Tag Archives: PEMB building

Why Your New Barndominium Should Be Post Frame

Why Your New Barndominium Should Be Post Frame

For those who follow me – you know I am all about people loving their end results. As long as one has a fully engineered building they love, I couldn’t be more pleased, regardless of the structural system.

In My Humble Opinion – fully engineered post frame buildings are your best design solution in nearly every case. My exception would be if one desires a clearspan over 80′ or a very low slope roof – then I would recommend PEMB (red iron).

But, what about stick frame?

Perhaps stick built construction’s biggest advantage is builders and tradespeople are very comfortable working in and around stick framing. All registered architects and most building inspectors are very familiar with stick framing. International Residential Code (IRC) provides a prescriptive ‘cook book’ to follow for adequate structural assembly, within certain limitations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, no story height of greater than 11 feet 7 inches (R301.3), no hurricane prone areas with a design wind speed of 130 mph or greater located south of Virginia, or 140 mph elsewhere (R301.2(5)B), and no ground snow loads over 70 psf (R301.2.3).

IRC802.10.2.1 further limits truss spans to a maximum of 36 feet and building lengths to 60 feet (measured perpendicular to truss span). Trussed roof slopes must be at least 3:12 and no greater than 12:12.

Want a 40’ x 72’ x 14’ shop/house barndominium? Sorry, outside of what IRC allows.

And because IRC tables cover up to a worst case scenario (given maximum design parameters), it creates overkill, wastefulness and redundant framing members. Translated to – it takes more pieces than might be necessary in a fully engineered structural system.

Fully engineered post frame buildings include foundation plans, PEMBs require one to hire another engineer to provide foundation design. Plan upon a grand or more just for PEMB foundation engineering and this can quickly escalate should a Geotechnical Engineer need to perform soils testing.

Post frame does not require precision placed anchor bolts, and requires no use of cutting torches or welding.

Post frame requires minimal concrete to resist settling, overturning and uplift. Any slabs on grade do not need to be thickened or have continuous footings/foundations.

Post frame can be erected D-I-Y without a need for heavy equipment (although I do appreciate a skid steer with an auger to dig holes). Any physically able bodied person, who can and will read step-by-step instructions can successfully erect their own beautiful post frame building.

Post frame has no highly conductive steel frames to thermally isolate and attempt to conceal.

Post frame is easily adaptable to more complex rooflines, and can be done in any combination of alphabet letter shapes. Fully engineered post frame can easily be erected over crawl spaces as well as full, partial or walkout basements.

When properly designed (with bookshelf wall girts), exterior walls are ready for wiring, insulation and interior finishes – no need to frame a home inside of a building shell.

Post frame provides deep wall insulation cavities and with raised heel trusses, any depth of attic insulation can be blown in above a finished ceiling.

Post frame can readily be done multi-story, with up to 40′ sidewalls and three stories (or 50′ and four stories with fire suppression sprinklers).

My New Barndominium

Reader RENE in MICHIGAN is one of a growing tide of Americans looking to build a barndominium. She writes:

“I would like to build a barn with living quarters but I do have unanswered questions!

My property is in Riverside WA 98849 and therefore the first question is whether you service this area?

I have done a lay-out of what I have in mind but with no prior experience, help would be appreciated to point out possible problems or suggestions for improvements.

Would a wood construction be preferred to metal?

Would a wood construction be more affordable than metal?

Would a wood construction be better insulated than metal?

Would my 70′ x 70′ building be more expensive than a smaller downstairs and upstairs building

I am in my senior years and still in very good health but there will be a day when using stairs may become a problem and that is why the square footage is so much. The living quarters are two bedrooms (guest bed 15’x20′, bath 15×10′, laundry 15’x10′)(main 20’x20′, bath 20’x10′,dressing room 20’x10′) 2 bathrooms and open plan Livingroom and kitchen (35’x40′) and would be 70′ x 40′ and the garage/storage/RV space 70′ x 30′

May have more questions later but would like to start off with the most obvious, for me. I have to sell property in MI before I can get going on this side. If you could correspond with me by email, for starters, I would appreciate it. 

