Tag Archives: post frame buildings

Tornadoes Reek Havoc

Tornadoes Reek Havoc, Don’t Let Them Wreck You
Excerpts in italics below are from an article first appearing in SBC Magazine June 3, 2019:
“In the past few weeks, weather systems throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio have had a significant impact on the built environment. As is well known, tornadoes cause severe stress on buildings where the high localized wind loading conditions find the weak point of the structure quickly. This usually is at the location of a wood nail, wood connector or anchor bolt connection, or in our testing experience, a knot or slope of grain deviation in a lumber tension member. An interesting point is that most studs in wall systems are meant to see compression forces not tension, where studs in tension may also be a structural weak point.

As the pictures herein attest, finding the key building material weak point that caused the structural performance to be a debris field is challenging, if not impossible, to do.

Tornado damage in Jefferson City, Mo. as seen on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Questions that need to be sincerely addressed follow, which include but are certainly not limited to:
What were the as-built conditions?
Was the building built to code?
Which aspects of the structure were built to code?
Which aspects of the structure were not built to code?
What is the cause/effect analysis for each code compliant and each non-code compliant condition?

It is obvious that proper construction implementation is key to satisfactory building material performance. Paying close attention to all connecting systems that make up the load path is essential.

The most important outcomes of poor building performance in a high wind or seismic event are that no one gets hurt; the construction industry continues to learn and evolve; and design and installation best practices improve.

The entire construction industry can greatly benefit by staying focused on providing framer-friendly details that are easy to understand and implement. It’s critical that we come together with the goal of fostering innovation, using accepted engineering practice, creating installation best practices, working closely with professional framers and assisting building departments to focus inspections on key load path elements. We all are educators. By working together, we will significantly improve the built environment.”

 

Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds:
Readers will note, these failures are in stick frame construction. Certainly there were also pole barns failing in tornado areas as well, however it is my opinion post frame buildings, engineered to withstand appropriate wind speeds, and assembled according to engineering documents would survive these storms – preventing both loss of property and life.

Code requirements are merely minimum design standards and often do not address severity of real life events. My recommendation is when in doubt, design to higher loads than minimum, in most cases these higher design loads involve a nominal investment and your family and expensive possessions deserve this type of protection.

Talk with your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer today at 1(866)200-9657 to find out what a lifetime of protection will involve.

Decks and Exterior Balconies of Post Frame Buildings

Decks and Exterior Balconies of Post Frame Buildings

Post frame buildings and residential construction have finally met and the marriage happily looks to be a long term one! Along with this marriage, post frame has to familiarize itself with structural areas which were previously unfamiliar. Amongst these are decks and exterior balconies.

The 2018 IBC (International Building Code) addresses these areas in Chapter 23:

2304.12.2.5 Supporting members for permeable floors and roofs.

“Wood structural members that support moisture-permeable floors or roofs that are exposed to the weather, such as concrete or masonry slabs, shall be of naturally durable or preservative-treated wood unless separated from such floors or roofs by an impervious moisture barrier.”

In layperson’s terms – decks or balconies which are exposed to the weather should be constructed from pressure preservative treated lumber. Pretty simple.

At Hansen Pole Buildings, we design a fair number of residential decks which are cantilevered off of the main enclosed structure.

Why?

Because those columns below are a target waiting to get run into by something big enough to cause “fall down, go boom”. We prefer once something has been constructed, for it to continue to remain standing.

 

The floor joists which will cantilever out will need to be pressure preservative treated, as will the blocking between the joists where they cross the beam in the exterior wall.

What about the transition between interior and exterior walking surfaces in a cantilevered situation?

The floor joists on the interior portion of a building are normally sheathed with ¾” underlayment grade T & G OSB (tongue and groove oriented strand board), while most decking material is either 2×6 (1-1/2” thick) or a composite product (which normally is 1-1/4” thick). To compensate for the differences, the floor joists in the bay closest to the wall only are lowered 1-1/2” below the balance of the floor joists. 2×4 is then placed flat at 90 degrees to the joists, spaced every two feet within the building interior, to bring the top of the interior framed surfaces to the same level.

The cantilevered floor joists have their strength characteristics adjusted downwards due to being in a wet use condition. If these joists are a species other than Southern Pine, they were probably incised during the pressure preservative treating process, further reducing their load carrying capacities. This may require the cantilevered joists to be spaced closer together than their untreated, building envelope treated counterparts.

All of this appear daunting?

The best solution, if your new post frame building will have a deck or balcony, is to invest in a custom designed post frame building kit package which includes plans which are specific to your building signed and sealed by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer).

