Tag Archives: open overhangs

What Size Overhangs Look Good?

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: What should minimum overhang be for a 40X50X14 pole barn? TWIXT IN TWIN HILLS

DEAR TWIXT: The overhang distance is certainly, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder. I’ve always felt overhangs should generally be proportionate to the height of the building being constructed, with some exceptions, of course, due to function. There will be some “overlap” which comes down to individual preferences.

My suggestions:

12 foot eaves and under 12 inch overhangs;

12 to 16 foot eaves 18 inch overhangs;

16 foot and taller 24 inch overhangs

The exceptions include enclosed overhangs on open sidewalls – I do not like the look and they become a nesting place for small flying critters and birds. Another exception would be along eave sides with doors, for weather protection longer overhangs generally work best.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: This is my first pole barn, and I am following your construction guide chapter by chapter. What are typical pole barn framing tolerances?  Length of roof, length of wall at post tops, roof diagonal difference, etc?  I’m an engineer, not a carpenter.  I’m not used to dimensions without tolerances. ONLY IN OLYMPIA

DEAR ONLY: When I am building, my goal (which is usually achieved) is to have the overall length of the roof at eave and ridge to be right on the money. By precutting all of the roof purlins to length, and making any necessary adjustments in the last bay of the roof, it should be possible to easily be within 1/16th inch plus or minus.

The diagonal measures are actually relatively easy to get equal, as it takes very little effort to shrink a long diagonal by several inches.

You will find pole buildings to be remarkably forgiving, as steel roofing and siding, as well as the trims, cover a multitude of sins. There actually is an industry standard for tolerances. Many of these I feel personally are very liberal, however you might enjoy reading them: https://www.scribd.com/doc/29750835/Accepted-Practices-for-Post-Frame-Building-Construction-Framing-Tolerances

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning to have a 30 x 40 PB constructed but struggling with the OH door arrangement. We are concerned primarily with maneuverability within or through the barn with a boat on trailer pulled by SUV and having max. floor space to store the boats. We have considered straight drive through, but the radius of the access road outside the doors would be high to maneuver the 40′ long combination of truck and boat outside the door and we see that as expensive. We’ve also considered doors on south 40′ side, but that leaves no room to turn the trailer once within the door. We are considering jumping up to 40 x 40 w/ 12 x 10′ doors, suggestions? DEBATING IN DETROIT   

DEAR DEBATING: There is an easy way to find out what will actually work (as opposed to guessing).

You will need a bundle of wooden stakes, a sledge hammer (or similar) and a 100 foot tape measure.

Start by locating the four corners of the proposed building and driving stakes at those points. Next place stakes on each side of the proposed door opening(s). With the boat on the trailer – hook it up to the SUV and take a few “runs” at getting through the door opening without running over the stakes. You should have a “spotter” available to determine if the edges of the trailer and boat easily clear the sides of the doorway as well. The door stakes can be adjusted one way, or the other, until everything can be safely placed.

As to footprint size – I always recommend to put up the largest building which you can fit on your property and economically afford. After over 15,000 buildings, I am still waiting the first client to tell me the building they put up was just too big.

There also is an economy of scale – until clearspans become very large (usually over 60 feet in width), the larger the footprint, the less the building will be in price per square foot.

B2 Bomber and…Overhangs?

Hansen Pole Buildings Designer Bob always is keeping me on my toes. He loves to propose topics for blog discussion.

Today it started with:

“Real rough blog topic idea…

What’s the difference between this pole barn with side sheds and a B2 Bomber?”

Pole Building With Side Sheds

B2 Bomber

“In this case… not much.

After a couple laughs, the client seems to like this better:”

Pole Barn with Dropped Sheds






Where Bob was headed with this:

“Maybe a blog on side sheds with mention of open overhangs v. enclosed and the whole bird-nesting issue v. matching overhangs of the rest of the structure, etc.”

Nothing like be armed with topics for weeks’ worth of blogs.

Let’s talk about what happens with overhangs on the low side of open side sheds. The same issue is going to happen with overhangs on the sides of roofline (carport) extensions of the ends of buildings. It is also going to come up with roof only structures.

Putting no overhangs, or open overhangs on the sidewalls of any of these cases creates no unexpected issues.

What about enclosed overhangs?

An enclosed overhang is one which has a soffit of some sort on the underside. Looks? Great – it covers the underside of all of the framing which is needed to support the overhang. With soffit material like vented vinyl, they provide a very efficient and effective method to provide a ventilation intake for the building.

The soffit keeps flying critters (sparrows, wasps, etc.) from nesting in the overhangs…..until the enclosed overhangs are placed on a structure where the flying things can enter the overhangs from the inside. In order to keep Rocket J. Squirrel or his friends out of the soffit, it entails having to place protective screening on the inside of the overhang.

My best recommendation – for side sheds with the eave side open, or roof only structures, do not place enclosed overhangs along the sidewall. For carports, generally the balance of the building has enclosed overhangs, so screening is the solution.

