Tag Archives: planning department

A Baker’s Dozen Post Frame Home Myths Part I

A Baker’s Dozen Post-Frame Home Myths

Pole Barn Guru BlogThis article is so lengthy it will be fed to you in three installments. For your reading pleasure I present here Myths #1 through 3.


Now this happens to be one of my favorite subjects.  If I believed in past lives, maybe I was an attorney in one of them, because I get all too excited about prospects of winning this argument.

Here is my basic Email used to sway Planning Departments (anyone is welcome to borrow this – or contact me and I will fight your battle):

“Post frame (pole) buildings are Code conforming buildings and methodologies for their structural design is outlined and/or referenced in every International Building Code edition.

It is within legal scope of a Planning Department or Commission (after following whatever processes are in place for public notifications, etc.) to be able to place limitations on size of structures, their placement on a given property, as well as appearance (e.g. restrictions on type and or color of siding and roofing materials). Any appearance restrictions must be applied uniformly to any Code conforming structural system.

In order to legally preclude use of post-frame construction (or of any other Code conforming structural system), onus would be upon a jurisdiction to somehow prove their structural inadequacy. It would be both arbitrary and capricious to deny utilization of post- frame construction, possibly easily leaving an open door to a plethora of probably indefensible lawsuits – resulting in undue costs to a jurisdiction, as well as their taxpayers.

While I am not an attorney, nor profess to offer legal advice, I have been involved in similar circumstances with other jurisdictions, each (when presented with this evidence) has made a determination to NOT LIMIT use of post-frame buildings as a structural system. I would encourage this same decision in your jurisdiction.”


Fully engineered post-frame homes CAN be more affordable than stick or steel. But, they are not going to be 10-50% less. Think about it – your only differences are in structural systems, all of your electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, interior finishes, fixtures, cabinets, floor coverings, etc., are going to be identical investments no matter what structural system is chosen.

Outside of land costs, site preparation, permits and bringing utilities to your site, you are simply not going to build a post-frame home with 2000 square feet of living space for $100,000 turnkey (and unlikely to reach this even if you DIY absolutely everything).


Many lenders refrain from offering traditional mortgages for post-frame homes. For example, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will not offer these loans at all.

Those small percentage of entities offering mortgages for pole barn homes will typically have much higher requirements, because they’ll be using internal money to finance it.
They’ll likely require a 30% down payment (and oftentimes, more than this).

In reality, a fully engineered post-frame home is no different than any other wood frame steel roofed and sided home and any lender will approve a mortgage for one as long as you do not use terms like “barndominium”, “pole barn house”, “post frame house”, etc. Apply the K-I-S-S method (Keep It Simple Stupid) and refer to it only as being a fully engineered, custom designed, wood frame home with steel roofing and siding. Period and 100% factual.

But won’t my lender send out engineers and inspectors who will “catch” me building a post-frame home? No. Your lender will be concerned about progress, not how you are getting there.

Before going to a lender you will need a place to build (land), blueprints (floor plans and elevations) and a budget (or contract subject to finance approval with a builder).

Come back tomorrow for the next installment of myths.

Information on Codes and Shouses

Information on Codes and Shouses

I have to admit it was rather flattering to have Southwest Iowa’s Planning Council reach out to me regarding information on Codes and Shouses recently.

“Hello. My name is Ashley and I’m a community development specialist with Southwest Iowa Planning Council out of Atlantic, IA. I am currently working on some Zoning and Building codes for smaller towns and they want to include zones and/or building codes for shouses. Since this is relatively new to this area, within city limits at least, I was curious what issues your company has come across regarding codes and if you had any sample codes from communities that you would be willing to share with me?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Thank you for reaching out to us. We have provided hundreds of post frame shouses and barndominiums in nearly every state. Good news for you (and these jurisdictions) is this project will involve very little extra efforts beyond what is currently in place.

Use of terms such as “pole barn”, “pole building” or “post frame” home, barndominium, shouse or shop/house oftentimes cause permitting waters to become clouded – yet they need not be.

From a Zoning/Planning standpoint – shouses (I will use this as an all encompassing term) should be treated no differently than any other code compliant structural system. Any existing requirements for setbacks, footprint requirements, heights, living area to garage/shop ratios, siding and/or roofing materials, color restrictions, etc., should remain the same as currently adopted. What is important is to not place restrictions upon shouses not existing for other dwellings, as this could end up leading to costly and protracted legal battles.

Currently adopted Building Codes (IRC, IBC, IECC) do not have to be amended for shouses.

In “Effective Use of the International Residential Code”:

Paragraph 4:

“It is important to understand that the IRC contains coverage for what is conventional and common in residential construction practice. While the IRC will provide all of the needed coverage for most residential construction, it might not address construction practices and systems that are atypical or rarely encountered in the industry.”

IRC R301.1.3 Engineered design.

“When a building of otherwise conventional construction contains structural elements exceeding the limits of Section R301 or otherwise not conforming to this code, these elements shall be designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice. The extent of such design need only demonstrate compliance of nonconventional elements with other applicable provisions and shall be compatible with the performance of the conventional framed system. Engineered design in accordance with the International Building Code is permitted for all buildings and structures, and parts thereof, included in the scope of this code.”

In summary (and in my humble opinion), any shouse outside of IRC prescriptive requirements, should be designed and have structural plans signed by a Registered Design Professional (architect or engineer) to meet or exceed jurisdictional climactic conditions.

Please feel free (or direct any jurisdiction) to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns.

Human Habitation Prohibited

Human Habitation Prohibited

“Please be aware that the Land Development Code and adopted Building Codes prohibit the human occupancy of any Accessory Building. This means that buildings such as metal buildings, pole barns, tool sheds, garages, or any other accessory structures shall not be constructed or used for human occupancy. Accessory Buildings are not constructed to the same Building Code standards as Dwellings and therefore a neither suitable nor safe living quarters.”

This quote is from Guidelines for the Permitting, Construction and Use of Accessory Buildings and Structures and is provided by Cass County, Missouri.

Taken all by itself, it would lead one to believe it is impossible to build a barndominium or shop/house in Cass County.

Now….. as the late, great Paul Harvey would have said, “Here is… the rest of the story”:

Planning Departments (also referred to as Planning and Zoning or other similar monikers) can place many restrictions on what can or cannot be built upon any particularly zoned piece of property. These restrictions may include (but are not limited to): Maximum or minimum footprint of dwellings, ratio of living space to garage/shop space, wall and/or overall building heights, setbacks from property lines and other structures, even such things as allowable materials and colors for roofing and siding products.

Yes, I know, it is YOUR property (or yours and your bank) however as long as you have to pay property taxes, you are actually just renting ground from your tax collecting authorities.

What Planning Departments cannot legally do is to prohibit a Code Conforming structural building system from being utilized (and to do so could very well be a Constitutional violation).

Most jurisdictions have adopted International Building Codes (IRC for residential, IBC for other structures). 

IRC has no language in it pertaining to post frame construction, while IBC indeed does.

To follow are IRC excerpts justifying IBC use:

In “Effective Use of the International Residential Code”:

Paragraph 4:

“It is important to understand that the IRC contains coverage for what is conventional and common in residential construction practice. While the IRC will provide all of the needed coverage for most residential construction, it might not address construction practices and systems that are atypical or rarely encountered in the industry. Sections such as R301.1.3, R301., R320.1, M1301.1, G2401.1 and P2601.1 refer to other codes either as an alternative to the provisions of the IRC or where the IRC lacks coverage for a particular type of structure, design, system, appliance or method of construction. In other words, the IRC is meant to be all inclusive for typical residential construction and it relies upon other codes only where alternatives are desired or where the code lacks coverage for the uncommon aspect of residential construction.”

IRC R301.1.3 Engineered design.

“When a building of otherwise conventional construction contains structural elements exceeding the limits of Section R301 or otherwise not conforming to this code, these elements shall be designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice. The extent of such design need only demonstrate compliance of nonconventional elements with other applicable provisions and shall be compatible with the performance of the conventional framed system. Engineered design in accordance with the International Building Code is permitted for all buildings and structures, and parts thereof, included in the scope of this code.”

In lay person’s terms – a post frame building can be fully engineered to meet with all necessary requirements for meeting structural requirements for snow, wind and other climactic conditions for residential as well as a plethora of other uses.

Should any jurisdiction tell you otherwise – please share this information with them and if they are still unyielding, send me a copy of their written (and approved by City/Town council or county commissioners) documentation and I will politely discuss further with them on your behalf.

Where Should You Place Your Pole Building?

Where Should You Place Your Pole Building?

Today’s guest blog comes from an expert in pole buildings, Lauren Groff.

Pole buildings are perfect for so many applications, from sheltering animals to housing your very own hobby shop. Whatever you want to use it for, you need just the right place for it. There’s more to picking a spot for your building than you’d think, though. Here’s some things you need to consider when planning your construction project. 

Zoning Considerations

This is the very first thing you need to consider when planning a pole building. ‘Once you have plans, you’ll need to submit them for inspection’ says writer Bill Thompson. ‘The authorities will be looking to see that your building will be located in a safe position.’

This includes keeping the building away from any power lines, and existing roadways. There will usually be size restrictions as well. Get acquainted with these rules before you start planning, so the zoning inspection goes smoothly.  

Access To The Building

There’s so many things to consider here. Firstly, think about where you’ll access your pole building once it’s completed. If it’s far away from other buildings on the property, are you going to put in an extended driveway? Will there be walkways? If you don’t want to do any of those things, you’ll need to move the plans closer to existing buildings. 

