Tag Archives: lean-to shed

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Reader STEPHAN in OGDENSBURG writes:

“Dear Pole Barn Guru,

I have a 30ish year old 32 by 54 feet horse pole barn where half the poles heaved some for more than 1 foot over the years. I need to fix it this year because I am afraid that the strain will make the structure collapse. The code in my area says that post must be buried 5 feet because of frost.

The issue is that the bedrock is between 3.5 and 5 feet below grade. I have an 8 foot wide concrete pad/runway in the middle of the barn (the whole length of the barn). I would like to do it right to last many years.

I considered these different options:

– replacing each posts with sonotubes with bigfoot at the bottom sitting on the bedrock (a lot of work if done with bags of concrete because I would have to do them a few at a time to keep the integrity of the structure)

– replacing bottom of each post with footing sitting on the bedrock and permacolumns (a little less work because the volume of concrete is just a little less)

– pouring a “bond beam” or a full slab on the inside against the posts with thicker sides to support the structure (as per engineer) and then building walls on the inside with 2×6’s to support the roof, and then removing the posts ( I will be losing about 6″ all around because the new walls will be inside the existing shell). I like this idea because I could prepare the area over the winter and get it poured in the spring. My issue is what would I do with the existing slab in the middle of the barn? Should I attach it with rebar and epoxy, pour over or remove the existing slab?
If I go with the last option, what would I use to support the lean-to? If the slab does not have a full foundation that would mean that it is “floating”, should the posts supporting the extension also be “floating” to ensure that they move together?

Or do you have a better option to suggest?

I have attached pictures to show how bad it is. You can see how crooked the ends are by the siding angle and the window in the lean-to area. Thank you for your help.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I am not one to pull any punches – I’ll give my honest opinion, even when I don’t feel it is one you want to hear.

There comes a time when reality sets in….in your pole barn’s case reality will be it needs to be knocked flat, bulldozed into a big hole, lit afire and then replaced. Otherwise, you are going to spend a phenomenal amount of time and money for any fix, and all are just band aids for something truly not worth saving.

Your frost heave issues are due to poor site preparation. Please read this information about properly preparing a site: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/

and preventing frost heaving: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

If you absolutely insist upon saving your pole barn, you should hire a geotechnical engineer to evaluate your site and give you expert advice. If you decide to give your barn a proper burial, start over with engineer sealed plans and a kit that gives you a lifetime of safe use…for you and your horses.





So You Want to Add a Shed

More than a fair number of pole building kits end up having side sheds added to one or more sides or ends – after the fact.

Pole barn with sideshedNow this all may sound like a pretty simple process, just plant another row of poles along what will be the new low side of the shed, throw up a few rafters, some purlins and roof it – all done!

Well, I hate to break the news, but it isn’t so simple.

The existing building was probably not designed to take the added weight of the new shed!

So what to do…..

Choice numero uno would be to purchase the design and materials for the shed from whomever provided the original building. Make sure to have engineer sealed plans provided, so there is an assurance everything is done structurally correct.

A warning – most pole building kit providers or post frame builders will be inclined to wing it – hence the requirement for engineering.


Choice number two – contact another supplier who is willing to provide the materials and the engineering.


Behind Door Number Three – hire a registered design professional (RDP – architect or engineer) to provide plans and go shop for the materials yourself.

You can read my thoughts on “piecemealers” here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/diy-pole-building/

You may ask, “But Mike, why are you making this all so difficult?”

Because I would prefer for the building and its new shed or sheds to not come crashing down upon your head, or the heads of loved ones!

How does a shed effect an existing building?

The footings beneath each column (on the main building) need to be of sufficient diameter to adequately transfer the weight of the building, the new shed and the roof load (including white not-so-fluffy stuff in snow country). As an example, adding a 12 foot wide shed to the side of a 24 foot wide existing building DOUBLES the amount of vertical load placed upon the original sidewall column footings! A RDP can determine if the existing footings will be adequate, or if remediation needs to be done.

For an education on footings, please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/footings/

The new shed also can potentially overload the existing wall columns either from roof loads, wind loads, or a combination of both.

Moving forward to the actual design of the shed…..

Even if the shed is just a roof only, the new columns for it should be sized adequately as if the shed will eventually be walled in. It can and does happen.

In aforementioned snow country, drift loads need to be taken into account if a side shed does not have the same slope as the existing building, or if the new shed is off an endwall. If the high side of the shed is not attached at the existing building eave height – slide-off loads need to be factored in. It isn’t much fun when the new shed collapses because these factors were not considered.

Most “armchair engineers” (no, not true engineers) tend to undersize the rafters when sheds are added. While a 2×10 or 2×12 may look big, it may very well take more of them than anticipated, or be best solved with monoslope trusses or LVL rafters.

Read about LVLs and sheds here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/lvls/

The one true solution (and most cost effective) – is to make the building larger to begin with.

And skip the side shed. This insures everything is properly designed and it is always easier to build it right the first time, than having to partially disassemble the existing building to attach the new shed.

Pole Barns in the News: Lean-to’s

The following article appeared in the Madison Journal Today (Madison County, Georgia) June 7, 2014:

“Madison County commissioners plan to exclude pole barns, carports and lean-tos from permitting requirements.

 But working out the policy on making this happen has not been an easy matter. And the board will once again discuss the issue at its June 2 meeting.

Madison County planning commission chairman Wayne Douglas said the planning commission aimed to “resolve what appeared to be an inequity” in county guidelines, the fact that some structures required a permit but not others. He said the planning commission aimed to have no permitting required for carports, pole barns and lean-tos.

A couple of county commissioners have also spoken out in favor of no permitting for such structures, saying they don’t want someone who simply wants a place to store his tractor to have to seek a permit for it.

Commissioner Mike Youngblood said he has an issue with how the measure was pushed by the planning commission, noting that building inspection director Eddie Pritchett and county attorney Mike Pruett weren’t consulted before the matter was brought to the board.

He added that he “wasn’t happy with some of the comments” at a recent planning commission meeting, after listening to the recording of the meeting. He told Douglas that his name was “Mike Youngblood” and he named each commissioner, saying that they are not “that bunch” as he heard on the recording. He told Douglas that he needs to have greater control over the tone of planning commission meetings.

Madison County commissioners heard from building inspection director Eddie Pritchett, who said he doesn’t think eliminating permit requirements is a good thing. He said permits are issued for safety reasons and that not requiring permits could open the door for unsafe structures in the county.”

 Personally, I believe the less government is involved in the everyday lives of the individual, the better. However, in this case I agree totally with Director Pritchett and for exactly the reasons he cited.

The Building Code does allow for “pole barns” and other low risk structures such as lean-tos, which would be unlikely to cause injuries or fatalities in the event of a failure to be designed to a lesser set of standards than frequently occupied buildings.

Pole Barn Lean ToAllowing carports, pole barns and lean-tos to be constructed without a structural plan review is inviting disaster. The tractor storage barn of today, could easily be converted to another use in the future – one which could result in a tragedy due to a building which has been cobbled together. I’ve seen pole barns converted into businesses with hundreds of clients walking through the doors daily, and even as far fetched as a “ski-through” where snow skiers can enter one open side and exit another – via a lift chair. Do you really want to not have these buildings subject to being built to code?

In my humble opinion, every building, regardless of use, yes including lean-tos, should be designed by a registered design professional (architect or engineer) as well as being subjected to a structural plan review prior to a permit to build being issued.