Tag Archives: Notching posts

Additions, Notching Posts, and Stem Walls

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about adding to an existing pole barn, the possibility of notching girts into posts, and use of a stem wall on an uneven site.

Hansen Buildings TaglineDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have an existing 36x36x12 pole barn and would like to do an additional 36-48 roof only build off the back. I used the Oregon ready build plans for my existing barn, built in 2019. My 2 over head doors are on the end wall. I was told by my county official that the ready build plans cannot be added onto because they are stand-alone buildings, but maybe with engineering they could be. Do I need to consider building a separate barn 12′ behind mine or can I possibly get it engineered to be attached? Thank you. CLAYTON in SCAPPOOSE

DEAR CLAYTON: Your county official is correct in stating your existing pole barn is a stand-alone building. It is likely we could engineer and provide your proposed extension, however it may require some modifications to your existing building. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you to further discuss your building needs.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If a DIYer had all the time in the world to build a post frame, could the posts be notched for the girts? MARK in KNOXVILLE

DEAR MARK: My lovely bride and I spent a fair amount of time in Knoxville as our oldest son got his Master’s degree at U.T., lived in Maryville and taught high school at Lenoir City. His youngest sister, used to play summer basketball for Pat Summit (she has a piece of championship basketball court signed by Pat for being best player one year). Beautiful area!

Could and should are not necessarily the same. Sound engineering practice limits notch depths in columns to 1/6th of direction being notched, without requiring more complex engineering review. On a 6×6 (actual dimensions 5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″) this would allow notches to be only 7/8″ deep for an externally mounted girts, or if one was doing bookshelf girts, 7/16″ deep on both sides of column. With externally mounted girts, this could pose challenges with aligning other wall framing members such as splash planks, door headers, etc. For bookshelf girts, nail or screw connections would have to be angled, reducing lateral strength of this connection so as to require extra fasteners.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My site is not level. Can you build in a stem wall? CHRIS in SEQUIM

DEAR CHRIS: You can either excavate and have a stem wall on the formerly high side, or have a stem wall on the low side and fill. Stem wall can be poured concrete, ICFs or concrete block with wet set brackets, or we can incorporate a Permanent Wood Foundation wall between columns. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you for more information about your new post frame building.



Clear Span Truss Length, Loft Support Columns, and a Footing at OHD!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the widest clear span I can get with a 20 # live load and a 25# ground snow load. THOMAS in LACEY

Arena InteriorDEAR THOMAS: Quite comfortably and affordably 80 foot. I’ve done up to 100 foot clearspans in this loading combination however many truss plants do not have the capability to fabricate or ship trusses 100′ long in one piece.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: While waiting for my materials to arrive for my Hansen building, I was reviewing the plans for my building saw my loft flooring 2×12’s are notched into the posts which I understand the reasoning. My question is what are the rules for notching posts and still maintaining structural integrity of the post. ED in BETHUNE

DEAR ED: There are some “rules” for notching wood members, however they apply to floor joists and stud walls in conventional light-frame construction, not to columns in post-frame construction. The limitations for notches in columns would depend upon the placement of the notch and the ability of the remaining timber to carry the imposed loads. Columns are subject to forces of bending and compression. In compression columns are very strong and rarely is over 10% of the strength of the column needed to carry the downward loads. As long as the notch is done to insure a tight fit and the connection between the column and the member fitting into the notch is done properly the downward loads will be carried through the column as if it was never notched at all.

In bending the maximum moment (bending force) is going to occur somewhere midway between the supported ends (or in your case between the ground and the loft floor), very little bending force occurs at or near the ends. The remaining column at the notch must be adequate to resist shear forces, however the lateral restraint provided by the rigid floor makes these manageable.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My 36 x 56 barn is going to have an entrance door and a 16w x 12h garage door on the 36 side of the building. My question is do I have to have a footer or not on the 36 side to make sure the doors will shut and open in the winter do to frost heave? Thank you. TIM in HUDSON

DEAR TIM: In the event you have an inadequately prepared site, then having a continuous footing and foundation below the doors (and extending past the columns on each side of the doors) might be a good investment. Such a system would need to also be deep enough to be below the frost line, which could make it cost prohibitive.

Sites which have been properly prepared rarely have issues with frost heave. You will want to read the series of articles which begins here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.