Tag Archives: pole barn planning

Ceiling Loaded Trusses

Part of the mission of any good post frame (pole) building kit package supplier or contractor should be to save the client from making crucial design errors which they will later regret.

Among the most often questions I answer in my “Ask the Pole Barn Guru” weekly column is in regards to the ability of an existing building’s roof trusses to carry a ceiling load. I’ve expounded in this area in the past:


With a client who possibly did not communicate their needs well: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/04/ceiling-load-2/

Existing buildings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/10/ceiling-load/

Ceiling Loaded TrussesThis morning Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Dennis asked a question of me which I had failed to address in the past 1000 plus blog posts, “I was looking on blogs couldn’t find difference between roof trusses designed for ceiling load and not designed”.

Like most anything here at Hansen Pole Buildings, ask the question and ye shall receive an answer.

Increasing the ceiling load carrying capacity of a roof truss can result in one or more of many changes. Generally there will be more changes to the physical nature of the trusses as the span of the truss, or roof snow loads increase.

Here are some of the things which might change:

Grade of lumber. The #2 grade lumber which one might acquire at the local big box store or lumberyard is rarely strong enough to be used in most truss chord applications. Most generally one finds the use of #1 or Select Structural visually graded material, or what is known as machine graded lumber (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/12/machine-graded-lumber/). Often the need for increased load carrying capacity can be accommodated by a step or two up the ladder in the strength of the lumber.

Sometimes, stronger lumber alone, will not be the cure and larger dimensions of lumber may need to be utilized. 2×8 instead of 2×6 as an example.

Truss webs – those internal pieces of the truss, the ones running at angles between the top and bottom chords are known as “webs”. Sometimes the extra load capacity can be gained by adding more webs to the truss.

And let us not forget the lowly steel connector plates, which hold prefabricated metal connector plated trusses together. All of those joint connections now have to take an increased load, so there is going to be more square inches of steel utilized to do the trick.

The important part is less about HOW the load is going to be carried, and all about the ABILITY to carry it. Considering a new post frame building? If you think either you or the next owner or owners of the building might ever consider adding a flat level ceiling in the building, then it would be prudent to (at the least) order trusses designed to support the load now.

This is not the place to scrimp out trying to pinch a few pennies!

Questions From a Future Barndominium Owner

Questions From a Future Barndominium Owner


“I am interested in and currently planning a barn-dominium as a future primary residence for myself. (Male, Single, 35, 1 Cat, 1 Dog) The questions i had for you were: For someone who is inexperienced in the realm of pole barn and construction in general, what should be the first key considerations in the Planning Phase before you talk to a builder? Is there a software for the Design Phase that you would recommend that a CAD orientated person could use? Given a build where drawings show lengths ranging between 70-90FT…..What would you recommend as the maximum ceiling truss width? Would a 54x54FT 2-Story Barn-dominium be possible without specially ordering trusses? Do floor trusses impact heating concerns for us in the north with heavy snowfall and multiple day spans of below 0 temperatures? you recommend a solid slab -or- a crawlspace for a barn-dominium build? Apologies in advance for the multiple criteria of questions…just getting started on this journey.”

No apologies necessary, it is always a pleasure to talk buildings! This article gives a helpful overview of where to begin: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2021/02/a-shortlist-for-smooth-barndominium-sailing/

For design phase, for as little as our professional floor plan specialists charge, even a CAD oriented person can’t afford to invest in software and time it takes to use it (see #3 in previous link).

As far as trusses go – we build every truss to order, to match your site’s specific loading conditions, as well as wants and needs for things like roof slope and any interior slope. You will typically be slightly more cost effective (think cents per square foot, not dollars) to build in multiples of 12 feet for length and width.

Two (and even three) stories are totally possible (ours is two stories plus a partial mezzanine).

Floor trusses are fabulous for minimizing interior bearing walls and being able to run utilities through them. We are in Northeast South Dakota, so we know cold. Our floor trusses have no impact on our ability to heat and cool.

