Tag Archives: contractors

Uneven Ground, Granting Wishes, and Recommendations

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru discusses foundation for a uneven ground with 4-5′ “fall” in the back, granting three wishes, and recommendations for building/footing/slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hey thank you for time. I am wanting to build a 50×100′ shop. I have uneven ground and about a 4-5′ fall in the back. What is the best foundation for a post frame building for that situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated! ANDREW in APPLING

DEAR ANDREW: I would go with an ecology block (read more here https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/ecology-blocks/) retaining wall several feet beyond my building footprint. Then backfill with suitable fill compacted in no less than six inch lifts. This would allow for construction on a flat level site with embedded columns.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Please grant me 3 wishes o guru, you are better than a genie!!! Do you have a crew put the building together? Do they put the grounding strap on the ground and on the building? Do you have pictures of the workshops? KEITH in PORT CHARLOTTE

DEAR KEITH: Thank you for making me smile! I will answer as many questions as you need answers for.

We are not building contractors. Currently (and for the foreseeable future) there is a nationwide shortage of building erectors. Many high quality erectors are booked out into 2023. We would strongly encourage you to consider erecting your own building shell.

For those without the time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/find-a-builder/). We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders.

A CAUTION in regards to ANY erector: If an erector tells you they can begin quickly it is generally either a big red flag, or there is a chance you are being price gouged. ALWAYS THOROUGHLY VET ANY CONTRACTOR https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/vetting-building-contractor/
Your electrician will (should) properly ground your building.

Please click on any of these photos at https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/gallery/ to open gallery to more photos in same categories.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If I’m a belt and suspenders overkill kinda guy, what’s your recommendation on a pole barn construction/footings/slab. I would like to use steel instead of 4×4 posts if that isn’t a bad idea. JOHN in LITTLE ROCK

DEAR JOHN: 4×4 posts would not be adequate for even a very small post frame building. I would avoid steel due to its unforgiving nature (everything has to be spot on), challenges of thermal conductivity and connections between structural steel and wood. My preference (in my ideal dream world) would be glulaminated columns, embedded in ground, with a mono-poured concrete footing/bottom collar. This would provide greatest strength and reliability at an affordable price point.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Robert Frost’s 1914 poem Mending Wall began this proverb.

Good fences do indeed help make good neighbors. A good fence is a line of mutual respect and understanding with minimal ambiguities. A good fence is a mutually-agreed upon boundary, with implied and explicit responsibilities for both sides to maintain and respect those boundaries. A good fence shows no partiality. And building a good fence creates a sanctity marking every human boundary, physical or psychological, of stones and mortar, or simply an invisible line in the sand.

When it comes to investing in a building (whether a kit or constructed) , a good contract makes for a happy outcome for all involved.

Contracts, when done properly, should simply define those relationships between a business and anyone they work with. A contract documents expectations each party has, and how each party sees this transaction playing out. It does protect a business but also protects the party they are contracting with. Here are five primary objectives for every good contract. 

  1. Be clear. Robert Frost used this saying to represent unnatural separation, in his poem Mending Wall, but separation and clarity of parties in contracts are good. Both parties need to recognize they are separate entities and have their own motivations, considerations, and gains in a contract. By ensuring clarity of each party’s wants, there can be no confusion as to who is to do what in a contract. 

2.   Be certain. In contracts, all parties should be certain of an outcome no matter what direction parties take. Should everything go smoothly and both parties perform, both parties should know exactly what they are getting. If there is an issue with one party’s performance, steps to fix or resolve this issue should be laid out in no uncertain terms.

3.   Be complete, a contract should answer all questions about any transaction and stand by itself (meaning there needs to be no clarification). If there is an unresolvable dispute, a court will only consider what a contract says, not what each party verbally understood or agreed to outside of a written contract. 

