Tag Archives: footings

Adding a Second Floor to an Existing Pole Barn

Adding a Second Floor in an Existing Pole Barn

Reader ROBERT in HOLLIS writes:

I have a 24′ x 32′ pole barn with enough roof pitch and headroom to frame out the 2nd floor. Floor joists spanning 24′ with no support columns (clear span) is too expensive and 2×14 joists would take up precious headroom on the 2nd floor. So, my plan is to split the span with beams (scabbed 2×10’s) supported by 4 evenly spaced columns. That will allow joists to be 2×10 or maybe even 2×8 16″oc. Need advice on the size of columns 6×6 or 8×8 Spruce. 2nd floor would be a man cave with a possible pool table centered on 2nd floor (800lbs 4×8). I am not a structural engineer but know that loads and span dictate beam and joist size. Barn is made with 6×6 posts every 8 feet. Two 14″ laminated rim joists are notched onto tops of the posts surrounding perimeter followed by roof rafters and metal roof. Siding is shiplap 1″ pine vertical boards. Many thanks.”

Lots of considerations to be taken into account when adding a second floor to an existing post frame building, especially if connecting to current structural framing members.

Most important, is the dimensions of footings under columns. Assuming a residential floor load of 40 psf (pounds per square foot) and a 10 psf dead load, with your proposed center columns, each existing sidewall column will now be carrying another 8′ (on center spacing of sidewall columns) x 6′ (1/2 distance from sidewall to center columns) x 50 psf, totaling 2400 pounds! To safely carry loads to include a second floor, most engineers are going to recommend poured concrete footings under any columns supporting the second floor and roof system to be no less than eight inches thick. Chances are excellent footings are also lacking in adequate surface area to resist these added loads.

This full second floor, also is creating a diaphragm – it will reduce wind shear forces being carried by roof, however increases shear forces transferred to endwall columns at level of second floor. This could result in overstressing endwall and/or corner columns.

For these reasons, it is generally best to consider erecting a second floor independent of your existing building shell.

Moving forward….2×14 floor joists would probably not be an option due to structural challenges.

Checking just for bending:

[50 psf x 12″ on center x 24′ span squared] / [8 * 43.89 (Section Modulus of a 2×14) * 1.15 (Repetitive member factor for joists 24″ on center of less) = 855.9 (this is required fiber stress in bending or Fb). Southern Pine lumber strength tables only go through 2×12, however a #2 2×12 only has an Fb of 750. Even at 12 inches on center, they would fail in bending, and deflection would most likely be a limiting factor.

Getting on to your question about column dimension for interior supports, wood columns are very strong in compression (resisting gravity). For practical purposes, they can be checked for L/d ratio (unsupported length of column divided by least dimension of column). L/d must be less than 50, so without adjustments for end fixity a 5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ column is good for 275 inches (obviously full calculations are much more complex than this, however unless you have an incredibly tall building a 6×6 should be adequate).

For your central beam (again checking only for bending):

[50 psf x 144″ x 8’^2] / [8 * (3 * 21.3906) x 1.15] = 780.5 <= 800 (allowable Fb of 2×10 #2 SYP)

When checked for deflection, you will likely find this proposed solution of three 2×10 to not make L/360 deflection criteria. Better plan upon using three 2×12 with any splices directly at columns.

IRC (International Residential Code) Table R502.3 gives floor joist spans. 2×8 #2 SYP 16 inches on center is good up to a span of 11’10” or 2×10 #2 SYP 24 inches on center can span 11’5″ (depending upon beam placement, you might be within this limit).

In summary – I would recommend you engage a Registered Professional Engineer to evaluate what you have and devise a proper structural design solution.

Why Post Frame Columns Need Adequate Footings

Why Post-Frame Columns Need Adequate Footings

Reader STEVE in GRANTS PASS writes:

“Dear Pole Barn Guru, height of the post for my RV pole barn have moved. What is the best way to raise and support the header so that I can replace and or place concrete footings with Simpsons?

Hopefully these are better pics.

If I use the furthest to the left post as a baseline for height (base on a laser level) here are the variances from left to right.

#1:   base height 

#2:   +2.5″

#3:   +4.375″

#4:   -1.825″

#5:   +4.125

Based on everything I’ve seen with this property the builder did not sink these into concrete or use any type of Simpson column anchors.

How would you go about fixing this mess?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for your photos. You certainly have a mess going on here. Besides columns having (or maybe they were never correct to begin with) not been provided with adequate (or maybe no) footings, columns also appear to be greatly undersized.

Please keep in mind, these suggestions are not to be construed as an engineered repair. You should ideally engage services of a Registered Professional Engineer to confirm adequacy as well as to determine what other portions of your building may need upgrades or repairs.

To fix this you will need an all-terrain lift, a mini excavator, some 2×6 for bracing, as well as some UC-4B pressure preservative treated 2x lumber.

Using excavator, dig out on all four sides of an offending column, down to base. Add full length UC-4B treated scabs vertically from bottom of column to header using (2) two 10d common hot dipped galvanized nails every (6) six inches on all four sides. If your existing columns are 6×6, you will need (2) 2×6 and (2) 2×10 or (4) 2×8. Basically, you are boxing in each column. From outside (exterior) of building lift underneath header at each side of column until desired point is reached. Brace column at top of hole, by placing a 2×6 on inside and outside of column (running length of building) directly in contact with firm ground and nail with (4) four 16d duplex nails.

Repeat on balance of columns. On any column being above your zero point, you will need to dig out below the column.

Once above is completed for all four columns, have a pre-mix concrete truck deliver enough concrete to completely fill holes up to level of bracing. Give concrete a week to reach strength and remove braces.

It will not be fun or easy but will give your desired result.

Adding a New Lean-to

Adding a Lean-To Shed on an Existing Pole Barn

Reader SAM in CANNON FALLS writes:

Pole barn garage“Hello I am looking to add a lean-to to the side of my pole building on the eave side. I was looking to use a mono truss at with a 2/12 pitch and 8′ to the bottom of the truss/ ceiling height. Existing pole building has 6×6 posts with an 8′ on center spacing. The lean to is going to be 24′ wide by 10′ deep with 4 posts and a beam at the 8′ mark (so it would have a 2′ overhang. to connect it to the existing building we were planning on installing a ledger on to the 4 6×6 post on the existing building to hang the mono trusses off of. My question is do I need more posts on the existing building side and truss spacing or what would you recommend for my application.”

Your situation is one seemingly quite simple, however is fraught with potential for creating more structural problems than it resolves.

Here are some general considerations when adding a side shed:

Inadequate footings

Most (especially ones not designed by a Registered Professional Engineer) post-frame buildings have inadequate footing under their building columns. Often this is a result of having been built by a “professional” builder who sees cheaping out here resulting in adding profit to their bottom line. Use of dry bags of premix (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/concrete/) or inadequately sized concrete ‘cookies’ fall into this category. If your intent is to attach to existing building columns, then an engineer should be consulted to verify adequacy of existing footings for weight of present building and planned addition.

Drift/Slide off loads

If the high side of your proposed addition is lower than the main building eave, then snow will slide off onto your new shed roof. This can easily result in loads being imposed on new roof system far beyond the design capacity of roof purlins and trusses. In some instances, snow slide off can be great enough to actually fail steel roofing! https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/05/monitor/

What if the high side of shed and the low eave of the original building are at the same height? Doesn’t this solve potential snow problems?

