Tag Archives: construction speed

Amish Speed Barn Raising

Amish Speed Barn Raising

All of us seem to be captivated by “speed building” videos. Heck, I even got into it back in 1996, when my company set a world record for the fastest site built two-car garage: (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/06/fastest-pole-building-ever-constructed/)!The Mother Nature Network has an Amish barn raising video up, which has become somewhat of an internet sensation, with what appears to be virtually an army of Amish carpenters assembling a barn in a single day: https://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/blogs/watch-a-10-hour-amish-barn-raising-in-less-than-4-minutes

Amish Barn RaisingThe Amish have a reputation for quality, however be mindful, just like any other group of individuals – quality comes both in good, as well as poor.

My biggest experience in dealing with Amish craftsmanship in pole building construction came on a horse stall barn we provided for a client in Florida. Our client shipped an Amish crew to Florida by train to construct his building.

Now I am not even going to get into the requirement of all Florida contractors to have a certified license, with one of the requirements being the contractor must carry Workers Compensation Insurance (the Amish do not believe in Industrial Insurance due to religious beliefs).

Some “things” occurred during the construction process – the client claimed to be short an entire unit of 2×4 material, although the photograph they took of their delivery truck leaving their yard showed the unit was there, and the client’s wife signed the delivery ticket for them as being received.

Due the building being long, narrow and partially enclosed it required the use of strategically placed Simpson steel strapping. The straps were to be installed wrapped around the columns at each end, with a plethora of nails into the columns. The Building Inspector called our office looking for a “fix” when he saw the straps were installed only across the outside face of the columns with about 10% of the required nails present. It seems the Amish construction crew hadn’t looked overly hard at the plans.

The building was “L” shaped with a full hipped roof. Rather than utilizing the very large cutoff sheets of steel from the hips – the crew demanded more steel panels. Then they ran out of base trim for the bottom of the walls….by a significant amount. Somehow the crew managed to run out of roof screws – by nearly a thousand. Of course they had a 1000 extra stitch screws, because they used the wrong screws to attach the ridge caps!

Not long after this building was completed, my bride and I were in Florida. I just could not resist renting a car for the 70 minute journey to the building site. The client’s wife had decided their Amish crew could do no wrong and we were the “Evil Empire”. She gave us the cold shoulder when we arrived, so we just remained cordial and complimented her greatly on their facility.

I did “find” the unit of 2×4. The Amish builders had cut it up into blocking which they installed randomly between the roof purlins (there was none on the plans, nor was there any apparent need for it). Also, the base trim “turned up”. The builders had turned it upside down and used it as drip edge on top of the fascia boards!

My opinion (at least of this particular crew) was they were not overly interested in paying close attention to the plans and they most certainly never bothered to open the detailed Construction Guide which was provided with the building.

Back to the Amish speed barn raising…..

Notice people. Lots and lots of people. All over the roof. With no safety equipment what-so-ever. Now I realize the Amish believe in taking care of their own, in the event of injury, but working at heights without proper safety precautions more than borders upon foolish. Construction accidents do happen, even to the most experienced of builders: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/07/dont-take-a-fall/

And no power tools – nada, nyet, zip, none. Which means all of the steel is being put on with nails. For an overview of the evils of applying steel roofing and siding with nails, please read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/12/ring-shank-nails/

Speed is one thing, speed with safety and lasting quality is an entirely different issue.

Pole Building Construction: Off to the Races

Pole Building Construction

We’ve spent the last few days in the capitol city of Quito, Ecuador. If it wasn’t for our daughter having spent her sophomore year of high school here as a Rotary Exchange Student, we probably never would have visited Ecuador.  Once we were here, we were hooked however. The scenery is breathtaking and amazingly diverse, but it is the people and their culture which makes the country a true treasure.

Quito is an interesting city, at 9350 feet above sea level, I huff and puff pretty quickly, but the over two million residents get along just fine with it. What really amazes me is – every building seems to be under construction. Many have occupied first or lower floors, with rebar “fingers” projecting towards the sky, in preparation for the next level, which might be added soon, or decades in the future.

Our friend Wolf is an engineer and building contractor in Crucita, a small fishing village on the Pacific coast. In his experience, his crews will construct an average new home in about ten months. With an average wage scale of just over $300 per month, labor is inexpensive, so man power often trumps the use of equipment.

Wolf explained the “do-it-yourself” construction process of the average Ecuadorian.

In his words, it starts off like a horse race, with a huge flurry of activity. After some time and lots of hours of labor, the building gets to where a portion of it is able to be utilized. This is where the thoroughbred horse becomes a mule, things start to plod along. The Ecuadorian D.I.Y. guy has lost interest, or run out of money (or both), and the project stagnates – oftentimes for years.

pole building constructionHow does this apply to building one’s own pole building in the U.S.? An average pole barn of about 1500 square feet can be erected by a typical weekend warrior in about 200 man hours (with good plans and complete instructions). Get together a couple of buddies (or recruit relatives) and in a month of weekends or less, it is done!

The ease and speed of pole building construction allows the race horse to stay in the race to the finish line – before hitting the “mule phase”.

Fastest Building Retains Construction Quality

And I Thought I Was Fast

Sunday, October 27, 1996 was a special day for my pole building construction company. Bob Vila’s Home Again was airing at 10 a.m. Pacific. Beginning at 9:30, live on the same network, we set a world record for a “fastest building”,  the fastest site-constructed two car garage, completing the work in 31-1/2 minutes.

Now all of us who participated thought this was pretty darn quick, and the record has never been challenged. But, just like anything, there is always something even more impressive.

When it comes to homes, Habitat for Humanity built one in under 3-1/2 hours, however it was mostly prefabricated. The fastest primarily site built house was probably done by Bowen Construction of Post Falls, Idaho, taking four hours.

However, we may all be humbled by this achievement……

Almost anywhere you travel, you’re bound to run into construction of some kind. Whether it’s on a building or a highway, it seems as if construction is everywhere and takes forever to complete.

Well this is not the case with a new project in China. Near the Dongting Lake in the Hunan Province, a 30-story, 183,000 square foot hotel was just built in only 360 hours–and there’s video to prove it! The time-lapse YouTube video is going viral with more than half a million views already.

The construction of the hotel “fastest building”, coordinated by Chinese Firm, The Broad Group, used prefabricated modules mounted on a steel structure. The Broad Group’s specialty is sustainable architecture. In the video, teams are seen working around the clock in shifts, not stopping even once over a 15 day period.

Just like when we built the “World’s Fastest Pole Building” in 1996, with the process moving this quickly many people are wondering about the quality of the building. After over 15 years of daily use as a garage in Millwood, WA, our pole building still performs admirably. There has never even been a roof leak!

According to The Broad Group, the hotel can withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake (tested by the China Academy of Building Research), making it five times more earthquake resistant than similar structures. Plus, the hotel has four-paned windows, which makes it five times more energy efficient than typical buildings. On Twitter, some people are wondering how the U.S. can compete with this kind of growth and efficiency, with one person tweeting, “let us welcome our Chinese overlords.”

Fast does not necessarily equal poor quality, as successful speed construction is a product of carefully orchestrated choreography.  As for my own “fastest building”, following wrapping up the filming, I headed to the local restaurant to join my crew to celebrate our accomplishment.  I had to laugh as I found my contracting crew busily scribbling on napkins while debating taking minutes off here and there as they discussed finessing movements to build an even “faster pole building.” I’m sure someday someone will beat my record, but the main point was ease of construction does not detract from overall quality.  This alone…Hansen Buildings is a winner every time.