Tag Archives: glu-laminated columns

Providing Digitally Signed Structural Plans in Florida

Providing Digitally Signed Structural Plans in Florida

Reader JEFF in TAMPA writes:

“Have an existing slab approx. 12×20 and slightly out of square on 7 acres of land. Want to erect a simple, square (approx. 13×21), hip-roofed (5/12 pitch) pole barn over the slab with two lean-to, open carports on either side (pictures of layout attached). Can you provide digitally signed plans for county permit authorities in Hillsborough county (must be signed by a P.E., architect or other professional licensed in Florida)? If yes, let me know the approximate cost. Thank you. Plan to use glulaminated pressure-treated lumber (12′) 3 ply 2×6 lumber for the 20 poles if I can them in Florida.”

Hansen Pole Buildings has provided thousands upon thousands of fully engineered post-frame buildings in all 50 states, including roughly a hundred to our clients across Florida.

Your layout pictures Jeff, sadly did not make it.

While full hipped roofs are lovely, they do not often lend themselves well to adding lean-tos, especially if the building has endwall overhangs (transition at hip corner to lean-to single slope becomes ‘messy’).. You may end up being best served by considering a 21 foot span gabled roof, all at the same eave height. Center portion could easily be enclosed with open carports at each end. This also provides for greater clear height under roof only areas.

We can certainly provide fully engineered plans, digitally signed by one of our experienced third-party Florida engineers and they will be included as part of your investment in your new Hansen Pole Building (and yes we can include true glu-laminated building columns). Our engineers will only seal plans when we are providing materials, as some of what they specify is proprietary to us and there is no way to guarantee an alternative supplier will actually deliver them.

Converting a Traditional Framing Plan to Post-Frame

Converting a Traditional Framing Plan to Post-Frame

Hansen Pole Buildings’ client SHAYNA in PHILADELPHIA writes:

“Hello, I am looking to convert my traditional; framing plan to post-frame framing to get my walls up quicker. I would like to know what requirements need to be followed. The information I already have is that it’s best for the post to be 4ply 2×6 for anything higher than 10′. The girts are to be 24″ on center. I will also be using the post frame with concrete block basement walls. I will wet-set the column brackets. I just need to know what other factors need to be addressed to get the plan reapproved. thanks so much for your help!”

You are correct about post-frame’s speed for getting dried in. Post-frame is extremely material efficient, eliminating redundant members found in prescriptive stick framing. This makes for both quicker assembly and better insulated exterior walls.

Our post-frame engineers have provided code compliant structural designs for thousands of buildings in all 50 states. They will determine column sizes based upon your building’s dimensions (width, length, height and slope of roof) and climactic conditions at your specific site. You will find they will specify either solid sawn or true glu-laminated columns, rather than nailed up (or nails and construction adhesive joined) as an appropriate design solution for long-term best results.

In order to minimize construction steps, material usage and create a deep insulation cavity, expect to see a design using commercial bookshelf girts. These will be placed horizontally 24 inches on center between columns. (Please read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/).

Bookshelf wall girts also provide an excellent design solution for obtaining optimum finishes on interior faces of exterior walls https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/

We have provided a plethora of fully engineered post-frame homes utilizing ICC-ESR Code approved wet set brackets mounted to concrete, ICF and CMU (concrete block) walls and your engineer sealed plans will include design of these walls.

Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly to further discuss your family’s wants and needs to assist you in ending up with your ideal dream home.

Drilling Electrical Holes Through Glu-laminated Posts

Drilling Electrical Holes Through Glu-laminated Post Frame Building Columns

Reader and Hansen Pole Buildings DIY client AARON in SALEM writes:

“I am trying to find the best way to run in wall wires (6/3, 8/3 & 10/2 romex) past columns on the “braced wall panel” bays in my building. My building has a 20′ eave height and the end columns are glulams that measure 4-1/8″ x 5-3/8″. The gap that would normally be behind the post is filled with OSB, blocking and a lot of nails. Going all the way to ceiling and back down is an option, but in this case would use lots and lots of extra wire. probably more than 25′ to go up and back down once, so this could really add up with several runs of wire. it also adds a bit of voltage drop. I looked into drilling holes in the glulam columns and if I am reading things correctly, the max hole size would be 0.5375″ based on info from here: https://www.constructionspecifier.com/a-guide-to-field-notching-and-drilling-lvl-and-glulam/2/ (the exception for 25mm or smaller holes doesn’t apply since my columns are under 7.25″). I believe this would be too small (I would need a 1″ hole min for the 6/3 wire). It would barely be sufficient for a single 12/2. I could attempt to drill a curved channel behind the column through the OSB & 2×4 blocking and maybe insert a piece of 1″ emt, but I would likely hit multiple nails. I can’t think a type of bit or tool that would do this gracefully. I think this is likely the best solution, any advice on drilling through? See pictures and braced wall panel detail attached. Thanks for your help!”

Untreated “uppers” of your glu-laminated building columns are a product of 1650msr lumber. MSR grades must meet visual requirements of #2 materials. As such you can safely drill holes through 5-3/8″ faces up to 1-1/4″ diameter spaced two feet apart, within lumber grading rules. Building Codes do actually allow for even larger holes, however we would not recommend doing so. For extended reading on this subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/08/electrical-holes/




Builder Warranty Example

Example Builder Warranty

Disclaimer – this and subsequent articles on this subject are not intended to be legal advice, merely an example for discussions between you and your legal advisor.

I cannot express strongly enough how important to both builders and their clients to have a written warranty in any agreement. 

WARRANTIES: There is no warranty applicable to the building and is expressly in lieu of all other warranties available under any State or Federal laws, expressed or implied, including any warranty of all labor, material, product and taxes will be paid for and there will be no potential lien claim against Purchaser’s property upon completion of the work and following final payment by Purchaser to Seller.

Products supplied by third party suppliers, manufacturers and sub-contractors to the project are warranted only to the extent that the suppliers and manufacturers of those products provide a warranty.

In the event that a defect is discovered in one of these products, Seller will assist Purchaser in securing repair or replacement of these products under the warranty provided by the third party supplier or manufacturer. Warranty work is work which was correctly and completely done initially, but becomes non-operational or dysfunctional following occupancy or use by Purchaser. No retainage or holdback will be allowed for warranty work.  

Seller expressly warrants to the original noncommercial purchaser(s) and only the original purchasers.  

That if any part of a Seller constructed post frame building, as covered by this warranty, proves to be defective due to materials or workmanship, under normal use and service, for two (2) years, that defective part will be repaired or replaced, subject to the terms and conditions contained in this Warranty.

Seller hereby assigns to Purchaser all rights under manufacturer’s warranties. Defects in items covered in manufacturer’s warranties are excluded from coverage of this limited warranty, and Purchaser should follow the procedures in the manufacturer’s warranties if defects appear in these items. 

 For ten (10) years.

Any solid sawn or glu-laminated (pressure treated to a minimum UC-4B) structural columns that fail due to decay or insect damage, unless said column has been exposed to animal wastes.

The original building roof structure, if damaged directly by snow loads because of the failure of any prefabricated roof truss or trusses to meet design specification. Subjecting your roof system to greater loads than those set out on the face of this Agreement, any unspecified ceiling loads, or modifying the trusses in any way voids all Warranties.

Any major structural defects which are defined as being an actual defect in a load-bearing portion of the building which seriously impairs its load-bearing function to the extent that the building is unsafe. For purposes of this definition, the following items compromise the structure of the building:

  1. Load bearing columns,
  2. Floor or ceiling joists,
  3. Beam, trusses and rafters.

For Two  (2) Years:

Any roof leaks due to defects in material or workmanship, expressly excepting where the building has been connected to an adjoining structure, in roof valleys, or at roof slope changes to which cases, no warranty applies. 

Any other building parts which prove to be defective in material or workmanship.

This warranty period shall commence on the date of the acceptance of the building by the Purchase or Purchaser’s occupancy of the building, whichever comes first.

This warranty contained wherein is void in situations where:

  1. Installation is not made in accordance with the instructions supplied by Hansen Buildings.
  2. The actual operation or use of the product varies from the recommended operation or intended use.
  3. There is a malfunction or defect resulting from or worsened by misuse, negligence, accidents, lack of or improper performance of required maintenance by the original purchaser.
  4. The building is altered or added onto, unless by Seller.
  5. Seller is not notified within twenty four (24) hours of problems due to snow loads.
  6. Purchaser fails to take timely action to or damage.
  7. Anyone other than Seller’s employees or agents or subcontractors have been on the building roof.
  8. Purchaser fails to make final payment per terms of sale.

