Tag Archives: DIY pole buildings

Storage Barn to Dwelling

Storage Barn to Dwelling

Reader JD in FAIRPLAY writes:

“I have read over your blogs & my head is spinning. However, you obviously know your stuff. My question is this, do you have a trusted company or guy who can help me design & build a 30x60x16 RV garage that will meet the requirements of my county, Anderson County SC, to be converted into a human dwelling in the future? I own the land. There are no zoning issues as the property is unzoned & can be used for anything, providing the structure meets county guidelines. I currently have a permit from the county to construct a “storage barn” of these dimensions with concrete floor. However, I don’t want to proceed, only to find out later that what I want to do can’t be done due to an over site I made in the design, construction process. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.”

You will want to have your building engineered (as in engineer sealed plans specific to your building, on your site) for Risk Category II and R-3 (residential) occupancy.

Your new post frame building kit from Hansen Pole Buildings is designed for the average physically capable person, who can and will read and follow instructions, to successfully construct your own beautiful building shell (and most of our clients do DIY – saving tens of thousands of dollars). We’ve had clients ranging from septuagenarians to fathers bonding with their teenage daughters erect their own buildings, so chances are – you can as well!

pole building warrantyYour new building investment includes full multi-page 24” x 36” structural blueprints detailing the location and attachment of every piece (as well as suitable for obtaining Building Permits), the industry’s best, fully illustrated, step-by-step installation manual, and unlimited technical support from people who have actually built post frame buildings. Even better – it includes our industry leading Limited Lifetime Structural warranty!

Currently (and for the foreseeable future) there is a nationwide shortage of building erectors. Most 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 you are being price gouged. ALWAYS THOROUGHLY VET ANY CONTRACTOR https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/vetting-building-contractor/

Nightmare From a Local Pole Building Contractor

Nightmare From a Local Pole Building Contractor

Reader RICK in OOLTEWAH writes:

Regrettably, after going with a local “pole building” contractor I find myself with a semi-completed building and a number of issues (I believe) to work through. The attached photos will hopefully help complete the picture. I was mostly ignorant of the pole building process, best practices, etc., instead just trusting the builder. I’m less ignorant now, thanks to your blog, but my timing could have been much better. I contracted to have a 30x40x12, to be used as a garage/machine shop, built on a leveled dirt pad, to be concreted later. After two months of waiting with said dirt pad ready, through several rainstorms, the contractor sent materials and a crew. They moved quickly, mostly getting the building up in a day. So quickly that no one noticed the standard trusses, not scissor as agreed upon. A 12′ overhead door (again stipulated) was not possible, and a 10’6″ went up in its place. This was a distraction until another hard rain showed water flow directly under the wall, highlighting what I think is the bigger issue. The splash plank has, in places, large gaps underneath (3-6″). By itself not so concerning, but for the fact there is no exposed splash plank on the exterior. The siding and edge trim is run to absolute bottom (nearly to grade). Meanwhile the doors float roughly 8 inches above grade/bottom edge of the trim/splash plank. This leaves a monstrous gap between the overhead when fully down and the highest the grade can go without backfilling against metal. Measurement inside shows exactly 12′ from the TOP of the splash plank to the bottom of the truss. They apparently zeroed out the build from the top of the plank, not the bottom, leaving the better part of 8 inches to make up for in the approach, fill and concrete, and a number of other areas. At this point the contractor has not called in a month, leaving off at “having a guy come install the cupola”. The silver lining for me thus far is I only have 1/3 of the money paid in. Given the way things have gone, I’m in no rush to give him any more, at least without being able to spell out what the problems and solutions are. I keep hoping Im still misunderstanding the process, and am seeing problems where there are none. But if that isn’t the case, what can be corrected and how?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

You are not alone, thousands of people, just like you, contract to have new buildings erected by “professional” building contractors, only to find what they thought they were getting and what they have received are two different animals. This is just one of many reasons why I encourage people to consider DIY instead – as an average physically able person who will read instructions often ends up with a much nicer finished product than what they would have paid for. If one lacks either time or ability to self-build, it is imperative to know fully what one has ordered and to literally camp out on site to verify work is done as agreed upon.

Hold on to your money tight until all issues are rectified. You do hold the ‘upper hand’ as your building has not been built as stipulated in your contract agreement – it does not have scissor trusses, nor a 12 foot tall overhead door. Rightfully, you could demand and it is likely a court would agree, for said building to be taken down and replaced with what you had ordered.

In order to reach a compromise solution, and provided you can get by with 11’3″ of height going through your overhead door, I would propose this:

Builder to add a 2×4 Pressure Preservative treated to UC-4A or better, below current splash plank.

Overhead door to be changed out to 11’3″ tall (as I can tell from your photos, it appears there is six inches from bottom of your building’s current splash plank to bottom of door).