Although we have a slab on grade (due to parking vehicles in portions of our lower floor), for living areas, I and my knees sure like living on wood floors. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/03/slab-on-grade-or-crawl-space/

Adding a Slab, Code Requirements, and Getting Started

Today’s Ask the Guru takes on reader questions about adding a slab to a pole barn with a dirt floor, and how that might transfer pressure to the columns, whether or not Hansen Buildings packages meet “2018 International Building Code and all codes adopted by Pennsylvania for commercial construction,” and landowners looking to get started but not sure how.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have an existing 24ft by 32ft pole barn with dirt floor. I would like to poor a slab and I understand the need for construction joints in the concrete. I am concerned about expansion pressure from the concrete against the existing posts. Could the expansion of the floor slab put enough pressure on the posts to damage them? My posts are 4×6 treated pine. TIM in APEX

DEAR TIM: As far as actually damaging posts themselves, highly unlikely. If your 4×6 columns are not adequately anchored in ground by a concrete bottom collar, concrete encasement, or other properly compacted backfill, there is a potential for them to be shifted out of place when concrete is poured. Depending upon method of pressure treatment, ph of concrete against pressure treated pine can cause brown-rot fungi. If your columns were treated with ACQ-D or MCA, it might be prudent to isolate columns from concrete with a waterproof barrier. A barrier can be created as simply as running your under-slab vapor barrier (6mil or thicker black plastic) up and over top of your pressure treated splash planks and around sides of columns to top of slab.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do your pole building packages meet the 2018 International Building Code and all codes adopted by Pennsylvania for commercial construction? ANDREW in HOLLIDAYSBURG



DEAR ANDREW: Every Hansen Pole Building is fully engineered to meet all structural requirements of applicable Codes where building is to be erected. Besides your engineer sealed blueprints, our engineers also provide sealed verifying calculations.


About Hansen BuildingsDEAR POLE BARN GURU: We own the land however we don’t where to get started with this Process? TONY in FLORENCE

DEAR TONY: Your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer can be a great resource in assisting you with this process. Many of our clients have found resources in this article of prove helpful: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2021/02/a-shortlist-for-smooth-barndominium-sailing/

Moisture Management, Poor Steel Cutting, and Info Help

Today’s “Ask the Guru” tackles reader questions about moisture management, poorly done steel cutting around windows and doors, and help “Looking for info” for Jack.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi, I am framing out an animal barn (right now to be used for housing chickens and storing some feed and hay) inside of an existing metal, wood framed pole barn.

The structure is near identical to what was described in this previously posted question here:

Insulating a Room in an Unheated Pole Barn

The only difference is that the roof itself is not insulated.

In the new interior room we will be adding fiber insulation between the studs (with a large gap between the exterior metal and the insulation), and a vapor barrier on the interior side, then the sheathing (likely plywood) interior surface. Then insulation, vapor barrier, sheathing on the ceiling/ floor of the “attic” storage. We are adding a vent in one exterior wall and one interior wall for air flow.

Is this approach sound in terms of moisture management? I’m unsure if this becomes an issue at the top of pole barn wall where we have an open roof overhang. There are also plans to heat the remaining area of the barn down the road.

Appreciate any help! HANNAH

DEAR HANNAH: If you have no vapor barrier under your concrete floor (or are unsure if you do or not) seal it to prevent moisture from coming up through it. I would recommend using unfaced rock wool batt insulation, as it is impervious to moisture. Do not use a vapor barrier in your ceiling.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello! I am in the process of building a pole barn that has several windows and walk-thru doors. As such, when I look closely at the exterior around these windows and doors, they look a little sloppily done where the metal siding meets up with the finish around the window and door openings. Is there a product that will help seal the 2 pieces of metal together as well as look nicer? I can provide a picture if you’d like. I was wondering if caulk is the way to go – or is there some double-sided sticky sealant foam type product that would work? Thank you! TRICIA in SUGARCREEK TWP

DEAR TRICIA: Yes, what you have was done very sloppily. Whoever built this for you should be replacing some panels to provide a much tighter fit between wall steel and J Channel around windows. While they are at it, here is how to create a leak free window: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/03/no-leak-barndominium-windows/



DEAR JACK: A great place for info is the www.HansenPoleBuildings.com website. Navigate to the upper right corner of the page and click on SEARCH, type in whatever term you want information on (e.g. BARNDOMINIUMS) and ENTER. Up will come relevant articles for you (there are over 2000 of them).

