Tag Archives: garage

What to do When the Old Post Frame Garage Has Issues

What to do When the Old Post Frame Garage Has Issues

Welcome back from Tuesday’s posting. As you may recall, when my great-grandfather W.R. McDowell built his two-car Model A garage pre-World War II, it was 16 feet wide by 20 feet deep. This garage was supported by eight cedar poles on minimal footings.

Well….sure enough some of those cedar post footing settled. Some settled more than others, resulting 50 years later in what was appearing to be some sort of carnival fun house. Wood floor parking surface was up and down and the stick framed walls above had developed a serious lean.

By 1946, my great grandparents (W.R. being 74 and Mary Elenis 66) found hiking up and down stairs to be not as much to their liking (much like Mr. Lillequist 10 years before). They sold their cabin to their son Boyd and his wife Jerene.

44 years later, in 1990, Boyd and Jerene had reached their 80s. Having spent my summers at Newman Lake and having developed a strong affinity for it – they gifted this cabin to me, my wife and our young daughter Bailey.

I had recently sold my first business, in Oregon, and returned to Spokane. My intention was to remodel our cabin, so it could become our primary residence. To start with, something had to be done with its garage. Even had it remained structurally sound, while two Model A cars may have fit in it comfortably,  we needed more width and depth for two more modern vehicles.

My solution – build a new 22 foot wide by 24 foot deep post frame garage around what was there.

First step was to tear down the old garage to parking deck level.

A couple of trees were too close for comfort and had to be forcibly removed.

Once offending trees were removed, pressure preservative treated posts were set around outside of the existing floor (and a few through holes chainsaw cut through the floor).

After posts were in place, the old floor was removed and framing began. Being it was early December, in Northeast Washington State – we got to deal with snow.

In order to support weight of a concrete slab and vehicles 14 feet above ground, 2×14 #2 Douglas Fir floor joists were placed 12 inches on center, with 2×8 Tongue & Groove decking over top. Raised heel bonus room attic trusses with a 7/12 slope were utilized, in order to allow for a home office space above parking level.

On Super Bowl Sunday Eve of 1991 near tragedy struck our still under construction project. On Friday, our electrician had energized power. When wiring had been run, he had neglected to install protective steel plates at crucial points where sheetrock screws might penetrate wiring. One screw hit a wire in an attic space and smoldered for a day. Around midnight, one of our neighbors got up to get a drink of water and noticed flames coming out of our garage. Their quick thinking and fast response from our local fire department saved this building, with only minimal fire damage, but everything was coated with black soot.

Profuse quantities of Kilz™ were used, however a smoke smell still persisted. We added temperature controlled powered vents in attic spaces, with corresponding air intakes, in order to exhaust burn odors on warm days.

Note: smoke stains on siding above overhead doors and cutouts in endwall for ventilators.

As you may recall – there was some significant grade change at this site. Space below garage floor level, was utilized to create a studio apartment with over 400 square feet of space (current owners rent it out as an AirBNB https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/665906592425731485?source_impression_id=p3_1667315547_%2BXfm5XMqvopowtF%2B).

A Post Frame Building at Newman Lake

A Post Frame Building at Newman Lake

In this mid-1980’s photo, from left-to-right are Margaret and Frank Rostead (Frank was best man when my Grandparents were married in 1933), my grandmother Jerene McDowell (b. 1910– d.2006) and a Model A garage built by Grandma Jerene’s father – W.C. McDowell.
Back to our story after some brief history….
Newman Lake is in Northeast Washington State, roughly some 20 miles East Northeast of downtown Spokane and just West of Idaho. It is Eastern Washington’s largest natural lake. Early area inhabitants were Indians who roamed this lake and hillsides for berries and game.
Later traders from Hudson’s Bay company constructed gardens at Newman Lake.
Before 1880’s, each summer, Newman Lake’s shady shores were covered with Indian encampments. Indians picked huckleberries, dried them and made them into pemmican for winter. Camas root was dried and ground into flour. Their main diet was meat – deer, peasant, grouse, rabbit and fish. Venison portions were jerked and dried for winter use.
These Indians returned each summer for many years, after white settlers began moving in.
Slipper Point (named when a white lady lost her slipper at a gathering there) is at an end to a long gradual ridge. Indians used this as a playground and a place to race. One time, at a gathering there, they were having their contests in archery and races. During one race, from ridge top to Slipper Point, a running Indian ran into a partially fallen, slivered and splintered tree.
A long splinter ran him through and killed him. Indians immediately stopped their games and left, thinking evil spirits had placed this splintered tree in their way to chase them away. Those who came back, refused to stay overnight.

