Tag Archives: pole barns

Moratorium on Pole Barns?

Moratorium on Pole Barns?
The Port St. Joe, Florida commissioners will be holding a workshop to discuss accessory buildings, in particular pole barns.
Commissioner Rex Buzzett brought the issue up at the previous meeting and moved to implement a moratorium on additional permits for accessory buildings until commissioners discussed the topic in greater detail.
Mayor Bo Patterson and Commissioner Brett Lowry said they could not agree to such a moratorium, Patterson arguing one concern of residents about the issue was too much government interference.
But, Patterson added he counted at least 30 pole barns during an informal tour of the city and commissioners agreed the proliferation of them (look no further than Oak Grove, Buzzett said), could be problematic.
“There are a lot of things that concern me,” Buzzett said. “I do think we need to slow it down and get a handle on it.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:
I’ve been in jurisdictions which have attempted to restrict residential accessory buildings and the end resultant seems to more-often-than-not result in taxpaying voters who are less than pleased with restrictions placed upon the use of their property.
Residential accessory buildings serve the public by keeping extra vehicles and belongings from becoming backyard (or front yard) eyesores. If the case is the “look” of the buildings, restrictions can be placed upon them so as to have them blend in with the residences they are most adjacent to. A mandate to match the type and color of siding is the most prevalent which I have seen, and appears to be most palatable to home owners.
For the most part, however, having building features tie in with existing structures seems to be a better route. By designing buildings with more residential features such as enclosed overhangs and residential raised panel doors, as well as color schemes which are complimentary to the nearby home, the durability and cost savings of steel siding can yet be maintained.
Hopefully this group of commissioners can keep level heads and realize if there are a number of pole barns in their jurisdiction, it is due to the desire of their constituents to have them and they will not enact onerous restrictive measures.

Nature Center Post Frame Buildings

Nestled in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State is Cayuga County, the home of the Sterling Nature Center (https://www.facebook.com/sterlingnaturecenter/). This spectacular 1400 acre site, with nearly two miles of Lake Ontario shoreline, has been granted a conservation easement by the State of New York.

This unique park features glacially-formed bluffs, with scenic vistas of Lake Ontario. Its varied terrain of wetlands, vernal ponds, woodland, creeks and meadows is home to diverse species of wildlife and plants. This diversity of land and species offers numerous opportunities for education and recreation.

Jensvold HouseWithin the next several years, Sterling Nature Center could be getting a new Interpretive Building to replace the Jensvold House.

Listed as one of the highest priorities in the center’s drafted 10-year Functional Management Plan for 2016-2025, Director Jim D’Angelo said anything bigger and better than the current building would help meet program needs.

“Right now with this building, we don’t have any large meeting room,” D’Angelo said. “We have a program room that we can sit maybe 20 to 30 people comfortably, but we wanted to introduce some other programs like having live animals come in.”

This, he said, would require a room to fit at least 100 people. The Jensvold House, which was sold to Christopher and Anne Jensvold in 1933, has needed lots of upkeep, and many structural repairs are difficult considering the roof tiles have asbestos.

David Nelson, planner for the county’s Planning and Economic Development Department, said long-term he doesn’t believe the building is sustainable. He said it’s a matter of when it will be torn down rather than if.

Between a combined pool of funds set aside by the county and funds gathered from Friends of Sterling Nature Center, there’s approximately $200,000 to be used toward a new structure. There have been talks of erecting a pole barn, similar to one which was recently installed at the Ward O’Hara Agricultural and Country Living Museum (https://www.facebook.com/Ward-W-OHara-Agricultural-Museum-180516872001677/) in Auburn. D’Angelo said he’d like to incorporate more of an environmental theme to the building, using green technology to help the building run more efficiently.

Post frame buildings are ideal for interpretive buildings and nature centers both for public and privately operated facilities.