Well, in a word, no. Now snow has a greater surface to accumulate on (one half of main roof plus added shed roof). When winds blow across the shed and up the main roof, they now deposit a greater pile of snow upon the leeward side of the roof near the peak. While all trusses are (by Code) supposed to be designed to support unbalanced snow loads, there is no way this extra load could have been anticipated – potentially leading to a failure of your main building trusses.

This particular scenario can also result in leaks, if not properly framed and carefully flashed – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/10/pitch-break/

Moving on to your proposal…

For an eight foot span from the main building wall to the new row of columns, ordering prefabricated roof trusses is going to be an expensive proposition. Although I love prefab trusses (I spent two decades in this industry, in a past life), unless you intend to create a flat, level ceiling in this shed, it just isn’t worth it. Dimensional lumber rafters are most likely your best option.

A 2/12 roof slope may not be your best choice. Most steel warranties are void on roof slopes under 3/12. Building Codes require sealant tape to be used between under and over laps with steel roofing (again adding to degree of difficulty).

Ledger boards are rarely adequately attached to resist imposed loads (remember snow).

If it was my own building – I would hire an engineer to verify adequacy of design. Provided footings were (or could be made) adequate, I would remove sidewall steel from the main building, so rafters could be attached directly to existing wall columns. Then reinstall steel using J Channel around where rafters protrude through the wall. I would hope to use a single rafter on each end, and one each side of existing columns. Roof purlins would be placed on edge between rafters – joist hung to interior ones and over top of end rafters if there is an end overhang.

Lots of considerations here and you have only a single opportunity to do it right or wrong. Best of success to you.

Uneven Ground, Granting Wishes, and Recommendations

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru discusses foundation for a uneven ground with 4-5′ “fall” in the back, granting three wishes, and recommendations for building/footing/slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hey thank you for time. I am wanting to build a 50×100′ shop. I have uneven ground and about a 4-5′ fall in the back. What is the best foundation for a post frame building for that situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated! ANDREW in APPLING

DEAR ANDREW: I would go with an ecology block (read more here https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/ecology-blocks/) retaining wall several feet beyond my building footprint. Then backfill with suitable fill compacted in no less than six inch lifts. This would allow for construction on a flat level site with embedded columns.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Please grant me 3 wishes o guru, you are better than a genie!!! Do you have a crew put the building together? Do they put the grounding strap on the ground and on the building? Do you have pictures of the workshops? KEITH in PORT CHARLOTTE

DEAR KEITH: Thank you for making me smile! I will answer as many questions as you need answers for.

We are not building contractors. Currently (and for the foreseeable future) there is a nationwide shortage of building erectors. Many high quality erectors are booked out into 2023. We would strongly encourage you to consider erecting your own building shell.

For those without the time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/find-a-builder/). We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders.

A CAUTION in regards to ANY erector: If an erector tells you they can begin quickly it is generally either a big red flag, or there is a chance you are being price gouged. ALWAYS THOROUGHLY VET ANY CONTRACTOR https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/vetting-building-contractor/
Your electrician will (should) properly ground your building.

Please click on any of these photos at https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/gallery/ to open gallery to more photos in same categories.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If I’m a belt and suspenders overkill kinda guy, what’s your recommendation on a pole barn construction/footings/slab. I would like to use steel instead of 4×4 posts if that isn’t a bad idea. JOHN in LITTLE ROCK

DEAR JOHN: 4×4 posts would not be adequate for even a very small post frame building. I would avoid steel due to its unforgiving nature (everything has to be spot on), challenges of thermal conductivity and connections between structural steel and wood. My preference (in my ideal dream world) would be glulaminated columns, embedded in ground, with a mono-poured concrete footing/bottom collar. This would provide greatest strength and reliability at an affordable price point.

Framing Loads, Footing Pads, and a Pole Barn Home

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru kicks off 2022 with reader questions about framing loads using heavy duty steel roof trusses, a stone siding wainscot, and lap siding. Mike then addresses questions about footing pads, and finally creating a pole barn home.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning to build a pole barn 36×40 on 10’ centers with heavy duty steel roof trusses on 6×6 posts. The wall height will be 10’ and I would like to have 3’ faux stone for siding at the bottom with the rest of the siding hardi plank cement board. Would the weight be too much for a traditional pole barn style framing? NICK in CROSBY

DEAR NICK: Unless you are using some sort of heavier duty steel roof trusses much more significant than typical welded up ones, they are generally not capable of carrying any sort of a roof snow load – it won’t make any difference in Texas, but would further North.

It is likely your building’s engineer will require wall girts bookshelf style in order to make them stiff enough to meet Code deflection criteria for deflection (walls have to be much stiffer when using sidings other than steel). He or she should also be verifying diameter of footings under each column will be sufficient to support weight being added. You are making a significant investment here, I would hate to see your hard earned dollars go for naught due to under engineering.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: You all have an article on the use of Footing Pads.  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/footingpad/
Are you all having luck with these?  Concrete is a little sky high right now.  Just trying to find people / companies that have utilized these and the pros and the cons! FRAN in NORMAN

DEAR FRAN: Our engineers typically detail bottom of roof supporting column holes with an eight inch thick concrete footing mono poured with 10 inches of concrete up each side of columns, resulting in a total depth of pour of 18 inches.

With a 24 inch diameter hole (largest size footing pads are manufactures in), this pour would take 4.71 cubic feet of concrete (just under 1/5th of a yard), ignore amount of concrete displaced by column itself. At $200 per yard, this would equate to under $40 per hole. To compare, a 24 inch diameter Footing Pad sells for $64.99, making poured concrete both less expensive as well as a design solution capable of resisting column uplift.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have single “shed roof” plans that I want to use on my owned Washington state property, although I do not have an architect. I have attached a drawing of the home. Is it possible to work with Hansen to create a pole barn home. I want to use metal roofing and siding. Thank you STACIE in LEAVENWORTH

DEAR STACIE: In most instances, homes do not require an architect’s investment. Our team can work with you to customize and/or tweak drawings you have sent to best meet your wants and needs.

Here are some considerations:

Plan tips to consider:

Direction of access – driveways are not cheap and shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Curb appeal – what will people see when they drive up? This may not be important to you, however some day someone will try to resell your barndominium.

Is there an appealing view?

North-south alignment – place no or few windows on north walls, but lots of windows on south wall. Roof overhangs on south wall should provide shade to windows from mid-day summer sun.

Is there a slope on your building site?

Work from inside out – do not try to fit your wants and needs within a pre-ordained box just because someone said using a “standard” size might be cheaper. Differences in dimensions from “standard” are pennies per square foot, not dollars.

Popular home spaces and sizes need to be determined:  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/the-first-tool-to-construct-your-own-barndominium/.

With all of this in mind, order your custom designed floor plans here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Our team will be reaching out to you as well.



Insulation Prep, Foundation and Footing Prep, and USDA Programs

Today’s Pole Barn Guru tackles reader questions about plans to insulate and preparations ahead of insulating, recommendation for framing and footing an apartment to prevent movement, and if the PBG knows whether or not the USDA programs apply to post frame homes.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am currently constructing my Hansen provided pole building, to be used as a shop. I plan to eventually insulate the walls with rolled fiberglass. My question is, are there any preparations I should make during construction? House wrap under my steel siding? Are inside closure normally provided for use between base trim/siding? Thanks, KURT in PORT ORCHARD

DEAR KURT: Thank you for your investment in a new Hansen Pole Building – be sure to send me lots of progress photos during construction (and of course ones when it is all complete).

In your Climate Zone, I would recommend using a Weather Resistant Barrier between wall framing and siding. You can either use Kraft faced fiberglass insulation or unfaced batts with a 6mil clear poly vapor retarder on inside of your insulation.

