Tag Archives: man cave

A “Man Cave,” A Quote Request, and Snow Loads

This Monday’s PBG discusses a “Man Cave” designed with SIP panels, a quote request from Texas, and what our snow loads are for our buildings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Considering a monitor style pole building with RV storage in center and living quarters on one side (loft in rear of building only) When RV is not in the center garage it would become the “Man Cave”.

I am considering timber frame trusses in only the center section of the Monitor Roof (likely 14′) and sip panels for roof insulation above trusses. Would make for pretty cool ceiling!!

I have scoured the internet for plans such as this – have you ever encountered or see a plan such as this? SCOTT in CAMBRIDGE

DEAR SCOTT: The reason you are not finding plans is because it would be both very cool and amazingly expensive. I have investigated SIPs panels a few times and found them to be prohibitively spendy. I intend to add onto our post frame shouse next Spring with a similar roof system in mind. To get the look I am after, I intend to build glulam trusses with purlins above them, closed cell spray foam insulation and most likely corrugated steel panels on the underside of the purlins. If you are intent upon a design such as you envision, you will need to invest in services of a Registered Professional Engineer to provide structural plans.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am ready to build but I am in Texas. The plans were designed for traditional stick frame construction. Can you quote me from those plans? SOCRATES in McALLEN

DEAR SOCRATES: We most certainly can.

We would appreciate the opportunity to participate in your new home. Please email your building plans, site address and best contact number to caleb@hansenpolebuildings.com or dial (866)200-9657

Thank you. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will also be reaching out to you.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the snow load on the roofs of your buildings? KAREN in ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR KAREN: Every Hansen Pole Building is fully engineered to meet or exceed Code required snow and wind loads at the site the building will be erected upon. We have provided buildings designed for snow loads in excess of 400 psf (pounds per square foot). Providing us (or any supplier) with answers to these questions will assist in making your journey to a new building a smooth process: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-1/ and




Is This Floor Plan Doable as a Post Frame Barndominium Kit?

Is This Floor Plan Doable as a Post Frame Barndominium Kit?

This question was posed by Reader TIFFANY in HOPKINSVILLE. My answer is yes. Whether an existing floor plan or a custom design – virtually anything you can imagine, can be converted to a post frame barndominium kit, provided it is possible to do structurally at all!

When it comes down to it, your only limitations are – your imagination, budget and available space.

Here is an online description of this build:

“This design is of another stunning ranch-farmhouse which brings back a beautiful era. Country-style living is now becoming a trend all over America and there are many reasons why. Sometimes, a peaceful living space is all it takes for one to get a complete lifestyle makeover. The busy city can take a huge toll on one’s health, be it mentally or physically. It’s very hard to relax when you hear the loud honking of cars outside, parties in the next room and a ton of workload. Wouldn’t it be nice to move into a peaceful house where none of those things exist? This beautiful traditional ranch-farmhouse could be your dreamhouse.

A wrap-around porch and a steep roofline is among the many beautiful elements that this house has to offer. Having a traditional ranch-farmhouse for home doesn’t mean you’re going to totally eliminate any sense of modernity. The facade of this house can be tweaked and redecorated to perfectly suit the family. A family of around 5 members can freely occupy the three spacious bedrooms in this layout. Palladian head windows and doors are installed on the walls to provide the house natural sunlight.

A large attic could be utilized as a storage room or a man-cave for hobbyist dads. It can also be turned into another bedroom for new members of the household. The space on the upper level is vast and ideal for any purpose.”


Stats: 1,793 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 car garage.”

I am a great believer in homes being custom crafted to best meet the wants, needs and budget of those who will live in it, as well as being tailored to best fit upon one’s property. With this said, I fear no canned plan is going to meet this.

In my humble opinion there are some less than ideal features in this plan. These would include:

Lack of accessible features – all doors should be three feet wide, hallways four feet. A step down to a dining room means those 10% of Americans who will be confined to a wheelchair at some point in their life will not be able to eat with everyone else. It is also a trip hazard, especially for guests. Sunken living or dining rooms were possible in he 90’’s but have mostly gone out of vogue. There is no accessible bathroom or roll in shower.

Upstairs bonus room – bonus rooms are not free space by any means. Nor are they accessible. Try to get anything of size around a corner and up those stairs would prove impossible.  Dormers might be cute, however they do come with a premium price and are not adding to usable floor space.

My kitchen is my domain and I would feel shut in with this design. I would do away with the kitchen eating area and open up it and the dining room to create a big open space along with the current great room. Pantry barely big enough to be a small closet – give me a space I can get a second refrigerator and an upright freezer in. Those additional storage areas are priceless.

