Tag Archives: engineered plans

Engineered Plans, P-Bex Through Posts, and Drill Set Brackets

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru tackles reader questions about drawing up engineered plans to match some non-engineered plans reader currently has, if it is possible to run p-bex through columns, and whether of not a person can set a building on an existing slab with use of drill set brackets.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am currently in the process of getting my plans drawn up for a hybrid metal frame home. The plans are drawn up but are not engineered plans. Can I get a cost to have engineered plans drawn up by you if I send you the plans that I currently have. Also, I am located in California, Riverside County to be exact.

Thank You.

Forgot to mention. I am leaning towards post frame construction versus the metal frame. CODY in RIVERSIDE

DEAR CODY: Thank you for reaching out to us. We provide engineer sealed structural plans and verifying calculations with every custom post frame building package. Due to proprietary nature of some materials, our engineers are unable to draw and stamp plans when we do not provide materials.

A member of our Building Design team will be reaching out to you shortly to discuss your building needs.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good morning sir, I am building a shop/house and have a question about running wire and PEX water lines through the posts. I have read your threads about this yet still not 100%. I do not have the gap between the metal and the posts like you spoke of so drilling the posts seems like the easiest way for me to accomplish the routing of the wire. So what is the right answer, can I drill the posts or not per code? Who do I have to convince of this, the county inspector or the engineer? I am getting so many answers it’s frustrating. The ability to drill through the posts of my pole building would be the easiest and economical way to run all wiring and PEX.  Thanks SAM in KENNEWICK

DEAR SAM: Think of a hole being drilled through as being an “open knot”. Lumber grading rules refer to these as being “Unsound or Loose Knots and Holes” due to any cause. Most structural framing – like wall girts and roof purlins or posts and timbers are graded as Number 2.
For practical purposes, a hole up to just less than ¼ of board face being drilled through will be within grade in #2 lumber. Example: 5-1/2” face of a 6×6 a hole up to 1-1/4” may be drilled through, as often as every two feet. Allowable hole sizes are reduced and spacing increased for higher grades of lumber.
You should engineer who sealed your plans approval. His or her seal will quash any concerns your inspector may have.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have already had a monolithic slab poured on my site. 40×60. rebar top and bottom of thickened area 12×12 with 6″ slab. Also rebar both sides of the cut lines at 10′ intervals. The concrete is 6 sack with fiber. Can I put a pole building on top of this slab and secure it with a bracket that is anchored by drilling holes and using a fastener. Building will be 40x60x16. Thank you for your consideration. DAVID in HELMVILLE

DEAR DAVID: Can and should are not often a same answer (or result).

Dry (drill) set column brackets (from any manufacturer) are not designed to resist moment (bending) loads. While they may work just fine, it only takes one good wind event to turn your beautiful new building upside down. Even worse – a smart insurance company will hire someone like me to testify what you used was not a structurally adequate design solution and deny your claim!

There are some options:

You could use a concrete saw to cut out column locations from your existing slab, or (and probably more practical) increase dimensions of your proposed building to 42′ by 62′ and place embedded (structurally best) or wet-set bracket mounted columns on concrete piers outside of your current slab.

Structural Framing, the Cost of a Building, and “Base Supports”

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions from a Project Architect about the structural framing of a Hansen building, the cost of building plans with engineering, and if the Pole Barn Guru has advice for “base supports” for a wood floor in a Tube Canopy.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am a Project Architect with some questions. Do you provide some type of laminated header around the top for truss bearing as well? Are there purlins (wall girts) on both the inside (for the sheetrock) and outside (for metal siding)? I’m trying to make sure our footings, slab and inside clearances are accurate. JIM in ALBANY

DEAR JIM: Hansen Pole Buildings are engineered with double trusses bearing directly upon notches cut into wall columns. This eliminates need for a header (aka truss carrier) around top of building for trusses to bear upon. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/double-truss-2/
Externally mounted wall girts typically fail in deflection https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/girts/
For structural strength against wind loads and being able to be insulation and interior finish ready, Mason has included what is known as “commercial bookshelf wall girts” https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/.This method also leads to a superior interior finish when gypsum wallboard is applied. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What would a complete set of plans with engineering cost for a 40′ x 120′ pole barn structure cost with a 14 ceiling height. Posts would be 12′ o.c. with girder trusses and purlin rafter roof framing. DENNIS in LAS VEGAS

DEAR DENNIS: Our engineers will only seal structural plans when we provide material package. Some materials they specify are proprietary to Hansen Pole Buildings and this is only way they can guarantee materials as specified reach jobsites. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you to further discuss your building needs, or call 1.866.200.9657 for immediate service.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am building a wood floor 17′ x 12′ to support a 3500 pound car under a portable tube aluminum and canvas car canopy (that will be mounted through holes in the floor directly to the ground underneath). The recommendation is base supports every 12 feet under floor joists every 2 feet, but they don’t specify the width of these two boards. One manufacturer’s picture appears to use 2 x 8 supports for 2x 4 joists. Can you suggest widths for these two items? ROBERT in WOODSTOCK

DEAR ROBERT: I have never been a fan of these canvas covered tube canopies – they do not have a track record of durability, if snow doesn’t collapse them, winds blow them away. Provided your site is level, it would seemingly be economically prudent to just place some gravel and call it a day. If floor framing members will be entirely supported by ground below, they could be any dimension, provided they are pressure preservative treated to at least a UC-4A (Ground Contact) level. Otherwise, you should reach out directly to your canopy’s manufacturer for their best recommendations.

Site Prep, Brackets on Slab, and Treated Lumber

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about site preparation and underground obstructions, a recommendation for building with wet set brackets on slab, and whether or not Hansen Buildings uses lumber treated for in-ground use– UC-4B.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We recently started the ground work for our future 48×72 pole building. Half way through excavation the crew hit a solid slab of rock at the corner of our building site. It appears to be Pennsylvania blue stone and the space that it takes up includes a majority of the back and left side where the building walls would sit. We were able to achieve a level pad but we are extremely concerned that now we won’t be able to build on this site. This is the only place on our property that has room for this build and we are very worried that we won’t be able to set poles in the ground do to the size of this solid slab. What are our options, if any? KIMBERLY in PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR KIMBERLY: This brought back childhood memories of my Dad taking me out on a Saturday to a site above Hayden Lake, Idaho where he and my uncles were going to be framing a custom home. Site had been cleared, and there were all sorts of roughly inch and one-half diameter holes drilled into solid rock – they had to blast in order to get a foundation in!

You do have many options, however blasting can be (I have found) quite affordable. Many years ago we built a horse stall barn near Benton City, Washington. This building had a total of 84 columns and was on a rock shelf. Powder monkey came out and blasted all of them for a couple of hundred dollar bills!