Hansen Pole Buildings provided the structural design and materials for the Nature Center at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado (https://www.cmzoo.org/) . This particular building was designed to flow with the natural topography of the site including a daylight basement concept to allow for ten feet of grade change. A great room for large meetings was available and could be segregated off into smaller sections by means of moveable dividers suspended from the prefabricated wood roof truss system. The highlight of the great room is a massive stone fireplace.

Post frame buildings lend themselves to projects such as these, which often rely upon donated funds to make them come to fruition. Quickly and easily constructed (even with volunteer help), they are an ideal addition.

We look forward to working with the Sterling Nature Center on their upcoming project.

Hansen Pole Buildings Owner is Back!

Hi! This is one of the founding owners of Hansen Pole Buildings, and for whom the company is named, J.A.Hansen. I thought we’d take a break from the usual Friday “rerun” blogs, for me to tell you a story. Bear with me here…

It was September 26th of last year, 2015. I was on my 2004 Yamaha 1100, a sweet little ride if there ever was one. It fit me perfectly. My partner in crime and loving husband, the one and only Mike the Pole Barn Guru, was on his 1986 Yamaha Venture Royale, 1300. We were on our way from South Dakota, where the main office of the company is, to Newman Lake, WA, (Spokane suburb near the Idaho border). That is home for Mike and I, whenever we haven’t been on the road over the past several years. But that, as they say, is “another story”.

We’d made that trip several times over the past many years, and this was my third trip riding cross country on my own bike. It was wonderful to learn to ride my own bike. Besides the thrill of riding in the wind, there is a lot more to see than the back of my husband’s helmet!

Today was extra special. It was the middle of an absolutely beautiful day. Sun was shining, but we’d started early enough to stop “early” if and when the sun got in our eyes. It was early yet, maybe 1:30 in the afternoon. We were headed for Bozeman, MT, our next gas stop. I was riding lead, my husband behind, close enough to “shield” me from other traffic, but not so close as to be able to stop….should he need to.

Now the next part is missing details….because quite honestly, I simply don’t have them. I’ve dreamt about it, relived it, and no way will what happened prior to the next part will come back to me. And no, I didn’t have a stroke or pass out. If I had, I’ve had dropped my bike right then and there. (Yes you experienced bikers, I probably should have just “laid it down”. Hindsight is….).

A curve was coming up, and as is my habit, I slow for curves. I am careful of my speed whenever I can’t exactly see the entire road ahead of me. Interstate was 75mph and I know I had already slowed to 70. When for some unexplained reason, my bike would not throttle down more. I turned the handle WAY down, or at least tried to, and tried to carefully brake. I went to the side of the road, so to signal Mike something was wrong with my bike and we’d be stopping. I could hear him through our headsets, calmly asking me “what’s wrong?”.

The next part went so fast, in the flash of seconds. Apparently Mike could see I was in trouble as he hollered into my ears, “Slow down! Slow Down!” I didn’t hear anything after that. I do remember going over the edge of the high side of a left hand curve, and thinking “just ride it out, ride it out”. That came from my 40 years of snow skiing experience. And so I did ….for a time. The next part was relayed to me several days later. Mike tells me I DID ride it out….until my back tire hit some loose dirt and then I went end over end….with me ON the bike. And finally, I flew off….still at a very high speed.

I do remember hitting the ground on my chest. It was, um…not pleasant! (I broke most of the ribs on my right side.) Immediately I knew I was paralyzed at least from the waist down. My feet felt then, as they do today, “frozen”. But more than frozen. It’s similar to when you hit your “crazy bone”. They felt…numb, cold, and tingly.

An ambulance ride to Bozeman, helicopter to Billings to place titanium rods in my back and be told I am a T-6 Paraplegic. Four days after surgery, I went by Leer Jet from Bozeman to Craig Hospital and Rehab in Denver, CO which came up as the #1 place in the U.S. when my husband looked for the “best rehab” for SCI (spinal cord injury). Three months at Craig, another 3 weeks recently at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for a “tune up”, and I finally am starting to get back to work. Today.