Thanks, take care and stay safe!

“GodBless”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

About Hansen BuildingsThank you for reaching out to us. I also qualify for those senior discounts and fully understand stair issues. When we built our own shouse (shop/house) in Northeast South Dakota 15 years ago we went with two stories and my lovely bride insisted upon having an elevator (we actually now have two of them).

I know Riverside well. Back in my younger days I was a prolific post frame builder based in Spokane. There was one year where we erected over 200 post frame buildings just in Spokane County! Hansen Pole Buildings happens to not only service Riverside, we provide more post frame buildings in Washington than any other state!

In my humble opinion wood post frame is going to have numerous advantages to a PEMB (pre-engineered metal building). While building shell costs are probably similar, it ends there. It is going to be easier to construct without a need for heavy equipment. Our post frame buildings come fully engineered including engineered foundation plans (PEMBs require you to hire another engineer to design foundations). Concrete slabs for PEMBs require significant amounts of rebar, resulting in much greater foundation investments. To have a home inside a PEMB, most usually one has to build a framed home inside of a building shell – unlike post frame where you only have to do it once. Post frame buildings are easily super insulated, whereas PEMB steel frames are a great thermal transfer. My ultimate guide to post frame insulation is here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

I have also written about one story or two: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/barndominium-one-story-or-two/

Here are a few plan tips to consider:

Direction of access (you do not want to have to drive around your house to access garage doors.)
Curb appeal – what will people see as they drive up?
Any views? You’ll want to access all windows with great views to look at.

North-south alignment. Place few or no windows on the north wall, lots on the south wall.
Have overhangs on the south wall great enough to shade windows from midday summer sun.

Please utilize links in this article to assist with determining needed spaces, sizes and how to get expertly crafted floor plans and elevation drawings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

What Makes Some Buildings Better Than Others

I answer literally hundreds of building related questions every day. These questions come from many different sources – our staff, drafts people, engineers, architects, building officials, clients, builders and social media (just to name a few).

This question, posted in a Facebook group, is an exceptional one and I felt it necessary to share:

Pole Barn Guru Blog“What makes some buildings better than others? And at what point does it not matter? (Ex: building A frames with 2x4s. Building B uses 2x6s and building C uses 2x12s obviously B is better than A but C is overkill) Does the metal come down just to the thickness of it? Thicker is probably better but to what end? I’m talking straight materials not warranty or service of a company. Thank you.”

This answer actually has a remarkably simple answer. It all comes down to what loads a building is engineered for.

Period.

Not what some under educated person says makes it better, but what a highly trained Registered Professional Engineer is willing to stake their career upon by putting their name and seal on a set of plans.

You want a stronger building (whether post frame, weld up, PEMB, stick frame, etc.) then increase snow and/or wind design loads. 

It is seriously just this simple.

It does no good to have super thick siding and roofing, if the supporting frame is not able to carry equivalent loads.

I once had a client who was “concerned about snow loads” so wanted 2×8 roof purlins (when 2×6 would easily have carried the loads). I asked him what was going to hold those purlins up (a sky hook maybe) when his building’s trusses failed beneath them.

A building is a complete system.

When you hear a supplier or builder talking about how their bigger/stronger/thicker whatever makes their building best, think B.S., because they do not have a clue about structural design.

When you find the rare gem who advises you they are providing a fully engineered building and recommends above Code required minimum loads – stick to them like super glue, as this is truly a better design solution.

Here is just one example of when bigger isn’t always better: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/

I hired my first staff engineer roughly 35 years ago, Jenny Wong.  Jenny’s previous experience was as a design engineer for a nuclear power plant (seriously). Jenny knew absolutely nothing about post frame buildings, but was willing to totally trust me – provided I could find documentable proof from reliable sources. This one requirement alone shaped my professional career.

Ask me any post frame building questions, any time. If I cannot get you an answer, I will let you know. My answers will always be based upon factual evidence. If you find some method or component with an ability to make buildings better, without unduly penalizing new building owners financially please share it with me – I will perform due diligence to prove or disprove it and if it is truly beneficial, expect to see it in your next Hansen Pole Building.