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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.

You Can’t Build it Here Part II

You Can’t Build It Here Part II

If you missed part I, go back two days to find it.

Continuing on…

Post frame homes can save thousands of dollars in excavation, footing and foundation forming and concrete costs inherent to stick framing. This is due to use of isolated widely spaced wood columns either embedded or placed into brackets on concrete piers.  Post frame construction allows greater flexibility of design for wide door and window openings without requiring structural headers. It has fewer framing members touching both exterior and interior surfaces, reducing thermal transference issues. Deep wall cavities and use of raised heel trusses provide for an ability to super insulate. Material use is minimized by elimination of redundant members so often found in stud walls. Add to this – an average physically capable person, who can and will read instructions, can successfully erect their own beautiful home!

Today’s fully engineered post frame homes are not your grandfather’s pole barn. Although steel siding and roofing will prove to be more cost effective and durable than any other cladding materials – any exterior surfacing is possible. As an example, one of our clients is building on Lake Havasu, Arizona with a concrete tile roof and stucco for exterior wall finishes.

There are jurisdictions sadly attempting to prevent ‘pole barn houses’ in their neighborhoods. Scenarios usually go something like this – a potential homeowner inquires to their local building permit issuing authority and asks, “Can I build a pole barn home here”? Too often (in my opinion one time is too often) they are told flatly no. Most of these who do move forward, automatically default to an easy route and stick frame.

What is not being asked by these potential post frame home owners is, “Can you provide your written ordinance prohibiting fully engineered post-frame homes”?

Use of terms such as “pole barn” or “pole building” home, barndominium, shouse or shop/house oftentimes cause permitting waters to become clouded. Presenting as a “fully engineered post-frame home” dramatically decreases initial resistance.

My personal experience is well over 90% of these jurisdictions have no such written ordinance. And if it is not in writing, and duly approved by an elected governing body, then it does not exist. When pointed out no written prohibiting ordinance exists, this has always resulted in approval.

In those rare instances where an adopted written statute does appear, I have often appealed to legal counsel for the jurisdiction. I kindly explain, in trying to rule out a 100% Code conforming structural building system, they are attempting unlawfully to restrict free trade and this could result in a protracted (and expensive) legal battle they cannot win. Municipalities do not want to have to explain to their constituents how good money was thrown after bad. For me, in all but a single instance, this has resulted in approval to move forward.

Other courses of action would include taking this issue to the jurisdiction’s governing body (City/town counsel or county commissioners) and requesting their statue be overturned or amended. This can prove to be a lengthy process as the wheel of progress moves slowly.

Now my one single (and ongoing) challenge – Madison County, Illinois. In their Ordinance #: 2020-02 “Ordinance authorizing a text amendment to Chapter 93 of the Madison County Code of Ordinances”:


(F) “R-1”, “R-2”, “R-3”, and “R-4” Permitted uses.

     (5) Single-family dwelling, frame construction only.

Madison County’s Planning and Zoning Department’s position is “frame” means stick frame only. I have reached out to Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office and as there is no pending actual permit application, they feel there is no compelling reason to address this issue.

Planning and Zoning Departments can regulate things such as setbacks, building footprints, heights, siding and roofing materials, even colors! However it is unlawful to preclude any Code approved, engineered structural building system.

In my humble opinion, we will see entire subdivisions filled with post-frame homes, as affordable housing becomes less and less affordable.

You Can’t Build it Here Part I

You Can’t Build It Here

Pole Barn Guru BlogWhen I first began selling pole barn kits in Oregon, back in 1980, they were almost universally no permit required farm buildings. As our service area expanded into states such as California and Nevada, engineering was required in most instances, however there was never a concern about a pole building not being approved for use in any jurisdiction.

Now there were some ‘tough’ Building Departments. Most providers and builders refused to even quote permitted pole buildings within Multnomah County, Oregon or King County, Washington – just because they involved engineering and had plans examiners who were actually engineers themselves.

As our Pacific Northwest pole building industry evolved and expanded, we knew we had clients who were bootlegging our buildings into homes, but it wasn’t until I built a shouse (shop/house) for myself in rural Spokane County, Washington nearly 30 years ago, where I actually participated in a post frame building specifically designed for residential use all along.

In recent years, there has been a literal explosion of barndominiums across our country – many of these being post frame homes. And why not? Post frame offers so many benefits over limitations of what is considered to be a more traditional structural system – stick (or stud wall) framed.

Perhaps stick built construction’s biggest advantage is builders and tradespeople are very comfortable working in and around stick framing. All registered architects and most building inspectors are very familiar with stick framing. 2018’s International Residential Code (IRC) provides a prescriptive ‘cook book’ to follow for adequate structural assembly, within certain limitations. These include, but are not limited to, no story height of greater than 11 feet 7 inches (R301.3.1), no hurricane prone areas with a design wind speed of 130 mph or greater located south of Virginia, or 140 mph elsewhere (R301.2(5)B), and no ground snow loads over 70 psf (R301.2.3).

IRC802.10.2.1 further limits truss spans to a maximum of 36 feet and building lengths to 60 feet (measured perpendicular to truss span). Trussed roof slopes must be at least 3:12 and no greater than 12:12.

Wood is a very forgiving building material and, even when miscut, replacement material is usually only a short drive away. America’s home building industry has built traditional, wood stick framed homes, on site for decades.

Many builders, architects, carpenters and other subcontractors prefer to work on stick built homes as compared to alternative building systems, as it is what they are familiar with.  Because traditionally framed houses are so popular, dimensional lumber and stick built framers are readily available.

Another advantage of stick built homes is they allow for a great level of design freedom.  One can design a home with various ceiling heights, angles and curves, niches and other details. Stick framing is one way to achieve those unique details at a fairly affordable cost.

Despite its popularity, stick framing does have some drawbacks. Because stick built homes are assembled outside, over several weeks, framing lumber is subject to outside moisture. If lumber gets too wet, it can shrink and warp as it dries and cause cracks in the attached drywall.  This shrinking and warping can also make it difficult to properly insulate. To decrease risks of potential moisture problems, exteriors are covered with an appropriate and well-sealed Weather Resistant Barrier and lumber should be properly dried before drywall and insulation are installed.

Another drawback of a stick built home is it usually takes several weeks to complete framing.  Total amount of time it will take will obviously depend on the size and complexity of house plans and size, experience and availability of any particular framing crew.

A framing crew must precisely cut, assemble and erect framing components sometimes in adverse weather conditions.  Working around adverse weather conditions is another challenge with stick framing.

Come back in two days for the conclusion in You Can’t Build it Here Part II.

Protect Your Right to Freedom of Choice

Today we take a momentary pause from contracts to protect your right to freedom of choice.

Your first question is going to be, “Why should I care about what Madison County, IL does?

Easy answer – because what one jurisdiction does, another is sure to follow, then another, then another.

But I don’t care about post- frame homes or a pole barn house!

If you think this will stop at just post-frame, I have some ocean front property in Arizona for sale on the cheap!

This is from a June 23 story in “The Telegraph” (you can email the author at SCousins@thetelegraph.com):

“Madison County is considering a minor change in zoning codes dealing with pole barn houses.

On Tuesday, a petition for text amendments to Madison County zoning ordinances to tighten requirements for “pole barn houses” in agricultural areas was presented to the Madison County Zoning Board of Appeals.

Current ordinances require 2 acres to build the homes. If approved, the change would require 5 acres.

The county routinely reviews zoning codes and makes amendments every year or so to reflect changes in state or local laws and to correct any mistakes. The last time that was done was in 2019.”

In response I sent this email to zoning@co.madison.il.us and asked for it to be directed to the Zoning Board of Appeals (chairperson is a Mr. Metzler):

“I respectfully submit, for your consideration, the following:

Fully engineered post-frame buildings (pole barn houses in this article) can be entirely Code conforming structural systems. There may be a thought pole barn houses are ‘unsightly’ to some, due to being most often sided with roll formed steel panels. Post frame buildings can have any roofing and/or siding materials found on other structural systems, such as stud wall (stick frame). Sidings can include wood, vinyl, masonry, stucco, the possibilities being endless. To place a restriction only upon one structural system, rather than all systems universally could be seen as prejudicial, as well as a restriction of free trade and Interstate Commerce.

Rather than taking the proposed approach, I would offer up for consideration allowing for any engineered and Code conforming structural system to be used for a dwelling in any allowable zone, with the caveat of placing restrictions instead upon what materials may be used to clad said systems. If the true objection is to vertical steel siding,  unpainted galvanized steel cladding, or even particular color(s) or combinations, then state as such and make it universal on any fully engineered structural system.

As it now stands, one could erect a stick framed home, and cover it with steel cladding, whereas it would appear from the street to be a “pole barn house”, yet it would be conforming.”

I implore you to take a few minutes from your busy day and email Madison County’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Mr. Cousins at The Telegraph to assist in defeating this onerous proposal.

Madison County’s Zoning Board of Appeals meets next Tuesday, so please do not delay as time is of the essence.

I thank you, in advance, for your consideration. Please share this with your friends.

A Hay Barn Challenge

Seemingly every small town in America has one or more pole barn ‘builders’. Many of them are more jack-of-all-trades and masters of none. They frame a few houses, do a deck or two, maybe some interior remodels in winter months and along with this – a handful of pole barns.

Sadly, in my humble opinion, many jurisdictions have minimal (or no) permitting requirements for pole barns. This practice is extended even further when it comes to pole barns deemed to be for agricultural purposes.

Combine lack of structural knowledge (plus pooh pooing any need for an engineer) by ‘builders’ as mentioned above with not needing a permit and situations arise rife with a potential for possible calamity.

Reader KATHY in KIMBALL writes:

“We have a ranch in western Nebraska. There are two hay barns on the ranch, each is 64’x44′ with 20 foot from ground to bottom of trusses. These are constructed with the trusses on 4 foot centers on double top plate and V bracing. The side walls are fully sheeted and the end walls are open. Both hay barns are level and in good shape. However, we were loading hay out of one of the barns recently, with wind gusts north of 40 MPH and we could see the trusses moving slightly with the wind, the bottom of the columns were stable as they are encased in concrete.

My questions are: Would it add significant support to build an end wall on one end of each of these barns. If so, can Hansen provide the materials and tech support to build these end walls?

Is there anything else we can do to add strength and stability to these hay barns?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru replies:
Post frame (pole) buildings work much like unibody cars and jet aircraft, it is their skin’s strength holding everything together. Here is a home experiment you can do to get a better idea (as well as an extended read): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/12/lateral-wind-loads/

Your hay barns happen to be a worst case scenario when it comes to sound structural design of a post frame building: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/ends-open-pole-barn-challenge/

What these buildings really need is to have both endwalls at least partially (if not fully) enclosed from eave to ground. If this is something you would entertain, we could connect you directly with one of our third-party independent engineers to determine if there is a practical solution to your situation.

Meanwhile, make sure your buildings have good replacement value insurance coverage and avoid being anywhere near them if wind speeds are at or beyond what you have already mentioned as causing your concerns.

My Fishing Cabin is Finished!

Hansen Pole Buildings’ co-owner Judy fills in for the Pole Barn Guru today!

Rick Carr worked for Hansen Buildings for several years as a Building Designer. We can’t say enough good things about the work Rick did for Hansen. He went the extra mile for our clients, always being available and answering questions about the buildings they wanted to purchase. Rick retired about a year ago, opening up time for Rick to build his own Hansen pole building. You can see for yourself the fishing “cabin” he built with the help of the Amish folks.