You may also want to get our helpful Planning Guide https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-barn-planning-guide/

PermaColumns, Pole Barn Planning, and Insulating a Roof

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru discusses the use of PermaColumns, planning of a pole barn in Florida, and the best solution for a building without roof or exterior wall weather resistant barriers.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am having a pole building put up with engineered laminated columns. The contractor is pushing a “Perma Column” made up of concrete and welded rebar that goes in the ground, about 5′ long surrounded by more concrete, and the laminated columns are bolted on top through 1/4″ steel brackets. My question is, are these laminated columns OK to go directly into the ground, with concrete, or is it important to keep them out of the ground as these Perma Columns would do? TIM in MEDICAL LAKE

DEAR TIM: Back in my post frame building contractor days we built many a building in and around Medical Lake.

Hopefully those columns are true glu-laminated columns, as opposed to nailed together. Most of these are designed specifically for post frame construction and have their lower six or more feet pressure preservative treated for structural in ground use. If this is your case, there is no issue with their lower end being embedded directly in ground (reducing costs and increasing ease of construction). While precast Permacolumns would keep columns out of ground, there is a better option – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/perma-column-price-advantage/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello. We are planning to build a pole barn home in Arcadia, Florida. We were looking into the 40 x 60 with 2 leans on the sides. However, we cannot find someone who specializes in these constructions and can tell us how to start, what type of foundation is needed since it’s a pole barn. Do you do the entire project or you just supply the kit? Do you have contractors you work with as far as installation? Please get back to me asap. ANA MARIA in NAPLES

DEAR ANA MARIA: Well, you have reached out to where you should be, as Hansen Pole Buildings specializes in post frame homes (barndominiums and shouses).

Links in this article will get you through budgeting, financing, finding property, room design and floor plans: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/.

Post frame foundations can be as simple as properly pressure preservative treated columns embedded in ground, to columns mounted to engineered brackets or even continuous footings and foundations.

Our buildings are designed for the average physically capable person who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings (and many of our clients do DIY). Our buildings come with full 24” x 36” blueprints detailing the location and attachment of every piece, a 500 page fully illustrated step-by-step installation manual, as well as unlimited technical support from people who have actually built buildings. For those without the time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states. We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders. We would appreciate the opportunity to participate in your new home. Please email your building plans, site address and best contact number to caleb@hansenpolebuildings.com or dial (866)200-9657 .


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Have a 30×42 pole shed at my new home that I purchased. It is partitioned into 2 parts, a back room (30×12) and front (30×30). The back room is finished off with OSB on the walls, in between the horizontal 2×6 purlins there is 1.5″ unfaced rigid foam board (expanded polystyrene I believe) and on the ceiling it appears that it is just a rock wool type insulation between the purlins and a 6 mil plastic vapor barrier stapled to the purlins along the bottoms all the way around the room. There is crosses cut into it every so often (assuming for a vent). The room is heated by a Propane wall heater and it gets Very warm and holds heat very well even with it being open to the 16 ft. peak. This room has been like that for 25+ years and it shows no signs of condensation, rust, rot, or anything for that matter. The front section (30×30) has 1.5″ RTech faced rigid foam boards between the horizontal girts with the foil sides facing into the shop & seams spray foamed etc. The 30×30 room will be heated with a vented 75k BTU unit heater that is also run off of LP. Side note- The building has no WRB between the steel and “studs” on the walls or roof. My question is how can the roof be insulated without the use of spray foam or removing the metal and wrapping it. I am looking for all the feasible options for this project, thank you. JACKSON in COLEMAN

DEAR JACKSON: Providing your building’s trusses are designed to support weight of a ceiling and any non-conditioned dead attic space above can be adequately vented, your best bet is to install a ceiling (my preference would be 5/8″ Type X gypsum wall board) and blow in fiberglass insulation. This will be your most cost effective alternative in materials and labor and will result in a minimum amount of space to be heated.



Avoid These 4 Mistakes in Your Post Frame Building

Avoid These 4 Mistakes In Your Post Frame Building

Today’s guest blogger is Katherine Rundell, a construction writer and editor at Assignment Help and College Paper Writing Service. She is also a contributing writer at Buy Essays. As a professional writer, she coaches college students on how to write in various fields.

