Tag Archives: pole building comparisons

84 Lumber is $5000 Less

I celebrated my 35th year in the pole building industry in January. I’ve learned a lot and forgotten probably even more in this time. One of the things I have learned is, when quoting any particular post frame building, no one is ever $100 less.

They are always $3000 or $5000 less and it is always for the exact same building.

Dry LumberIf you believe this – I have a heck of a deal on some Florida swampland for you – or Arizona oceanfront property.

Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about the profit margins of lumber yards: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/09/pole-building-prices-beware-when-you-compare/

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Mark recently quoted a pole building kit package to a builder in Ohio, at just over $20,000 which included four insulated overhead doors (two each 12’x12’ and 9’x7’).

The builder emailed back to Mark:

“Thanks for the estimate.

I can get this same building from 84 Lumber for 13,000.00 plus 2,200.00 for the garage doors. total 15,200.00

Thanks for your time”

Sounds like the $5,000 rule. Since we don’t make $5,000 of profit (or close to it) on a package such as this, I am thinking we should just close down our operations (where we buy at wholesale) and let 84® Lumber do all of the work!

The reality is – there is no way on the planet this is an apples-to-apples comparison.

For those of my loyal readers who are unfamiliar with 84® Lumber, or just enjoy a fascinating story, here is what Forbes magazine had to say about 84® Lumber in a February 9, 2015 article by Dan Alexander: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2015/01/21/daughter-knows-best-inside-the-84-lumber-saga/

Just out of curiosity I looked at the price of the four overhead doors – our price nearly $4200. Probably one of two things – we need to order our overhead doors from 84 Lumber, or maybe there is only one of each door size instead of two!

Now we know more than just a little bit about 84 Lumber’s pole buildings. Back about seven or eight years ago, we were set up in a program with them to provide pole building kit packages for 84® Lumber western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas.

At the time, 84 Lumber was fine if customers ordered one of their dozen or so standard pole building kits, but anything custom had a delay of several weeks or longer for pricing. And if the building needed to have plans sealed by an engineer – they had no way to service the client. The standard plans they did have – relied upon the customer having to excavate out below grade, in order to pour a concrete slab!

And assembly instructions? Nada!

Appearing on the 84 Lumber website (https://84homes.84lumber.com/Pole%20barn%20prices.pdf) today was a “ballpark” price on a 40’x64’x12’ pole building featuring a 15’9” sliding door on an end and a 15’ sliding door on a side. With colored steel roofing and siding $19,952. For sake of convenience, I made both the doors 16’ in width and assumed them to be split (bi-parting) sliding doors. I also included powder coated screws and made the sliding doors all steel frame (instead of the wood components of the 84® Lumber pole building). Our price delivered – $13,868!!

Maybe this one price was a misprint…so I compared the 30’x40’x12’ with a 10’ sliding door on an end. 84® Lumber $11,913, Hansen Pole Buildings $7944.

Even adding 12 inch enclosed overhangs to all four sides, reflective roof insulation and a commercial steel insulated entry door factory finish painted with painted jambs we were still $2000 LESS!!

Oh….and we will include full sized 24” x 36” blue prints specific to exactly what is being built, showing where every piece is installed AND our 500+ page Construction Manual complete with hundreds of color photos!

Am thinking 84® Lumber might want to go back to having us provide their pole building kits!

We’ve asked the builder above to furnish us a copy of the quote from 84® Lumber…..am certain it will be fascinating!! If we get it – I will be sure to follow this blog with “the rest of the story….”

I Am Going to Defend Morton Buildings

What? Have I gone out of my mind?

No, not at all. We’ve always had a good relationship with Morton Buildings. They are the largest post frame (pole) builder in America, but all they do is build. We’ve had them refer clients to us who are looking only for building kits.

I ‘net surf a lot – I am by nature a curious guy and I want to know what is going on in the world. And I am not the only one!