Here is Rick’s last email to us, along with his finished pictures:

I want to thank all of you for everything that you all did for me in getting this
project done.
I couldn’t be happier about how it all came out.  Spent lots of time researching
various aspects of this then rolled the dice on some of the decisions.  So far I
have been very happy with all of them.  Most far surpassed my expectations.  I
got the Gas stove concerted from natural gas to LP gas on Wednesday and on
Friday Joanne, my friend Rick Larkin and I had my Amish crew and their families
over for a celebration dinner, about 20 in all, three dozen ears of corn on the grill,
three racks of ribs and three beer can chickens.  The Amish Ladies were happy to
finally see the cabin that the men had been working on for almost a year and
they brought fresh bread and apple pies!
JAHansen: Have fun fishing Rick!

Pouring Concrete into Holes With a High Water Table

Back in my general contractor days we would run into building sites where water would fill up some or all of our hole depth. While this seemed highly problematic then it was actually far less of an issue than originally presumed.

Reader RACHEL in CLARK writes:

“We are looking to put up a 24′ X 32′ pole building in my backyard to be used as a garage/wood shop. We are located in a lower spot in town and have been told our water table is fairly high. I am wondering what type of foundation is going to be the best to use? (Floating Slab vs Sinking Poles vs Sinking Concrete Piers under a slab?). We are hoping to do most of the work ourselves.”

Embedded columns for post frame buildings are almost always both a best and least expensive design solution. Auger holes to depth and diameter indicated on your engineered building plans (always build from engineered plans). If water appears in your hole, it is not a problem, as you can pour concrete into water, professionals do it often. Order pre-mix concrete for your footings and bottom collars with a minimum amount of water content (a W/CM ratio of 0.33 would be ideal).

After about two hours your concrete will have transitioned from a plastic to solid state. Ground water will become your concrete’s friend as it will aid curing processes. Chemical reaction of hydration allows microscopic crystals of Portland cement to grow and interlock as sand and gravel together continues to happen for days, weeks and months after concrete has been poured and it needs water to complete this chemical reaction.

Provided you have available space, you may consider going to a 36 foot length – it takes no greater number of columns, trusses, girts or purlins and will reduce your investment per square foot.

How to Assemble a Cupola Kit

Cupolas are often an afterthought when it comes to a new post frame (pole barn) building or barndominium. In a previous article, I discussed how to determine proper size, spacing and quantity of cupolas (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/09/cupola/).

Cupolas as a kit can be easily assembled – without a requirement for specialized skills. My lovely bride put one together once for a demonstration building.

We happen to have a cupola on our barndominium home. It has a wooden base inside with eight light bulbs in it, two of each color red, yellow, blue and plain white. On clear nights our cupola lights can be seen from miles around. My wife has fun changing the color of the light bulbs, depending on the season.

For your viewing pleasure, we had a representative from our current cupola provider assemble one in Hansen Pole Buildings’ warehouse. See how he did and give him a shout out:

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual also gives step-by-step written assembly instructions along with detail drawings of assembly.

Ready to plan your new post frame building with a cupola (or maybe two)? Call 1(866)200-9657 today to speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer!

Insulating a Post Frame Building the Right Way

Insulation is the hot (pun, intended) topic. Everyone seems focused on energy efficiency in their post frame buildings. Reader CHRIS in TRAVERSE CITY got my head spinning on it once again:

“I recently purchased a property with a 24×30 pole building (metal siding, wood trusses and 3 tab shingle roof). I would like to insulate the walls and ceiling. I will likely remove the siding and add building wrap. I am most concerned with insulating the ceiling. The building will be used to store a tractor, Jeep and other toys. Plus I plan to use the building as a workshop and mancave. What are my options (cost is a factor but not critical)?”

I don’t know how old your pole building is, but if it is more than a year or two, you might as well plan upon replacing your roofing as three tab shingles just do not last. Look for cool metal roofing (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/cool-metal-roofing/) as this will reduce your energy costs and may qualify for an income tax credit.

Back to the question at hand……my opinions on how to best insulate a post frame building have evolved over the years, so today’s advice is better than yesterday’s and tomorrow could be an entirely different story. All of this is predicated upon changing technologies.

Adding building wrap – good choice. Make sure it is well sealed, tape and seams or tears.

As your building is up, I’d look at adding an interior set of wall girts and then fill the cavity with BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/ ). New construction would have different recommendations.

To super insulate your walls, apply two inch or thicker high R insulation sheeting to the inside of the girts. With taped seams, this also acts as a vapor barrier. Otherwise use 6 mil clear visqueen as a vapor barrier, before applying gypsum wallboard.

If you have enclosed vented soffits and a vented ridge, the next two paragraphs apply to your circumstance.

The biggest challenge for your ceiling will be if the trusses are designed to support the weight, if so then it is full steam ahead, if not, you will need to contact the truss manufacturer for an engineered repair to upgrade them.

Once you have drywalled the ceiling, you can blow in insulation to a depth appropriate for your area – a minimum of 15 inches thick, with 20 being even better. Chances are poor of your building having raised truss heels to allow for full insulation thickness as you approach the sidewalls. In this case, have closed cell spray foam insulation placed in the area closest to the walls, making sure to not impede the airflow from eave to ridge.

Without ventilation provided for, the easiest route is to use closed cell spray foam under the roof deck. As closed cell foam will give you about an R-7 per inch, you would need 6-1/2 to 8-1/2 inches to give adequate resistance to heat loss.


Trump on Tariffs

Trump’s Tariffs Driving Up Pole Building Costs

(Includes information from an April 24, 2018 article at www.villages-news.com Florida by Marv Balousek)

Federal tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed several weeks ago by the Trump Administration already are having an impact in Wildwood.

The tariffs were blamed Monday night for increasing the cost of a steel pole barn for the Public Works Department by nearly $20,000. Separately, a Wildwood company is seeking a tariff exemption.

*******, of Wildwood was selected to build the pole barn with a low bid of $79,928.

******* was the lowest bidder, but the cost is about a third higher than the budgeted amount of $60,000, said public works director Gene Kornegay.

He blamed the tariffs for boosting the price of steel.

City Administrator Jason McHugh said Primus Pipe and Tube, a Wildwood pipe manufacturer, recently asked the city to write a letter of support to receive an exemption from the tariffs. McHugh said he supplied the letter.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru comments:

The reality is the tariffs which are taking the blame for the cost overrun are merely proposed at this point in time, they have not yet been enacted. On a prevailing wage project of this size, the steel roofing and siding for the structure probably amount to less than 10% of the total bid. In order for the price of steel to take the blame for an almost $20,000 overage, the tariffs would have to be 250%.

Building materials costs have skyrocketed over the past year – it is known as supply and demand. Our country went through nearly a decade of slow growth in the construction field, causing suppliers and manufacturers to either downsize or shutter their doors. Now, with a high demand for new buildings, the ability to fulfill needs is lagging far behind.

There are ways to help reduce the “bite” to the Public Works Department. The city should consider letting the engineered plans and materials out for bid, then purchase them direct. This would reduce the costs which contractors would typically be marking up.

Yet another solution might be to have a developer put up the new building and then lease it back to the city (for an example of how this works, read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/public-works-pole-barns/).


Finishing a 15 Year Old Pole Barn

Finishing a 15 Year Old Pole Barn

Reader BOB in WASHOUGAL writes:

“I have a 30’x60′ pole building. It was constructed in 2003. I would like to finish the inside with a concrete floor, Insulation, and sheet rock. My question is…How long do the posts last before they rot off at ground level? (I have a wooden fence that was built around the same time and 50% of the posts have rotted off at ground level!) I just don’t want to throw good money after bad. I want to end up with a permanent Building when I’m done.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Your fence posts rotted off because they were not treated to the same level of treatment as are your building columns. In fact, most fence posts are just dipped in a chemical solution, they are never actually treated under pressure. In many cases, fence posts are peeler cores (the center remaining after logs are peeled for plywood) which will not take a treatment to begin with, or they are a species which does not treat easily (or at all). I recently wrote an article about the lifespan of properly pressure preservative treated wood, which should put a rest to your fears: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/.

Some nonstructural, yet important considerations – before your pour a concrete floor, make sure to install a good vapor barrier, which is well sealed. You should either unscrew the steel siding, place housewrap and reinstall, or spray closed cell foam insulation on the inside of the wall steel. In the event you create a dead attic space, make use of proper ventilation to prevent mold and mildew challenges later on.

I recommend you consult with a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who can determine if your building is structurally adequate for the modifications you propose. Post frame buildings with steel siding, which have not been specifically designed for future drywall finish on the inside, often have deflection which is beyond the limitations of the gypsum wallboard – meaning the joints will end up cracking due to too much lateral movement. Chances are good your roof trusses are not designed to support the weight of a ceiling and will require some engineered upgrades in order to do so. You are about to make a big investment into upgrading your building, please do not take my recommendations lightly – as you stated, you do not want to throw good money after bad.



Post Frame Satisfaction

I personally have a great deal of fun working with the majority of our clients, most of whom are truly wonderful. The most rewarding part is when those who have done the work themselves share with us what I refer to as “post frame satisfaction”.

This satisfaction is in part due to the new building helping to solve a problem and help goals to be reached (like a business opening or expanding).

In my humble opinion, anyone who can and will read the English language can successfully construct their own post frame (pole) building and probably get a better finished building than they would have should they have hired a contractor to erect it.


Because those who do their own work care.
Not only is hard earned money involved in the project, but the time, effort, energy and sweat of the new building owner. I’ve constructed my own post frame buildings and own three of them currently – it is pretty heady to stand back when the building is finished and think it was created by one’s own hands!

Don’t take my word alone for it, in word and photos our friend Dan says it all:

“Hi Doug and Mike,

I started the process with Doug almost 2 years ago! Just wanted to show you the build process. Thanks for all of your help throughout the entire process. Really cool and proud to show it off. Loved dealing with you guys and would recommend you to anyone considering a DIY build. The building is going to get electrical run to it as that is the last thing to truly make it done! I did the entire process with the help of some friends and family. Truly proud of it! Thanks again!”


My hope is you will take a few moments of your valuable time to admire Dan’s handiwork!

Stilt Houses

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey nearly all Americans have seen video of the devastation across the coastal lowlands of Texas. Over and over photos of water logged drywall and carpets being torn out of homes which were flooded by epic rainfalls of biblical proportion were enough to churn my gut. Especially as so much of it could have been avoided. The houses which did not suffer flood damage – stilt houses!

How appropriate to have this question posed by reader BILL in SUMMERVILLE who writes, “Looking at options for a very simple cabin on a barrier island. Can I build a pole cabin on a raised telephone pole type foundation? (Poles would be jetted into a very sandy loam soil.) Can it be engineered to stand coastal SC wind load ratings? Many thanks.”

Well Bill, they would not be telephone poles, but pressure preservative treated wood columns. After a trip to the Carolina coast a few years ago, I had written an article on this very subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/11/kitty-hawk/

Stilt houses are nothing new and appear in regions across the globe. They are well suited to coastal regions and climates ranging from subtropical to artic.

At my lakefront home outside of Spokane, Washington, my garage/studio apartment/office combination post frame stilt building has 14 feet of grade change in 24 feet. By the utilization of long columns I was able to construct on an otherwise impossible to build upon site.

Stilt home construction makes sense in many regions to reduce or eliminate possible damage from flooding. In unstable or weak soils areas, the pressure preservative treated columns can be embedded deep into the ground to provide positive anchorage against uplift and overturning.

My lovely bride and I will be on a cruise ship to the South Pacific next Spring – where stilt houses are used to construct livable space over water. Post frame construction is perfect for this application and reduces the impact upon fragile shorelines.

In warm climates, the shaded area beneath stilt houses helps to naturally cool the building. Not just from the shade itself, but also from the ability of breezes to free flow beneath the home.