 

Salt Bagging Pole Barns

Salt Bagging Pole Barns
I would imagine most of us do not give much thought as to salt, which is rather surprising considering 255 million metric tons were produced in 2016 alone (over 20% from China)!
The first time I ever really thought about salt (other than at the supper table or in a water softener) was in 1985 when I first visited the Caribbean island of Bonaire. Bonaire, located not quite 100 miles north of South America near western Venezuela, was originally claimed for Spain in 1499 by Alfonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci.
In the seventeenth century war broke out between Spain and the Netherlands. The Dutch captured Bonaire, which they were interested in due to the island’s salt deposits, as salt was needed to preserve the cod caught by the Dutch fishing industry in the Atlantic. Dutch sailing ships would carry roofing tiles to nearby Curacao as ballast, then return to Europe with their holds full of salt!
Fast forwarding a few centuries, near Browns Valley, on the western side of Lake Traverse, in South Dakota, Jeff Medbery owned a 96 foot by 96 foot pole barn known as “The Salt Shack”. Jeff would buy both bulk salt as well as pre-bagged salt, truck it in from Utah and then redistribute it. The bulk salt was used for de-icing roads in winter, while the bagged salt went for water softening. Eventually Jeff sold the land and building, in order to retire, and it is now the home of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Productions building, where components for post frame building kits are shipped to locations all over the United States.
Well, those salt bags don’t just occur naturally. It takes people, machinery and – a building to do the processing in. Here is just one example:
The New Castle Planning Commission on Thursday approved a land development plan to construct a building in Mahoningtown, PA.
Mark Taylor of RAR Engineering, representing Sweet Water Developers, said the company plans to construct an 80-by-100-foot pole building to be used for equipment and a bagging operation at 915 Industrial Street in the M-2 Heavy Industrial District of the Seventh Ward.
Taylor said the site is in the flood zone but the floor will be above flood stages. He said the building will house a salt bagging operation.
“Bulk salt will be delivered to the plant and it will be repackaged,” he said.
Whether bagging salt, or other materials – post frame (pole building) construction is probably the ideal design solution. Post frame offers rapid construction, a variety of exterior finishes and is highly affordable.

It Can’t Be a Pole Barn!

If Ignorance is Bliss…..

Then these folks are truly happy.

From a July 21, 2015 article in the Salina (KS) Journal by Tim Horan, “City approves exterior plaza for field house”…….

Salina Mayor Jon Blanchard said he wants the appearance of the field house to be unique.

“It is going to be a building designed for the downtown environment that it is in,” he said. “It can’t be a pole barn. That block needs to be done in a fashion that it looks good. If we’re planning to build a pole barn, I’m wanting out of doing the building.”

(The full article can be read here: https://www.salina.com/news/city-approves-exterior-plaza-for-field-house/article_1fe85791-6e3c-5275-9f83-51fb94255243.html)

Commercial Pole BarnWhat the good (yet uniformed) mayor is missing is a “pole barn” (more properly referred to as a post frame building) can look just like any other building.

The term “post frame” comes from the major structural supports for the building being wood columns (or posts) typically embedded into the ground (although they can be bracket mounted to concrete, or similar, foundations). The “post frame” becomes the structural skeleton of the building.

No different than any other structural system – whether stick framed (stud walls), steel frame, block, etc., the exterior of a post frame building may be sided and roofed with any materials. Any materials can be T1-11, board and batten, vinyl – wood or cement siding, stucco, log look, masonry….need I say more? The difference – post frame construction happens to be the most cost effective permanent structural system for low rise buildings (generally up to 50 foot tall walls or three stories).

This particular project in Salina is budgeted at $9 million for a 69,000 square foot building, or just over $130 per square foot. From my somewhere beyond 17,000 post frame buildings of experience, is money that could have been saved had a more open minded approach been taken towards a structural design solution.

Regardless of the end use – post frame construction should be a consideration to be examined for any low rise structure.

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part II

Yesterday I started a 3 part series. 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”.

To continue the story….

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

Insurance

Property insurance for a pre-engineered steel building is generally 30% lower as compared to wooden pole buildings. This is due to the increased fire hazard with wooden buildings.

Insurance rates are based upon the replacement costs of the building. As pole buildings are less expensive than all steel buildings, the insurance on them is less expensive as well.

Assembly

All Hanson Steel Buildings include extensive assembly documents, plans and engineer certifications. All plans are engineer stamped and ready for submission to the local building department. Parts are numbered to enable easy and rapid construction.

Generally assembly instructions and plans are not as thorough for pole barns/buildings. Parts are normally not numbered or sorted. All of this can cause delays in obtaining permits and in overall construction.

Steel Building ConstructionWhat they do not tell you about all steel buildings, is the need to obtain (from yet another engineer) foundation designs. As long as the foundation bolts are placed absolutely perfectly, all steel buildings assemble fairly easily along with the use of lots of expensive heavy equipment (such as forklifts and cranes – neither of which is required for post frame construction).

