Tag Archives: foundations

Post Frame Footings, Delivery Limitations, and Foundation Types

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru addresses reader questions about common gable post frame footings, weight limitations for a building delivery and the possible solutions, and what types of foundations Hansen Buildings can design for in Weld County Colorado.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is a common gable post footing compared to a main truss post footing, where are these located on a building? ELLIOT in PINEHURST

DEAR ELLIOT: Most post frame buildings are rectangular, with peaks (a point or gable) on opposite ends. Building codes require a minimum footing thickness of six inches, or an ICC-ESR approved alternative (like these https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/footingpad/). Main truss post footings will be located along the eave (side snow slides off of) and support roof trusses (hence ‘main truss post’). As they carry more weight than endwall (peak of roof ends) columns, they will typically be larger in diameter. Your building’s engineer sealed plans will specify locations and diameters required to adequately support weight of building (including applied loads). This is not a place to guess or scrimp, as you really wouldn’t be happy with any of your columns settling.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: 50x 50 x 16 pole barn approximate weight, limited by bridge on property? NEIL in TULSA

DEAR NEIL: A far greater issue than weight of your building package (roughly 20,000 pounds total depending upon features) will be weight of trucks making deliveries (many weigh 32-40,000 pounds when empty). We have had many clients in a similar situation to yours and materials can often be offloaded onto a flat trailer you can pull behind a pickup, or similar, in order to get into challenging jobsites. Biggest concern will be 50 foot long roof trusses, as truss truck is going to be a semi pulling usually a 48 foot long trailer. You might want to consider making a donation to your local high school’s football team in order to have them physically pick up and carry individual trusses across bridge and to your site.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What type of foundations are used in Weld County, CO for pole barn homes? Insulated slab on grade? Crawl space? BRENT in KERSEY

DEAR BRENT: We have provided roughly 300 fully engineered post frame buildings to our clients in Colorado (many of these in Weld County). Types of foundations for post frame homes are nearly as varied as are our clients. We’ve done full or partial basements (including walkout or daylight) in block, poured concrete or ICF; crawl spaces (both conditioned and non-conditioned) as well as slabs on grade (both with heated slabs and under floor insulation or unheated slabs with perimeter insulation). Embedded columns are going to be least expensive and strongest, however we can also design and provide for cases with ICC-ESR approved wet set brackets. With most sites in Colorado, it is beneficial to involve a Geotechnical engineer to do a proper assessment of your site’s soil conditions and bearing capacity in order to assure best outcome. Often jurisdictions will make this a requirement. Here is some extended reading on slabs vs. crawl spaces: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/slab-on-grade-or-crawl-space/

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.

Foundations, Insulating a Sliding Barn Door, and Buying a Barn Door

This week Mike the Pole barn Guru answers questions about foundations, effectiveness of insulating a sliding barn door, and where to buy a sliding barn door.

Concrete slab in a pole barnDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hansen Team, in beginning my post frame home over a full foundation, I am reading your excellent load bearing considerations for the posts through the foundation into the footing. Realizing the foundation is a critical and unique structural system in my design, can you recommend a PE for South Carolina who has experience in designing for pole barn foundations? FRANK in TAYLORS

DEAR FRANK: Our third party engineers have designed thousands of post frame (pole barn) foundations and can incorporate your needs into our design. As you will be living in this, may I suggest you consider using prefabricated wood floor trusses, rather than joists? They will give a flat finished basement ceiling and afford space for both duct work and plumbing.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is there such a thing as an insulated sliding barn door? (exterior) . CHARLOTTE in HOPLAND

Figure 27-5

DEAR CHARLOTTE: Yes there is such a thing however it is going to be minimally effective. Steel framed sliding doors are either 1-1/2 (typically) or 3-1/2 inches in thickness. Closed cell spray foam insulation would provide greatest insulating value at approximately R-7 per inch of thickness. Now your problem – in order to slide past adjacent siding, a space must be provided between door and siding. Heat and cold will pass through this air gap.


Horse ShelterDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I need two metal sliding barn doors. Each door 6’ x 8.5‘. DAVID in RUTHERFORDTON

DEAR DAVID: Thank you very much for your inquiry. Due to challenges of shipping without damage, Hansen Pole Buildings only provides doors along with an investment in a complete post frame building kit package. We would recommend you check at the ProDesk of your local The Home Depot®.