William Newman, was from England. At 20, he sailed from Liverpool to New York City in 1858. After having served for five years with US Army’s 9th Infantry, Newman was selected as one of a 25 man Boundary Commission escort, in Washington Territory, where he first saw what later became Newman Lake.

Newman then settled on and farmed an area bordering Newman Lake’s southern portion, until passing in 1887. Just after 1880, white men began homesteading in this area.

Pioneers caught trout in nearby Liberty Lake and transplanted them to Newman. A federal government fish tank railroad car was parked at Moab, on Northern Pacific’s main line. In 1887, residents carried carp to Newman Lake in buckets.
Excursion trains from Spokane ran to Moab, where busses and stages took passengers three miles across split log roads to Newman Lake, where guests could stay at one of four busy hotels.
Early 1900’s found surveyors carving up lake front lots to sell to those wanting to build summer cabins. One such interested party was a Swede – Mr. Swanson. Swanson spent a summer camping in different locations all around Newman Lake. He told his good friend Olof Lilliequist he had found an exact perfect location.
When Swanson went to purchase his lot, he found his friend had purchased every lot along what became known as Swede Bay for $500, including Swanson’s lot. Swanson ended up paying Lillequist $500 for his lot!

Lillequist set out to build his cabin (to be named “Terrace Lodge”), immediately adjacent to his friend Swanson (but higher up his steeply sloped lot). He hired an alcoholic stone mason from Spokane – under a condition of sobriety! In 1909 a flat area was carved out and cornerstones were laid for a 36 foot wide by 20 foot deep cabin. Trenches for two foot thick native stone walls were dug – and stone set starting five feet below grade, with no mortar, and allowed to settle for two years before being grouted in.

Lillequist eventually tired of trips up and down stairs from cabin to beach. He built another cabin– this time shoreline and west of Terrace Lodge. In July 1936, he sold Terrace Lodge to my Great-Grandparents, William C. and Mary Elenis McDowell – grocers in nearby Greenacres.
Here it comes….
Despite a treacherous, winding and steeply sloping dirt access road, McDowell wanted to drive his Model A and park it in a garage when he came to Newman Lake.
A small, flat parking area had been carved out uphill from Terrace Lodge. W.C. poured a concrete wall along this parking area’s downhill, North edge and proceeded to attach a post frame “stilt” garage to it. This two car garage was designed for Model A’s – so was 16 feet wide and 20 feet deep. Eight cedar trees we set on stone pads – two rows of four at 10 and 20 feet from the parking lot. This made for logs from eight to 12 feet in height, due to steep grade!
These logs (poles)were X braced to each other using full dimension, rough, green 2×4 from Eller’s Sawmill. Log tops were trimmed even, and 3 ply rough 2×8 beams were placed from concrete wall, across logs at 10’ to logs at 20’. Three layers of 2×12 decking then ran across beams – at 45 degrees both directions, then straight with building depth on top.
On top of this deck, walls were stick framed, trusses built by hand, 1×4 purlins placed and aluminum roofing was nailed on. Doors were eight foot wide bi-passing sliding barn doors.
These doors had been removed by my youth.
Come back Thursday to find out what happens to our post frame stilt garage.

Engineer Wanted for Pole Building Garage

Wanted an Engineer for Pole Barn Garage

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

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


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

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

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


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

Dear Pole Barn Guru: How Should I Move My Shop?

Welcome to: Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment. 

