Tag Archives: National Association of Home Builders

ABC Component Shortages

Remember Hoping You Could Buy Toilet Paper?

I grew up seeing photos of people in Eastern Bloc countries standing in line for nearly every commodity. More recently we have witnessed residents of Venezuela enduring similar circumstances.

Similar situations are now occurring with building materials – as witnessed by this notification from one of our steel roofing and siding suppliers, American Building Components:

“May 26, 2021 

Dear Valued Customer Partners, 

With the intent to keep you as updated on product availability, please note that the supply of materials from our vendors has tightened which has limited our production capacity. In order to improve material planning and delivery schedules, the following are changes to our material allocation which will begin June 1.  

  • Material allocations will be established at the regional level to align with the capacity of the respective manufacturing locations.
  • Upon reaching monthly allocated order volume, additional orders will not be accepted until allocations are reset at the beginning of the next month.
  • Non-active and/or new customers will not be eligible to participate in the allocation program.

Your specific material allocation will be communicated to you by your respective sales representative no later than June 1. 

As you plan your business for the coming months, we expect to experience extended lead times. Please anticipate that all new orders will receive ship dates aligned with the production capacity based upon the expected steel from our suppliers.   

With the material indices continuing to rise since our last communication on May 3, we will be monitoring the market to provide you with pricing guidance for the third quarter in the coming weeks.  

We understand the challenges each of you is facing with rising material costs, limited supply, and the availability of labor. We are actively working to increase our network capacities and will continue to proactively communicate with you on our progress.”

It has been tough enough to see double digit increases in steel costs pretty well every month. According to NAHB (National Association of Home Builders):

“Steel mill products prices climbed 18.4% in April following a 17.6% increase in March.  Prices are up 55.6%, year-to-date, and the month-over-month percentage increase set a record high for the third month in a row. Steel mill products price volatility is greater than it has been at any time since the Great Recession.”

Now, besides being increasingly expensive, product may not even be available. Hansen Pole Buildings does happen to be one of American Building Components’ largest clients, so we are hopeful we will be able to continue to fulfill orders in a timely manner, however for those who are smaller, regional roll formers, it could be they are going to run out of coil and not be able to source more.

We obviously do not own a crystal ball to forecast when prices and availability of building products will stabilize. For those of you who are looking to build, if you can borrow at low interest rates over long terms, it is yet an opportunity, as higher future interest rates will likely more than offset any lower prices.

Preston Bowen

President, Building Envelope Solutions

What Surging Lumber Prices Have Done to Barndominiums

What Surging Lumber Prices Have Done to Barndominiums

Based upon NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) data from April 26, 2021

According to NAHB’s latest estimates, a year of rising softwood lumber has added $35,872 to an average new single-family home’s price.  

These estimates are based on softwood lumber used directly and embodied in products going into an average new home, as captured in Builder Practices Survey conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs.  Included is any softwood used in structural framing (including beams, joists, headers, rafters and trusses) sheathing, flooring and underlayment, interior wall and ceiling finishing, cabinets, doors, windows, roofing, siding, soffit and fascia, and exterior features such as garages, porches, decks, railing, fences and landscape walls.  Softwood products considered include lumber of various dimensions (including any of appearance grade or pressure treated for outdoor use), plywood, OSB, particleboard, fiberboard, shakes and shingles—in short, any products sold by U.S. sawmills and tracked on a weekly basis by Random Lengths.

Builders do not in general buy lumber and other building products directly from sawmills, but from an intermediary like a lumber yard.  For this reason, sawmill prices are marked up by gross margin as a percent of sales for “lumber and other construction materials” industry, as reported in U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Wholesale Trade Tables.

Softwood lumber is also an input into certain manufactured products used in residential construction—especially cabinets, windows, doors and trusses.  To account for manufacturer’s margin, sawmill prices for lumber embodied in these products are marked up by a percent difference between receipts and cost of goods in “wood product manufacturing” industry, as reported in IRS Returns of Active Corporations tables.