Yes, buyer’s remorse can happen during construction. That’s especially true for when you’re building a post frame building or pole barn, because when buying the materials and putting them to work, it can easily get caught up in the vision of having a durable and attractive pole barn for your home, business, vehicles, tools, etc.. And that’s where buyer’s remorse comes in – What if the building is built in the wrong size? What if you’ve had the wrong materials to begin with?

So, since having a post frame building is a significant investment, it’s important to keep it that way by avoiding these 4 mistakes during the construction process:


1- Making Your Barn Too Small

“Size matters when you build a pole barn,” says Piper Porteus, an editor at Essayroo and Paper Fellows. “If you build your barn too small for its intended use, then you’ll immediately regret it, once you realize that you can’t fit your RV inside it, can’t move around your workshop tools, or aren’t able to house your livestock. Therefore, make it your job to learn what you want to put into the barn, and then construct it with those things in mind – your tools, your vehicles, your livestock, etc. Make sure that the barn will have room for anything and everything inside.”

“In roughly 20,000 post frame buildings spanning a 40 year career, I have never had a client tell me later it was just too big,” says Mike Momb, Technical Director for Hansen Pole Buildings.

On the other hand…


2- Making Your Barn Too Big

… you can’t make your barn too big either. Although you might be able to fit a lot of things into a large barn, the downside is that it can turn more into an eye sore rather than something to be proud of in your location. 

So first, when outlining your pole barn design, set some time to go to your building site, and then measure the area and dimensions required for the project. And, take into account how much space that you truly need, rather than settle for extra space that you won’t use after all. 


3- Working With No Plan

Engineer sealed pole barn“One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make during pole barn construction is not having a solid plan for it,” says Eva Gilray, a writer at State Of Writing and OXessays. “For first timers, this mistake is crucial, because assuming that pole barn building is easy can be costly – from the project itself, to extra expenses for the replacement of unplanned damages during construction.” 

Therefore, having a good plan for the construction of a post frame building should include the following:

  • Thoroughly detailed engineered blueprints, specific to your building, at your site. These should depict every member, as well as all connections.
  • A detailed list of materials (i.e. the cut sizes and other materials) recommended for the specific style of post frame that you want to construct. Your building kit supplier should provide this.
  • Step-by-step instructions to walk you through each stage of construction.
  • Unlimited professional support while you build.


4- Purchasing Wrong Materials

stick frame building collapseFinally, keep in mind what kinds of materials that you’ll need for your project. Buying the wrong materials, or getting too much or too little materials, can be a costly mistake, especially when taking up a project like this one. This is where your chosen post frame building kit supplier should guarantee they will be providing all materials necessary for assembly per engineered plans.

Post frame construction, like any other building project, takes plenty of consideration and planning. In fact, there are hundreds of options to choose from when selecting the materials for your pole barn. However, as you make your selections, be sure to not fall into the trap of spending more or less than you need to. The ultimate goal here is to build a safe, durable pole barn with great-quality quality materials. 

Just keep these objectives in mind:

  • Buy what you need, keeping future uses in mind.
  • Don’t over or underspend.
  • Rely upon properly pressure preservative treated lumber.
  • Don’t wait until you order or receive your materials to think twice about how you intend to build and use a pole barn.



So, as you can see, having a durable pole barn depends greatly on the planning. That means that there’s no room for mistakes in construction. 

Therefore, be sure to do your homework ahead of time, and buy what you need. But more importantly, have a plan ahead of time, so that you know what to do step-by-step. Plus, having a plan allows you to research the various styles of pole barns available, the sizes, and the recommended materials. 

If you’re building a pole barn for the first time, then take into account these mistakes, avoid them, and good luck!


Span, Vapor Barriers, and Planning a Pole Barn

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about the widest span a post frame building can be built, vapor barrier on a roof only structure, and the proper steps for planning a pole barn.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How wide can you span? And approx cost per sq ft for an erected shell, (no floor Hvac or electric. 100’x110′ bldg.. JOHN in LEWES

Arena Interior

DEAR JOHN: While we have quoted fully engineered post frame buildings up to 140′ clearspan with prefabricated wood trusses, 100′ is widest we have provided. Due to possible shipping and fabrication challenges, these spans are not available in all markets and further research would need to be done based upon your location and load conditions. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you for further discussion.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is a vapor barrier needed for metal roof if it is open, no walls? CRAIG.