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve decided I’m going to build a new shop building and to do so I’ll need to remove the old shop as it’s in most desireable location.  I cleaned nearly 40 years of accumulated stuff and temporarily moved the shop tools to a machine shed.
I’ve got most of the steel siding loose and stripped the inside wall sheeting.  There are some rotten wall girts around the walk-in door and below the windows, but isn’t as bad as I was expecting.

This building is 34′ wide x 32′ deep with 12′ sides.

How difficult would it be to move it about 50-75′ and turn it into a garage?  I’d be sawing off the poles and anchoring them to concrete footings, repairing a few wall girts and putting on new steel….no insulation and maybe just a gravel floor unless I decide to put in concrete later on.

I was trying to decide if I could pull a loader tractor inside, brace up to loader and forks on 3-point, lift it up and move it.
Also considered if it could be skidded on planks attached to bottom of poles. INQUISITIVE IN IOWA

DEAR INQUISITIVE: Moving a pole building is something I have never even personally considered.

In approaching this situation, I believe I would have left all of the wall steel intact. Pole buildings work much like unibody cars – the steel siding and roofing are doing the work of holding everything together.

Provided the ground between the existing location and where the building is being moved to is extremely flat, I’d probably be inclined to try to skid the building.

If the slide is successful, the fun part will be attaching the building to the ground. Holes should be augured into the ground at the column locations, before the move. Once the building is in place, it can be leveled up with jacks.

The previously augured holes can then be poured with concrete and wet set Permacolumn brackets can be placed into the fresh concrete and bolted to the columns.

Good Luck and let me know how it all turns out!  Pictures are great too as you go through the process…moving…digging…attaching. And of course you enjoying the fruit of your labor once you are done!

Interesting People I’ve Done a Pole Building For

Building Designer Rick Carr and I were discussing a client’s proposed building in Idaho today. 80 feet wide by 204 feet long, the building would have a 16 foot high sidewall. The client really wanted to have scissor trusses (trusses with an interior roof slope, which has a peak in the center). Given the dimensions and the request for the added height in the center, I asked Rick if the pole building was to be used for cattle roping.

While Rick was unsure, I advised if the client was using it for roping, to ask if he knew Justin Skaar. Justin is from Twin Falls, Idaho, and is a long time and well known non-pro roper. About 20 years ago, my company constructed a roping practice pole building for Justin.

Rick asked me if I remembered the names of everyone I had ever done a roping arena for, and I laughed and said no, just some of them.

This got me to thinking about a few of the more interesting clients I’ve dealt with over the past 30+ years. Here are some of them:

Larry Mahan – won the title of World All-Around Rodeo Champion for five consecutive years from 1966 to 1970, and a sixth time in 1973. His 1973 comeback and competition with Phil Lyne was the subject of the documentary The Great American Cowboy which won the 1973 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Mahan was also World Bull Riding Champion in 1965 and 1967. He is the host of RFD TV’s Equestrian Nation. In the 1980’s we supplied two pole barn kit packages to Larry.

Jeff Lahti and Ken Dayley – each of these major league baseball relief pitchers got a pole building so they could throw indoors in the winter. Jeff (the righty) was with the St. Louis Cardinals for five seasons and was their “closer” in 1985. Ken (the lefty) pitched 11 major league seasons for the Braves, Cardinals and Blue Jays. His best seasons were 1985 and 1987, when he appeared with the Cards in the World Series (Ken was the winning pitcher of one of the 1985 games).

Steve Johnson Basketball CardMy all-time favorite is former NBA All-Star, Portland Trail Blazer Steve Johnson, who we provided a garage/shop building for. When my first born daughter Annie was alive, her favorite team was the Blazers. When we could get tickets, Annie and I had to be at the games early enough to walk courtside so she could get a perspective on which players were taller than her 6’5” dad.

Steve was an Oregon State University standout and was drafted in 1981 with the seventh pick by the Kansas City Kings. After stops with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, Steve arrived for Portland’s 1986-87 season in a trade for Larry Krystkowiak and Mychal Thompson.