Permafrost in the Arctic poses another set of design challenges. Permafrost is over 2/3rds water and if melted by the heat from a building becomes unstable allowing the structure to shift and settle. Stilt houses remove the heat source from the permafrost, keeping everything stable.

Don’t be the next victim of a Hurricane Harvey – look to a post frame stilt house as your design solution!

Overhead Door Columns in Pole Barn Enclosure

No Columns for Overhead Doors

There are a few clients out there who leave parts of one or more walls open, with the idea of enclosing them at a later date. Most often this is done with the idea of being able to save money, however it is not always much of a money saver, especially if done wrong.

Here is just one example of why fully enclosed is a bargain compared to three sided: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/three-sided-building/.

Reader NATHAN from MOUNT VERNON writes:

“I have an existing pole building that is 36 by 36 (12′ spacing on all columns) and is 16′ at the front, 20 at the next column back, 16 again at the second column and 12 at the rear of the structure. It is only sided on two sides (back 12′ wall and one side). I’m looking at finishing the building out with three 14ft doors on the front, but no columns were installed for this purpose. The concrete poured for the existing columns will prevent me from having proper footing if I put in new columns as in a new build. Can I bolt the new columns to the existing ones (Blocking and 5/8’s galvanized threaded rod) and have the bottom in a post base of suitable size and strength. As there is no concrete floor in the structure at this point I was also thinking of increasing the slap thickness in these areas and adding rebar. Your help is greatly appreciated Nathan.”

Nathan happens to be in a part of the country which requires Building Permits for most everything. At some point in time he is going to have to have a Registered Design Professional involved (RDP – architect or engineer) as his Building Official is going to want to see an engineer’s seal on the plans for the remodel.

There are numerous possibilities the RDP may take for a design solution. To keep in mind, these columns will be supporting no roof load, so it is merely a case of having them be adequate in size to resist wind loads, as well as the door itself.

While Nathan’s idea probably works, it might be easiest to mount the columns needed for the overhead doors into appropriately designed column brackets: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/01/concrete-brackets/. A header can be run from one roof supporting column to the next to stabilize the top of the columns.

Before getting into a situation such as Nathan’s, research all of the options available. You might be able to enclose the building fully for little or no extra investment. As another alternative, financing is available which (with moderately reasonable credit) could allow some or all of your new building to be funded from a third party source with affordable monthly payments.

Check into your financing options today: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/financing/


When Buildings Fall Down

When Buildings Fall Down, People Can Die

Building PermitIt was a busy Friday morning in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota on December 2nd of this year. About 10:30 a.m. near the corner of East 10th Street and South Phillips Avenue, Boyd McPeek was inside the Coffea coffee shop, when the 1916 building across the street collapsed.

“I just happened to glance out the window and I saw the front door fall out and a cloud of dust,” McPeek said. According to McPeek, the collapse left the people in the coffee shop speechless. “It was kind of slow motion as the bricks were falling,” McPeek said.

Joe Batcheller, Executive Director of Downtown Sioux Falls, speculated the construction work weakened the nearly 100-year-old building, causing the collapse.

Sioux Falls City Building Services approved a limited building permit authorizing Hultgren Construction to remove interior finishes, such as furnishings, floor coverings, ceiling tiles, and an existing bar area. The city was awaiting structural engineering and architectural submittals from the builder before issuing authorization to begin any further work on the project, according to city officials.

Now, please keep in mind, the city had not authorized any structural changes, yet the contractor posted on their Facebook page, two days prior to the collapse, a photo showing a structural wall having been removed.

The building collapse resulted in the unfortunate (and probably avoidable) death of a workman who was inside the building at the time.

How does the collapse of a century old building impact your choice of whom should provide your new pole building?

The key phrase is the city was awaiting “structural engineering and architectural submittals”….. unless you personally happen to be a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect), it truly is not prudent to design your own pole building. Nor should you entrust your life, or the lives of your friends or loved ones, to a building which has not been designed by a RDP.

If an engineer didn’t design it – then who did?

Misguided Stick Frame Builder

Few things drive me nuts more than self- serving advice columns. In my humble opinion, if one is offering advice as an expert in a construction field they should be open to a plethora of possible design solutions.

The following article appeared October 1, 2016 at www.kpcnews.com and is copied in its entirety without edits:

“Pole buildings can be insulated

  1. I have a large pole building and want to temper the inside just above freezing. I want to park equipment so they will thaw out and also want to store liquids to keep from freezing. I have had friends that have spray foamed the inside and it has been very costly. I also read that the spray foam doesn’t want to be left exposed. I know it’s an age-old question but what is the cost effective way to insulate my pole building? — Ken of Churubusco 
  1. There are several different approaches to insulating your pole building.Post footings do not provide a continuous thermal or structural footing so to think that the walls or ceiling of your pole building are going to have the same performance as a conventional built building is not correct.

Stick-Frame-Construction-150x150Yes, you can dig continuous footings between the posts and, yes, you can frame walls between the posts to try to emulate the characteristics of a conventional building but at that point probably you should have built it conventionally in the first place.

That being said, you’re looking to add some insulation to help with heat loss and to help air seal your pole building enough to be able to add some heat and lightly heat the building.

I am assuming the building has steel laid over wood purlins attached to posts basically 8 feet on center and the ceiling is open with trusses 4 feet on center. Closed cell foam is the best choice but costs more than open cell mainly to help stop moisture from soaking into the foam.

Normally I would, because of costs, use open cell foam and spray 2 inches to insulate and air seal. If additional insulation is desired then add fiberglass insulation with some sort of finish wall with a vapor barrier. The typical application is to line the ceiling with steel and blow cellulose insulation above to insulate the ceiling.

 Jeff Deahl is past president of the Builders Association of Northeast Indiana. Questions for the Square Corners column may be submitted at ba-ni.com or email info@ba-ni.com

 I suppose what rankled me the most is the comment, “at that point probably you should have built it conventionally in the first place.” The author is a stick frame home builder, rather than having done the research, he is merely making suppositions.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to design a post frame (pole) building which is thermally efficient – more so than close to (if not all) conventionally stick framed buildings.

And the post frame building will be less expensive.

A building’s foundation system has nothing to do with the thermal performance of the walls and ceiling. To think so, is truly misguided and this author offers no proof, just a slap down.

Stick frame construction is less thermally efficient due to the tremendous number of framing members which are in contact with both the outside and inside walls. Post frame construction affords a deep wall insulation cavity and can be designed with fewer direct thermal transmission points (thermal bridges) than stick frame.

I don’t just blow smoke in my articles, I can back up what I write with evidence: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/08/thermography/

Do it Best

Do it Best®

I get a lot of people asking some great questions of the Pole Barn Guru. Some of which take some lengthy answers, in order to adequately make the point. Here is one which involves the thought of doing business through a Do it Best® store would add a level of security.

For your reading pleasure……

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have shopped for a pole barn for several months. I wanted a simple 30x40x10. I got several quotes and put a lot of thought into the project. I was concerned about “fly by night” builders. I wound up choosing a “doitbest” retailer, hoping that they would have the backing in case something went awry. The builder arrived yesterday to begin construction, I had to leave for work but my Dad came over to oversee the project. He noticed that when they set the poles, they did not use any concrete below or around them. The builder just backfilled the holes. My question is this; Is this an acceptable practice? They have not put the sheet metal on yet, should I stop the process until we discuss this? I am not an engineer or contractor, but it doesn’t seem like a good idea to have no concrete around or under the posts. Please advise? CHRIS IN CARTHAGE

DEAR CHRIS: If you shopped for several months and got several quotes, it sounds like you did put a fair amount of thought into your new pole barn (post frame building).

Do it Best® bills itself as the “World’s Largest Hardware Store”®. It is a cooperative which is owned by its approximately 3800 members, making it the only US-based full-line, full-service, member-owned distributor of lumber, hardware, and building materials products in the home improvement industry. Each store is independently owned, so dealing with a Do it Best® location gives you only what little protection can be afforded by the store you did business with. It is not like The Home Depot® or Lowes®, where every location is corporately owned and you are afforded the protection of a multi-billion dollar chain.

Regardless of the builders affiliation or lack thereof, it is important to do due diligence in thoroughly vetting them out. I’ve shared this many times in my articles, but apparently it has been under utilized: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/contractor-6/

drilling-hole-150x150On to your question. Placing no concrete under or around the building columns is probably a recipe for disaster – no building of any sort is going to prove to be better than its foundation. Although it is possible to engineer a foundation without concrete, it would involve enough extra efforts (and usually some very deep holes) in order to make it work. The concrete in the holes serves numerous functions – it has to be able to adequately distribute the weight of the building and any imposed vertical loads (like snow and ice) into the soils beneath the building to keep it from settling. This is a prevalent problem with most post frame (pole) buildings, where either no concrete or an inadequate amount of concrete has been placed below the columns. Building codes require a minimum of a six inch thick footing. Having the concrete up the sides of the column, above the footing aids in prevention of uplift (your building being sucked away) as well as overturning, neither of which would be a pleasant experience.

Here is a recent instance of a new pole building owner with a similar experience to yours: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pole-barn-columns-settle/

In my humble opinion – you should stop the builder immediately and demand he provide an engineer’s certification of the adequacy of what he has done for a footing/backfill. He is not going to be able to do it, so the next step is to have him provide an engineered repair (which means it is wet sealed and signed by an engineer) and then make sure he actually does the work prescribed by the engineer.

I am going to guess the building which you have invested in is not an engineered building – where the plans have the “wet seal” and original signature of a RDP (Registered Design Professional – engineer or architect). This affords a new building owner the assurance someone who actually has the knowledge of structural design has verified the adequacy of the overall building design as well as the strength and load carrying capabilities of every member and connection. I also cannot imagine your building is somewhere structural building permits and site inspections occur – if it is, then get your local Building Official involved, as it is his or her responsibility to look out for the safety of those who are investing in new construction.

Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

A Garage Door Tale

At my first business, M & W Building Supply, we provided over 6000 post frame building kit packages in the years before I turned it over to the current owner, Jim Betonte.

There were many memorable clients in those eight years, however a few instances stick in my mind.

We were contracted to supply a 30’ x 48’ building as an RV storage building and garage for a gentleman in Jefferson, Oregon. Part of why I remember it so well is the client was absolutely ecstatic about his new building – he was having a serious case of pole barn love.

He sent us several photos of his beautiful new building…..

With his RV parked in front of it…..

Because it was too tall to fit through the doors!!

Now keep in mind, this client did absolutely love his building, and he wasn’t upset with us because of his RV not fitting – after all, he was the one who picked the doors.

I was mortified.

We had not done our job well – which should have included asking just one more question of our client, “Have you actually measured the height of your RV”?

Whether your new building will house an RV or a Smart Car, I implore you to please, please, please actually measure what you are considering putting into your new building.

And consider what you might own in the future, as well as what the next owner might use the building for.

In the case of buildings meant to house RVs, it is most prudent to have a door tall enough to allow for any highway legal height vehicle to fit – which would be 14 feet. This also means an eave height of no less than 16 feet.

As a potential pole barn owner, in the event your potential building supplier doesn’t ask you specific questions in regards to heights, take the initiative yourself.

Get out your tape measure and put it to use.

Here is a case where it is so easy to expend a few minutes of effort, in exchange for years of building bliss!

Open Beam Post Frame Construction

Open Beam Post Frame Construction

Post frame (pole barn or pole building) design lends itself to a myriad of different design opportunities which can create some truly unique as well as magnificent spaces.

We were recently approached by a client who wanted his 36 foot width post frame building to have a 32 foot long area to be (in his words) “ridge and beam” construction. This would eliminate the roof trusses in this portion of the building.