There are other choices – you can rent a “ram hoe” attachment for a skid steer or backhoe (this would probably be my pick). Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/attacking-pole-barn-rocks-holes/

Or, a jackhammer – I would not suggest this option for more than just a hole or two.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am in the planning stages for a pole barn build. The building will be 50 ft wide by 40 ft deep by 16 ft high at the eaves, posts spaced at 10 ft centers. This will go on a concrete pad and I am looking into using Sturdi-Wall Plus wet set brackets. My question is in regard to the height of the posts (roughly 16 ft) and the bending moment loads (wind loads) on the side of the building. Have you designed/installed posts with this height or higher before? If so, is there a place where I can point the planning officials to that shows the calcs and what not so they can make a decision as to whether or not this type of application with my situation will work or not?

I appreciate your help! MICHAEL in UPTON

DEAR MICHAEL: Thank you for reaching out to us. We have provided fully engineered post frame buildings using these very same brackets and eave heights of 24′. Your real solution is to have your building plans done by a Registered Professional Engineer who can provide verifying calculations for all components and connections.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a question about the structure of your pole barns. Do you use treated lumber or non treatmented lumber? I am asking about the post that go in the ground AND the boards that touch the metal roof. I worry about the wood rotting or bugs getting in it. KRISTEN in BAY MINETTE

DEAR KRISTEN: Any roof supporting structural columns are pressure preservative treated to UC-4B per International Building Code requirements. This is a greater level of pressure treatment than you can usually find at big box stores or local lumberyards. Any other lumber used in ground contact will be treated to UC-4A and tags will reflect ‘ground contact’. Lumber in contact with steel roofing (roof purlins) are not exposed to the weather, would not typically be pressure preservative treated. We do always recommend a condensation control be used between roof steel and roof framing. The easiest, from an application standpoint, would be a factory applied to roof steel Integral Condensation Control (DripStop or CondenStop). Other alternatives would be a Radiant Reflective Barrier (we can provide this in six foot width rolls with an adhesive pull strip attached for ease of joining rolls together) or to use two inches of closed cell spray foam.


Enforcing Updated Building Codes Saves Money

Enforcing Updated Building Codes Saves Money

As a member of most every active barndominium group in the social media world, I read all too often how new or prospective barndominium owners proudly proclaim they are or will be building where Building Codes are not enforced.

Long time followers of my column may be tired of reading my preaching from a pulpit about how fully engineered, code conforming buildings should be mandatory. Well, there is a method to my madness.

Now there are going to be naysayers who disagree, however there is actual proof of long term savings.

FEMA just released its 2020 National Preparedness Report (https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_2020-national-preparedness-report.pdf) presenting an updated, risk-focused approach to summarizing state of national preparedness, pointing to enforcement of updated building codes as key to lowering risks of damages from natural disaster. “Improving the resiliency of physical infrastructure requires more stringent building codes and standards, as well as innovative programs, policies, and procedures that encourage adoption and implementation of higher building standards,” the report stated. “Recent standards developed by the ICC (International Code Council – they publish our country’s building codes) are the gold standard of building code requirements. Florida’s experience with updated building codes demonstrates these cost savings in practice. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, widespread damage to buildings across the state prompted Florida to adopt some of the strongest building codes in the United States. After 10 years of enforcement, the new codes reduced windstorm losses by up to 72 percent and paid for themselves in avoided losses within eight years.”

Considering building a new barndominium? Make a choice not only for monetary reasons, but most importantly for safety. Whether building yourself or hiring a contractor – I implore you to only build (or have built) from fully engineered plans. If hiring an erection contractor, familiarize yourself with those plans enough to know right from wrong. Due daily self-inspections during assembly to ensure those plans are indeed being followed, especially important in jurisdictions not requiring permits, or not doing structural site inspections. Even when inspections are required, even best of inspectors can miss something, so it is prudent to have your eyes involved.

If you do not feel confident of your own abilities to perform inspections, enlist the services of your engineer or an architect to do them for you. This money is well spent to protect your most valuable assets – the lives of you and your loved ones.

Raised Floor Over Crawl Space, Engineered Plans, and a Pool House

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a raised floor over a crawl space, purchase of engineer sealed plans, and moisture issues in an above ground pool house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Appreciate all the information on your website very awesome it’s a lot to take in we are thinking of building a pole barn home and we have one question we typically don’t like concrete floors. I joist, does anybody just frame out floor joist, has with a 3 in rat slab for crawl space? GARY

DEAR GARY: Thank you for your kind words.

I would rather not live on a concrete slab either. One of our retired Building Designers has been putting up a hunting cabin done exactly as you envision:



Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you sell only engineered plans for your building? I am interested in PROJECT# 06-0602 but I do not want to buy a kit.

Thanks! MATT

DEAR MATT: Thank you very much for your interest. Our independent third-party engineers will only provide sealed plans for buildings where we are providing materials, as there is no other way they can guarantee materials as specified actually arrive at your building site. Some of these are manufactured specifically for Hansen Pole Buildings, so there is no other method to acquire them. Frankly, our massive buying power allows us to acquire components at far better prices than you will be able to find and our low overhead and narrow profit margins allow for us to be extremely competitive, even with lesser quality providers.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I’m researching putting an above ground pool in a pole barn for my swim school. I live in Oregon so my biggest concern is mold in the colder months. Do you have any ideas on this & what type of doors & windows would you suggest? It will be a 12×24 heated salt water pool. Thank you, HANNAH in HOOD RIVER

DEAR HANNAH: Thank you very much for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. This article should be an assist to you: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/post-frame-indoor-swimming-pool-considerations/. Our factory pre-painted commercial steel entry doors and vinyl windows should work well with a proper HVAC system.






Staging Deliveries for DIY Pole Buildings

For those who are considering a Do It Yourself (DIY) post frame barndominium, shouse or just a good old barn – not everyone can work at it expediently, or rouse enough person power for a barn raising. There do exist some options.

Reader LEE in LOUISIANA writes:

“I am in the process of conceptual design for an implement barn. However, my preference is to skin the exterior barn with old, milled reclaimed fir that I have available to me. From what I have found online, most Pole Building companies offer standard designs with conventional metal siding. However, it is my understanding that the same structural design for a metal building will not be adequate for the extra weight of woodplank siding, in lieu of the higher static and dynamic structural loads. Additionally, I would like to do most of the construction labor myself (with assistance from friends with construction background), in the interest of spreading out the construction process in different phases. As such, for this case, I am inquiring about a service to provide custom, stamped plans for a pole barn. I have read the advice and recommendations regarding engineered, stamped plans, and that it is not Hansen’s position to be in the ‘plans’ business. However, in this particular case, could Hansen work with me to provide custom, stamped plans to accommodate my preferred execution plan? I look forward to hearing your response. Thank you, Lee”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru  writes:
Actually structural design changes in post frame buildings are due to deflection limitations. Walls supporting other than just steel siding and/or steel liner panels do not have to be as stiff as ones to support other products (such as your reclaimed fir). While we do not supply engineered plans only, we can work with you to stagger deliveries to meet your phase schedule. If an impending price change to a component would occur, you would be given an option to either take delivery, or to delay delivery and pay differences in component costs. Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can further discuss this with you.

