Tag Archives: National Frame Building Association

Pondering a Cabin Dilemma

Pondering a Cabin Dilemma

With barndominiums, shouses (shed/houses) and post frame homes becoming increasingly popular, there are many who gaze fondly at existing pole barns and consider converting some or all of these spaces into living areas.

Reader MATT writes:

“Hi, I’ve been following your links and comments on different pages and trust your opinion on a dilemma I’ve been pondering. I have some recreational/hunting ground in IL and it has a 40×60 loafing shed open to the south. It’s a Bonanza building from maybe the 80’s. Great for equipment and parking a camper in but it’s dark and dreary in the camper and my wife doesn’t like it, lol. My dilemma, convert one 15’ bay into a nice one or two room living area with windows in front and on one side wall for weekend use or…..build a small cabin in the barn lot and forget about using the shed. I’m not sure if there is any value in building inside of the old shed since I have plenty of land to spot a cabin. It’s off grid so utilities are not a factor. One plus is the shed doesn’t look like anything from the road and in effect offers camouflage from break-ins. A basic thumbs up or down will be appreciated! Thanks and keep posting the helpful info on pole barns.”

Thank you for placing your faith in me. I do make a concerted effort to give best possible answers – even when it is not what people want to hear. Whether it makes money for Hansen Pole Buildings or not, our desire is to see people get into buildings they love and feel they have gotten a great value.

My friend, I am sure you have heard this adage before, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It sounds like your ground may become less recreated unless some upgrading is done.

In order to convert some or all of your existing building you would need to have it reviewed for structural adequacy by a Registered Professional Engineer, ideally one with a fair amount of post frame (pole barn) building design experience. There are very few of these engineers around and you want to do it right. Ideally an engineer who is a NFBA member (www.NFBA.org National Frame Building Association). It is  just not worth risking life or limb, damage to one’s valuables, or having other unexpected issues. Chances are good your footings are inadequate, columns may require adding members, wall girts are certainly over stressed, if you intend to support an attic off trusses, they will require an engineered repair. This is just a partial list. 

You can probably build a nice post frame cabin for less than using your existing building. Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rick Car is currently erecting his own hunting cabin in Wisconsin. You can find his story in my blog articles over recent months. Go to www.HansenPoleBuildings.com click on SEARCH in upper right corner of page. Type in a search term and relevant articles will be brought up. To find Rick’s story, type in his name.

Never Miss a Purlin Again

There is nothing much more frustrating than a leaking brand new steel roof. In my humble opinion, most (if not all) steel roof leaks caused by errant screws could be avoided by simply following instructions and pre-drilling roof panels.

Loyal reader MONTE in FRANKTOWN writes:

“I’m asking for your opinion on the need for a commercially available product/tool that would allow anyone to know with certainty where a purlin is located under a metal panel during installation. I needed such a tool and could not find one so had to create it. It actually speeds up installation while allowing the installer to avoid missing or broken purlins, large knot holes, and know where to screw on even the most warped purlin. This is not a sales pitch but an honest request for your opinion as here in Colorado it seems everyone misses at least 1% of all screws and simply silicones the misses. After successful huge arena installations I’m considering patents and expensive injection molding, assembly, etc., and would greatly appreciate your input beforehand. Also, thank you for all the help I’ve received from all the posts I’ve read in the past.”

Well Monte, thank you for your kind words, my hope is that you have found my posts to be entertaining, educational or both!

I would think your proposed tool would be most beneficial to builders who do not take time (although it is faster in the long run) to pre-drill steel roof panels on post frame buildings they are constructing. These are the same people who love to try to caulk misses, even though this is a strictly prohibited repair. Your challenge is – our market is highly fragmented. Those few large post frame builders take time to adequately train their installers in methods to avoid missed screws (like pre-drilling) and have serious Quality Control programs in effect. Most every burg in our country has a pole barn builder who puts up a handful of buildings a year – and most of these do not invest enough in themselves or their businesses to justify a new tool, even when it will probably save them money and heartache over time. I truly do not know if your investment will ever be recouped.

This past Winter, I attended NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) 2019 Frame Building Expo. While there, I found County Line Concepts (www.CountyLineConcepts.com) who has designed a better “mouse trap” for punching holes in steel panels.

Please check out this live Expo video featuring Gordon: https://www.facebook.com/polebarnguru/videos/2110669922360329/.