Remember the construction crew will need access to the site while they’re building too. Can they get in easily? Is there anything they will need to work around, such as vegetation you want to preserve?

Also, keep utilities in mind. You’ll want to hook up electricity, water and possibly gas or internet to your building. Is that easily done in the spot you’ve chosen?

Weather Patterns

Your local weather patterns will affect how you place your pole building. For example, if you see a lot of rainfall, then you should place it on a slightly higher elevation. This keeps it dry as it will allow for better drainage. 

If you want to take advantage of sunlight to warm a building, then you’ll want windows facing the southeast. This will allow the sun in, so you can take advantage of all the free warmth. You can also use the sun to melt snow on the side of the building you’ll access most, making it easier to get in and out. 

Lay Of The Land

Smoky MountainsAre you looking to build on sloped land? It certainly is possible, and you can even gain benefits from doing so. You will need to plan around that land though, to ensure your pole building is positioned correctly. 

Firstly, remember that the construction crew will need to be able to gain access to the land to start building. If the land is too steep and difficult to traverse, you may want to pick another spot. 

Secondly, remember that slopes will affect drainage. It’s usually best to build on top of a slope, as this will allow water to drain away from the building. If it’s at the bottom, you run the risk of water running into the building itself. 


Think about how you’ll landscape around the building once it’s installed. ‘The right vegetation can offer shade in the summer, as well as a natural windbreak when needed’ says building expert Carrie Anderson. ‘if you don’t already have it in the area, look into planting the right vegetation to get the results you want.’

Of course, the right plants will not only give practical benefits, but improve the look of the outdoor area too. Consider how you want to landscape the area before you start building. 

Available Views

Finally, what kind of views will your pole building have? You may have natural areas nearby, such as lakes or mountains, that are areas of natural beauty. If so, you should take advantage of them. Try to place your building where it can get the best view of those areas. 

With these tips you’ll be able to find just the right placement for your pole building. Keep practicalities in mind, as well as the existing land and vegetation. You’ll be sure to find just the right spot and get the most from your pole building. 

Lauren Groff is a manager and writer for Book Report Writing and Big Assignments. She’s an expert in pole buildings, and shares her knowledge through informational articles. You’ll also find her blogs at Best Essay Services.

Looking for a Place for a New Barndominium

Looking for a Place for a New Barndominium

Reader PATTI in MINNESOTA writes:

My husband and I are knocking around the idea of doing a Barndominium. 

We need a 4-5 car garage space and we can barely afford a traditional preloved home that has a 3-car garage which will require us to add another stall or two onto an already taxing home price!

I’m optimistic that we can pull off everything that’s needed and hopefully within the budget!

I’m doing the bulk of the research and found your site to be so packed with worthwhile information.  I want to see what you’d be able to do for us to make this as seamless and headache free as possible?

I started looking for property and messaged the City Halls for the locations we want to see if they’d allow such a structure.  Not sure how to handle the siding issue.

Inver Grove Heights, MN 

Will consider it a single family home.  Needs to meet setback, height and doesn’t exceed allowed impervious surface for the lot.  

Exterior siding regulations require horizontal lap type siding or similar.  Vertical siding like a pole barn is not acceptable material.  

**** Is this even possible to meet this request or is there a way we can argue against it.  Any knowledge you can offer would be so helpful****

Rosemount, MN

“The structure would function as a single family home, and therefore the exterior materials would need to be complementary to a residential structure (no metal siding, etc.).  Additionally, the foundation would need to meet the building code requirements for frost footings.  Also, the zoning code regulates the size of attached garages as follows: The footprint of an attached garage is a maximum of 1,000 square feet but can be increased up to a maximum of 1,500 square feet so long as the garage does not exceed 50 percent of the gross floor area of the principal building (garage and living area combined).”

Farmington, MN

*Considers this Agricultural that would need a minimum of 40 acres, what!!!

****Is this common and is there anything we can do to fight this so we get this under a single family home that we could put on a .25 acre plot?****”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Thank you for reaching out to us and for your kind words.

Planning Departments are an extension of a jurisdiction’s ruling body (city council, county commissioners) and have basically power of life and death. They can dictate footprints, heights, setbacks, type of cladding (roofing and/or siding), and even colors. They ARE limited to ordinances written by their ruling body, so if you do not hear an answer you like, ask for a copy of their written ordinance. If they cannot produce one, then it does not exist and can be disregarded.

One beauty of fully engineered post frame construction is a broad variety of siding and/or roofing options are readily available.

Inver Grove Heights – exterior siding is within their realm of control.  At www ighmn.gov go to “City Code” in the left hand menu list and click on it. Scroll down to Chapter 15, then 10-15-17. B.2 gives your options with steel being none of them.

Rosemont – you do not have to pour a concrete foundation to meet Code requirements for frost. You will have to insulate the perimeter of your building to at least four feet below grade, not a big deal and can be done with rigid insulation (this insulation is typical for any type of structure). If you erect a 3000 square foot (sft) building, as much as 1500 sft can be garage.

Farmington – you threw them off at “pole barn house”. You are building a fully engineered custom designed wood frame home. This should be allowable anywhere zoned for single family residences. You may have exterior appearance and footprint issues once they have gotten this into their heads as being a SFR (Single Family Residence).

You will find as you get farther away from Minneapolis and into county rather than city controlled areas, things tend to become more property owner friendly. You also might consider South Dakota as an option, as our Planning and Zoning restrictions are few and far between.

Struggles to Define What a House Should Look Like

With barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes rising in popularity, jurisdictions are struggling to define what a house should look like.

To follow is an article by Arielle Breen in August 13, 2020’s Manistee, Michigan News Advocate detailing their city’s challenges.

“Does the building plan look like a pole barn or a house?

The answer is that it does not matter what it looks like since a new house in Manistee does not have a detailed design guideline to define what a house looks like — or what the city’s ordinance actually means when it refers to a house needing to fit into “the character of its neighborhood.”

But Manistee City Planning Commission may be looking at creating specific standards for the look of new houses built in the city in the future.

Mike Szokola, Manistee County planner, said if a person wants to build a house in the city and meets criteria such as minimum height and setback requirements, then zoning permits can not be declined as the current ordinance reads.

“At no point in time do I get to ask them ‘What’s it made out of’ (or) ‘How many windows does it have,’” Szokola said at the last Manistee City Planning Commission meeting while showing an example of a home proposed on Ninth Street.

He said there are no design standards within the city’s ordinance that would prevent that style of house.

Gable Pole BuildingThe topic was brought up at the Aug. 6 meeting after Szokola reported he had seen more than one house come through requesting permits in which the house didn’t quite fit with what a typical house in the area might look like.

Members stated that the house resembled a pole barn structure one might see in rural areas outside of the city.

Rob Carson, Manistee County Planning director, said at the meeting that a lot of communities have design guidelines that stipulate aspects such as how many windows a home needs to have and what types of siding are appropriate.

“This is the second building that we’ve received a permit for in less than a year that is going to strike up some controversy in these neighborhoods,” Carson said at the meeting. “When this came in and Mike brought it to me, I was concerned but I said ‘There’s nothing we can do to stop it right now.’ And that’s what the primary issue is.”

While planning commission members said there is a need to have some sort of guideline, they were also hesitant about being strict with appearance requirements in any ordinance they may pursue.

Planning commission member Shelly Memberto said as a property owner she tends to be careful about design.

“I live in probably one of the oldest houses in the city. And I’m sure that the owner, when the house submitted across the street from me which is probably now 80 years old today, they probably hated visually how it looked,” Memberto said. “It didn’t fit in with the character 140 years ago, but maybe it did 60 years after that.

“I don’t know that 20 years from now every house isn’t going to look like this (Ninth Street house example,)” she said.

Carson expressed concern that once approvals for houses go through that are not in character, they could “trigger” more cases as the city has “a whole lot of new visitors.”

“Somebody may say ‘Hey, look there is a pole barn someone let them put up. It’s got a loft in it, it’s separated from the vehicle space. That’s what we want because we’re only here two months of the year,’” Carson said.

He said the commission could find a “happy medium that doesn’t go overboard on regulation but would appease the public and the residents of the city.”

Carson said he would gather several examples of ordinances the commission could consider and discuss at an upcoming meeting that would show the less stringent and more strict options available if the commission wished to proceed with a design guideline ordinance.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:

Pole Barn Guru BlogUltimately, Planning Departments have every right to enforce aesthetic ordinances – as long as they are applied universally to all types of structural systems within a given occupancy classification (such as R-3 residential). What they cannot do is to regulate whether a Code conforming structural system may or may not be used. Should your jurisdiction try to prevent you from constructing a fully engineered post frame home – send me a copy of their written ordinance (not just anecdotal evidence) and I will go wage war for you.

Your Barndominium’s Planning Department

In most parts of our country (and probably most other developed countries), it will be a necessity to acquire a building permit in order to construct a new barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home. Easiest way to find out is to contact your local authorities to find out if indeed this is your case.

Whether a structural building permit will be required or not, there is some homework to be done before ever considering contacting anyone to get pricing on a new building.

Don’t worry –this homework is not difficult and there is no final exam!

Call your local Planning Department.

If no Planning Department is listed when you do a Google search, a call to city hall, or your county courthouse can get one directed to proper authorities. Just let them know a new home is being considered to be constructed, and they will tell you what you need to do to satisfy any local requirements.