What did I do as the company chief officer? Lots of things, including editing and posting the blogs that Mike The Pole Barn Guru writes. More importantly, to YOU as a consumer, what am I going to do NOW?

Good questions. I am not sure of the “details”, but I am sure of one thing. I am still at the forefront, cheering on our staff, being there to advise, direct, and make sure ALL of our clients get…Your Building. Your Way. Yes, that’s our tagline. It was my brain storm and I’m sticking to it….to give you the best we have to offer. The very best custom designed building, at a reasonable price.

During my convalescence, “new” blogs were reduced from 4 a week to 3 a week, with “re-runs” posted on Fridays. During those 7 months Mike the Pole Guru not only was at my bedside every single day (and often nights), but he was at YOUR side as well. He reviewed building plans, assisted Clients and Contractors with tech support questions, answered Pole Barn Guru queries, and yes, was still writing blogs.

Our general manager, Eric, also took on quite a bit of my work, and was one of my best “cheerleaders” in my recovery. I am happy to say, he has also recently become a major partner in owning Hansen Pole Buildings. Along with Mike, Eric shares my vision and the future of Hansen Buildings to be the “best darn pole building company money has to offer”.

So – I’m back…and no more “re-runs” on Fridays. You are free to enter a search term if you feel there is something we may have discussed before, or something “new” to you, but may or may not have blogged about in the past.

We are open to researching ideas for custom designs for pole buildings….pole barns to some. To us, they are anything you want your building to be, as long as we can design it structurally safe and sound, and aesthetically pleasing to any eye.

It feels good to be back…thank you for your patience and we look forward to hearing from you.

Judy A. Hansen, owner

Monitor Barns and High Snow Loads

Back in the early 1990’s, when I was building pole buildings, we had constructed a monitor barn for some clients in the Libby, Montana area.

10-18-12 Monitor in WinterFor those who are not familiar with the term “monitor barn” it is a main gabled roof, with side sheds or “wings” on each eave side. The height of the wings is such as the high side of the wing is below the eave height of the gabled roof. Monitor style roofs are very popular in the horse community, as the wings can be utilized for horse stalls, tack and wash rooms, while the raised center affords height to allow for a second floor or loft for either living quarters, hay or other storage.

In today’s world the IBC (International Building Code) follows provisions to calculate sloped roof snow loads (Ps) from ground snow loads (Pg). To refresh yourself on how this works, please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/02/snow-loads/.

For applications in snow country, the IBC also requires roofs to be designed for unbalanced loads due to snow drifting. On gabled roofs, drifting can account for snow blowing from one side of a roof, forming a deep berm close to or at the peak of the opposite side of the roof. With monitor barns, drifting can also occur at the upper portion of the wings, against the taller gabled center.

Current roof snow design theory also takes into account snow sliding off from the upper gabled roof, onto the lower monitor roof.

20 plus years ago, things were far simpler, although not nearly as advanced technologically. For the area around Libby, it was generally considered good practice to design for the roof systems to handle a snow load of 40 to 55 psf (pounds per square foot).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (actually back to our original story), a winter or two after this particular building was constructed – it snowed. A lot. Enough so it gave the appearance of Mother Nature actually making an attempt to use probability to create two exactly identical snowflakes. Eventually the snow got to be so deep on the upper gabled roof of the monitor barn so as to create an avalanche of snow sliding off the roof and impacting the lower wing roofs.

This impact was so great, it actually went through the roof steel – breaking several roof purlins on the way and creating some unique snow sculptures on the floor inside the building. Amazingly, the rafters supporting the wing roof did not fail!

This morning I have been working on the structural design of a monitor barn where the ground snow load is 120 psf. Big snow – glad I do not have to shovel it. The original design concept has the center gable 12 feet wide with an 18 foot eave height. Along each side is a 10 foot wide wing, which slopes from 11’4” to eight foot at the low side. There are some things which can be adjusted in this design, to reduce the investment for the client (as well as reducing the probability for structural failure).

