Tag Archives: foundation stem wall

Labor Costs for a New Barndominium

Labor Costs for a Post Frame Barndominium

In my humble opinion, an average physically capable person who can and will read instructions can successfully erect his or her post frame barndominium. This is a great place to save money (provided time is available) and most people frankly will end up with a better finished home!


Because you care – you have “skin in the game”.

Reader JOHN in NIXX writes:

“We are interested in building a home. It’s crazy but I’m not sure what to call this structure

Long story short we started out investing a pole frame residence. Decided not to go w slab on grade due to our physical condition and walking on concrete. 

I’m thinking we are going to build a 3-4’ stem wall or crawl space w/ 2×6 exterior walls. With trusses 6/12 pitch   Metal roof and 3 sides metal. The front could be red cedar siding.

MoneyWe are building in a remote area and the trades are difficult to come by. I received a recommendation of a person who has been building fence for 20 years. He organized 2  Amish crews that have built 2 large pole barns. They set poles and framed in with 2×6 exterior walls. When we spoke about pricing I was told it would be $4.50 a sq foot. I have framed stick build for a lot  less in the past. A local subdivision in the area is paying $3.50 a foot for stick built houses. My question is how do I determine if that is a fare price. I’m having a difficult time seeing how that price is valid.  What am I missing?  Any input would be appreciated.   The zip code for the new build is 65571. Thanks.”  

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Nationally framing a standard 2,100 square foot stick frame house will cost $9,030 – $17,220 or $4.30 – $8.20 per square foot for labor. A crew of five should be able to complete work and pass framing inspection within 2 – 3 weeks. Contractors typically will estimate garage area at 15 – 20% lower rate than living space.

If you are hearing $3.50 per square foot for framing labor, it sounds like they either work too cheaply or houses being built are extremely basic. Keep in mind, stick frame labor does not usually include siding or roofing installation and never includes hanging overhead doors.

Most usually a fair market price for post frame shell erection labor is approximately 50% of an engineered post frame building kit price.

With post frame construction, you can have engineered an elevated wood floor supported by building columns, eliminating a huge expense of pouring a concrete footing and stem wall.

Remember – cheap is rarely good, and good is rarely cheap.

Concrete Floor Thickness for Heavy Equipment

Concrete Floor Thickness for Heavy Equipment

Reader KRIS writes:
“Dear Guru,
My husband and I are getting ready to construct a pole barn 40 x 80. He wants 2 x 14′ doors, 1 x 10′ and a service door. It will be used for heavy equipment storage and workshop/florist shop to keep critters out.
We had a contractor recommend a 6″ floor and 4 ft cement walls which I’m guessing drives the price up substantially. My husband thinks the floor should be more like 10″. An excavator, track loader, 9n tractor, and UTV/ATV will be stored.
We will want to heat the 2 workshops.
I don’t even know where to begin. What do you recommend?

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Unless there is far more to this than I am seeing, there would be no practical reason to have a four foot high concrete wall. Perhaps he is thinking of a foundation (below grade) wall, rather than an above grade wall.

Starting with floor thickness….to give a perspective 60% of the U.S. Interstate Highway system has 11 inch thick concrete. From the PE (Professional Engineer) Civil Exam, in Basics of Concrete Pavement Thickness Design, the thickness depends upon traffic load, subgrade and climate, but city streets, secondary roads and small airports are typically four to seven inch thicknesses). This leads one to believe a 10″ thick slab would be perhaps excessive.

What is going to make the biggest difference in the success of your concrete floor will be the gradework which is done underneath. You will want to read this series of articles, which begins with https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.
I’d invest my dollars in the preparation of the site, rather than pouring lots of dollars into an overly thick slab which is over a poorly prepared subgrade. Six inches of thickness should be more than adequate for areas where heavy equipment will be driven and parked. For lesser loads, four inches.

Now let’s talk about the perimeter. If a foundation stem wall is being considered, I’d recommend using the Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation design, which you can get details on here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/. Using this eliminates the need for foundation walls, plus provides an energy efficient insulation solution, while reducing the possibility of frost heaves.

For heating, you should consider radiant floor heat – at the least have PEX tubing placed in the floors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/.
Please take the time to browse our website for more articles on the design of energy efficient post frame building walls and roof systems.