Equipment such as fans, HVAC, gutters, downspouts, walk door locksets, other equipment not manufactured by Seller, site work, concrete, doors, windows, interior finishes, mechanical or electrical systems are excluded from this warranty.

The Purchaser expressly agrees to fully and timely pursue all available remedies under any applicable insurance agreement before making claim under this warranty.

In the event Seller repairs, replaces or pays the cost of repairing or replacing any defect covered in this warranty for which Purchaser is covered by insurance or a warranty provided by another party. Purchaser must assign proceeds of such insurance or other warranty to Seller, to the extent of the cost to Seller, of such repair or replacement.

Any claims for defects under warranty must be submitted in writing to Seller within the warranty period and promptly after discovery of the claimed defect, describing the defect claimed and date of building completion, before Seller is responsible for correction of that defect. Written notice of a defect must be received by Seller prior to the expiration of the warranty on that defect and no action at law or in equity may be brought by Purchaser against Seller, for failure to remedy or repair any defect about which Seller has not received timely notice in writing.

Purchaser must provide access to Seller, during normal business hours to inspect the defect reported and, if necessary, to take corrective action. A reasonable time should be allowed for inspection purposes. If, after inspection, Seller agrees, at its sole option to repair or replace only the defective materials or workmanship within the first three months from date of building completion at NO COST to the Purchaser. Thereafter Seller shall assume the cost of material and labor for any warranty work upon advance payment by the Purchaser of a one hundred dollar service payment for each incident under this warranty. The obligation of Seller, under this warranty, shall be performed only by persons designated and compensated by Seller for that purpose, and is subject to all other provisions of this warranty.

The provisions of this Warranty are the full and complete warranty policy extended by Seller, and are expressly in lieu of all other warranties, expressed or implied, including any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. These warranties may not be transferred or assigned. The liability of Seller shall not exceed the cost to Seller for repairing or replacing damaged or defective material or workmanship, as provided above, during the warranty period. 


Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitations or exclusions may not apply to you. This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state. 

Purchaser shall promptly contact Seller’s warranty department regarding any disputes involving this Agreement.

Seller and Purchaser agree that this limited warranty on the building is in lieu if all warranties of ability or workmanlike construction or any other warranties, express or implied, to which Purchaser might be entitled, except as to consumer products. No employee, subcontractor, or agent of Seller has the authority to change the terms of this warranty.

11 Reasons Why Barndominium Crawl Space Encapsulation is Important

11 Reasons Why Barndominium Crawl Space Encapsulation is Important

Today’s Guest Contributor is Joseph Bryson. Joseph was born in Alberta, raised in NYC and is living in New Zealand. He has been working in 4 different industries and helped numerous businesses grow. Now, he is focused on writing as his next career from home and lives a peaceful life with his family and a whole pack of dogs.

No matter what kind of a barndominium you will have, if there is a crawl space present then it can potentially cause you a whole host of problems. People tend not to realize this because they don’t think too much about crawl spaces. 

Like it’s not a place people generally venture to in their own homes. It’s just down there beneath your elevated wood floor, out of sight and out of mind. And so various issues can arise in your house you don’t know how to fix because you don’t realize they’re originating in your crawl space. 

In a post-frame building, crawl spaces are set up a little bit different. Instead of having a perimeter of concrete and a concrete slab, it is instead a wooden framework on short pressure preservative treated timber or glu-laminated columns.

It’s a style of crawl space allowing for much better access to plumbing, ventilation ducts and electrical wiring, but without a concrete slab. It also makes it somewhat more susceptible to some of these problems. 

This leads us to crawl space encapsulation creating an unvented crawl space. A process involving installing a vapor barrier in your crawl space to cover ground, walls and seal up all vents and seams. Air is then conditioned using a humidifier or HVAC system.

International Residential Code (IRC) R408.3 addresses unvented crawl spaces. Exposed earth is covered with a continuous Class I vapor retarder. Vapor retarder joints shall overlap at least six inches and be sealed or taped. In post frame buildings, this vapor retarder must extend up perimeter walls to floor level and be attached and sealed to floor. One of four possible options outlined in IRC R408.3(2) must also be met.

Let’s have a look at what issues a crawl space encapsulation will help to prevent and why it’s so beneficial:

  1.   Controls Pests

One very important thing you’ll be doing by sealing up all openings is removing access to your crawl space for a wide variety of pests. You can get mice, rats, cockroaches, racoons and even birds have been known to find their way into crawl spaces.

Once pests find their way in, it can be a nightmare getting them out but an encapsulated crawl space removes a primary entry point for pests so you would be reducing possibilities significantly.

Roaches can be disastrous for a wooden framework and so you should be very serious about keeping them out of your crawl space and your home in general.

  1.   Improves Air Quality

Because air coming up through your crawl space will be going through HVAC or a humidifier, you can rest assured it will be much higher quality than if it was just blowing in unfiltered. A crawl space is a hot bed for low quality air, but not if it’s encapsulated.

  1.   Allows for Better Energy Efficiency

One thing you will probably notice after encapsulation is your energy bills will be lower. Your heating and air conditioning won’t have to struggle against crawl space damp air, meaning they’ll be doing less work.

And this will of course result in you having to spend less on utilities. While encapsulation might cost a bit, it is Code required and will be financially beneficial over time.

  1.   Keeps Floors Warm

As we just mentioned, the normal state for a crawl space is to be full of damp air. It’s exposed to elements and especially during winter months, this just means there’s consistent moisture and low temperatures blowing through.

All of this is prevented with encapsulation meaning the only thing rising from below will be heat. And while it won’t necessarily be equivalent to under floor heating as such, it will make floors more warm and comfortable to walk on, especially in a post-frame home where there isn’t concrete separating heat from floors.

  1.   Prevents Mold

Mold is very problematic. For some people it’s just an irritant causing things like coughing, sneezing and sore throats, but it can also be toxic if left to grow for too long. And for anyone with a compromised immune system or who suffers from asthma, it’s dangerous.

Mold and mildew are further consequences of dampness and moisture retention and most crawl spaces are full of it. It’s much more likely to build up on wood than it is on concrete meaning this is more common in wood frame structures.

  1.   Improves Storage

Not everyone opts for using their crawl space for storage, even after it’s been encapsulated, but  it can be done. If your encapsulation is neat, you should definitely have some room down there to store a few boxes.

If you did this with an unencapsulated crawl space, then anything you store could be potentially damaged by moisture or mold. So it’s basically a really safe storage space once encapsulated.

  1.   Prevents Flooding

I’ll start this point by saying crawl space encapsulation doesn’t necessarily prevent floods entirely, but it can help in a lot of cases. Excess rainwater and runoff can build up down below and can result in flooding, but not if everything is sealed and blocked up.

Flooding takes a much greater toll on wood than it does concrete and although your post-frame home will be sturdy by design, too much water over time could do some serious damage.

  1.   Protects Structural Integrity

If left for long periods of time without intervention, moisture and mold will slowly eat away at untreated wood under your home. This will eventually destroy structural integrity and you won’t have any idea it’s happening because it takes so long.

Just another reason why you should be slowing down, or entirely stopping mold growth and retention of moisture.

  1.   Keeps Allergens at Bay

Spread of allergens is primarily caused by moisture and dust. We’ve discussed to death how moisture is controlled by encapsulation, but because air coming through is unfiltered, dust shouldn’t be a problem either so if you’re prone to allergies you will benefit.

  1. Can be Done Without Professional Help

Key word here is ‘can’. Crawl space encapsulation can be done without professional help. Before hiring a professional it’s worth looking into how you would do it yourself.  

If you have an interest in DIY and are particularly adept at this type of handiwork, you could for sure give this a try. Again, not everyone will be up to this task, but if you are then it will save a lot of money.

  1. Enhances Longevity of Your Home

With all of these different things considered, it’s clear crawl space encapsulation will help make sure your barndominium is in livable condition for a long, long time. Every issue we’ve discussed here will gradually build up until it becomes potentially disastrous.