For prices reported by Random Lengths on April 17, 2020, total cost to a builder for all lumber and manufactured lumber products described above was $16,927 for products in an average single-family home.

A year later, based on Random Lengths prices reported on April 23, 2021, fully phased-in costs have risen to $48,136 for softwood lumber products in an average single-family home.  These estimates represent a 184 percent ($31,210) increase in single-family builders’ lumber costs, respectively, over a year.

Prices to home buyers have gone up somewhat more than this, due to factors such as interest on construction loans, brokers’ fees, and margins required to attract capital and get construction loans underwritten.  For items such as lumber purchased and used throughout construction processes, NAHB estimates final price will increase by 14.94 percent above builder cost.

Bottom line is surging lumber prices occurring between April 2020 and 2021 have added $35,872 to price of an average new single-family home.

Based on NAHB’s standard priced-out calculations, this $35,872 increase in average new home price (taken from latest HUD/Census Bureau new residential sales report) has priced out more than 5.5 million U.S. households, meaning these households could qualify for a mortgage to buy an average new home before price increases, but not afterwards.  These estimates reinforce needs to find ways to reduce cost curve for adding much needed inventory to housing markets, particularly as buyers remain frustrated by a lack of available homes for-sale.

Of course, affordability challenges for home buyers with modest incomes are even more challenging than these lumber-driven effects imply, as prices for other building materials are also on the rise.  Historically low interest rates have helped on market’s demand-side, but reasonable prices and stable access to lumber and other building materials are needed on supply-side.

Barndominium Features Worth Having?

Barndominium Features Worth Having?

New barndominium owners often assume any upgraded features will make their place more valuable. While it is true upgraded kitchen features, a carriage style garage door, or real wood floors may add value and make your home more desirable for resale, there are other projects providing very little return. Here are some most common.

An inground pool

Lounging on a pool float with a cool drink in your hand sounds like a great way to spend a summer. But installing a pool is not only an expensive project, it is expensive to insure and maintain. Plus, when it’s time to sell, potential buyers may see this feature as a headache or a safety concern.

If you’ll use a pool regularly, and plan to stay in your barndominium for several years, then by all means, go for it. But before you make any big financial decisions ask yourself:

  • How many days will you actually be able to use it? 
  • How much will a pool increase energy and water bills?
  • Will you pay someone for maintenance or take on this task yourself?
  • How will an inground pool affect your homeowner’s insurance premiums?
  • Can you afford these extra costs?

I had an inground pool installed in my home in Oregon in the mid-1980s. Poor investment, I probably could have sold for more if I had filled it in with earth.

An outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens have emerged as a growing indoor/outdoor living trend. And while dining alfresco sounds idyllic, it is an expensive upgrade – one may not be worth it’s investment.

An outdoor kitchen could cost anywhere from $4,800 to $21,300 or beyond. In warmer climates (south or southwest), you’ll likely see a higher return on investment because outdoor kitchens are almost expected, especially in higher-priced homes. Anywhere else, where the climate is more unstable, outdoor kitchens don’t get as much use and aren’t as valuable to buyers.

Custom designs

Unless you plan to stay in your barndominium for many years, think twice about over personalization.

About Hansen BuildingsHave lots of children? Rather than having all sorts of very small bedrooms so each child has their own space – institute room sharing, incorporating larger bedrooms with walk in closets. While lots of small bedrooms may work well for your lifestyle, it is a personal design choice not appealing to most potential buyers.

In National Association of Home Builders’ 2019 “What Buyers Really Want” report, custom upgrades, like a wine cellar, a dog washing station, master bathroom dual toilets, and cork flooring are among the top ten most unwanted home features. 

Custom features may wind up costing you come listing time, as many buyers factor in money they’ll need to spend to change your house to suit their own tastes. 