Some solutions:

Least expensive, would be to place a beam running the 32 foot direction supported by the endwall columns every 12 feet. The opposite end of the beams would also need to be column supported. Rafters (aligning with the sidewall columns) would then be installed cantilevering over the top of the beams. Finally, purlins on edge would then go between the rafters to support roof sheathing and other typical roof assembly products.

A bit more expensive, would be to place the supporting beam only at the center of the building (a ridge beam). This would come with a greater investment due to the rafters having a larger span. The balance of the assembly would remain the same.

The beams could be any one of several different products. If remaining exposed, either a solid sawn or glu-laminated beam could be used. While the solid sawn beam might look the most impressive, we are talking about a timber which would have to come from a massive tree. I do happen to have an acquaintance who runs a specialty sawmill in Northern California and cuts beams such as these and ships them all over the world. She sometimes spends months in search of just the right tree for a particular job. Needless to say – she is paid handsomely for her work.

If the beam was to be wrapped with other materials, either laminated veneer lumber (LVL – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/lvl/) or parallel chord light gauge metal connector plated trusses could be utilized.

Keep in mind, the IBC (International Building Code) is going to require the ventilation of this system above the insulation placed between the roof purlins – unless closed cell spray foam insulation is utilized.

As always, The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience™ is limited only by your imagination, budget and available space!

Tru-Log Sided Pole Barns

We have a certain percentage of our clients who are looking for log siding for their new post frame buildings. Usually these folks already have a log home on their property, or their new pole building is going to be their home and they want the ‘log home’ look without the challenges associated with real logs.

Actual wood log buildings have a quaint, authentic look, but require vigilant maintenance at least every two to three years, and sometimes more frequently. This routine maintenance and upkeep is not only costly, but time consuming.

I’ve always believed post frame buildings should be as maintenance free as possible, and now there is a way to make this happen and give the authentic, genuine log look – TruLog™ steel log siding!

At a minimum, wood logs require staining, sealing and replacement of any cracked or damaged chinking every two to three years. Rotted logs may need to be replaced and insect infestations are always a potential challenge. With TruLog™ steel siding, your post frame home, garage or shop siding is essentially maintenance free. Any dust, dirt or debris on your steel logs can be easily rinsed off with a garden hose.

Painting? Not unless you want to change the color. TruLog™ steel siding is finished with a rugged, durable coating and DuPont™ Teflon® surface protector which resists fading, scratches and other types of wear. TruLog™ siding is available in four natural wood colors and the coating stands up to even the most intense UV rays.

TruLog™ steel log siding is made of tough, heavy-gauge steel which is supported by a foam backer contoured to fit behind the steel siding. The foam backer makes your new post frame building more energy efficient and may help you reduce utility bills because it provides insulation and increases the R-value of your building’s walls.

Not only are you choosing durable, high-quality material, with TruLog™ steel log siding, you are choosing the authentic, old-world, natural log appearance. This siding is manufactured to look like real logs, by incorporating hewing and chinking. Hewing is a characteristic completely unique to the process of chopping logs, and has been re-created to give the look of hew lines and wood grain for a realistic appearance. TruLog™ utilizes patented chink line technology to recreate the traditional appearance of sealant for visual contrast between logs.

Want the look of logs without the hassles and expense for your new barn? Ask for TruLog™ on your new post frame building!

More information on TruLog™ steel log siding can also be found at: https://www.trulogsiding.com.

Post Frame Building Saga

A Day Which Will Live in Infamy

Most United States citizens who have at least taken a high school U.S. History class will recognize this line from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Dec. 8, 1941 speech given to a joint session of Congress. For those of you who need a quick refresher: https://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=UTF-8&fr=crmas&p=dec.+7+1941+roosevelt%27s+speech

FDRI know I have baffled many a loyal reader, over the years, who has wondered where it is I am going with my writing about post frame buildings – although the answers to this one are going to require more than just a single day’s worth of reading.

You may ask, “How the H is he going to tie this one into a tidy package”?

Well, it appears as though my article posted June 17, 2015 – has very well struck a nerve. A nerve which I will share with you tomorrow.

I do not profess to be a journalist. Indeed – under the rules set down by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez, I am not (you can read David Coursey’s Forbes article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidcoursey/2012/01/02/you-be-the-judge-are-bloggers-journalists/).

However non-journalistic I may be, there are goals to my articles – I want to be both entertaining and informative. While not every article attains both of these goals, more than a few do. Many articles have been viewed upwards of 50,000 times, with one article (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/) reaching a readership of over 100,000 viewers in the four years since it was posted. This happens to work out to nearly 70 views per day, every day or once every 20 or so minutes!

I’ve learned a lot over the past four plus years of writing, much in part to questions and concerns posed by readers. I also make mistakes – and lots of them, you’ve had the opportunity to read many of them within the pages of my blogs. I am pretty well certain when I quit making mistakes, I will have died (or expired for those of gentler linguistic persuasions).

For those who are searching for building design solutions, my mission has remained constant since I was in architecture school at the University of Idaho – to assist people in getting the absolute best post frame building value for their investment. Even if this means the client gets a building from another provider, or doesn’t construct a post frame building, the goal remains the same.

Stay tuned in – as the saga continues tomorrow!

PET Lumber

A Builder’s PET

The stereotypical builder appears to be characterized as driving a four-wheel-drive extended cab pickup (of course jacked up so a ladder is required to get in), having a jobsite stereo system which can be heard for miles with the sound turned to only 30%, and of course – the ever faithful pet, the huge (usually slobbering) dog.

pet lumberBesides the dog, there is another pet which is loved especially by framing contractors. Precision-End Trimmed lumber (known by its acronym PET) is lumber which is trimmed square on both ends to uniform lengths. The manufacturing tolerance is 1/16th of an inch over or under length in no more than 20% of the pieces.

Most often PET lumber is found in studs for framing exterior and interior walls. The most common length of PET stud is 92-5/8” which, after the bottom, top and double plates are added, gives a finished framed ceiling height of 97-1/8”. When 5/8” gypsum wallboard is added to the ceiling, two rows of four foot width wallboard can be installed horizontally on the walls without having to rip them lengthwise.

Other than for studs, unless by special order, dimensional lumber is NOT PET lumber.

When constructing his self-storage pole building, Hansen Buildings owner Eric often commented upon how inconvenient it is for framing lumber to not be cut to exact lengths.

(Begin more reading on Eric’s project at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/06/builder/)

When purchasing a piece of two inch (2×4, 2×6, 2×8, etc.) at your local lumberyard or big box store (e.g. The Home Depot® or Lowe’s®) take out the trusty tape measure and check the length on a few boards.

Most typically proper, standard lengths of lumber are cut just a little bit longer. This extra length, generally from 3/8 to 5/8 inches, allows for proper squaring of the board. Especially with wider width lumber, it is not uncommon for one or both ends to have been cut slightly out of square when being processed at the sawmill from log to lumber.

There are times, in pole building construction, when the extra fraction of an inch makes all the difference in a board fitting or not. Frankly – I’d rather have the extra little bit to work with, than to have to go hunting for the green handled board stretcher

Concrete & Rain in My New Pole Building

This is a story which is heard all too frequently. And it always revolves around clients having just poured the concrete slabs in their new buildings. Even more so when the building has a low perm rated vapor retarder under the concrete.

Vapor retarders do exactly as their name implies, they retard the movement of water vapor through a system. They are not barriers which completely block the movement of moisture vapor. The amount of water vapor which passes through a vapor retarder is a function of perm rating, vapor pressure differential and penetrations.

The lower the perm rating of a vapor retarded, the better. A 1.0 perm rating will allow approximately 10 times more water vapor to pass through than a product rated 0.09, under the same conditions.

Moisture will flow from areas of high humidity or temperature to areas where these conditions are low. The force which drives the moisture through a vapor retarder is the vapor pressure differential.

wet concrete floorFreshly poured concrete contains a tremendous amount of moisture. In a typical two car garage (24 feet square) with a nominal four inch thick slab – the concrete contains approximately 138 gallons of water! As the concrete cures, much of this water is liberated into the air, increasing the relative humidity and vapor pressure within the building.

Ventilation is the simplest way to reduce humidity and vapor pressure and also lower the probability of condensation related problems. Failure to adequately ventilate a building during and after a concrete pour can result in condensation on the surface of the vapor retarder and potentially within any insulation. This is particularly critical in colder temperatures.

The easiest solution to “rain” after a new pour? Open up all of the doors and windows until the “rain” quits! And don’t panic – this will resolve the problem. My lovely bride came up with the idea of putting several fans on the concrete –but the concrete should NOT be forced to dry any “faster” as this lessens the overall strength of the finished concrete. You are best to retard the rate at which the concrete dries.

The whole point is – as the concrete dries, at its own natural rate, to ventilate out the moisture it releases into the air

My VersaTube Pole Building Collapsed!

I’ve previously expressed concerns about light gauge “carport” type buildings (read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/05/carports/).

(My advance apologies for the misleading title, it was used by the complainee below – VersaTube® buildings are NOT pole buildings!!)

Whilst doing some ‘net surfing, I recently came across this posting at www.pissedcustomer.com:

“I purchased a metal frame building from Versa Tube, which their engineers designed for the area of Minnesota I live in. The building collapsed!

I purchased a VersaTube metal frame building from Menards in Hermantown, Minnesota. The building was designed by the engineers at VersaTube, for the area of Minnesota I live in. The building was 32′ wide X 36′ long and 12.5′ tall. I purchased the building in September 2013 and it was built that same month.

Versatube BuildingOn Febraury 21, 2014 only 6 months after the construction of the building, it collapsed during a snowfall. The warranty states “The VersaTube Product Pledge What exactly is a Product Pledge? It’s quite simple . .

. the Pledge is our way of showing that we’re proud of our products and the level of quality that they represent. Your building will go through an extensive inspection process prior to leaving our plant, but if any component should not meet your expectations, we’ll be glad to replace the part at no charge within 30 days of purchase. The only criteria that must be met is that you bought the building from VersaTube, the damage wasn’t caused by customer modifications or mishandling, and that the building was erected within 4 months of purchase.

This section of the Pledge applies to any of the materials supplied with our building kits for one year from the date of purchase. The second part of the VersaTube Product Pledge provides a 20 year structural warranty on all framing components of our buildings from the date of purchase. Of course, the defect can’t be caused by customer modifications or negligence, an unanticipated Act of God or nature, an accident, or any type of internal or external impact. Improper assembly or installation may also void the warranty.

The customer is responsible for performing standard building maintenance and inspections on a regular basis. We reserve the right to repair or replace any part that might not meet expectations. VersaTube is proud to put our name on the buildings we manufacture for our customers and stand behind their quality with our industry leading Product Pledge.” I have contacted VersaTube, and they are not willing to honor the Warranty. VersaTube told me that I should file a claim with my homeowners’ insurance company.

The building was designed by VersaTube Engineers for the part of the country I live in before I ever built it. Now they are saying that it has been an abnormally snowy winter and because of this, they don’t have to honor the warranty. We have not broken any snowfall records in Saginaw, Minnesota this year. These buildings should not be sold to customers in Minnesota or other states that get snowfall.

VersaTube uses Homeowners Insurance as a copout to honor their warranty. I paid 6300.00 for the metal frame from Menards.

Menards tells me that all warranty issues go directly thru VersaTube.”

From The Pole Barn Guru:

This is my humble opinion only:

Building owner – should have taken one look at this “thing” and realized there was no way it would ever withstand any significant amount of snow. Unless registered engineer sealed drawings for the design loads where the building was to be located were provided with the building purchase this, “their engineers designed for the area of Minnesota I live in”, was merely a poor assumption upon the part of the buyer.