A design for secondary bedrooms including walk-in closets would be preferable.

Laundry location is going to make for a lot of steps to the master suite. Sitting area looks cute in plans, but how many of us are seriously going to utilize this space? Rarely do those garden tubs ever get used, ditch it for a tiled open shower with a rain head (and roll-in wheelchair accessibility). Soaking tubs or jetted tubs are also very popular.

What about this two car garage would work for anything but two cars? Most of us have stuff (bikes, work benches, golf clubs, ski gear and many more) and “stuff” needs a place.

Pole Building Decks and Snow

Over the past several years we have seen more and more pole (post frame) buildings with exterior decks attached. Most of these instances are in conjunction with residential and man cave uses.

For more reading on pole building decks in general see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/11/decks/

This past winter has seen a lot of snow fall in some parts of the country, especially the North East. At some point in time, all of this snow piling up could pose a challenge not only for roofs, but also for decks.

In the 2012 IBC (International Building Code), Table 1607.1, the minimum uniformly distributed live loading for decks is specified to be the same as the occupancy served. For residential use, this would be 30 psf (pounds per square foot) for habitable attics and sleeping areas and 40 psf for all other areas. In Table R301.5 of the IRC (International Residential Code) the load for exterior balconies and decks is given as 40 psf.

Pole Building DeckThese loads are “live” loads – to account for the weights of things like furniture and your friends. It also must support snow piled up on your deck. In parts of the country with high snow loads, in my humble opinion, when the ground snow is greater than the Code requirements for decks, then the higher ground snow load should be used instead.

I discussed the weight of snow in a recent article about removing snow from roofs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2015/02/roof-snow/

Most deck railings are about three feet in height. At 20 pounds per cubic foot of fairly heavy snow, if the snow piling up on the deck is getting anywhere close to railing height – it is time to get it off.

Some Dos and Don’ts for Pole Building Decks

Don’t shovel with the idea of protecting the decking. The decking (whether wood or plastic) is design to withstand the forces of nature.

Do always keep the snow clear to provide an exit path from the building. For safety, Building Codes require two clear exit paths at least three feet in width. Keep stairs and hand rails snow free.

If you BBQ in winter (like we do) keep a cleared path to the grill. Falling down due to a patch of ice with a plate of perfectly grilled anything takes the fun out of it. In the fall – make sure no nails or screws protrude from the deck.

The best way to clear a little (usually four inches or less) snow is with a broom. Brooms will not scrape, scratch or gouge the decking. If the snow is really light (like perfect powder), a leaf blower works wonders.

When snow gets deep, use a plastic shovel as they are less likely to damage the decking. Shovel parallel to the deck boards and never chop at any ice buildups, use an ice and snow melt product.

Dear Guru: Did I Get the Right Trusses?

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 need to confirm that I was shipped the correct trusses for finishing out the ceiling.

On the plan drawings the ceiling joist are called out as 2×4’s on 24 inch center but are drawn with 2×6 bottom chords on the trusses.

The trusses I received are entirely manufactured with 2×4’s.  Is that correct? I know the plans state that the trusses are “Pre-fab trusses per truss manufacturer”, but do these meet the engineering design of my Hansen building and your engineering?

I read too in the plan general notes that the web design of trusses may vary from that depicted in the plans.  What I read on the truss manufacturers spec sheet I think they do but there are a lot of abbreviations and assorted alphabet soup acronyms that I don’t understand fully.

Thanks in advance, for confirming this for me. FLOUNDERING IN FINCASTLE

DEAR FLOUNDERING: The drawings for your building are done by draftspersons prior to the trusses being ordered and are merely a representation of the profile of the trusses, they are not meant to be an exact diagram of how any individual truss might actually be fabricated.

In review of the truss drawings provided by the fabricator, please note a box about 1/2 way down the page on the left side entitled “LOADING”. BCDL (bottom chord dead load) is listed as being 5 psf, which is adequate to support 5/8″ gypsum drywall, the ceiling joists and the weight of insulation.

These trusses meet the specifications of the building and properly installed should provide a sturdy roof system for generations.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I was just looking at your post from 2012 about the geothermal/radiant heating system you installed for your office there.  My wife and I are planning to renovate a barn on our property about the same size as your building and were looking to do something similar – radiant in an at-grade slab powered by geothermal.  I’d be interested in learning more about your experience with this, if you use any backup heating, how you are heating upper floors, what you do for cooling, and any other tips you might share.  We have a lot of space available for a geo field so I’d like to be able to get as much out of it as possible. IDEATING IN IOWA CITY

DEAR IDEATING: Thank you very much for reading the article. The geothermal wells are actually maybe the easiest part of the entire process and I kick myself for allowing my HVAC guy to talk me out of doing them when I remodeled my home in WA 23 years ago.

