Tag Archives: loft

Lofty Barndominium Ambitions

Lofts and mezzanines (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/a-mezzanine-for-your-barndominium/) are popular inclusions in barndominiums. Even though my lovely bride and I have a mezzanine in our South Dakota shouse, they are not often truly practical from an accessibility or economics stance.

Reader Devin in Porun writes:

“I’m designing and building a 42’x50′ pole barn home with 10′ exterior walls. Viewing the plans from the front entry on the long wall, the left half of the interior will be framed rooms and the right half will be a large open kitchen/dining/living room space. I want to have an open loft over the half of the building that has interior framing. I want to be able to stand in the loft for at least 3-5′ each side of center, roughly 6′ of head space when finished. What style/type of trusses do you recommend and at what pitch? Would you use the same trusses all the way across the house, or use different ones for each half with the same exterior pitch? I like the high ceilings over the open portion, but would like to minimize the ceiling height to avoid heating and cooling unnecessary space.  Thank you for your time!”


In order to have your greatest possible resale value, you should have any lofted space designed so as to be considered as habitable space. International Residential Code (IRC) Section R304.1 Minimum area. “Habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet. R304.2 Minimum dimensions. “Habitable rooms shall be not less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimensions. R304.3 Height effect on room area. “Portions of a room with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 5 feet or a furred ceiling measuring less than 7 feet from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required habitable area for that room.” R305.1 Minimum height. “Habitable space, hallways and portions of basements containing these spaces shall have a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet.”

This space will also need to be serviced by stairs, causing you to lose roughly 50 square feet of floor space.

Now, on to trusses – most prefabricated wood truss manufacturers are limited to building and shipping trusses up to 12′ in height. Allowing for truss top chord thickness, on a 42 foot span your maximum roof slope will most often be roughly 6.25/12. You can order “bonus room” trusses for this lofted area, and should be able to get 7’2″ from top of truss bottom chord to bottom of ‘cross tie’ (allowing for thickness of 3/4″ OSB or plywood subflooring and drywall for ceiling to attain a seven foot finished ceiling) in center 10-11 feet, with a maximum room width of roughly 14 feet. These trusses will come along with a healthy cost premium due to larger members required to make this happen and extra shipping costs. In your open portion, you could utilize scissors trusses to reduce heating and cooling as much space, while still giving a spacious cathedral look.

When all is said and done, you might want to consider a more ‘standard’ and economical roof slope of say 4/12 – and add to your ground level footprint rather than trying to gain expensive space in a loft. Keep in mind, this loft space is going to be difficult to move large pieces of furniture (couches, beds, dressers, etc.) in and out of without damage to walls or items being moved and it will prove mobility challenging (or impossible) for a certain population percentage.

Adding a Second Floor to an Existing Pole Building

Adding a Second Floor in an Existing Pole Building

second floorMore than one pole (post frame) building owner has an idea of adding a second floor inside their existing building. Or, they plan a new post frame building with an idea of a future second floor being incorporated.

This apparently simple proposition has no simplicity involved.

Reader RYAN in HAMPSTEAD writes:

“Good morning,I have a 30×40 pole building, and I’m looking to add a partial second floor.  The posts are 8x8s, set at 8′ OC.  I’ve attached a layout for trusses that I received from another vendor, based on specs I provided.  The exact indoor measurement is about 29’11” outside to outside of the 8x8s (to the exterior sheeting).  The distance between the posts is about 28’6″.  So the joists should be field trimmable or around 29’8″ to carry from ledger to ledger.  I do not currently have the ledger/ribbon boards purchased or installed.

The trusses will be clear span, and the total floor space will be 30’x24′ with a cutout for a staircase.  Can you send a quote for this?  The shipping zip is 21074.

Thanks.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru Writes:

Hansen Pole Buildings does not manufacture trusses, so we weren’t able to solve this portion of Ryan’s challenge. However, there are some considerations anyone should consider when looking towards a second floor being inserted in an existing post frame building.

Before moving forward, an EOR (Engineer of Record) should have originally designed your building. This person should be consulted with, as a second floor places a tremendous load upon wall columns and may overload footings (not to mention columns themselves), possibly causing columns to sink. Headers (also known as ledgers/ribbon boards) as well as attachment of floor trusses to them also need to be engineer designed. If somehow an engineer did not design your building, a competent one should be engaged to verify adequacy or design a repair.

Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish when it comes to structural changes involving a second floor, mezzanine or loft – lives you save may be your own, or those of a loved one!