Tag Archives: ICF block wall

Pole Barn on a Slope – Can I use ICFs?

Pole Barn on a Slope – Can I use ICFs?

Reader NATHAN in WASHINGTON writes:

“I am hoping to construct a pole barn with a garage with attic storage and an apartment on the back as well. I have a couple questions. First, the site is on a slope, so I think we need to pour continuous footings and a foundation. Would you recommend using ICF forms for the foundation? Also, would a 4 foot tall foundation be acceptable? Thank you for your consideration!”

Many years ago I was faced with grade change challenges for two different buildings on my property – although I had a much greater grade change situation than you.

On one site, I intended to build a 22′ x 24′ garage using bonus room attic trusses to be able to have an office above. In this case, I was faced with 14 feet of grade change. You can read the story of this building here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2022/11/a-post-frame-building-at-newman-lake/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2022/11/what-to-do-when-the-old-post-frame-garage-has-issues/.

On my other site, I wanted to build a larger garage/shop. In this instance, grade change was ‘only’ 12 feet across 40 of width. Here is its story: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/grade-change/.

These two buildings had differing design solutions due to direction they would be entered. In case number one, as we were entering from ‘high’ side, it made sense to basically do a “stilt” building – and have an elevated wood floor. Elevated wood floors can be done for an investment very similar to a concrete slab on grade, especially when one considers costs to form and pour footings and build concrete (or ICF) walls. For building number two, entering from low side, cutting and creating what amounted to a daylight (aka walk-out) made more sense.

Your ultimate design solution probably resembles one of these two. If an ICF wall ends up being your play, keep in mind footing for wall will need to be at or below frost-line for your location. If you have four feet of grade change, your wall on low side could end up having an overall height of seven or more feet! On end (or side) where grade change is zero, those columns can be embedded in ground or done with wet set brackets and concrete poured piers, rather than having expense of a foundation wall on all sides.

In any case, we can design, engineer and provide your building – including foundation design.

Barndominium on a Daylight Basement

As post frame construction moves into a world filled with barndominiums, shouses and homes, there are of course those who would prefer (or need due to lot slope) to build upon either a full or partial (daylight) basement.

Post frame buildings are ideal for this situation.

Reader LOUIE writes:

“Hi, I just started the process of building my first home and came across your website, hoping maybe you can help. So far I have purchased the land, got the septic design and have started to clear it. I have a good idea of what I would like to build but have a few questions. Can you design buildings to be built on daylight basement foundations? Also I see that the kits on your website include the windows, doors and exterior finish. Would it be possible to buy a kit for just the the framing?  Ideally I want to build something like this roughly 28×36. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Yes, we can design to build on a daylight basement, columns on the basement’s open side would be long enough to extend into the ground and be embedded. My shouse (shop/house) in Washington was engineered this way. In my case we dealt with 12 feet of grade change on a 40 foot wide site. Our solution was to have a 12’ tall ICF block wall on one side and 10 feet of front, then step down across the rear endwall to follow grade. Engineered wet set brackets were poured into top of ICFs (read about wet set brackets here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/).

Besides your framing package, we would like to provide your building’s steel roofing. If you are using some sort of board or plank siding, we would like for you to obtain it and we would provide OSB or plywood sheathing as well as a Weather Resistant Barrier.

We would need to have some wall at the corners of the window end in order to adequately transfer shear loads from roof to foundation. Ideally for a 10′ tall wall, roughly 3.5′ at the corners.

To achieve your vaulted ceiling as shown in the photo, the best method would be to place a column at peak 12′ in from each endwall. If your interior plans cannot stand columns, we could run a ridge beam down the center from end to end.

If you do opt for no interior columns, I would also recommend using engineered prefabricated floor trusses for your floor system. This would provide a clearspan lower level and allow for all ductwork and utilities to be hidden in your home’s floor.

For extended reading on barndominium floor trusses please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/floor-trusses-for-barndominiums/