Crawl space encapsulation is a big job, but fairly easily accomplished DIY.

Post Frame Shouse Column Options

Post Frame Shouse Column Options – Risk vs. Reward

Loyal readers will recall a recent post involving GREG in KENTWOOD (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/09/dont-want-pressure-treated-columns-in-the-ground/).

Our discussion continues and I share below:


Thanks for the quick response.   

If I was a sane man, not sure I am, if properly pressure treated lumber will last a few generations, why would I not go with that?   


  • The time to DIY yourself wet set brackets could add a few weeks to the projects. ( I probably have the time.)
  • Using a Perms Precast Columns which are $152 each will be costly with probably needing 50 to 60 posts. (Adds about $10k to project)
  • I might be able to be talked into using pressure treated poles. 
  • Does the plastic help or does it add more risk of trapping moisture or other?
  • I will cost out each method, on a little “nerd chart” to determine what risk and reward I can accept.

Do you think your source for the pressure treated poles is better and more consistent than say a Menards or other source a non-builder would get supplies?

For a (2) story would you use laminated posts or solid?

Would you use only treated on the first 8’ to prevent shrinkage and warping at a (2) story height?

This will hopefully be all my questions prior to submitting a plan. 

Thanks Mike!”

Greg is probably going to be very satisfied with his end result – he is reading, asking questions and learning. Hours spent in preparation can save tens of thousands of dollars later.

I live in a million dollar shouse (shop/house) with roughly 8000 square feet finished. It has glu-laminated columns with pressure treated bases, embedded in the ground. I could easily have chosen any alternative solution, as cost was not a deciding factor.

Wet set brackets are probably only marginally more time consuming, however to minimize concrete needed for piers, you will (or should) be using insulated forms. When all is said and done plan upon roughly $100 per column for budget.

Precast columns have not just column investment, they are also heavy to handle onsite and do require a concrete footing or bottom collar to prevent settling.

Plastic sleeves might be effective, however I felt they were redundant given modern pressure treating technologies.

In most cases, it is impossible to walk into a lumberyard or big box store and get UC-4B treated lumber, it most usually has to be special ordered in. Our providers know, in advance, of this being our expectation (not to mention minimum requirement by Building Codes).

I would go with true glu-laminated columns (I did on my own building). They will be lighter, straighter and stronger than solid sawn columns and not have challenges as do nailed up columns. Lower portions are typically treated so laminations are a minimum of six feet of treatment (usually a 6′, 8′ and 10′ member are bottom treated segments). Pressure treating does not prevent shrinkage or warping – shrinkage is limited due to this lumber being kiln dried after treating in order to get moisture content low enough for proper glue adhesion. Warping is a by-product of laminations being oriented so lumber grain is all one direction and is a rare occurrence with glulams.

Ask as many questions as you need to feel confident in your decisions.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Overhead Door Jambs

Overhead Door Jambs With Bracket Mounted Columns
Of course there are many methods of post frame construction-ours just happens to be best (at least we like to think so)!
Reader TOM in BOSCOBEL writes:
“I set laminated 2×6 beams into wet set anchors. I am ready to attach the 2×6 jambs to the rough opening, to prepare for overhead door installation. I secured the posts to the wet set anchors using carriage bolts. What is the best way to attach the 2×6 jambs when the anchors are protruding into the opening 1/4″ plus the head of the carriage bolts? Thinking I could router the bottoms to fit over the brackets, giving me a flush and plumb fit jamb.”
Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
Well, Tom could router out vertical overhead door side towards bracket to fit over tab of wet set bracket (for extended reading on wet set brackets please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/), however there is an easier approach as outlined in this excerpt from Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual:
Overhead door columns: Usually 4×6 pressure treated, if required, will typically be oriented 6” toward wind, unless wall columns are 6×6 or larger. Correct orientation will be shown on building plans. Space between columns, for residential doors, will be approximately door width plus 1”. For commercial (ribbed) doors space between columns will be approximately door width plus 3”.

As overhead door columns have been set from dimensions called out on building plans, the only requirement is to create a “picture frame” to place the overhead door behind.

Vertical jambs will be cut from pressure preservative treated lumber and installed first. If a choice is available, use the straightest possible boards for these.

If overhead door opening columns are 6×4 (with 6-inch face towards wind) jambs will be 2×6 (with sidings other than steel or vinyl 2×8).

If overhead door opening columns are 4×6 (with 4-inch face towards wind), 6×6 or 3-ply 2×6 glu-laminated, jambs will be 2×8 (with sidings other than steel or vinyl 2×10).

If overhead door opening columns are 4×8, 6×8 or 3-ply 2×8 glu-laminated, jambs will be 2×10 (with sidings other than steel or vinyl 2×12).

In steel sided applications, jambs maybe multiple members (e.g. two 2×4 or a 2×6 plus a ripped 2×4, rather than a 2×8), as they cover with steel trim.

Cut vertical jambs to length first. They will be 1-1/2 inch less in length than residential overhead door vertical height (e.g. 9’10-1/2” long for a 10’ tall door), ½ inch less for commercial doors. When installed, vertical jamb bottom edge will begin 4 inches above splash plank bottom. Install with cut end up. See Figure 24-1

Figure 24-1: Overhead Door Column

Hold vertical jamb in place with any “crown” out and vertical jamb edge top and bottom 1-1/2” outside column edge. See Figure 24-2

For vinyl siding hold vertical jamb 1-15/16” outside column edge. For other (non-steel) sidings, hold inside jamb edges flush with column inside faces.

Figure 24-2: Vertical Overhead Door Jamb – Plan View

Tack into place with one 10d common nail at each jamb top and bottom.

Important: Do NOT drive door jamb nails in completely yet!


Place shims between vertical jambs and overhead door columns so jambs are plumb in both directions. For installation when overhead door column(s) are wet set bracket mounted, use shims thick enough to avoid having to notch into vertical jambs to accommodate bracket and bolt heads.

Ideally, space between vertical jambs for residential doors is approximately equal to overhead door width, less 2”. Commercial doors space is equal to door width.

For example: For a 10’ width residential door, space between jambs will be about 9’10”. If this varies slightly, rest assured, doors will still seal.

OK, now nail jambs securely into place!

Cut horizontal jamb to length: at width between jambs plus 3”. Place horizontal jamb flat, on vertical jamb tops, flush with vertical jamb outside edges and with any crown out. Nail downward through horizontal jamb ends into vertical jamb top butt ends to secure in place.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds: And there you have it! Good Luck and let me know how it all works out.

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Space

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Usable Space With Trusses

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel and I recently had some discussions in regards to maximizing post frame gambrel truss useable space.  Most often gambrel roofs are supported by one piece clearspan gambrel trusses. Largest downside to this type of truss system is lack of bonus room width. Usually you can expect a room from 1/3 to ½ building width with smaller span trusses (generally 24-30 foot spans). Sort of like this:

My bride and I happen to live in a gambrel style barndominium (for more reading on barndominiums https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/the-rise-of-the-barndominium/). It is actually probably more appropriately a shouse (shop/house). We wanted just a lot more living space than what could be afforded by a bonus room in a gambrel truss.

This is what we did…..

Center width of our home is 48 feet. We clearspanned this using 48 foot long prefabricated wood floor trusses, placed 24 inches on center. These parallel chord trusses are close to four feet in depth. With our 16 foot high finished ceiling downstairs (it is a half-court basketball court), this made our second floor level 20 feet above grade. Ends of these trusses are supported by LVL (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/lvl/) beams notched into four ply 2×8 glu-laminated columns every 12 feet.

This got us across from column to column to support a floor, now we needed a roof system! We utilized trusses much like these, only much bigger:

Our trusses were so much larger, they had to be fabricated in two halves, split right down the center and field spliced to create a whole unit. We utilized the “Golden Ratio” (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/gambrel/) to create slopes and pitch break points. Our steep slope is 24/12 and our upper slope is 6/12/ On the inside, our slope is 12/12 and our flat ceiling ends up at 16 feet above floor!

We also ended up with a very, very tall building. Roof peak happens to be 44 feet above grade! Living at 20 feet above ground does afford some spectacular views – we look due south down Lake Traverse and can see the tops of tall structures in Browns Valley, our closest town six miles away.

In my next article, I will clue you in on things I would have done differently, so stay tuned!