I would recommend using a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) under your barn boards, in order to keep any potential moisture from passing through your walls from outside.

For extended reading about Code requirements for Weather Resistant Barriers please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/04/ibc-requirements-for-building-wrap/.

Wall Girt Spacing, Roof Only to Fully Enclosed, and Dade Cty

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “proper wall girt spacing,” enclosing and insulating a roof only building, and if a post frame meets code in Dade County Florida.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I just contacted a contractor to build my pole barn and he said 2 x4 wall girts at 36″ I don’t think that is strong enough.
What size, spacing do you recommend? DARREN in BREMEN

DEAR DARREN: Chances are good you are correct and builder is wrong. The size, grade, orientation and spacing should be spelled out on your building’s engineer sealed plans. If he intends to build a non-engineered building for you, please run away as quickly as possible.

Many factors go into correctly determining wall girts. My long-time friend John and I had a conversation regarding this: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/02/formula-calculating-wall-girts/.  Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Wayde will be reaching out to you to assist in getting your new building safely back on track before it is too late.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: About a dozen years ago I had a Hansen roof only building erected. It’s a great structure and I’ve always spoken highly of it. Since original setup a concrete floor was added, and last summer it was framed with ‘commercial’ girts and metal screwed to the outside
Fully enclosed now there is some appeal to the thoughts of insulting the walls and ceiling.
Occasionally heat, via wood stove will be provided and most likely plywood walls to 8’up
I’d appreciate your ideas on insulation install design. Where does vapor barrier belong and etc.

Thanks for your attention
I do like this building

Warm Regards JEFF in HOOD RIVER

DEAR JEFF: Thank you for your kind words and we are so happy you are enjoying your Hansen Pole Building. Hopefully my “Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation” will help: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can a pole barn meet Miami Dade wind standards? DAVID in SARASOTA


DEAR DAVID: Yes we most certainly can provide an engineered post frame building to meet their requirements. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly to assist.




Structural Screws? Pine or Spruce? and How Many Windows?

Today’s Pole Barn Guru addresses questions regarding structural screws for bearing blocks, the strength of pine vs spruce, and adding more windows than plans indicate.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How many structural screws should I use in a bearing block for supporting a 2×12 rafter? KENT in OTIS ORCHARDS

DEAR KENT: In case you were unaware, Otis Orchards and several surrounding communities were originally part of a land swindle scheme. Marketed to Easterners with picturesque names such as Otis Orchards, Veradale and Opportunity practically untillable land was sold sight unseen. Those folks were mightily disappointed to find this area as being pretty much high desert gravelly soil covered with glacial moraine!

Back to your question – this connection (as well as all connections for your building) should be detailed on engineered plans provided for your building. Actual number required will be determined by your engineer by calculating imposed wind and snow loads upon this connection, resisted by screws’ holding power. A structural screw’s load capacity will be affected by species of lumber being used as well as depth of penetration into members and direction loads are being applied.

If this has not been addressed on your plans, you need to contact either your engineer or whomever provided you with your building kit package.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Could you give me a link or tell me pros and cons of using Pine or Spruce? Half of the load of lumber I ordered is warped, bowed, not usable for purlins. I am considering spruce if it is ok for 10’ and 12’spans. Thank you CALEB in TEXAS

DEAR CALEB: I personally prefer working with SPF (Spruce) as opposed to SYP (Southern Yellow Pine). SYP tends to warp and twist very quickly and is more difficult to drive nails and screws into. SPF is stronger than SYP of an equal grade. You will want to confirm it being okay with your engineer who designed your building plans.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m wondering about the windows, if we want a lot more than you provide, how are they added in? Is it structurally sound to have walls of windows? MEGAN

DEAR MEGAN: All openings, including windows need to be considered and placed in your third-party independently engineer sealed plans provided with your post frame building kit. While you can have a large number of windows (or openings) in a wall, they do need to be accounted for.




Where to Invest in a Pole Barn

Is This Where You Want to Invest Your Hard Earned Dollars?

This excerpt is from an online publication called “Insiders” who promotes to provide advice from local experts. It happens to be from a “Do-It-Best” in Northwest Oregon:

“And if you’re still thinking of installing a pole barn, come in and see us. We have five sets of different engineered plans. Pick a set and we will give you a rough bit (bid), though you can customize it, too and we can help you. If you don’t want to build it yourself, we have a list of guys who can do that for you. We sell pole barns all year long, but before the rains really come down it’s an opportune time to build one. Pricing has remained steady starting at $8,000 for simple designs to $40,000 for barns with all the amenities.”

Those of you who read yesterday’s article should have a feel for what capabilities Hansen Pole Buildings has – if a building fits within Building Code parameters, we would like to believe we can competitively design and provide it. Offering a choice of only five sets of different engineered plans sounds archaic to us!

Pick a set and we will give you a rough bit (I know – it should be bid)…



Before you get started on your new post frame building, we want you to know exactly what you will be investing with us!

Now ignorance is bliss and some folks, well they are very, very happy. Legally (not to mention morally) an engineered set of building plans cannot be customized, without a revised set of engineered drawings being produced. An engineer puts his or her career on the line when they seal a set of drawings – it does not come with free rein to make any changes!

My dad was the oldest of eight siblings. He told stories of how excited he and his oldest brothers were when grandma was expecting, as it meant there would soon be a new baby carriage they could pilfer wheels off from to build a new home made conveyance. While I am sure there were limitations to pre-teen vehicular design, somehow they cobbled together something!

I liken this to being not too far removed from what your local lumberyard can provide for a pole barn kit. They are as far removed from what Hansen Pole Buildings can provide, as my dad’s vehicle was from a shiny new Tesla!

Some of you are content with huge risks of non-engineered buildings. Then I strongly suggest you invest in lots of insurance. Me, I will put my faith in sound, state-of-the-art custom engineered designs.

Unknowedgeable Post Frame Building Suppliers

Reader JEREMY in STAFFORD SPRINGS is experiencing challenges with unknowledgeable post frame building suppliers. I will share his own words with you:

“I am currently attempting to price out for a metal building, post frame or conventional stick built. The dimensions we are looking at is a 40×60 with a 12 foot roof. I am having a hard time locating post frame construction components locally, and when I go to the local supply houses it seems that they are no more or even less knowledgeable than I am with this construction technique. So I figured I would start reaching out. I have a few questions. Do you sell components individually, such as wet set post anchors, laminated columns, roof trusses? Do you design plans that will satisfy code requirements? I live in Stafford Springs CT, which is in Tolland County. I have not spoken with the inspectors office at all yet. I would rather do my research first and come to them prepared.”

