Tag Archives: pole building planning

10 Important Things to Consider When Building a Pole Barn

10 Important Things to Consider When Building a Pole Barn

By Andi Croft.

Andi Croft is a freelance writer whose main interests are topics related to home design, business, technology, and travel. This is brought about by her passion about going around the world, meeting people from all walks of life, and bringing along with her the latest tech to enhance her adventures.

Within the construction domain, the magnetic appeal of pole barns remains potent, presenting a versatile and economically sound solution for diverse requirements ranging from agricultural storage to workshops.

Yet, the expedition from conceptualization to realization demands meticulous planning and thoughtful consideration of numerous pivotal factors.

This useful guide ventures into the exploration of ten critical elements to consider when building a pole barn.

1. Smart Pole Barn Planning

The genesis of any successful project lies in thoughtful planning. Before installing the first post, envision the purpose of your pole barn. Is it a haven for livestock, a storage facility, or perhaps a workspace?

Define your needs and consider future expansion possibilities. Strategic planning ensures your pole barn meets current requirements and adapts seamlessly to evolving needs.

Consider the pole barn’s layout, optimizing space use and ensuring efficient workflow. Whether incorporating additional storage lofts or allocating specific zones for different functions, a well-thought-out plan serves as the architectural blueprint for success.

2. Site Assessment and Conditions

Undertaking a comprehensive site assessment is akin to laying the foundation for success. Examine soil quality, drainage patterns, and topography to determine the most suitable location for your pole barn.

Factors include sunlight exposure and prevailing winds, as these elements play a pivotal role in the long-term functionality and durability of the structure.

Conduct a soil percolation test to assess drainage capabilities, preventing potential flooding or soil erosion. Evaluate the land’s natural features, ensuring that the chosen site maximizes energy efficiency through proper orientation and utilization of natural light.

3. Hiring Professional Builders

Crafting a pole barn necessitates a blend of artistry and precision. Currently (and for the foreseeable future) there is a nationwide shortage of building erectors. Many high quality erectors are booked out well into 2024 (some even 2025). We would strongly encourage you to consider erecting your own building shell. Otherwise, engage seasoned professionals who specialize in pole barn construction.

Building from fully engineered, site specific plans ensures the structure adheres to industry standards and local building codes. A proficient team expedites the construction process and minimizes the likelihood of costly errors.

Examine the credentials of potential builders, seeking out references and examples of past projects. If an erector tells you they can begin quickly it is generally either a big red flag, or there is a chance you are being price gouged. ALWAYS THOROUGHLY VET ANY CONTRACTOR https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/vetting-building-contractor/. Ask about their technologies – construction software, project collaboration tools, estimation, submittals, etc.

4. Understanding Zoning Rules and Regulations

Navigating the labyrinth of zoning rules and regulations is paramount to a hassle-free building process. Before breaking ground, acquaint yourself with local ordinances governing setbacks, height restrictions, and land use.

Compliance with these regulations expedites permitting and safeguards your investment against potential legal ramifications. Consult with local authorities or zoning officials to clarify any ambiguities and ensure your pole barn project aligns with community guidelines. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/planning-department-3/

Failure to adhere to zoning regulations can lead to costly delays and legal complications, underscoring the importance of due diligence in this project phase.

5. Materials Selection

The choice of materials significantly influences your pole barn’s longevity and aesthetic appeal. Explore options for posts, trusses, and roofing materials, considering factors like climate, intended use, and budget constraints.

Opting for durable and weather-resistant materials ensures that your pole barn weathers the test of time while requiring minimal maintenance. Consider the environmental impact of materials, exploring sustainable options that align with your values and long-term goals.

The selection of high-quality materials enhances the pole barn’s structural integrity and contributes to its overall visual appeal and resilience against the elements.

6. Engineering and Design

The engineering and design phase is the architectural heartbeat of your pole barn. Collaborate with professionals to create a blueprint that seamlessly integrates functionality with aesthetics.

Precision in structural design enhances the visual appeal and guarantees the pole barn’s structural integrity, especially in regions prone to extreme weather conditions.