What About Poles Themselves?

What About Poles Themselves?

Well poles of “pole barn” fame have transformed into today’s post of “post frame” buildings. Round posts just do not lend themselves to ease of construction unlike square or rectangular columns.

FEATURE: Glu-laminated or solid-sawn grade stamped columns, depending upon marketplace availability.

BENEFIT: Glu-laminated columns have a superior strength to weight ratio and are resistant to warp and twist making them easier to install for Do-It-Yourselfers.

Solid-sawn timbers are readily available in many dimensions and eliminate need for field nailing as well as nail avoidance when being cut or notched.

WARRANTY INFORMATION HERE: Hansen Pole Buildings provides a Limited Lifetime Warranty against column failures due to wind or snow loads: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-building-warranty/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/images/warrantylarge.gif.

Many Hansen Pole Buildings glu-laminated columns are produced by Timber Technologies (www.Timber-Technologies.com) and Rigidply Rafters (www.Rigidply.com) both of whom offer their own 50 Year Limited Warranties.

EXTENDED READING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/09/columns-not-created-equal/

WHAT OTHERS DO: An amazing number of variants of a theme! So many as to be impossible to cover them all here. Rather than creating a mind numbingly long article, I’ve included links to past writing in regards to this subject.

Some in ground solutions:




Columns also can be mounted to create an above ground solution:



WHAT WE DID IN 1980: Regardless of building dimensions or loads being applied Lucas Plywood and Lumber supplied ungraded 6×6 timbers for all truss bearing columns. Above ground solutions were never even pondered.


Conditioned Post Frame Crawl Space

Conditioned Post Frame Crawl Space

Recently I had a reader ask about Conditioned Post-Frame Crawl Spaces, a subject I quickly did an internet search on, and found nothing.

Dear gentle readers:

In the event you should Google any post frame related information and cannot find the answer you are searching for, please drop me an email with it and there is a better than fair chance I can get you the information you are looking for.

Today’s topic for discussion is brought to us by our friend GEORGE in Aztec who writes:

“Mike, I have enjoyed your blog for a couple years now and one thing I admire is your ability to gently disagree with people without being overbearing; its the mark of a very decent human being and an admirable trait. To my question: my intended building site has a fairly gentle slope in both in length and width and I want a suspended floor. From what I have previously read in the blog, best practice is to not level the site first but place the columns into undisturbed ground, leveling the columns after the concrete has been set.

Taking the above approach will leave the concrete columns at relatively different heights across the site. I intend to backfill up to the edge of the columns with a French drain around the perimeter to take away the very rare amount of moisture we receive in our high desert area. As I wish to have a conditioned crawlspace, how would I bridge the distances between the columns and the suspended floor to resist the weight of the backfill and allow me to fully insulate the crawl space? Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom.”

George’s words are very kind. For the most part I cannot say there is a great deal of discourse in this column which is about disagreements. In most cases, there is a modicum of validity to people’s ideas.  There may just be another way to solve a challenge or tweak the idea to make it more efficient. There are, however, an interesting few which I sometimes place into this category: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/dunning-kruger-effect/.

Here is my take upon George’s situation….

I’ve never built my own conditioned crawl space, however thought maybe it was a practical design solution provided it would eliminate the need for underfloor HVAC ducting. There seems to be a countervailing opinion, from someone far more knowledgeable than I: https://www.docair.com/conditioned-crawl-spaces-really-bad-idea/.

Assuming we are going forward with the project as proposed, I’d excavate to create a clear and level site at least five feet past the edge of the building footprint. I’d order columns long enough to compensate for the changes between the level site and the change in grade, ensuring the top of the pressure treating of any glu-laminated column is sufficiently located above finished grade. (For fun reading on glulam and nail-lam columns go to: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/titan-timbers/)

The following is all subject to review by a registered design professional (RDP – engineer or architect).

I’d excavate a 24 inch deep trench in alignment with where the columns would be placed. Then I’d dig the column holes with the idea of the top 24 inches of “embedment” would be above the bottom of the trench.  This allows for the 18 inches of bottom collar to be in undisturbed soil. A permanent wood foundation (PWF) would be constructed between the columns in the trench to “bridge” the distances between the columns.

Read about permanent wood foundations (PWF’s) here: https://www.southernpine.com/applications/permanent-wood-foundations/

For the skeptics amongst you, when I remodeled and added onto my home near Spokane, Washington nearly 30 years ago I used PWFs  – not a single negative issue in a lakeside area where humidity can run high and carpenter ants think they rule the world!


Glu-Lam Solution, Building Hawaii? and Riding Arenas

A Glu-Lam Solution? Buildings in Hawaii? and Riding Arenas

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I’ve come across your site many times in search for what I’m looking for in a building. One of the things I’m finding difficult is higher pitch, even just 6/12, that is wood based, without web (open), with a fairly wide span available.

Today I came across your article on box beam so I put that idea on hold. I have been interested in glu lam but I don’t want to employ an expensive architect to design it. My thought was 48, 50, or 60 foot maximum width. I have found examples the same or larger even.

Can you provide something like this?


DEAR BARRY: I’ve had challenges with finding an engineer who can make even a 40 foot side span work using the box beam concept work using dimensional lumber. I’d suggest you contact either Dale at Timber Technologies (https://www.timber-technologies.com/titan.phtml) or Duane at Gruenwald Engineered Laminates (https://gruen-wald.com/). Both of them manufacture glu-laminated columns. If there exists a design solution, one or both of them are the people who can solve it for you.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, Do you build in all 50 states? We live in Ohio and have a pole barn and love it. We were thinking about moving to Hilo, Hawaii. Can you tell me if you build in Hawaii? Thanks, AARON in CAMP RAVENNA

DEAR AARON: While Hansen Pole Buildings is not a contractor, and therefore does not construct anything for anyone anywhere, we do provide complete post frame (pole barn) building kit packages to all 50 states, including Hawaii.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are looking at having an arena constructed and would like to know if you can do a 120 x 250 clear span. JODI in HOPKINSVILLE

DEAR JODI: While a 120 x 250 clearspan can be done, it is going to prove to be phenomenally expensive (whether in wood frame or all steel). Most often clients determine clearspans of 80 feet will better meet with their pocketbooks, while still allowing for the majority of training and riding needs. One of our Building Designers will be in contact with you shortly to discuss your needs and options.




When Columns Get Put in the Wrong Place

This is construction, things happen. The true mark of how any particular project goes is not everything going perfectly without a hitch, it is the ability to solve challenges when they arise.

The scenario below is one which I have never had a DIY person do (shout out to all of you who are putting up your own buildings), only “contractors” who somehow neglected to read this particular portion of the building plans (portion being used liberally as the column sizes are only called out on five different pages of the engineer sealed plans).

treated postFrom the client:
“I realized last night that the crew who installed my posts placed the posts in the wrong locations and they are now cemented in. Instead of using the laminated posts in the center section they put them on the ends of the building. That means the solid posts are in the center section. I need to know if/how this will affect my building? Thanks.”

And my response:
Thank you for utilizing the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Technical Support system. It appears you have some challenges to resolve. As the columns are now installed, the ones on the sidewalls, where the glu-laminated columns were supposed to be, will be over-stressed and will not support the wind loads adequately. There are some options:

(a) Dig the columns out, chip the concrete off of them and replace them where they belong. This involves more work than the later options, but will not require an investment into more columns.

(b) Dig out only the six errantly placed 6×6 columns, order six new glu-laminated columns to replace them. Less work, however there will be the cost of the six columns.

Either of the above choices (a) or (b) will involve properly compacting the soil into which the corrected columns will be replaced.

(c) This fix is subject to approval from the engineer of record and would have a nominal fee for him to author and seal a letter to confirm the adequacy. Place a 2x10x14′ #2 Pressure Preservative treated to UC-4B on each of the sides towards the endwalls of the six offending 6×6 columns – starting at the top of the concrete bottom collar. 2x10s to be attached with 2-10d common hot dipped galvanized nails, spaced every six inches and staggered to avoid splitting. There is approximately a five week lead time to get the 2×10 treated, as it would be by special order – there are not lumberyards (or big box stores) which have this material in inventory.

Constructing a new post frame building? Whether a DIYer or a veteran contractor, please follow the adage of: “Look at the plans twice, so materials only have to be installed once!”