My then ten year old daughter developed a major crush on Steve, and was heartbroken when she found out he was married. My daughter suffered from cystic fibrosis and the last time she was in the hospital, in 1989, Steve made a special trip to visit her in the hospital in Salem, certainly one of the highlights of her short life.

I could ramble on and on about others, famous and not so famous – but these are ones who have stuck in my memory.

Pole Buildings: D.I.Y. and Save!

There are few things which define American home ownership better than having a good backyard accessory pole building. Whether at your primary residence, or at the mountain or lake cabin, having the ideal space for your needs is what takes your home from “pretty good”…to ideal.

DIY Pole Buildings Saves Thousands

While the weather is warm, having a barbeque under your pole buildings attached covered porch, carport or sideshed makes for the perfect spot to entertain. Enjoy great food and drink and soak up some sun, while being able to dive for cover before getting burned or damp from an afternoon thundershower.

As the weather turns cooler, your garage/shop building makes for the perfect place to store away all the summer toys – RV, boat, motorcycles. Fire up a little heat and it can also become the perfect man cave, hobby spot or exercise room.

Don’t have any pole buildings now? Or the one you have is too small? Make this the year you decide you really deserve this great space.

Lack of building skills and design knowledge getting in the way of your new pole building? Consider working with the experts on the Hansen Buildings team. Thousands of happy new building owners have relied upon our decades of experience in assisting with practical code conforming design as well as supplying the detailed plans and instructions to guide them through the project.

If you can and will read English, you can successfully construct your own pole building, with quality better than most of the pros! Why? Because it is your building, and no one cares about it like you do.

With the money you save when you build it yourself, you can splurge on something fun – maybe that Caribbean cruise? Don’t put it off though, with the home building industry at an historic slow, material prices have never been a better value.

To receive more pole building tips and advice subscribe to the pole barn guru blog!

Car Hail Damage: Hitting on Hail for the Last Time

Spending two weeks in TN in August gave me plenty of time on my daily morning run to see all kinds of damage from hail (in April) described by my son and daughter-in-law who live there, as “the biggest we’ve ever seen”.  I couldn’t help noticing the beat up siding, holes the size of baseballs in vinyl siding and car dents large enough to fry an egg in.  Ok, I am exaggerating on the egg part a bit, but the car surfaces did kind of remind me the peel of an orange…full of dimples.  It was not pretty.

Car Hail Damage

KNOXVILLE (By Mona Nair WATE-6 News Reporter) – Drivers around East Tennessee are still waiting for repairs to their cars three months after the late April storms.

The April 27 severe weather brought down some golf-ball sized hail, denting many cars or breaking their windows and windshields or both.

In all, 100,000 cars in Knoxville were damaged during late April. Getting vehicles repaired means getting in a long line, every step of the way.

“With as many people getting hail damage estimates and still coming in to get repairs, it could easily require two to three years possibly,” said Jeff Neubert of Joe Neubert Collision Center in West Knoxville.

He also says the average repair time for each vehicle runs from four to six weeks.

What is the cost to you, the vehicle owner? The insurance deductible, higher insurance rates, lower resale or trade in value, not to mention having to do without your vehicle for four to six weeks. The hard dollars, over the life of a newer model vehicle can easily run into the thousands.

An easy preventative solution exists, which could have prevented the car hail damage to many of these vehicles. Parking cars in garages! Like many areas, very few homes in the Knoxville area have garages.

For the financial pain of one vehicle damaged, a significant dent (pun intended) could be made towards the investment into your new garage.

Consider the advantages of a garage – besides protecting your vehicle from the elements (resulting in higher resale or trade in values), a garage adds value to your property, and affords security for possessions other than just your vehicle.

And, a new garage is affordable – Hansen Buildings has 100% financing available, for qualified home owners. With new home construction slow, materials prices are a bargain. This could be the ideal time for you to make the investment and avoid having to say, “Oh, hail” again!

To receive more pole building tips and advice subscribe to the pole barn guru blog!