When planning folks are reached, give them the physical address or parcel number where your barndominium (shouse) being thought about will be constructed.

Tell them what you would like to build.

Approximate footprint size is a place to start. Let them know where on your parcel your new building will ideally be placed.

Ask your planning people what restrictions there may be on a new building. Is it limited in size or in height? Setbacks – how far away must it be located from other buildings, property lines, streets, sewer lines, septic systems or drain fields? Are there any other restrictions prohibiting your building from being constructed, such as amount of square footage of residence in relationship to garage/shop areas? Are there restrictions on roofing and/or siding types, materials or colors?

While a telephone call will often handle most of these questions, it may be necessary to draw a scaled drawing of your property. If so, this drawing should show all property lines, existing structures, your new proposed building, as well as anything else acting as a possible impediment. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but please do use regular sheets of plain white paper, and not your local coffee shop napkins or paper towels!

A personal visit to your Planning Department, with this drawing in hand, should help to get all answers needed, in order to move on to the next steps.

A hint – if told there are restrictions keeping your ideal dream building from being able to be built, ask what processes exist to be able to move past some or all of these “objections”. Sometimes it’s just a matter of filing for a special type of permit or “variance”, and having your local commissioners vote on it.  You’d be surprised how many local jurisdictions have laws or rules which are “behind the times” and are happy to discuss changing them to better suit public wants and needs.

Building PermitI’ve found some Planning Departments are allowed to administratively go “beyond the rules” right there at the counter, without a need for costly and time consuming hearings. One example is within Spokane, Washington’s city limits. The largest allowable detached accessory building within city limits is 1000 square feet, however if requested at the counter, this footprint can be increased by 10%, right then and there!

As my Daddy used to tell me, “the asking is for free”, so don’t be shy.  Often a planning department official is not going to offer this information, so it’s up to you to ask lots of questions.  If you see other buildings near your building site similar to what you want to build, you can bet someone else figured out “the right questions to ask”.

Unknowedgeable Post Frame Building Suppliers

Reader JEREMY in STAFFORD SPRINGS is experiencing challenges with unknowledgeable post frame building suppliers. I will share his own words with you:

“I am currently attempting to price out for a metal building, post frame or conventional stick built. The dimensions we are looking at is a 40×60 with a 12 foot roof. I am having a hard time locating post frame construction components locally, and when I go to the local supply houses it seems that they are no more or even less knowledgeable than I am with this construction technique. So I figured I would start reaching out. I have a few questions. Do you sell components individually, such as wet set post anchors, laminated columns, roof trusses? Do you design plans that will satisfy code requirements? I live in Stafford Springs CT, which is in Tolland County. I have not spoken with the inspectors office at all yet. I would rather do my research first and come to them prepared.”

Well Jeremy, thank you for reaching out to us. Your dilemma is not unlike those faced by potential post frame building owners everywhere. For being as “simple” as they may look, post frame buildings are very complex structures, involving literally hundreds of pages of background calculations – very few providers have capabilities to do this type of analysis. Post frame buildings are ALL we do – unlike lumberyards and big box stores who, in trying to be all things to all people, end up generally being nothing to anyone.

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualIn order to keep our prices as reasonable as possible, we typically provide only complete post frame building packages. This allows for minimization of shipping expenses and potential freight damage, as well as us not having to provide $200 of Technical Support on a product we make only $100 on (we provide unlimited free Technical Support during construction, if our nearly 500 page Construction Manual and your engineered plans leave you with any uncertainties).

Every Hansen Pole Building comes with third-party engineer sealed structural plans and supporting calculations based upon climactic data for your area.

In your not too distant future I would encourage you to visit with your local Planning Department (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/) and Building Department (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-1/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/01/building-department-checklist-2019-part-ii/).

Post Frame Building Siding Choices

Your Planning Department May Dictate Your Post-Frame Siding Choices

Although most of us general population members are unawares, your local Planning Department has a great deal of power over what you can or cannot do with your own property. This goes right down to decisions on siding choices for your new post-frame building! (Read more on dealing with Planning Departments here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/).

Here is a case where a city had enacted a restrictive ordinance and how an architect went about getting further clarification.

Monday evening, May 13, 2019, the Warsaw (Indiana) Planning Commission spent almost an hour discussing what kind of architectural steel panels fit within the city’s ordinances. 

Senior Planner Justin Taylor presented a discussion on architectural panels and what city ordinances say about them under “development plan design standards.”

He said a question before the plan commission was in regard to architectural panels.

“Typically, pole barn siding isn’t permitted per this ordinance in these zoning ordinances (C-2,3,4,5), but a request has been made if they can use a certain type of siding. So at this time, our planning department doesn’t feel comfortable making a decision so it brought it before the board for its review, and that’s where we’re at.” Taylor said.

He said the Commission can approve or disapprove type of panel being requested to be used. If the Commission approved panels in this specific instance, Taylor said this decision could be applied to future city buildings. He said it wouldn’t necessarily change city’s ordinance language, but it would give city’s planning department more guidance in what is acceptable in the city.

Jim Malcolm, a Claypool architect, represents JLane in this matter. 

“What brought this whole thing about was when I asked (City Planner) Jeremy (Skinner), (the ordinance) says metal architectural panel is useable. When we go look at the various suppliers, everybody has an architectural panel … we’re asking for that (specific) one, but also in the long term consideration of some of the architectural panels that are out there,” Malcolm said. 

Dan Robinson, of Robinson Construction, who is trying to price costs for JLane’s building, said they’re trying to get clarity and what kind of paneling is and isn’t allowed by the city.

Malcolm, Robinson and the Commission then discussed different types of architectural panels, different qualities and what makes some paneling better than others.

In the end, the Commission acknowledged city’s planning department needed to revisit and reconsider the city’s ordinance regarding architectural panels.

It also approved a motion from James Emans, city engineer and Commission member, specifically regarding the JLane paneling.

His motion was “that the presented concealed-fastener insulated panel with an approximate 7.2 profile … steel fabric complies with the intent of the ordinance and is allowed.”

Thanks to Times Union staff writer David Sloane for information appearing within this article.

Acquire a Building Permit First

You want a new pole barn, so you put together some plans, order up some materials, have them delivered and start building. In all of this excitement something was overlooked – acquiring a Building Permit!

Reader SHELBY in COLORADO writes:


My name is Shelby, my father and I are trying to build a pole barn and they are saying we need a ground inspection and trusses report to say that it can handle so much wind and snow! We have the building plan and started having all the materials delivered but we can’t get a building permit till we get these two inspections! I was wondering if that is something you could possibly help us with or if you know someone who could! So we could get this permit!”

It appears you have placed a proverbial cart before the horse. Before even contemplating any building project there are a pair of conversations you should have with proper authorities. First of these will be to your Planning Department: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/, second to your Building Department: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/building-department-checklist/.

Building PermitYour Building Department wants an engineered soils report for your site, not an unusual request in much of Colorado, as there are some fairly unstable soils. You will need to contact a Registered Professional Engineer in your area who specializes in geotechnical work (Google – Geotechnical Engineers near me). They will visit your site and do an analysis to determine if it is even capable of being built upon. With this report in hand you can then take this soils report and your proposed building plans to yet another RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who can prepare a set of sealed drawings for your building. “Truss report” being asked for are engineer sealed drawings for prefabricated trusses you will be utilizing to support your building’s roof. You will need to provide your RDP sealed plans to your choice of truss providers, so they can design trusses adequate to support loads detailed within your sealed plans.

Sadly, you may have already invested in some materials you will be unable to use in construction of a properly designed building. All of these reasons are why I always encourage clients to invest in a complete post frame (pole barn) building package from a supplier who can provide engineer sealed plans specifically for your building, along with correct materials delivered to your site – it could have saved you a significant amount of heartache, as well as money.



Planning Your Equestrian Riding Arena

Planning Your Equestrian Facility


Those of you loyal readers who actually read links in this article are going to see our daughter Bailey Momb’s name frequently. 2018 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration made for me being a proud dad with Bailey riding to a World Grand Championship (link has results): https://twhnc.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/RESULTS-TUESDAY-EVENING-8-28-18.pdf.


Moving forward, reader JACLYN in FREDERICK writes:

“Hi There!

We are starting to investigate options to build a barn and indoor riding arena on a property we are purchasing.  We are looking to build 10 stalls.  Where do we start when discussing options?

If possible we would like to mimic the 1800’s log cabin house on the property.  But we also don’t have a huge budget. 

Do you do indoor arenas as well?  I have traveled in Spain and Portugal and wondered about the cement, stucco, and concrete block barns there.  How does that change the cost and longevity of the structure?

Thank you very much for your time.  Yes, I have visited your website. The barns are gorgeous.  So you manufacture off site any pieces or everything on site?

Thank you!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

To avoid placing a cart before a horse, best place to begin this process – contact your jurisdiction’s Planning Department to ascertain if you will be allowed to build your desired facility where you want it located. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/01/planning-department-3/

Once you are satisfied with Step Number One, now confirm design criteria with your local Building Department: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/11/design-criteria-3/

Once you have these two projects completed, shift to giving serious consideration to your stall barn needs. Some important reading about stall barns:


My encouragement, always start your building planning from inside out. Determine spaces your facility will need – stalls, tack rooms, feed storage, washrooms, etc., and how much space should be allotted for each. Arrange spaces so they will have a most convenient flow. Footsteps become important over course of a day – if you are having to constantly traipse from one end of barn to other due to a poorly thought out layout, you will regret your choices forever. Visit other similar facilities and do lots of asking questions about what does and does not work for others.