Pole Barn Design for Free

Please Structurally Design My Pole Barn for Free

This is one of those POLE BARN GURU questions which results with a lengthy enough answer I feel I must devote a whole column to it.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Could you please help clarify, for a 40 ft. wide x 64 ft. long x 15 ft. high Pole Barn Building,

What size & kind of posts are needed?
How you would recommend connecting posts to trusses?
Footer depth & construction?
Lateral Wind bracing & Uplift measures?

Would greatly appreciate hearing your recommendations.  Thank you! EILEEN in CENTERBURG

DEAR EILEEN: What you are asking for is to have a building engineered, without knowing the parameters the building is being engineered for.

Without the knowledge of your wind loads (including exposure), snow and seismic loads, any answers I would give to you for your pole barn design would most likely be incorrect.

post-frame-construction-150x150Post frame buildings also work as a system, so individual components or connections might possibly be adequate, however the entire building fails due to a weak link. This is why I always, always (did I say always) recommend ONLY to invest in a building which is designed by a registered design professional (RDP – engineer or architect) – especially for your particular site.

Some general answers to your questions (answered as if I was going to build this building for myself):


I would use true glu-laminated columns (not nailed up columns), as they have a high strength to weight ratio, are lighter to work with and tend to be less prone to warp and twist.


The post to truss connection would have double trusses set into a notch cut into the top of the column. This prevents the trusses from being able to “slide” down the column in the event of a high snow load. To avoid uplift challenges, the trusses can be bolted or a combination of threaded hardened nails and bolts could be used. In high uplift situations, appropriately sized Simpson HST brackets may prove to be the best design solution.


Footer depth and construction – the holes need to extend at least below the frost line, and I tend to use 40 inches as a minimum depth into undisturbed soil. The columns should be floated eight inches above the bottom of the hole then no less than a total depth of 16 inches of premix concrete poured into the hole. The diameter of the holes will depend upon the loads being placed upon them, as well as the assumed bearing strength of the soil at the site.

Do not attempt to use concrete “cookies” – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/ or bags of sackcrete – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/concrete/

Provided there are not excessive door openings in endwalls, in most cases the utilization of the proper screw for attachment of steel to framing the steel skin should be able to adequately transfer the imposed loads:                                           (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/08/this-is-a-test-steel-strength/


Here is some reading on bracing which you might find helpful: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/diagonal-bracing/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/post-frame-construction-knee-braces/

Good luck with your pole barn design.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

All Columns Are Not Created Equal

Back in 2000, I had the pleasure of working with Dale Schiferl when we were both with Gruenwald Engineered Laminates, Inc.™ (https://gruen-wald.com/) , manufacturers of (among other things) glu-laminated columns for post frame (pole) buildings.

glulam columnDale and I both moved on, Dale to open Timber Technologies, LLC, the manufacturer of Titan Timbers™. Dale and his business partner Tom have been featured previously in my articles – one in particular which drew more than passing interest from readers: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/titan-timbers/.

Hansen Pole Buildings uses a fair number of Titan Timbers and I happen to have them in my own home.

This morning Dale sends me an Email:

“When my potential customer out of Spokane sent this to me, I started asking myself some questions like, Why do they build like this?  You’re the first person I thought of who might understand it and how to design around it.  Give me a call sometime.  I would love to pick your brain.”

Attached to the email was a reduced page from a post frame building plan designed by Spokane, Washington engineer Daniel Wambeke.

And even though I was out of the office at the time, I felt compelled to get right back to Dale:

“This is fairly typical Western U.S. design. I wouldn’t do it exactly this way, but the general concept is the same.


You have fewer holes to dig, fewer pieces to handle and it is generally less expensive. It allows for wider doors to be either placed at time of construction or retrofitted into sidewalls than say 8′ on center columns.

We’ve taken and used our improved version of this design in every state in the U.S. – in many cases, it works with clients just because it is different.”

From Dale:

“Thanks for getting back to me.  Have you had experience with this engineer in the past?  I set up a distributor in Spokane and they are stocking mostly 4ply 2×6 to affectively replace 6×8 Hem Fir #2 in that market.  The problem I am having is that 4ply 2×6 is stronger in bending than a 6×8 Hem Fir #2 but when I am asked to size Titan Timbers in some of these buildings to replace 6×8 Hem Fir, I cannot make them work.  So sort of a paradox for me in getting my product in the market place.  The customers have no motivation to change if what they have been using is stronger and I tell them they have to go to 4ply 2×8 Titan.” 

 My response back to Dale:

“Wambeke used to be our engineer, but he was not registered in enough states for us. I can run some numbers for you when I get back in the office, however your 3 ply columns should easily replace a 6×8 and probably a 6×10. What are you using for FB values on the 6×8? I’d like to see Wambeke’s numbers, as it is possible he is calculating based upon full dimensions, which is not realistic. He also may be ignoring the incision factor.”

 In order to help Dale out, and get more of what IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) is a better product into more post frame buildings, I ran these numbers for him:

I am no engineer either but this should help you out on the columns…
6×8 is 5-1/2″ x 7-1/2″

Sm = 5.5 X 7.5^2 / 6 = 51.5625

Fb = 575 X 0.8 (Ci = the adjustment for incising) = 460

51.5625 X 460 = 23,718.75

3 ply 2×6 glulam  is 4-1/8″ x 5-3/8″

Sm = 4.125 X 5.375^2 / 6 = 19.86

Fb = 1900

19.86 X 1900 = 37,738

In bending your 3 ply 2×6 glulam is 159% stronger than the 6×8 column.

6×10 Sm = 82.729y

Fb = 675 X 0.8 = 540

82.729 X 540 = 44,673.66

4 ply 2×6 glulam Sm = 26.48

Fb = 2000

26.48 X 2000 = 52,966.14

In bending your 4 ply 2×6 glulam is 118% stronger than the 6×10 column.

My guess is still that the engineers there are using full sawn sizing and ignoring Ci – either one of which is a no-no and could cause the loss of an engineer’s registration. Your best bet is going to be to educate the engineers, as they are the specifiers.

In markets where true glu-laminated columns are available, they are certainly a consideration both in ease of use, as well as performance.

And to my readers…

Among many other things, educating folks about pole buildings and using the building codes as the basis for my calculations, is just one of the many things I do on a daily basis.

Dear Mike Burkholder

Dear Readers: For those of you missing the past two days, or yesterday’s blog at most, please back up a day or two to bring you up to speed for my response to a seemingly heated rejoinder by Mike Burkholder of Ohio Timberland Products to a blog I wrote.  This is published in it’s entirety.

Dear Mr. Burkholder ~

Thank you very much for your comment response to my blog article on nail laminated columns. I’m humbled someone with your extensive bacPole Barn Guru Blogkground and experience would take the time from their busy schedule to write.

On an all-too-frequent basis we are asked by clients to compare the Hansen Pole Building against those who profess to be offering the same or better. Sadly, there are resellers of the Nail-Lam “PLUS” columns, manufactured by your company – Ohio Timberland Products, Inc., who are promoting the columns as being glu-laminated columns. Your website (www.ohiotimberland.com) clearly delineates your products as being nail-laminated, leaving the question to be are the resellers confused about the columns you manufacture, or is it a deliberate misrepresentation on their part?

From the information provided on your website, if a client told me they had to have a nail-laminated column, there is more than a fair chance I would recommend your product over any others for two reasons.

Number One – the structural finger joint between the upper and lower portions of the column. I’ve been told, by more than one glu-lam manufacturer, of the finger joint being the toughest part of the process to get right, and it appears you have “glued it” (as opposed to “nailed it”). The structural finger joint has to be a huge strength step up from non-reinforced butt end splices, flat steel plates or even “gang nail” style plating.

Number Two – your use of a through mechanical fastener, as opposed to just nailing, to join the individual plies. I began fabricating nail laminated columns at my first business about 30 years ago. When we had them tested at the Oregon State University Forest Products lab, we found nearly every failure came from the middle ply – because it had twice the number of nails into it (as the nailing was from both sides, into the middle member). Your superior fastening method creates a far more even load distribution across the members.

In my humble opinion, these two features alone should be able to be presented as benefits to the end user which should sway anyone who is considering a nail-lam to yours, regardless of the price point.

