Tag Archives: plumb

Another Case for DIY Post Frame

Another Case for DIY Post Frame

Reader BRIAN in CINCINNATI writes:

“A construction company is putting the shell of my building up 60x80x16. Just finished steel siding and roof. A number of the 6×6 poles are visually not plumb. My garage doors were being installed today when he called me with concerns of the building being off and not square. He has over an inch gap already only 8 ft up on doors of a 14 foot door. I did call the post frame company and will be sending someone out as well as a crew for attempt to fix. What would you do and can this be fixed without removing all steel liner sheets?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:

Most of our clients build DIY (Do It Yourself) and simply do not have issues such as these.


Because it is theirs, they care. They will actually read and follow instructions.

Hiring a contractor? Your work starts before you sign a contract.


Failure to accept these four statements will set you up for grave disappointment.

Standards for workmanship should be clearly specified in contract between you and your builder. For post-frame buildings this would be Construction Tolerance Standards for Post-Frame Buildings (ASAE Paper 984002) and Metal Panel and Trim Installation Tolerances (ASAE Paper 054117). Depending upon scope of work, other standards may apply such as ACI (American Concrete Institute) 318, ACI Concrete Manual and APA guidelines (American Plywood Association).

During Construction

Visit Your Site

Tend to your site often. Show up at least twice a week (if not daily). During your visit, take pictures, lots of pictures. Purchase a camera with a Date and Time Stamp. Identify areas, in picture, with some type of signage, “Master Bedroom from Door Entrance” would be an example. By your project end you should have hundreds of pictures of every phase. Get a thumb drive if needed. Be able to read your “Approved Drawings” as well as all Installation Instructions.

Site Conditions

I cannot stress this enough, it has been my experience the single biggest project quality indicator is organization. A good job site should seem organized. If your project site is disorganized, trashy, and cluttered, so is your project. This should be your indicator to take more pictures and notify the contractor this is unsatisfactory. Every sub-contractor should have a clause in their contract that they should clean up their mess. It also means your contractor either doesn’t care or is not holding their Subs accountable. If you do not want to be responsible for clean-up and hauling off trash, make certain to include this in the contract.

Under no Circumstances Provide Assistance.

An impulse to “help” or “get a job done” is natural. Remember once you touch something, or provide support in any way, you have some liability. Every trade should have all needed tools, power, and equipment for the job they are doing. They are supposedly Professionals.

Keep Meticulous Records

Keep every bill, every material delivery, and every correspondence. Always communicate in writing with contractors. If you have a phone call, back it up with at least an email summarizing your conversation and get a response. Never delete an email. You might want to set up a new account just for your project. Never, ever, take “their word” for anything. ANYTHING.

Hire an Architect to view your project at Framing. 

Have a Registered Architect do a “Site Visit” once framing is complete and before interior finishes. Not only will he/she look at structural components, but this is when to catch issues potentially causing future challenges. They should give you a written report regarding any deficiencies in quality per specifications in your contract, engineered building plans and assembly instructions. This is money well spent and will potentially save you thousands over your building’s life. Give this report to your contractor and get a date by when these items will be corrected–in writing!

Do Not Pay for Anything not On-Site or Completed

Re-read this over and over. 

Make payments for materials jointly to contractor AND supplier (avoids liens). Better yet – order and pay for materials yourself!

Require written lien releases from all parties who have provided materials or labor through your contractor.

When your contractor says he or she is completed, again have your architect walk through with you. Make a written “punch list” of all deficiencies discovered and provide to the contractor. Only once all of these items have been corrected and an Occupancy Permit has been provided from your Building Department, should you make final payment.

Do Not pay ahead on a promise!

After reading all of this you may be wondering what you are paying a contractor to do, as your frequent involvement is needed in order to achieve your ideal dream outcome. If this happens to be your case, it may behoove you to pocket these funds and do it yourself!

Now, on to your questions.

From Construction Tolerance Standards for Post-Frame Buildings

“6.1 Plumbness. At the time of placement, no portion of a post should deviate from a plumb line (extending upward from the base of the post) more than 1% of the post height.”

On a 16’ eave, columns could be 1-59/64” out of plumb and still be considered within tolerance. An inch in eight feet would be outside of tolerance.

“6.5 Diagonal measurements. Corner-to-corner diagonal measurements should be taken at the finished floor and compared to determine the squareness of a rectangular area. These diagonal measurements should not deviate from each other by more than 2 inches or 0.5% of the length of the shortest side of the rectangle, whichever is greater.”