Consider the incorporation of advanced design software and technology to create 3D models, allowing for a more immersive understanding of the final product.

Engage in open communication with the design team, ensuring the finalized plans align with your vision while adhering to safety and regulatory standards.

7. Foundation and Anchoring Methods

The foundation is the bedrock of any construction project, and pole barns are no exception. Evaluate various foundation options and choose one that aligns with your specific needs.

Selecting an appropriate foundation from traditional concrete pads to modern alternatives like helical anchors ensures stability and longevity. Consider the soil composition and load-bearing requirements when determining the foundation type.

Engage with structural engineers to assess the most suitable anchoring methods, considering soil stability and potential seismic activity. A robust foundation supports the structure and safeguards against settling structural issues over time.

8. Effective Insulation is the Key

Beyond structural considerations, the comfort and utility of your pole barn hinge on effective insulation. Depending on the purpose of your structure, explore insulation options that regulate temperature and minimize energy costs.

Incorporating proper insulation not only enhances the livability of the space but also contributes to long-term cost savings. Evaluate insulation materials based on their R-value, ensuring they meet or exceed local building codes for energy efficiency.

Consider factors such as moisture resistance and fire-retardant properties to enhance the safety and durability of the insulation. A well-insulated pole barn creates a comfortable environment year-round, making it conducive for various uses.

9. Construction Time Frame

Time is a critical factor in any construction endeavor. Establish a realistic timeline, considering weather conditions and potential setbacks.

A well-planned construction schedule streamlines the process and allows for contingencies, ensuring that your pole barn is completed within the stipulated timeframe. Factor in seasonal considerations understanding how weather patterns may impact construction timelines.

Regular communication with the construction team facilitates proactive problem-solving and promptly addresses unforeseen challenges, preventing unnecessary delays.

10. Budget and Cost Management

Finances are the backbone of any project, and meticulous budgeting is non-negotiable. Factor in all expenses, from materials and labor to unforeseen contingencies.

A detailed budget prevents financial surprises and facilitates informed decision-making throughout the construction journey.

Create a comprehensive budget that includes a buffer for unexpected expenses, ensuring that you have the financial flexibility to address unforeseen challenges without compromising the quality of the project.

Regularly review and update the budget as the project progresses, keeping a keen eye on cost management to prevent budget overruns.


In the symphony of construction, building a pole barn requires a harmonious blend of foresight, expertise, and meticulous execution. From planning your pole barn construction to the finishing touches, each step plays a crucial role in shaping a structure that stands the test of time.

By considering the ten pivotal aspects outlined in this guide, you pave the way for a pole barn that meets your immediate needs and becomes a lasting testament to the artistry and precision of thoughtful construction.

Remember, the investment in careful planning and execution is not just in a structure; it’s in the creation of a functional and enduring space tailored to your specific needs and aspirations.

Roof Insulation, Pole Barn Houses, and Adding Heat

Today the Pole Barn Guru tackles reader questions about the best method of insulating a building with no plans for a ceiling, planning a pole barn house, and adding heat to a completed post frame building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am insulating my 30×50 pole barn that is wrapped with Tyvek outside the purlins and I will use faced batt insulation on the 10ft walls. I will have it heated in the winter with the gable vents and cupola closed when working, but will not cool it in summer months. My question is what is the best method to insulate the roof as I don’t plan to add a ceiling? Currently, there is a radiant barrier on top of the roof purlins directly below the metal, and the only venting is the cupola and two gable vents. ERIK in FESTUS

DEAR ERIK: Without a ceiling I would have recommended two inches of closed cell spray foam applied directly to your roof steel – except you have a radiant reflective barrier in place (not a best thing to spray foam to). This method also means it would be nice and toasty between your trusses, but not so much in your working area.