DEAR CRAIG: While Building Codes do not require one – if it is absent you are likely to have periods (especially in Spring and Fall) where it will rain inside of your building. Most people erect new buildings with an idea of protecting contents from climactic conditions such as rain, so this result may be less than desirable.

I would recommend you order roof steel with a factory applied Integral Condensation Control (ICC). ICC is available with trade names such as Dripstop and Condenstop.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My wife and I may be obtaining property in western Oregon and have been kicking the idea around building such a structure. We really don’t know where to start and what this all entails. We really like the idea of having a simple open concept with a decent size shop attached so all our vehicles and RV can be stored inside. I was just really hoping to get a starting point and go from there. Thank you for your time! COLE in OREGON

DEAR COLE: Thank you for reaching out to us. Links in this article should assist you in getting off to a start in the right direction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/



Ten Tips for Planning a Building

Planning a Building – guest blog by J.A.Hansen

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualI am the principle owner and CEO of Hansen Buildings – offering to give Mike a day off from writing a blog. Over the years I’ve done just about everything at Hansen Buildings, including shipping (setting up the original shipping department), ordering materials, writing parts of the Construction Manual and even selling buildings (not my forte at all!)

My main job since the beginning of Hansen Buildings some 16 years ago – has been to oversee the drafting team and review every set of plans my company produces for clients. Yes, I said every set of plans….thousands of them! In doing so – there are things clients do with or to their buildings that make me cringe. If I can dissuade even one client from making a mistake they will regret, my day is a success!

In no particular order – here are things to consider when planning a building:

