Tag Archives: energy efficiency

Hardi-Plank Siding, Adding a Loft, and Blower Testing

Closing out the week with one more group of questions for the Pole Barn Guru. Today Mike answers questions about using Hardiplank on a pole building, the addition of a loft to an existing building, and performing a blower test for air leaks.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are going to purchase an older house with wood siding, but might end up replacing the siding with Hardiplank in the near future. I want to build a pole building for a workshop soon. Is it possible to use Hardiplank instead of steel siding on the pole building so that the pole building and the house look similar? MICHAEL in BLACKLICK

DEAR MICHAEL: A post frame building’s beauty is it can have any type of roofing and/or siding desired. We have provided numerous buildings with James Hardie brand or other equivalent cement based sidings, so this would not be an issue. Unless there is some sort of prohibitive covenant, you might consider using steel siding on your home. It will be your most durable and cost effective design solution.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 24×36 pole shop building and am considering building a 13×13 loft for storage on one corner of my shop. The girts are 2s6. My question is can I attach joist hangers directly to the girts for the flooring of the loft above or do I have to reinforce with 2×4 vertically spaced every 16 inches and hang the joist hangers from them? I plan on using 3/4 tongue and groove OSB flooring. CARLOS in CASTLE ROCK

DEAR CARLOS: No, you cannot hang your floor joists off from a wall girt.

You are doing a structural change to your shop – this requires a building permit. You should be consulting with an engineer who can examine your as built structure and determine what needs to be done to safely install a loft. For a space such as this your minimum design loading would be for light storage. Light storage requires a design live load of 125 psf (pounds per square foot). There is a good possibility your building’s wall columns do not have adequate area to support this type of load. Building stud walls is also probably not an answer – as your concrete slab is probably not thick enough to carry a wall with these loads.

Please do not just wing this – hiring an engineer is an inexpensive investment.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi Mike. I’m getting close to start interior finishing and have a question for you. I am trying to get the house as tight as I can so I’ve built a blower door so that I can evacuate the house and look for air leaks. Obviously with the ridge and soffit vents, there’s no chance to de-pressurize the house at all. I have been thinking about drywalling the ceiling so I can separate the main living space and the vented attic. I think I can get the drywall pretty well air sealed then I can check for major air leaks while the walls are still open.

Is what I’m thinking a bad idea? I can’t really think of any good reason why not to do it and there would be a couple of benefits.

Thanks for all the help you and the rest of the Hansen team have been in this whole process. LONNIE in COLORADO SPRINGS

DEAR LONNIE: You have been a pleasure to work with and our team has been waiting anxiously for progress photos from you (hopefully you have lots of them to share).

Your idea is actually not only excellent but is recommended by Green Building Advisor’s editor. Please share your test results as it will be interesting to see what you find and points where increased sealing was needed.





Imagining a Retirement Barndominium

Let us face it – I am among those greying in America. According to United States demographic statistics 14.7% of us (over 41 million) have reached a 62 year-old milestone!

What are we looking forward to in our probably final home of our own? We want to be able to spend our time enjoying life, rather than being slaves to home upkeep.

Loyal reader RUSS in PIPERSVILLE writes:

“We are currently in the “imagining” phase of our retirement home. We hope to be building in Maryland very close to the Chesapeake Bay.

We are trying to plan it as an aging in place home. The building will have the top of floor at 4ft. so as to accommodate the recorded last worst flood tide of 11 feet on the bay. Building dimensions are approx. 30 x 60 with a 9ft interior ceiling height. Do you favor engineered floor joists over dimensional lumber and why?

Planning to use Roxul insulation in the walls for R-30. A 2×8 bookshelf girt is 7.25 in. the same as the insulation batts. Can the insulation be place directly
against steel siding if we choose that system?

Also pretty sure that we will be specifying raised heel trusses for the roof. Can the steel siding accommodate the shear requirements for the trusses and an upgrade of wind load specs, or would something like tall wall or storm side sheathing become more practical? 

I am convinced that you folks are the only company that we will trust with the design and supply of our home. Your blog and learning posts have been an incredible help in this process. Without the information that you folks publish we probably would have made a serious mistake in looking elsewhere for this.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:
Thank you very much Russ for your kind words, they are appreciated.