By increasing the height of the wings, the price decreased and the useable space inside the wings increased! How is this? It reduced the height difference between the center gable and the top of the wing roofs – less area for snow to drift against and less of a distance for snow to drop from the upper roof. In this instance the perfect balance came with a wing eave height of 11’6”.

Adding snow breaks onto the upper gable roof also reduced the price. The 12 foot span truss cost was not greatly impacted by the added load from keeping the snow on the upper roof and the “whump” factor of snow sliding off onto the lower wing roofs went away!

With some flexibility in design monitor barns in snow country can be made more affordable and most importantly – safer.

Historic Barns

Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to drive nearly every one of the contiguous United States – many of those miles over what might be considered to be back roads. This has afforded me the opportunity to view literally thousands of historic barns.

Historic BarnThese barns come in all shapes and sizes, as well as states of upkeep. I’ve seen one hundred year old plus barns which have been utterly pristine – probably in better condition today, than when they were constructed. I’ve also seen ones which were either on, or past, their last legs.

The National Barn Alliance (www.barnalliance.org) is a nation-wide, non-profit organization coordinating preservation efforts to save America’s Historic Barns. The Alliance’s members include farmers and city folks, students, historical groups, timber framers and lots of people just like me who happen to love barns.

Their mission is to provide national leadership for the preservation of America’s historical barns and their rural heritage. This is accomplished by encouraging the documentation, through surveys and photography of historic barns and other rural structures; supporting educational programming and materials related to barn and farmstead preservation; encouraging the creation of and supporting existing state and local barn preservation organizations and preservation programs; and facilitating the sharing of information on barns, their history and their maintenance by connecting members and specialists during events, conferences and online social media.

The National Barn Alliance is a membership organization with a volunteer board. Members of the Board of Directors are active in local, state and national efforts to preserve America’s historic barns.

I’m hoping – a century or so from now – someone will look at some of the now 15,000 plus pole buildings I have been involved with, and find enough historical significance in them to give the loving care to them, as the National Barn Alliance and its associated preservation groups and preservation-focused organizations do with the barns which are now being loved, cared for and restored.

Weber and Pole Buildings

I consider myself to be a pretty good cook. Certainly I am no Emeril Lagasse from “Emeril Green”, but I can hold my own. Through experience, I’ve become fairly proficient at being able to throw a meal together, using whatever ingredients are at hand. My bride continues to be dumbfounded by my seeming inability to follow a recipe, yet have it turn out….and turn out pretty good.

Now I realize Emeril doesn’t live and die by the grill, but I come close. What alarms me is when we travel and I find the grill where I am to cook was made by a vacuum cleaner company! As anyone who cooks frequently will tell you, the degree of difficulty goes up in order of magnitude when not using one’s own equipment, especially shoddy equipment. I certainly miss my grill when cooking up dinners away from home.

At home, I’ve got a Weber and there are a couple of big reasons why. Weber has been making grills for decades and makes a quality product. Growing up, our Mother was maybe not the greatest cook, and the inferior grill she would barbeque on left my brother and I questioning if what had been burned was ever even alive. When it came time for me to buy a grill, I didn’t hesitate to buy a Weber, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been using my Weber now for nearly two decades and it has never let me down.

Back out to being on the road and trying to cook on a grill made by a company which backed into grill making. This company does not specialize in grills and actually doesn’t specialize in anything at all – rather it seems like they’ve made a point of manufacturing everything. Overall, it turns what is normally a very enjoyable process for me into an epic battle of man against grill.

After getting back home to my beloved Weber, I started thinking about how their continued focus on making the best grill possible is how they’ve achieved success. It also got me thinking about Hansen Pole Buildings and what our company’s specialty is, where our roots are, and where we’re heading. Since our beginnings in 2002, we’ve focused on providing the best pole buildings possible for the investment. We’ve honed in on this service as our specialty, and we are very proud of the services we offer today which are all connected to pole buildings.