Menards® – once again just me, I would personally have a very difficult time selling a building to a client which I did not have total faith in its ability to adequately carry the climactic loads where it would be located.

This is a case of, if it looks cheap, and the price is cheap, maybe it IS cheap! Want an affordable, permanent building which WILL stand up to the elements – then a pole building is probably the solution! And yes, you can get engineer sealed drawings plus full calculations on any pole building from Hansen Buildings.

The Flying Gable Crash Lands

Over the years I’ve experienced many various clients who have constructed pole building kits as “bonding” experiences.

These have included a couple in their early 80’s, five brothers who built a new shop for their Dad for Father’s Day, and a man and his 14 year old daughter.

We’ve built two pole buildings with our oldest son Jake – one at the house he sold in Tennessee a year ago, and the other for his father-in-law in the Smokey Mountains. Our youngest daughter, Allison, helped us to build the deck across the rear of Jake’s house – as it coincided with her attending Pat Summit’s basketball camp in Knoxville.

At 13 Allison was very tall and impressed Pat Summit and her staff enough to be awarded “Best in Her Age Group”. The award was a piece of the hardwood floor from the University of Tennessee gym where the Lady Volunteers won their most recent championship – and signed by Pat Summit herself!

I coached Allison’s basketball teams for five seasons, and knew she was all heart – nearly enough to make up for her general lack of natural talent. She’d come home from school every day and shoot baskets until she had made 100. She also had a shot blocking knack, however was so kind she’d help the opposing players up off the court after driving them to the floor with a thunderous block.

But I have digressed – our youngest son, Brent is here with us in Browns Valley to assist with the construction of Eric’s new self storage building. Brent, by the way, is called by Allison her “little” brother – even though he stands 6’6” tall (he is younger than her by 17 months).

The first morning was spent working with Eric on the scissor’s lift, pounding a plethora of joist hanger nails through 2×8 Simpson joist hangers into the roof purlins.

As the last section was completed, I went out to take a photo. This pole building is planned with 12 inch enclosed overhangs on all four sides. I am looking at the end of the building closest to where the roof framing had most recently been completed – and noticed the endwall columns progressively leaning in further as the center of the building was approached!

I walked down the length of the building 12 feet and looked across the row of poles…and they were straight…..hmmmmm

It seems a flying gable had inadvertently been created across the front endwall! A flying gable is normally planned by having each end overhanging purlin go past the end rafter or truss slightly longer than the one prior.

Flying GablePreviously as I was cutting the purlins, I had marked every one of them for “crown up” with a red arrow. For the overhanging end purlins, lines were drawn for the location of the end rafters.

In placing the roof purlins in the end bay more than a few of them were switched end-for-end, so the rafter marks were 12 feet away from where they were intended. This contributed to the demise of the best laid overhang plan.

This created a “teaching moment” for my son – as he had the opportunity to pull out a fair number of nails from the Simpson hangers holding the purlins firmly in the wrong place! Our flying gable took a crash landing.

To be continued….

Cape May Pole Barn

Tuesday afternoon I had to get from Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware. The choices were a very long circuitous drive, or to take the ferry. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I am used to ferries, they take millions of passengers annually on a myriad of routes across the Puget Sound.

I am also used to the ferries running frequently – which is not the case on a week day in May – as there are only six departures from Cape May, the last one (which I caught) being at six p.m.

It wasn’t like I had anywhere to go, so my four o’clock arrival gave me a couple of hours respite from driving.

Cape May has done a spectacular job at creating a positive ferry terminal experience. They offer event hosting, as well as live music several nights a week. For the adventurous – free putt-putt golf!

Cape May Pole BarnBeing as I enjoy a tall cold beverage on occasion. I joined my host, Michael, at the outdoor bar. Numerous choices of local brews were available. As chance would have it, Michael explained to me Milton (near Lewes)is the home for one of the craft breweries – Dogfish Head. In a pole barn.

The brewery is located at #6 Cannery Village Center in Milton, Delaware and they have a brewpub at 320 Rehoboth Ave., in Rehoboth Beach. It turns out Dogfish Head Brewing began in 1995 as Delaware’s first legal distillery. For more information on the brewery visit: www.dogfish.com.

Now I had to chuckle at the chance I would be at a ferry terminal, in Cape May, New Jersey, and have my bar server tell me about a pole building brewery. He went on to say the Dogfish Head Brewery does regular tours and business has been so brisk, they have had to expand their pole building several times.

It turned out to be a wonderful day on the water from Cape May to Lewes. Along the journey I texted several times to my lovely bride (as it was our 14th wedding anniversary), jokingly telling her our ferry captain was Jonas Grumby (Google the name).

Now I got to thinking about the few pole building brewery projects I had been involved with over the decades. Yesterday afternoon, I was on the road towards Kitty Hawk, North Carolina when I drive by a huge pole building on the right. Home of – you guessed it – a brewery! The Weeping Radish Farm Brewery (www.weepingradish.com) is located on the Caratoke Highway near Grandy, NC.

I don’t know if the beer at Weeping Radish Farm Brewery is any good, but they have certainly had fun with the artwork on the end of their pole building!

Pole Buildings and the 2014 Winter Olympics

From February 7-23 I was among millions of Americans who spent their evenings glued to their televisions to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics (officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games). Held in Sochi, Russia, a total of 98 events were held during the games.

olympic ringsI inadvertently became a fan of men’s freestyle skiing, when I found out one of the members of the USA Winter Olympic team was Patrick Deneen.

OK, you may be wondering how I am going to connect the Winter Olympics to pole buildings. Read on….

Back in the 1980’s Patrick Deneen’s father – Pat was part owner and general manager of the Hyak, Washington ski area (now part of The Summit at Snoqualmie). The Deneen family was highly involved in resort operations, as Patrick’s mother Nancy managed sales and the local ski shop was owned and operated by his grandfather.

When the resort needed a new building, Pat ordered it from my business, at the time, M & W Building Supply. Construction was done in the middle of winter, at below zero temperatures by Jim Betonte’s company – Farmland Structures.

Not long after, on Christmas Day 1987 brought a special gift to Pat and Nancy Deneen – their son Patrick.

I thought my brother and I were young when our parents taught us how to ski at Schweitzer Basin, Idaho in 1963.  I was 6 and my brother was 3. The Deneen’s blew my thinking all to pieces, as two months after Patrick learned to walk at 9 months of age, Pat had him on the ski slopes!

Pat Deneen took his son to the ski shop, got the smallest skis they had and stuffed newspaper into the boots so they would fit. The first run was on the flattest possible slope – down to mother Nancy awaiting at the bottom.

I’ve been involved in other pole buildings with interesting clients (read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/03/pole-building-11/), and for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it was the son of a client who made them even more interesting for me

How LinkedIn is Important to Your New Pole Building

How LinkedIn is Important to Your Pole Building

If you are one of the many who have been single in the past decade or so it is OK to admit (even to yourself) to the use of the internet to have found a date. If not for finding a date to check out someone who you might have more than a passing interest in dating. Face it, the ‘net affords the ability to gather a lot of information.

Now, gentle reader, you may be wondering how one ties dating into investing in a new pole building.

Think of ordering a pole building, like dating. It takes some time and effort to build the right relationship. The person (or persons) who are working (hopefully on the same side of the table WITH you) to see your building best meets your needs, are very important. Don’t like them? Or worse, don’t trust them? If either or both, chances are this is not going to be a marriage made in heaven.

Why LinkedIn?

With over 225 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Today, it’s assumed every business professional has a LinkedIn profile.

I WANT my clients to check me out, and LinkedIn gives a one stop shop for finding out what makes me tick.

Mike MombTake a minute and go check out my profile, Mike Momb, at LinkedIn.com.

This gives you a detail overview of where I have worked, where I went to school, and organizations I have or do belong to. It also gives a list of endorsements from others as to my skills and expertise. You will find 80 or more people have endorsed me for Building Materials, Timber, Wood, Materials, Green Building and Construction. In a nutshell, “I know my pooh”.

While some things can be made up, endorsements cannot be.

You can also see the LinkedIn groups I am a member of, as well as I am married and what my outside interests are. (I met my bride on the internet and after 14 glorious years, would do it all over again!)

Part of due diligence is knowing who is on your team, and who is merely a pretender.

Interesting Use for a Pole Barn

I have configured both Google and Yahoo for notifications every time “pole barn” or “pole building” comes up in a new or edited article on the Internet. One of the things I am looking for is new or innovative ways people use buildings. Some of them make for interesting potential blog posts.

From Van Buren County, Michigan, yesterday, comes a story of an unsuccessful use of a pole barn:

It seems an 18 year old had perhaps been drinking, and decided to go on a burglary spree.

After entering one home, and appropriating some items, he decided to try the same with the neighbors. The suspect was unsuccessful in entering the home of the last victims, and woke them up in the process. He then forced his way into their pole barn, where the shotgun wielding homeowner held him at bay until deputies arrived.

The suspect was later charged with three counts of larceny from a motor vehicle, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, and alcohol consumption by a minor.

In retrospect, I suppose the owner of the pole barn in question, might view this as a case of successful, but unintended use of his pole barn.

Now I doubt law enforcement agencies are going to start constructing pole buildings with the idea they will become “mouse traps” for burglars….but it is an interesting concept!

pole-barn-weddingDo you own a pole building which is being used for a unique purpose? If so, I’d like to hear about it, and why you chose a pole building as opposed to some other form of construction.

Take a look at this photo from one of our recent customers who recently got married in his new pole building!

OMG It Might Be a Pole Barn

The following story by Zack McDonald appeared in the October 17, 2013 Panama City, FL The News Herald:

“PARKER — Residents may want to hold off on building any pole barns, carports, garages or storage sheds in their front yards within the next three months.

They might be asked to remove them at their own cost.

Residents generally must get a permit from the city to put such structures on their property. However, after council members approved a moratorium during their most recent meeting, all accessory structures in front yards will not be allowed for at least a 90-day period.

Halting the construction or placement of those structures came at the behest of the city’s planning board.

James Bearden, resident, came before the council to request a setback variance for a carport built about one foot beyond his property line. But when the city started looking at the structure, it looked a little more like a pole barn.

Or maybe it didn’t.

The city’s Land Development Regulations (LDR) does not define “carport” beyond it must be “attached to the principal structure” and used to store vehicles, according to the LDR.

“Everybody knows a pole barn when they see one but defining it is more difficult,” said Mayor Richard Musgrave. “We thought it would be better to define it so any homeowner would know the difference.”

Another problem arose with the definition of “attached.”

“It should look like the original structure so it looks like it was all built at same time,” Musgrave said. “We let homeowners define attachment as having a simple aluminum covering. In my world that is not attached.”

The planning board requested time to look at language to better define which structures would be allowed in the city and which would not, and also will be looking at several other terms within the LDR. Council members agreed 90 days would be long enough but the moratorium can be extended.

The moratorium went into effect Tuesday evening, and the variance requested by Bearden was eventually rejected by the council.”

Here is my take on this story:

First of all, if someone constructs a building without obtaining appropriate permits, they should have to either prove the structure conforms to regulations (and be appropriately penalized for not getting authorization in advance), or be required to move or remove it.

Secondly, I object to the broad use of the term “pole barn”, specifically as referenced in this instance, as it appears to have a negative connotation. Pole (aka post frame) buildings, most certainly do not have to look as though they were dragged in off “the farm”.

Third, “everybody knows a pole barn when they see one”? When designed and used as a barn, maybe. In my career, I’ve designed, built, and/or provided literally thousands of pole buildings, which could not have been distinguished from any other form of construction, had I not pointed out to others, yes indeed, it is a pole building. Pole buildings can be sided or roofed with any type of material which could be applied to any other structural system.

