Tag Archives: National Association of Home Builders

The First Tool to Construct Your Own Barndominium

Your First Tool to Construct Your Own Barndominium

Whether you are contemplating constructing (or having constructed) a barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or just a post frame home – there is one essential tool you should invest in long before you consider breaking ground. Even if you have hired this world’s greatest General Contractor who will do absolutely everything for you, without your involvement, you still need this tool.

What is it, you ask?

Well, first of all – I will assure you this tool will not break your project’s budget. In fact it is under $30 at your nearby The Home Depot™!

What I am talking about here is a General Tools 50 foot compact laser measure.

This Model #LDM1 compact laser will accurately measure up to 50 foot distances quickly. You can use it to measure full rooms within seconds (handy for discreet measurement taking), all with a push of a single button. Portable and compact, it will easily fit in a pocket!

Just last week you should have read my article on “Room in a Barndominium” (quick, go back and read it again: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/). In this article a litany of possible barndominium room choices were listed, along with general floor areas for each of them, based upon overall living space.  From this you have made a list of those rooms you cannot live without as well as ones it would be nice to have, provided they will fit within your available space and budget.

Begin by practicing measuring rooms in your current abode. Note dimensions and if they are too large (it does happen), too small or just right (sounds like a story involving a young blonde girl and three bears, I know). 

Now your real work begins. Saddle up your horse, or favorite other mode of transportation, and start visiting weekend Open Houses. Even better, if you can get into a Home Builders’ Association “Parade of Homes”, as these normally feature new and innovative ideas. You want to visit as many fully furnished homes as is reasonably possible. Why do I say fully furnished? Because empty rooms feel much larger than they actually are. Get out your new tool and start taking measurements.

Once you have accumulated your data, you can start to narrow down how much space will actually be needed to meet with your family’s needs and lifestyle. Keep in mind – all of these measurements are INSIDE dimensions. Eventually you will be adding walls and interior ones will take up at least four and one-half inches.

Starting to get excited?

If not, you should be. You are one step closer to your new dream home!

What Home Builders Use for Insulation

With barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame home building on a brisk upswing, a considering factor is how to insulate new homes. Becoming as close to (or reaching) net zero (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/net-zero-post-frame-homes/) as possible should be a goal of any efficient post frame home design.

Rather than me just blathering about what my opinions are, I felt of interest to share what American home builders are actually using for insulation. Keep in mind these results are from traditional stick frame construction – where a plethora of redundant wall framing members often make insulating and avoiding thermal bridges much more of a challenge than with post frame construction.

For your reading pleasure:

Originally published by the following sourceABTG Staff — August 7, 2019 

The 2019 Annual Builder Practices Survey, which had more than 1,600 homebuilder participants this year, provides some powerful insight into the thermal products market in the U.S.

According to the survey, adoption of more stringent energy codes, homebuyer demographics driving the demand for lower energy bills, labor, and building material costs are prompting homebuilders to seek higher performing insulation that is also budget-friendly. Not surprisingly, these two factors seem to be tugging the market in different directions.

The performance vs. value tradeoff in the decision to specify insulation materials continued to be a key question for most homebuilders. According to the survey, some builders would use full-cavity foam insulation, if the cost was lower. The real challenge is that some homebuilders still believe fiberglass is the best bang-for-the-buck, and if they’re looking for higher energy performance they will actually invest in things like energy efficient windows and HVAC systems over upgrading the insulation.

A builder’s insulation preference is also heavily influenced by geographic area, price-point of their homes, and how many units they build annually. For example, fiberglass batt has its deepest market penetration in Pacific states and lowest in West South Central states. Smaller builders (10 or fewer starts-per-year) are three times as likely to use spray foam than larger builders (more than 50 starts-per-year).

Source: 2019 Annual Builder Practices Survey, Home Innovation Research Labs

Difference in insulation usage was less variable when it came to home size as per building size. Yet, spray foam was about twice as likely to be used in luxury homes than starter homes, as an example. Conversely, fiberglass batts was more likely to be put in starter homes than luxury homes.

How Much Will My Barndominium Cost?

How Much Will My Post Frame Barndominium Cost?

This may be the most asked question in Barndominium discussion groups I am a member of. Or at least a close second to wanting to see floor plans. And why not? If one does not have a semblance of financial realty, they could end up finding themselves severely disappointed.

This is a really important questions because if you don’t know what your barndominium or shouse (shop/house) will cost, how can you plan on paying for it?

Hansen Buildings TaglineIt is also a really hard question to answer. You can probably guess standard cabinets and custom cabinets come with a very big price difference. This is merely one example of a myriad of differences between every single barndominium.

Sitting down and figuring out what each individual thing in your barndominium will cost, is a very difficult (if not impossible) thing to do.

There is no way for me or anyone to tell you exactly what your barndominium will cost. I can help you best I know how, but you also need to do your own homework in your own area.

Your own style and preferences will play a big role in your barndominium cost. Please use these figures as a guideline only, and know this is not an exact science. This is simply meant to help you figure out a good idea of how much money you will need.

Our International Code Council friends publish a table of average costs for new construction and update it every six months. https://www.iccsafe.org/wp-content/uploads/BVD-BSJ-FEB19-converted.pdf

Post frame construction is Type VB and homes are Residential R-3. As of February 2019, this places an average constructed cost at $122.46 per sft (square foot). An attached garage or shop would be S-2 storage, low hazard at $61.56 per sft. A detached shop or garage could be U utility, at $48.73 per sft. Unfinished basements would be $22.45 per sft.

NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) 2015 data supported these figures with an average total construction cost of $103.29 per sft. This is before General Contractor’s (GC) overhead, profit, financing, marketing and sales costs and does not include the price of land. Outside of land values, a General Contractor’s share added another 30.23% to total construction costs.

Do you need a General Contractor? Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/04/general-contractor/

Tune in for our next action packed article, where an example barndominium will be broken apart for costs!

Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations

I’ve touched on the subject of Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations in a previous article (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/10/concrete-slab-4/), but never truly taken a dive into the pond to expound upon them as they relate to post frame construction.

slab edge insulationMy friend KEN from MANCOS recently contacted me for information, which got this subject restarted:
“Mr. Pole Barn Guru,
I am planning a pole barn build next spring, so currently trying to figure out the little details.
I know you said only one question, but I am greedy for knowledge so I am asking two.”

1) Ken resubmitted his question and included his email address for faster response. You can read both the question and the answer in this column November 21, 2016.
“2) For a conditioned workshop, what would you recommend for slab edge insulation (Colorado) and how would install it?

BTW Your site has been most informative. And if you really are going to limit me to one question I would prefer the answer to 1 over 2.

Thanks Ken”
Long term readers of this column have probably gotten the drift of my love of discussing all things post frame building. Whether you have only one or a hundred questions you are looking to have answered send them my way. The only stupid question is one which never gets asked, and chances are if you ask a question, there are several other people out there who were too shy or too busy to have asked themselves. Kudos to you for beating them to the punch!
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research has been so kind as to publish a plethora of information on the subject of Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations, which (while not specific to post frame construction) would apply to any structural building system. Heat transfer truly doesn’t care how you put the structure together, just so long as the resistance issues are taken care of adequately.
Those who are considering Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations should peruse this information: https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/fpsfguide.pdf, and utilize it to determine the requirements for insulation R values, as well as the depth to which vertical insulation boards should be placed, as well as the width of horizontal insulation extending out from the building.
(Fun sidebar – the principal investigator for this document on the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) staff was Jay H. Crandell, P.E.. Jay was a summer intern for me at M & W Building Supply when he was a student at Virginia Tech)
As to where to place it – I would go with putting it on the outside of the pressure preservative treated splash planks, starting at the base trim and working downward.
It is important to protect the insulation. Because the vertical wall insulation around the building extends above grade and is subject to ultraviolet radiation and physical abuse, this portion must be protected with a coating or covering which is both tough and durable. Methods to consider include a stucco finish or similar brush-on coatings, pre-coated insulation products, flashing and pressure preservative treated plywood. Any protective finish should be applied prior to backfilling, since it must be covered at least four inches below grade.

Can I Repair a Steel Panel?

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: While installing the metal roof, we managed to bend a piece and a hole formed in one of the high ridges. Other than replacing the piece, is there an approved repair method? The tear is probably 2 inches long.

Question from Dana in Catharpin, VA

DEAR DANA: If it makes you feel any better, you are not the first person (including many skilled contractors) who have had the very same thing happen. Sadly, builders often find a way to “hide” the problem, at least long enough to be paid and off to the next project. I’d like to be the bearer of good news for you, however the only solution which is approved, and which you will happy with over time is to replace the steel panel.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a pole-built home with 8×8 posts set below the frost line. All of the usable living space is on the second level. The ground level is gravel with a small finished utility space. I want to build out the ground level using an FPSF. How should this renovation treat the existing poles? Should they be cut off at slab level, removed and backfilled? Or left in place with some type of isolation from the slab?

Thanks! John H. in East Thetford, VT

DEAR JOHN: My eldest step-son did a lot of research on Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations before he added onto his home last summer. I was skeptical, at first, but it appears there is solid research to back this system up. I’d suggest placing the insulation boards on the outside of the existing columns. The National Association of Home Builders has some excellent information at: https://www.nahb.org/assets/docs/publication/Energy-efficient-frost-protected-shallow-foundations_1211200244041PM.pdf

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Are Building Codes Changed too Often?

(Disclaimer: for those dear readers who are not Christian, the reference to the Bible below is merely for illustrative purposes, and is not an attempt to sway anyone to or from any particular religious practices or beliefs.)

Imagine, if you will, the Bible being revised every three years. Once the revisions were accepted by the scholarly experts and the newest version was printed, each division of Christianity could decide if and when they wanted to adopt the newest version and they could also edit it as they pleased.

Once your church approved a version, it would be up to you and your fellow believers to have to learn it all over again. Sometimes changes would be small, other times large. And about the time you figure it out – there would be another new version.

Sound confusing?

Well, this process is the way the International Building Codes work. Every three years, there is a new version available. Building Officials, Architects and Engineers, as well as builders get to learn everything all over again!

International Building CodeThe NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) and the AIA (American Institute of Architects) have written to the ICC (International Code Council), recommending a longer interval between published Code revisions. The feeling is it would make it easier and less expensive for those affected, as well as easier to manage the changes.

Right now, we have a client who purchased a pole building kit last Spring. When he placed his order, the applicable Code version in his state was the 2009. July 1, his state adopted an amended version of the 2012 Code. He did not apply for his permit promptly, so had to have an entirely new set of plans and calculations produced. Among changes between the versions of the Code, was an increase in design wind speed from 85 to 115 mph (miles per hour)!

While there is some push to increase the time frame between Code versions, it probably will not happen. The reason for frequent changes is the rapid outmoding due to new technologies and building practices.

Think of it this way, a cell phone purchased today will be easily obsolete in three years – same goes for building codes.

What can you do so you don’t end up like our client? Make sure there are no “lag times” between the time you first talk to the building department about what building code design criteria you need to follow, the time you purchase your building, and the time it’s constructed and “final inspection” is done.  And keep in contact with your building department should you encounter any delays.