Tag Archives: pole barn holes

I want the Bottom of my Poles at the Same Depth

I Want The Bottom of My Poles At The Same Depth

Reader CONNOR in CINCINNATI writes:
“Dear Pole Barn Guru,

I am putting up a 24’x32’x10′ pole barn to serve as a garage. Last weekend I augered my 24″ holes to accommodate 48″ post embedment plus a 10″ concrete footer. A ready-mix company is coming on Friday to pour the footers.

Last night I ran my laser level and saw that the depth of the holes varies within a ~6″ range. My question is, it is acceptable to place compacted gravel (304 limestone or similar) 4-6″ at the bottom of the “deeper” holes to bring them up to the same level as the “shallow” holes?

My concern is that some holes will end up with gravel and others won’t. I’d prefer not to manually dig out the “shallow” holes, and don’t want to spend the extra money on concrete as a filler.


Mike the Pole Barn Guru Writes:

In the global scope of life, the uniformity of the depth of your columns will not make a difference structurally. You will be cutting off the tops of the posts in any event, so no one except you, me and 100,000 (give or take) readers will know!

I would not suggest placing gravel at the bottom of any of the holes, as it is going to be virtually impossible for you to adequately compact it – leaving the possibility of settling a force to be reckoned with.

Here are some options…..

If your holes are actually 58 inches in depth (48″ of post embedment plus 10″ of footing) and you have ordered 16 foot long columns, you do not have to do anything. If the columns are 14 feet long, then you can suspend (float) the columns so the base ends up at 48 inches deep, by nailing a board across the column so as to support it on each side of the hole. Then place the column in the hole and mono pour both the footing as well as the concrete bottom collar to prevent uplift.

If your building’s engineer did not specify the use of a bottom collar then this is the time to be able to resolve this oversight and do the job right.

If the 10″ of footing is included in your 48″, then (regardless of whether you ordered 14′ or 16′ columns) you can again suspend the columns and mono pour the footing and collar together.

You are also talking about a very small quantity of concrete here – 12 footings two feet in diameter by 10 inches thick only takes just over a yard of premix. You might as well order enough concrete to avoid the typical $100 short haul charge (usually takes 3-4 yards) and pour the concrete in around the columns to provide footings and the collars – giving you a solid foundation which you can trust.




Sutherlands® – Calling them Out

I have a serious case of “like” for The Home Depot®. When my children were little, every time we got near one, they would start to chant (in unison), “Home Depot…..Home Depot”.

Yesterday morning I was in The Home Depot® at Grand Junction, Colorado. It was a special moment, when a gentleman came up to me (having perhaps recognized the red Hansen Pole Buildings shirt I was wearing) and told me he had purchased one of our buildings, and was constructing it now!

It isn’t very often I get to meet one of our clients, and even rarer when they are still building – so this was great fun for me.

He related to me how he was originally intending to order his new pole building kit package from Sutherlands® Lumber in Grand Junction. They had even provided him with plans, which he had submitted to the local Building Permit issuing authorities to acquire his Building Permit.

The Sutherlands® plans (which were approved by the Building Official) had a foundation composed of throwing a 90 pound bag of Quikrete® in the bottom of the hole. The pressure preservative treated column would then be placed, and another bag of Quikrete® dumped in around the post.

Pole Barn FootingIt turns out the customer decided the Sutherlands® building was going to be inadequate. His only complaint at all with a Hansen Pole Building was the size of the holes and amount of concrete it took. Even then he admitted Hansen was a better buy, even with the extra concrete costs.

The loyal readers of this column certainly will recall my railing against concrete cookies, in earlier posts: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/03/concrete-cookies/

In my humble opinion, what is being purported to be adequate by Sutherlands® (whether the Building Official approved it or not) is close to criminal.

Our client’s building has 40’ span prefabricated wood roof trusses, with a double truss every 10 feet. In his 30 psf (pounds per square foot) roof load, it results in each truss bearing column having to support 6860 pounds of load. Added to the fun is a soil bearing capacity of only 1500 psf.

The International Building Codes (IBC) require footings to be a minimum of a nominal six inch thickness. So let’s explore the design solution promulgated by Sutherlands®.

At 90 pounds per bag of Quikrete® it would take about 1.65 bags to make a cubic foot. If this was all poured to a nominal six inch thickness as a footing pad beneath a column, it would roughly form a two foot diameter footing. Now granted, this is not how Sutherlands® would like to see it done, however we are going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

A two foot diameter footing has an area of 3.14 sft (square feet). Multiplying by the 1500 psf allowable foundation pressure, a pad such as this would support 4710 pounds….when it needs to support 6860 pounds – it is overstressed by nearly 50%!!!

Talking with a building kit supplier (such as a Sutherlands®) who is recommending bags of Quikrete® to backfill the bottom of a column hole? Might want to really think about the design being bought into.

Bagging it? Prepare for the possibility of a roof line with some humps and bumps in it, at a future date.

When people such as Sutherlands® provide under designed buildings, it gives our entire industry a bad name. I’m calling Sutherlands® out here – and challenging them to actually provide Code conforming pole building kit packages

Non-Engineered Metal Brackets

Save Me Jesus….

I’ve been reading (and commenting) in an online thread of a blog on another website, where someone is trying to decide how to construct a new pole barn. This morning, the following post was made:

“What I had done was to dig the hole like you were going to set the post (below the frost line). I had a local welder make metal brackets with rebar welded to the flat end. Form up a square to match the size of the post, pour concrete, then insert the bracket. The posts sets in the bracket and is attached using two bolts. Building inspector didn’t have any issues with it.”

My response was:

I will truly do my best to be kind, and not go off on a total rant.

The most important point I am going to make is this – just because a Building Official doesn’t have an issue with something, does not make it either Code Conforming, or structurally sound. If I was in Code Enforcement, I would have demanded you provide calculations sealed by a registered professional engineer to confirm the adequacy of this design.

In My Humble Opinion, what you have is nothing short of terrifying. In the event of the threat of a strong wind, I would encourage you to remove any possessions you value from your building, as well as anything of value which is downwind from the building. Also, make sure you have the building well insured.

Non Engineered Post BracketThere are numerous commercially available post base metal brackets available. Very few of them are rated to be able to withstand moment (bending) forces. There is a very good possibility you could have purchased adequate and tested metal brackets, for less than what it cost to have the local welder fabricate these up for you.

From the photo, it appears the diameter of the holes is fairly small. If the columns are very close together, or the building has a very small span, they may be adequate to support the building from settling, as well as other issues.

Buildings of all sorts fail, but very few which have a RDP (Registered Design Professional) involved will ever fail, and those which do are almost universally due to loads being placed upon the building in excess of the design parameters, materials of lesser quality have been substituted, or plans were not followed. Armchair engineering is rarely a good choice. My best recommendation to you would be to hire a registered professional engineer to do a site evaluation of your building.  He/she can determine if what is in place is adequate.  If not, the RDP can design repairs to bring the building up to standards which will withstand the climactic loads which will be placed upon it. Best of Luck…and let me know how it turns out!

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