  1. Size – by all means plan out the LARGEST building you can fit on your property and squeak out enough pennies to pay for. Designing a building with the idea “I’ll add onto it later” is NOT going to save you money in the long run. Instead, decide on the basic footprint that will service you not only today, but for as many years as you expect to use it. If you think you “just might” purchase a vehicle or trailer requiring a larger door sometime down the road – at least design a bay wide enough for the door to fit in. Tell us what size, so we can space your poles to accommodate the future door. You can cover it with steel (or whatever siding you choose now, and cut the opening for the door when you can afford it. Same idea with windows – they can be framed in later, if you want to save some money now on your initial investment.
  1. Doors – as long as I am talking about doors – why people order 8’ x 8’ overhead doors is beyond me. Do you know what fits through an 8’ wide door? Not much. Unless you have a smart car or a riding lawnmower to put through it. No standard production pickup will fit through the door, even if you pull the mirrors in. Measure what you are going to put through your doors – and make the doors at least 2’ wider. Adding 4’ is so much kinder, and allows you to open the door without dinging the vehicle or wall next to you.
  1. Entry doors – you need at least one by code. The idea is – if there is a fire or electrical failure and your garage opener stops working, you have a way OUT. And if your building is large enough so if you had to find the entryway in the dark or around a lot of equipment or “stuff”, make sure you have more than one entry – on opposite ends or sides of the building. Walk around your property and think through traffic lines – meaning, is your entry door going to end up where it’s most accessible and used? I have lost count of the hundreds of doors I have moved on plans because at the last minute, once the client sees the plans, they decide to move the entry door.
  1. Windows – Choose even sizes. You may think a 3’6” x 4’6” is a great size, but you will pay for a 4’ x 5’, so why not get the most for your dollar? People think 3’ x 3’ windows sound “large” but they really are not. Once you have all the casings around it, there is not as much light (or viewing area) as you think. Take a tape measure to a building where you pick out windows you think are a size you’d like, then measure them. You might be surprised at how big “large” really is.
  1. Overhangs – about 95% of the building kits ordered from us have 12” “enclosed” overhangs. This is NOT something you want to try to add on later, so if it was my building and I could only afford a second overhead door or overhangs – I’d pick the overhangs and add in the overhead door when I had the money for it. If you have a building with a large footprint, or very tall, 12” overhangs will look….unattractive (dare I say silly?). Ask us to do a sketch for you to show the difference between 12”, 18” and 24” overhangs on your building if you are unsure. We want you to have a building which is functional, but also one that looks great too.
  1. Stop trying to match siding colors to other buildings you have on your property. It’s a never ending battle we have with customers who call and ask things such as, “How Gray is the Light Gray?” Or, “should I get the white or bright white siding to match my house?” Even if we mail you color chips for siding (and we are happy to do so), once in the sun, the siding will fade. Guaranteed. How much and how fast is anyone’s guess. When I got married to The Pole Barn Guru, he added on a huge closet for me (thanks honey!), and I was hesitant but careful to ask why he didn’t put the “same blue” on the closet exterior walls. His answer, in his typical MikeSpeak was, “I did.” Now sixteen years later, amazingly – it pretty much matches! Older siding won’t continue to fade as much, but newer siding, whether steel or cement – or whatever you have, will fade at a faster rate the first few years. Paint will do this too. So – what colors do you pick? Complementary colors – colors that “go together”.
  1. If you do have a shed planned for your building and it’s a “roof only”, do not put enclosed overhangs on it. Every time a client orders a shed like this, I want to start offering wasp or hornet spray as a purchase-able option! What you have created is a “nesting” place at your eaves, and good luck keeping it from filling up with something “less than desirable”. At a minimum, purchase fine screen to run along the inside. Yes, I know you want to match the overhangs on the main building, but be aware of the problem you are creating. Maybe open overhangs will work, but most often, clients choose to not put overhangs at all on the shed, and it looks just fine with the main building having enclosed overhangs.
  1. Wainscot – is another thing I’d never “option out” on my building. My husband and I put up a 48’ x 60’ Gambrel building – with 18’ enclosed sheds, and added wainscot for “looks”. Am I ever glad I did! I usually encourage folks who have cars or other vehicles or machinery to opt “in” for wainscot – in case there is an accidental dent. My lovely daughter-in-law, who was doing us a favor in mowing around our barn, got a little too close to the building. I was so glad I only had to order (2) 3’ pieces of wainscot for replacement instead of (2) 30’ pieces on the back wall!
  1. Shingles versus steel roof. I am living testimony for opting for steel! Where I come from, not far from the Hansen Pole Buildings home office, you rarely see a steel roof on a home. When the shingles were past due to be replaced on my mobile home (which my son now lives in), my husband gently told me how easily steel would go over my shingles and I’d “never have to touch it again”. I am not sure where the “shingles are best” originated in my brain, but I put up quite a resistance to the steel idea. For 2 years I balked. And when my roof started to leak, decided my stubbornness had to take a break! We put down 2×4’s, put the steel over top, and voila! – a new roof. I smile every time I look at it – it looks clean, sharp, and makes my 20 year old mobile home look like new! And I’ll never have to touch it again.
  1. I should have listed this one first. It really is the most important “tip” I can give you. Go to your planning department (in my case planning/building department was one in the same) with a drawing of the size of the building you want to build, and where on your property you want to put it – with dimensions. Then talk to them about what they will allow, and if there are any requirements. This should be done before you ever get a quote on a building, and definitely before you purchase one! Too often we have folks who order a building, we produce the plans, and then they find out their building is “too tall”, “too large”, too “something” they didn’t plan for. And they didn’t verify their codes, or get sealed plans. All kinds of “oopses” that cost money – and hard feelings.

Take your time planning a building – and take “enough” time to plan it right. Don’t suddenly throw a size and doors/options at us, get plans drafted and then think we should revise them for free several times over. Or order a building and expect it all to be delivered “next week”. I can guarantee a building will have changes when I am told, “this one is a RUSH job, can you get the plans drafted by tomorrow?” Yes, my drafting dept. can. And I know I’ll see it being redrafted next week…or the week after.

Have fun with planning your new building – this may be the largest purchase you ever make…and will last longer than anything else you buy in your lifetime!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru – my mentor, friend and happily my husband – will be back next week. Stay tuned.

Lifesaving Bollard

The Day a Bollard Saved my Family’s Lives

According to the sum of all knowledge (Wikipedia): A bollard is a sturdy, short, vertical post. Although it originally described a post on a ship or quay used principally for mooring boats, the word is now used to describe posts installed to control road traffic and posts designed to prevent ram raiding and car ramming attacks.  You may have noticed them in front of large buildings, such as Walmart.