One of the Hansen Pole Buildings Designers, Rick, sent me a link to on online forum he came across: https://www.dieselplace.com/forum/4-other-topics/69-shop-talk/101469-whats-most-affordable-type-brand-building.html

Here was what a poster wrote (spelling/grammar uncorrected from original post):

“Oh …. Morton Buildings rock……….. We have had one since 91…. it still looks like new. We had to replace a piece of steel do to a snowmobile trailer flying into it during a wind storm, and the new piece of steel matched the 10 year old piece exactly when the fly crap was taken into consideration.

Mortons rock there build qualty, materials, and efficency seem 1st rate. Dad said if he ever had to do it again, or put on an addition, (like we have talked about) he would have morton come back and do it.

they may or may not be the most affordable, but they did an awesome job on ours and I would highly recomend them to anyone.”

My thought was, “Cool, someone who really loves their building!”

The next poster wrote:

Snow LoadIve seen two many of their rooves collapse under snow becuse they only use half the trusses they should and half the roof perlins which also means their metal only gets half as many screws as it needs….. o wait they are still stuck in the 18’th century as they still nail their steelfast.”

The second poster is the one I will take Morton’s defense on. The poster may very well be suffering from the Dunning Kruger Effect (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2015/01/dunning-kruger-effect/)

With currently nearly 100,000 people having read the article, it is by far the most read of any I have written:   https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/ You might also want to read my article in Structural Building Components magazine: https://www.sbcmag.info/article/2011/it-isnt-your-grandpas-barn-tips-technicians-designing-post-frame-trusses

The quantity of trusses being provided for any given pole building have absolutely nothing to do with the ability of a building to support a given snow load. Morton’s designs incorporate larger, stronger trusses – spaced further apart!

Knowing the engineering staff at Morton Buildings, with a high degree of certainty, I can assure any reader the load carrying capacity is equal to, or better, than the loads the trusses were designed to carry. And the quantity of screws (or, forbid) or nail fasteners in a roof have nothing to do with snow load capacity! (Read why not to nail on steel here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/05/nailing-steel-roofing/)

More often than not, roof collapses from snow are due to snowfalls which are greater than the Building Code requirements. This becomes even a greater concern with agriculturally exempt buildings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/12/exempt-agricultural-buildings/

Decide for yourself, but I am still in support of Morton Buildings, if someone wants a turnkey operation and is willing to pay for it.

Dear Guru: Are Hansen Pole Buildings as Good as Lester Buildings?

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 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: Are your buildings as good as a Lester Building? SLIVERS IN CEDAR RAPIDS

DEAR SLIVERS: I like to think of it as, “Is a Lester Building as good as a Hansen Pole Building”?

I personally know many of the management team of Lester Buildings, they are good folks and build a quality building. They do NOT specialize in providing easy to construct pole building kit packages for the average DIY consumer.

If you are looking to do some or all of the work yourself, our Construction Manual with its over 400 pages of descriptions, drawings and actual photos of every step of the construction process is nothing short of artwork.  No one else offers anything like it.

Many of the great features of Lester Buildings are going to be the same as what we offer. There are going to be some significant differences which, in my humble opinion, make our buildings superior, to any other pole building kit, Lester’s or otherwise.

All of our engineered non-commercial building kits come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. You’ll not find this anywhere else.

We do not believe in the use of concrete cookies, for good reason.  Read why here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/08/hurl-yourconcrete-cookies/

Other than in very narrow column spacings, “barn girts” do not engineer out: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/03/girts/.

Hansen Pole Buildings uses “bookshelf” style girts in most instances.

We tested the industry “standard” painted screws for attaching steel roofing and siding and found, they didn’t work!  See why here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/08/this-is-a-test-steel-strength/

So we took the specially designed “diaphragm screw” and had them powder coated! This means no paint to chip off.

Lester Buildings are typically designed with sidewall columns every ten feet for non-engineered buildings and eight feet for engineered buildings. The Hansen Pole Buildings double truss system, allows for a standard sidewall column spacing of 12 feet with the ability to go even wider. This affords wider door openings, without the need for costly (or space consuming) structural door headers.