Builder to fine grade interior to be even with bottom of newly installed treated 2×4.

Builder to grade exterior for 10 feet around building to slope at 5% from bottom of treated 2×4 outward away from building.

While this is not what you agreed upon, it may afford a practical solution to a nightmare you never should have had.

P.S. While crew is onsite, they should replace trim to right of your overhead door opening. Having a splice at this location is both unsightly and dangerous. They should also place a screw on both sides of every high rib of steel siding and roofing at both bottom and top ends of every panel (you will find this will then match manufacturer’s installation instructions).

Do You, or Anyone Else You Trust, Build In or Near (fill in the blank)?

This question was put forth by reader TARILYNN in FREEDOM.

It (or a similar variant) also gets posted roughly 10 to 20 times daily in various social media groups.

I spent most of a decade as a registered General Contractor in multiple states. At times we would have as many as 35 crews erecting buildings in six states. We had some very, very good crews – among them ones I had do work for me personally. Even being best does not come without some potential pitfalls and pratfalls however. About once a year or so my best crew would, for whatever unexplained reason, totally struggle with a building. Maybe it was a bad planetary alignment, but it does happen.

An absolute best way to avoid unforeseen challenges with a builder is to do it yourself.

Here at Hansen Pole Buildings we provide fully engineered, custom designed post frame buildings, with multiple buildings in all 50 states. Our buildings are designed for average physically capable persons who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings (and many of our clients DIY). Our buildings come with full 24” x 36” blueprints detailing location and attachment of every piece, a 500 page fully illustrated step-by-step installation manual, as well as unlimited technical support from people who have actually built buildings. For those without time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering every state except Alaska and Hawaii (although some of these builders would probably volunteer to travel to them, depending upon time of year). We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders. We would appreciate an opportunity to participate in your new home, garage, shop or commercial building. Please email your building specifics (or barndominium plans), site address and best contact number to Caleb@HansenPoleBuildings.com 1(866)200-9657 .

Prior to contracting with any building contractor (even one proposed by us) we strongly encourage you to read this series of articles: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/a-contractor-for-your-new-barndominium/

What Hansen Pole Buildings Offers for Prospective Barndominium Owners

What Hansen Pole Buildings Offers for Prospective Barndominium Owners

If you are considering building a barndominium or shouse (shop/house), whether DIY or with a contractor’s involvement, there is one very important question to ask:

“Do you personally live in a barndominium?”

If you do not receive a resounding, “YES” for an answer, you may want to rethink your choice.

My lovely bride and I have lived in our Hansen Pole Building along South Dakota’s Lake Traverse for 15 years now. This being my third personal barndominium, dating back some thirty years, I can speak with experience few others can.

Hansen VisionAt Hansen Pole Buildings, we are literally “All About the Building” and we strive to provide “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™”. Every single one of our fully engineered post frame buildings is custom designed to best fit our client’s wants and needs. Rarely will we be least expensive, however we will always provide a best value solution.

This process ideally begins in infancy stages, with a determination of fiscal reality – highly tempered by individual tastes and how much effort one is willing or able to put into their new home. Those willing to be their own General Contractors can plan upon saving roughly 25% over hiring a builder to turn key and 50% for DIYing as much as possible. We have found any physically capable person, who is willing to read step-by-step directions in English can successfully erect their own beautiful building, and many do. We have even had septuagenarian couples do their own construction!

Most often a DIY barndominium turns out with better results than one could ever hire done – because you truly care about how it turns out.

Once a budget has been established, it is time to ‘find the dirt’. Without knowing where your barndominium will be located, it is impossible and impractical to determine how your new home should be planned. Important aspects such as direction of access, curb appeal and views play into a well thought out design.  Directional orientation is important, with heat loss or gain determined by location and number of windows, as well as design of shading from overhangs. Slope of site determines needs for significant grade work or placing upon a full or partial basement or crawl space.

Moving closer to actuality we provide direction and encouragement in determining your family’s needed spaces, sizes and orientation to each other. Work from your home’s inside rather than trying to fit what your needs are into some pre-ordained space. With this information in hand, we offer a potentially free, professional floor plan and building elevation service to take all of your ideas, wants and needs and actually craft a floor plan best melding them with realities of construction.

Whether you have utilized our plan service, or have a plan of your own, your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will work directly with you to make recommendations to provide a home most practical for you. You have total choice over a virtually unlimited number of aspects. Your being directly involved eliminates builders taking advantage of you in order to pad their bottom line. Hansen Pole Buildings does have a unique Instant Pricing™ system, allowing your Building Designer to make changes and have a near instantaneous answer as to what your investment will be as various dimensional and feature changes are contemplated.

We are very conscious about design for energy efficiency. Power is unlikely to ever become less expensive, so getting at or as close as possible to a net zero design is paramount.