Well Jeremy, thank you for reaching out to us. Your dilemma is not unlike those faced by potential post frame building owners everywhere. For being as “simple” as they may look, post frame buildings are very complex structures, involving literally hundreds of pages of background calculations – very few providers have capabilities to do this type of analysis. Post frame buildings are ALL we do – unlike lumberyards and big box stores who, in trying to be all things to all people, end up generally being nothing to anyone.

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualIn order to keep our prices as reasonable as possible, we typically provide only complete post frame building packages. This allows for minimization of shipping expenses and potential freight damage, as well as us not having to provide $200 of Technical Support on a product we make only $100 on (we provide unlimited free Technical Support during construction, if our nearly 500 page Construction Manual and your engineered plans leave you with any uncertainties).

Every Hansen Pole Building comes with third-party engineer sealed structural plans and supporting calculations based upon climactic data for your area.

In your not too distant future I would encourage you to visit with your local Planning Department (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/) and Building Department (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-1/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-ii/).

Building Department Checklist 2019 Part II


Yesterday I covered seven of what I feel are 14 most important questions to ask your local building department.  This not only will smooth your way through permitting processes, but also  ensures a solid and safe building structure.

Let’s talk about these last seven….

#8 What is accepted Allowable Soil Bearing Capacity?

This will be a value in psf (pounds per square foot). If in doubt, err to side of caution. As a rough rule – easier soil to dig, weaker it will be in supporting a building. A new post frame building will only be as solid as it’s foundation, and it’s foundation will be only as strong as soil it rests upon.

Some jurisdictions (most noticeably in California and Colorado) will require a soils (geotechnical) engineer to provide an engineered soil report, spelling out actual tested soil strength.  Other states may have requirements as well, so be sure to ask ahead of time.

#9  Is an engineered soils test required?

If so, get it done ahead of time.  Don’t wait. It’s easy to do and there are plenty of soil (geotechnical) engineers for hire.

#10 What is your Seismic Category (such as A, B, C, D-1, D-2)?

While rarely do potential seismic forces dictate design of a post frame building, there are instances where they can.  A high seismic potential, with high flat roof snow load and low wind load will be one case. Other case will be when you are considering a multiple story structure.

#11 Are wet-stamped engineer signed and sealed structural plans required to acquire a permit?

Some Building Department Officials will say no to this, yet during plans review process they request structural engineering calculations to prove design, or (worse yet) they make wholesale changes to plans, based upon how they think a post frame should be constructed.

Engineer sealed pole barnMy recommendation – invest in engineered plans. It becomes an assurance a registered design professional has verified your building will meet Code mandated loading requirements. In some cases, insurance companies offer discounts for buildings designed by an engineer. It’s certainly worth asking your agent for one!

In some cases, Building Permits will be granted with only requiring engineer sealed truss drawings. We do not condone this practice, as it creates a false sense of security.

Are exterior finished (showing roofing and siding) elevations required with building plans? Will more than two sets of drawings be needed for permit submittal?

#12 Verify Building Risk Category.

Most buildings not frequently occupied by public (not a home, business or municipal building) represent a low hazard to human life in event of a failure and are ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Category I. This information can be found by Building Officials in IBC Table 1604.5 (not to be confused with Use and Occupancy classifications from IBC Chapter 3).

#13 In areas with cold winters, is frost depth greater than 40”?

All building columns or foundations must extend below frost line to prevent heave. We don’t design for any depth less than 40”, and have designed for up to seven feet deep in some areas!

#14 Does the Building Department have any unusual Building Code interpretations, amendments or prescriptive requirements for non-engineered buildings which could affect this building?

If so, get a copy from your building department for us, or anyone else whom might be considered to be a provider for your building project.

Even though “the Code is The Code”, there are a plethora of local folks who think they have better ways or better ideas than world’s smartest structural minds, who have actually written the Code. And once again, I can’t stress enough: build only from plans sealed by a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer). It will make life easier all around when it comes to getting your permit, even if you have been told seals are “not required”.

No one inside or outside of a permit office wants a construction process to be any more difficult or challenging than necessary.  Being armed with correct information (after doing homework of course) will be a solid step in the right direction.


Eave Lights, Building Plans, and Foundations

Today Mike answers questions about eave lights, drawing building plans, and foundation plans.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How to I attach the poly eave lights to the building frame? RUSSELL in BOISE

DEAR RUSSELL: Polycarbonate panels are best predrilled for screw fasteners using a 3/8” bit. Screw pattern for eave lights is same as for sidewall steel.

Drive #10 x 1” white screw fasteners perpendicular to light panel’s surface and tighten moderately. Fastener head and washer/gasket is to sit snugly and fully on panel’s face, without squeezing gasket and distorting washer. Over tightening will distort washer, panel and ruin gasket, causing leaking and panel damage, resulting from undue internal stresses. Tilted fastener insertion will deform washer, damage gasket, cause leakage and originate undue stresses on panel eventually leading to failure. Tighten fasteners by hand or by an adjustable torque power-screwdriver.

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m have a question related to the construction of a custom building. I see that you have some sample building plans on your web site. Do you typically produce the plans for the buildings that you construct or do you recommend that a client work with an architect to have plans drawn up before accepting a construction project? If you do recommend that clients provide plans, do you have a list of architects that you prefer to work with?

Thanks in advance, MATTHEW

DEAR MATTHEW: We (Hansen Pole Buildings and our contracted third-party engineers) produce plans for post frame building kit packages we provide. For clients who feel more comfortable working with an architect, we would recommend contracting their services for conceptual work (aesthetics, room layouts and sizes, etc.) and leave structural aspects (permit/construction plans) to our team.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have any experience with anchoring a building to an existing slab?

I talked with you before about door options, but now have ran into the problem that the building I am going with will now sit on the anchor plates that I had installed in the slab. Just curios if you know what my best options could be for anchor bolts. Thanks. MICHAEL

DEAR MICHAEL: All steel buildings usually do not come with engineering for a foundation. You are going to have to consult with your foundation engineer and get a fix from them, as no one else can legally make this change.







Who is Responsible for Design of Permanent Truss Bracing?

Who is Responsible for Design of Permanent Truss Bracing?

This article was triggered by an email questioning truss bracing from Hansen Pole Buildings’ client JASON in WELLINGTON who writes:
“My inspector is telling me that the truss documents take precedence over the building plans. I told them the building plan has the x bracing and the t-bracing. He didn’t care. He wants all the shown bracing from the truss documents. I am not sure what to do. I think the inspector is being ridiculous.”