Possibly without realizing it you have your foot in the door at Hansen Pole Buildings, for a tremendous selling opportunity. We’ve always endeavored to offer to our clients the best possible value for their post frame building investment. All you need to do is provide a preponderance of evidence supporting the benefits to the ultimate end user of your product – the building owner. I’d encourage you (or one of your sales team) to contact Eric Graff, the managing partner of Hansen Pole Buildings, to make a presentation.

I personally will extend to you this offer – you are invited to guest blog about your Nail-Lam “PLUS” columns and I will run your offering verbatim, with small caveats. It should be written to the end user (again, the building owner) and extoll the benefits to them (not merely features). Any claims of superiority should be backed up by factual proof (e.g. testing results). And – once your article is published, a link to it is added on your website.

For my own curiosity I do have a couple of questions, which I am relatively certain you can easily answer.

If I am not mistaken, you testified before ALSC (American Lumber Standards Committee)in 2012 regarding design values for visually graded SYP. This effort resulted in your landing on the SPIB (Southern Pine Inspection Bureau) T&R Committee. This might lead me to believe you are pretty much an expert when it comes to the use of Southern Pine. 

In looking at the design value table presented on https://ohiotimberland.com/literature_zoom.html I see an “E” value presented of 1,700,000. When I look at https://www.southernpine.com/app/uploads/200N_NDV_tables1-2_2013_L.pdf effective June 1, 2013 the “E” value for No. 1 Southern Pine is 1,600,000. I can only surmise this is a resultant of actual product testing, or my unfamiliarity with the intricacies of the NDS. The same would apply to deriving an Fb value of 1897 psi (for a multiple 2×6 product) from a base value of 1350 psi.

I’m always striving to learn more and would appreciate it if you could take the time to educate me on this.

The other would be (from your website), “adhesive between plys greatly cuts down on interlayer slip resulting in better weak-axis stiffness”. If you could share with me the testing results on this, I’d be very interested in reviewing them. I can see how this could be a benefit (provided the stiffness is adequate) in being able to utilize the columns in an unbraced situation such as open side sheds, etc.

Again, thank you very much for your time and I will look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Best regards ~

Mike, The Pole Barn Guru

Nail Laminated Columns

Ohio Timberland Products, Inc. Nail-Lam “PLUS” Columns

Eric, the managing partner of Hansen Pole Buildings, asked for me to write specifically about these columns, which we happen to neither supply, nor recommend.

Is It A Glulam?On their website (www.OhioTimberland.com) are extolled the “advantages” (at least in their eyes) of these nailed together columns over true glu-laminated columns:

  • Nail-Lams can be easily notched in field for truss connections.
  • No more need to worry about possible long term delamination of plys.
  • Nail-Lams are generally more economical than glu-laminated columns.

I’ve previously written about a very similar product, manufactured by another company: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2015/04/glulam-plus-columns/

The difference between the two being the connection between lower and upper members of individual plies. The UFP (Universal Forest Products) columns utilize steel connector plates, while the Ohio Timberland columns use a finger jointed splice (become finger joint educated at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/05/finger-joints/).

To get more information of the differences between glu-laminated and nail-lam plus columns, I went to the expert, my friend Dale Schiferl (https://www.timber-technologies.com/). Here is what Dale has to say:

“Not all laminated columns are created equal.  I have seen about a dozen different ways to “laminate” a column in the past 20 years.  Everything from truss plates, to nails, to finger joints, to butt joints, to construction adhesive with nails, to gusset plates, to screws, to wire rivets, to bolts and totally glue laminated.  I have also seen a wide array of lumber utilized, from the highest grade of MSR and Select Structural lumber to the lowest grade and species of #2.  Unlike other structural wood components, column manufacturing is like the wild west, standards are not enforced. Basically everybody does what works best or cheapest for them.  It should be important that specifiers and builders understand there are “standards” to how columns are built up, be it nails or glue, and they ask for some verification that the products they are using follow the standards.  The standards were established thru testing by smart people like Dave Bohnhoff and Harvey Manbeck  and thru efforts of the NFBA.  It does not make it ok to build up a column however one chooses just because the standards are not enforced.

I have seen many nail laminated columns used incorrectly on open sided sheds or free standing axial columns.  Nail lam columns require lateral bracing to work correctly, be it girts or face plates.  When a manufacturer adds construction adhesive to a nail laminated column it does not preclude it from being laterally braced.  This is something that specifiers or builders should be aware of thru discussion with their column manufacturer.”

As to my own humble opinion of the Ohio Timberland “advantages”, I offer them here:

Notching for trusses – glu-laminated columns can be ordered without glue in the upper portion of the column. There is no worry about inadvertently cutting into steel through fastener.

Ply delamination – the waterproof adhesive used in a true glu-lam virtually precludes the possibility of delamination. The construction adhesives used in nail-lam plus columns – not so much.

Economy – more product economy comes from the distance a product must be delivered from, or its availability from stocking dealers, than from the raw price of the manufactured product. Quality true glu-laminated post frame columns are available from manufacturers in South Dakota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – allowing for better availability than from a single source in Ohio.

The biggest proof – Hansen Pole Buildings has a track record of only offering the best available products in the industry at competitive prices. We’ve never offered nail-lam plus columns to our clients!

Tops of Glulam Posts

This question was posed to Justine, who gets everyone’s wonderful materials to their pole building sites for Hansen Buildings:

top of glulam column“Justine, pardon me for being confused but: If the tops of glulam posts were manufactured that way to allow cutting, why are they not all that way?  There is no rhyme or reason to them. Some of them are laminated all the way to the end and some of them are not.  Some of them have one board not laminated in the 3 ply and some have no lamination between the any of the boards on the end.  

 If the lack of lamination occurs below the level of the truss, how is it supposed to carry the weight of the roof?  Since I have not yet received the trusses, or any of the hardware for that matter, I have no way of knowing the depth of the end of the truss.  I am concerned that the glulam posts with almost 2 feet of board that is not laminated will not reach my trusses at an acceptable level.

 The other question would be, if the glulam posts are not solid and the trusses are wider/narrower than the individual pieces how do I make a cut? Do I have to account for the gap in the board?   Also, when they are not laminated they are no longer straight, as you can see as they flare out at the end.” 

I happen to have spent some time in a past life working for a company which produces glu-laminated columns. In many cases the glue between plies is omitted from the upper portion of the laminations, for aid in the ease of cutting truss notches. While the goal is for this to be universal, it does not always occur.

This no glue area does not negatively affect the strength of the columns – the three plies do not somehow get magically stronger because of the glue!

So, what is the solution?

Once the height of the bottom of the truss notch above grade has been determined, any area between the glulam plies below this point can be nailed together to remove “gaps”.

The truss seat notches can then be cut into the tops of the glulam posts adequately to provide for full bearing of the trusses, and the column to truss connection can be completed per the provided plans.

Pole Building Trusses

Pole Building Roof System – Dressed Up!!

For years I sat in church on Sunday mornings with my children and admired the magnificent trusses which supported the roof. Built from glulams with the joints connected with bolted steel brackets – they were nothing short of fabulous. To me (coming from a background of construction and prefabricated roof truss manufacturing), I believe I had a special attraction to them more than just the average parishioner.

Truss-FramingAs pole buildings have gravitated from the farms of the 1950’s into the mainstream of popular construction, their owners have been looking for more appeal than what was offered by the average tractor shed.

The aesthetics of massive exposed trusses somehow is appealing to many of us. By using glulaminated timbers to fabricate them, the members have very few flaws and can be readily finished to highlight the natural beauty of the wood.

By using prefabricated metal plate connected wood scissors trusses, the structure of the roof surface can be readily supported. These trusses may have conventional “heels” (the point where the top and bottom chords meet) and an exterior slope which is greater than the interior slope. By use of a raised heel, the bottom chord slope can be increased to give a more dramatic look, as well as creating a deeper insulation cavity.

Ceiling finishes are then often tongue and groove two or three inch thick material. Depending upon the spacing of the trusses, often no other bottom chord framing is required for their support.

Non-load carrying glulam trusses can be placed directly below the decking to give the impressive look, without sacrificing any of the “pretty” parts of the truss – as this work is being done by the hidden trusses above the decking.