With all of this information in hand, dial (866)200-9657 and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

Your new building(s) can look like anything you want them to look. Only limiting factors are imagination, available space and budget. Trying to mimic your 1800’s log cabin house could easily end up doubling your investment into your stall barn. There do exist some “log look” options: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/05/log-sided-pole-barns/. Keep in mind, most cost effective and durable siding and roofing will be roll-formed steel.

Most certainly we provide horse riding arenas. Some reading about arenas: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/06/horse-riding-arena/.

Post frame buildings are designed to be the most cost effective permanent structure one can have constructed. In countries similar to those you have visited, masonry becomes a construction material of choice for virtually everything building. Any form of masonry construction will prove to be exponentially more expensive, without adding significantly to arena lifespan (and potentially involving greater amounts of upkeep).

Your kind words about our buildings are most appreciated, we hope to add your new building(s) to our portfolio of photos.

All components for your new building will be manufactured off site and shipped into your location for assembly either by you (most cost effective and usually best end result) or a building contractor of your choosing.



Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s World

Mike the Pole Barn Guru’s World

Pole Barn Guru BlogWhen I began this blog back in June of 2011, I surmised getting to a total of 100 articles would be a stretch, but yet a worthy goal. Well, I have surprised even myself… welcome to article number 1500! What amazes even me – how many possible topics have yet to be written about.

Today, you get taken to Hansen Pole Buildings’ back room – where we actually have developed an outline for our Building Designers to follow with new clients. I share portions of this for many reasons, amongst them:

#1 In hopes competitors will read it and learn, in doing so everyone wins. Clients get buildings better serving their needs, competition has happier clients and our industry looks even better. I have always believed if all providers of post frame building kit packages played by a similar set of rules: 1. Every building should be designed by a RDP, i.e. Registered Design Professional, engineer or architect, specifically for a specific client at their specific building site. No getting one sealed drawing and using it for multiple clients.  2. We will figure out how to design your post frame building most efficiently, most cost effectively and with a higher level of service

#2 By being better prepared with information we (or any true high quality post frame building supplier) need, you (future new building owner) will have a smoother journey from planning to occupancy

“Delivering the Ultimate Post Frame Experience™” to every Hansen Pole Buildings’ client, every day.

Hansen Pole Buildings has most of our clients first contact us via an internet inquiry. If so, your information has automatically been entered into our database. First thing – I go to your record and see if you have subscribed to our newsletter series.

If you are reading this and are not a Hansen Pole Buildings’ newsletter subscriber, go do so now.  They are totally free and you may unsubscribe any time. A sign up link can be found in footer (bottom) of each page of our website. These newsletters are not designed to sell anyone, anything – they are meant to be entertaining and informative. You can read more about them here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-newsletters/.

For competitors – I encourage you to subscribe also, read them, edit them to fit your own business model and make them available to your clients. Informed clients make for happy post frame building owners.

Next you receive a personal email. When it comes down to it, there exist these four most important points when it comes to making a major investment:

     1)A fair value for money and time invested;

     2) It solves problem(s) or helps to achieve a goal;

     3) Liking and trusting those you are dealing with;

     4) Ability to get delivery within a reasonable time frame.

I encourage potential clients to take advantage of available financing options: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/financing/.

All are also directed to contact their appropriate Planning Department to find out if they are allowed to construct the building they want, where they want it (this step helps to avoid anyone wasting time or having hurt feelings): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/.

Next up – an email about Exposure C for wind. Pretty much universally most post frame building kit package suppliers and post frame builders quote buildings with an Exposure B, although a great many sites should have buildings designed for a more conservative Exposure C.

For more Exposure C reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/11/wind_exposure/


We all live in a world of social media. I want you to know about me and I want to know about you. We do business with people we trust and are our friends. I’ve had some individual post frame client relationships for decades, as it should be. I want to be your Facebook friend, in your circles at Google Plus, and a Linkedin connection. If you use Skype it adds yet another method for us to stay in contact.

Lastly and most important, I want you and I to talk. Although you might believe you really know what you want in a new post frame building, I might have some thoughts and ideas you have not yet considered and no one else has suggested. Once I have gathered information from you during a conversation, I will often ask if you mind if I design your building if it was my own building. My mission in this – to come up with a best possible design solution for you, balancing investment and budget.I have saved clients hundreds of thousands of dollars on their new pole buildings by tweaking their initial design, from changing bay spacings to type of doors or windows. Why would I do this? My goal is to design a building which solves the problem. In other words, a building which is functional, is pleasing to the customer, and fits their budget.  

Welcome to the world of Mike the Pole Barn Guru!




Need a 13′ Tall Door With a 12′ Mean Height Restriction

Need a 13’ Tall Door With a 12’ Mean Height Restriction

Planning Departments can be the bane of a property owner’s existence. They are the folks who are delegated enforcement of what some might feel are unrealistic expectations as to building heights and footprints. Many times there are solutions, and chances are if a solution can be sleuthed out, we at Hansen Pole Buildings can creatively arrive at it.

Reader PRESTON in FALLBROOK writes:

Gambrel Storage Building“Hi Guru,
I have cleared my build with the county (San Diego, CA) and have checked into my setbacks and am all set; moved 120 yards of dirt and graded the site out as well. My dilemma now is that with my setbacks I need to comply with some sizing restrictions but still need to fit my RV in the garage; the whole point of the building… I need to be under 1000sf so a 24′ x 40′ is perfect for me. The issue comes in the height of the building. I can’t be any higher than 12′ tall on my mean roof height which is to say the average height of the roof. So I could have a ridge that is 14′ if the eave is 10′ making an average of 12′ roof height. I could get more extreme and make a 16′ ridge height and 8′ eave height and still comply. However with any style of roof I need to have a 13′ clear opening for a garage door to fit the RV height. I could center the door and shrink it down to a single but would like to keep a double garage door (16′) or at a minimum a 12′ door. I think that the “barn” style would give me the best roof profile to fit the largest door in while still keeping a roof height that complies (again a 12′ average/mean height). Can you help?! Does the gable end of your barn kits have bottom truss or is it open? I keep laying it out on a scale drawing with standard roof pitches and it doesn’t pencil out; I can’t even fit a 9′ door in a 6/12 pitch roof.”

Here is just one creative solution:

A gambrel (old barn style) roof is probably your best (and only) solution. Think of your building as a center portion which would be 18 feet in width and 15′ tall. This would allow for an overhead door 16 feet wide by 13 feet tall. With a 4/12 roof slope, the overall building height would be 18′. In order to comply with the 12′ mean roof height, the remaining three feet on each side of the 18′ would slope from 15 feet down to six feet (a 36/12 slope). This would allow you to get your RV in and yet comply with the requirements of the county.

Trying to do what feels like it is dimensionally impossible with your new post frame building? Run it past us, we may have a design solution for your challenge which will fit within your measurement restrictions and your wallet!

Two Story Pole Buildings

Are Two Stories the Solution?

Another great question from a reader, which requires a lengthy answer.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I was wondering if it possible two have a 2-story structure with 2 garages + some storage on the ground floor and a small office with bath and small kitchen on the 2nd floor (in the 24+ x 24+ size range)? BRETT in SUSSEX

DEAR BRETT: It is very possible. There will be some considerations for two story pole buildings.

First stop is to chat with your local Planning Department to insure you can place a building of this footprint, as well as height on your property. In many urban and suburban areas there are height restrictions which could very well dictate. The Planning Department will also tell you if your use of the building is allowable within the zoning for your neighborhood.

Now the practical considerations.

A 24 foot square garage is going to pretty well be used up by two vehicles. I know – as I have a 22 x 24 post frame garage and there is just really no room left for any sort of storage. Provided you have the space in your yard and the square footage is allowable by the Planning Department, you may want to consider sizes such as 24 x 30 or even 30 feet square. Remember, so much of your cost is you have even decided to put up a building. Once you have made the decision, put up the largest building you can economically afford and fit on your property.

Going to multiple stories will be more expensive than building the same amount of finished square footage on a single level. It is going to entail having to have a one-hour fire separation between the levels.

Stairs…..if they are inside, it is going to severely reduce the usable footprint of the garage/parking area. Plus, the stairwell will need to be fire separated from the garage area including the need for a fire rated entry door. Outside stairs might very well be the answer, however they are going to be exposed to the weather unless provisions are made for a roof over them.

Accessibility also might eventually come into play. Age and/or the unexpected have a way of making stairs problematic – again making the all on a single level a potentially attractive solution.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Acquiring a Building Permit

Unless one has grown up on a foreign planet, they are probably familiar with Hertz® Rent-A-Car. My lovely bride and I rent lots of cars (usually for about 50% of the year), so we are intimately familiar with Hertz. Hertz is not only #1, they also are nearly everywhere on the face of the Earth.

One would think, regardless of the Hertz location, they would have this entire car renting thing down to an exact science. Maybe in most parts of the United States but not in locales such as Quito, Ecuador.

Hertz is the main international car rental agency in Quito (Ecuador’s capital with a population of nearly three million and over 9,000 feet above sea level). One can book online with Hertz and even prepay, however it is going to be expensive as well as more complicated than buying a house.

