Tag Archives: pole barn costs

Pole Barn Economy of Scale

When building a pole barn, economy of scale can be your ally. Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug passed along to me this message from a client of his: “The last quote was for a 45′ x 42′ building with 2 garage doors and one person door. The new quote was for a 18′ x 42′ building with one garage door and one personnel door. So the new building is 60% smaller with one less door but costs 50% of the larger building rather than 40%?”

When it comes to the costs of a new post frame building (as well as most any other building system) there exists an economy of scale.

For practical purposes, the “cost” of a new building is your decision to have a new building at all. Once you have made this leap – you might as well put the four corners as far apart as you can economically justify and have the space for.

Until very large clearspans are achieved, the price per square foot of space enclosed decreases as the footprint of the building increases.

Why is this?

Several reasons:

  • The cost of processing an order by us and our vendors is virtually the same whether there are 10 pieces or 1000 pieces;
  • Packaging costs – the cost of packaging a large order isn’t much more than a small order;
  • Shipping – the moment a key gets close to a truck the dollar signs begin to spin. Having owned semi-trucks myself, I can vouch for it being as expensive to run the truck with a small order as it is a large order.

This is going to hold true for hiring a contractor as well. When I was building, it didn’t take much longer to erect a 50 x 60 building, than 30 x 60. Only usually four more holes to dig and columns to set, same number of trusses, a few more purlins and roof screws, 14 more sheets of wall steel. My mobilization costs (getting all of my tools and crew to the jobsite) were the same regardless of the size of the building.

Want to get the most bang for your post frame building investment?

As was said in the 1999 Disney TV move Johnny Tsunami, “Go big or go home”!

Dear Guru: Can I Purchase Just Pole Barn Plans?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday or Saturday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I purchase pole barn plans from your company without purchasing the building? NEEDY IN NEOSHO

DEAR NEEDY: Technically, we do not sell pole barn plans only – however, you could order a pole building from us, paying 25% down to acquire the plans, and then never go further. As our materials are so affordable, it actually would not make much sense to not have them provided by us. Plus, we use some higher quality materials which have been tested to provide added strength, which are not available to the general public, other than with the investment in one of our pole building kit packages.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We recently received your quote on our new pole building. The price was close to budget, but a little high. We’d like to know how the price would change if we reduced the wind rating. HOPING IN HUNTERS

DEAR HUNTERS: The design wind speed for your building is the lowest which is possible anywhere in the country under the 2012 International Building Code (IBC). If your building site is protected from the wind in all four directions, then Exposure B could be used, rather than the more severe Exposure C. For more information on Wind Exposure please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/

There are probably other ways to get the cost “down” without sacrificing designing a building to code. We often have folks purchase a building the width they desire, but scale down the length a bit, and then add onto that building a year or two down the road.   We have a gal who boards horses who has added onto the length of her horse barn three times.  As her business grows, her barn grows with it!  This is easily done and spreads the “budget” out over time. Don’t skip on features – sacrifice “for now” those things you can “do without” and then add them on later on. Overhangs should be done at time of building, but windows and even additional doors can be added in at a later date. Get your “box” figured out, and then add to it as you can afford.

Davis-Bacon Act & Pole Building Labor Costs

When I was a pole building contractor, I always hated “prevailing wage” projects. It wasn’t just all of the obnoxious extra paperwork and record keeping, it was knowing the taxpaying public was being basically fleeced. Prevailing wage caused the pole building labor cost to be two to three times what it would have been, if it would have been a private sector project.

The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) are administered by the Wage and Hour Division. These Acts apply to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works.

Davis Bacon ActThe Davis-Bacon Act requires all contractors and subcontractors performing on federal contracts (and contractors or subcontractors performing on federally assisted contracts under the related Acts) in excess of $2,000 pay their laborers not less than the prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits listed in the contract’s Davis-Bacon wage determination for corresponding classes of laborers employed on similar projects in the area. Davis-Bacon labor standards clauses must be included in covered contracts.

Apprentices may be employed at less than predetermined rates if they are in an apprenticeship program registered with the Department of Labor or with a state apprenticeship agency recognized by the Department. Trainees may be employed at less than predetermined rates if they are in a training program certified by the Department.

Contractors and subcontractors on prime contracts in excess of $100,000 are required, pursuant to the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, to pay employees one and one-half times their basic rates of pay for all hours over 40 worked on covered contract work in a workweek. Covered contractors and subcontractors are also required to pay employees weekly and to submit weekly certified payroll records to the contracting agency.

Across the nation–from the Pacific Northwest to Kansas and Tennessee – legislative bills introduced to repeal the Federal prevailing wage law (a.k.a. Davis-Bacon Act of 1931) are under hot debate. For construction companies, the repeal of prevailing wage regulation is an issue which has become layered with immigration reform laws currently moving through Congress. Originally, the laws were enacted as a mechanism to allow outside workers to enter a state without, as a result, undercutting local companies on labor rates.