Inside closures are not a standard feature for wall steel, however they are relatively affordable and your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can reach out to you on Monday with a price on them.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to build a 30x72x18 monitor-style barn with a small apartment w/loft one end. How would you recommend framing and footing the apartment to prevent movement between the “two” buildings? Full foundation? Slab? Other Ideas? GREG in KALISPELL

DEAR GREG: Any possible movement would come from either inadequately compacted or loose soil below column footings, inadequate footing diameter, or frost heave. To prevent frost heave, columns footings should be placed at frost depth or deeper and perimeter of slab should be insulated vertically with rigid insulation. In your climate zone, this would entail a four foot ‘tall’ R-10 insulation board. Install on inside face of pressure preservative treated splash plank, with top of insulation even with top of concrete slab. As an alternative, you can insulate slab perimeter per Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation requirements found here (note, slab edge does not have to be thickened or have a stem wall): https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/fpsfguide.pdf


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello Guru! We were wondering if the USDA Rural Development program allows for the construction of a pole barn home? KIRSTYN in LANSDALE

DEAR KIRSTYN: I am finding nothing precluding a fully engineered post frame home from qualifying. It does appear qualification for these programs is fairly stiff for potential borrowers.

Continuous Foundations, Column Spacing, and Inside Closures

Let’s finish off the week with one more day of Ask the Pole Barn Guru. Today Mike takes on reader questions about connection with a continuous foundation, benefits of 10′ or 12′ column spacing, and replacing inside foam closures.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello. We are located in Ohio. We would like to build a 24×40 pole building. Zoning says it needs to be attached per their rules so we plan to attach with a simple fabric awning to meet zoning. The county says we need a continuous foundation if it is considered attached. Stupid right? The only thing touching both building will be a fabric awning. I have been told we can have an engineered foundation, or a 6″ by 38″ deep concrete wall poured, wood foundation or a traditional block foundation. Where would I begin to find details for an engineered foundation? I am struggling finding the info and where to start. RALPH in POLAND

DEAR RALPH: In a typical fully engineered post frame (pole) building isolated columns embedded into your ground would be complying and meet Building Code requirements. We would like to see your jurisdiction’s written requirement for mandating a continuous foundation, as often times these ‘requirements’ are just one person’s own feelings of how things should be done, rather than having an actual basis.

Should this indeed be an approved statute, we can have your new building engineered with your continuous foundation of choice. One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you to discuss further, or dial 1.866.200.9657 for immediate service.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are there any benefits going with 10′ centers over 12′ centers? I was thinking about going with 10′ centers because in my mind it seems like that would be a stronger building and would have less purlin sag over the years but rather go with 12′ centers to gain more parking space for a leanto? Any recommendations? Thanks BRIAN in PARRISH

DEAR BRIAN: Regardless of spacing of columns or trusses, a fully engineered post frame building will be designed to meet or exceed a specified set of wind design criteria – speed and exposure. You are better served to increase design wind sped, so your entire buildings is capable of supporting higher loads, than to merely move columns closer together. Provided Code required deflection limitations have been properly engineered for, any purlin sag, over time, should be relatively imperceptible.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Greetings, My metal roof is 15 years old and the inside foam closures have deteriorated.  1.  Are they necessary, and 2. if so, how does one replace them?

I hate to remove the screws along the eaves (or maybe even more screws farther up each panel), but see no other way to get replacement closures under the metal panels.

I’d appreciate any advice


DEAR SHERRY: Properly manufactured inside closure strips are UV resistant and should outlive your building’s steel roofing. Personally, I find them essential, as without them small flying critters have a clear path to enter your building. In order to replace them, you will have to remove screws along your eave line. Once remains of old closures are removed, new ones can be put in place. Old screws should be replaced by both larger diameter and longer screws, to maintain integrity of connections and prevent leaks.

For extended reading on Inside Closures https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/the-lowly-inside-closure/



Where to Stop Metal, Installing a Sliding Door, and Footings

This week’s Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about where to stop metal in relation to concrete, installing a sliding door to a repurposed building, and the proper depth of footings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Where do I stop my metal in relation to my grade board/ bottom stringer. I’ve set the bottom of my lowest stringer to be the top of my concrete. Does the dirt on the outside end at the bottom of said stringer because I would think moisture would penetrate. Thanks for your time and I enjoy your information. SAM in LANCASTER

DEAR SAM: Bottom of your pressure treated splash plank (lowest stringer) should be 3-1/2″ below top of your concrete slab.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m putting up a pole barn on the cheap with mostly repurposed materials. I’ve searched the interweb and find no instructions on sliding door track installation. I’m ready to start putting up the siding-do I need to prep/install the track/flashing/guides/stops etc. now or can I side the structure and do all this later? I have yet to buy any track/rollers/hardware, the doors will be 18′ tall and 10′ wide (high clearance for a stack wagon). Any help/guidance/direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, DAVE in ELIZABETH

Figure 27-5

DEAR DAVE: You will want to invest in your track and hardware so you have installation instructions including height of track board. Please do not try to wood frame door itself, invest in a steel frame – it will be far lighter in weight and will not warp and twist like a wood frame will.

Normally you will have a 2×6 #2 track board mounted on sliding door header face across your door opening and in adjacent area door will slide over. Top of track board is usually 10″ taller (above bottom of pressure treated splash plank) than door height. Before you run any siding install header, track boards and jambs. Install 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ L trim to cover track board. Hang track and track cover trim. Install J Channel horizontally on solid wall below track board and vertically on solid wall side of each door jamb.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello I called the number on your website and I was asked to send this question to this email address:

I’m considering building a pole barn however am concerned because about 30% of the vertical posts would be on a rock ledge at an elevation above the frost line.

I see the section on your website ‘sturdy wall plus concrete brackets’ not sure if that would apply here and/or what type of bracket or detail could be used in the situation?



DEAR MARK: Building Codes require footings to extend to either below frost line or to solid bedrock. Our third party engineers have worked with similar situations previously and usually come up with a design solution involving “pinning” columns to underlying rock.  We would supply you with a column layout and have you indicate how deep you can get at each column location. A steel concrete stake and a sledge hammer are perfect for being able to do this in advance of your plans being completed.



Footings, Payments, and Financing

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about a requirement for “continuous footings” in South Carolina, lump sim or payments for a building purchase, and finance options.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are continuous footings required for a pole barn in Dorchester County South Carolina. Size is 24 x 32 M KELLY in SUMMERVILLE

DEAR M KELLY: There is no readily apparent structural reason why they would be required. Your pole barn’s foundation design should be clearly spelled out on engineered plans you will be submitting to acquire your permit to build and will most typically be properly pressure preservative columns embedded in ground with some amount of concrete to resist uplift and overturning (as well as settling).


About Hansen BuildingsDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have to pay all at once or can you make monthly payments? STEVE in KALAMAZOO

DEAR STEVE: Depending upon your credit worthiness you can make monthly payments. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/financing/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Will banks finance these as homes? MICHELLE in MILL HALL

DEAR MICHELLE: Absolutely they will. You will want to read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/post-frame-home-construction-financing/



Footers, Building Over Old Pool, and Home Made Glu-Lams

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about need for a “footer,” building over an old pool, and the efficacy or viability of building ones own glulaminated posts.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: You have most likely answered this question before. I don’t seem to be able to find it.

I am thinking about building a post frame home. Building department says if I put the post into the ground I do not need a footer for the floor slab. We have cold winters where ground may freeze. Will I have a problem with the slab moving? JOHN

DEAR JOHN: Congratulations for considering a post frame home as your solution. They make for wonderful homes (I live in one).