In my humble opinion this inspector has an absolutely incorrect opinion. Included in Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual are engineer sealed letters from two significantly large truss plate manufacturing firms, clarifying who has responsibility for design of Permanent Truss Bracing. These companies typically supply engineer sealed drawings for metal plate connected wood trusses (MPCWT) manufactured by purchasers of their truss plates. Copies of these letters should be provided to this inspector.
Inspector can also be given this link (to ANSI/TPI 1-2014): https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53442b51e4b072e71999c8c5/t/56d9d1038259b560ad3a0821/1457115397817/ANSI_TPI+1-2014StdONLY-WEB_WP.pdf

Included in ANSI/TPI 1-2014 (incorporated by title in Building Codes) are:

In Section 2.2 DEFINITIONS

Building Designer: Owner of the Building or the Person that contacts with the Owner for the design of the Building Structural System and/or who is responsible for the preparation of the Construction Documents. When mandated by the Legal Requirements, the Building Designer shall be a Registered Design Professional.”

Permanent Building Stability Bracing: Lateral force resisting system for the Building that resists forces from gravity, wind, seismic and/or other loads.

Permanent Individual Truss Member Restraint: Restraint that is used to prevent local buckling of an individual Truss chord or Web member due to the axial forces in the individual Truss member.

Registered Design Professional: Architect or engineer, who is licensed to practice their respective design profession as defined by the Legal Requirements of the Jurisdiction in which the Building is to be constructed.”

And be pointed to Section 2.3.2 Requirements of the Building Designer

Section Review Submittal Packages:The Building Designer shall review the Truss Submittal Package for compatibility with the Building design. All such submittals shall include a notation indicating that they have been reviewed and whether or not they have been found to be in general conformance with the design of the Building.

(Author’s note – General Note 9, Sheet S-0 of Registered Design Professional sealed plans provided to client, specifically addresses Section above.)

Section All anchorage design and connections to the Structural Elements and the Permanent Building Stability Bracing required to resist uplift, gravity, and lateral loads.

Section 2.3.3 Requirements for the Permanent Member Restraint/Bracing of Truss Systems.

Section Method of Restraint. The method of Permanent Individual Truss Member Restraint/Bracing and the method of anchoring or restraining to prevent lateral movement of all Truss members acting together as a system shall be accomplished by:

Section Project Specific Design. A project specific Truss member permanent Lateral Restraint/bracing design for the roof or floor Framing Structural System shall be permitted to be specified by the Building Designer or any Registered Design Professional.

Building Officials and inspectors have a veritable mountain of materials referenced by Building Codes. Tremendous volume of these references becomes more than any one person (or small group of persons) can possibly know completely contents of all. It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise.

My Poles Are Further Apart than the Trusses Span

My Poles are Placed Farther Apart Than the Trusses Span

Reader ALURA in NORTH CAROLINA writes:

“We recently purchased a 60 x40 pole barn kit from Florida and we are in North Carolina.  We talked to them on the phone several times about the size the inner dimensions. They reassured us that yes the 40×60 was the inner dimensions. However when they arrived they are not 40 foot  they are 39 for the placement on the poles.  Now they won’t return our phone calls. Our poles are already set. Any recommendations on how to salvage the trusses to make them work ?”

Mike the Pole Building Guru Writes:

Without looking at the purchase documents of your building, the engineered plans and the engineered truss drawings I can only make suppositions and can only give you so much advice.

A word to the wise – regardless of what someone may or may not have told you, or what you may or may not have wanted to hear, the only thing which counts is what is put in writing on your Purchase Agreement. This is one of the reasons I firmly believe any Technical Support needed by a client, or answers provided in return should only be in writing, as it avoids anyone having hurt feelings.

Engineer sealed pole barn
For starters – in post frame (pole barn) lingo – the dimensions are most typically (as in nearly always 100%) one of two things – outside of column to outside of column (which is how we at Hansen Pole Buildings happen to measure our buildings), or outside of wall framing (sidewall girts).

Given this – if you set your posts 40′ in between and the engineered plans for the building show 40′ outside to outside then chances are solving this one is sadly on you. If it was me, I would pull all of the columns out on one side of the building and move them. Using a backhoe and a good chain, you should be able to remove them fairly easily – then compact the soil back into the holes, dig new holes and reset the columns properly.

In any case, it would not hurt you to discuss your challenge with the engineer who sealed your building plans, as they have the ultimate responsibility for the structural integrity of your building.


P.S. Shame also on whomever you purchased from – whether they are at fault or not, it is inexcusable to not return calls from a client. It is business practices such as this which give our industry a bad name and makes it an uphill battle for those who are credible.



Loft Door, Antique Barns, and Footing Sizes?

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have an upstairs (loft) exterior opening that is 50″ wide by 68″ tall. I want to build a door with the National Hardware tab-loc frame and cover it with r-panel siding. How much overhang on each side, and top and bottom do I need to make the door? What should the door’s dimensions be to keep the weather out? PHILLIP in SAND SPRINGS

DEAR PHILLIP: It will depend upon what you are using for door jambs as well as if you are using a track cover (steel trim). Having a track cover above the sliding door track board is the only way to keep massive amounts of weather from entering your building above the door, so probably a good investment. If your jambs stick out from the framing an inch or so outside of the siding, then you should be able to use a 54-56 inch width. Height should be equal to a minimum of the height of the hole (assuming again the use of a track cover) and can be greater.



DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much would it cost to build a pole barn with antique wood exterior that is finished on the inside for wedding receptions. TERRANCE in ANDERSON

DEAR TERRANCE: How much would it cost to buy a new car?

It depends upon if the car is an economy subcompact or a limo. Features, degree of quality and dimensions are all going to factor highly into the budget.

The antique wood barn boards can run anywhere from seven to 20 or more dollars per square foot of wall area – just for the siding! A 2400 square foot building with a 14 foot eave height could easily have $50 to 60 thousand dollars in barn board siding, many times more than the investment into the building shell itself.

Most of our clients opt to go with the look of barn boards using 1×4 cedar battons every 16 inches over rough sawn T1-11. This route saves tens of thousands in materials alone.



DEAR POLE BARN GURU: 28 x 32 pole building with ATTIC trusses 10 ft side wall, what size should footing/hole be?? CHRIS in INDIANA RIVER

DEAR CHRIS: The thickness of the concrete footings as well as diameter of the concrete collar (and hole) is calculated by the engineer who sealed your building plans and will be specified on those plans.

Your engineer takes into account the soil bearing capacity of the ground at your site, the spacing of the wall columns, design wind speed and exposure, frost depth, roof snow load, roof slope and roofing material, width of the usable attic space and what the space will be used for, as well as use of any uninhabitable spaces outside of the width of the attic bonus room. Ceiling materials as well as any concentrated loads from HVAC, plumbing, etc., also are factored into the equation.

If you are not finding this information on your plans, contact the engineer who designed your building and ask him or her. In the event you do not have engineered plans (or no plans at all), you need to hire a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) to correctly calculate this for you.

Do not attempt to guess, or do this on your own. Inadequate footing result in buildings which settle and shift – neither of which is a good design solution.

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.


Build a Pole Barn Home, Hole Diameters, and Shipping to Ireland?

