Tag Archives: Grade change

Solving a Massive Pole Building Grade Change

Solving Massive Post Frame Building Grade Change

Most everything about post frame building construction is predicated upon “your clear, level site”. But, what happens when (like most of our planet) there is not a flat level place to start with – instead there exists massive amounts of grade change?

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug ran into one of these situations recently and shot up a distress flare looking for some advice:

“Anybody have an opinion on what be the most cost effective or least painful
course of action for this soon to be-I hope-client?”

Here is information from Doug’s client:

“Attached are pictures of the dig to the right of my driveway cutting into
the hillside. On the left side in front of the Bobcat appears to be close to
finished grade. The cut at that point is nearly 7 feet tall. The soil type
is decomposed granite. With a few spots of stubborn rock.

My options at this point are to build a engineered retaining wall to hold
back the soil before building a pole barn on the flat spot, with drainage
coming from around the back to the front. The other option is to just do a
spread footing with a foundation wall. and then a curb wall of a 2 x 6 on
top of that.

The most creative thought would be to do both in the same wall. The wall
would be supported in and by itself, and the building would stand next to the
wall, supported on posts with loads at the post, and not on top of the wall.
Is that even possible?

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Well, luckily or unluckily, I have a similar situation on one of my own personal post frame buildings at Newman Lake, Washington. Here was what we came up with as a best solution: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/grade-change/. In this scenario, our post frame wall columns are mounted to ICFs on “cut” sides and traditionally embedded on flat or low sides.

Post frame construction is moving pedal to floor into residential markets where these types of scenarios are going to appear more and more.

I can see these types of scenarios being eventually added as options to Hansen Pole Buildings’ “Instant Pricing™” system where we could not only design and price but also provide blocks, connectors and needed rebar.

Just more moves in providing “The Ultimate Post-Frame Building Experience™”

Considering constructing on a less than ideal site? Call 1(866)200-9657 and discuss your situation with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer today.

Post Protector Surprise

Post Protector Surprise

Reader CONNOR from INDIANAPOLIS and I recently had an exchange in regards to the holes of his new post frame building. Connor is proposing to use Post Protectors on the columns of his building. What he has yet to realize is there is going to be a hidden surprise with the use of Post Protectors, given the grade change at his site.
Here is what Connor wrote in response to me:

“Thanks for your quick response Mike!
I grant you that I am picky… I am using post-protectors and I wanted to have them uniform in length across the top without trimming (hence the question on leveling out hole bottoms).
The holes are 58″ in depth for 48″ embedment plus 10″ footers. I am using 16′ posts, so no worries there. Your answer on not being able to adequately compact the gravel was what I was after… I’ll just suck it up and trim the tops of the post protectors level once the posts are set.

14 ft wide doorI considered floating the posts, but my site is not level (about 18″ drop from eave to eave) and I decided it would be easier to shoot the laser level, vary hole depth as needed while augering, and haul in my gravel and crusher base later on to bring the site level. I believe I read another post on your site of someone who tried to float on a non-level site and ran into issues.

I have 16 footers at 10″ deep, which comes out to ~1.5 yards. I am using a local small-truck ready mix company (1-4 yards w/o short load fee) for the footer pour, and will have them back out early next week to pour 12″ concrete collars. I actually spoke with the post-protector guys, and they took no issue with me placing two #5 9″ rebar sticks crosswise through the post protector walls, post, and into the concrete collar. They did advise to drill one weep-hole at the base of the protector (for water to drain until collars are poured) and to wrap the tops with shrink wrap until the walls are up.
That said… 12″ collars are as required by local code… does that sound sufficient to you?


Mike the Pole Barn Guru Responds:
I do certainly like areas of the country where premix concrete can be purchased without a huge premium for needing small quantities.
With the sticks of rebar to hold the 24″ diameter by 12″ thick bottom collar of concrete to the column, your building engineer will probably agree you are okay to prevent uplift issues – provided the earth above the collar is properly compacted, usually no more than every six inches.

Now for the surprise I promised….

Post protectors come in one size 60″. If your intent is to bury columns 48 inches deep and you have 18 inches of grade change, there comes a point at which the top of the post protector will be below grade.


Condensation Control, Home Plans, and Grade Changes!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If I put double bubble under metal on roof for condensation control, then insulate bottom chord of trusses with white vinyl faced insulation , will this create a problem if I ventilate attic space ? Thanks. SCOTT in DUNLAP

DEAR SCOTT: You actually have several things going on here. First, single bubble reflective radiant barrier will do everything double bubble will, at a far lesser investment. The difference in the minimal R value is a fraction of one! Your building ceiling should not have an additional vapor barrier, you want the moisture from inside the building to be able to migrate through into the ventilated attic space. Blowing in an appropriate thickness of fiberglass or cellulose insulation will be far more effective, probably less expensive and will allow the moisture through. Make sure to have adequate intake at the eaves and exhaust at the ridge to be able to properly vent the dead attic space.


Do you all also finish the interior of pole barns if we want it to be a home or would I contract that separately?


DEAR TIFFANY: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. We provide the custom designed plans, materials delivered to your site and assembly instructions for the shell and load supporting portions of your new building only. Any interior walls and/or interior wall finishes would be up to you to contract for.



DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I build a pole building home in the side of a hill, where the back will be below grade and the front above. RICK in CLEAR LAKE

Post Frame HomeDEAR RICK: Most certainly you can. I have a post frame building on the back of our property outside of Spokane, Washington. The site has 12 feet of grade change across the 40 foot width. After excavating the area where the building would be placed to level, ICF blocks were placed 12 feet high along the southern wall, stepping down with the slope on the east wall, with the other two walls being “daylight” and utilizing traditional columns embedded in the ground. You can read more about my building here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/06/garage/