4.   Be easily understood. A contract should be drafted so laypeople can clearly            understand expectations and will not lead to confusion. Remember, if there is a dispute, a court or arbitrator with no technical background and no knowledge of this transaction is deciding your fate. 

5.   Like any relationship, contracts open each party up to risk. But also, like any          relationship, a party can gain nothing if they are too afraid of taking a risk of getting hurt. Contracts can attempt to reduce this risk, but a party contracting only to reduce their own risk is not one inspiring confidence. Instead, contracts should foster a trusting relationship. Be open about intentions, clear on requests or needs, and do not make assumptions. By fostering trust, a contract is nothing to fear.

Investing in a building without a contract (or with a minimal one) puts both parties at risk. In following articles I will endeavor to reduce risks for both new building owners as well as their providers/contractors.

Spokane? Roof Steel Starts? and Winging It!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Your from Spokane area? Can one construct a custom pole building as home Spokane county? Would you have any references of builders in my area to consider? TERRY in MEAD

DEAR TERRY: Yes, I was born and raised in Spokane – still have a plethora of family members there (as well as a home).

You (as well as anyone else) can construct a post frame (pole building) home anywhere in the United States. Post frame buildings are totally Code conforming structures. Keep in mind you WILL have to have engineering for your building, which is why it is most beneficial to deal with a building provider who can get engineer sealed plans for you to obtain your Building permit.

The builders we refer are what is known as “technicians” – they are the people who swing hammers and drive nails and screws. They are generally unqualified to assist you through the design phase of your proposed project. Once you have determined the features which best meet your needs for space and your budget, we can provide names of several who you can then vet to determine which will be the fit for you.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a question on first roof metal sheet. How far do I overlap the end soffit fascia board? BILLY in VENICE

DEAR BILLY: The leading edge of the first panel of roof steel should fall directly dead center of the varge rafter. It should not, in any case, extend beyond the rafter.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking to build a 20’x12′ pole barn style roof/structure overtop a deck adjoining to 12’x12′ shed all next to a concrete deck/pool. The deck will be connected to the 12’x12′ shed, sharing same roof with having a 4:12 pitch metal roofing on 2×4 perlins. Shed will be 2×4 framed, 2×6 floor joists/frame, 2×6 rafters, 12″ o.c. My deck plan is 2×6 PT framed wrapping around 6×6 posts and using 10 post support pier blocks (6 in middle spaced every 3rd joist and 1 each between 6×6 post to support 2×6 frame). Will that suffice?

– can I use 6×6 PT posts 10′ o.c. with a single 2×12 notched into 6×6 for top header? Or would doubled 2x12s be needed (notched)
– 10 engineered trusses 24″ o.c. on 2×12 header? Or doubled trusses at posts—giving 6 total trusses

Thank you. Your site is very informative. RYAN in MOUNT HOLLY

RYAN: In a nutshell – no, your ideas will not be structurally sufficient. This is one of the reasons the State of New Jersey requires engineer sealed plans for all structures – it is the insurance every building is designed to meet with the requirements of the Building Codes and to protect you and your loved ones from the consequences of the unexpected collapse of some or all of your building.


Roof Trusses? Contractor Reviews, and Insulation Installation!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to rip off my current roof of trusses that are made of 2x4s 2 feet on center with new one of mono-pitched trusses that are every 4-ft or less on center. The roofing material on top of the new trusses would be a SIP panel of some sort. The unfinished ceiling would be the bottom of the SIP panel. The house would have exposed trusses to create a loftier feel as the ceilings are currently too low. (house is 28 ft wide by 30 feet long)

Is this something that you can help with — the design & manufacture of the trusses/roof?


DEAR NATHAN: Your Building Department is going to require engineer sealed plans in order to issue a building permit for your project. As such, your best bet is to hire a local engineer who is experienced in wood frame construction to provide your plans. They should come out to your house and do a thorough investigation into the adequacy of the structure to support the loads.