Your Building Department is correct in saying you do not need to have a “footer” for a thickened slab in a post frame building. However it will stand a great possibility of moving without taking some precautions.

Proper site preparation is a key to success – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

If you are going to do radiant in floor heat (strongly recommended) you will need to provide a layer of insulation under your slab. Most jurisdictions have requirements for all homes to meet minimum energy saving requirements, this includes insulating around your building’s perimeter:


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a unique building situation. I have an in-ground 18′ by 36′ rectangular swimming pool with the shallow end being 14′ long by 18′ wide with a depth of 4 feet, and the deep end 22′ long by 18′ wide with an average depth of 6 feet. I want to drain the pool and then build a structure of 22′ by 40′ to cover the area previously occupied by the pool. I do not want to demolish the pool, unless I have to.

Floor PlanWhen completed, the new building would be two stories (8′-10′ of it will be below the foundation of my existing house, with a finished basement with a 9′ floor to ceiling height, and a second floor as the main living floor with a cathedral ceiling whose peak will run the 40′ length of the new addition. Will a pole barn structure work for me? If so, will your company draw up the plans and engineer the project so that I can get it approved by my City Building Department? DENNIS in SEASIDE


DEAR DENNIS: I am not a Geotechnical Engineer, but I imagine at the least your Building Department will require the filling of your existing pool to be designed by one. You will want to be discussing with the city. Once it has been adequately filled and compacted your site becomes just like any other one. I will assume your ‘basement’ reference is in comparison to your existing home’s grade. Yes, a pole barn (post frame) structure will work for you. We have a program set up with an independent floor plan expert to take care of your interior spaces: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q and we provide the structural engineering to go with your building.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For a pole barn is it ok to make laminated poles from say 4 2x6s screwed and glued, ground contact treated? CHRIS in CUSHING

DEAR CHRIS: Ultimately your answer will need to come from whatever engineer you have hired to design your building.

Unless those ground contact treated 2×6 are UC-4B rated, they should not be used in ground to begin with. Here is my take on your idea: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/01/making-glulam-columns/




Adding Overhangs, Building Replacement, and Moving a Structure

Today the Pole Barn Guru assists with questions about adding an overhang to an existing structure, replacing two buildings on site, and moving an existing structure.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi I just saw your blog posts on the web and wanted to ask you my barn has no overhang on the ends and when it rains it comes in under the garage door. Is it feasible to take the last run of roofing off and scab in about 3 ft of rafters and then cover that with more metal or fiberglass and put the trim on.   

The roof Peak is about 18 feet to the floor and the building is 30 by 60 thank you I have attached a picture. WAYNE

DEAR WAYNE: You should have this reviewed by a Registered Professional Engineer, prior to moving forward.

Remove rake trim and slide a 2x4x10 #2 in on top of trusses next to each existing purlin, until truss at eight feet in has been crossed. Carefully screw upwards through truss top chord at an angle into new purlin with two Simpson 9212 drive screws on each side of truss, making sure to not penetrate roof steel. Maximum you can overhang end truss will be two feet, so you should be able to attach a 2×6 fly rafter to ends of your now overhanging roof purlins. I would recommend you enclose overhang underside with some sort of soffit panel to keep flying critters from making homes in your new end overhang.

rebarDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m in the early stages of replacing two attached buildings. One building is a 2 car stick built garage, the other is an pole barn for a total size of 24×60 they are attached at the roof. Long story short needs existing vinyl siding/asphalt shingle roof replaced and a couple poles in the barn. Concrete slabs in both are in great shape, we want to bring fill in and raise the grade about a foot. Now my question. Should the existing slabs be demoed and left in place, can we just bring in stone fill and raise the grade and leave slabs intact? BARRY in OWENSBORO

DEAR BARRY: Unless you have a void underneath your existing slabs, you should be fine leaving them in place. Use sand or sandy gravel over the top of existing and place a vapor barrier over your fill (I recommend a 15mil plastic).

Although you did not ask, since you are doing potentially significant siding and roofing replacements, you might want to consider using roll formed steel as it will be most durable and cost effective.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Had a 40 by 60 pole barn installed 6 years ago. Am taking it down and relocating to a new site. The main 6 by 6 treated posts (of course) had cylindrical blocks about 12 by 4 inches put in each hole, and back filled with dirt (no concrete to my knowledge)

Question: How would you reinstall the posts? Footings, same cylindrical blocks, dirt / concrete? ANDRE in OWOSSO

DEAR ANDRE: Those cylindrical blocks are known as cookies (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/) and are probably woefully inadequate.

Without knowing specifics of your soils conditions and loads, I (or better yet a Registered Professional Engineer) cannot make an informed recommendation as to required diameter, I would imagine a minimum of 24″ however. Holes should be dug to at least frost depth. An engineer would probably come up with a design solution similar to this: install an uplift plate along the lower edge of one side of the column (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/12/uplift-plate/), suspend column in hole eight inches off the bottom and pour 18-22″ of premix concrete into bottom of hole and around base of column. Balance of hole should be filled with compactable material (compacted in maximum six inch lifts).




Pylon Sizes, Insulating a Pole Barn, and Plastic for Drainage

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about concrete pylon sizes, how to best finish and insulate an existing structure, and the best plastic for drainage.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What size do the concrete pylons need to be for a 24×36 building with an 11’ roof peak to be used for storage. No footer, just the basic building with 6”x6” posts. JAMES in VERSAILLES

DEAR JAMES: This information should have been clearly indicated on engineer sealed plans you are using for construction. Actual required depth, diameter and amount of concrete required to prevent settling, uplift and overturning is carefully calculated by your building’s engineer, once all factors can be considered. These include, but are not limited to: soil strength at your site, building wall height, roof slope, weight of building itself, snow load, wind speed and wind exposure, seismic considerations, whether building is fully or partially enclosed or is ‘open’, as well as spacing of columns. In most cases, I would expect to see an engineered design of roughly 40 inches in depth, 18 inches in diameter, with a minimum of 18 inches depth of concrete in bottom of hole (a bottom collar) and base of column held up eight inches from bottom of hole. A steel uplift plate is typically placed on columns in concreted area to prevent uplift. All of these factors as well as typical suggestions above should be fully reviewed and sealed by your building’s engineer prior to your moving forward.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve been reading through Mike’s information regarding post frame construction.

My wife and I moved into my parent’s old house, and would like to finish the inside of the pole barn that my father built 4 years ago. The trusses have a BCLL of 10 lbs. There’s single bubble between the purlins and metal, so the underside of the roof is always dry. We’d like to insulate the barn, but there is no housewrap (Tyvek) on the walls. My wife works and I’m disabled, so we don’t have very much extra money to spend. I’m physically not able to remove the metal on the walls and install housewrap. We can’t afford to hire someone to do this. We also can’t afford to have an insulation company spray foam the walls which would solve our problem. My father left about 60 new sheets of EPS foam board, and 50 – 60 new rolls of unfaced fiberglass insulation in the barn. Instead of taking the metal off the walls, would it be possible to wrap the interior of the walls in housewrap? It would be on the inside of the wall girts and wrap around the inside of the post. Would this prevent condensation from forming in the walls? Would it do any good to cut the EPS foam board and put it between the wall girts and fill all the edges of the EPS board with spray foam? I’m trying to come up with a practical solution to the problem, and was hoping Mike could help. I don’t want to ruin the fiberglass insulation, or the EPS foam board. I read one of Mike’s post about his wife being in a motorcycle accident and is now a paraplegic. I was driving home from work 19 years ago, and a big truck hit my car in the driver’s door. I was lucky to survive and was in a wheelchair for over 10 years. I still have the desire to do stuff out in the garage, but am very limited to what I can actually do. You never know what your future holds. Let me know if Mike has any possible solutions. I would appreciate it. GREG

DEAR GREG: Thank you very much for being a loyal reader.