Provided your roof trusses are capable of supporting weight of a steel liner panel ceiling, I would encourage you to consider it as an option, then blow fiberglass insulation in above liner panels. Alternatively, you could use lathe, wire mesh, or other means across bottom of trusses and place unfaced batt insulation on top.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I would like to know about building a pole barn house. 3 bed 1.5 to 2 bathroom. If I order from you do I build it of you? How much do they cost? DAVID in KALKASKA

DEAR DAVID: This article should get you started https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2021/02/a-shortlist-for-smooth-barndominium-sailing/


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Heating an unvented barn? I have a 52×70 Hansen pole barn. I have decided I would like to heat the space. I have sealed the concrete and have spray foamed the walls with 2.5″ closed cell and blocked the soffit vents while doing this. I will be using a combo of a waste oil furnace and a wood stove to heat the space. My question is can I block off the gable vents instead of putting in a ceiling? Will I have moisture issues if I do this? I did use the foil insulation between the roof sheeting and the purlins that came with the package. Thanks. MARSHALL in CAMANO ISLAND

DEAR MARSHALL: Please keep in mind the Reflective Radiant Barrier under your roof steel is a thermal break designed to control condensation from occurring on underside of your roof steel, it is not insulation and has a R value of roughly one (R = 1). If you block off all vents, you may need to mechanically dehumidify your space in order to reduce moisture inside. Alternatively, should you install a ceiling and insulate above it, you would need to appropriately vent dead attic space to prevent roof system mold and mildew.





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.

Pole Building Climate Control

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: After reading many articles on this blog about insulating a new pole building I have come up with this conclusion. I will run this by the Guru for your opinion. Roof thermal break-: trusses with purlin on 2ft centers, A1V on top of purlins, steel roofing applied over A1V. sidewalls. Wall girts applied to posts at 2 ft centers, Tyvec House wrap around perimeter with steel siding applied over Tyvek. Vented eave and ridge. This should give thermal break to insulate interior of pole building and prevent thermal gain. Do you believe this is the proper path for insulating the interior for climate control? This is a great blog with lots of good information, thanks!

Question from KORN FARMER in BURR OAK, MI

DEAR KORN FARMER: I sincerely appreciate all of your kind words and will try not to let them go to my head! You’ve become one of my favorite readers. I would certainly agree you are on the track for success. You might want to read these articles in regards to your climate control issues:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/04/climate-controlled/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can an all wood pole building be built over a full new basement? MICHELE IN EAST HAMPTON, NY

DEAR MICHELE:  I happen to live on a lake, which is nestled into a mountain valley. For the most part, the parcels of land around the lake tend to be very narrow and very steep (only so much lake frontage exists, therefore the narrow lots). In my case, the lot gains well over 100 feet of elevation from lake to back, over the 250 feet of depth.

 With the lake as my “front” yard, on the back of my lot is a pole building upon which the site had 12 feet of grade change in 40 feet. The solution was to excavate to the lowest point, then construct a foundation on the “high” sides. In my case, we used eight inch insulated Styrofoam blocks, poured with concrete – one wall being 12 feet tall, and the other sides appropriately steeped to match the land contours. Steel brackets engineered to withstand moment (bending) forces were poured into the top of the walls to attach the pole building columns.

 The direct answer to your question is – yes. Whether a full basement, partial basement, or daylight basement (the last being closest to my particular case), pole buildings can be attached to any adequately designed foundation wall. We prefer to use wet set brackets (those embedded in the concrete wall at time of pour) as opposed to dry set brackets (those attached to the concrete wall with bolts) for a sturdier connection, but either one can be used. 

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My ideal metal building size would be 26 x 46. Will this size work so metal and wood will fit without waste or extra labor? If no, what size would work best? BERNIE IN GARDEN CITY

DEAR BERNIE: As lumber comes in multiples of two feet and steel in multiples of three feet – the most economical is going to end up being divisible by six. To get the best total bang for your buck, multiples of 12 feet are the most cost effective in nearly every case – utilizing double trusses aligned with the columns and 2×6 or larger roof purlins on edge.

So what does one truly save by this? Usually a few pennies per square foot.