Need financing for your new barndominium? We work with several lenders who actually understand post frame barndominiums and can assist with this phase.

After your building order has been placed, it moves from your Building Designer’s desk to our design team. Before going to one of our skilled draftspeople every building comes across my desk for personal review – mostly in an aspect of what will or will not work structurally, Building Code compliance and how to increase building efficiency without compromising functionality.

Once your structural building plans are completed, you get to review them for accuracy prior to our independent Registered Professional Engineer going over every member and connection as a final assurance of structural soundness. Only after all of these steps have been completed are your engineer sealed plans, along with verifying structural calculations, sent to you to acquire necessary building permits.

Even if your jurisdiction does not require building permits, structural plan reviews or do inspections, having engineer sealed plans is your assurance of structural adequacy. There are insurance companies who give discounts to those who build fully engineered homes, so ask your agent for yours.

You have access through our online portal to follow your building’s process, reschedule build dates, report any damaged or missing materials, as well as requesting unlimited technical support from those who have actually built post frame buildings.

Even after your barndominum is complete and you have sent us digital photos of your beautiful new home, our commitment to you does not end. Hansen Pole Buildings provides a Limited Lifetime Structural warranty covering your home and regardless of how many years you have had your building, should you have questions or concerns, we are available to assist.

Hansen Pole Buildings is Number One

We Are Number One

 Hopefully you can survive the obnoxious YouTube commercial at the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04854XqcfCY.

Unlike the champions in Queen’s iconic 1977 hit “We Are The Champions”, Hansen Pole Buildings has merely won, from BUILD Magazine, their “Award for Outstanding Pole Barn Kits – USA” for 2018. It isn’t the world, however we like to believe we are the champions.

Whilet it is all fun to be recognized by the outside world, the true satisfaction comes from the kind words we receive from our clients, as well as the photos of their lovely workmanship. The pride of ownership of a project well done is overwhelming and we thank our clients for their unsurpassed kindness as well as the terrific photos.

About Hansen BuildingsHansen Pole Buildings does not rest upon our laurels, however. We are constantly working with RDPs (Registered Design Professionals – architects and engineers), as well as our valued vendors to develop new and better systems which deliver even greater value and long term successful performance to our clients. Our IT team is diligently adding to our Instant Pricing™ program to increase functionality, provide more custom and intricate options, as well as to decrease the window of time from order to delivery through automation.

It also is not as though we feel we alone are brilliant. The custom post frame building kit packages we provide are the result of hundreds of thousands of completed buildings, with input from D-I-Yers and builders all across the country.  Have a product, concept or idea which might make us and our buildings better? Don’t be shy about sharing – we love hearing from you!

In the meantime, please continue (or begin for the newcomers) enjoying reading both these blog articles as well as Monday’s “Ask the Pole Barn Guru” column, as I strive to entertain and inform.

Every member of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ team strives for one thing – to deliver “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience”™!


Pole Barn Roof Leaks

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: Would like some pricing information on a building similar to project number 04-0509. We want it for residential use. Want 2 story, the inside open to the ceiling with exposed beams. Basically I want a kit to get the building in the dry, then go inside and frame out how we want the floor plan. Can build myself, just want a kit if it is available. Please send pricing info. Thank you.

DEAR MICHAEL: As every building we have ever provided has been custom designed to best meet the needs of the individual client, we can certainly modify a previous project to your desires. The beauty of post frame construction is it allows almost unlimited flexibility for locations of interior walls and partitions.

In order to provide pricing info, we will need to know where the building will be located, so proper climactic conditions can be applied (wind and snow loads). We’d also recommend you contacting one of our Building Designers at (866)200-9657 so we can best customize your ideal dream building.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We recently built a pole barn home, the whole outer shell is metal. We blew insulation in the attic, but did not vent it (to my knowledge) now when our central air unit kicks on, it blows hot stuffy air for a few seconds. Is this because of the attic not being vented? Will this cause us problems in the future? SYNTYCHE IN SENATH

DEAR SYNTYCHE: Without knowing a lot more about the installation of your central air system I cannot speak to it. You would be best to contact your local HVAC expert for a solution.

You WILL have problems with an unventilated dead air space attic. The Building Codes require any dead attic spaces to be ventilated to help prevent mold and mildew issues, keep attic insulation from getting wet from excess moisture and to help keep the attic from becoming unbearably hot.

Probably your best solution is to add gable vents. If they are in the upper one-half of the attic, the vents need to provide at least one square foot of free ventilation for every 300 square feet of attic. If the vents must be in the lower one-half, then twice the free ventilation area is required.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a pole shed approximately 27 x 40.

It was on our property when we bought it 2 years ago.

The steel on our pole barn roof leaks. It has nails (not screws)

Is it possible and/or recommended to replace it?