0.5% of length of shortest side would be 60 feet x 0.005 or 0.3 feet. Since this equals 3.60 inches, allowable difference in diagonal measurements would be increased from 2 to 3.6 inches. If squareness of an individual bay in same building is being checked, and post spacing is 8 feet, then rectangular area would be 8- by 60- feet, and 0.5% of length of shortest side of this rectangle would equal 8 feet x 0.005 or 0.06 feet (3/4 inch). Since this is less than 2 inches, allowable difference in diagonal measurements would be increased to 2 inches.

During construction, your overhead door openings should have had their jambs shimmed to be plumb. Interior and exterior steel panels on each side of overhead door opening should be removed, door jambs appropriately shimmed to vertical, then steel panels reordered and cut and installed to properly fit along each side of opening.

Overhead Door Opening Dimensions

Overhead Door Opening Dimensions

I have probably been involved directly with somewhere around 50,000 sectional steel overhead doors in my career. One thing in common about all of these doors, they all require an opening.

In my (and most door installers) ideal dream world, every overhead door opening is perfectly plumb on each side as well as having a perfectly level upper jamb. However, we live in a real life world, where columns on each side of overhead door openings tend to not always be 100% straight. Sometimes these columns were not placed plumb initially, other times they warped, twisted, cupped or did other nasty things (as lumber tends to do), making for potential challenges.

Early in my career, an installer who had placed a plethora of overhead doors in post frame (pole) buildings recommended to me to plan upon finished openings being two (2) inches less in width and one (1) inch less in height than actual call out dimensions of door. This allows for door panels to overlap (again, in our perfect world) an inch on each side, as well as above. With at least five (5) inches of solid wood on each side of any given opening (3-1/2” if a 4×6 plus 1-1/2” of jamb), there is yet plenty of wood available to mount tracks to.

What are advantages of planning for an overlap? If one or both side columns are out of plumb, this allows for as much as an inch of error before reliance upon a vinyl weatherstop to seal up opening. Same goes for top jamb being level.

Columns on each side of door openings do have a 2x jamb attached to them. Done properly (back to my ideal dream world) shims can be placed between an out of plumb, warped or twisted column and jambs to achieve a more close to vertical opening. In most instances (especially those involving ‘professional’ building erectors) this shimming process is ignored entirely and jambs are (for sake of expediency, lack of knowledge, or just not caring) nailed up directly to columns with little or no thought as to future challenges.

Residential overhead door panels are typically exactly door “call out” sized. A 10’ wide x 8’ tall door (as an example) will be exactly ten feet wide and exactly eight feet tall. A perfect finished opening will hence be 9’10” wide by 7’11” tall. Commercial door panels are two inches greater in width and net out an inch greater in height, so ordering a 10 foot wide overhead door, means you will receive 10’2” door panels. Hence, commercial overhead door openings will be equal to call out dimensions of door.

This extra inch of overlap also provides a much tighter seal against wind infiltration and with insulated door panels – less of a heat loss or gain (depending upon the season).

On a semi-related subject, I will encourage readers to always specify wind load rated sectional steel overhead doors. For extended reading, please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/wind-load-rated-garage-doors/.

How to Square a Post Frame Building Roof

Many builders believe if they have a building correct in width and length at ground, diagonals at ground are equal (footprint is square) and columns are plumb, then when they get ready to run roof steel everything will be perfectly ready to go.

This might be close to true for a small footprint building with a low eave height, however in most cases making this assumption will lead to a world of grief.

Today we will steal from Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual to achieve a perfectly square roof.

Note – ease in squaring a roof is one reason I frame my roof and install roofing prior to framing any walls. Everything moves far easier.

Figure 13-1: Squaring Roof

  1. Check both endwall trusses for straightness (against a string line) from side to side.


  1. Make certain endwall truss is plumb at each column. Properly set columns are either plumb or lean out slightly. To pull in, attach a cable from this column top to column base at the opposite endwall. Using a “come-along” move column top inward until plumb.


  1. Using a stringline align all eave struts (purlins) to straight. Any nonaligned column tops can be pulled into place using a “come-along” also, using the same procedure as outlined in the last paragraph. This is critical as this building line will be a noticeable one.


  1. Make certain the roof is square by checking diagonals from peak at one end to eave at the opposite corner. Refer to Figure 13-1 where diagonals AD and BC, AF and BE are equal.


Be certain to measure from the same “point” going each direction. Serious errors have been caused by lack of consistency. If uncertain, double check.


If any roof diagonals are “long”, run a cable and come-along from truss peak to opposite corner column (along purlin underside). Pull slowly until dimensions are equal. For best results, the difference in diagonals should be no greater than 1/8”. A very small “tug” can change a diagonal drastically. 

NOTE: One side only may be squared up at a time. Place roofing on squared side, then repeat the process for the opposite side.