Hansen Pole Buildings include detailed full sized 24” x 36” blueprints of seven or more pages which detail every component of the structure. Complete engineered calculations and seals are available for any of our designs. Every Hansen Pole Building kit package includes complete installation constructions with “live” pictures and diagrams in a fully illustrated construction manual.  We also offer technical support 7 days a week for assistance.  Does this all steel company provide technical support?  If they do, they don’t advertise it.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll finish my story…

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part I

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”. Let me deflate their ego, by blowing holes in their misinformation.

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

The most frequently-asked questions are about the differences between pre-engineered steel buildings and pole barns/buildings. The benefits of pre-engineered steel buildings are significant.

Foundation

Hanson Steel Buildings bolt to a solid concrete foundation, Base angle or sheeting notch with closure strips to ensure the building will be frost-free and water resistant.

In comparison, pole barns/buildings are set directly into the earth and offer little or no resistance to water or frost heaving.

All steel buildings require either a concrete foundation or significant concrete piers. What the all steel people do not say is, the foundation design is NOT included with the building purchase, and a local engineer must be hired to provide the design. Neither a base angle or a sheeting notch are going to have anything to do with preventing frost heave. A “sheeting notch” actually places the steel wall sheeting in contact with damp concrete, accelerating the rate of deterioration of the wall steel.  Bottom line – this notch is going to hold water with the steel sitting directly in it…causing it to rust.

Our company has an older pole building where the previous owners errantly put “fill” up to the bottom of the steel – see how it rusts the bottom to be in contact with water?

Steel Building Rust

Pole building design accounts for frost heave in the location of the base of the building foundation below the frost line. The top of a concrete slab in pole buildings is at least 3-1/2 inches above the highest point of the grade outside of the building – it would take a deluge to get water above this point.

Using the foam closures and base angle may prevent water moisture from getting into their building, but it’s not going to have any effect upon frost heave.

Again from their website:

Framing

Hanson Steel Buildings are made with solid steel framing that is coated with a highly protective primer applied after cuts and drill holes to ensure complete rust protection. We offer a lifetime product that does not warp, twist or decay like wood. Steel is a more sanitary product when used for livestock purposes. Steel is also preferred for permanent installations.

The pressure-treated wood used in pole barns/buildings can warp and shrink. It is not recommended for permanent installations. The foundation frame shifts and requires straightening every 5-7 years – a process that costs thousands of dollars! Clear-span capabilities are very limited with wooden construction.

An engineered Hansen Pole Building comes along with a Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty. Post frame buildings are certainly permanent – the millions of them existing everywhere in America are a testament to their durability. Many of them have been around for well over 100 years and I expect them to be used and useful long after I am gone from this earth.

With the use of dry lumber, it is dimensionally stable and won’t shrink.  If they are using green lumber, which never should be used on pole buildings, then yes, this could be an issue. Hansen Pole Buildings only uses dry lumber.

I’d like to see verification of any properly design and constructed post frame building having a foundation shift, or ever needing to be straightened! This is one I’d dearly love to see documentation to support their claim.  With adequate footings, (meaning the foundation was done right), in over 14,000 buildings and 30 years, I’ve never seen a building shifting or having to be straightened – whether it’s all steel or a post frame building.

Pole buildings can easily clear span 80 to 100 feet using wood trusses. Rarely are larger clearspans needed for any type of building.  When they are, (such as roping and riding arenas) – we are quick to tell folks they may want to check out an all steel building.,

I don’t have a problem with all steel buildings – quite the contrary. But they have their limitations in use, which you can check out by going to the search field and typing in “all steel buildings”.

Come back tomorrow for more….on all-steel building propaganda.

 

Interior Walls: Not in My Inside

Pole buildings afford one of the great luxuries of buildings, without a premium price – large, open clearspan spaces. Without the need for interior walls to support roof systems, walls, if needed, can be placed anywhere.

In stick frame (stud wall) construction, interior walls often become load bearing points to carry roof loads to the foundation. In the event of future alterations, which involve these walls, structural headers and advanced structural design must be incorporated to prevent possible failure situations. Not so with pole buildings. Non-structural interior partition walls can be installed, removed and replaced as needed – creating a far more flexible long range design.

Having been raised the son of a framing contractor I saw a multitude of situations where building owners (both residential and commercial) would decide a space just wasn’t “right”. In order to make things right after the fact, redesigns, rework and costly change orders entered the picture.  Moving walls is easy if they aren’t holding up the roof!

As providers of post frame (pole) building kit packages, Hansen Buildings is often requested to show non-structural “interior walls” on plans. While we can do so, keep in mind if they are shown on the plans to be in a specific location, they had better end up there in the finished building.  Your Building Official will insist upon this.  This takes away the inherent flexibility of the pole building design.  And redrafting the plans to match what you actually built is not the cheapest solution.