Hence, it fits naturally into negotiations for creating a guest worker program for low-wage workers. But the counter argument is the proposal could raise pole building labor rates. Currently, ‘prevailing wage’ laws are only enforced for government-contract work. The deal announced by business and labor, however, would extend the practice into many aspects of the private economy. The biggest impact would likely be in post frame construction, which would see a dramatic increase in pole building labor costs.

This presents a double-edged sword for pole builders. Higher pole building labor costs could be a boon, or on the other hand, a business dampener, just as the industry is beginning to recover from the throes of the Great Recession.

 

 

Right to Work Laws & Your New Pole Building

Right to Work Laws seem to have certain logic behind them – worker freedom is safeguarded by not forcing workers to join a union, in order to get a job.

Currently a great deal of attention is being paid to state battles over union power, with Right to Work proposals receiving plenty of press nationally. States are turning to Right to Work legislation, to jump-start their troubled economies and safeguard worker rights.

Studies show, laws which eliminate the union grip on workers tend to have higher job growth as well as more disposable income for workers.

Right to Work states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas have weathered the “Great Recession” better than non-Right to Work states such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. The old Midwestern Industrial states have lost both jobs and employers at a rapid place, and workers have relocated in droves to Right to Work states.

Let’s look at the statistics from the decade which ended in 2009.

In the 22 Right to Work states, non-governmental employment grew 3.7% and real personal income rose 28.3%. The forced union states, not so good, as the same measures feel by 2.8% and 14.7% respectively.

What does this have to do with Pole Buildings?

Pole Barn ContractorsGood question. With skilled workers moving into Right to Work states, it affords those who are looking to have new pole buildings constructed, the ability to choose from higher quality contractors, and not have to deal with union mandates and forced pay scales in order to get the work done.

Of course, in non-Right to Work states, there could also be those who have held on and are looking to find work wherever they can. This could result in some bargains for those who are willing to hire contractors who are working outside of the unions.

While this is a touchy subject for many, I’ll be looking forward to hearing the feedback from readers as to their own personal experiences (on their new pole buildings) in relationship to the work rules in their own locale.

Share your stories with me: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

Pole Barn Contractors: “Best Around and Cheap”

Pole Barn Contractors

I recently read this posting on an internet forum:

Pole Barn Contractors“Who can build a good pole barn in this area? Looking to build a building and need someone that can build a sturdy pole barn.” 

In my mind, this is a reasonable question. And (most importantly) the person posting the question is looking for “sturdy”. After all, who seriously wants to make a major investment into a brand new pole building, and have it NOT be sturdy?

The one response posted was:

“call john xxxxxxxxxxx on brown ridge.he is the best around and cheep.”

There are three factors involved in the purchase of any goods or services – price, quality and service. Only two of these three are going to be met in any case, so pick the important ones.

I always have “lowest price” issues, as any product can have enough quality eliminated to make it the lowest price. Let’s face reality.  Pole buildings are conglomerations of value added design (hopefully engineering), lumber, siding, roofing and connections. All of these items are available at about the same cost to any supplier. There is not a magical “free forest” out there which spits out lumber for free.

Look at tennis shoes as an example….if low price was truly the driver, everyone would go to Goodwill and purchase slightly worn, probably off brand shoes. The reality is – chances are no one you know gets their tennies at Goodwill.

There is an entire litany of things which can be cheaped out upon, or left out to lower the price of a pole building and until it either falls down, or does not otherwise perform as expected.  In most cases no one would be the wiser until things don’t work out so well. (Meaning the first good snowfall or windstorm and you are either picking up pieces in your yard or the neighbors.)

Now “John” might be an absolute pole barn contractor “craftsman”. I had a sub-contractor work for me once, who was upset when he framed up a 50’ x 60’ x 16’ pole building and it was 1/8 inch out of square! The pressure treated columns themselves varied in dimension from one surface to another and end-to-end by more than 1/8”. Builder Bob was a perfectionist, his workmanship was top notch, and it took him forever and a day to complete a building. Some of my other crews would put up two or three similar sized and featured buildings in the same time frame. The clients of all were equally happy with their new buildings, however Bob (who invested far more hours) was starving to death, as each crew was paid by the job, not the hour.

The best way to get a sturdy pole barn, is to shop for a quality pole building kit package which meets the needs and the required climactic loadings for where the building will be constructed.

Once a final price has been given, ask how much more it will be to have the plans and complete structural calculations sealed by a RDP (Registered Design Professional) and if any design changes will need to be made to the building to have the plans sealed. If the cost is more than what seems reasonable for engineering services (as well as the RDP’s liability) or the answer is the building will have to be changed to be sealed – do not walk – RUN away from it!

Lastly, look for a contractor who is licensed and bonded.  Check out their credentials or read https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/04/general-contractor/ for further details on how to find a contractor.  Ask for references and although you know he will only give you those where he had “happy results”, check them out anyway.  Ask to see his clients’ pole buildings.  Sometimes walking into their pole barn structure will give you a feeling of “wow, this is a great building” vs. “this is NOT the quality craftsmanship I am looking for.”

It may seem tedious and time consuming to do all these “background checks”.  Ultimately, the money saved may very well be well worth the time you invested in doing due diligence…to “do your homework.”