Among the ridiculous list of documents which will needed to be provided to rent from Hertz in Quito are (but not limited to): Passport, Valid Driving License, International driving permit, an exact replica of your credit card modelled out of indigenous mud and a photograph of your maternal grandmother eating an arepa. (Ok, I’m stretching it a bit).

Obviously most of us do not carry with us more than two or three of the above items, so we are rejected for renting a car from Hertz.

There are times when surviving the Planning and Building permit process for a new pole building can feel the same way – like we never have all of the right documentation.

Well, more and more county and city governments are trying to speed up the permitting process. Some have instituted online systems for applying, paying and checking on the status of your rental..

I’m hopeful these new technologies and processes will soon make their way to the entire country. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are ways to speed up the building permit process.

In the event you are considering building anything, and have not been in contact with your Planning Department, please do this now (it seriously will make your life so much easier):


Once through the gauntlet of Planning (Kind of like waiting in line at the Hertz counter), it’s on to the Building Department to verify Code and Load information:


With the above accomplished, it is time for serious business.

Building Department ChecklistMost jurisdictions will provide a checklist of items with which you must comply. Take the list and check it twice, because they will think you are naughty and not nice if the complete package of required information is not provided at time of submittal.

Meet with the staff to discuss your project at the earliest possible point.

Take advantage of any pre-submittal process (or pre-planning conference). In this meeting input is provided by all staff involved in the review process. Much better to find out about having to pour sidewalks, install a fire hydrant, or any other possible surprises early in the game.

Any chance of complex environmental issues? Schedule a meeting with the jurisdiction’s land use biologist or similar official.

Take advantage of any simultaneous review processes where site plan, environmental permit and building permit reviews take place concurrently.

Respond to staff building permit review comments in a timely manner. Always request comments to be specific and made in writing – and pass along the written list to your pole building provider, so they can share it with their engineers.

With some patience, the building permit acquisition process can be far easier than Hertz in Quito!

Building Permit Stop Order!

Government Gone Wild

It never ceases to amaze me how politics does (or does not) work. Here is an ongoing, real life story involving a Hansen Pole Buildings client in Illinois.

From an article by Sarah Hayden in the April 22, 2014 Moline, Illinois Dispatch/Argus:

Stop Sign“Trustees on Monday also took an emergency vote an unauthorized building permit given to a Ravine Street resident. Trustees approved serving an immediate stop order on the resident, with Trustee Harold French opposed.

Trustee Bruce Peterson said that, when Port Byron had no building inspector, an unsigned building permit was given to the resident for a pole barn, or shed, in his front yard. Mr. Peterson said the resident was told he first needed a variance to bypass a village ordinance banning sheds and buildings in front yards.

Mayor Kevin Klute said the ordinance clearly states a resident cannot put a building in front of a house. He said there was “a miscommunication” and a village trustee issued the permit to the resident.

Earlier at Monday’s meeting, Randy Brown was approved as Port Byron’s new building inspector. But when trustees asked him to deliver the stop order, he said he wouldn’t.

“I’m not an enforcer,” he said. “I’m only a building inspector.”

Trustee Scott Sidor said the village had “made a mistake” in hiring Mr. Brown, who left the meeting.

Mr. French said he opposed the stop order because the ordinance states a building must have a 35-foot setback and the Ravine Street resident has a 350-foot setback. He also said the building is off to the side and down a hill, on a long driveway.”

As so often happens there is a “Paul Harvey” to the story, which was related to me by the client’s Hansen Buildings Designer:

“They purchased the building in March.  The permitting office told her she would just need to come in and pay for a permit.  I found something odd about what she was saying and insisted she confirm the Building Department Questionnaire with the permitting office.

When she first went in to the permitting office (after she paid for the building) the Building Inspector said he thought she would have some zoning issues and she should attend a meeting which she had to wait a couple weeks for.  She attended the meeting and as they were getting the Yay’s and Nay’s for her to build, a Harold came in and said the meeting was a bunch of non-sense and said he was the Building Inspector and to issue her a permit which they did right away.

Now they have been served an “Immediate Stop Order”.

Basically the Harold who told her was he inspector, was not, he was a board trustee and the city has taken away their permit and refunded their permit money.  The mayor has been involved and said they were trying as hard as they can to resolve this issue.  She said there is a city meeting the first week of May and a zoning meeting the second week in May and they hope to have this resolved.”

In my humble opinion, property owners should be able to have a reasonable degree of confidence once a Building Permit has been issued – whether in Illinois, or any other state. I’m hopeful this particular situation can end up being resolved to an amicable solution for all parties, before it escalates into a battle which does little except for chewing up time and wasting money.

Considering constructing (or having built for you) a new pole building? The place to start is by garnering Planning Department approval FIRST. Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/01/planning-department-3/

Post Frame Buildings & the Code Part I

This is part 1 of a two part series – I know it’s long, but bear with me – this is too important to divide it up into too many “pieces”.  Good stuff here – read on:

Post Frame CodeThe information below is excerpted from the International Building Code (IBC) and based upon information provided by the American Wood Council. It is meant to be a start towards understanding how the Code applies to post frame buildings, but does not necessarily cover every aspect. The Planning, or other similar, Department which governs a particular jurisdiction should always be consulted as the final authority.

Use and Occupancy Classification

Building Code requirements are dependent on the appropriate classification of the building or structure or current occupancy. IBC Group “A” occupancies are divided into five subcategories. Group A-1 includes fixed seating occupancies for viewing performing arts and motion pictures. Group A-2 includes buildings in which food and drink consumption occurs, such as restaurants, banquet halls, bars and nightclubs. Group A-3 includes worship, recreation, amusement and other assembly uses not included in the other groups. Group A-4 includes indoor arenas, skating rinks, swimming pools and tennis courts. Group A-5 includes outdoor grandstands, stadium and amusement park structures.

Type V Construction for Post Frame Buildings

Permits the use of wood for structural elements, including structural frame members, bearing walls, floor and roof construction, as well as non-bearing elements such as exterior walls and interior partitions. It is further defined as Type VA (all interior and exterior load-bearing walls, floors, roofs and all structural members are designed or protected to provide a minimum one-hour fire-resistance rating) and Type VB (no fire resistance rating is required).

Type III Construction for Post Frame Buildings

Requires exterior walls to be noncombustible material or FRTW (Fire Resistant Treat Wood) having a minimum two-hour fire-resistance rating. All other building elements are permitted to be wood or other approved materials. Type IIIA construction needs to provide a minimum one-hour fire-resistance rating for all building elements and Type IIIB construction does not require any fire-resistance rating other than the exterior load-bearing wall.

Allowable Heights and Areas for Type III and V Construction

Under the IBC wood buildings are allowed to have areas and heights which were roughly equivalent to the largest buildings which were permitted for each construction type under one or more of the previously existing codes. In the past dozen years, the number of buildings which qualify for unlimited area under the special provisions of Section 507 has expanded. Special allowances for various post frame building features such as sprinklers or FRTW continue to be added. The size limitations for pole buildings are more determined by structural considerations than code limitations.

General building height and area allowances are given in Chapter 5 of the IBC. Height and per-story area limitations are shown in the Table 503 excerpt (Figure 5) and are based on occupancy and type of construction. These area and height limitations are unmodified and can be significantly increased based on certain provisions of the code.



Group A

Type of Construction

Type III

Type V





Height (ft)






Area (A)
























































The height and area of post frame buildings may be increased depending on the building location on the lot, the presence of automatic sprinkler systems or using some of the design options recognized in Chapter 5 of the code.

Equation 5-1 established the maximum allowable area per floor based on the Chapter 5 modifications.

As = {At + [At X If] + [At X Is]}

Aa is the allowable building area per story in square feet.

At is the tabular building area per story per Table 503.

If is the area increase factor due to frontage as calculated in accordance with IBC 506.2.

Is is the area increase factor due to sprinkler protection as calculated in IBC 506,3.

Allowable Increases for Frontage

Buildings adjacent to an open space adjoining a public way, with the exterior wall a minimum of 20 feet from the far side of the public way for more than 25 percent of the building perimeter, may increase the allowable floor are from Table 503 using Equation 5-2.

If = [F / P – 0.25] W / 30

If is the area increase due to frontage.

F is the building perimeter which fronts on a public way or open space having 20 feet open minimum width.

P is the perimeter of the entire building in feet.

W is the width of public way or open space in feet, in accordance with Section 506.2.1 (A weighted average may be used when W varies along the perimeter.) W is the open space plus the width of the public way.

The maximum credit for frontage widths (W) is 30 feet. The maximum increase which can be obtained for frontage would occur when 100 percent of the perimeter has frontage of 30 feet or more and would result in a 75-percent floor area increase.

Allowable Increases for Automatic Sprinkler Systems

When a pole building is equipped throughout with an NFPA 13-compliant automatic sprinkler system, the allowable floor area is permitted to be increased by 300 percent for a one-story building and 200 percent for a multistory building. In addition to the area increase, Section 504.2 also permits the Table 503 building heights to be increased by 20 feet and the number of stories above grade to be increased by one story.

Area Limits for Non sprinklered Buildings in Chapter 9

Many occupancies have floor area limits allowed by Chapter 5 which are greater than those permitted in Chapter 9 for non sprinklered buildings. The same thresholds apply to all construction types, not just wood. The allowable area per story can exceed allowable fire areas and a sprinkler system may be required.