I can truthfully say I am fairly unknowledgeable when it comes to heating and cooling systems. I do know the mechanical side of our particular system is fairly unreliable, which I fault the company which did the original work, not the process itself.

On the upside – the cost to heat and cool both floors is very economical. We own a double-wide mobile home across the road from this building which we always thought was fairly reasonable, but the barn costs are about half of what it costs to heat and cool the mobile home, and it’s over 4 times larger. We love it that the floors on the lower level are always somewhat warm.

We do use electric forced air to handle the air in the upper floors.

For real expert advice, I’d suggest contacting www.radiantoutfitters.com

Mike the Pole Barn Guru


I’m looking to install a Sliding Steel Door to fit an opening of 10 ft high by 12 ft wide onto my Man Cave.

The building is sided in grey vinyl.   What color options are available?

We get winter snow so would January operation of the door be affected??  Does it have bottom rollers or simply hang from the top?

Are these doors secure from vandals??


DEAR LOREN: There are going to be some good things and bad things about sliding doors. Most people think of sliding doors as the first option, in the belief they will be significantly less expensive. In most cases, this is just not the case.


They can be sided with any possible material – including gray vinyl. Least expensive and most durable will be steel siding which is available in a wide variety of colors.


They are not airtight – go with the assumption your neighbor’s cat will be able to enter your building.
They are not practical to insulate.
While they do have trolleys which hang from an overhead track, there is also a bottom guide attached to the base of the wall in the direction the door slides.
In all probability, in snow country, the door will probably get frozen in one position.
Generally I would not consider them as being secure from vandals – they will keep the honest people honest.
Electric openers are far more costly than standard openers.

In all probability your best option will be a sectional overhead door.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

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

Pole Building Man Land


This was written by Cheryl PaPania (and posted on Facebook), who is an expat living along the coast of Ecuador with her husband Don about his “man-cave” pole building:

“January of 2007 my husband, (Don) built a workshop to store his tools, equipment, etc. and also have a place to work out of the sun. He attached two bays to park his boat and man truck (Old Blue). It was built quickly out of wood, cane and palm leaves. Not the most attractive structure, but it was functional. And it was supposed to be “temporary”. Well six years later, it was in such a state of disrepair. It was infested with termites and so rickety to the point of being dangerous. So several months ago, Don hired a couple of guys to help him tear it down and burn it. As he stood by the fire watching the last of the rotted wood burn, I saw a few tears roll down his cheeks. They were not from the smoke.

So now there is no man land. Talk about withdrawal, wow. Almost like taking an alcoholic’s last bottle of booze. No he did not have the DT’s or curl up in the fetal position, but believe me he was very despondent. So one day we are sitting on the porch having our afternoon cocktail and I casually mentioned rebuilding man land. Talk about lighting a fire under someone’s ass, he shot out of his chair, dashed into the house and came back with his notebook. I am thinking he was going to start making notes and drawing a design on paper. Hell no, he had drawings, layout, plans that would impress Frank Lloyd Wright. Like a kid at Christmas, he showed me his plans, including plumbing, electrical and structural specs. He even had a detailed list of needed materials. Only thing missing was “soil test”. Oh and the whole structure is being built out of concrete, brick and steel. One would think Armageddon was coming or some kind of terrorist attack.

Don Building Man LandSo very next day Don gets started. He laid it out visually. Then string lines and levels to make it perfectly squared. I held the end of the tape measure, called the “dumb end”. After about three hours he was satisfied, only less than 1”out of square, which he could live with. If only I could get him to show such enthusiasm toward “The Honey Do” list.

I am very proud of Don, to save money he has built this with very little help other than the day the slab was poured and help finally for one day completing the roof structure and roof panels. Don has measured, cut, drilled, welded, bolted and painted all the steel. He built 3 brick and concrete work benches. Installation of water lines in several areas along with a sink and shower. He also has installed all the electrical, including 220 for the welder, lighting, motion sensors and nighttime security features.

There are still a few things left to finish (wall around outside shower, locker or cage for
additional tools & machinery to be securely stored and few misc. things.) However for all practical and functional purposes, MAN LAND or his MAN CAVE is finished. I have attached some pics from beginning to end. Only thing of importance that is missing is the BEER FRIG!! Guess this will be a Merry Christmas for Don.”