If so, any ballpark on how much it would cost?

Thanks so much.



DEAR ANN: You are not the first person to have a leaking steel roof and probably not the last. Here is some reading on why it leaks: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/01/steel-roof/

It is both possible and recommended to remove the existing steel and replace it.

The actual length of the steel and number of pieces will depend upon roof slope and overhangs. You should also replace the ridge cap, rake trims, ridge and eave closures and reflective roof insulation. For budgetary purposes, plan on roughly $2-3 per square foot for the materials to repair pole barn roof leaks.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi: I have been reading through your website and have a question.  I am from Wisconsin, and am wanting to building a pole garage, there are lots of options out there.  My main interest is keeping costs down in its construction and the best way to do that is to build it myself.  I am no builder but am intelligent enough to build it myself, if, I have good detailed directions/instructions.  I want to spend my money on good high quality building materials.  So my question to you is, if I buy the materials from you, could you also supply the detailed construction manual to help me build this pole garage myself?  I plan to heat this garage, am making it bigger to not only park vehicles but added space for a small workshop.

Kind regards,


DEAR DAVE: You are absolutely correct about being able to keep your costs down by doing it yourself. And you certainly can successfully construct for yourself a great building: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/01/build-it-yourself/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/02/pole-buildings-3/

Part of what you get with every building is our 500 page Construction Manual, which seriously covers pretty much everything imaginable (and a few things which are beyond imagination): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/07/how-often-and-why-building-technical-support/

Of course the plans are so specific, you will be amazed, down to the last board: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/10/pole_building_plans/

You get plans drafted specifically for your pole building kit. Included in the plans is a pole layout, roof framing plan, cut-away section of the interior, and all four walls. To boot, we throw in the steel or osb layout sheet as a bonus. We have thousands upon thousands of proud clients, we’ll look forward to seeing the photos of your new building!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru


Storage Wars

We don’t have network television access out here in the sticks where I live, so we see little TV except for Netflix.

Our 19 year-old son Brent was out to visit one afternoon and started watch a program originally aired as a reality TV series in 2010 on the A&E Network. I suppose I always knew Americans were hoarders, but Storage Wars gave it an entirely new spin for me.

The premise of Storage Wars is, the contents of storage units with unpaid rent have their contents sold by an auctioneer as a single lot of items in a cash-only auction. Storage Wars follows professional buyers who purchase the contents based only upon a five-minute inspection of what can be seen from the unit door when it is open. The goal of the potential buyers – turn a profit!

storage-units55 years ago there were no self-storage facilities at all in the United States, today there are now 2.3 BILLION square feet of self-storage space in the United States. This equates to over seven square feet of storage for every single person alive in the U.S. today!!

Before 1996 only 6% of the population used storage services, in contrast to 65% of today’s population. Over the past four decades, self-storage has been one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S.

In the 1980’s my Dad had done a fair amount of research into the post frame industry and felt he had a pretty good grasp as to what it takes to be profitable.

#1 Dirt – the land needs to be affordable, located conveniently and not have overly onerous Planning Department requirements.

#2 Unit mix – having a broad variety of sizes allows customers to move up in size when their belongings expand.

In 1991 I built a self-storage project with three buildings – totaling 20,400 square feet. I couldn’t convince the owner to go with anything other than 10’x20’ units. When he couldn’t pay me, I foreclosed and became an, “I really don’t want to own this, owner”. It was a true challenge only having a single size to offer.

My frequent readers are familiar with the adventures working on Eric’s new storage facility. With a unit mix of three 5’x10’, two 10’x10’, five 10’x15’, five 10’x20’, five 12’x22’ and five 12’x27’ – he has covered all of the most popular size bases.

#3 Don’t overpay for the building, or scrimp trying to cheap out. Here is where pole buildings shine – great value for the investment and for the DIYer, it offers a tremendous money savings. Make your storage building look attractive. Eric’s building has “warm” inviting colors as stone for siding with contrasting dark gray for wainscot, roof and trim. The impression you want to have shine is your storage building is a clean place to store valuable “stuff” where folks are willing to pay for the space.

My bride and I recently took a motorcycle trip to Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. Although it was no surprise there were storage buildings for boats, even we were amazed at row after row of storage buildings for miles on end – both on the U.S. and Canada side of the border.

Next break from watching Storage Wars, get out the pencil and paper and see if the numbers could work for you. Most self-storage properties are free and clear within five to seven years!

Guru: Where is Hansen Pole Buildings?

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 or Saturday 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: Forget about quoting me anything, I had no idea you were in MN. MEANDERING IN METHOW

DEAR MEANDERING: Yes, we are “in” MN.  We are also in ND, SD, ID, WA, OR, PA, NM, TX…..Have you ever ordered anything from Amazon.com? Amazon.com happens to be based in Seattle, however they ship from both their own warehouses all over America, as well as from third party fulfillment centers.