If sprinklers are provided, allowable area increases for both sprinklers and open frontage may be taken. Fire areas may be kept below sprinkler thresholds by compartmentalizing floor areas with fire-resistant-rated construction in accordance with the definition for “Fire area” and the requirements for code Chapter 7. The requirement for sprinklers may also be triggered by specific use, height above grade or occupant load.

Sprinklers offer a substantial increase to life safety, which is well documented and merits consideration for this reason alone.

Come back tomorrow and hear “the rest of the story”….on applying the building code to your new post frame building.

Run Amok: Pole Building Prohitibion?

In the iconic 1984 movie Footloose, Kevin Bacon’s character has moved to the small fictional town of Bomont. As a result of the efforts of a local minister (played by John Lithgow), dancing and rock music have been banned.

How outraged the viewing public was when the rights of freedom of expression had been taken away, in the movie.

Small towns sometimes have small minds, and they try to take away things more than just what happened in Footloose. On occasion, I have run across jurisdictions which, for whatever reason (usually it is just not being educated of the benefits), try to ban post frame construction.  In other words, they “don’t allow pole buildings”.

Pole Building ProhibitionThis just happened in Fowler, Indiana, and here is an excerpt from the letter I wrote to defend pole buildings:

Post frame (pole) buildings are Code conforming buildings and the methodology for their structural design is outlined and/or referenced in every edition of the International Building Codes.

It is within the legal scope of a Planning Department or Commission (after following whatever processes are in place for public notifications, etc.) to be able to place limitations on the size of structures, their placement on a given property, as well as the appearance (e.g. restrictions on type and or color of siding and roofing materials). Any appearance restrictions must be applied uniformly to any Code conforming structural system.

In order to legally preclude the use of post frame construction (or of any other Code conforming structural system), the onus would be upon the jurisdiction to somehow prove their structural inadequacy. It would be both arbitrary and capricious to deny the utilization of post frame construction, which could easily leave open the door to a plethora of probably indefensible lawsuits – resulting in undue costs to the jurisdiction, as well as the taxpayers.

While I am not an attorney, nor profess to offer legal advice, I have been involved in similar circumstances with other jurisdictions, each of which has made the determination to NOT LIMIT the use of post frame buildings as a structural system. I would encourage the same decision in your jurisdiction.”

Anywhere in America, where an unjust system tries to take away the rights of a citizen to construct a pole building, look to me to be involved to protect those rights.

Construction Freedom

american-flagMost people who have ever considered construction of  any type of building in the United States have had to deal with their local jurisdiction’s Planning Department. Most of those same people may report this as being less than a fun experience. We Americans are fiercely independent, we value the ability to have the freedom to use our things, in the manner in which we feel would be best – without the intrusion of government.  We also tend to get a bit “bucky” about construction…wanting to build exactly what we want…where we want.

Come journey with me….as you remember from yesterday, we’re in Ecuador.

Where anything can be built – anywhere. No apparent zoning here.

Hmmm, one might say, “freedom, I am liking this idea”.

Venture down an average street in Quito, the capitol city. On the corner may be a vacant lot, however it has a ten or 12 foot high fence built of concrete block, topped with broken glass bottles (this is their idea of a “security” fence), so is it actually even vacant?

Next to this, is a six story hotel. Very narrow and deep, with dimensions which run right to the property lines, the street face looks like it should – must be a multi-million dollar building, however the other three walls are plain concrete block (which does match the neighboring fence nicely).

Also in the same block are several single family homes, a repair station for buses, several small retail shops, a tire store, a restaurant and a school. Each one plastered directly against the neighbor, as the mandatory three foot setback from lot lines is totally ignored.

Seeing how this much construction freedom may prove to be a problem?

Apply this type of planning (or lack thereof) to the United States and a million dollar home could have an oil refinery, or just as easily a chicken ranch right next door.

Oh – across the street from the hotel – a pasture with horses in it!

Pre application Conference

construction planning meetingConsidering construction a post frame building for commercial use? If so, many jurisdictions offer a pre application conference which will greatly ease the overall permit process, as well as providing a total view as to all of the requirements necessary to be met.

Why should I go through a PAC?

In my humble opinion, if a pre application conference is an available option – take advantage of it, It can save boatloads of future grief, not to mention unexpected pitfalls and costs.

What does a PAC involve?

A Pre Application Conference (PAC ) is a preliminary evaluation of a project by staff from various the various departments and divisions, which will be involved with a potential project. Staff represented may be from several departments, which may include: Planning, Building, Fire, Public Works, Health, and Water and Power. In some instances a Case Manager is assigned who will facilitate the PAC and provide a single point of contact to help navigate through the entire review and approval process.

PAC Meeting Agenda

At the PAC meeting, the staff will meet to discuss project issues and requirements of the proposed project according to current regulations, guidelines and policies. It is an opportunity for the staff to identify any discretionary reviews and approvals necessary, inform of any possible conflicts with policies and regulations, and, if necessary, offer other options to pursue in lieu of those proposed. A flow chart outlining the course the proposed project will need to take through the review and approval process is also provided. All documentation, including applications, brochures, submittal requirements, fee estimates, a flow chart, and review comments related to the project are provided often in an organized packet called the Development Guide. The information derived from a PAC does not constitute any approval of a project. PAC meetings are not public hearings.

What sort of things might be brought out at a PAC?

Highway/roadway/public works people will advise if the street may need to be widened, turn lanes added, as well as requirements for curbs and sidewalks. Having had to pay for all of these items in projects I was personally involved in, it is best when they are known about upfront.  After the fact… they can be potential budget breakers.

Fire – how close can a proposed new pole building be from other structures or property lines before fire walls need to be considered? Does the property have adequate water flow available for fire prevention? In some cases, an alternative water reservoir may need to be added. A hydrant (or hydrants) may need to be included for the development. If fenced or gated, a Knox-Box® will probably be required.

What else do I need to do?

Planning will deal with percentage of the property which can be covered with structures, dimensions of the building(s) as well as heights, setbacks from property lines, roadways and easements. They may require an engineered site plan, as well as provisions for storm water runoff. Requirements for parking spaces can be determined.

While these are just a few of the involved parties, the areas which may be covered and potential costs can be extensive and expensive. Structural building plans are not required in a Pre application Conference.  This is the opportunity to find out what the real costs for the entire project will be.  Not just the building structural costs, which are usually just a fractional portion of the entire project.

Good luck, and let me know if this process helped to speed things along to get your permit!

Building Department Checklist Part I

I Can Build, I Can Build!

building-checklistWhoa there Nellie…..before getting all carried away, there are 14 essential questions to have on your Building Department Checklist, in order to ensure the structural part of the new building process goes off without a hitch.  I will cover the first seven today, finishing up tomorrow, so you have a chance to take notes, start your own home file folder of “what to do before I build”.  Careful preparation is key to having a successful pole building outcome.

#1 What are the required setbacks from streets, property lines, existing structures, septic systems, etc.?

Seemingly every jurisdiction has its own set of rules when it comes to setbacks. Want to build closer to a property line or existing structure than the distance given? Ask about firewalls. If you construct a firewall, you can often build closer to a property line. Creating an unusable space between your new building and a property line is not very practical. Being able to minimize this space could easily offset the small cost of a firewall. As far as my experience, you cannot dump weather (rain or snow) off a roof onto any neighbor’s lot, or into an alleyway – so keep those factors in mind.

#2 What Building Code will be applicable to this building?

The Code is the Code, right? Except when it has a “residential” and also has a “building” version of the code, which do not entirely agree with each other. Also, every three years the Building Code gets a rewrite. One might not think there should be many changes. Surprise! As new research is done, even things which seem as simple as how snow loads are applied to roofs..changes. It is important to know not only which Code, but which version of the Code is being used.

#3 If the building will be in a location which receives snow, what is the GROUND snow load (abbreviated as Pg)?

Make sure you are clear in asking this question specific to “ground”. When you get to #4, you will see why.  Too many times we’ve had clients who asked their building official what the “snow load” is, and the B.O. replied using whichever value they are used to quoting.  Lost in the communication was being specific about “ground” or “roof” snow load.

As well, what is the snow exposure factor (Ce) where the building will be located? Put simply, will the roof be fully exposed to the wind from all directions, partially exposed to the wind, or sheltered by being located tight in among conifer trees which qualify as obstructions? This is a good time to stand on the building site and take pictures in all 4 directions, and then getting your BO to give their determination of the snow exposure factor.

#4 What is the Flat Roof Snow Load (Pf)?

Since 2000, the Building Codes themselves are written so as the flat roof snow load is to be calculated from the ground snow load. There is actually quite a science involved in this, and it takes into account a myriad of variables to arrive at a specific load for any given set of circumstances.

Unfortunately, some Building Departments have yet to come to grips with this, so they mandate the use of a specified flat roof snow load, ignoring the laws of physics.

Make certain to clearly understand the information provided by the Building Department in regards to snow loads. Failure to do so could result in an expensive lesson.

#5 What is the “three second gust” wind speed in miles per hour?

The lowest possible wind speed (85 miles per hour) is only applicable in three possible states – California, Oregon and Washington. Everywhere else has a minimum of 90 mph.  The highest required in the United States is 146.  Don’t assume if a friend of yours who lives in the same city has the same wind speed.  The City of Tacoma, WA has six different wind speeds within the city limits!

#6 What is the wind exposure (B, C or D)?