Best possible solution would be to resell the EPS and the fiberglass and put those funds towards two inches of closed cell spray foam.

Trying to cut foam board and completely air seal it would be lots of labor and impossible to achieve. A Weather Resistant Barrier (Tyvek or similar) on the inside of the wall would either trap moisture in the wall or have it passing through into your interior without solving condensation against your wall steel. Chances are you would end up with some damp fiberglass over time.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am considering using 6 mil plastic sheeting about 5 feet wide from the bottom of the outside wall to drain any rainwater away from the building.  Do you know of any issues this might present? RON in WINSTON

DEAR RON: If I was going to do this I would use 15mil black plastic as 6mil will just not hold up over time. I would seal it to my building’s pressure preservative treated splash plank and make sure to have ground sloping away from my building beneath plastic minimum of 5% (three inches in five feet).


Hoop Shed Wall, Ventilation, and Pole Barn Footings

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about adding a garage door wall to a hoop shed, ventilation with no sidewall overhangs, and how post frame buildings are “anchored” to the ground.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to close the open 1/2 of the basketball court hoop shed with a pole building face.  I would like a large garage door in the center, fiberglass windows, and a door. Would you consider doing this project? JOHN in GILBERTSVILLE

DEAR JOHN: With no building behind to tie an endwall into, it would be structurally unrealistic and economically unaffordable to build what would essentially be a billboard in front of your hoop building. We would recommend tearing down the hoop building and replace it with a new post frame building which would be structurally sound and a permanent structure.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 56×40 pole barn that I am working on lining and insulating. My question has to do with ventilation. There is no soffit. Does Hansen make an eave vent similar to their vinyl gable vents with the snap rings? They would need to be approx. 6 inches wide by 1 or 2 feet long. I would like to place something like that in between each truss (8ft centers) on the sidewall under the roof overhang. Or should I just do gable vents? We are installing a vented ridge cap. Thank You. DARRIN in ARKANSAW

DEAR DARRIN: Unless your trusses have raised heels deeper than whatever insulation thickness you intend to use plus vent height, adding vents at sidewall tops will not solve your ventilation issue. Ridge vents do not function well with gable vents as intakes, so I will make one of two suggestions –

If insulating at ceiling level, use gable vents only following this:

2015 IBC (International Building Code) ventilation requirements may be accessed here: https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/document/IBC2015/chapter-12-interior-environment please see 1203.2.

In areas closest to sidewalls, use closed cell spray foam insulation until you reach an area where full depth blown in fiberglass insulation can be used (20″ will provide recommended R-60 for your area).

Or – use no vents and closed cell spray foam underside of roofing and triangles of gable ends.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How is the plumbing in pole barn construction affected in an earthquake? I have heard that since the pole barn construction is not anchored down, it shifts during an earthquake causing all kinds of damage to the plumbing? CARLOS in SPRINGDALE

DEAR CARLOS: Pole barn (post frame) buildings are indeed anchored down – or least most should be. In our case engineers we utilize will specify a bottom collar of a minimum 18 inches diameter and 16 inches deep, at base of a 40 inch or deeper hole. Columns will be attached to a slab on grade, or restrained by an elevated wood floor, if over a crawl space. There should be no more damage to plumbing, due to an earthquake, for post frame construction, than there would be for any other form of construction.




A Red Barn, Traditional Footings Not Needed, and Added Lighting

The Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a traditional red barn, footings, and additional lighting to outside of building.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, We are looking to have a barn built by the Amish community, but are having trouble finding someone to contact. I see on your website you have had several things built by them and was wondering how we would get in touch with them or is that your company? We live in Northfield MN, our wedding venue, The Red Barn Farm was recently destroyed by a tornado and are looking to rebuild. Any help would be appreciated.


DEAR HANNAH: Sorry to hear of your barn’s destruction. Hansen Pole Buildings does not physically construct post frame buildings for anyone, anywhere. We can, however, design for you a Building Code conforming engineered barn to replace yours and provide complete plans, assembly instructions as well as all materials delivered to your site.  Now our post frame building kit packages are designed for an average DIYer to successfully assemble their own buildings – with almost universally better results than hiring a builder. We’ve had some Amish community building experiences, and my best recommendation would be to proceed with extreme caution: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/11/barn-raising/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do the medium bldgs.(40×40) require foundation footings or just a poured slab? JAY in MONEE

DEAR JAY: A beauty of post frame (pole) building construction would be not needing to have a continuous footing and foundation, thus saving thousands of dollars and countless hours of time.

Read more about these savings here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I’m wrapping up my pole barn, and I have to add an electric light outside the door for local code. What is the recommended way to penetrate the wall and mount the junction box without causing water penetration problems? JAMES in LEE

DEAR JAMES: I’m in favor of minimizing penetrations through a wonderful weather resistant surface – steel siding. Use a surface mount box (rather than recessed) to a “flat” of siding (between high ribs). Use generous amounts of caulking between box and steel siding and you should be all good. A suggested caulking for steel would be TITEBOND Metal Roof Translucent Sealant available through your local The Home Depot®.




Dry Set Brackets on Foundation, Unfinished Jobs, and Engineering

Today the Pole Barn Guru discusses rebuilding on an existing concrete foundation with dry set brackets, unfinished work, and proper engineering.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve recently torn down an old machine shed that still has very good 8″ wide by 24″ deep cement foundation walls that I’m thinking about using to erect a new pole barn/machine shed.  Only about 6″ out of the 24″ of the foundation wall is above ground.  Can I erect 4×6 or 6×6 posts to the existing foundation or should I use more of the stick framing techniques?

One additional question on this:  The previous machine shed had a sole plate on the foundation.  Would you normally use a sole plate in a situation like this as well or just attach directly to the concrete? What’s the advantage of using a sole plate?  If I were to use a sole plate and anchored it to the foundation, and then put the posts on top of the sole pate, how would you recommend attach them to the sole plate?


DEAR MICHAEL: Regardless of design solution chosen, it would prudent to have your existing foundation reviewed by a competent local engineer for adequacy. In many areas frost depths are deeper than your foundation, rendering it unable to be reused. There are dry set brackets designed for attaching post frame building columns to existing concrete, however our third party engineers will no longer certify them for use as they will not resist moment (bending) loads. Provided your concrete has sufficient depth and strength, you might be able to have an engineer of your choice specify a connection of columns to concrete.

Bracket manufacturer shows anchors mounted directly to concrete walls and I would imagine this achieves best possible connection without creation of additional hinge points due to sill plate thickness. Sill plate still in place upon top of existing concrete wall, then I would recommend your foundation engineer specifying it being cut away where brackets will be located.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I had contacted you before regarding a kit but decided I didn’t want to get into a project that big.  I contracted with a local builder from Idaho Falls, Idaho to build my building in Afton, Wyoming.  He seems to have disappeared after setting the posts and framing in the wall girts.  Since he builds very similar to your kits I thought I might inquire to see if you could sell me a partial kit.  What I have is 6×6 posts on 12 foot centers and as I already said, they are framed in with 2×6 girts.

contractors-workingI noticed on your web site you have some buildings in Wyoming.  Do you use vendors for regional distribution?  I can’t imagine shipping everything from MN. JOHN in AFTON

DEAR JOHN: I hate it when a builder pulls things like this it just makes our entire industry look bad. We’ll need specifics of dimensions and features to price balance of your building, as well as what materials you actually have delivered. We have distribution agreements with vendors all across country in order to maximize possible providers and minimize costs of shipping. Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For the post on top of a foundation wall would you recommend 4″ x 6″ or 6″ x 6″ post and would they need to be treated?


