Tag Archives: permacolumns

What Is Keeping Posts Above Ground Worth?

What is Something Worth?

I can be overly anal. Sometimes I have to really work hard to get around it – I purposefully have conundrums on my desk and for some perverse reason I feel comfortable in them. 

I inherited my maternal grandmother’s counting gene. Even into her nineties, if I called her up and asked what she had been doing, she could tell me she picked 384 strawberries. Passing trains are my worst – if I see it right in front of me I have to work to not count cars.

Back on track – traditionally post frame buildings have been pressure preservative treated columns, embedded in augured holes.  Pretty low tech – as most people have available technology to dig a hole.

I will share a recent Facebook exchange, regarding a drawing posted by a potential barndominium owner:

MK:  “Looks great if its stick built on a poured stem wall.”

Me: “Looks like it would be a challenge to stick build. Those poured stem walls also add significantly to costs.”

Here is an article I had authored on foundation costs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/

MK: “I imagine $20k extra. But you more than doubled the lifespan of a “AG building” with a wood foundation, which average is 60 years depending on soil. Usually less.”

Me: “Your $20k is probably pretty close. Properly pressure preservative treated columns will last far longer than any of us will be around to witness. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/

MK: “I’ve personally seen rotted pressure treated wood. For AG buildings, use perma columns. You won’t catch me building my dream home on a wood foundation. That would fall under the same term as “throw away society”, and what about our children who inherit a house that’s rotting? I understand these shomes are driven by demand, but please inform people about the differences between a AG building and a house.”

Me: “I have seen it also and every single case I have seen documented the pressure treating was unrealistically low what its intended use should have been.

The treating standards in the past were much more lax than today. 30 years ago you could treat wood to “.60 or REFUSAL” with CCA. Lots of really not treatable wood was ‘treated’ – I personally know people who did it. A past employer of mine used to send 6×6 DouglasFir to be CCA treated. DougFir will not take a waterborne treatment except with heat and different chemicals.

 

Hansen Buildings only uses properly treated lumber to UC4B. UC4A doesn’t cut it. After over 30 years and 20,000 buildings I have yet to see a member treated to UC4B rot.

I could live in any type of building anywhere in the world I choose. Even though our weather can be brutal, rural Northeast South Dakota has its own charm. We live in a million dollar post frame building by choice and we love it. How much do I believe in our product? Good enough to live in it every day.

If you become a reader of my blog articles, you will find me referring people to Professional Engineers and promoting the use of plans from a Registered Design Professional. A great post frame engineer will design a stronger building, with few(er) materials. It actually costs less to do the job right.

Permacolumns are expensive and difficult to handle – in my humble opinion. It is more economical to pour a pier with a wet set bracket and far easier. If the bottom of the column is an inch above the top of the slab, the columns do not have to be pressure preservative treated even.”

For information on Permacolumns: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/perma-column-price-advantage/

All of this got me thinking and thinking hard. For four decades I have been standing upon a soap box extolling longevity of properly pressure treated wood embedded in ground. Perhaps I have been making this issue more difficult than it had to be.

In this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVwUl4cm8fQ Kyle from Rural Renovators demonstrates how to pour piers and place wet set brackets: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/.

I conducted an informal and not overly scientific poll on Facebook:

“Traditionally post frame (pole barn) buildings have been designed with pressure preservative treated columns embedded in holes. Research proves properly pressure preservative treated columns, in ground, should last a lifetime without decay. There are at least two very popular post frame building companies who use only columns above ground, in brackets. We are investigating if there are enough perceived benefits to justify an added investment.

Along with this we would consider going to all high strength glu-laminated columns. These would be stronger than any other regularly utilized post frame columns in the industry. They are also very straight and lighter weight.

Per column, what range do you think is reasonable?”

Out of 22 respondents, exactly 50% felt an added investment of over $100 per column would be reasonable.

The good news is – we can make this happen for about half of this!

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Some Pole Barns Deserve a Proper Burial

Reader STEPHAN in OGDENSBURG writes:

“Dear Pole Barn Guru,

I have a 30ish year old 32 by 54 feet horse pole barn where half the poles heaved some for more than 1 foot over the years. I need to fix it this year because I am afraid that the strain will make the structure collapse. The code in my area says that post must be buried 5 feet because of frost.