Whether office space, a church, great room or man cave – if you want to “knock the socks” off your guests or clients, this one offers some distinct possibilities

Poles for Pole Barns

Some days it seems there are nearly as many possible design solutions for pole barn “poles” as there are pole barns!

Here is a brief overview of the organic (think coming from trees) ones. For the sake of brevity, I will limit this article to only applications where the columns are embedded in the ground.

Old utility poles – not a good choice for many reasons:



Solid sawn pressure preservative treated dimensional lumber or timbers.

Be wary of trying to recycle old treated wood if it has been treated with an oil based preservative:


Structural joists and planks are lumber which is two to four inches thick and five inches and wider. These would include 2×6, 2×8, etc., as well as 4×6, 4×8, etc. Structural joists and planks are graded under a more stringent set of grading rules than either “Posts and Timbers” or “Beams and Stringers”.

Beams and Stringers are five inches and thicker, rectangular with a width more than two inches greater than their thickness. These would include dimensions such as 6×10 and 6×12.

Posts and Timbers are 5×5 and larger, where the width is not more than two inches greater than the thickness. Besides 5×5, it includes 6×6, 6×8, 8×8 and similar.

So isn’t a #2 grade a #2 grade regardless of size? Well, sort of…..larger pieces of lumber are given a #2 grade, with more defects (like larger knots). Correspondingly, the strength values are not the same. Using the measure of Fb (fiberstress in bending) and arbitrarily picking Hem-Fir as a species, a #2 6×6 has a value of 575, 6×10 is 675 and a 4×6 1105!

Regardless of the dimension of the lumber or species, proper pressure preservative treating is essential:


Putting together individual pieces.

Multiple joists and planks can be joined to form a column, either spliced or unspliced.

In an unspliced scenario, building heights are normally limited to 16 feet, as generally it is difficult, if not impossible to purchase pressure preservative treated 2×6 or 2×8 in lengths longer than 20 foot.

I’ve discussed nail-laminated columns previously:


Glu-laminated columns.

Some interesting glulam reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/04/titan-timbers/

Glulam PolesThese afford a Building Designer a plethora of structural options which cannot be achieved by the use of other alternatives. With a high strength to weight ratio, and typically being very straight – in markets where they are available, they can be a wonderful alternative, especially for taller buildings, or cases involving high wind and/or snow loads.

With so many options and alternatives, how is a consumer to know what poles are best?

My vote is for the overall design solution which best meets your individual needs for creation of space and access and egress. As long as the design is structurally sound and Code conforming, at the end of the day it does not matter what the individual pieces were used to build it.

Dear Pole Barn Guru: What Size Glulam Should I Use?

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.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m building a 32’x40′ pole barn using 6×6 treated posts on 8′ centers and would like to use a glue-lam beam across the 40′ length, but am not sure how to calculate the size needed to support the roof or if I need to increase the support post size.

This will be the ridge beam. I live in a sparsely populated area of Alaska, but plan on a trip to town soon to look at other similar sized buildings. There are no building regs out here, but I have looked at some large metal buildings blown down by 90 mph winds we had two years ago and another built out of rough cut spruce logs (ridge beam type) that looked pretty simple to build. I planned to use posts sunk 6′ and set in concrete. I always like to err on the safe side, so overkill is OK. MUSHING

DEAR MUSHING: Even in the remote areas of Alaska, there are probably much safer and practical methods to design a pole building rather than trying to utilize a ridge beam 40 feet long. I’d seriously recommend rethinking your design and using prefabricated ganged (two ply or greater) wood roof trusses placed at each sidewall support. This will be much more efficient than the use of a huge beam.

In any case, you need to determine the design load for your site. Here is one possible source: https://www.groundsnowbyzip.com/

The International Building Code also provides a table of ground snow loads for Alaskan locations: https://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/ibc/2012/icod_ibc_2012_16_sec008.htm

You might want to consider getting an engineered pole building kit package, which could be easily shipped out of the Port of Seattle or Tacoma. This would take away your guessing at how to construct it right.

Back to your question….assuming a relatively low roof live load of 40 psf (pounds per square foot), your beam has to be able to support somewhere in the area of 30,000 pounds of weight (this will depend upon the dead loads – what is being used for roofing, etc.).

Assuming the snow will remain on the roof for an extended period of time, a Duration of Load of 1, is probably realistic. This means you will need a 2400f rated glulam with a Section Modulus of around 800 (for information on Bending Moments and Section Modulus read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/09/bending-moment/).

In the above scenario, you would be looking at a 6-3/4” x 27” deep glulam beam!! Not only will this be amazingly expensive, but it will also result in the need to hire a crane to set it in place.


DEAR NICK: Thank you for your continued interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Among the thousands of building kit packages we have provided are hundreds in New York (as well as every other state in the U.S.A.). We are VERY protective of the personal information of all of our clients, just like we will be of yours. Most people feel very uncomfortable with having “strangers” visit their homes and buildings. It is a security and safety issue, as it would be all too easy for an unscrupulous person to use this method as a way to case things out for “less than helpful” activity.  Please click on the Free Product Guide and we will be happy to mail you a very nice 32 page “showroom” of our buildings.

Here is what a few of our clients have to say: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/testimonials.htm

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: You have provided a tremendous amount of information and have given us a lot of questions that need answering – Thank you.

One of the major questions we have, what is code to make a living space (studio) type apartment inside one of these structures?  The second floor load being 40 psf, can this be increased for living space?

Do you have contractors that can assemble this on our site?  What kind of cost would be associated with assembly?

We are in the process of obtaining a VA construction loan with our local credit union and the above questions may be answered through that process.

I’ll take your questionnaire to our building department next Friday to get all those questions answered.

Thanks for your time and patience as we are just starting down this unfamiliar road.


DEAR WANTING:  You are very welcome, we try to assist our clients to be as educated as the want to become, so as to make certain the choices they make in the end, are the right ones.

A 40 psf second floor live load would be Code loading for a residential living space. You will need to meet the Washington State Energy Code for level of insulation in relationship to the number and area of openings (doors and windows) in the conditioned space. Whoever designs your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems can assist you with the proper recommendations to meet the requirements.

While we are not contractors, we do deal with builders who may be able to assist you with your project: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/find-a-builder.php

Fair market value for assembly varies greatly depending upon geographical location and the costs of doing business in any particular state. In my mind, a competitive labor quote should be around 50% of the cost of the materials being installed. As it begins to creep upwards from there, I think about strapping on my old nail belt and doing the work myself.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time we can assist you.

Having Fun with Pole Building Competitors

“Here at xxxxxx (pole building company) we represent the top quality building companies in the business and build every building with pride. Our trusses are set on 4’ or 5′ centers, unlike many post-frame builders that set their trusses on 8′ or 10′ centers in order to cut costs. The trusses are an important part of a building’s integrity. The more trusses you have, the better the structural integrity. Our trusses are engineered with a 25-lb/psf-snow load rating and a 125 mph wind load rating standard. They are built to withstand the extreme weather conditions that you may encounter in the Mid-West. Several other companies will either build their trusses on the job site or they send a standard factory built truss that was never engineered properly or just to I.B.C. Code 2006 which is only 17.1 lb/psf snow load rating and 90 mph wind load. We also run our end posts all the way up to the top of the building rake, rather than stopping at the ceiling joists and using a “dummy” truss. This gives our buildings greater structural integrity, as well as a higher wind load resistance. Add in our secondary framing known as rat run this gives you a superior quality building. We also use only Prime 40yr Rated Galvalume Paint American Made Metal for our exterior as well as American Made Screws not cheaper foreign brands or nails. We “NEVER” use sheet metal known as “seconds”, which typically does not carry a manufacturer’s warranty. We use solid posts that are fully treated to a .60 value or in laymen’s terms 60%, unlike other companies that will only use treated .40 lumber in the ground and untreated lumber above the ground. These posts typically consist of 2x6s that are glued or nailed together; therefore the strength is only as good as the glue or the nails. We set our posts 3′ (minimum) into the ground for a more solid footing and to ensure that the post is below the frost line.

Now as an average consumer, and potential new post frame building owner, all of this might sound pretty darn impressive.