My thoughts:

I would consider setting underside of my floor framing to be above the highest recorded flood tide and probably give it an extra six inches. As the floor is being elevated, might as well make sure it is never going to be an issue.

I’d look at 10′ ceilings, as well as 9′. You are going to be designing for energy efficiency so heating/cooling differences should be minimal and those 10 foot ceilings are sure nice. Makes everything feel so much more spacious.

About Hansen BuildingsMy preference is engineered prefabricated wood floor trusses. To me, I joists always feel spongy. Dimensional lumber varies greatly in both height dimension as well as stiffness of each piece leading to a feeling of lots of ups and downs as you walk across a floor. Both of the last two make running duct work and plumbing within floor cavity near impossible – leaving things having to hang below the floor’s finished underside.

You can place Roxul directly against wall steel inside, however I would use a Weather Resistant Barrier if going this direction. Me personally, I would flash spray two inches of closed cell foam to wall steel inside and then use 5-1/2 inch batts. Closed cell spray foam completely seals your walls and adds rigidity. You would end up with roughly R-37 walls.

Because your trusses are connected directly to sidewall columns, raised truss heels do not create a greater shear load for sidewall steel.

Try to plan your interior spaces to best fit your needs, rather than to try to fit your needs inside into a preconceived exterior box, a difference of a few cents per square foot is not worth the sacrifice of a needed space. Maximize southern windows and minimize or eliminate north facing ones. Plan southern roof overhangs to shield windows from summer sun. 

I appreciate your well thought out questions and looking forward to being with you on your continued journey.

5 Reasons to Use Post Frame Construction in Sustainable Architecture

Green building concepts are not a new trend, and so our planet can breathe a sigh of relief, there is increasing pressure on construction industries to go for green initiatives and use sustainable building materials having greater strength and stability. Post-frame construction is proving to be a huge asset to a building industry demanding delivery of high-quality sustainable architecture with good value.    

So what makes post-frame construction an ideal solution for green building concepts?

Growing Role of Post-Frame Construction in Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture aims to design and construct socially beneficial, eco-friendly structures. Sustainable structures may cost more upfront but they pay off immediately. These buildings have a smaller carbon footprint and their environmental impact is also much less. Post-frame construction provides great benefits when combined with clever designing, well-supervised construction and high-precision execution.

Here are five reasons why post-frame construction is perhaps a best alternative when it comes to sustainable architecture:


  • Makes Use of Natural Materials able to be Recycled at End of Life

Traditional construction materials are environmentally harmful but post-frame construction involves use of eco-friendly materials being equally strong, reliable, and durable. Also, post-frame components used in each building are made of wood and steel so they can be easily recycled.  

This ensures responsible management of waste with materials recovery and scrap recycling. Recycling construction waste not only boosts a brand’s public image but the company also receives government incentives for its recycling efforts.   

Requires Less Construction Materials

Post-frame construction requires fewer building materials to achieve required load capacities. This is because post-frame structures are supported by few large-sized columns  spaced far apart instead of installing many smaller supports. Post-frame design requires fewer materials meaning less waste and less environmental impact.


  • Reduces Use of Energy  

Post-frames are made from wood and it requires very little energy to convert wood to timber. This is because embodied energy in timber used for construction is low. In fact, it is lowest of most sustainable building materials.


  • Ensures Energy-Efficiency with Excellent Insulation

A timber frame provides more insulation space as compared to brick and mortar buildings and ensures superior air infiltration. Its natural thermal insulation properties require less power for heating and cooling, meaning less use of fossil fuels.


  • Lasts Longer Even With Little to no Maintenance

Building materials used for construction of post-frame buildings make a structure so strong it can easily last beyond 50 years with little to no maintenance. Traditional architecture puts all weight on walls constructed on flooring supported by a continuous foundation. So, if any component is compromised, the entire architecture is at risk.  

Post-frame construction is very different and so it does not crack or collapse when the structure is stressed. Timber columns flex and roof trusses attached to the post-frame keep it from separating from balance of the structure.

