Tag Archives: engineered pole buildings

Both Ends Open, Pole Barn Wind Load Challenge

The Both Ends Open, Pole Barn Wind Load Challenge
There are plenty of people who just do not understand the basic concepts of how wind loads are transferred through a pole barn (post frame building) to the ground. Included amongst these would be those who desire buildings which are enclosed on both long sidewalls and open on both ends. This is one of the worst possible design concepts one can come up with in a new post frame building.

Of course somewhere along the discussion between the Building Designer and the client this statement always seems to come up:
“Well Joe Blow has one down the road and his is still standing”.
My response to this is – “Joe has just been phenomenally lucky”.

In my years living in Eastern Washington, we made numerous trips from Spokane to Seattle. Driving across Interstate 90, one passes through the towns of Moses Lake and Ellensburg. This is prime grass growing country, where numerous hay storage buildings have been constructed over the years, with both ends open. The majority of these now have complex systems of braces and/or extra diagonal columns added to their sidewalls in attempts to maintain them standing vertical. More than a few of them only remain standing up because they are full of hay – the contents alone are what is keeping the buildings standing.

I’ve hashed through this challenge in the past, however it is apparent too few people have read and grasped the situation (read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/04/open-endwalls-hay-barn/).

For those of you who enjoy audience participation, please go find an empty shoe box and a pair of scissors.
Remove the lid (and the shoes) from the shoe box. Place it open side down on a table top. Push down on the box – pretty stable, isn’t it?
Next, cut both of the narrow ends completely out of the box. Again place it open side down on the table and push on it…..
Flat as a pancake, isn’t it?

The very same concepts work to keep buildings standing. Remove too much or all of the ends and the building does a fall down, goes boom.

Just because Joe happens to have a building standing which sound engineering practice says it should not be, does not make it right. Most folks are going to make a significant financial investment into a new post frame building and my personal preference is for them to not have their insurance company paying to replace the building.

Buying a Non-Engineered Building

The One Simple Secret to Pole Buildings Which Stand Up

HINT: It has nothing to do with how it is built!

Regardless of what anyone pays for a new pole building, whether investing in a complete kit package, piece mealing it together, or having it constructed – the general idea is to have the building stand up.

Obvious, right?

Properly designed pole buildings have every component and connection checked by rigorous engineering calculations to insure the ability of your new building to meet the applicable wind, snow and seismic conditions being applied to the structure.

This is a lot of calculations – on an average pole building, it could be 200 pages worth. Single spaced.

I told you I was going to share a secret.

International Building CodeWL^2 / 8

Cool, isn’t it?

Well, only if you know what it is. For engineers and other skilled professionals – it is the formula for a uniformly loaded simple beam, supported at each end.

W is the load being applied to the beam.

L is the length of the beam (which is squared)

Multiply the two and divide by 8 to calculate the bending moment (read what bending moments are all about at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/09/bending-moment/).

Why is this a secret?

Most of the folks who are trying to sell you a non-engineered building have no one in their organization who knows what this formula is. And even fewer know how to use it!

The person who sells me a new car doesn’t have to know why the car works – they have highly paid brilliant engineers who do those things.


Anyone considering investing in a new pole building should do what I call “due diligence”. Make sure there is someone (hopefully a registered design professional) involved in the design who knows the secret…and better yet, is skilled at using it!

Pole Barn Guru Takes Issue

A Nice News Story and Why I Take Issue With It

From the Associated Press:

“CORINTH, Miss. – A design is in hand for a proposed vegetable shed at the Farmers Market on Fulton Drive.

The Daily Corinthian reports Cook Coggin Engineers submitted the design to the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors. Construction bids are being taken through Monday.

Board President Lowell Hinton said the supervisors will decide whether to go ahead with construction after all bids are in.

The design is for a 40-by-100-foot pole barn built on property owned by the city of Corinth.

The open-air design would allow water to flow through in the event of flooding.

Corinth officials had input on the plans.

Market supporters believe the shed would be a plus by getting growers and customers out of direct sunlight during hot summer months.”

From their website: “Cook Coggin Engineers, Inc., is a general civil engineering firm established in 1946 that continues to serve state and county governments, municipalities, rural communities, and industry. Headquartered in Tupelo, our regional offices are in Booneville, Corinth, New Albany and Ripley.

Cook Coggin serves as County Engineer for many Mississippi counties providing a vast array of services. Additionally, Cook Coggin provides services to numerous municipalities, rural water associations, sewer, water, and gas utility districts, and other governmental and private entities.”

I have absolutely no doubt of Cook Coggin being a fine and outstanding engineering firm, however nowhere on their website can I find one of their specialties being pole and post frame buildings. My educated guess is, the design provided by them, was probably not done for free.

In my humble opinion, municipalities (such as Alcorn County) and their constituents would be far better served, by taking advantage of the pole barn design services offered by companies such as Hansen Pole Buildings.

In our particular case, for any public works post frame building, which must be let out for bid, we will provide, at no charge to the municipality or agency, a complete set of structural drawings – in advance.

Besides the tremendous reduction in upfront costs for engineering, it also guarantees to the municipality a building which can actually be constructed in the real world. All too often, we have been requested to bid on projects, which were designed by well-meaning architects or engineers, which had either impractical or impossible to construct pole barn designs.  They had no concept as to what a pole building really is, or how it is to be designed.  I have no issue with other type of designs, however trying to use “stick-built” or stud wall concepts, and call it a pole building, sort of defeats the whole purpose of strong yet simplistic pole barn design.  Pole buildings are very affordable, as long as the engineers designing them, really have their “feet wet” in a long enough history of post frame construction.