DEAR MICHAEL: Second part of your question gets answered first, it would only need to be pressure preservative treated if wood was in contact with concrete. As most commonly available timber sizes are pressure preservative treated, you might very well find treated timbers to be both more readily available and more cost affordable.

As far as size of column – this should be determined by an engineer hired to design your building (or engineered plans provided by your post frame building kit provider). Post size will be influenced by heights of both walls and roof, design wind speeds and wind exposure, snow loads and many other variables. Please do not just take advice from some layperson when it comes to your building’s structural design, rely upon a registered design professional.



Adding a Lean-to on a Pole Barn

Adding a Lean-to on a Pole Barn

In six years and nearly 1500 articles written it is hard for me to believe I have actually overlooked the topic of a lean-to being added to a pole barn!

For the biblical readers amongst you, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7). Well, good reader DANNY in DANA is asking:

“I want to build on a Lean-to on my pole barn and have really having time getting information online, nothing address this project that I’m trying to get started on?”

Mike the Pole Barn writes:

What exactly is a lean-to anyway?

According to the sum of all human knowledge (www.Wikipedia.com) a lean-to is a type of simple structure originally added to an existing building with the rafters “leaning” against another wall.

Custom Designed Pole BarnWikipedia may consider a lean-to a simple structure, however there is far more involved than may meet the eye. Before diving deep into adding a lean-to to an existing pole barn (post frame building) a competent Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) should be engaged to determine the adequacy of the existing structure to support the lean-to. Failure to do so can result in catastrophic failures – causing injury or death.

Before I ramble on further, this article is not an engineering recommendation and should not be considered as such. Please utilize only services which can provide RDP sealed drawings for your project.

Why bother? It is just a simple roof!

Here are just a few considerations:

The footings beneath the existing wall columns need to be verified for adequate diameter to support the weight of the existing building, the lean-to and the weight of imposed climactic loads such as snow.

Even if the newly proposed lean-to is just a roof, the existing wall columns need to be adequately sized to support a greater surface of roof for horizontally acting wind forces. If the lean-to is enclosed on the low eave side, the new lean-to roof outside columns must now carry the wind load against the top half of the new wall plus the entire roof!

A change in roof pitch between the existing building and the lean-to, or the lean-to high side being lower than the existing structure can result in snow drifting and snow slide off loads which need to be carefully considered.

If the existing building has trusses or rafters supported by a truss carrier (header between the trusses) it is unlikely this carrier will be adequate to support rafters being attached to it.

Come back next Tuesday for …the rest of the story on adding a lean-to onto an existing pole building.


Bigfoot Systems

Bigfoot Systems®

Bigfoot Systems® bills itself as North America’s Original #1 Selling Pier Footing Form, which I would say is most likely 100% or more correct.

So, what exactly is a Bigfoot and why would one use one?

Before we get carried away, I have never used a Bigfoot and this is not a celebrity endorsement. This article began with Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Greg Lovell asking me what I thought of the system.

Bigfoot is a footing form which is used to form a pier base under a cardboard construction tube (think Sonotubes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/11/sonotube/).

Unless one wants to make a significant investment in concrete filling a very large diameter tube, it is more economically practical to increase the size of the footing (maintaining a smaller diameter tube) in order to properly distribute the downward forces over an adequate surface.

In a previous article we shared why it takes a fairly large footing to spread the weight out (read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/).

There are some limitations as to the “smallness” in diameter of the cardboard tube. In cases with concrete encasement around an embedded column, Code requires a minimum of four inches of thickness of concrete on all sides of a column. The diagonal measure across a nominal 6×6 (actual 5-1/2 inch by 5-1/2 inch) column is just under eight inches, meaning the smallest possible Sonotube would be 16 inches in diameter.

While Bigfoot comes in 20, 24, 28 and 36 inch diameters. Only the largest size will accept a tube over 12 inch diameter.

I am certain Bigfoot offers advantages for many types of construction, especially with decks. For post frame construction, in most cases it appears as if it would be added effort and expense. In order to be utilized with an embedded column, a 36 inch diameter or greater hole would have to be dug – and rarely are auger bits this large readily available.

The only true practical case I could make for the use would be if one had soil which collapsed as the hole was being dug – thereby forming a crater.


Clear Span Truss Length, Loft Support Columns, and a Footing at OHD!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the widest clear span I can get with a 20 # live load and a 25# ground snow load. THOMAS in LACEY

Arena InteriorDEAR THOMAS: Quite comfortably and affordably 80 foot. I’ve done up to 100 foot clearspans in this loading combination however many truss plants do not have the capability to fabricate or ship trusses 100′ long in one piece.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: While waiting for my materials to arrive for my Hansen building, I was reviewing the plans for my building saw my loft flooring 2×12’s are notched into the posts which I understand the reasoning. My question is what are the rules for notching posts and still maintaining structural integrity of the post. ED in BETHUNE

DEAR ED: There are some “rules” for notching wood members, however they apply to floor joists and stud walls in conventional light-frame construction, not to columns in post-frame construction. The limitations for notches in columns would depend upon the placement of the notch and the ability of the remaining timber to carry the imposed loads. Columns are subject to forces of bending and compression. In compression columns are very strong and rarely is over 10% of the strength of the column needed to carry the downward loads. As long as the notch is done to insure a tight fit and the connection between the column and the member fitting into the notch is done properly the downward loads will be carried through the column as if it was never notched at all.

In bending the maximum moment (bending force) is going to occur somewhere midway between the supported ends (or in your case between the ground and the loft floor), very little bending force occurs at or near the ends. The remaining column at the notch must be adequate to resist shear forces, however the lateral restraint provided by the rigid floor makes these manageable.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My 36 x 56 barn is going to have an entrance door and a 16w x 12h garage door on the 36 side of the building. My question is do I have to have a footer or not on the 36 side to make sure the doors will shut and open in the winter do to frost heave? Thank you. TIM in HUDSON

DEAR TIM: In the event you have an inadequately prepared site, then having a continuous footing and foundation below the doors (and extending past the columns on each side of the doors) might be a good investment. Such a system would need to also be deep enough to be below the frost line, which could make it cost prohibitive.

Sites which have been properly prepared rarely have issues with frost heave. You will want to read the series of articles which begins here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.



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.

Pole Design Home Plans, Custom Sizing, and Proper Site Prep!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have home plans for a stick build but, am interested in the savings of a Pole Home. I was wondering if you can help me incorporate our design into a pole design. Thanks ROGER

Hansen Buildings TaglineDEAR ROGER: In a word – YES. Keep in mind, what we do is the structural portion of your building – the exterior shell, any raised wood floors (like over a crawl space) or second and third stories. Any non-load bearing interior walls will be up to you. You will find tremendous savings in the foundation, as well as from the ability to construct it yourself.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I specify a different size other than what you show on your pricing page? For example, if I wanted a 20’ X 30’ could I do that?  BILL

DEAR BILL: We can provide buildings of any possible dimensions of width, length, height and roof slope. The beauty of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Instant Pricing™ system is it calculates exactly the materials needed for any size post frame building – you do not have to pay a premium to get dimensions other than what many people consider to be ‘standard’.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Building area has a hill on one side. The man doing my dirt work has leveled the site and is now going to add 2 foot of gravel to get the site up higher and away from the hill and 3feet wider all the way around the building foot print.. Also by raising the site he will be able to provide a trench to move water away from building The site is mostly heavy clay soil .so my question is will I need to get longer poles to get down below frost line of the original grade or from the building grade he created.