My mission – to make every potential pole building shopper a knowledgeable shopper. Let’s get past the “top quality” and “pride” and deal with the facts. Please read on……

Truss spacing is not done with the idea of cutting costs. There are many pole building companies, as well as registered design professionals (engineers and architects), who are of the opinion post frame buildings are structurally more sound when the trusses are directly aligned with the building columns below them, rather than placing the trusses at closer spacings which dictate the need for structural headers between the columns – more pieces, more connections, more possibility of a failure.

To learn lots about truss spacing, loading and design, read my article in Structural Building Components magazine: https://www.sbcmag.info/sites/sbcmag.info/files/Archive/2011/may/1105_barn.pdf

The quantity of trusses in a building has nothing to do with a building’s structural integrity. A building with a large number of under designed trusses is not going to be stronger than a building with fewer properly designed trusses.

While they may (and I use “may” liberally) be ordering trusses designed for a 125 mph (miles per hour) wind load, unless every other component and connection in the building is being designed to this same standard, it is merely a waste of money.

Actually, every version of the IBC (International Building Code) from 2000 up to the most recent version in 2012 allows for trusses to be Code conforming for top chord loads as low as 12 psf (pounds per square foot) provided the requirements for design ground snow load (Pg) is low enough, and the area supported by the trusses is great enough.

A truss is a truss, in my nearly four decades of prefabricated roof truss experience (owned and manufactured trusses for many years), I have never heard of a “dummy” truss. Need a term, make it up?

“Rat runs” are merely a term for the lateral bracing of the roof trusses which is required by the Building Designer to adequately brace the trusses. They are not creating a “superior quality building”, as this bracing is required in order to be Code conforming.

The paint used on colored steel is not Galvalume. Galvalume is the protective coating used on the bare base steel to keep it from rusting.

Read more about galvalume here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/04/galvalume/

Pressure treating is not a “value” nor is it a “percentage”. The term .60 refers to the minimum weight of preservative chemicals which are added per cubic foot of lumber. Different types of chemicals require different amounts of chemicals. The important criteria for structural in ground use of columns, is for them to be treated to a UC-4B specification.

In laymen’s terms 60%” just reinforces my belief of this particular company not truly having a grasp of what pressure treating specifications are all about.

Read more about proper pressure treatment of lumber here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/10/pressure-treated-posts-2/

I’ve written at length about nailed and glued, as well as true glu-laminated columns. Find out more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/08/nailed-up-glulam-columns/



Hansen Pole BuildingsConsidering ordering a pole building kit package from anyone other than Hansen Pole Buildings? Or, hiring a contractor to construct any building other than one of ours?

Email me at PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com with the link to their website as well as with any literature and quotations provided (if they have terms and conditions printed on the back of a sales agreement, make sure to send them as well). I will – at no charge – give you an objective opinion of whether you are getting a great or a not-so-hot deal, as well as pointing out any potential pitfalls I see.  I am not debating any costs at this point…just trying to educate the public. Hopefully I can contribute to you being a well-informed buyer – wherever you choose to purchase a new pole building.

Finger joints

The first time I was exposed to finger joints in wood and actually noticed them, was when I was working for Lucas Plywood and Lumber of Salem, Oregon in 1979 (yep, back in the Dark Ages).

I will digress momentarily….

My son recently turned 18, but when he was younger he had some interesting questions to ask of his Dad, whom he must have thought was very, very old. They included a couple of my favorites,

“Dad, was it exciting to watch the Space Aliens help build the pyramids?” and “What was it like playing Nintendo by candlelight?”finger-joint

Moving forward in the time warp machine….Virgil Lucas had made a deal with Weyerhaeuser to buy a bunch (defined as numerous truckloads) of finger jointed dimensional lumber 2x4s up to 2×12. Virgil was always one to look for a bargain, so I am sure the price was right. The Willamette Valley of Oregon was primarily a green lumber market, so the guys who had to throw loads together in the lumber yard were pretty excited to get to handle the light weight kiln dried finger jointed stock.

I never gave much thought to what was happening with finger joints themselves, until I worked as a field sales representative for a company which manufactured glue laminated columns for post frame buildings. It was then I began to realize what a huge science was actually happening, in such a small part of a given piece of lumber.

While splicing two pieces of wood together end-to-end might on the surface seem to be not such a big deal, the reality is that it has always been challenging and at times difficult.

Wood is strongest parallel to its grain. The problem is wood cannot be bonded sufficiently well end grain to end grain with existing adhesives and techniques. Wood can, however, be bonded quite effectively with most adhesives side grain to side grain. And generally quite easily.

The solution to being able to bond side grain to side grain (without overlapping two pieces of lumber) is the “finger joint”.

Finger jointing wood is not new. The automobile industry was using it a century ago for wood steering wheels and the spokes of wood wheels!

Finger joints can either be structural, or non-structural like the roaring 20’s automobile steering wheels. Nonstructural finger joints are used when strength is not a primary concern and where the goal is to remove natural, but unwanted defects in order to join shorter pieces of material into lengths long enough to be useful. Besides the steering wheel, other common examples are wood moldings, trim, siding, fascia boards, door jambs and window frames.

Structurally, finger joints are often seen in glue laminated beams and columns and the top and bottom members of I joists.

End-jointed structural lumber two inches or less in nominal thickness and up to 12 inches in width are accepted by the Building Codes as being interchangeable with solid sawn lumber. This acceptance is subject to the material having been manufactured under a certified program.

The geometry of the finger joint largely dictates it potential strength. Studies have found the thinner the “tips” of the fingers are, the stronger the joint. Longer “fingers” also produce stronger joints.

There are five basic steps to the manufacture of finger jointed wood products. They are: selection and preparation of the material, the forming of the joint itself, applying the adhesive, assembling the joint and curing the adhesive.

The portion of the wood to be joined should be free of knots or other strength-reducing defects. In most cases (and, as far as I know all) involving glue laminated columns for post frame buildings, the lumber being joined has been dried to a moisture content of 15% or less.

The actual forming (or cutting) of the fingers is critically important. If the fingers are too long, they will bottom out when pressure is applied and good contact between surfaces will not be obtained, resulting in a thick, weak glue line. If the fingers are too short, there will be gaps at the tips of the fingers which could result in excessive squeeze out of the adhesive.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you how the fingers are made and glued together….in Part II of Finger joints.

Tuff Posts for Pole Buildings

This is a product review for Tuff Posts,  a product I have never used. Now how can I feel qualified to do such a review? Thanks to the miracle of the internet, a plethora of information can be gleaned on nearly any product.

Tuff Posts are prefabricated columns for use in pole buildings. As a three-ply 2×6, the bases are composed of pressure treated members six, eight and 10 feet in length. The long 10 foot member is in the center. Four ply 2×6 columns use eight, 12, six and 10 foot members, in this order.

All of the lumber used in Tuff Posts is #2 grade Southern Yellow Pine (SYP), which has a base fiber stress in bending (Fb) value of 1000 pounds per square inch (psi). Because three or more members are utilized in the unit, an increase in the design fiber stress for repetitive members (Cr) of 15% is allowed. This gives a design value of 1150 psi.

The base members are pressure preservative treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), which (in my humble opinion) is a perfectly fine product – however has been deemed inappropriate for use in certain instances (which include residential construction). With a treatment level of .60 (6/10 of a pound of treatment chemicals minimum added per cubic foot of lumber), they meet the requirements for UC-4B (structural in ground use).

Upper portions of the tuff post columns are untreated, and are placed square ended above the lowers. The members are glued and hydraulically pressed together, then mechanically nailed. After the fastening process is complete, the post is planed on both faces.

Now…the downsides…

Tuff Posts are not true glu-laminated columns. If they were, the uppers and lowers would be joined together in a glued finger jointed splice and there would be no need for nails to be used to connect the members. I surmise the glue being used is merely a construction adhesive, rather than a resorcinol, or similar, glue which is typically used for glu-lams.

Glulam Columns vs Tuff PostsIn my opinion, the weak link is the splice. With the nails having to do the work, and twice as many nails into the center member of the three ply unit – my educated guess is (if tested to failure in laboratory conditions) the center member is going to fail nearly every time. Having been involved personally in testing similar columns at the Forest Products lab at Oregon State University, the results are perhaps not quite as optimistic as the product manufacturer might suggest.

My recommendation – solid sawn or true glu-lam columns will provide design solutions without the questions which arise from the type of joint found in Tuff Posts. If looking for a high strength to weight product, then the investment in true glu-lams is most likely the answer.