Keep your regional standards in mind. Being a little nicer than other barndominiums around you can be a selling point, but once you go overboard, you’ll lose potential buyers and your wallet may take a hit.

Your resale competition will not include just other barndominiums, but also stick built homes.

When planning your kitchen, for instance, tour some open houses in your general area. See how these kitchens look before you invest a small fortune in quartz countertops and high-end fixtures and appliances.

But, just like life, building is a balancing act, and smart barndominium owners need to balance dollar value and value through enjoyment. 

If your upgrades will improve your quality of life and allow you to stay in your barndominium longer, then costs may be worth it. But if you plan to sell in a few years, remember over-improving can come at a cost.

Where Your Barndominium Dollars Go

Where Your Barndominium Dollars Go

Recently published by NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) was their 2019 Cost of Construction Survey. I will work from their ‘average numbers’ to breakdown costs so you can get a feel for where your barndominium, shouse or post frame home dollars go.

Please use this as a reference only, as chances are your barndominium, shouse or post frame home will be anything but average!

2019’s average home had 2594 square feet of finished space and a sales price of $485,128. Without lot costs, general contractor’s overhead and profit actual construction costs were $296,652 ($114 per square foot).

Construction Cost Breakdowns as Follows:

Site Work

Building Permit Fees                                                                                  $5,086

Impact Fees                                                                                                   3,865
Water & Sewer Fees                                                                                     4,319

Architecture, Engineering                                                                           4,335

Other                                                                                                                 719


Excavation, Foundation, Concrete, Retaining walls and Backfill        $33,511

Other                                                                                                                1,338


Framing (including roof)                                                                            $40,612

Trusses (if not included above)                                                                     6,276

Sheathing (if not included above)                                                                 3,216

General Metal, Steel                                                                                           954

Other                                                                                                                     530

                       Exterior Finishes   

Exterior Wall Finish                                                                                   $19,319

Roofing                                                                                                          9,954

Windows and Doors (including garage door)                                       11,747

Other                                                                                                                671

                       Major Systems Rough-Ins       

Plumbing (except fixtures)                                                                        $14,745

Electrical (except fixtures)                                                                           13,798

HVAC                                                                                                               14,111    

Other                                                                                                                 1,013

                       Interior Finishes       

Insulation                                                                                                  $ 5,184

Drywall                                                                                                        10,634

Interior Trims, Doors and Mirrors                                                           10,605

Painting                                                                                                         8,254

Lighting                                                                                                         3,437

Cabinets, Countertops                                                                             13,540

Appliances                                                                                                    4,710

Plumbing Fixtures                                                                                       4,108

Fireplace                                                                                                       1,867

Other                                                                                                                923

                                              Final Steps

Landscaping                                                                                              $6,506

Outdoor Structures (deck, patio, porches)                                           3,547

Driveway                                                                                                     6,674

Clean Up                                                                                                     2,988

Other                                                                                                              402

Other                                                                                                      $11,156

Considering using post frame construction, rather than stick built and foundation costs will decrease by roughly $10,000 (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/).

Architecture, Engineering, Framing and Exterior Finishes for this average home run an astonishing (to me) $97,614. If labor runs 60% of material costs, this would put a material package at $58,300! At over $20 per square foot, this would be one very, very nice post frame barndominium!

Looking to stretch your barndominium dollars? Considering Doing-It-Yourself, you absolutely can do it!

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://cdn-web.iccsafe.org/wp-content/uploads/BVD-BSJ-AUG21.pdf

Post frame construction is Type VB and homes are Residential R-3. As of August 2023, this places an average constructed cost at $165.67 per sft (square foot). An attached garage or shop over 1000 sft would be S-2 storage, low hazard at $83.50 per sft. A detached shop or garage could be U utility, at $64.19 per sft. Unfinished basements would be $31.50 per sft. These prices do NOT include land.

NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) 2022 data supported these figures with an average total construction cost of $153.16 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 35.15% 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.