Some thoughts to consider – SIPs are going to prove to be very expensive. You could create a more spacious feel by constructing a knee wall on top of one of the existing walls, then use I joists or parallel chord trusses – either of which can be insulated between to give an adequate R value.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How can I find independent customer reviews in Washington state for Pride in Construction. GINGER in TACOMA

DEAR GINGER: Getting independent customer reviews on any building contractor anywhere is a challenge, as most builders do not construct enough buildings to develop much of a track record either good or bad.

Here are the seven steps to not getting yourself burned by any contractor, follow these: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/contractor-6/ and require a performance bond and you will greatly limit your risk of not getting the finished product you expected. Here is Performance Bond information: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I will be installing insulation under the steel roof. Are staple guns the best choice for temporary stabilization until the roof is added? What length staples? Which gauge staples? Narrow? Electric, air or grip staple gun? Recommendations? I will be using metal tape to join each roll of insulation side-by-side.

Trying not to re-invent the wheel, that’s why I went Hansen of course. RALPH in KENNEWICK

DEAR RALPH: From Chapter 14 of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Installation Guide: Using a minimum 5/16” galvanized staple, staple through insulation to eave purlin top. As an alternative to staples, 1” galvanized roofing nails (with the big plastic washers) also work well.

These fasteners are only going to be needed long enough to get a sheet of steel on top of them, so there is no occasion to get fancy at this juncture. I’ve found a tack hammer to be more than adequate.

Keep in mind, the one edge of each roll of A1V insulation has a pull strip on it, with adhesive under the pull strip. This eliminates the need to use rolls of tape to adjoin each piece of insulation.


Dear Pole Barn Guru: Wood or Steel 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: Should I go with wood, or 12 or 14 gauge steel trusses? DELIBERATING DEE

DEAR DELIBERATING: I came from the prefabricated wood roof truss industry, having spent nearly two decades either having built them myself, been a designer, managing or owning roof truss manufacturing plants.

 In my experience I learned prefabricated wood trusses are amazing products. Not only can they be utilized for a myriad of different application, they also are a highly engineered product. Every component of a wood roof truss is put through a rigorous computer analysis, which verifies all members are capable (when properly installed and braced) to be able to withstand not only the snow loads to which they will be subjected, but also wind loads. The entire process is remarkably complex, involving the most up-to-date research available. Because of this, wood roof trusses just do not experience failures, within the parameters of the design loads.

 Besides all of this, pre-fabricated roof truss manufacturers are required, by the Building Codes, to be inspected quarterly by an independent firm for quality control. These inspections are done without any advance notice – the inspector just shows up unannounced. The truss company must supply the engineer sealed drawings for every truss the inspector wants to review. No engineering and the trusses must be destroyed. The inspectors are so thorough, they even take a micrometer to the steel roof truss plates, to confirm they are the correct thickness! The size and grade of every piece of wood in the truss is verified to meet or exceed what is specified on the drawings, and all of the joints between the wood members are checked to make sure they are tight. Even the placement of the steel plates must match what is shown on the drawings.

 The inspector also looks to make sure completed trusses are adequately stored to prevent deterioration of the wood members and to prevent damage to the truss plates.

 In other words, the inspections are rigorous.

 When I owned my first business, in Oregon, we hired a very nice gentleman to be a pole building sales person for us. Originally from Arkansas, Stan’s father built light gauge steel truss frames for “pole” buildings (in their case, the entire structural framework was made of steel, so they actually were not pole buildings – but rather light gauge steel frame buildings).

 Stan discussed with me his interest in building the same type of frames and distributing them in the Pacific Northwest. While I didn’t see this as a fit for our particular niche (we were pole buildings only), I did give Stan my blessings to head out on his own and start his own business.

 Apparently things were a little different where Stan was from – the steel truss frames there were made of steel angle iron for the top and bottom chords, and rebar was welded in between for the internal webbing. Engineering was never a requirement, Stan’s daddy just built them using seat-of-the pants – with the assumption if they worked in the past, then they would work in the future.