Weber GrilleJust like making a quality Weber grill, being good at pole buildings requires it to be in your DNA. You can’t just add “Pole Barns” to your company name or say, “We can do this too!” and all of a sudden become good at pole buildings. We’ve seen it time and time again; businesses which sell paint and lumber, or contractors who build houses and decks – decide they are going to add to their product line by selling pole barns. They often try to keep the client focused on bright, shiny things, while glossing over their really not understanding the minutia involved in producing the best possible pole building.

These lumber dealers and builders often provide the illusion of being pole barn experts, with lots of pretty pictures and claims of excellence. Through the course of working with our clients on their new pole building journey, we go deeper than our fair-weather competitors because search is in our DNA. We’re well versed in this ever-changing industry, and we strive to achieve the best results based upon our clients’ goals. We have the decades of experience and knowledge to back it up too.

We get asked on a frequent basis – “can you do little sheds, 6’ gazebos, and all steel framed buildings….and more.” Our answer is “no, we can’t do everything…and do it well.” .

The bottom line is making grills has been Weber’s specialty since the beginning. If Weber decided to start selling meat to cook on my grill, I’d probably be more than a little suspicious as to the quality and source of the steak, just as you should be of lumber yards and contractors taking on pole buildings as an afterthought.

Pole Building New Year 2013

New Years Ball

On the first of each year, I tend to get a bit nostalgic, especially for my family, my home, and how my pole building career really took off. Bear with me as I take a step or two back in time.

At the ripe old age of 33, I sold my first business in Oregon in 1990 and returned to my hometown of Spokane, Washington.

My maternal grandparents had a cabin on Newman Lake, just outside of Spokane. Built in 1909, my original plan was to spend the following summer remodeling it into a year around home. We had taken a year’s lease out on a home in the Spokane Valley.  However just a few months into the lease, a notice appeared on our door to advise us the house was being foreclosed upon – leading to a speed up of plans.

As chance would have it, the winter of 1990-91 happened to be one of tremendous snowfall in Spokane, along with some bone chilling cold and some pretty fierce winds at times. Our timing always seemed to be perfect.  Like the day we picked to install the skylight in the east bedroom. It was just above zero, the winds were howling and it was snowing. When one’s head was stuck out through the skylight hole, the snow being pounded into our faces felt like someone was throwing lit matches at us.

As with most things, there was to be an eventual silver lining.

Spokane had boomed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In 1892, the Great Northern Railway arrived. The railroads in Spokane made it the transportation hub for the Inland Northwest. Particularly driven by mining (primarily from Idaho’s Silver Valley) and farming, after the Great Northern, the Union Pacific and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroads made Spokane one of the most important rail centers in the western United States.

Between 1900 and 1910, Spokane’s population nearly tripled, growing by nearly 70,000 people. Many of these people settled into narrow homes built on many of the city’s 25 foot wide lots. In 1908, Henry Ford began production of the Model T, and Model T garages were built in abundance in the alleys behind these homes.

With many of these Model T garages being 80 years old, and being constructed before the advent of model Building Codes, the snows of 1990-91 caused widespread collapses of these long outdated structures.

The silver lining?

My brother Mark and I began our pole building construction business in 1991, and we had hundreds of clients lined up who needed to replace their flattened Model T garages!

Pole buildings were the perfect solution, as they were extremely affordable and could be constructed quickly. It was not unusual for one of our two man crews to complete two or three of them in a week!

It was a great beginning to over twenty years of designing pole buildings, and as I look down the road I see another “good twenty or more” ahead of me yet….designing pole barn garages, houses, shops, horse barns, airplane hangers…you name it…it probably can be designed as a pole building! It’s a great start….to another great year!