 I found this to be both a beautiful and touching story. But, guys and gals – it does not take having to move to Ecuador to have “MAN LAND”.  The process does not take having to involve Frank Lloyd Wright or his minions.

For many – a pole building kit package, with totally detailed plans and step-by-step instructions is the yellow brick road to man land success! With a little help from your friends at Hansen Pole Buildings, you too can be deciding where to place the beer fridge

Small Yards, Big Building Design

As new homes have shrunk in size, so have the lots the homes are constructed on. With this the space available for detached accessory buildings (primarily garages and workshops) has shrunk with them.  When you have a 40-foot wide lot, there’s only so much room for another building. But this doesn’t mean homeowners are willing to settle for plain vanilla building design, or worse yet, no building at all. A tremendous amount of style and function can be packed into a small space.

People also are buying old houses, which were built on small lots. A well planned backyard pole building can provide an escape from the confines of small rooms and smaller spaces. The demand for unique building design is on the rise.

My oldest son lives in Maryville (a suburb of Knoxville, TN). He and his wife purchased a home of about 1200 square feet with an unfinished basement. The “daylight basement” included a single car garage door, with the idea for a vehicle to be parked downstairs…underneath the main floor.

With a growing family, finishing the basement to make space for more bedrooms and a family room meant the loss of this space, as well as the downstairs workshop.

While a 24’ x 30’ footprint would avoid his backyard drain field and fit within the property line setbacks, just a plain box would not have satisfied the needs of his mother.  The vast amount of options and flexibility with pole building design came to the rescue!

A 20’ x 24’ second floor “mother-in-law” apartment was added above the rear 2/3 of the garage. With the peak of the roofs running at 90 degree angles to each other, it ended up being aesthetically pleasing in a residential neighborhood. Inside the apartment, scissor trusses created a vaulted ceiling, with the added height making the room feel more spacious. Cantilevered decks (4’ in front and 6’ in the rear) allow for outdoor living, especially with the sliding glass patio door to the large rear deck.

Now our son has a place to park two vehicles inside, along with his own shop area. His wife loves the large storage shelves lining the downstairs garage/shop for those seasonal items and Christmas decorations. The mini apartment upstairs hosts visiting guests in a private space all of their own.  Not to mention “Mama” is happy with the large air conditioned space with a deck to relax on when she comes to visit.  And footprint wise, it didn’t take up anymore space than a two car garage, but allowed for a lot of expansion to their daily living.

Recent research into post frame fire walls, allow pole buildings to be built close to, or right up to property lines. This allows for buildings to be placed in spaces they would not have fit into in the past.

A wood stove or fireplace can make a man cave, or hobby space a delightful area, and are easily added.  Heating and A/C are affordable for small spaces, for maximum climate control.

Looking for the ideal building design to add to the livability of your home? Pole buildings do not have to be “plain Jane” and the variables for design are virtually limitless.

Love, It Includes the Pole Barn

It may not be possible to put a price on love, but the square footage and location of where the love story takes place is a different story. Many couples take their potential partner’s “digs” (which includes the garage/shop and any other pole building) into account before entering into a relationship, according to a new study, and are reluctant to pack their bags if the relationship breaks up.

Real estate apparently holds value better than relationships. Given the choice between their dream property and a perfect spouse, 30% of the 1,000 Americans surveyed said they would choose the dream home, according to a survey by Rent.com and RedShift Research. And some 22% of single people would date someone strictly because they like their home and pole barn.

In fact, nearly one-quarter of Americans value one thing more than freedom from a broken relationship: a great place to live – and over one-third of them would wait a year or more to move out. Men are even more likely to stay in a relationship – 28% admitted to delaying a break-up to keep their current living situation versus 21% of women, the survey says.

You can create your own Man Cave!

While the adage is, “the way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach”, it appears more weight (pun, intended) might be given to having a nice pole barn as a “man cave”.

Whether the man cave is as simple as a single car garage, or as elaborate as a multi-story or multi-level building complete with sleeping space and a bathroom and kitchenette, a pole barn can be the answer – and although it doesn’t “make the relationship”, studies show it may be one of the deciding factors…both for getting into one, and for…well, not moving out of it.

While my wife and I don’t necessarily agree on the results of these surveys, I do know, “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”! Because when it comes to both the final decision of purchasing a new pole building, and most definitely on choosing colors for siding and trim, the relationship between a client and spouse does have an effect on the final purchase.  I’ve had personal experience with couples where procuring a new pole building eliminated the fight over “engine parts/hunting and fishing gear” versus “home for the wife’s car”.  OK, I give…maybe the survey is right!