DEAR LARRY: Provided your excavator is doing proper compaction of the materials he is bringing in, the depth and diameter of the building columns should be able to remain the same as they were indicated on your original engineer sealed plans for the building. Here is detailed information on achieving adequate compaction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/soil-compaction-how-to/. If unsure at all, it would not hurt to order columns two feet longer than normal and auger the holes deeper than shown on your engineered plans by the thickness of the fill. In my humble opinion, your foundation is what everything is built upon, and to not err on the side of caution is leaving the support for your brand new building up to chance.


A Door Guide with a Roller, When to Pour Concrete, and Bedrock Anchors!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking for a bottom guide for a sliding barn door. I was hoping to get a guide with a roller vs. just a roller. I noticed some guides trap the roller in a channel on the bottom of the door. I would like to know if you have that and where to purchase in Lower west Michigan.


DEAR GERARD: I have found the very best sliding door guide systems do not use bottom rollers at all. Known as “stay rollers” the bottom rollers tend to be problematic, especially in tough climates or when large animals are present.

Figure 27-6

The most secure and effective method utilizes a bottom girt for the door which is most typically a galvanized steel channel 1-1/2” x 3-1/2” (think of a steel stud) with a slot in the 1-1/2” face towards the ground. A galvanized steel “L” is mounted via brackets to the wall in the direction the door slides open. The upward leg of the L engages with the slot in the bottom of the lowest sliding door girt.

This design solution provides stability for the bottom of the door, preventing it from coming away from the building, or slapping against the ribs of the steel as it opens. Hansen Pole Buildings does not provide sliding door components other than with the investment into a complete post frame building package. You might try the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot®, as they should be able to order the parts in without you having to pay an onerous amount of freight.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Would I have the concrete slab poured before the building is erected or pour the slab after the poles are installed? Thanks. JOHN in REMER

DEAR JOHN: One of the beauties of post frame construction is the ability to be able to pour your new building’s concrete slab on grade at any time after the columns are placed in the ground. My personal preference is to at least wait until the roof is on – as it provides greater protection from sudden unexpected rainstorms as well as sun. The best time to pour (in most situations) is after the building shell is fully completed. Premix concrete trucks do seem to have an affinity for running into building columns which are not part of a wall.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Dealing with a site that is less than 20 inches above bedrock and is a wet environment. Frost line construction standards normally require 48 inch depth. What foundation, site prep concerns are relevant. Hoping for a barn about 30 x 40 x 12 RON in ONTARIO

Footing DetailDEAR RON: Code specifies the depth of foundations (in this case your columns) must be either below the frost line, or to solid bedrock. You will want to discuss your particular site challenges with the registered design professional (RDP – architect or engineer) who provides the sealed plans for your building. Our engineers will often solve this anchorage problem by having you drill holes into the bedrock to epoxy in rebar pins which will be embedded into the columns, then backfilling the holes with concrete. To minimize potential frost heave issues, you will want to read my articles on site preparation (use the search bar at the upper right of this page) – as you will want to remove any soils which could contribute to heaving.


What Kind of Footings? Beams? and Bi-Folds?

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: 34’x44′ pole barn middle is 20′ high and 14′ wide, the 2 outside parts are 10′ high by 10′ wide, frost level is 48″, snow load is 40lbs per sqft poles will be 6×6 what kind of footings will i need to have to support this building? MITCH in KAWARTHA LAKES

DEAR MITCH: The question would be best asked of the engineer who designed your building as there are innumerable factors which are going to influence the size of the footings. These include (but are not limited to) the allowable bearing pressure of the soil at the site; will the building be constrained by a concrete slab on grade; the wind speed and wind exposure; dead loads – actual building weight which will be transferred to each column; will there be a second floor or loft in a portion of the building (like the raised center)? What will be the spacing of the columns?

When clients invest in a new Hansen Pole Building, all of these factors are taken in consideration by our proprietary Instant Pricing system and included on the engineer sealed building plans and the supporting calculations.

In the event an engineer did not happen to design your building, it would behoove you to hire one to at least properly design the footings for you, if not the entire building. With a 40 psf (pounds per square foot) snow load, both drifting and sliding snow must be accounted for to prevent a catastrophic failure.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am a high ropes builder and I have a camp that is on a tight budget but needs a new 30′ long balance beam for their high ropes course.
Question: Can you source such a pole for them or lead me to your supplier? I hope that is not 2 questions! 🙂 SHAWN in NASHVILLE

DEAR SHAWN: I have a client, whom I built a building for back in the 1990’s, who has become a good friend. He operates a high ropes course just north of Spokane, Washington: https://adventuredynamics.com/.

In answer to your question(s), since you are from Indiana, I would recommend contacting Stark Truss as they manufacture glu-laminated beams and columns which should be both affordable and straight. Here is the information on them: https://www.starktruss.com/products/perma-straight/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Considering using a pole barn as the base structure for an airplane hangar, do you have the ability to customize a 40X60 barn to allow a large door opening of 40X10 and possibly hang a bifold door on it. MIKE in STEVENS

DEAR MIKE: Post frame buildings make excellent airplane hangars. We can customize virtually any building to accommodate a hangar door. Here is some reading about airplane hangars: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/commercial-buildings/airplane-hangars/.

Ideally, if you are planning upon placing the door in a 40 foot endwall, there would be several feet of wall left at each of the corners in order to most economically transfer shear loads to the ground. A 40 foot wide bi-fold door will also not fit on a 40 foot wall. (example of Endwall Shearwall)

We would need to have the specifications of your proposed bi-fold door, in order to properly design the end of your hangar to support the door.

See bi-fold door information here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/hangar-doors-2/.


Fall Up, Go Boom

Fall Up, Go Boom

What? Sir Isaac Newton pretty much confirmed things do not fall up.

Well, this building did not actually “fall” up – it was sucked out of the ground. How would I know this? Look at the ends of the columns which are lying on the ground. There is no concrete attached to the bottom of the columns, nor is any method for preventing uplift even obvious to the more than casual observer.


In review of the NFBA (National Frame Building Association) Post-Frame Building Design Manual (January 2015) the issue of column uplift is all but ignored. Beginning with the end of Page 5-37, it is concluded two pages later. Options for preventing uplift are really not addressed.

For decades we, if not many other post frame designers and builders, have relied upon the bond strength between concrete and wood in designing column embedment to prevent uplift issues. More can be read about concrete to wood bond strength here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/pole-barn-post-in-concrete/.

I’ve expounded previously upon the use of nail on truss plates for assisting in uplift construction (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/truss-plates-for-column-uplift/).

There truly is very little information available. Of all places, I did find some relevant information on the City of Hendersonville, Tennessee website (www.hvilletn.org):

Column uplift protection: Columns shall have uplift protection by one of the following methods:

1. Two 2x6x12 inch column uplift protection blocks attached to each side of the base of the column. The column uplift protection blocks must be placed horizontally, attached per Table 5 and comply with Section R317.

2. 12 inch high, concrete collar poured on top of footing around the post, with 2- #5×9 inch rebar placed through the post at 3 inches and 9 inches from bottom of post in opposite directions. The rebar ends shall be installed in accordance with ACI 332 for the specified distance in inches from contact with the soil.”

Table 5 mentioned above happens to be five 16d hot dipped galvanized nails into each block.