 The Pacific Northwest was not quite the same as Arkansas, as Stan quickly found out. In order to acquire building permits (required on most uildings in the West), Building Departments required engineer sealed drawings for the steel truss frames. Having to engineer the trusses resulted in upgrades to the designs – no more rebar for truss webs, they had to use angle iron there as well. Plus, it required certified welders having to do the fabrication. These requirements added exponentially to the cost of the frames, and made them have to play by rules similar to the prefabricated wood roof truss industry.

Stan long ago sold his interest in the company he founded, but it continues to fill a place in the market. The buildings are generally 15-20% more than post frame construction.

 As to the choice of trusses, most people are very comfortable working with wood as wood tends to be very forgiving. Attaching wood roof purlins to a steel framework is not as easy or straightforward as wood to wood.

 Part of the answer to your question is – what is it going to cost? In order to get a direct comparison, make sure the proposed light gauge steel trusses being quoted come with wet sealed (not photo copied) structural drawings. The drawings should also include the requirements for bracing. Steel trusses normally take diagonal steel struts from the bottom chord of the truss, up to the roof purlins, to prevent buckling of the trusses in the weak direction. The bracing, as well as any connectors should be included in the price. Detailed instructions should be provided so the trusses are adequately attached to the columns, and for installation of the bracing.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have someone to install your buildings? TEXAS JEFF

DEAR TEXAS: Hansen Pole Buildings is a supplier of pole building kit packages only.

 You do not need to hire a contractor to build your pole building. Our buildings are designed for the do-it-yourself person. Most of our clients do their own construction. We believe our drawings and industry-leading Construction Guide are clear enough to make the task relatively simple, even for the first-time builder. Keep in mind this is a material kit, not a completely pre-fabricated structure. Assembly, including measuring and cutting, will be required. You will be required to have (or borrow or rent) various hand tools. If you are not comfortable with putting up your own building, a contractor should be available at a reasonable price. We have found the average person who can read and understand English can, and will, build a better building for him or herself than most contractors. Why? Because it’s YOUR building and you will take the time and care to do it “right”.                                                                                  

We are clearly not contractors in any sense of the word. We do not construct, build or repair buildings (or portions of buildings) anywhere for anyone. Should you need a builder, we DO have a list of builders for nearly anywhere in the country. Please call our office to receive a builder referral.

 Keep in mind, a referral is not an endorsement on Hansen Pole Buildings part of the particular builder’s skills or lack thereof, As none of them work directly for us, we can’t guarantee the quality of their work, We DO have a “one strike and you’re out” rule for our referral list. Simply, if we receive even one verifiable and legitimate negative complaint about any particular builder, we will no longer give out their name to our clients. While this is not a fail-safe method, it does afford some degree of protection, it is always a good idea to speak with other customers the builder has done work for in the past, to get an idea of the builder’s professionalism.



Pole Building Kits: A Pat on the Back

If there is one thing I have learned in three decades plus of providing pole building kits, it is this – the hardest people to please, are builders.

This pat on the back, from a builder, was so good we felt the need to share the bruises we have from it.

Rachel, our most senior Building Designer related to me in an email:

I just got off the phone with John King who had purchased a pole building kit from us and put a building up for Mark in Plymouth Meeting, PA.  I had called him to ask if he would be interested in bidding labor on some other jobs in the area and this is what he said…..

Are you kidding…of course I would.  You have the best building I have ever seen.   The plans were easy to read and were absolutely fantastic.  The construction manual was right on key and there was NOTHING left out of that manual.  If I had to teach a class on putting up pole buildings, I would use your manual and teach it from there. The materials came on time and without a hitch.  The customer service was ABSOLUTELY fantastic.  This was the easiest building I have ever constructed and I would be happy to deal with your company anytime!!”

And this, my friends, is what motivates me to roll out of bed in the dark and be in the office at six a.m.