Hutyaharapast Szorevel: Overhangs, yes!

Had you going with the title, didn’t I?

Kutyaharapást szőrével is Hungarian for “The hair of the dog”. The English saying “the hair of the dog” dates back to the days of Shakespeare, and deals with curing a hangover with even more alcohol!  Similarly, I want to cure the lack of building overhangs, with information allowing potential building owners to make informed decisions.

Once it had been decided to utilize overhangs as a building feature (good choice) and an overhang size has been determined, the real nitty-gritty of overhangs begins.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare’s bard Will, “To be open, or not to be open, that is the question”.  Overhangs can either be open (which has nothing to do with allowing flying things like birds and Rocket J. Squirrel into the building) or enclosed. With “open” overhangs, as one stands beneath the overhang and looks straight up, the wooden framing which supports the fascia board, fly rafter and overhanging roof sheathing is exposed to the eye. The overhang IS, however, completely closed to letting the outside weather (insects/birds) into the building.  It’s the overhang area which is not enclosed…no horizontal soffit panels.

With enclosed overhangs, soffit material of steel, aluminum, vinyl, wood or cement (the most common materials) is placed so as to cover the underside of the framing.

Open overhangs will be slightly less expensive than enclosed. They do not afford the ability to ventilate the building, and wood members, while not exposed to the weather, will age and grey with time. Open overhangs also provide a favored nesting place for yellow jackets and other wasps, as well as barn swallows. Places where open overhangs do look appropriate is on the low sidewall eave overhangs of roof only sheds, buildings with one or more sides open, or roof only “pavilion” type structures.

Enclosed overhangs are generally accepted as being far more attractive, as well as maintenance free. The least expensive (and least functional) solution for soffits is with non-vented materials. Most common with steel covered buildings are one piece trims which cover both fascias and the soffit, or the use of steel roofing/siding panels for soffit material. The first tends to “oil can” or appear wavy with from expansion and contraction due to heat and cold cycles. The second, in the opinion of many, just looks cheap.

Aluminum soffit is not favored as it can create electrolysis issues from dissimilar metals in contact with each other. Vinyl and steel soffit panels come in a wide array of colors, both to match and compliment the balance of the building colors. Both are available as vented, which allows air flow into the building, reducing issues of condensation, as well as stagnant air in animal housing. The ventilation holes are small enough, so as to prevent flying insects to enter through them. In combination with an adequately vented ridge, vented overhangs can provide for an effective passive ventilation system.

Ön élveznek kinyúlása, or “enjoy your overhang”.

Overhangs, not Hung-over

Just my personal opinion, but I feel every building should have overhangs. How important are they in my book? I would rather do without doors, than without overhangs. Doors can be added in later on; with overhangs there is only one opportunity to do it right, or wrong.

Here is a place where size matters. Pick an overhang which extends too far out from the building and it looks disproportionately large. One of my clients placed a two foot overhang on an eight foot eave building. While it afforded great protection from the elements, the overhangs dwarfed the building and made it appear to always be in the shadows.

The general rule of thumb for size is: with 10’ and shorter eave heights go with 12 inch overhangs. Over 10’ eave, but under 16’ eave – use 18 inch overhangs. 16’ eave and higher go with 24 inch overhangs. These are not “hard and fast” rules, as looks are subjective, but they do provide a place to begin.  And what looks “large” in your mind or on a tape measure will appear much smaller when it’s on your building 18 to 20 feet above you.  Even if your building has a 10’ eave height, if the overall footprint is large, a 12” overhang appears like putting a “too small” hat on your head – like it just doesn’t belong there.

And where do we place overhangs? When I was a builder, one of my then competitors used to only place overhangs on the front endwall, of buildings where the large door was in the end. The idea, of course, was to protect the doors (at least somewhat) from the weather, as well as to at least provide some sort of overhang at the least cost possible. In reality, the overhang gave very little protection, and it created an optical illusion of the building falling forward.  Putting overhangs only on the sidewalls if your doors are in an endwall gives an appearance of an airplane with its wings out and ready to take off from the runway. Keep your building “on the ground”, balance it, and choose overhangs which “fit”.

My recommendation is to go looking around your neighborhood for a building of a similar size, see if you like the looks of the overhangs on it and then get your tape measure out and see what size they really are (or stop and ask).  Some folks like matching sizes of overhangs to the other buildings on their property.  Again, I’d let the overall size and eave height of each building dictate the overhang width.  It all comes down to…personal preference.

In most cases – I would recommend placing an overhang anywhere on the building it can be placed. On some buildings, this means more than just all four sides. With a monitor barn, or a building with a dropped side shed (high side of shed attaches below the eave height of the main building), there may be overhangs possible on both ends plus three or four side locations. On a building with “steps” or drops in the eave height, multiple endwall overhang locations are possible.  If you have an end which has no doors and for the most part is to the rear of your property – meaning no one sees it and has no protective value, this is where to leave them off, if at all.