Post-frame construction is low-cost, eco-friendly, sustainable, uses fewer materials, consumes less energy, offers great insulation, is easy to work on, does not limit design concepts and build time is quick. All of these reasons make post-frame construction the best choice for green building concepts.

Also, with buyers becoming increasingly eco-conscious these days, sustainable architecture has become a new industry norm. Post-frames are one of many sustainable building methods. There are several other ways builders can go green and win buyers, post-frame possibly being best.  

Author Bio: Erich Lawson is passionate about environment saving through effective recycling techniques and modern innovations. He works with Compactor Management Company and writes on a variety of topics related to recycling, including tips and advice on how balers, compactors and shredders can be used to reduce industrial waste. He loves helping businesses understand how to lower their monthly garbage bills and increase revenue from recycling.

4 Energy Reasons to Invest in an Energy Saving Pole Barn

4 Unexpected Reasons to Invest In Energy Efficient Post Frame Design

Post frame buildings are increasingly being looked at from the standpoint of being energy efficient in their design. Regardless of the usage of the building, the costs of energy are not likely to decrease in future years. With the ability to easily create deep wall and roof cavities for added insulation, post frame buildings are more and more being looked to as the best design solution.

Cutting operating expenses beyond your utility bill

Of course, a better-operated, greener building uses less energy, improving its operational efficiency can make deep cuts to operating expenses. But positive returns can be delivered elsewhere too.

Many states and local governments offer tax incentives for green building certification to encourage lower utility usage and building carbon emissions. For example, the state of Nevada offers property tax incentives for new commercial buildings which achieve a certification from LEED or Green Globes. This incentive translates to a savings of 25-35 percent of the general fund portion of property taxes, delivering a direct and significant reduction to the operating expenses.

Access to better financing

Improved energy efficiency (and associated green building certificates) can open the door to better financing. Identifying and implementing specific energy efficiency and water conservation measures is a prerequisite for many financing programs which offer favorable conditions (such as discounted interest rates, preferred pricing or additional loan proceeds) for loans made on “green” buildings.

A compliance issue

Many older buildings were built before, or to emerging and now much outdated, energy standards and do not meet the requirements set out in modern building codes. Many local jurisdictions are enacting energy benchmarking and disclosure laws which require building owners to quantify and report their buildings’ energy performance.

Several states and local government are even taking it a step further and mandating green building certifications for new construction.

Getting the most out of energy efficiency investments

Changing regulatory, social and market pressures continue to drive the Return On Investment (ROI) of energy upgrades. For example, tenants demand greener buildings (and are willing to pay a premium for it); investors are being asked to demonstrate sustainability; and improved energy efficiency opens the door to tax credits, incentives and more favorable financing conditions. To extract the greatest return, building owners need to stay informed about all financing mechanisms and incentives, and determine what the best and most appropriate level of upgrades will be. In today’s market, it certainly pays to go green— by seeking out energy-efficient assets and by investing in upgrades to improve the building’s sustainability.


6 Cool Ways to Heat Your Pole Building & Barn

When winter arrives, pole building owners will need more than a tiny space heater and a quilt to keep themselves warm. Sitting on the couch reading a book in thermal pants, a heavy jacket, and snow boots isn’t the most comfortable way to spend the cold months, so we’d like to suggest a few heating options for your pole barn.

Electric Floor
Electric floors radiate heat from underneath tiles, laminate, carpet, or engineered flooring. You can install bare wiring or opt for pre-wired mats that simplify the process. Mats are likely to cost more to install, but both systems use only a minimal amount of electricity.

Radiant Ceiling
Radiant ceiling tiles are long tiles on the ceiling, usually placed in increments, that generate and radiate heat. They are useful for targeting heat only in certain areas, such as in a living area above the couch or a bathroom next to the shower.

Radiant ceiling tiles, unlike electric floors, sit outside of the ceiling, not the inside. Some models are designed for painting and most will accept add-ons such as exhaust fans and lights.

Cove Heater

Cove heaters are silent-operating radiant panels mounted near the ceiling. They are a great option for heating safely with kids or keeping your heating equipment out of sight. Pole barn owners opt for these when baseboard heaters are difficult to install because of safety hazards or obstructive furniture.