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), attached is pretty easily defined by Webster as:”connected or joined to something”. Pretty simple, either it is or it isn’t, and whatever the structure is sided or roofed with, has nothing to do with whether it is connected.
Post frame construction is a Code conforming structural system. Any attempt to legislate out the use of this, or any other conforming system, could open up a municipality to a plethora of potentially expensive to defend legal actions.

pole barn

If the objection is to siding and roofing materials only, which do not match an existing structure, the solution would be to require conformance, by adopting appropriate language.  The framework is what determines if it’s a “pole barn”, and not what you see covering it.

I have hundreds of photos of “pole barns”….from garages and sheds to houses with dormers, decks and lofts… and I challenge anyone to be able to look at the exterior and determine if they are pole buildings….or not. Take for example the picture above with stucco siding…this is not your typical pole barn.

Why You Need to Verify Design Criteria

Why to Verify Design Criteria

For those of you who are dedicated long term readers, I thank you. I’ve preached this subject more than once – but the message hasn’t gotten through to everyone yet. I will attempt to avoid boring anyone.

There are over 7000 building permit issuing jurisdictions in the United States. A full time employee, calling each of them for their most current code and load information, would need to reach and get data from nearly four an hour – for an entire year, and then it would be time to start all over again!

Each time a Hansen Pole Building is quoted, the design version of the Building Code, as well as all climactic forces the building is designed to, are listed on the pole building quote. Every quote also includes (in bold):

“You must confirm all code/design criteria with your Building Department prior to placing your order. 

We recommend taking this page to your building department for them to verify all design criteria listed above.”

Now my Dad used to tell me, “You can lead a horse to water, and if you hold its head under long enough, it will drown”.

Such may be the case with design criteria. Many clients not only follow instructions, they have done their homework in advance! They have contacted their Building Departments for information, before they even started pole building shopping.

We love these people! They are prepared.

Most of the rest, follow instructions well – they happily contact their Building Department and verify the information before ordering. We love you as well!

Then there are the very small percentage who make assumptions….well, we know where assumptions lead to.

When a post frame building kit package is ordered, one of the items Purchaser agrees to is:

“Seller’s designs rely solely upon occupancy category and structural criteria for and at specified job site address only, which have been provided and/or verified by Purchaser. It is Purchaser’s and only Purchaser’s responsibility to ascertain the design loads utilized in this Agreement meet or exceed the actual dead loads imposed on the structure and the live loads imposed by the local building code or historical climactic records. Purchaser understands Seller and/or Seller’s engineer(s) or agents will NOT be contacting anyone to confirm.”

design criteriaA real life example occurred recently. Client ordered a building kit and thought the roof snow load was to be 35 psf (pounds per square foot). Way too late into the game (prefabricated roof trusses had been delivered to the jobsite) the Building Department tells the permit applicant, “Oops”!

With the right information verified in the beginning, the cost difference would have been minimal. Many times, truss repairs to add five psf of load are fairly affordable. Not in this case – many of the wood members, as well as the majority of the roof truss metal connector plates were originally close to being fully stressed in the original design. For practical purposes, another truss needed to be added to every truss set, in order to meet the slightly higher loads.

Here is a case where ten minutes of the customer’s time to verify, would have saved well over a thousand dollars!

Plan ahead with your design criteria using our helpful Pole Barn Planning Guide.

Multi-Million Dollar Business from a Pole Barn

Back in 2006  Daniel Huang and Shawn Dougherty began the business mStation, making speakers and cases for iPods and mp3 players. Initially located in southern California, they decided to reduce their company’s real estate costs by setting up shop in Dougherty’s pole barn back in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This would allow them to make the best use of the $250,000 they’d bootstrapped.

Pole Barn“I packed up, I went back to Michigan, I bought the house next to my family home and it had a 3,000 square foot pole barn on it,” says Dougherty, Mophie’s COO, in a Forbes magazine interview. Her family’s pole barn – and those of friendly neighbors – provided added space for the burgeoning company’s launch. “We were dropping containers on the property.”

The first year brought in $1 million in sales, selling predominantly in North America, and attracted about a half million dollar investment from NBA star Carmelo Anthony, who they later bought out. This capital allowed stock up on inventory, move from Kalamazoo to Paw Paw and acquire Mophie in a 2007 asset purchase.

Now I had never heard of either mStation or Mophie, an Apple device accessory company, which opened up a larger market for mStation. Their acquisition of Mophie gave them a global Apple retail presence.

In a nutshell, these really smart folks recognized every device is drawing power from the moment it is turned on, so they designed a supplemental power source, which is built into the device’s case.

Today Mophie is on track to do $200 million in 2013 sales!

Maybe your business ideas are as adventurous as Huang and Dougherty’s, and you might not have access to $250,000 for a startup. However a pole building might be part of the solution to getting off the ground and moving in an upward direction.

Available with a limitless supply of possible sizes and features, there is a pole building which could be just what your business ordered!

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part III

NOTE: Today’s blog is part III of a 3 part series – back up two days for the beginning! For those who wish to skip parts I and II, a simple typographical error on the Internet got me to “hansonsteel.com” (Hanson versus Hansen-which is the company I work for) where I found an interesting page on “Steel vs. Pole Buildings”.

For sake of ease of reading, words in italics are those from the all steel building website.


Once your Hanson Steel Building is constructed, it is constructed for a lifetime; the buildings are virtually maintenance free for years.

Pole barns/buildings must have sheeting reattached on a regular basis. And wooden frames for doors and windows will need replacing. Sagging trusses or warped wood framing will cause steel to pull away from the screw connections thus generating water leaks. The leaks in-turn damage the wood construction further. Most pole barns/buildings will need a complete overhaul of sheeting, bolts and screws.

Pole Barn NailIn my thirty plus years, pole building sheeting has never had to be reattached. If proper screws (like those designed for diaphragm design) are used, the manufacturer guarantees the screws will outlast the steel roofing and siding. Companies using nails to attach steel to wood framing – yes, they will come out of the wood creating water leaks and damaging the wood framing. Using screws and the “right” screws as mentioned, stay tight over time due to their design, with the neoprene washer, do not allow water to enter.

I’ve been in all steel buildings which leak.  All steel buildings are often used for commercial & retail uses.  My wife and I frequent a ShopKo in Sisseton, SD. It had numerous leaks in the roof within 5 years of its construction.  The most frequent causes of leaks…in either all steel or wood framed buildings are: use of improper screws, inadequately installed screws, or screws missing the framework.   This retail building had customers walking around plastic covering damaged floor stock due to a leaking roof.  I saw huge dollar signs in looking at the ShopKo building for repairs, not to mention damaged valuable merchandise.  As a customer, it made me a bit leery to even be IN the building, wondering if the roof was going to come down as I watched it dripping into the many “catch” buckets.

The use of vinyl windows and steel jambed commercial steel entry doors eliminates the need for replacement. Prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses will not sag, and once dried wood framing has been properly installed and fastened in place, warping is not going to occur. Again, I would like to see documentation of ANY pole barn needing a complete overhaul of sheeting, bolts and screws.

Roof and Wall Panels

All Hansen Steel Buildings offer 26-gauge roof and wall panels with strength of 80,000 psi.

Pole buildings are normally produced with a thinner roof and wall panel consisting of 29-gauge steel.

To give a perspective on steel thickness differences, from 29 gauge to 26 gauge the difference in thickness is .0045 of an inch. A sheet of 20# paper measures .0038 of an inch. Roughly speaking the difference between the two gauges is about the thickness of a piece of paper!

Now the important part – how much load will a steel panel carry? The “weak link” in a pole building structure is not the steel roofing and siding, it will be found somewhere in the underlying framing system. Taking a look at the span tables provided to us by American Building Components (ABC) for their Imperial Rib® (Imperial Rib is a registered trademark of ABC) panel, when placed across three equal spans of 24 inches, 29 gauge will support a live load of 124 pounds per square foot (psf) and 26 gauge 141 psf. The difference is only 13.7%!

Bottom line is… do you need 26 gauge steel?  No, you really don’t.  29 gauge is going to do everything you need it to do.  When would you need 26 gauge steel?  If you are going to purchase an all steel building and have 5 feet between your purlins and 7 feet between your girts.  On a wood framed building with half those spacings or less, it’s just overkill.  Beware of those who try to sell you something you don’t really need.

Read more about steel thickness here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/01/steel-thickness/

Fire Rating

Pre-engineered steel buildings offer a Class C fire rating which is the same as masonry buildings. Hanson Steel Buildings are designed for heavy wind, snow, rain or earthquake commercial building codes and provide protection for the building contents.

Wooden pole buildings offer a Class A fire rating which is the lowest resistance to fire hazard. Wooden pole construction cannot be used in many areas where there are stringent building codes for wind, snow, rain, or earthquake.

According to Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC, “A combustible material will be rated as Class A, Class B, or Class C based on its performance in this test. A material rated as Class A would have a lower flame spread, and therefore a better performance rating, than a Class C material.”

Pole buildings are Code conforming structures and can be designed to meet heavy wind, snow, rain and earthquake design loads. We’ve had clients get permits and successfully construct pole buildings at high snow ski-resorts, in California, Miami/Dade (most extreme wind), New York, Alaska and Hawaii.  In fact, we have pole buildings in all 50 states, including very urban areas. As long as buildings are built to Code, there is no reason anyone should not be able to use post frame construction for their new building.

Pole Barns – From the Seat of My Motorcycle!

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

In my first year of architecture school at the University of Idaho, Robert M. Pirsig’s 1974 book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was required reading for one of my second year architecture classes. The book describes a 17-day motorcycle journey from Minnesota to California.

1986 Yamaha Venture MotorcycleEarlier this year I completed my own 17-day motorcycle journey (or 6500+ miles) – riding my 1986 1300cc Yamaha Venture Royale from Newman Lake, Washington to Browns Valley, Minnesota – the long way. Beginning in Washington, I headed north to overnight in Kimberly, British Columbia. The journey to the “first stop” at Browns Valley went across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, before heading south across North Dakota.

From there, the journey really began – starting on the west side of Lake Traverse in South Dakota, through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan (the lower portion), Ohio, back across Indiana and Illinois, then on to Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and back to South Dakota.

The trip, as most are, was a learning experience, and I will share some of the insights about pole buildings gained along the way. I did see a clearly noticeable difference between the farmlands of Canada and those in the United States. In the U.S. we have lots of collapsed, or partially collapsed, old wooden pole barns – I do not believe I saw a single one north of the 49th parallel!

What is being missed out on – is a literal gold mine of recyclable materials. Wood can be easily reused and there are a plethora of businesses on the internet which will not only purchase old barn wood, but will also take down the old buildings and haul them away!

If nothing else, the fallen pole buildings make farmsteads appear unsightly – it reminds me of old cars which are run until the wheels literally fall off, whence they are abandoned.

Today’s modern pole barn building technology – centered upon the engineered post frame building (notice the emphasis on engineered, as opposed to “seat-of-the-pants”) with modern pressure preservative treated columns and prefabricated metal connector plated roof trusses, will result in far fewer “tear downs” over the next century.

Hang along for the ride, my 4844 mile loop across the Midwest was if anything, most interesting. My next “several” blogs will outline what I found as I checked out pole buildings – Midwest style! See you tomorrow~!

Let’s Play Volleyball…in a Pole Barn!

Our daughter, Allison, at 19 is tall….as in 6’ tall.

Going through school, she was always the tallest kid in her class. When she was in fourth grade she decided she was going to become a volleyball player, and the height was certainly a plus.

Now, I can relate some to Allie, as I was always the tall kid as well – kind of like the huge puppy with big feet which seemed to go everywhere but the right direction. My coordination was certainly far behind my growth curve. In school sports, I was always the last kid picked for teams.