Take a few minutes to understand the differences. A Building Department can add hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to the cost of a project, by trying to mandate an excessive wind exposure.  Again – this is a good place to take photographs in all 4 directions from your building site.  Some jurisdictions “assume” the worst case.  Meaning, your property could very well be protected on all 4 sides and easily “fit” the category B wind exposure requirements.  However, your jurisdiction may have their own requirement everyone in their area is wind exposure C, no matter what.  It’s their call.

#7 Are “wind rated” overhead doors required?

Usually this requirement is found in hurricane regions. My personal opinion – if buying an overhead door, invest the few extra dollars to get one which is rated for the design wind speed where the building is to be constructed. This is a “better safe, than sorry” type situation.

I’ve covered 7 of the most important questions for your Building Department Checklist, and they really weren’t so difficult, were they?  Come back tomorrow to find out the last 7!

Pole Building Planning: Details, Details!

When it comes to constructing a new pole building, the building owner has many details to consider. For instance, how large should their pole building be to meet the needs not only today, but in the future? What doors will best solve access and egress considerations? There is a plethora of choices for siding and roofing (not to mention their colors). And while the possibilities are virtually limitless, one detail which can too easily get overlooked is the permitting process.

Unexpected delays can be caused from prior work – even work which was done by a previous property owner!

If a General Contractor was hired to do earlier construction, it is their responsibility to call for final inspections on a project. Often, property owners do their own work, or act as their own contractor. Many times Building Permits have not been obtained at all, leaving new owners to pick up the pieces.

In instances where structural inspections are needed, the inspection card must be signed off and often an occupancy permit is issued.

Building Departments do not like to be “made a fool of”, and if required permits for earlier work were not obtained, they can literally put a building owner through the proverbial ringer – requiring engineered drawings of work done and special inspections. A third party engineer may be required to inspect the work and confirm it meets with current (not at the time the work was done) code requirements.

New permits cannot be issued, until all outstanding issues have been resolved. This can result in significant delays, as well as costs which were not initially envisioned.

Building owners should make a list of all the work which is to be done on their pole building, then contact their local permit issuing authority (usually Planning and Building Departments) to determine which permits will be required for their particular scope of work. If a contractor is involved, the building owner should verify for him or herself all permits have been signed off on as being completed.

Keep in a safe place (fire proof safe, or in a safety deposit box) a record and copies of all blueprints, permits and inspection information. This information is important to maintain, whether the job is one, five or twenty years old.

Don’t be caught unaware, or place a future owner of the property in an uncomfortable position.


Letter From a Building Official

A fair number of Building Officials are readers of my blog. This is not meant to offend any, but is an example of what pole building providers are faced with on a regular basis.  The following is a letter to one of our clients:

“Mr. Fxxxxxx,

This is the list items that need to be addressed;

  1. The footings supporting the “Girder Loads” (any footing with the truss bearing on the posts) will need to be 24” wide x 12” deep at a minimum of 30” below grade. Any footing supporting a “non-point load or concentrated load” will need to be a minimum of 18” in width.
  2. The posts cannot be “encased” in concrete footing.
  3.  The proposed Roof Trusses “Girder Trusses” will need to be certified by a Professional Engineer registered in the State of Maryland. I will need a copy of the sealed drawings for our file and a copy will need to be at the job site during the framing inspection as well.
  4. The use of “Ledger Locks” has not been approved by our jurisdiction for use in Pole Buildings. You will need to use 2 pcs. (min) ½” carriage bolts at each post to Girder/Beam connection.
  5. The concrete slab cannot be tied into the posts as specified on the building plans. The posts must be isolated from the concrete slab by use of a minimum ½” expansion joint.

You may want to forward this info to the Pole Barn Company so they can make any changes to your plans.”

To begin with, the Building Official is now putting himself in the position of being “Engineer of Record”, as he is spelling out how he wants the building to be constructed. Chances are the county attorney would not be pleased by his taking on this liability.

Jumping past opening up this can of worms….as far as we can find from our research there is no justification for a footing of 24 inch width, having to be 12 inches in depth. One engineer’s table we found online, does not specify a 12 inch thick concrete pad footing for a column – until the footing would be supporting 48 kips (a kip is 1,000 pounds of force) and be 6 feet in diameter!

The posts cannot be “encased” in concrete footing? I hate to point out 1805.7.3 of the International Building Code (IBC)….which directly contradicts this Building Official statement.

Number three on the list – a non-issue.

Plans Examiner seems to be “stepping out” a little on this one. “Ledger Locks” happen to have an ICC-ES approval number (#1078). With proven published values, as well as International Building Code approval….he’s not looking good on this one. Assuming both the truss and the column were Southern Pine, those ½” bolts are good for only about 350# of resistance each.

Now we will get to “the posts must be isolated from the concrete slab”. IBC 1805.7.2.2 has the formula for the embedment of a constrained column…”where constraint is provided at the ground surface, such as a rigid floor or pavement”. The National Frame Builders Association “Post-Frame Building Design Manual” in Section 8.2.2 specifies, “An example of a constrained post foundation would be when the post is installed immediately adjacent to a concrete slab floor in the building”.

The client ends up being faced with either complying with these ridiculous requirements or paying for an engineer to fight the battle. This, in my humble opinion, is a public servant, who is not serving the public.


OM – I Failed the Plan Check!

Life has now ended….nothing worse could ever happen…..ever….send my money back.

No – failure to get through an initial plan check is not a reason for suicide planning, or to be jumping up and down screaming.

Whether the building (or just plans) were provided by us, or anyone else – the first step is to get a copy of why the plans were rejected – in writing, and forward to whomever the responsible party is. In the case of Hansen Pole Buildings, send the checklist to us, not the RDP (registered design professional, aka engineer).

Why get it in writing? Ever play the “sit in a circle and whisper a secret to your neighbor” game as a child? The same applies to a plan check. Don’t leave anything to interpretation – get it in black and white.

While the great majority of plans sail through on the first try, it is not always the case. And why not?

Reason #1 – The client failed to verify their Building Code version and load conditions with the Building Department prior to ordering their building. I cannot speak for anyone else, but we DO REQUIRE our clients to verify this information.

Reason #2 – Failure to submit all required documents. Besides the building plans, a plot plan is a requirement. Where is the building located in regards to lot lines and other structures? If the plans are sealed by an engineer, the engineer’s calculations must be submitted as well. Engineer sealed truss drawings don’t come with the plans necessarily and the plans checker will kick the plans back without them.  Often, they come directly from the truss manufacturer.

Reason #3 – Didn’t discuss the proposed building with the Planning Department in advance. The Planning Department has the power of life and death. They could care less about how the structure is built. BUT – if your planned building is too tall, too large, too close to something they value and everything gets thrown into a blender on puree.  This is probably the most difficult of plan check failures to fix….after the fact. Heed my advice: don’t use the old adage “better to feign ignorance and beg forgiveness later”.  Trust me – this is not how to get your building to pass the plan check!

The least likely reason for failure to pass a plan check – is the structure itself, especially if the plans are sealed by an RDP. It is not just our engineers who are brilliant, it is engineers who have had to spend years of education and work experience to be able to perform their duties responsibly.

Planning Department Fiasco: Just Say No Part II

Today’s blog is a true story continuation from yesterday – so if you missed it, go back and catch up. The location is masked so as to avoid any possible retribution against the clients who were just trying to do things right. Dealing with your Planning Department can be a hurdle to overcome before you even consider starting in on your new pole building project.

To recap a bit, the clients wanted to plan more room for teenagers by adding new 500 square foot one-story room in an unused portion of their back yard.

At this point in the story, the clients had slogged through mountains of paperwork, repeated “corrections” and months of “less than helpful” assistance from their local Planning Department. They had clearance from the Zoning Conformance Review and sailed through the ARB (Architectural Review Board).

After the ARB review, they learned they needed a soils report. This was a surprise as all the regulations had been carefully reviewed by the architect, who began his career practicing in this very jurisdiction. While maybe they somehow should have known about this requirement –perhaps there’s a reason for the City staffer’s dismissive comment of “everyone knows” about needing a soils report.  This seems to be one of those: “you can’t ask what you don’t know to ask” things.

A simple question was then asked of the person at the Planning Department’s counter: “What should be contained in the soils report?” The official said, “It’s on the Web.” Beyond citing a web address, he briskly declined to offer additional guidance. Unfortunately, after several days of searching, it was concluded that, if it was on the Internet, the client and their architect couldn’t find it. So, the client’s wife returned to City Hall.

This time, she got lucky.

As she stood in line at the Planning Department, the person in front of her asked for information on soils reports. Perhaps the person used the document’s correct technical name.

Amazingly the City employee, without hesitation, reached under the counter and produced a copy of a document which described, in useful detail, what was required in a soils report. So, the client’s wife stepped up to the counter next and asked for the same thing. She was handed the document — by the same guy who, just a week before, could barely manage to grunt about needing to “check the Web”.

The client didn’t object to soils studies in earthquake zones.  However, the Plans Department changed nothing in their plans as a result of the report — the main result of this detour was to delay them by another two months. Rather, the client objected to the way the Planning Department thwarted their efforts, early and late in the process, to discover its rules or to glimpse into its black box of decision making in hopes of avoiding yet another unnecessary delay.

Someone’s bound to say the real problem is not the bureaucrat who played dumb but the failure to get a soils report in the first place.

The soils tests were not done when this project was first started because the client mistakenly believed (based on their careful reading of the jurisdiction’s documents) this would be required only for projects over 750 square feet and in hazard zones.  Remember their project was about 500 square feet and not in such a zone, according to the State. But, as it turns out, their jurisdiction doesn’t accept the State’s definitions!

