong enough to move one of these, is risking injury).

Once placed in a hole, they need to be jacked into place (the inventor of the product has also invented a tool to assist in this movement). A wood column, even a fairly long one, can be maneuvered into place in a hole with relative ease.

I do not at all doubt the claims of the manufacturer as to strength and longevity. If my issue was avoiding placing pressure treated wood into the ground, I’d most likely opt for pouring the holes full of concrete, then placing Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets into the wet concrete.

Concrete Brackets

Am sure yesterday’s blog posting on moments left a few folks scratching their heads. There actually was a method to my madness, as it leads into today’s topic.

Many may have seen various column bases at their local lumberyard or big box store. Manufactured by either Simpson or USP (similar to Simpson CB66), these products have some serious, and perhaps fatal consequences if used to support posts in a pole building.


These bases are not designed to resist overturning (moment) loads. Now this poses a challenge – how to connect post frame building columns, to a concrete foundation?

There is a solution…..

building bracketsSturdi-Wall concrete brackets are a heavy duty anchor system designed to connect post frame structures to traditional concrete foundations such as: monolithic slabs, formed walls, and existing concrete pads.

There are two types of Sturdi-Wall concrete brackets. When drill setting is preferred, the standard Sturdi-Wall is used. When setting into wet concrete, the Sturdi-Wall Plus is used.

One challenge, not directly mentioned by the product manufacturer, is the standard Sturdi-Wall concrete bracket is not designed for moment loads. Post frame buildings want to overturn; they do induce moment loads, which leads me to discourage people from using the standard bracket for this application.

Wet set installation with Sturdi-Wall Plus brackets provides the highest ultimate strength connection to a foundation, but requires being installed while the concrete is still wet. This technique avoids time consuming drilling with a masonry bit and expensive concrete anchors. Sturdi-Wall Plus concrete brackets require less concrete coverage than normal Sturdi-Walls, allowing them to work well in pier foundations.

A pier foundation would be one where isolated holes are augered or dug, then poured full of concrete.

For cases where, for whatever reason, it is desired to NOT place pressure preservative columns into the ground to support a pole building, the Sturdi-Wall Plus concrete bracket provides an solution which is capable of resisting uplift, shear and moment forces.

See, it was worth struggling through yesterdays’ blog on “bending moment” to make you “in the know” for today!