Think of Hansen Pole Buildings as being the Amazon.com exclusively for post frame & pole buildings. We ship from locations in all 50 states (including Omak and Wenatchee) – our home office just happens to be on the MN/SD border. Truth be told, our home “base” is in South Dakota, which really “is neither here nor there” when we service all 50 states as if they were all in our “own backyard”.  We have pole buildings in every state in America, most of them in the Pacific Northwest (a ton of them in WA), which just happens to be prime country for pole buildings.

Chances are good, wherever someone needs a pole building, we are going to be shipping the majority of the building components from locations nearby the building site, within 100 miles or less.

Just like Amazon.com, we are logistical wizards.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have an existing 40′ x 56′ x 12 pole barn. I am wanting to build a 28′ x 40′ x 8′ living quarters in the rear of building. There is no house wrap or insulation now. What is the best way to air seal and insulate the living quarters? A local contractor suggested 2″ of open cell spray, and then fiberglass over that. Will spray foam eventually rot the metal? Could I use a vapor/air barrier over the metal, and then use fiberglass. I guess I would have to remove the exterior metal in order to install house wrap?

I also read where I could install Roxul stone wool insulation directly over the metal, and put plastic over that. Then dryall.


DEAR WAITING: I’d remove the wall steel in the area you want to convert to a living quarters, placing a high quality housewrap over the framing and putting the wall steel back on – use inside closure strips at the top and bottom of the wall panels as well as above any doors and above and below any windows.

I’d recommend the use of BIBs insulation in the walls, rather than batts – it fills all of the voids and results in a higher R value and better system performance.

The spray foam is unlikely to rot the steel, however it is a very expensive solution.

Why Men Don’t Build Their Own Pole Buildings; Why not?!

Andy Hinds has been pounding nails into wood ever since he was a kid and gives his father the credit for passing along the carpentry skills. In a recent Atlantic article, Hinds reminisces about helping to build the family cabin in Montana:

Dad built walls and sidewalks, installed woodstoves, laid tile, added electrical circuits and plumbing fixtures, fixed furnaces, and, at the cabin, ten years after it was first built, contrived an indoor plumbing system featuring an elaborate pump rig that sent the waste up the mountain to a septic tank. His only training in construction and mechanical work had been summer jobs on the railroad and growing up in a time and place where men didn’t own things they couldn’t fix.

Now he’s a writer and stay-at-home dad of twin girls. But he still falls back on his skills and takes the occasional carpentry or contractor job. He’s noticed something interesting: If there’s a man in the home when he shows up, a list of excuses usually comes up.

Hinds divides those excuses into three categories: the awkward and self-deprecating guy who apologizes for his lack of knowledge; the man who claims he is too busy to do the work himself, and the man who thinks handyman tasks are beneath him.

“When working with female clients, I’ve rarely noticed any signs of chagrin at having to pay someone to do manual labor,” he wrote. “But the expectation that men should be able to perform the traditionally ‘masculine’ work around the house still exists, to some extent, even if the social infrastructure doesn’t; and sometimes the discomfort it causes is evident in conversations I have with men who hire me.”

Pole Building ConstructionWhen it comes to constructing pole buildings from kit packages, there is no reason for any physically capable adult to not be able to build a beautiful building for themselves.

By investing in a kit which has detailed full sized blue prints (where every last board is shown on the plans), as well as explicit instructions covering every step of the process, lack of knowledge is taken off the table.

Too busy? You and a couple of buddies can construct a two car garage over a weekend, and still have time to catch the Sunday afternoon game and celebrate with a few cold ones. No building goes up as quickly as pole buildings can and do!

Handyman tasks – the pride of having constructed a beautiful new building will more than outweigh the “having to do it yourself”.


Marketing Basics: DIY Pole Building Kits

The basics of marketing teach us (as suppliers of pole building kit packages) to focus our efforts on those most likely to be a customer. If implemented (which most do) the problem becomes the focus is on direct competitors rather than enlarging the pool of potential clients. Everyone becomes more worried about losing a sale to a competitor, than growing the overall market for the product.

In all honesty, when we do not get a sale – it is far more likely to be because the prospective building owner did one of the following: (a) spent his money on something else, (b) decided upon a different construction solution, or (c) did absolutely nothing at all. Many times a potential client will decide to hire a contractor to provide the materials and construct the building – the new building owner does not believe they have the skills necessary to construct their own building.

Personally, I am in and out of “big box” building material stores all of the time. I see thousands upon thousands of people who are taking on D.I.Y. (do it yourself) projects – many of which involve a fair degree of complexity – electrical, plumbing, etc.