Hansen Pole Buildings utilizes 2×6 and larger roof purlins (for spans over eight feet), hung between the trusses using engineered Simpson hangers, not smaller purlins over the tops of single trusses, relying upon a six inch long screw driven the long direction through a 2×4 on edge and into the top of a truss.

In summary – if you like a Lester Building, you should love your new Hansen Pole Building.

Having Fun with Pole Building Competitors

“Here at xxxxxx (pole building company) we represent the top quality building companies in the business and build every building with pride. Our trusses are set on 4’ or 5′ centers, unlike many post-frame builders that set their trusses on 8′ or 10′ centers in order to cut costs. The trusses are an important part of a building’s integrity. The more trusses you have, the better the structural integrity. Our trusses are engineered with a 25-lb/psf-snow load rating and a 125 mph wind load rating standard. They are built to withstand the extreme weather conditions that you may encounter in the Mid-West. Several other companies will either build their trusses on the job site or they send a standard factory built truss that was never engineered properly or just to I.B.C. Code 2006 which is only 17.1 lb/psf snow load rating and 90 mph wind load. We also run our end posts all the way up to the top of the building rake, rather than stopping at the ceiling joists and using a “dummy” truss. This gives our buildings greater structural integrity, as well as a higher wind load resistance. Add in our secondary framing known as rat run this gives you a superior quality building. We also use only Prime 40yr Rated Galvalume Paint American Made Metal for our exterior as well as American Made Screws not cheaper foreign brands or nails. We “NEVER” use sheet metal known as “seconds”, which typically does not carry a manufacturer’s warranty. We use solid posts that are fully treated to a .60 value or in laymen’s terms 60%, unlike other companies that will only use treated .40 lumber in the ground and untreated lumber above the ground. These posts typically consist of 2x6s that are glued or nailed together; therefore the strength is only as good as the glue or the nails. We set our posts 3′ (minimum) into the ground for a more solid footing and to ensure that the post is below the frost line.

Now as an average consumer, and potential new post frame building owner, all of this might sound pretty darn impressive.

My mission – to make every potential pole building shopper a knowledgeable shopper. Let’s get past the “top quality” and “pride” and deal with the facts. Please read on……

Truss spacing is not done with the idea of cutting costs. There are many pole building companies, as well as registered design professionals (engineers and architects), who are of the opinion post frame buildings are structurally more sound when the trusses are directly aligned with the building columns below them, rather than placing the trusses at closer spacings which dictate the need for structural headers between the columns – more pieces, more connections, more possibility of a failure.

To learn lots about truss spacing, loading and design, read my article in Structural Building Components magazine: https://www.sbcmag.info/sites/sbcmag.info/files/Archive/2011/may/1105_barn.pdf

The quantity of trusses in a building has nothing to do with a building’s structural integrity. A building with a large number of under designed trusses is not going to be stronger than a building with fewer properly designed trusses.

While they may (and I use “may” liberally) be ordering trusses designed for a 125 mph (miles per hour) wind load, unless every other component and connection in the building is being designed to this same standard, it is merely a waste of money.

Actually, every version of the IBC (International Building Code) from 2000 up to the most recent version in 2012 allows for trusses to be Code conforming for top chord loads as low as 12 psf (pounds per square foot) provided the requirements for design ground snow load (Pg) is low enough, and the area supported by the trusses is great enough.

A truss is a truss, in my nearly four decades of prefabricated roof truss experience (owned and manufactured trusses for many years), I have never heard of a “dummy” truss. Need a term, make it up?

“Rat runs” are merely a term for the lateral bracing of the roof trusses which is required by the Building Designer to adequately brace the trusses. They are not creating a “superior quality building”, as this bracing is required in order to be Code conforming.

The paint used on colored steel is not Galvalume. Galvalume is the protective coating used on the bare base steel to keep it from rusting.

Read more about galvalume here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/04/galvalume/

Pressure treating is not a “value” nor is it a “percentage”. The term .60 refers to the minimum weight of preservative chemicals which are added per cubic foot of lumber. Different types of chemicals require different amounts of chemicals. The important criteria for structural in ground use of columns, is for them to be treated to a UC-4B specification.