The issue is that the bedrock is between 3.5 and 5 feet below grade. I have an 8 foot wide concrete pad/runway in the middle of the barn (the whole length of the barn). I would like to do it right to last many years.

I considered these different options:

– replacing each posts with sonotubes with bigfoot at the bottom sitting on the bedrock (a lot of work if done with bags of concrete because I would have to do them a few at a time to keep the integrity of the structure)


– replacing bottom of each post with footing sitting on the bedrock and permacolumns (a little less work because the volume of concrete is just a little less)

– pouring a “bond beam” or a full slab on the inside against the posts with thicker sides to support the structure (as per engineer) and then building walls on the inside with 2×6’s to support the roof, and then removing the posts ( I will be losing about 6″ all around because the new walls will be inside the existing shell). I like this idea because I could prepare the area over the winter and get it poured in the spring. My issue is what would I do with the existing slab in the middle of the barn? Should I attach it with rebar and epoxy, pour over or remove the existing slab?
If I go with the last option, what would I use to support the lean-to? If the slab does not have a full foundation that would mean that it is “floating”, should the posts supporting the extension also be “floating” to ensure that they move together?

Or do you have a better option to suggest?

I have attached pictures to show how bad it is. You can see how crooked the ends are by the siding angle and the window in the lean-to area. Thank you for your help.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I am not one to pull any punches – I’ll give my honest opinion, even when I don’t feel it is one you want to hear.

There comes a time when reality sets in….in your pole barn’s case reality will be it needs to be knocked flat, bulldozed into a big hole, lit afire and then replaced. Otherwise, you are going to spend a phenomenal amount of time and money for any fix, and all are just band aids for something truly not worth saving.

Your frost heave issues are due to poor site preparation. Please read this information about properly preparing a site: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/

and preventing frost heaving: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

If you absolutely insist upon saving your pole barn, you should hire a geotechnical engineer to evaluate your site and give you expert advice. If you decide to give your barn a proper burial, start over with engineer sealed plans and a kit that gives you a lifetime of safe use…for you and your horses.

 

 

 

 

Concerns of a Post Frame Building Kit Shopper

Hopefully most, if not all, of my loyal readers are those who have concerns when it comes to investing in a new post frame building (I do know some of you just enjoy my slightly skewed sense of humor, or find my writings otherwise entertaining). For those of you who are avid kit shoppers, I try to give honest advice to any question posed to me.

Reader TRAVIS writes:

“Hello, I’m shopping around potential kit purchases and have a few questions. 

First off I’m planning to finish the interior, are the long spans between trusses you design able to handle the dead weight of drywall ceilings? 

One of my main concerns is column rot as my area is fairly wet. What type of treatment is used on the columns, where do you source them from, and do you ever recommend concrete permacolumns? 

Is it possible to use half scissor trusses and half regular to gain extra height in only certain areas? 

Thank you any help is appreciated.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru gives advice:

Yes, we are able to design roof systems to support virtually any dead weight – including gypsum wallboard (drywall). Whether a Hansen Pole Building, or not, it is just a matter of the proper loads being applied in the engineering design phase of the truss process, then (if the trusses are spaced over two feet on center) using appropriate framing between the bottom chords of the trusses to support the loads without undue deflection.

If you intend to insulate above the ceiling, make sure to ask for the trusses to be designed with a raised heel at least two inches higher than the depth of the ceiling insulation, to allow for full thickness of the insulation above the sidewalls. Normally this has little effect upon the price of the trusses, however the building must be made taller to provide the same interior clear height.

All Hansen Pole Buildings’ structural columns (supporting roof loads) are pressure preservative treated to a minimum UC-4B specification, which is the requirement per the IBC (International Building Code). Even under extreme conditions, these columns should more than adequately support your building not only for your lifespan, but also your grandchildren’s. The longevity of properly pressure preservative treated lumber has been well documented in scientific testing.

We’ve had clients use concrete permacolumns – if your concern is properly pressure preservative treated wood not being adequate for your situation, a less expensive (and easier to build) alternative would be to pour the column holes full of concrete and utilize wet set brackets.

It is possible to mix any combination of scissored and flat bottom chord trusses throughout your new post frame building to gain extra height or for aesthetic purposes.