It is my feeling some people become intimidated by the thought of constructing their own pole building because of its size, more than anything else.

erector setThink of a post frame building kit as being the larger version of the popular children’s erector set. Certainly the pieces are larger, but everything goes together one piece at a time, in a step-by-step manner.

Having been providing pole building kits now for 33 years, I’ve seen wide variety of different people take on construction of pole buildings themselves. A 66 year-old retiree, who spent all one summer constructing a 14,000 square foot riding arena and stall barn for his wife.  He did everything by himself other than hiring a crane to lift the trusses and having help with getting the steel panels up on the roof. A couple approaching their 80’s, who built their own shop. A father and his 14 year-old daughter, who put up a building as a bonding experience.

Frankly, the average building owner is going to have a far better result, in nearly every case, as opposed to hiring the work done.


Because when you do the work yourself, you care.

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”.

Do It Yourself Pole Buildings: The Ikea Effect

Thanks to Hansen Pole Buildings Designer Bob, for his inspiration on this post!

Have you ever spent a couple of hours working on a craft project — or a presentation for work — and then fallen in love with the accomplishment? Do the colors picked for the PowerPoint background pop so beautifully you just have to sit back and admire your own genius?

If so, get in line: You’re the latest person to fall victim to the Ikea Effect.

Furniture AssemblyThe name for this psychological phenomenon derives from the love millions of Americans display toward their self-assembled furniture (or, dare we say it, their badly self-assembled furniture) from the do-it-yourself store with the Scandinavian name.

“Imagine that, you know, you built a table,” said Daniel Mochon, a Tulane University marketing professor, who has studied the phenomenon. “Maybe it came out a little bit crooked. Probably your wife or your neighbor would see it for what it is, you know? A shoddy piece of workmanship. But to you that table might seem really great, because you’re the one who created it. It’s the fruit of your labor. And that is really the idea behind the Ikea Effect.”

Most of us intuitively believe the things we labor at are the things we love. Mochon and his colleagues, Michael Norton at the Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely at Duke University, have turned this concept on its head. What if, they asked, it isn’t love which leads to labor, but labor which leads to love?

In a series of experiments, they have demonstrated people attach greater value to things they built than if the very same product was built by someone else. And in new experiments published recently, they’ve discovered why it happens: Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others you are competent.

Having been involved with thousands of clients who have constructed their own pole buildings, over the past three plus decades, I’ve seen the results of those who have self-assembled.  It’s astounding.

Given specific plans and good directions, these do-it-yourselfers generally end up with a far better finished building than they ever could have paid to have constructed.  And to be honest, most of these folks are lucky to have used a hammer a time or two in their lifetime before they constructed their own pole buildings.

The why, is simple….people care about their own buildings. They don’t race through the construction process trying to cut corners to save money or ignore important details.  They read directions, study the plans and if they have a question….they ASK before making a huge mistake.  OK, usually they ask.  But even if they make a “boo-boo” they are quick to humbly admit it and ask for guidance in correcting it.

From advanced geriatrics, many older couples…hubby and wife teams… to dads building with their teenage daughters as a bonding experience, I’ve been able to witness a plethora of different combinations of age, as well as prior skill sets. When it comes to constructing a pole building package, the adage is true more often than not.

If you want it done right, do it yourself.

Be on the Lookout for More Pole Buildings!

The post-frame construction market has the potential to grow to $8.9 billion by 2016, up from $6.4 billion in 2011, finds a new report by FMI Corporation, a management consulting firm in Raleigh, NC. The report predicts the residential/suburban and light-commercial markets will be the fastest growing segments of the post-frame market in the next 5 years.

The report was conducted for the National Frame Building Association (NFBA) to provide a fact-based assessment of the U.S. post-frame market. The findings are based on online surveys and in-depth interviews with a diverse group of builders, architects, and manufacturers (both NFBA members and nonmembers) and on previous research.

Several key benefits of constructing pole buildings were noted by those who participated in the research, including its low cost compared to traditional building methods, quick speed of construction, adaptability—meaning it lends itself well to different designs and end uses.

While the recent recession hit the post frame industry pretty hard in the middle of 2008, the request for quotes from potential clients has never wavered. As the economy recovers, consumer confidence is rising and unemployment rates are dropping. All of these things bode well for the pent up demand for pole buildings.

Over the past few years, the number of registered (and qualified) contractors has dropped precipitously. This means, as demand increases, there will be long backlogs in order to get a builder with the skills to read plans and follow assembly instructions properly. Labor prices will increase, making it more favorable for building owners to investigate doing the erection work themselves.

The average physically healthy person, who can and will read instructions, can not only construct their own pole building – but in most cases, will end up with a better finished product than having hired out the construction.

Why? Pride of ownership!

Missouri – the Show Me State on a Pole Building

Show me state - Missour Pole BuildingsWell, gentle reader, if my occasional rants make good reading, or are otherwise entertaining, today should be a treat indeed.