In laymen’s terms 60%” just reinforces my belief of this particular company not truly having a grasp of what pressure treating specifications are all about.

Read more about proper pressure treatment of lumber here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/10/pressure-treated-posts-2/

I’ve written at length about nailed and glued, as well as true glu-laminated columns. Find out more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/08/nailed-up-glulam-columns/



Hansen Pole BuildingsConsidering ordering a pole building kit package from anyone other than Hansen Pole Buildings? Or, hiring a contractor to construct any building other than one of ours?

Email me at PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com with the link to their website as well as with any literature and quotations provided (if they have terms and conditions printed on the back of a sales agreement, make sure to send them as well). I will – at no charge – give you an objective opinion of whether you are getting a great or a not-so-hot deal, as well as pointing out any potential pitfalls I see.  I am not debating any costs at this point…just trying to educate the public. Hopefully I can contribute to you being a well-informed buyer – wherever you choose to purchase a new pole building.

Pole Barn Prices: Your Price is Too High

When it comes to the purchase of a new pole building kit package, there are really only three major areas to cover – quality, service and price.

Everyone wants to feel they have gotten a good value when they make a major investment, whether it is a vehicle, a house or a new pole building.

Great ValueThe important part of the above statement is “value”.

Anyone can provide a product at a lower price – by sacrificing quality and/or service.

As a potential purchaser, when you tell me:

“I don’t care about service, delivery or quality.  Price is all that is important.”  My response is: “Okay then we’ll provide you a great price with poor service, inferior quality and it will arrive months late.”  

Let’s all face reality together, we all care and care a lot about things other than pole barn prices.

I know of a Midwest based supplier of pole building kit packages who almost always seems to have a really great price. I’ve spoken with more than a few people who purchased one of their kit packages – only to find out there is seemingly no one in the store who can help them out when they get “stuck” due to poor instructions or inadequate plans. Almost universally they voice concerns about the lack of quality in what they were delivered, and how they had to buy more materials to complete their building.

There was something about the disclaimer on this competitor’s quote, which they might not have had a firm grasp on:

“You may buy all the materials or any part at low cash and carry prices. Because of the wide variation in codes, xxxxxxx (insert store name) cannot guarantee the material list will meet your code requirements. These post frame buildings are suggested designs and material lists only. Some items may vary from those pictured. We do not guarantee the completeness or prices of these buildings. Labor, concrete flooring, some finish materials and delivery are not included. Some special order truss sizes may be jobsite delivered. Delivery is extra. This post frame may have been altered from the plan’s original design.”

When I hear, “Your price is too high”, my response is, “Compared to what?”

Compared to what pole barn prices were five years ago? Compared to a price someone gave you over the phone, or which was read on Craigslist or EBay? Or compared to another potential supplier who left out several features, or the doors, or didn’t even quote the same size.

I’ve spent the last five weeks in Ecuador, where the vendors selling things expect to haggle over price, so they ALL universally jack their prices up. They are all playing the same game. And once you have reached a price and have paid, they are vamoosed (hmm, great price, questionable quality, no service).

The post frame building industry in the U.S. is very competitive. The profit margins are small, and the costs of materials and their transportation are pretty much similar. Now granted, every once in a while we DO have the best price, but given the features we provide, and the high level of quality and service, it is a fairly rare occurrence. If someone else has a lower price, especially WAY lower, be a skeptic – there is a reason and the reason may not be obvious at first glance.  If you don’t know how to compare quotes on pole barn prices…we’ll do it for you.  Fairly.

Pole Buildings: Buyers

At Hansen Pole Buildings we get hundreds of inquiries daily for price quotes on pole buildings. Internally, we have a fairly automated system, which allows for our team of Building Designers to receive the input information from those who make inquiries.

This morning, one of the Building Designers requested from me, more quote requests to be done (beyond those of the automated system), and he added, “I want buyers”.