While I was researching for this article, I happened upon an example for preventing uplift in an all steel building. The building in this case was a 60 foot span and steel frames every 25 feet. In this case the design footing was eight feet square by 3’8” in depth!!

The all steel building is going to have footings which take nearly nine yards of concrete per bearing location!! This is near the capacity of a pre-mix concrete truck, per one end of each frame!

Getting back to the post frame building design solution, our engineers have determined reliance upon the concrete to wood bond strength only is not quite as conservative as they might like.

The solution – Hansen Pole Buildings, LLC engineered post frame buildings now have added the nail on uplift plate tot the roof supporting columns to tie into the concrete column encasement.

The investment is minimal and it does afford some added insurance of success in preventing uplift.

Concrete Considerations from the PBG!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is concrete included in price? TRACEY in SUMTER

DEAR TRACEY: No, we do not include concrete in the price and here is why:

Most familiar, as well as most available is the Sakrete® general purpose High Strength Concrete Mix. When mixed per the manufacturer’s instructions, this mix affords a compressive strength of 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch) at 28 days.

The instructions are: Empty the contents into a mortar box, wheelbarrow, or mechanical mixer. When mixing by hand, form a crater for adding water.  Add water a little at a time.  Avoid a soupy mix.  Excess water reduces strength and durability and can cause cracking. A 60 lb. bag should be mixed with three quarts of water, an 80 lb. bag four quarts.

Now the realities of using bagged concrete for post frame building footings….

treated postIt is not unusual to have concrete encasements of 24 inches or larger in diameter and 18 inches or more in depth, in order to prevent building settling and uplift issues. One hole this size would take 4.71 cubic feet, or about 700 lbs. of concrete! Even a very small building with 18 inches of diameter and depth takes 2.65 cubic feet or about 400 lbs. of concrete.

With either 60 or 80 lb. bags, it is going to take a lot of bags! An average building could easily have 20 posts, and if looking at 700 lbs. of concrete per post, we are talking about 7 TONS of concrete (3-1/2 yards).

Ignoring the huge number of bags involved, there are some other realities.

Ever looked at the pallets of readi-mix bags at the lumberyard? Take a peek, next time. Notice how many of them are broken or leaking.

Due to weight, it may very well mean another delivery and another delivery charge. Trucks do not run for free.

Bags can (and will) break when being handled during delivery, unloading and being moved around the jobsite. It is going to happen, just plan on it.

From experience, lots of projects are not begun immediately after delivery. It is not unusual for delays of weeks, or even months before actual construction begins. Improperly stored, bags can get wet or absorb moisture and become solid before time for use. This equals a total waste of money, other than the chunks of concrete make for solid backfill.

Then there are the builders who insist upon throwing the entire bag (usually including the bag) into the hole. Their idea is ground water will cause the readi-mix to harden. Why does this not resemble the manufacturer’s instructions?

Readi-mix must be mixed thoroughly and evenly. How does mixing over 200- 60 lb. bags of Sackrete® by hand sound? Add too much water (three quarts exactly per 60 lb. sack) and the strength is reduced.

Use too much? As holes are always perfectly round (not), it is going to happen.

Save time, effort and money. Often all three can be saved by having the local pre-mix concrete company deliver concrete for holes (even if a “short load” fee is charged), as opposed to mixing on site.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am building a 36 x 40 pole barn and I’m on a grade that drops approximately 4′ over the span of the building footprint. A home builder friend, a structural engineer, and my concrete guy have recommended traditional foundation with wet set permacolumns, but the builder I’ve contracted with wants to set columns on footers 3′ to 5′ in the ground and not use the permacolumns. The pole barn builder doesn’t think I need a retaining wall and should just have an excavator level what i need with a slope off the back. Seems a retaining wall in the back is better, which my concrete guy will pour, but still recommends foundation to eliminate frost heave. Use for building is car storage and shop with a lift.
Thank you in advance for your time and help. CHRIS in ST. LOUIS

DEAR CHRIS: This reminds me of a joke I once heard – a home builder friend, a structural engineer and a concrete guy enter a bar…….

Oops, kind of off track!

Some of the answer is going to depend upon what you want your yard to look like.

In any case – the actual pad of the building is going to need to be properly compacted (emphasis on proper) so those costs will be fairly even in any case. You’ll want to be reading about proper site preparation and compaction here (it is lengthy): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/

What might appear to be the least expensive would be to just order columns long enough to get the required embedment depth as shown on the engineered plans, then fill afterwards, sloping away from the building. In order to keep the fill from sloughing off, it will probably result in a slope next to your building which will stretch out as far as 20 feet. You could easily invest in several hundred yards of fill!! If you can live with the look, might be the answer.

Building on top of a foundation – this is going to be the most expensive and certainly not the choice I would probably be making. It is also going to be tougher to build upon, due to the height of the walls plus the foundation.

Which leaves – build a retaining wall. I like this idea. Columns do not have to be longer (as long as fill is properly compacted).

By the way – there is no reason for ANY of these versions to frost heave as long as the site has been properly prepared. Read more about how to avoid frost heave issues here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/preventing_frost_heaves_in_pole_building_construction/

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much is the drip stop application for labor/material? Usually it comes already attached to the metal paneling. Do you figure it by square feet? JOSH in MANKATO

DEAR JOSH: For materials you are going to be looking somewhere in the neighborhood of 53 cents per square foot of roof surface. As a builder, if you are anywhere it is typically windy, I am going to give you a decent discount on my labor for having invested in it, because I don’t have to fight rolls of insulation flapping in the breeze.


CLSM: Cost Effective Alternative to Soil Backfill

Backfilled HoleIn typical pole building construction, holes are augured into the earth, columns are placed in the hole so concrete can be placed below the column to act as a footing for vertical support, as well as to encase the lower portion of the column. Above this “bottom collar” compacted soil backfill is used to fill the void between the column and the edges of the holes.

Controlled low-strength material (CLSM) is self-compacted, cementitious material primarily used as a structural fill or backfill alternative to compacted soil backfill. It is often referred to by different names including flowable fill, controlled density fill, soil-cement slurry, unshrinkable fill, plastic soil cement and flowable mortar. It is self-leveling, having the approximate consistency of pancake batter, and can be placed in one lift with minimal labor and no vibration or tamping. The American Concrete Institute (ACI) defines CLSM as having a compressive strength less than 1200 psi (pounds per square inch), however most current CLSM applications require unconfined compressive strengths of less than 300 psi. This lower strength is more than comparable with strength of compacted soil backfill.

Since CLSM is designed to be fluid, it can be easily placed as backfill in a hole. Soil backfill, even if compacted properly in the required layer thicknesses, cannot achieve the uniformity and density of CLSM.

CLSM mixtures typically consist of water, portland cement, fly ash, and fine or course aggregates, or both. Some mixtures contain only water, portland cement, and fly ash. Although the materials used in CLSM may meet ASTM or other standard specifications, it is often not necessary to use standardized materials. The selection of materials for use in CLSM is based on cost, specific CLSM application and the required mixture characteristics including flowability, strength, excavatability and density. The use of fly ash improves the CLSM flowability, and can also increase strength and reduce the mixture’s bleeding, shrinkage and permeability. Air-entraining admixtures are also often used to help improve workability, reduce bleeding, help minimize segregation, reduce the unit weight, and control strength development.

Aggregates are usually the major component in CLSM, and their type, grading and shape can affect physical properties. Unlike conventional concrete aggregate, which is usually required to meet standardized specifications, CLSM aggregate need not necessarily meet these same standards to be effective. As an example, manufactured sands containing up to 20% non-deleterious dust of fracture have proven to be very satisfactory