A client (from Missouri) sent us the quote he received from a lumberyard in his area for a new 30’ x 40’ x 12’ pole building. Great price – if I was going to purchase a pole barn kit package and all I cared about was a screaming great price, I’d take two of these.

Now – time to have fun…..as I dissect their quote, which happens to list all of the pieces they propose to provide.

#1-Painted steel – sounds like a good start, until I read, “Figured in 10 year metal”. 10 year metal? Come on now….a good pole building should last a lifetime, and they propose steel with a 10 year warranty? This steel is what is known as “liner panel”. They are designed to be used on the inside of buildings, not exposed to the elements!

#2-Ridge vent. They are quoting a universal ridge vent – strips of square material which is to compress to conform to the ribs of the steel. All well and good, but these products rarely seem to fit 100% snug against the base of the high ribs of the roof steel panels. But, it is something.

#3-Truth in advertising time – “Single Bubble Reflective Insulation R-14.1”.  Hansen Buildings sells literally millions of square feet of reflective insulation. To promote any reflective insulation as being R-14.1, without qualifying how the R rating was calculated, is stepping way out on a limb. A limb the future building owner may not like to stand on.

#4-2×10 #2 Yellow Pine truss carriers. The proposed building has columns every eight feet, with trusses attached to them. What in the heck are the “truss carriers” carrying?

#5-2×6 Treated (no grade mentioned)….can only assume this to be a very undersized splash plank at the base of the building.

#6-2x4x10’ #2 SPF (Spruce-Pine-Fir) – these are wall girts placed barn style every two feet across the endwalls. Obviously meeting the building code criteria for deflection is not a concern.

And now it gets even more interesting. Some things seemed to be completely missing from the pole building quote…steel trims for around the base (rat guard) and at the top of the eave. No stitch screws to attach the ridge cap and rake trims. Inside closure strips for the edge of the roof.

I just have to question their providing “sinkers” to attach framing to pressure treated lumber. Maybe not the best possible choice.

The wonder of the internet allows me to check out what could only be thought of as a rudimentary website. Where I find their mission statement, “To bring our Customers quality products at a great price” great in theory, somehow I have missed it so far based upon their quote.

One click on the “Agricultural Pole Barns” link and I find, “Our contractors build anywhere from 300 to 500 pole barns per year, and we sell an additional 150 to 200 material packages to farmers and “Do-it-yourselfer’s” annually.”

If indeed they do provide this many buildings, surely some sort of even minimal quality standards must exist.  I clicked to view pictures of their pole barns…and was reminded quality comes in many levels – great quality, as well as poor.

Remember my questioning the “truss carriers”, sure enough, they are installed and carrying absolutely nothing!

Base trim/rat guard and the 2×6 pressure treated? The solution is to run the wall steel all the way down to the ground! Any sort of manufacturer’s warranty on the steel just evaporated. If you want to see what happens to steel siding which comes in contact with the ground, I most heartily invite you to visit the Hansen Productions building.  It was built approximately 30 years ago by some previous company (we purchased it about 6 years ago), and has everything you do not want to see happen with a pole building.  The bottom edges of the steel all the way around the building are rusted up from half to over an inch!  Folks, you do not want steel in contact with the ground.

What took the cake for me was….photos of trusses in completed pole buildings with absolutely no truss bracing what-so-ever!! No bottom chord bracing (with single trusses, the absolute maximum spacing for bracing would be every 10’)!!  Truth be told, I would be scared to stand in a building like this on a calm day.

My summation – ignorance is bliss. If these people can sleep at night, it is only because they must be entirely oblivious as to how buildings should be put together. In the event they happen to read this article, I am offering my services, for free, to educate them – before one (or more) of their buildings collapses and someone is injured, or worse yet, killed.


Construction Time: How Long Will it Take to Build?

This is a popular question posed not only by many potential building owners who are considering doing the work themselves, but also by contractors who are considering erecting a building for others.

Before the question of construction time can be addressed, let’s eliminate the one crucial variable – the dirt. The amount of time it takes to lay out a building a dig the holes depends upon so many factors. Is the site level? If it is level, is the pad which is prepared for the building, actually large enough to place the building and batter boards on? Sites which are “too tight” to work on, will slow everything down.

What is the soil like? Soils with medium soil bearing pressures (1500-2000 pounds per square foot), generally are pretty good to dig in. Extremely sandy? Conical shaped holes will be created which are hard to clean out. Lots of clay? When wet it sticks to everything, when dry it can be as hard as concrete. Head sized rocks? An auger will only pull up a rock ½ the diameter of the auger bit. Lots of limestone, granite, or caliche? If it sounds hard, it probably will be.

The type of equipment intended for digging the holes plays a huge part in digging time as well. By hand with a shovel and clam shells is going to be much slower than a line truck with an auger.