How bad was I? Until the end of grade school (after sixth grade), I got picked behind David, the legally blind kid. This ended in seventh grade, as David had to go to the blind school.

VolleyballBack to Allison….she inherited her Dad’s talent, or lack thereof. She was frankly so horrid, it used to bring tears to my eyes. But she was persistent, she was always the first one to practice and last one to leave. She worked hard and after years of playing school and club volleyball, she became the player her team wanted to have the ball when the game was on the line.

All of the years of going to volleyball practices, camps, games, tournaments and anywhere else a volleyball could be bumped, set or spiked, gave me a pretty good feel for what it takes to have a good or bad building for volleyball.

The last club team Allison played for practiced regularly in a pole barn….with a 13 foot high ceiling! Far less than ideal.

A regulation volleyball court is 30’ x 60’ with an ideal ceiling height of no less than 23 feet. The standards to support the net are to be 3’ outside of the court itself. Although not defined by rule, the serving area is typically two meters behind the end line.

To create a minimal sized volleyball practice facility, a pole barn should ideally be 50’ x 80’ with a 24’ eave height.

Pole buildings, with their affordability of wide clearspans, are ideal for multiple court facilities. By using an 80 foot truss span, courts can be placed side-by-side by adding 50 foot multiples to the length.

To allow for tournament play with bleachers and locker rooms, a single sloping “shed” roof can be added to one or both sides of the building. For adequate bleacher seating, allow an area approximately two feet square for each fan.

If the volleyball pole barn is designed to allow over 300 people to congregate (250 if associated with a school), then it needs to be classified, by Code, as a Category III building for importance. This classification increases the ability of the building to withstand snow, wind and seismic forces.

As a gymnasium without spectator seating, the Use and Occupancy classification would be A-3. With spectator seating, A-4.

Without special fire resistive provisions, pole buildings are Type V-B structures, which as an A-3 or A-4 classified building, they are limited to 6,000 square feet without fire separations or sprinklers and 11,500 square feet with either one-hour fire rated construction or an approved automatic sprinkler system (the sprinkler system would still require the walls to have a one-hour fire rating).

This would limit the volleyball court pole building to an 80’ x 143.75’ structure (three courts side-by-side) without a viewing area, provided it was sprinklered.

By upgrading the exterior walls to noncombustible materials (steel siding and fire-retardant-treated wood would qualify), the building type would then be classified as a III and allowable square footages could be increased to 9,500 or 14,000 with approved sprinklers.

At 14,000 square feet, three 50’ x 80’ court areas plus 2000 square feet of bleachers (enough for 500 spectators) could be accommodated.

The overall building footprints can be increased from the square footages above, by segregating sections by use of a two-hour fire wall between each.

Regardless of needs, a pole barn  – (post frame building) remains the ideal affordable choice for volleyball facilities.

IndepenDance at the Pole Barn

I ran across the title of this event on the ‘net and being the pole barn curious guy I am, had to find out more.

american-as-apple-pieThis event combines several all-American things – Independence Day, a fireworks show, dancing and of course – the pole barn!

Luckily very few people (as my lovely bride will attest to) have seen me dance, and of those who have, even fewer have survived the experience unscathed to tell the story. Being this what it is… we will stick to the more fun topics – such as pole barns.

In this case the “IndepenDance” is held about an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia near Cartersville.

Those of you who own appropriately zoned rural properties, might want to pay close attention……

This “event center” is designed to host weddings, receptions and other events in a natural setting, the use of post frame construction fits in nicely with the environment, as well as being cost affordable.

In this particular instance, two pole buildings have been utilized.

One post frame building is a 40 foot by 60 foot open air pavilion. This is basically a roof only pole building, with ten foot high sidewalls, which have been enclosed down two feet from the roof with a steel “side skirt”.  With a concrete slab on grade, it is ideal for summertime gatherings.

The other building is larger – big enough to seat up to 470 people! Fully enclosed, it is climate controlled (able to be heated or air conditioned) and includes full kitchen and food service facilities as well as rest rooms.

In order to appeal to a broad variety of users, the owners have onsite a six acre lake stocked with fish for catch and release. The lake has a white sand beach suitable for swimming, sunbathing and volleyball, as well as horseshoe pits and swings.

Looking to turn your underused rural acreage into a low maintenance cash cow? An event center might be an answer and very probably a pole building or buildings will be a part of the solution!

Pole Barn Security: Plan to Zombie Proof

Or how to keep the undead minions at bay…..and yes, Halloween is upon us…

Prepared for a zombie apocalypse? Sure it sounds silly, but even the US Center For Disease Control (CDC) now has a page devoted to preparing for a zombie apocalypse https://www.bt.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_Blog.asp  The CDC’s page mainly covers items one should have on hand for any disaster but doesn’t really go into how to enforce pole barn security and keeping the zombies out.

Alarm systems won’t stop zombies. While installing an alarm system might be a great idea, it won’t prevent a zombie from breaking in. An alarm system is only good for notifying the police and your neighbors who may have already been turned into zombies. I would rather keep the undead out of my building rather than being alerted by a shrill alarm as they are preparing to eat me.

I’ve been broken into before (by thieves, not zombies), and it isn’t fun. The mess and the feelings of an invasion of privacy were far worse than the fairly worthless items which were taken.

In my post-break-in research, I found most criminals (and zombies) don’t bother trying to pick a lock or break a window; they just give the entry door one or two strong kicks and drive the deadbolt through the door jamb. Simple, effective, and quick. Zombies in particular love to kick things and use the sheer force of their undead will to break down your door.

Most pole buildings are constructed with man (OK – person) doors, which may as well have signs on them, “Break in here”. Why? Because building owners and builders all too often look at this as a place to save money – “penny wise and pound foolish”. Bargain basement doors have wood jambs which will be destroyed in an instant by any self-respecting zombie.

Good pole barn security means spending the money on a solid steel commercial entry door pre-hung in an all steel jamb. Now these doors will not prevent shooting a large caliber bullet through the door at a zombie, it will keep the honest ones out!

Sliding doors….I can design a zombie proof sliding door, however having to remove large quantities of lag screws from the door to open it, becomes inconvenient at best. Sliding doors are great for animal barns, as they are low cost and can be opened partially to allow for ventilation. When it comes to security, most sliding doors seal only tight enough to let the neighbor’s cat in! Zombies are going to be looking at sliding doors as a place for easy access.

Designing with sectional steel overhead doors, rather than sliding doors affords advantages other than just keeping zombies out. Besides sealing tightly, they can be insulated and hooked to a remote electric opener.

Both thieves and resourceful zombies love to smash their way into things with baseball bats. If they can’t get in through a door their next choice is a window. Luckily, pole barns are often not finished on the inside, and huge amounts of natural light can be added with the use of polycarbonate eave or ridge lights. About the only way the zombies are going to get to the polycarbonate is with scaling ladders.

Zombies can pound their heads and fists at your security laminate-protected windows for days and your windows will likely still hold up without breaking. You can have the laminate installed professionally or you can purchase a DIY kit for about $500 US that should cover most windows in an average sized home.

If you heed the advice above, hopefully the zombie’s will move on and break into the neighbor’s pole barn instead. Just remember, an ounce of prevention now may be worth a pound of cure later for compromised pole barn security. Keep up with all the latest zombie outbreaks and zombie-related news at https://www.zombieresearch.org.



Pole Barn vs. Post Frame Building

Just like Olympic boxing, in one corner is “pole barn” and in the other “post frame building”. Nothing too amazing about this….until one delves in and finds out they are actually two terms commonly used for the same thing.

red pole barnThe original pole barns, utilized round posts – basically trees, old power poles or similar. As they were round and they main structural supports, the term pole barn stuck.

I first began providing pole barn material kit packages over three decades ago. The first time I had ever heard the term “post frame building” was after I had stumbled upon the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA), over 25 years ago.

Even then, builders had deemed the term “pole barn” to have a negative connotation. It was felt pole barn relegated the industry to only farm buildings.

Today’s modern post frame building is anything but merely a farm building. Designed with cutting edge technology, it is widely regarded as the most efficient approach to most of today’s modern building requirements.  Pole barns can be anything any other “stick built” structure can be – and even more.  Anything from barns and arenas, to storage, sheds, airplane hangars, and yes, houses and churches too.  Take a look at some of the pictures on the Hansen Pole Buildings Website.  Can you tell what type of framing is used?

It is difficult to change general public knowledge and overall reactions when they hear the word “pole building.” You will often hear me say, “Pole Buildings fly under the radar.”  Just a few years ago, my wife and I were at a conference where the leaders encouraged us to “network”.  The goal was to go around the room, introduce yourself and state the name of your company. Then we were to share “what does or doesn’t work” for our company.  My wife and I soon huddled in the corner and decided we’d leave the word “pole” out of our name when we introduced ourselves.  Invariably, I’d barely eke out, “Hi, I’m Mike from Hansen Pole Buildings…” and was met with a confused stare, along with interrupting comments of “Pole…you mean like telephone poles?”  Um…no.  To date, we use both names for our company – depending on where we are and who we are talking to.

At Hansen Buildings, we examine trends for terms people use when doing internet searches. What really matters is not what we, or our industry, want to use as a moniker – it is the public. Hands down, the general population picks “pole barn”. Pole building is a distant second.

And what about “post frame”? After all of the efforts made by the industry and the NFBA, rarely does anyone search for a post frame building!  Take your pick, but whatever term you use, we know exactly what you are talking about.

Wintertime Pole Building Dreaming

It’s not even December and I’m already tired of pushing/shoveling snow.  But strangely, there is something about the wintertime which is somewhat comforting.  My wife and I live by a lake in the mountains where most folks around us retreat to the city when the snow flies.  Like relatives, we happily welcome our summertime friends in the Spring and just as happily wave goodbye in the Fall.  Winter brings time for “holing up”, reflection…and planning.

This is the time of year when the number of clients asking for quotes on pole buildings rises terrifically.  Folks are not exactly thinking in these terms, but it comes down to, “What in my life will be better with a new pole building?”  If you are not thinking in this direction, you should be!  After all, your new building should be built to serve you, make your life easier in some fashion –or to make or save you money over the long haul.

Maybe you want to start a new business, or your hobby (not your hubby!) has outgrown your bedroom or small house office space.  If you are tired of the monthly rent or lease payments going towards someone else’s equity or retirement income – all these are great reasons to build a pole building and “bring it home”.

You’ll have control over your own destiny…be your own boss. No more worries about not being able to control or deal with neighboring tenants in a rental unit.

Need a place to do extensive craft work, woodworking, ceramics, ride your horses or whatever you like without going so far as your own backyard? And isn’t it great to have a place to go where you can just “spread out”, make a mess and really get into a project without worrying about cleaning up each time.  The best part is…it will be just as you left it when you come back to work on it again!

One of my friends took her hobby out of her house and into a new pole building for her eBay “hobby”…and the larger building paid for itself in less than a year! Or – to go a step further – how about an extra income stream?  By constructing a building (or buildings) which can be leased out to tenants, you can have income every month.

Sometimes the limits to what you can do are only limited by your creativity and imagination.  One of our customers is currently finalizing all the specifications for 23 pole buildings (yes, that’s 23!).  She and her husband are planning a new campground in New York – and can’t wait to get started.  They had the land, and the county saw the opportunity to increase local revenues.

Building rent and/or leasing can range from self -storage units to office space, manufacturing to warehouses, strip malls to horse barns and arenas.

Commercial buildings we’ve done have included buildings for an eastern state prison facility, Les Schwab Tires, Sun Mountain Lodge and the Nature Center for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  Again, the variety is only exceeded by your imagination!  So put your feet up by the fire this winter, grab a cup of hot chocolate or cider and plan the pole building of your dreams.