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, my husband and I are looking I to purchasing a small piece of land and want to build a pole barn home on it. I’m envisioning 4 bed upstairs with 2 bath and a loft area and on the main floor a master bed with bath , kitchen/dining, great room at least 3 car garage . So you have anything that would be close to what I’m thinking? KELLI in NEW BADEN

Get A Free Quote!DEAR KELLI: All Hansen Pole Buildings’ post frame buildings are custom designed to best meet with the needs of our clients, so in answer to your question – yes. We do not include the design of your interior rooms, however. Our specialty is the design and provision of structural members, which would include the building shell, and raised wood floors (including over crawl spaces and basements, second or third floors, lofts and mezzanines), as well as stairs.

Browse on line and look for a room layout which would meet with your needs and chances are excellent we can design the structure which will fit it.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What diameter of hole do I need for my posts? I am building a 22×34 with 10′ walls and a storage loft. CHAD in VALPARAISO

DEAR CHAD: In my humble opinion, the most important part of any building is the foundation. If your building has an inadequate foundation, it will result in problems forever. This is not a place to be penny wise and pound foolish – do it right the first time and life will be good.

The diameter of your new post frame building’s holes will be specified on the engineer sealed plans which came with your building. In the event you happened to end up with plans which were not designed by a registered design professional – hire one now, it will be one of the smartest investments you have ever made.

The determination of post frame hole diameter is based upon a literal plethora of factors. These include (but are not limited to) the soil conditions at your site, the depth of the holes (from the formula for embedment, the deeper holes can often result in smaller required diameters), design wind speed and wind exposure, roof snow loads, live loads from lofts or elevated storage areas, as well as the actual dead loads of the building itself.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is it possible for your company to ship a pole barn house to me here in Ireland. Regards PAT in CORK

DEAR PAT: We can deliver our complete building kit packages to any major continental United States port city to be loaded into a shipping container. You would need to make the actual shipping arrangements with the freight company of your choice. Many will actually deliver the loaded container directly to your site anywhere in the world!

All buildings are currently designed to the International Building Code, which you would need to ascertain if this would be adequate for your local Building Officials. We would need for you to provide us with appropriate Ground Snow Load, Ultimate wind speed and wind exposure as well as any applicable seismic data.



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!

There ARE some truly excellent builders: Hansen Building Disaster Part II

There ARE some truly excellent builders…

This just isn’t one of them.

In our last episode, the ‘builder’ had botched the shearwalls. A minor issue compared to what comes next.

This building was designed to have enclosed overhangs on all four sides.  On the endwalls the roof purlins project over the top of the end truss to support the overhang.

I said, “the purlins project over the top of the end truss to support the overhang”.

Obviously this escaped said “builder” as he cut off all of the purlins and fit them nicely behind the end truss.

The end truss was to have been lowered so the purlins could go over the top of it. The distance to lower the end truss is only spelled out twice on the plans, so it could easily have been missed. Well, maybe not easily. There is also a detail on page four of the engineered plans at 1-1/2” per foot which shows exactly this circumstance.

If this wasn’t enough, an entire chapter for the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual is devoted to this overhang sequence!

But wait – there is more.

And it gets even (if this is possible) worse!

See the pretty truss on the end of the building? Not only is it 5-13/16” too high, it is designed to be placed into notches cut into each of the end and corner columns.

The lack of adequate bearing on these columns is a huge structural challenge, as under a load there is little to keep the truss from wanting to slide down the face of the column except nails.

When end trusses are properly notched in, there is 2×4 siding backing placed flat on the face of the bottom and top chords of the truss. A horizontal 2×4 is to be placed at mid height of the truss to attach the siding to, so it is not over spanning the capabilities of the siding.

The siding backing on the bottom chord of the truss also serves as bracing to create a three inch thick member, reducing the chances of the end truss bottom chord buckling under extreme loading conditions.

Stay tuned to this channel – the fun is not over yet!

Sliding Doors, Codes, and Quonset Huts!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to get a quote for sliding garage door for commercial building.

The size that I would like to have is 8′ wide 12′ tall. If I can get two slide garage door it would be perfect (two 4’x12′ garage door) if not One door is fine.

White garage door with no window would be nice.

Can it be automatic door or does it come with manual only?

Can you do installation? or do you guys only provide materials?

Thank you. HANG in ROCKY MOUNT

DEAR HANG: Thank you very much for your interest.

building problemsNot sure a sliding door is the best option for a commercial building, due to security issues. Sliding doors typically seal tight enough to allow the neighbor’s cat into your building. You may find a sectional steel overhead door to be a better option, as well as being less expensive.

The sliding door(s) could be either one piece or split (bi-parting), are available in your choice of any of the popular roll formed steel siding colors and can be fitted with automatic electric openers (read more about openers for sliding doors here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/04/propel-electric-door-openers/).

As we are not contractors, we do not provide installation of anything, anywhere.

Hansen Pole Buildings provides sliding doors only with the investment into a complete post frame building kit package, due to the amount of damage when shipped by themselves. We would recommend you contact the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot®.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: You’re getting a lot of foot traffic coming through your front door and you do not know how to answer the questions direct them my way I’ll take your builds it’s a damn shame that you don’t know how to build a pole barn house to code

Please get out of the way a residential construction guys really staying to the pole barn homes and I’ll keep out of your way as well on just straight back yard pole barns


DEAR KURT: What appears to be a shame is you know so little about our business you have chosen to just wing out your suppositions without having educated yourself. My life experience has taught me you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar – this adage holds true with business relationships as well, just a suggestion you might want to give a try to.

Actually we do not build anything, we supply complete ENGINEERED building packages for post frame buildings of all sorts – including houses. All of our buildings are structurally Code conforming and we have the ability to answer all of our client’s questions, although we do appreciate your offer to do so for us.

Next time you decide you want to sell or construct a post frame building which actually meets Code – drop us a note as we can provide it for you and/or your client.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good day, I would like to replace the shingles on my Quonset shop with tin and was wonder if 29 gauge would form to the shape of the roof and what kind of spacing you would recommend for strapping under the tin? MATT in ALBERTA

DEAR MATT: Roll formed 29 gauge steel is not going to bend to fit the curve of a Quonset. I have seen people apply it going horizontally (lengthwise) on Quonsets, although have not done it personally. Under most snow and/or wind load conditions, supports every two feet beneath the steel should be adequate.


Engineer Wanted for Pole Building Garage

Wanted an Engineer for Pole Barn Garage

In deference to the attorneys at Menards, who seem very interested in the articles I write, this ad appeared on Craigslist recently, so it is a direct quote and has not been changed from the original posting:

“I am looking for a Colorado registered engineer for a pole barn garage I am wanting to do. I am looking to buy a package from Menards but my county requires it to be stamped by an engineer. Please feel free to email me if you are interested. Here is a link to the type I am looking at doing. Thanks, Matt


One of the positions we at Hansen Pole Buildings have taken a stance on is every (and I will repeat EVERY) post frame building either sold as a kit package or constructed by a contractor – and yes, even piece-mealed together by the building owner, should be built from plans sealed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect).