So….we are past the dirt.

When I was running my own construction crews, we used to monitor the approximate amount of construction time it would take crews to erect our buildings. Now there were always some exceptional crews, ones who we would shake our heads at wondering how they built things so fast. One particular four man crew, would start on a 60’ x 120’ x 16’ riding arena Monday morning, and be in the office at noon on Friday with the building done. Their secret? They had worked together for so many years, they did not even have to talk to each other on the jobsite. Each knew instinctively what to do next and what their fellow crew members were doing.

When I put up my first prefabricated roof truss assembly building, I contracted with them to install the roof steel. On the 60’ x 84’ building, I was almost disappointed when they completed the roof in under four hours!

Getting back to more average performances….the measure of person hours (yes, I had an all-female crew) to the value of the building ended up being a fairly constant measure. Keeping in mind, this is all my crews did, so they had lots of experience, they would assemble $120 of materials per person hour. Other than the few exceptional crews, this was a solid number to work from with a variability of about 10%.

For the average building owner doing their own work, I’d look at it taking twice as many hours, provided the “homework” of reading the instructions and reviewing plans for the next day’s work was done off actual construction time.

Can you construct a pole building kit package yourself? Most probably, and as long as you read and follow the instructions, it will be a beautiful building. Should you build it yourself? Assuming a $12,000 building kit, plan on somewhere around 200 person hours. Hired out, it is probably reasonable to spend around $6,000 for labor. Obviously this dollar amount will vary greatly from locale to locale. Factors such as distance to travel to a jobsite and the costs for insurance weigh heavily into the equation. If a labor quote is $6,000 and you can build it in 200 hours, you have “paid” yourself $30 per hour.

Besides the cost savings, there is the satisfaction of having created your own beautiful building and chances are – the outcome will be better than having hired it to be done!

Your DIY Pole Building Kit: Does it Come Pre-Cut?

Winter before last, a large Midwest post frame building construction company invited us to visit their offices. This was an opportunity too good to pass up, especially as one of their offerings (at the time) was a precut DIY pole building kit package.

Having spent three decades involved in the design and sales of over 14,000 buildings, I was curious as to how successful this program was.

Unlike milled steel components, wood is organic and with organic products comes a degree of variability. Even kiln dried wood is subject to varying degrees of shrinkage, warp, cup and twist, which when compounded in the length, width and height of a building could result in some challenges if all pieces were precut.

Back to “the other guys”…..they explained they seriously were precutting all of the pieces, placing labels on them and spray painting ends of boards. I happened to notice the pricing of the precut buildings, was pushing the price I would expect to see fully constructed buildings at. One thing which they could not explain to my satisfaction was – what happens if a post is set wrong by even ½ of an inch?

I recently visiting their website, and can’t find the pre-cut DIY Pole Building Kit packages offered any more….interesting.

Frequently potential clients will ask me, with concern in the voices, how much cutting IS going to be involved in constructing their own new Hansen Buildings’ pole building?

This is a very broad question, as the amount of cutting required will depend upon the complexity and features of the building. Construct a building with all columns at 2’ multiples on center and overall lengths and widths being multiples of 3 and cutting is reduced. Pick odd dimensions and column spacings, with lots of door and window openings, expect to cut more.

So what does have to be cut?

After the wall columns are set and the trusses are in place, any column portion which extends above the plane of the roof will need to be trimmed off with a saw.

Most buildings utilize prefabricated roof trusses, no cutting required with them. On buildings with side sheds or wings, rafters will need to be cut.

Assuming columns along the length of the building are set to even spacings, a circular saw makes quick work of cutting off the thickness of a pair of trusses from the overall length of the board.

Wall girts will need to be cut to length to fit between columns and a lot of blocks to support the ends of the girts need to be cut – however they are all cut to equal lengths, so it goes quick and is fairly mindless.

When all of the wood members are cut or trimmed, the scrap materials for even a good sized building probably won’t cover an area the size of a card table. For those of you who are too young to remember card tables – they were not that large!

In most cases, all of the roof and wall steel is shipped precut to length. On peaked ends of buildings, the angle of the roof slope needs to be cut on the top edge. Other places steel will need to be cut are around door and window openings. Keep in mind, anywhere a field cut needs to be done on the steel, a piece of trim has been provided which will cover the cut edge. These cuts do not have to be perfect, just fairly close to the right size.

The DIY pole building kit concept itself was designed for a minimum of waste and the ability for people with limited skills and equipment to be able to successfully construct their own buildings. These precepts have not changed over the decades.

I’ve had geriatrics approaching 80 years, fathers and their daughters, and even women only successfully construct their own beautiful pole buildings. When the job was done, none of them ever complained about how many pieces they had to cut.  Instead they all universally take pride in the jobs they have done and the beautiful buildings they have completed!