Rebuilding, Post Spacing, as well as a Frost Wall

I this weeks blog, the Pole Barn Guru talks about, rebuilding a pole barn, ideal post spacing and a frost wall.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I recently disassembled a 36 x 100 pole barn and am rebuilding it at my house. It was covered with 2″ reinforced paper faced roll pole barn insulation with a 1″ foam board between the insulation and the metal. While removing the roll insulation it received many tears in the paper face. I would like to install a 6mil vapor barrier over my lumber then reinstall the roll insulation followed by the foam then the metal. Is this a good idea? The building will be heated and air conditioned but will not receive any kind of wall covering inside of the vapor barrier. Thanks DEAN in CORYDON

wind damageDEAR DEAN: I can’t say I am a huge fan of rebuilds for several reasons – damaged materials end up being used and it is pretty well impossible to keep from having holes in the roof steel which are going to cause leaks.

You should seriously consider the involvement of a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) to insure what you are rebuilding will meet Code requirements.

One problem right away – the foam board between the framing and the steel. Throw it away or resell it on Craigslist. The foam board pretty much negates the strength of the steel cladding due to the lack of rigidity of the insulation. It will also contribute to the possibility of slots forming around the screw shanks, due to movement of the building framework.

You should use a well sealed building wrap between the wall framing and the steel siding, then the insulation. If you are unable to repair the tears in the paper facing, you can use visqueen on the inside for a vapor barrier, however it (or paper facing) should be covered with an inflammable material to prevent possible fire issues.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I’m in Oklahoma which has high winds and severe weather. I am leaning towards having a garage built that is 20x24x10. How far apart should the columns be spaced? We have no HOA in our neighborhood and I haven’t reviewed the neighborhood covenants.  I’m really wanting to be smart on this because it’s a lot of money that I want to be solid investment. My goal is to save money, but be so cheap that building falls apart.  Thank you for your time. SHANE in OKLAHOMA

DEAR SHANE: The real answer does not come from column spacing, it comes from investing in a fully engineered post frame building which is specific to your building upon your site. Given your concern is for wind design, unless you have a site which is well protected from the wind in all four directions (buildings, hills or evergreen trees 30 feet or greater in height) you need an Exposure C for wind. You can get pricing on a variety of Vult wind speeds and determine what wind design you are willing to invest in.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I purchased a pole barn kit a couple years ago and I am just now getting around to building it. My county approved everything but they added an exception. They say that I need to add some frost protection. Either a frost wall or some sort of shallow frost protection. There are no plans for such in the blueprints and it is required by code here. So my question is what do I need to Do? Doing a concrete frost wall almost makes buying the pole barn kit unnecessary. I should of just did a stick built if I’m basically building a foundation.  I live in Bonneville county Idaho. Just wondering if you have come across this situation here and what the buyer needed to do? CAMERON in IDAHO FALLS

slab edge insulationDEAR CAMERON: You can do a Shallow Frost-Protected Foundation without having to thicken the slab edge – you can backfill on the inside of the vertical insulation board with sand. In the event your Building Official requires this to be added to your plans and sealed by the engineer, there would be an added investment for redrafting and sealing two new sets. For more reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/.





Frost Foundations, Painting Metal Buildings, and Hawaii

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about frost protected shallow foundations, repainting metal buildings and a kit in Hawaii.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What type of frost foundation would you use if planning on doing a finished space in part of the building? ERIC in WINTERSET

DEAR ERIC: I’d do a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation using embedded columns with a concrete footing below and a bottom collar which would be 24 inches or more below grade. I’d backfill the inside of the vertical insulation with sand and pour a slab on grade. Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi I’m located in Ramsey Mn do you guys paint pole building or just sell the paint? I think my building is 30×60 I’m looking to have it repainted let me know thanks, Zach or if you know someone that does good work to call to have it done. ZACH in RAMSEY

DEAR ZACH: We do not paint pole buildings or sell the paint. You will want to read this article: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/repainting-steel/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I came across some of your buildings at Home Depot website. It might be possible to get one of your buildings thru them here to Hawaii. Can you provide treated lumber in your kits? Terrible termite problems here, untreated lumber eaten in several years. Thanks, MARC in KONA

Post Frame HomeDEAR MARC: We’ve provided many post frame building kits to the Hawaiian Islands and our system is set up so all pressure preservative treated lumber is automatically selected for buildings going to Hawaii. Generally buildings for Hawaii are shipped in containers from the Port of Seattle, as shipping costs are lower than obtaining the components on the islands.