I’ve expounded upon the “piece-mealers” before, and for those of you whom are not long time readers, you should take a peek at this article: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/diy-pole-building/

Back on task, why should a RDP prepare every set of building plans?


The RDP is going to take into account all of the forces which will be acting upon your particular building (wind, snow, rain, uplift, to name a few).

The Correct Vapor Barrier, Home Prices, as well as Why I Need an Engineer!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Framed a 12x30x8′ room in pole barn. Insulated ceiling & 1-30′ wall w/fiberglass, the outside wall will be spray foam. Do I need the vapor barrier the ceiling and the 1 wall. I will be using plywood on the ceiling and all the walls for a finish. Thank You for your time. JOHN in ELMA

DEAR JOHN: Ceilings should not have vapor barriers, the warm moist air inside your room should be allowed to rise into the dead air space above the room. You should have a vapor barrier on the inside (heated side) of the fiberglass insulated wall. As kraft (paper) faced insulation rarely is properly installed to prevent moisture from entering the wall, a layer of clear visqueen should be applied to the inside of the fiberglass insulated wall.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m looking into a building for a house. What’s the average cost for a nice building after everything is built and livable in. And is the building efficient to live in. KYLE in GETTYSBURG

DEAR KYLE: This is similar to asking for the average price of a new car – it all depends upon what you want your new home to look like and the finishes you use on the interior.

Custom Designed Gambrel Pole BuildingMy bride and I live in what we feel is a gorgeous post frame home, and we absolutely love it. Your savings will come from foundation expenses (read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/), your ability to do some or all of the work yourself, and the inherent energy efficiency of post frame construction.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Need to know if a 6×6 post used in a 30×48 monitor barn with 2 feet of concrete and 1 foot of compacted 5/8 will pass for code. If not sure where can a person get plans ok without costing me $1500 from an engineer. Yakima County building permits won’t help they tell me to go to a engineer this will cost $1500. Thanks MARC in YAKIMA

Building PermitDEAR MARC: Your Building Officials are giving you the correct answer. If they were to tell you to do something structurally, it would place them in a position of liability in the event of a failure. In my humble opinion, every new building (of any sort) should be designed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect).

What you have MIGHT work depending upon the snow, wind and seismic conditions as well as the height of your building and number, size and location of door and window openings (among other things).

Your best bet – invest in an engineered post frame building kit package from a reputable provider. You will be glad you did.




Engineered Design, Steel Gauges, and Instant Pricing!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am building a pole barn with rafters at 16″ OC. We sheeted the roof and sides of it.

The building is 16′ wide with and engineered ridge pole.

Do I need knee bracing at each of the posts along the walls? Can I skip putting the bracing on the corners? Can I skip the knee bracing altogether?


DEAR BRIAN: First, here is some reading about knee braces: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/post-frame-construction-knee-braces/

You mention you have an engineered ridge pole, in order for it to be engineered it must mean the engineer of record who designed your building specified it. Otherwise, it is just a piece of building material. As such, you should contact the engineer who did your plans as he or she is the only one who can make the determination as to the need or lack thereof for the knee braces on your building.

If an engineer did not design your building, the best recommendation is to take what you have done so far to an engineer, have them review it and make a determination as to which path you should carry on from here.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you give me some information on what kind of metal you use and what options are available? For example, if I am building a commercial shop building, what gauge do you offer, what profiles do you have, (low rib – high rib), do you make the metal yourself or who do you get that from? Do you get it from my local lumberyard?

Thanks for your time? JUSTIN

DEAR JUSTIN: Our most commonly used product is 29 gauge three foot net coverage panels with 3/4 inch high ribs nine inches on center. Chances are we can provide pretty much whatever you are in search of on your new Hansen Pole Building – we can provide a myriad of gauges (although 29 gauge will generally carry most any load being applied to it) and profiles, as well as numerous options for the warranty on the paint finishes.

We do not manufacture, we buy very well and at wholesale from several of the major manufacturers – primarily American Building Components and Fabral, with some product also from manufacturers such as Central States, McElroy and Union Corrugating. All of our steel vendors are long established firms with reputations from excellent quality and superior service. We do not purchase from “ma and pa” roll formers, nor do we use or offer seconds.

And no, we do not get our steel from your local lumberyard – chances are good we could sell steel to them, at prices lower than what they pay for it.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m looking for a place that I can look at the metal buildings as well as floor plans. KYM in CLARKSVILLE

DEAR KYM: There are lots of photos of finished post frame “metal” buildings available to look at here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/gallery/.

The beauty of most post frame buildings is, unless you actually want to have interior columns, they can be clearspanned which allows you to place any desired interior walls pretty much wherever you would like them.

Panic Mode! We’ve All Been There

When Clients get into Panic Mode

Most of us have been there with a major purchase – we were all excited about it and then somewhere before it gets delivered we start to second guess ourselves.

Here is an example:

Dear Mr. Xxxxxx ~

Thank you for your investment into a new Hansen Pole Building.

You wrote:

“When I originally talked with Mike I wanted a heavy duty building, It seems no one there was listening, I have my plans and the roof trusses show 2×4 construction and side posts 3.5 x 5.5,  I am very concerned that this is a very weak design. I know I already approved the plans but I will have to spend about 4000.00 more to locally to purchase 6×6 posts and 2×6 trusses. I guess I can sell the ones I receive.  You people must think I live near Seattle, not, I live on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, your 2×4 double truss design appears obviously not strong enough to take the snow loads in my area. I am very concerned.” 

 (FYI – the “Mike” referenced is Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Mike Houska)

My response:

We take our client’s concerns to heart, it is part of why every Hansen Pole Building is structurally designed by a registered professional engineer.

In review of your building plans, I see it has been designed to meet or exceed a roof snow load of 45 psf (pounds per square foot) as well as an ultimate wind speed of 100 mph (miles per hour). The calculations for each and every member and connection on your building have been thoroughly reviewed by a Registered Design Professional (the engineer who seals your plans). I would venture a guess your Building Department has approved the plans as meeting the structural requirements.

The prefabricated roof truss designs for your building utilize 2×6 1650msr (or stronger) lumber for the top and bottom chords. When you go to your local lumberyard to purchase a 2×6 graded as #2 (the standard for framing throughout the industry), it has a bending strength of from 1105 to 1170 psi (pounds per square inch), depending upon the species of lumber. The 1650 msr being used for your truss top and bottom chords is at least 41% greater in bending strength. The interior members of the trusses (the webs) are indeed 2×4, as they would be in virtually any truss design. In truss configurations, the webs carry minimal loads for both compression and tension and are loaded to only 75% of their capacity on the interior double trusses. If your trusses have not yet been fabricated, it is possible we could upgrade to 2×6 webs, however the load carrying capacity of the trusses would not be increased by this change – you would basically just be spending money to spend money.