More Thoughts on Polyurethane Foam

More Thoughts on High Density Polyurethane Foam for Column Backfill

Reader STEPHEN contributes a question regarding high density polyurethane foam for column backfill:

“Hello, I have this question I would like to pass along to the “pole barn Guru” to be answered, I doubt I will get the answer I need in the time frame, but I think its going to come up more often, so  I am guessing now is a good time to ask.

With the idea of burying a 6x6x14 into concrete, the risk of Rot is very high. At a cost of about 50$ per post,  you want to protect your investment,  so many people are using a 6x6x10 and using the Study-wall brackets, but that drives up the cost to about 80$

So my question is, has anyone looked into using the new polyurethane instead of concrete?


Stephen ~

Hopefully this response will prove to be timely in regards to your project.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Let us begin with a discussing to overcome a fear of a “risk of rot is very high”. Actual field studies have proven an ability of properly pressure treated lumber to withstand decaying forces for greater than human lifespans: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/. Trick, of course, is finding properly pressure preservative treated timbers. Five years ago I penned this article for a post frame industry magazine: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/building-code-3/. Little has changed since then – lumber dealers and big box stores continue to sell pressure treated timbers without advising consumers as to what those timbers can actually be used for.

Now let’s discuss using high density polyurethane foam for setting columns, rather than concrete. At this year’s National Frame Building Association Expo there were several vendors promoting using their high density foam for setting posts – all of them having experience only from setting of utility poles. Utility poles carry a minimal downward load, so their holes are barely larger than column diameters, making calling for a pre-mix concrete truck impractical. Lateral loads on utility poles are also minimal as compared to columns in a post frame building, so a little high density foam easily provides a solution (and sets up quickly – allowing crews to move expediently from pole to pole).

Here is some more reading on this subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/high-density-foam/.

Besides not being Code conforming, there is an issue of cost. Your suggested product provided at The Home Depot will provide a volume equal to five 80 pound bags of concrete (or 1/10th of a yard) for $37.63 or $376.30 per yard. With pre-mix concrete prices being roughly $100 a yard, concrete being Code conforming and not contributing to decay any more than would high density foam, it seems to me to be a no brainer.

Pole Building Gone Wrong

There is Something Wrong with This Picture

building problemsMy disclaimer, this is NOT a Hansen Pole Building. It was advertised on Craigslist by a builder in Kentucky. There are some odd things about this pole building – one of them which is crucial and the building owner is going to hate probably forever.

Maybe longer.

The first odd thing about this building is the builder even put the picture up on the internet.

As you read on, you will find out why.

Look at the sliding door at the center of the front endwall of the building. Notice, the bottom of the sliding doors are what looks to be about four inches above the bottom of the neighboring walls.

This four inch hold up is ideal for pouring a nominal four inch thick concrete floor using the splash plank as a perimeter form.

There is a plethora of information out there on the internet about pouring concrete slabs on grade. I am not the world’s most knowledgeable person when it comes to concrete, so I have gleaned information both from my own reading as well as talking to the experts. Here is my take: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/concrete-slab-2/

Now, if you will, please look immediately adjacent to each side of the sliding door. The wall steel is run all the way to the ground.

This is directly from the steel warranty of American Building Products : https://www.abcmetalroofing.com/Learn-More/Warranties/

  1. g) Damage to the coated Metal caused by contact with corrosive substances, or allowing panel cut edges to be in continual contact with water, damp insulation, soil or vegetation i.e. setting wall panels directly on the concrete sheeting notch or base trim.

I changed the font to BOLD to make a point – the bottom edge of the siding is going to be in contact with the ground. Voiding the warranty.

Walk your eyes around the corner of the building photo to the entry door (formerly man door, which was deemed politically incorrect). See the steel siding below the entry door?

Building Codes require a landing outside of entry doors (here is the proof: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/landings/ ).

When the landing concrete is poured, it will not be directly onto the wall steel – again, not good.

When something so important is not only neglected, but promoted as examples of good work, it makes me wonder if more things are done improperly or just plain left out.

To their credit, I can say at least they (this builder) do have a website, not just a Facebook page. I give them at least this amount of credit and place them above Chuck-in-a-truck.

There are also two very important reasons I would never consider having them build a building for me. They are not Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) members in one. Although the BBB might be slightly off kilter at times, it does lend credibility to a business – and it is not expensive, so why cheap out?

The other reason?

They are not members of the National Frame Building Association (www.NFBA.org ). If one is not willing to invest in the success of their own business, what does it mean for the success to you of your new building?