Duct Fan
If you have a central heating system, you can add a simple fan to your ducts to increase the flow of warm air throughout your pole barn. Since there is so much empty space inside pole buildings, duct booster fans can help spread your heat evenly and might even help you save on your electric bill.

Mount your fan near the outlet end of a heating duct. The pressure switch will sense air pressure from the forced air coming out of the furnace and switch the fan on when it needs to be on. Higher quality fans emit less noise, but prices can range quite a bit.

Room-to-Room Ventilation
If your pole building has quite a few separate rooms to heat, you can circumvent your insulation and install a room-to-room ventilation system. These systems, installed as ducts in the wall, take warm air from room A through a low vent in the wall and push it up through a high vent in room B. Ventilators help draw the air through space between studs and distribute the warm air evenly into the adjoining room.

Ceiling Fan Heater

Ceiling fan heaters distribute air in the same way an ordinary fan does, but a heating element also provides the spinning blades with additional warm air to push throughout the room. Pole barn owners can turn the heating element off during the spring and summer to allow the ceiling fan to function like a normal fan.

Final Words: Stay Safe
You may have to deal with some unusual problems when battling winter weather. Remember the following:

  • Condensation Build-Up – Burning propane, methane, or kerosene can produce moisture in the air that, when it drops below the dew point, will cause water to condense inside your pole barn. Rapid changes in temperature can also pull moisture from the air and turn it to liquid. Use desiccators and dehumidifiers to control moisture in your pole building before it causes damage.
  • Ventilation – It’s tempting to trap all the warm air inside your pole building, but you have to let the air flow freely from inside to out and vice-versa. Proper ventilation keeps air fresh, oxygen-rich, and helps prevent heating-related disasters.

All heating creates some kind of fire hazard in your home. Be sure to operate all equipment according to instructions and prepare your pole barn heating system to resist fire by keeping it clean and having it inspected regularly.

How Energy Efficient Are Pole Buildings? Key Insulation Tips

dscn0558If you’re thinking about building a pole barn home (or ‘barndominium’), you no doubt already know that construction and labor costs for this type of residence can be significantly lower than the cost of building a traditional house. However, you may be wondering what your monthly utility bills will look like once you move in. Can pole buildings be energy-efficient, or will you end up losing money trying to heat and cool your home?

In our years of experience at Hansen Pole Buildings, we’ve learned that pole barns can be energy efficient—as long as you install proper installation.

It’s All about the Insulation

The greatest majority of heat loss or gain is through a home’s roof, and this can be especially pronounced in pole buildings with high ceilings. To avoid sky-high utility bills, we recommend that you install a reflective radiant barrier under the roof of your pole barn. It doesn’t change the construction process for the pole building, and it can provide considerable savings over time.

At Hansen Pole, we offer A1V radiant reflective barrier. This barrier features a closed layer of air cells in between reflective aluminum facing on the exterior and white vinyl facing on the interior.

If you’re interested in learning how to install this cost-effective product, check out this previous blog post.

Don’t Forget the Roof

While the insulation you install will play a major role in determining how energy efficient your pole barn is, the roof you choose will also make a difference. Lighter color roofs are typically better in warm climates because they will reduce heat absorption, which will help prevent the building from becoming too balmy in the spring and summer.

When working with us to put together a custom pole building kit, you can get a light-colored roofing material that is Energy Star certified. To get the Energy Star stamp of approval, a roof has to maintain a reflectance of at least 15% of the sun’s energy after three years of real-world exposure testing. The higher the reflectance, the less energy it will take to cool the home below. This simple feature will reduce your monthly pole barn energy costs.

Additional Tips for an Energy-Efficient Pole Barn

In addition to choosing energy-efficient insulation and roofing, there are several other choices you can make to reduce the amount of energy your barndominium uses. For example, you can:

  • Choose Energy Star-rated appliances.
  • Install Energy Star-rated windows with low-e glass
  • Use fluorescent light bulbs
  • Have a heating and cooling professional check your home once a year to make sure you’re not wasting energy (and money)

Adding energy-efficient features to your pole barn home may add to the upfront building cost, but will save you money in the long run. For more information about residential pole buildings, visit Hansen Pole online and start planning for your new building today!