Granted, a few of those who request quotes on buildings are just bored in the middle of the night after watching endless hours of QVC or Home Shopping Network until 3 a.m. Personally, my first reaction after either of those would be to immediately leap to the computer in my apartment and bang out a few requests for quotes on pole buildings. Yeah, right!

Why does someone ask for a quote on a pole building? The great majority have either a need, or a problem, either of which could have a happy solution in a new building.

A certain percentage of inquiries come from people who are trying to create a budget for a future investment in a building. Maybe they are shopping for land, or are waiting on a future event before they are able to build.

Not going to build for more than six months? Any price from anyone today is pretty much totally worthless – lumber and steel markets are so volatile the price in six months could easily vary by 20% or more.

One of my best friends, Mike O., worked with me for years. When he was on the phone with a potential customer, he had no qualms about asking, “If you feel comfortable with me and our company, the quality of our product, we can deliver within your time frame, and the price is right, is there any reason you will not be ordering your new building today?”

Pretty powerful statement, but it does cut right to the chase.

Pole Barn QuoteAs a shopper, quotes can be requested from a myriad of companies online. What are those quotes? Merely a number, which may or may not even be for the building which best solves the needs and resolves the problems.

If the idea of contacting 10, 12, or more providers is to get the lowest price possible – the boat has been missed. There is always someone willing to cut quality and service to give a lower price. Are you happy with wearing second hand shoes purchased at a thrift store? Then the absolute lowest price may prove appealing.  However, most prefer to own things which have lasting quality, especially in a purchase of this size.

Burning hour after hour of time is also not a very efficient way to shop and try to save a few nickels. Each of us has only been given a finite amount of time on this planet – use it wisely.  Get 2 or 3 quotes…but compare them line for line item.  If you don’t understand what to look at to see if you are “comparing apples to apples”, fax or email any competitors’ quotes from other companies to Hansen Buildings.  We will do a comparison for you.  Free. And then you can decide if you want to buy your new pole building at the “thrift shop”…or where quality is a standard in every pole building kit.

Pole Building Prices: There is Always Someone Who Will Do It for Less!

There is Always Someone Who Will Do It for Less!

Over the past few days, one of the Building Designers for Hansen Buildings has been negotiating with a client on the design and materials for a building 80’ x 250’ x 20’ interior clear. This is a project with a price tag approaching $150,000 – however the client was being penny wise and pound foolish in trying to cut corners, sacrifice quality and save a few bucks.

Finally, the client has “seen the light” and realized we actually DO know what we are talking about.

He had a quote from a competitor, whose basic building was less expensive for the “exact same building” however was more expensive on all of the options – such as doors. The client suggested we match the competitor’s basic building price, and then add back in the options at our price! Nice try.

The competing building was a pole building, therein the direct comparisons pretty much ended. They were proposing placing the sidewall columns every 5’ (so they would be smaller in size and less costly), which ultimately would cause the building owner to dig two 250’ long trenches to place the columns in! Besides the tremendous cost to excavate, twice as many columns would take twice the time to place, and the cost of concrete would become astronomical!

The other design came with limited or no plans, no instructions, 2×4 wall girts and roof purlins (vs. our 2×6 and 2×8 girts and purlins). In this particular location, the ability to withstand high winds and an open “C” wind exposure is critical. The other proposal, did not even mention design loads.

At the end of the day – there is always another provider who will happily provide a lesser quality building, at a lower price. I found, on the internet, a pole builder who proudly proclaimed, “We use only #3 lumber, none of that #4 stuff!” Bet he has great prices. For those who are not familiar with lumber grades, #3 is very low grade material.  Reputable buildings are built from what is called “#2 and better” lumber.  In order to have an engineered building, you have to use #2 and better.  And yes, Hansen Buildings only uses higher grade lumber required for engineered buildings….in every pole building we design.

When you order your new Hansen Building through me, and if 30 days after your investment, you find a verifiable (documented) price on a complete building package with identical or better features than ours – we will match their price

And send you a check for the difference!