Tag Archives: crawl space

Cabin Design Over a Crawl Space

Loyal readers may recall recent articles guest written by recently retired Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Carr as he designed and erected his post frame hunting cabin over a crawl space (his journey began here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/development-of-my-cabin-plans/).

Today ROB in DENVER writes:

“Hi Mike.  I was given your contact info by one of your designers; she suggested I contact you with my questions.

 I’m currently looking at options to put up a cabin in Colorado.  The location is up near Leadville at around 10,000’ elevation and the soil (I’m told by local engineering) does not have much clay; it is more a mixture of sand and rock.  Frost level up there is 4’ down.

 Question A):

 I’ve checked out some of the construction options Hansen lists and I like the option of a pole foundation but I’m a little concerned about possible shifting due to temperature changes, etc.  I definitely would want to do a raised/suspended floor with crawl space underneath (rather than building on slab).  The cabin size I’d like to build is about 24×48’ and I don’t want to have to chase it going “caterpillar” downstream since I’d have no way to raise/lower points if they’re locked into poles.

 Do you have any data/literature you could point me to and/or just provide anecdotal background from your experience putting in these types of cabins under these conditions?  I’d actually like to go 2 floors but I’m then concerned about the additional load it might put onto these poles.

Question B):  My other concern is critters tunneling in and making an unwanted home in the crawl space.  If I’m not going with concrete pad and/or block stem wall foundation around the edges, what means are available to prevent animals from digging under any skirting I’d put on and making their home in the warmer space underneath?

Thanks in advance.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Thank you very much for reaching out to me. We are used to dealing with all sorts of rather extreme conditions, especially temperature change, since we can go from -40 to 110 where we are located.

Question A: Temperature changes are not going to perceptibly cause any shifting of columns, unless you had conditions where frost depth would be greater than four feet and there was enough water in your soil to create a frost heave. Given soil with little or no clay, it is probably a non-issue.

Building columns are actually very strong loaded vertically. We have a lakefront home outside of Spokane, Washington where our 22′ x 24′ garage sits on 14 feet of grade change. Soils are similar in condition to what you describe. Our garage has a four inch thick concrete floor on top of a wood framework 14 feet above grade on downhill side. Above garage level we have attic trusses with a bonus room we use as office space. Below the garage level we have a 16′ x 22′ studio apartment. This building is now 30 years old and has performed admirably with no noticeable settling or column movements, even with two SUVs parked inside. I would have no undue concerns of two stories in your setting.

Question B: You could do what I did and stop the siding at the bottom of floor framing, covering underside of floor joists with OSB, plywood, T1-11 or even steel siding. In Michigan we have run into a “rat wall” ordinance on occasion: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/rat-wall/. Besides solutions offered within the article, one could also use a metal rat wall – constructed out of quarter or half inch mesh (aka hardware cloth). Rolls of mesh are typically three feet wide, so you could dig a trench around your building perimeter two feet deep and a foot in width. Attach top edge to inside of pressure preservative treated splash plank then down and out into trench. Overlap at any splices and use a separate piece on each corner to provide seam corners.

Good Luck! And let me know what you did and how it worked out.

Solutions to Porch Overhang Clearance Issues

Recently KIM in STRATFORD posted this question to a Facebook Barndominium discussion group I am a member of:

“I am trying to finalize my plans today. Is it possible to have 8′ side walls and still have a 6′ overhang open porch on the eave side of the house? I have a 5/12 pitch on the house portion and actually wanted two separate roof lines, one for the house and a separate one for the porch overhang. House is on a slab so no built up foundation walls. I’m not sure if this porch will be too low with the porch roof UNDER the house roof and with a slight slope for water drainage…. Any experts out here?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

For starters, most steel roofing suppliers will not warrant steel placed on slopes of less than  3/12. Continuing out from your main wall six feet at a 3/12 slope will place underside of your overhang at roughly six feet and six inches. Not only could this become a head ringer (at least for my son who is 6’6” tall in his bare feet), but it is going to block clear view out windows in this area. It is also just plane going to feel low.

I did some researching, however I’ve been unable to find a Building Code requirement for clearance below an overhang, however I would have to believe seven foot to be a bare practical minimum. 

You could:

(a) Build over a crawl space, instead of a slab – raising elevation of home and affording a more comfortable surface to live on (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/slab-on-grade-or-crawl-space/) ;

(b) Increase house wall height – you could maintain an 8′ finished ceiling and have raised heel roof trusses to allow for full depth attic insulation from wall-to-wall (very good idea) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/ ;

(c) Use roof trusses wide enough to span from opposite wall to outside edge of porch, with a pitch change at junction between porch and home.

Dial 1(866)200-9657 and ask to speak to a Building Designer. Your call is free and we have great solutions for you.

Thoughts on a Floor

Thoughts on a Floor:  

Brought to you by reader ANDREW in LEBANON:

“Hi! I am looking at purchasing a post frame building to use as a new home. We are well on our way with being under contract for the land and one of your recommended builders is meeting me at the site this week to make sure the land is good/flat enough.

I will be hiring the construction of the exterior and then build the interior myself.

With that said, here is my question (I will do my best to describe it by typing.) Instead of pouring a huge concrete slab (building will be 60×96), I want to do a typical crawl space to be easier to run plumbing and such, plus make changes as needed. Also, concrete slabs are expensive, especially for 5,000+ sqft. What are your thoughts? I will run 2×10 side by side (doubled up) the entire 96′ length supported every 12′ by concrete footers and building columns. This will be roughly 24″ from the ground (haven’t fully decided on the height yet). Along with that, going to 60′ width, I will use 2×8, 16″ OC. I forgot to mention, along the inside perimeter of the posts, I will be running 2x10s attached to the posts. The ends will have the 2×10 laying on top (along with concrete/building posts every 12′), and the joist ends resting on the eave sides.

With all that said (hopefully legible and not rambling), what do you think? I think it is a pretty solid plan and will not only save a lot of money by not doing a slab, I will effectively have a crawlspace. Yes, I know this will raise the entry points so the door looks like it will be off the ground 3+ feet, but I will be putting a decent sized deck on the front as well as a smaller one on the rear point of egress. A quick reply would be greatly appreciated so I can hopefully discuss more with the builder as well as for my own personal planning purposes. Thanks a lot!”

DEAR ANDREW:  I am a fan of living on wood instead of concrete, so crawl space makes total sense to me.

The right way to do this is to have your floor incorporated into the original engineered plans for your building. This will assure you of several things – the footings will be designed with an adequate diameter to resist settling (last thing you want is to have a post or posts sink. It also will make sure the size of the members will be adequate to support the loads both from a weight bearing standpoint as well as deflection. Your doubled 2×10 idea for supporting the floor joists is hugely under designed and it is very possible it would create a failure condition, not something you want to have occur in your new home.

Floor deflection is an under discussed realm (you can read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/wood-floors-deflection-and-vibration/). 2×8 #2 at 16 inches on center and 2×10 #2 at 24 inches on center are going to have virtually the same spanning abilities as floor joists, however the 2×10 floor will meet L/480 requirements for deflection, while the 2×8 joists just barely meet the code minimum of L/360. The added plus – the 2×10 joisted floor takes 16% less board feet of lumber and is less expensive to build!