On to the column sizes. I’ve written extensively in the past on why a 4×6 (3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ actual) sized column will outperform a 6×6 column in most cases. If you would kindly take just a few moments to read about it here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/.

Things I do know – your building, built according to the engineered plans, will support the loads given, not only is it an engineered building, but we also provide a limited lifetime warranty to back it up!

I did a few trial calculations, increasing your roof snow load to up to 180 psf (four times what you invested in). Even at this load, 4×6 columns still work! The column is not “the weak link”.

Provided your lumber package is not ready to be shipped and your trusses have yet to be fabricated, it might yet be possible to increase the design roof snow loads, and/or the design wind speed beyond what the Code requirements are. In doing so, this again checks every member to insure you have no weak links.

If you desired to increase both by 25% (Ground snow load to 75, roof snow load to 56.25 and Vult to 112 mph) you would be looking at an up charge of $1580 and would receive new sealed plans and truss drawings to confirm these loads. An increase of 50% (Pg = 90, Pf = 67.5, Vult = 122.5) would be $2765. Either of these would, of course, be depending upon the status of your building in the production processes.

We will await hearing back from you as to your wishes.

Some notes – the increase in wind velocity does not increase in a linear fashion due to there being a square of the velocity in the calculation between wind speed and load being carried. If you have a concern about the adequacy of the loads being called about by your local Building Officials, we can quite easily give ideas as to what your added investment would be to increase either snow or wind loads. In many cases the difference is small in relationship to the total price of your building and peace of mind is always a bargain!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

An Engineer Didn’t Design This Building

If an Engineer Didn’t Structurally Design This Building, Then Who Did?

Many of you have been reading the ongoing and sad saga of Jimmy’s building…..here is the next installment:

Jimmy: “You should go buy a lottery ticket, I asked the builder, he told me only on industrial buildings do they use engineering plans. There is the concrete discs the post sit on, but other than that….it’s just sandy dirt mix supporting the posts.

 Can I take pics or take measurements…and send them or is there somewhere I can tell someone what I’ve got material wise and see if it would work. I think what they’re doing is using the minimum requirements. I originally ordered and paid for the trusses to be built on 2×8 top and bottom chords (on a gentleman’s agreement), when they arrived they were built on 2×6 top and bottom chords, when I contacted the guy he said the truss company made a revision since the attic was going to be for storage and not hay that 2x6s would be suffice for the top and chords. Well that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so I said either get me the trusses I paid for or give me the difference between the 2×6 and 2×8 trusses, he said I’m not giving you any money. And because it was on a gentleman’s agreement I don’t have a leg to stand on (everything from now on will always be in writing). I asked the builder what he honestly thought, he said the 4×6’s will be fine, but if my father would have went wider than 30 foot he definitely would have gone with 6×6’s. I’m going to follow through on what I added to the original build, but if there’s a way I can prove this guy is building a structurally unsound building I will take him to court.

 What’s your thoughts on concrete? We are planning to insulate the underneath with foam (250 psi) was recommended, and the concrete will be reinforced with fiber, but not with metal screen.”

Dear Jimmy: Please feel free to send any photos or measurements to me for review and I will give you my best honest opinion. My question always is – if an engineer didn’t structurally design this building, then who did?

truss-drawing-150x150The 2×6 top and bottom chords may very well be sufficient, as it will depend as much on the grade of the material used, than just the size. There should have been a sealed truss drawing delivered with the trusses – scan it and send it to me. I spent many years in the truss industry, so if something is amiss, chances are good I will catch it.

Sadly, you already have a building which is structurally unsound. There is no way those “concrete discs” are going to be adequate to prevent your building from settling. It might not happen immediately, but it will happen. A good building, takes a good foundation, it is just this simple.

As to your concrete floor, the best way to get a great floor, is with great site preparation. I’ve written extensively on this topic in the past: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/. Fibermesh is a product I have used in my own floors and have been pleased with the results. Unless you or someone in the future is going to climate control the building, there is no reason to put insulation under the slab. If you are considering a future with climate control then you should also be reading this article: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/
For all you gentle readers I implore you to take to heart the following advice – regardless of whom you invest in a building with:

  1. Never, ever invest in a building which does not have the seal of a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) on the plans. Unless your builder happens to be a RDP, he is just winging it.
  2. Make sure the plans are specific to YOUR building, with exactly the dimensions you ordered, showing your doors. The plans should have your name and the site address on them.
  3. GET IT IN WRITING https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/successful-relationship/

Can a Building Official Legally Change Engineered Building Plans?


I will preface my answer with the statement I have used more than once: If anyone, including any building department plan checker, field inspector, other official, or a contractor, makes any changes or deviations from provided engineered building plans my advice is to obtain a signed statement to the effect they have now become “designer of record”. In effect, they have assumed all liability for the building’s structural design.

With this said, here is where things get dicey. Always pick the battles. Some requests by Building Officials are so minor, it is not worth getting into a fight over. The risk is always in putting forth a challenge, which might raise the ire of the plans checker or inspector. More often than not, a change asked for by the Building Department is a preference item only, which has no code to back it up.

If he wasn’t a building official, it wouldn’t really matter much whether he gets rankled or not. If he was a supplier or subcontractor, fine, take the risk; if he can’t handle it, hire a new one. But you can’t hire new building officials. Get on the wrong side with one and run the risk of installing yourself on the person’s or jurisdiction’s blacklist. Navigating the regulatory quagmire is hard enough without painting a sign on your forehead which says “I am a jerk.”

Trust me on this one – getting into the jerk line at the Building Department is tantamount to waterboarding. Life…will….become….miserable.

I have heard of projects where during construction the engineer of record got calls from the contractor asking for interpretations to the cryptic red marks all over the structural plans. This is alarming because engineers do not release construction plans with red marks on them. If corrections are to be made, engineers make them in the office and reissue the plans. What has happened is an overzealous plans examiner took it upon himself to change the engineered plans via red marks and then issue the plans for construction without bothering to ask or tell the engineer!

In changing the engineer’s design, the Building Department superseded the actual registered engineer as the engineer of record and assumed all sorts of liability. If their risk manager ever got wind of this, heads would roll. And roll they should.

Oftentimes, engineers do nothing about this, especially if it is near an Act of Congress to obtain a building permit in the particular jurisdiction. Sadly sometimes the only way to obtain a permit is via the building department redoing the design and assuming the liability. Raising a stink could cause long delays in the issuance of a permit.

Before questioning the Building Official, weigh the costs. If the building inspector is a reasonable person, ask the question. If, on the other hand, the inspector is seemingly “out to get you”, maybe let the issue pass and then at the end of the project bring it up to his superior.

If you are a Building Official and reading this, please do give me feedback on “smoothing the road”. Trust me; I am on your side. My goal is always the same: To provide adequate support and education to clients to assist them in getting a well-designed pole building which is safe, sound…and built to code.