Another caution – do not order the framing materials for interior walls to be delivered with your kit building package. I know it sounds like a great idea to have all of the lumber delivered at the same time.  Saves time and probably is cheaper, right?  Not in the long run. Because interior walls are constructed only after the building shell has been completed and concrete floors are poured, materials which are ordered to be used for partition walls tend to have “bad” things happen to them. Whether the concrete finisher “borrowed” the material to use for forms, someone walked away with the lumber, or it has been so long since delivery the material has warped, twisted or is no longer usable because it was improperly stored, or some unforeseen happenstance prevented immediate construction…. all represent an unneeded cost to the building owner.

I’ve seen building owners with great intentions purchase their interior wall materials with the building “shell” kit, only to have up to 4 and 5 years elapse before they got to use those materials.  As much as I’d love to sell more “pieces” for your building to you, I’d rather you waited and purchased the interior materials from someone else…if only to save you untold grief further down the line.  I grew up with a hammer in one hand and a couple of 2×4’s in the other, and I know firsthand the perils of “buying too far ahead”, especially when it comes to lumber.

Take advantage of the pole building difference, get your new building up and sealed in from the elements, before deciding where to locate any interior walls. Your patience will be rewarded by cost savings and usefulness.

All Steel Buildings are Better Than Wood Pole Buildings: Really?

When considering a new building, end users often debate whether to use an all steel or wood framed pole building. Steel has the perception of strength and endurance. Research and independent studies show pole buildings have several advantages over all steel.

Wood is unquestionably the most environmentally friendly building material on earth. It has better insulation, better fire resistance and better strength.

Wood is constantly growing and is sustainable. Trees in forests absorb carbon dioxide, making a growing forest an efficient carbon sink.  As older trees are harvested, younger trees can grow more rapidly, allowing for a healthy and everlasting wooded area. Statistically, for every tree harvested, five are planted.

Other building types do not use renewable materials; they use materials such as cement and plastic, which severely impact the environment. Lumber does not need to be mined. Forestry practices adhere to rigid codes which have been instituted to not only balance, but improve our forests. Foresters are conscious of maintaining the ecosystem by replanting the trees, utilizing the whole tree and by leaving virtually no solid waste behind. The forests available for timber harvest are large enough to grow enough wood products to build millions of buildings each year, endlessly into the future. Wood is the greenest construction material on the market.

Wood is more workable than steel, so it’s easier for a building owner to construct it themselves. With all steel buildings, many components are far too heavy to be moved and placed without expensive material handling equipment, like forklifts and cranes. All steel buildings require hiring expensive engineers to design foundation plans.  With pole buildings, the foundation plans are part of the drawings. The foundations of all steel buildings must be absolutely, perfectly square and level and anchor bolts precisely placed, otherwise the bolt holes of the steel frame components will not align.

Wood buildings have longer life spans than steel buildings. Steel “sweats,” causing moisture to get into insulation and steel connections. This provides conditions for mold to grow, which leads to corrosion and rust, shortening the longevity of the entire building. Once installed in a building, dry lumber will rarely warp or twist, it remains dimensionally stable. The steel building wall girts and roof purlins provide excellent nesting places for birds.

It takes nine times more energy to produce a steel stud compared to a wood stud. Wood, a naturally more efficient insulator than steel, can cut costs on heating and cooling by 30 to 50 percent. Steel is an excellent thermal conductor, creating a pathway for the transmission of heat and cold.

Comparing rack load capacities on different wall panels, the shear walls of a Hansen Pole Building outperform the tie-rod braced and cable-braced walls of typical all steel buildings.

All steel buildings, due to having roof purlins spaced generally every five feet and wall girts every seven feet, require steel sheathing which is thicker than on a typical pole building (the difference in thickness being approximately equal to a sheet of notebook paper). This minimal difference in thickness does not provide for more strength or durability of the building. The quality and warranties on the steel and paint systems vary widely, from none to “lifetime”. However what is available on one, is available on the other.  They are not exclusive.

Wood is Safer in a Fire. While it sounds hard to believe, it’s absolutely true. Wood retains its structural strength at temperatures higher than 2000°F, while steel loses 80 percent of its strength at 1000°F. As it’s melting during a fire, steel bends and twists. According to many firefighters, it is extremely difficult and dangerous for them to stop a fire in a steel building and for people to escape. After a fire, while structural steel may appear intact, there is no way to effectively determine the remaining strength of the frame. The all steel building needs to be knocked to the ground, rather than being able to repair a wood framed pole building.

Over the years I’ve been offered opportunities to sell all steel buildings, either in combination or separate from wood framed pole buildings.  Each time I’ve gone back and done the research to compare the two.  People who know me…..know I do “due diligence” when faced with a decision.  I want to know not just the facts, but the whole story. Each time what convinces me to say “no” are the stories from past clients of all-steel buildings.  I just can’t endorse what I don’t believe in.