Farm Building Tax Relief

Farmers who are considering building a new barn or storage shed on their property in 2012 can take advantage of a tax relief benefit which can translate into significant savings.

For 2012, new agricultural buildings such as pole barns, equipment sheds, hay storage, and livestock facilities are eligible for “bonus depreciation” of up to 50 percent of the cost, regardless of net farm income. This benefit is included in the 2010 Tax Relief Act as an economic stimulus measure and applies to buildings purchased after Sept. 8, 2010, and put into service before Jan. 1, 2013, with a recovery period of 20 years or less.

To qualify, the building must have a depreciable life of 20 years or less, which fits virtually all farm assets. Normally a machine shed, or shop or other general purpose farm structure is a 20-year depreciable asset, and is not eligible for the Section 179 first-year expensing deduction. However, these assets do qualify for a 50% bonus depreciation if placed in service in 2012.

Basically, this means farmers can “write off” one-half of the entire cost of the building in the first year and recover the cost faster than ordinary depreciation allows. The deduction includes everything involved in construction, such as grading land, pouring a concrete pad, and doing electrical work.

Here’s an example: If a farm building cost $200,000 to construct and the farmer had net farm income of $100,000, $100,000 could be deducted under the bonus depreciation and the farm could claim a zero net operating profit. Every situation is different, so be sure to discuss with your tax professional before investing in a building.

Need a farm building? If you’re interested in this tax benefit, be sure to make plans to get your building constructed and put into use before the end of 2012, so as not to miss this opportunity.

Are We Addicted to Bad News?

As they say in journalism, “If it bleeds, it leads”.  It is important to remember the media’s goal is to capture eyeballs and all too often we are unable to turn our heads away from a train wreck.

Patti Domm, CNBC Executive News Editor, recently wrote:

“June’s miserable jobs report has put the fear of a double dip recession back into the markets.

Unemployment Line

Job seekers looking for work

“Even the hours worked slipped. It’s just a horrific report. Unemployment going up is not good,” said Marc Chandler,Brown Brothers Harriman      chief currency strategist.”The U.S. economy added a paltry 18,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate climbed to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent as laid off government   workers continued to join the ranks of the unemployed. There were also 44,000 fewer jobs created than previously reported for April and May.

What Ms. Domm failed to acknowledge is over 90% of those who want to work, are working! Later, in the very same story, it reports the private sector added more workers, than the government got rid of. We are indeed moving forward.

Admittedly, I personally spent too much time the past few years looking at the “empty” part of the glass, not the filled portion. I know a lot of people – and not a single one of them has lost their home to foreclosure. Many, just like me, experienced paper losses – we bought homes, had them double in value (on paper) and now their value has gone back to a realistic level. The “worth” of our retirement accounts soared, and then returned to reality. If it only ever existed on paper, did we actually lose it?

I, for one, am making the choice to move forward. The wood siding on my home and two pole barns was long overdue for painting – they are being painted now. I’m not flipping my house, I am living in my home and I intend to be comfortable, safe and secure while I do it.  And I plan on protecting my investments by improving my property in any way I can.  Whether this means painting the buildings I have, or new construction of a pole building to house my valuables, it’s time to make it happen.

When we signed up for our tour of duty on this planet, no one said it was going to be easy. Instead of wallowing in the muck and mire of the media, let’s pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and make something of ourselves.  Me, I’m moving on!

Yugo or You Go! – Making A Quality Building Investment

Why you can’t afford to not make a quality building investment.

I am a member of a builder forum on LinkedIn. This morning, a new topic post was, “Do you use inferior products to get your bid down low or use the right product knowing you will lose the work on price?”

As a professional and a moral, ethical human being….I am frankly appalled at the idea of using inferior products for any reason.

Webster’s defines inferior as, “of poor quality or mediocre”. If I am totally off base here, I would like to have one of my client readers correct me…..I do not want to ever buy poor quality or strive to be mediocre, so why would or should I ever want one of our clients to have a mediocre pole building?

There are three components to any product or service any of us purchase – price, quality, or service. You can get two out of three, but never a desired all three together.

Yugo Advertisement

What a deal!

CNNMoney’s 2010 poll of the best quality of products/services includes Intel, UPS, Apple and Nordstrom in their Top 6. In the bottom 4 are Family Dollar Stores and Dollar General.

Think about the dollar stores…they offer low price and….low price. If you walk through their doors, you expect nothing else – quality and service are not going to be present.

“Intel Inside”, we trust in their quality. UPS, “What can Brown do for you?” And when it comes to service, even John Nordstrom himself admits they took back a set of tires for credit.

Your new pole barn is going to be one of the largest building investments you will ever make. At least if you bought a Yugo – you could trade it in or find some sucker to buy it from you.  Your new pole building? Not the case.

This building is an investment. It is permanent (at least we sure intend for ours to be). You have one chance to do it right…. or to do it wrong.

The choice is yours…..

More High Wind News – Pole Buildings Can Withstand Strong Winds

Forces of wind on a buildingPole buildings can be easily designed to withstand hurricane and tornado wind loads. The article below is from www.technewsdaily.com May 26,2011 and speaks to housing design under high winds.




Redesigned Roofs Withstand High Wind Events

The tornado that stormed through Joplin, Mo., on May 22 shredded an estimated 8,000 buildings and stranded desperate families that now must decide whether to rebuild or find a new home. For those choosing to rebuild, Rima Taher, an expert on wind-resistant structures, has a bit of advice: don’t do it the old way.

“You wonder why we keep doing the same things, making the same buildings,” Taher told Innovation News Daily.

By analyzing debris from hurricanes, Taher has come up with a set of guidelines for building new homes in areas prone to extreme weather.

“There are similar problems. So, what usually works for tornadoes would work for hurricanes,” Taher said.

When wind hits, the roof provides the most critical defense. But during a hurricane or a tornado, the roof is often the first to go. Taher found that increasing the number of slopes on a roof improves the aerodynamics of the structure and greatly reduces the amount of pressure exerted on it. She recommended building a roof with at least four slopes, rather than a traditional gable roof that has only two.

As wind swirls around a house, it can push on the roof from both the inside and outside. Taher suggested installing a moveable flap close to the seam of the roof. During hurricanes and tornadoes, the flap would open, stabilizing the air pressure. In hot weather, the flap would provide ventilation.


Taher also recommended spending a bit of extra money on hurricane clips that attach the roof more firmly to the walls than nails or staples alone.

Researchers at the Center for Building Science and Technology in France tested the recommendations by placing wooden models in a wind tunnel and used the results to design a “cyclonic home” that has twice the wind resistance a traditional home.

Moreover, most of the suggestions are simple to execute and well worth the investment.

“A lot of the things we suggest don’t really cost a lot of money. The expense is really minimal compared to the benefits,” Taher said.

Applying modern technology to pole building design, the roof trusses are directly connected to the columns, which are embedded in the ground. Rather than even depending upon light gauge “hurricane” clips for wind uplift resistance, seven gauge steel plates, attached with 5/8 inch diameter through bolts can create a positive anchorage between the roof and the walls. Low cost ventilated ridge caps help to equalize internal and external pressures, to relieve some of the uplift forces. Pole buildings can also be easily designed with roof systems having gables or hips in multiple directions to improve aerodynamics.

Hansen Buildings provides custom designs, including multiple gables, hips or other features to increase wind uplift resistance.  Alternate designs, using T’s, L’s, gables and just about any design you can think of is possible.  My feeling is, if a pole building can be structurally designed to meet code, we will find a way to produce the pole building kit!

History of Pole Buildings Part II: Who is Howard Doane?

To continue with my History of Pole Buildings, the following excerpt was taken from the National Frame Builder’s Association website,  www.nfba.org:

Pole Building Inventor Howard DoaneH. Howard Doane is credited with being the innovator who, in 1930, first combined the availability of poles and metal roof sheeting into a “modern” building concept. The founder of Doane’s Agricultural Service, Doane was looking for a way to reduce the cost of agricultural structures. He did not believe the traditional barns being built on farms could be economically justified. Doane believed that the “pole” building could provide the needed economy in construction and still have the necessary durability.

The Depression of the early 1930’s called for practical structures to be built on farms across the country. For Doane, it made good business sense to use a pole construction method, rather than build an extravagant structure that would outlast its usefulness on a farm.

He began to build barns that utilized round poles as the primary supporting member for the sidewalls and roof systems of the agricultural structures. These barns used red cedar poles as the primary structural support. Rafters were constructed every 2 feet, on which 1 inch of sheathing material was placed 12- to 18-in. apart. The sidewalls were covered with galvanized steel. This building method eliminated much of the structural material used in other methods, and best of all, it reduced costs.

Doane’s Agricultural Service’s farm manager, Bernon G. Perkins, has been credited with refining the evolution of the modern pole building from a temporary to long-lasting structure. Red cedar poles were used at the time, lending up to a decade or more of longevity to structures at that time. When red cedar poles became scarce in the mid-1930’s, Perkins used creosote-treated poles to provide the primary structural support. This extended a typical pole building’s life by some decades. By the early 1940’s, creosote-treated poles became the mainstay of the building concept.

Another mainstay of this ‘pole-barn’ building method was to use 2×4 lumber placed on edge as purlins. With this design change, pioneered by Perkins, it was possible to place the rafters and trusses from 4- to 12-ft. apart, making it possible for the roof to support the loads to which it would be subjected.

Ever the pioneer, Perkins had other ideas on improving the building method. He began to overlap the roof purlins, without cutting, by using 2×4 lumber direct from the yard with whatever length was available. This eliminated the extra handwork required to cut the purlins to size, saving time and money. The pole-building method proved to be an economical way to construct rural buildings.

During World War II, the U.S. government imposed a $1,500 limitation on the amount it could spend on constructing new barns. The pole barn building method, which eliminated up to two-thirds of the lumber needed by other systems, made the government’s guidelines attainable.

Doane’s Agricultural Service actually received a patent for the “pole building design concept” on June 6, 1953. However, rather than protect the patent, they widely publicized the concept and encouraged its use throughout the United States. Doane’s Agricultural Service made its pole barn building plans available worldwide to anyone interested in the concept. Perkins spoke to farmers all over the country on the benefits of pole-building construction. They listened.

Initially, the nation’s college and university personnel were hesitant to accept pole buildings. But doubts about the ability of the structures to withstand wind and snow loads were put to rest, as time proved the buildings’ capabilities. After scientific tests proved its superior performance, the academic community became an invaluable ally to the growing industry.

As the concept developed, the performance of post-frame buildings proved excellent. Structures with smaller columns and post-soil embedment depths less than those indicated by accepted design techniques at that time withstood high wind forces and snow loads. It was clear that post-frame buildings were transmitting loads in a manner unaccountable in previously used design processes. Academically-based researchers began to study the phenomenon to unlock the secret of its superior performance. They attributed the manner in which the frame interacted with trusses to absorb loads and resiliently return to its intended shape as “diaphragm interaction” or “diaphragm design.”

In the 1960s, post-frame structures began popping up on farms all over the country. The concept quickly spread beyond the farm into commercial and other applications. The method’s name also changed from pole construction to post-frame construction around this time, as round poles became less commonly used.  Post-frame was distinctly improved from the “pole buildings” of the past by use of rectangular solid-sawn posts and laminated columns.

The movement of the post-frame building into the commercial marketplace necessitated compliance with building codes. For many years, agricultural buildings in many rural areas were exempt from building code requirements. Since the design was not understood by building officials, and since no approved and recognized design procedure had previously existed, the suitability of the post-frame structure was often questioned before the end of the twentieth century.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part Three, the final installment of The History of Pole Buildings.  How versatile really is a pole barn?  Come back and find out!