 In the end, build the largest building you can economically justify and which will fit on your property. I’ve never yet had a client tell me their new building is just too big!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

How to Design a Pole Building Right

How to Design a Pole Building Right (The First Time)

I received this email yesterday:

“My boyfriend and I currently bought some land and we are looking into some different options for building. We are thinking about a shed with a living quarters and 2 car garage. We are looking to have a 3 to 4 bed with 2 bath. And up above the garage area maybe an area for storage of some kind. We are not sure what size we would need. With the living quarter part we would like to have a lean two in the front where the door would be. Please let me know what size and some estimates or if you could send me some pictures of the different types of buildings that would be great.”

And later in the day from the very same client:

“I just emailed you and after I did that I was looking at the website and really like the design that is on the NFBA building of the year contest page that I found when I was on your website. I was wondering how much a building like that would cost with just the house and the 2 car garage.”

My response:

“In order to properly determine an approximate price, it will take some work on your part. I encourage clients to make a list of the rooms they need to have in a new home, and list them by priority. Determine an approximate size for each and then orient rooms to each other by convenience. Once you have this roughed out – then design a perimeter around the spaces. Let me know when you get to this point.

Traditionally people try to fit their spaces into a predetermined box, and then wonder why it is they are not happy with the outcome.”

Taking the time to design a pole building “from the inside out” doesn’t take any more time in the long run. It will save hours of “redo’s” and change orders, not to mention frustration and extra dollars to change what you should have thought through carefully in the first place.

Hansen Pole Building Designer Wayde had a client take my advice to an entire higher level, and I have to admit I am impressed. His client knows what he wants, because he took the time to plan everything out:

“Here are some pics of my model. It’s crude but it gets my general thinking across.

Cardboard Pole Barn                 Pole Barn Model

This model is 34′ wide with a 7′ front porch, 65′ main bldg and a 12′ lean to back (bathroom & kitchen area). Roof pitch is around 6/12. Eve height 20′. Front lean to roof sweeps around to rear where front door n ramp are located.

Boxes in interior of bldg are shipping containers. 2 are raised and 2 are at grade. Building floor will utilize an existing pier/sill foundation.

Windows will be on corners of bldg.

2 each 3′ entry/exit steel doors.

Front wall, rear walls, new front deck at ramp/front door not shown.

Can you price this model?”

Now this guy really has the right idea – he’s thought it all out, from what size he wants and needs to designing exactly where everything will lay out on his floor plan.

As I remind clients, your new pole building is probably the largest permanent thing you will ever invest in. You have one opportunity to do it right or wrong, so spend the extra time to do it right the first time. You will not regret it, nor spend the next several decades kicking yourself for spending inadequate time to design a pole building which does not meet with your needs.

Round Tuit Pole Building

According to Procrastinators Anonymous (www.procrastinaors-anonymous.org), procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Round Tuit! On the third day of 2013, among the New Year’s Resolutions of many, are to get a round tuit! Now the round tuit, is actually a fairly recent invention, arriving on the scene at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, New York.

Far older is the tradition of making a New Year’s resolution, which dates back to the early Babylonians. The most popular resolution for the up and coming Babylonian?

To return borrowed farm equipment!

Judging from some of the clients in our data base, 2013 could very well be the year for taking the plunge, making and keeping the resolution and getting the “round tuit” to get the new pole building, barn, garage or shop building off the back burner, and actually be using it!

Hansen Pole Buildings began in 2002. In an extreme case of procrastination, we have a client who contacts us once a year (since 2002) to get pricing updates on his dream pole building. For us, it is rather like the swallows coming back to San Juan Capistrano.

For the sake of discussion, let’s use a building kit price of $10,000 on October 1, 2002.

US Inflation RatesUsing the United States PCE Quarterly Inflation Rate (this is the actual measure of inflation, not what gets served to the general populace from the media), the same building would have had a price of $23,570 just 10 years later! If the same client would have borrowed the ten grand in 2002, at 9.9% interest (today, most banks and credit unions will loan at less than one-half of this rate) the loan would have been paid off, and the total payments would have amounted to $15,792. He could have been using his pole building for the past 10 years…

AND been nearly $8,000 ahead. This does not account for the possible savings on income taxes, from mortgage interest deductions.

Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to squirrel away money to save for the day when the “round tuit” finally arrives!