Basements, Foundations, and OHD Back-Hangs!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is it possible to have a full basement with a residential build? What would a basement do to overall cost percentage wise? NATHAN in OAK LAWN

cutting stairsDEAR NATHAN: It is very possible to have a full basement beneath a post frame home. According to www.HomeAdvisor.com installing an unfinished basement will cost from $10-$25 per square foot. With this alone in mind, it makes it less expensive to have a larger footprint on a single level, than to build over a basement. There also becomes the issue of accessibility – going up and down stairs becomes tedious for the able bodied and prohibitive for those with disabilities.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Thinking about a pole barn home in Michigan. Can you bury wood poles for foundation or do the wood poles need to go above grade on concrete foundation or piers. Thanks. TIM in MARION


DEAR TIM: Post frame (pole barn) homes do not have to be constructed on a continuous concrete foundation or on piers. The properly pressure preservative treated columns are more than adequate to support your new home.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: When installing ceiling liner panels in a pole barn….. there are 2 14’x14’ garage doors. Where the bracing for the garage door track are screwed to the bottom side of the trusses, can I lower those braces, install the metal (3/4” ag panel) then put those braces back up in the same spot with the track being 3/4” lower than they were originally? JUSTIN IN GREENFIELD

DEAR JUSTIN: If you attach the angle irons in the flats of the liner panels, then the track will be at the very same height. Attachment through the ribs of the steel would not be recommended as the fasteners will have flexibility between the top of the rib and the underlying trusses. This could result in several problems – slots forming in the liner panels as well as the possibility of the track developing enough movement so as to cause the door to come out of the track and land on the floor.


The Right Size, Connection, and Foundation!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am considering using pole barn construction to add on to an existing metal building I have I also already have a 24×34 foundation were I want to put the add on. This will be a residential building. Would you recommend using drill in slab brackets to connect the post to the slab? COLT in EDGEWOOD

DEAR COLT: Pole barn (post frame) construction is going to be your most cost effective addition. If your foundation is adequate enough to support the weight of the new building, then drill set brackets would be the way to go. If you are unsure of the capability of the slab, you could consider using typical post frame construction, placing embedded columns just outside of the existing concrete. This would slightly increase the footprint of the proposed addition. For more reading on dry set brackets: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/dry-set-column-anchors/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: High of building, siding and ceiling or no ceiling, floors, concrete, use of lube pit? Find out as much about deferent aspects of the construction good or bad? Any comments you might have for having been around designs. As different materials used in the construction, heating and cooling? Would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! ROBERT in DENVER

DEAR ROBERT: Your question is pretty broad, however I will do my best to give answers which will prove helpful.

Construct the largest footprint and height building which you can fit on your property within Planning Department limitations and will fit in your budget. It will never be big enough.

Use post frame (pole building) construction, it will be the most economical and easiest and fastest to construct (and time is money also). Pour a concrete slab on grade, over properly compacted fill with a vapor barrier.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the suggested foundation for a 40’ x 80’ pole barn we plan to build on a slightly sloping site that has a rock shelf at ground level on the upper long and short sides? We live in mid Missouri. Thank you. GREGORY in EUREKA

7-31-12-Blog-Image-from-HPBDEAR GREGORY: Whilst it might be tempting to pour a continuous footing and foundation, I believe in the long run it will be easier and less expensive to go with post frame.


Because foundation costs are astronomical! (read about how astronomical here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/)

Rock can be dug through. Start by calling your local power company and ask them if they have equipment for boring through rock, or if they don’t who does it for them. You can bet they have a solution for this – and many power companies are happy to make a few bucks putting their equipment to work which would otherwise be sitting idle.

Another alternative is to rent a skid loader with ram hoe attachment.