This client’s Planning Department makes a nice outward display of trying to help people through its regulatory maze. Describing one such effort on its Planning web site: it says each project is assigned a Project Manager who “will oversee the permit processing of Standard and Complex projects and help applicants understand the City’s requirements and process as early as possible.” It’s a nice gesture, and this client’s project did have a Project Manager.

If this “solution” worked, however, wouldn’t their Project Manager have clued them into the need for the soils report “as early as possible”? Instead, they learned of this rule only after it was too late to avoid another unnecessary delay.

I wish I had a nice ending to this story, but sometimes there just isn’t one.  Last I heard, the client didn’t have permission to build their one room addition and they had no plans to move.  If they stall long enough, their teens will have grown and left home!  Although this particular story is not about a Hansen Buildings project, I’m quick to admit we’ve had a few similar projects with long delays due to similar treatment.  Fortunately they are few and far between.

My advice?  Educate yourself.  Ask for all bulletins, written material from your Planning Department to “make sure you are doing things right”.  Also study everything you can on the internet for your local jurisdiction in both the Planning and Building Department sections.  And keep your fingers crossed.

Planning Department: Just Saying No

Just Saying No: A Planning Department Horror Story

The location is masked so as to avoid any possible retribution against the clients who were just trying to do things right. Thankfully this is not how things usually go, but the Planning Department can be a hurdle to overcome before you even consider starting in on your new pole building project.  It had nothing to do with their plans, and was not a Hansen Building project. Sadly I have to admit, here at Hansen, I have listened to a few similar stories over the years!

The clients wanted to plan more room for teenagers (those of you with teenagers are nodding your heads). The new one-story room would occupy an unused portion of their back yard. No one could honestly say this 500-square-foot addition would alter the balance of things in their town.

Wanting to do things right, they hired a reputable architect who has successfully completed hundreds of sensitive and pleasant residential projects. They approached their Planning Department with the intention of complying with the letter and spirit of its rules for sustainable and livable development.

What a mistake.

They now see, all too clearly, if they had wanted more space soon, they should have just moved! Eventually they just pulled the plug on this project. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Why would they endure the heartbreak of walking away from a chance to improve their modest but much-loved house? Especially after investing countless hours with architects and planners as well as about $30,000 in cash over more than 15 months?

Because of their Planning Department.

To be blunt but clear, their Planning Department mired their progress with bureaucratic foot-dragging, shabby treatment and rules which vary between obscure and arbitrary.

They spent more than 15 months actively seeking a permission to build — without receiving approval. The timeline for their project is an excruciating tale of delay. It is not marked by outrageous misconduct — rather, the project died the death of a thousand cuts.

They spent five months — just getting through the Zoning Conformance Review. This was only the first of three steps required by their jurisdiction.

In the first months of the process, the planners found small defects and notified the client weeks after their initial request for review. Then, after corrections were submitted, the planners notified them of other small defects.  These “defects” which had been present from the start could have been addressed early, but were only cited later.

The clients knew their first plans weren’t perfect. But they also knew, in most jurisdictions, planners routinely review similar residential proposals completely the first time and request all their corrections at once. This would have avoided what became months of unnecessary delay.

This bad process exacerbates the problems which arise when planners seemingly become distracted. As an example, they submitted a round of corrections in October, a staffer in November opined there “should be no problem” getting clearance to go before the Architectural Review Board (ARB) in January.

Unfortunately, with seemingly other priorities taking precedence, the staff did not return or take the client’s calls from late November until January 30! Unable to quickly resolve small details, they reached the ARB in April.

Admittedly, bright spots were experienced during the process. The plans sailed smoothly through the ARB, which they were told is a tribute to their design. But, even then, permission to build remained elusive.   The Planning Department was dragging their feet and continued to spin their wheels.

Would they ever get to actually build?  Come back tomorrow and find out!

Pole Barn Plans – Goin’ For A Plans Check

Pole Barn Plans – Goin’ For A Plans Check

You did your homework….you have been through the hoops of your local planning department, and they have told you the dream pole building you want can indeed be constructed on your property, where you want it. After their blessing, you have stopped in at the building department and verified all of the required building code and loading information. This has been passed along to your pole building provider, who has given it to their engineers to produce the plans for your building.

Pole Barn Plans

Pole Barn Plans

Finally, plans in hand, you head to apply for your building permit. Somehow, this all feels like waiting for a new baby to arrive. The fears pop up in your head – what if my plans will not pass?

In some cases, building departments have prescriptive requirements for pole barns. This means, as long as your building fits within the dimensional limitations (width, length, height) and you construct the building “their way” you will be issued a structural permit. Some problems with this scenario – rarely are the prescriptive methods the most practical or cost effective way to construct your new building, but even a worse danger may lie hidden within them!

The danger is – often prescriptive requirements have inherent structural deficiencies, some of them enough so as, (under extreme load conditions), your new building could fail.

If your building department has prescriptive requirements, the best solution is to have your new pole building plans produced by a registered professional engineer. The engineer’s seal overrides any prescriptive requirements.

Back to fighting the fears – as long as you have provided the correct code and loading information to the engineer, you will obtain a structural permit for your pole barn.

In some instances, the plans you submit will not be reviewed at all, and a permit will be issued “at the counter”. In most cases, a plans examiner (or plans checker) will look over the plans to make sure the required information is stated on them (correct snow load, wind load, etc.). In many cases, your local building department does not have an engineer on staff. Only in rare circumstances will a design professional be reviewing your plans for structural adequacy. In fact, usually when your building permit is issued it includes a statement which absolves the building department and its staff of any liability, in the event your building fails structurally!

Do your homework in advance and have your pole barn plans produced by a registered design professional, and the process will be relatively painful – other than having to write the check for the permit fees.

Verify, Verify and….Verify! Confirm Local Building Codes

Did I happen to mention verify?

So, you have a problem, or are trying to reach a goal – with the solution being a new building.

Now, with the solution in mind, what to do first?

Call around or shop online to get a price? Wrong answer.

Verify Building Codes

Verify Local Building Codes

The correct answer is to visit your planning and building departments to confirm local building codes, as well as what design criteria are to be followed.

Doing anything else, can end up burning up time for you, as well as anyone quoting your proposed project, besides leaving everyone with hurt feelings.

Every client who orders a new pole building from Hansen Buildings does so with these verification requirements:

“Purchaser acknowledges verification/confirmation/acceptance of all Building Code, Plan and Design Criteria included on Instant Invoice. Information Purchaser has verified includes, but is not limited to: Applicable Building Code version, Occupancy Category, Ground (Pg) and Flat Roof (Pf) Snow Loads, Roof Snow Exposure Factor (Ce), Thermal Factor (Ct), basic Wind Speed (3 second gust) and Wind Exposure, Allowable Foundation Pressure, Seismic Zone and Maximum Frost Depth, as well as obtaining for Seller any unusual code interpretations, amendments or prescriptive requirements for non-engineered buildings which could affect this structure.”

“Seller’s designs are all per specified Building Code and include the use of NDS Table 2.3.2 Load Duration Factors (Cd) as well as ASCE 7-05, Eq. 7-2 for slippery surfaces. Seller’s designs rely solely upon occupancy category and structural criteria for and at specified job site address only, which have been provided and/or verified by Purchaser. It is Purchaser’s and only Purchaser’s responsibility to ascertain the design loads utilized in this Agreement meet or exceed the actual dead loads imposed on the structure and the live loads imposed by the local building code or historical climactic records. Purchaser understands Seller and/or Seller’s engineer(s) or agents will NOT be contacting anyone to confirm.”

Sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo?  Not really – read on to find out how to make this simple.  And save yourself a lot of grief when you order a new building – of any kind!

We have a client who ordered his building in May under these very same requirements. The client confirmed they read and understood all of them when the order was placed.

Our engineer did his job, producing plans and calculations for the client, based upon the information client agreed to verify.

This morning client went in to apply for his building permit. The Building Official loved the engineered plans.  However the incorrect code version was on them (their jurisdiction has gone from a 2003 to a 2007 version) and the ground snow load on the design was 70 pounds per square foot (psf), and at client’s site it actually needed to be 105 psf! In the client’s particular state, for every 100 feet the site is above sea level, the ground snow load is to be increased by 2 psf, above the basic map values.

Client is not happy – and we are none too pleased.  We now have an unhappy customer before we have even shipped his pole building kit.  Added to this, redoing his plans is like starting all over for us.  And the fees we require don’t begin to cover the hassles of making all the changes.

However the onus for verification IS on him.

Now, why is it we or our engineer would not verify for the customer?

Here are some actual circumstances for past projects:

  1. A client gave an incorrect address for building site, resulting in wrong loads.
  2. We (or our engineer) have no way of knowing the actual elevation of where the building is to be situated. At times, a relatively small parcel of land can have hundreds of feet of elevation change (case in point – my own home is on a lot 60’ x 225’ with nearly 300 feet of grade change).
  3. County is contacted to confirm loads for an address, which they do. When client goes to apply for building permit, they find their address has been annexed by a nearby city (clients were sure surprised). The bad part – the “new” city was operating under an older version of the code and (even though entirely surrounded by the county) was using much higher snow load requirements.

According to Ben Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

In all fairness to yourself and those, like us, who are trying to assist you in meeting your goals…..do your advanced verifications with your city or county’s Planning Department – confirm the local building codes and everyone will be far happier!