From the 17th and 18th centuries, old cannons were often used as bollards on quaysides to help moor ships alongside. The cannon would be buried in the ground muzzle-first to approximately half or two-thirds of their length, leaving the breech (rear end) projecting above ground for attaching ropes. Such cannons can still occasionally be found. Bollards from the 19th century were purpose-made, but often inherited a very similar “cannon” shape.

When I built my last wood roof truss manufacturing building, I planned it with six foot cantilevered overhangs along each of the 150 foot long sides. This was so units of lumber could be stacked on each side and be out of the weather. In order to keep forklifts from shoving the units into the steel siding of the post frame building, we placed four inch diameter galvanized steel pipes filled with concrete into the ground along both sides. They worked spectacularly.

One thing I did not count upon (and therefore failed to place bollards next to) was someone backing their pickup into the steel next to the entry door at the front of the building! Poor planning upon my part.

So, how did a bollard save my family?

Long time readers may recall our family home outside of Spokane, Washington happens to be on a hillside. When I had the parking lot and road in paved in 1991, I had bollards placed along the edges to prevent people from driving their cars over a 20 foot high precipice and down the hill into the neighboring homes.

Fast forward several years – I am driving our Chevrolet Tahoe down the steep driveway leading to the parking area. Even with four wheel drive and studded snow tires, we start slowly sliding down the hill and across the parking lot.


Just as the right front tire goes over the edge of the lot, a bollard reaches out and grabs the side of the Tahoe – as I am seeing my children’s lives flash before my eyes!

The damage to the Tahoe and the Bollard, minimal, my children’s lives – priceless.

When planning your new post frame building, consider where it is vehicles might run into it (usually next to large doors) and protect them with bollards. They are considerably less expensive than having to do repairs on your beautiful new building!

Your New Pole Building…You Want it When?

Hansen Buildings Designer Rick shared this with me today:

Had a client call this morning almost in tears. She has decided she wants to order a building from us, however has had a hard time getting the construction quoted. All of the builders in her area, who normally construct our buildings, are too busy. She watched our time lapse video, and wished she was watching her barn going up.”

See the video yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL1GBxSjQIk&list=UUPc5tR1kk4GcUsLvHLdHIrQ&index=1&feature=plcp

When I had my first pole building kit package business in the 1980’s, we would have clients call us in October ready to order. Now these were the very same people we had been talking to six months earlier. We’d be so busy; we’d tell them it would be April before their pole buildings could be built. It still amazes me, but these people would actually wait one-half of a year to get their buildings from us!

What lots of people did not realize is – neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet….nor dark of night stop pole buildings from going up. We erected a pole building for a snow ski resort in North Central Washington, in January!

Fast forwarding to when I was a builder in the 1990’s…..

I could tell the first skiff of snow in each community, without having to look at the weather report. It was the day all of our prospective clients from each hamlet would call – wanting to know when they could get their new pole buildings constructed! Even with as many as 35 crews by Fall we would have all of them booked out until after the first of the year.

Now-a-days, with so many contractors having gone out of business the past four years, all of the good ones are swamped with work, especially as the season of poor weather and short daylight hours approaches.

For some reason, Americans (as a broad generality) tend to procrastinate. We wait until the last (or beyond the last) possible instant, before taking action.

When it comes to getting a new building built, it is always best to err on the side of safety. Give plenty of time for the unexpected – Planning and Building Departments often take longer than anticipated to issue permits. Will the excavator show up when expected, maybe….maybe not?

Don’t expect whoever you purchase your pole building from, to get plans and materials to you “yesterday”.  If you are so stressed in pushing to get it up “before snow flies”…perhaps you would be better off waiting until Spring, and then get a jump on everyone else by booking your contractor now. 

Again, many pole buildings do get constructed in the wintertime.  As long as you can dig holes, get the poles concreted in the ground – the rest easily follows.  Don’t worry about the concrete floor.  With a pole building, it can be added in the Spring, which many clients have told me it worked out great…spreading out the expenses.  Another option is to have a contractor set the poles for you (a one day job versus a week or more), and then build the rest yourself over the winter.  More savings, and unless you live where temperatures are in the minus zone, a few layers of clothes and by Spring you may have your new building, along with a few more dollars in your pocket when its done.