Tag Archives: post frame construction

Pole Building Condos

6 Advantages of Post-Frame Construction for Condos

Due to its adaptability and affordability, post-frame architecture, often known as pole barn construction, has grown in popularity in recent years. It has recently been employed in residential construction, including condos, after first being used mostly for commercial and agricultural structures. 

There are six advantages of post-frame construction for condos:

Speed of construction

A rapid and effective construction technique is post-frame construction. Post-frame buildings, in contrast to conventional construction, are supported by substantial posts that are buried in the ground. This saves time and money by allowing for less foundation work, grading, and digging. Also, unlike stick-made structures that may be delayed due to bad weather, post-frame buildings may be built in any condition.

Customizable design

There are countless design options available when building a condo with post-frame construction.  The spacious, open interior areas provide designers the freedom to create original floor layouts and room arrangements. Whether their target demographic is young professionals, families, or pensioners, condo developers can design the building to suit their needs. Also, the building’s façade can be altered to blend in with the local scenery and architecture.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency can be considered when designing post-frame buildings. The spacious, open interior spaces make insulation installation simple, lowering heating and cooling energy expenses. Post-frame structures can also be designed with passive solar heating, which uses the sun’s free energy to warm the structure. This can save energy expenses even more while enhancing sustainability.


Post-frame structures are renowned for their toughness. The huge posts, which are normally made of treated wood, are buried far below the surface of the ground to provide a sturdy base that can survive severe weather. A typical wall material that is resistant to fire, rot, and insects is metal. As a result, the building has a long lifespan and needs little upkeep.


The post-frame building is frequently more economical than conventional stick-built building. The construction approach uses fewer materials and labor hours, which lowers the cost of the project. Fewer support columns and beams are required because to the huge, open interior spaces, which also lowers the cost of materials. Post-frame construction is a desirable choice for inexpensive housing since these cost savings can be distributed to condo buyers.


An adaptable building technique that may be applied to a range of projects is post-frame construction. Post-frame structures can be utilized for storage facilities, retail buildings, and more structures besides condos. Because of its adaptability, post-frame construction is a desirable choice for developers who want to get the most out of their investment and offer a range of building styles to their community.


Post-frame construction is a practical choice for condo developers who wish to provide their target market with cost-effective, dependable, and adaptable housing solutions. It offers a compelling alternative to conventional stick-built construction due to its speed of construction, adaptability of design, energy efficiency, durability, affordability, and diversity.

Today’s guest blog is complimentary from Samantha Odo.

Real Estate Sales Representative & Montreal Division Manager

A Baker’s Dozen Post Frame Home Myths Part III

A Baker’s Dozen Post-Frame Home Myths (#8 – #13)


Without having footers to protect concrete slabs on grade from freezing, there is a potential your concrete slab can move or heave around edges in cold weather. In turn, this can shift interior walls, resulting in damage to drywall finishes and trim.

If you do go with post-frame construction, you will have to add footers to stay in IRC (International Residential Code) compliance. This will add cost back into your home’s total price.

Fully-engineered post frame homes are 100% Building Code Compliant and most typically have properly pressure preservative treated columns embedded in ground with both concrete footings and bottom collars. Alternatively your home can be mounted to steel brackets set in concrete piers.

Either of these are designed to extend to or below frost lines or are frost protected by use of insulation. Footers themselves do not protect a concrete slab from freezing and heaving, using rigid insulation around slab perimeters is required for either stick frame or post frame in Climate Zones 3 and greater). With fully engineered post-frame, there is no need to incorporate thickened slab edges or continuous concrete footings and foundations.


This is an issue because they’ll have to be filled in before you can hang drywall. If you hang drywall “as is,” it will all sag over time, causing structural damage (and a pain in your wallet). Adding this extra framing afterwards will add to total price tag again.

While some post-frame homes do have trusses spaced every two feet, most cost effectively your fully engineered post-frame home will have double trusses every 10 to 12 feet. If you desire to insulate at ceiling lines, ceiling joists are placed every two feet to adequately support drywall. This combination of double trusses and ceiling joists will still be less expensive than conventional stick framing’s trusses every two feet with structural headers required in walls. By widely spacing trusses, it allows for greater flexibility in locating doors and windows in exterior walls.


Prefabricated metal-plate connected wood trusses can easily span 80 to 100 feet without need for interior columns. Very rarely will spans greater than these ever be needed for a post-frame home.

IRC Section 802.10.2.1 further limits truss spans for stick-frame construction to a maximum of 36 feet and building lengths to 60 feet (measured perpendicular to truss span). Fully engineered post-frame homes do not have these limitations.


Comment from a stick frame builder: as opposed to traditional wall building, with post-frame you’ll have to build walls between posts. This is an added cost to an already built post-frame building shell.

Chances are this builder has never built (or probably seen) a fully engineered post frame building with bookshelf girts every two feet. All exterior wall framing is taken care of at initial installation, you get a deeper insulation cavity and a better surface to drywall. 


Your post-frame home will require more wall insulation because post-frame walls are thicker than typical two-by-four construction. Therefore, insulation cost will be higher to fill this cavity.

Proper insulation systems are an investment, not a cost. Would you really want an energy bill based off of R-13 insulation in a two-by-four exterior wall? Engineered post-frame construction allows for thicker insulation cavities – reducing your energy costs for your home’s lifespan.


Post frame construction is not very conducive when building on a basement, as basement walls will be made from poured concrete. Trying to adapt post-frame construction to a basement will end up with higher costs than traditional home building techniques. Bottom line: If you want a home with a basement, post frame construction is not your best choice.

Fully engineered post-frame homes can easily be engineered to attach to a concrete basement foundation, ICFs or even incorporated into a Permanent Wood Foundation, at similar or lower costs than stick frame.

A Baker’s Dozen Post Frame Home Myths Part I

A Baker’s Dozen Post-Frame Home Myths

Pole Barn Guru BlogThis article is so lengthy it will be fed to you in three installments. For your reading pleasure I present here Myths #1 through 3.


Now this happens to be one of my favorite subjects.  If I believed in past lives, maybe I was an attorney in one of them, because I get all too excited about prospects of winning this argument.

Here is my basic Email used to sway Planning Departments (anyone is welcome to borrow this – or contact me and I will fight your battle):

“Post frame (pole) buildings are Code conforming buildings and methodologies for their structural design is outlined and/or referenced in every International Building Code edition.

It is within legal scope of a Planning Department or Commission (after following whatever processes are in place for public notifications, etc.) to be able to place limitations on size of structures, their placement on a given property, as well as appearance (e.g. restrictions on type and or color of siding and roofing materials). Any appearance restrictions must be applied uniformly to any Code conforming structural system.

In order to legally preclude use of post-frame construction (or of any other Code conforming structural system), onus would be upon a jurisdiction to somehow prove their structural inadequacy. It would be both arbitrary and capricious to deny utilization of post- frame construction, possibly easily leaving an open door to a plethora of probably indefensible lawsuits – resulting in undue costs to a jurisdiction, as well as their taxpayers.

While I am not an attorney, nor profess to offer legal advice, I have been involved in similar circumstances with other jurisdictions, each (when presented with this evidence) has made a determination to NOT LIMIT use of post-frame buildings as a structural system. I would encourage this same decision in your jurisdiction.”


Fully engineered post-frame homes CAN be more affordable than stick or steel. But, they are not going to be 10-50% less. Think about it – your only differences are in structural systems, all of your electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, interior finishes, fixtures, cabinets, floor coverings, etc., are going to be identical investments no matter what structural system is chosen.

Outside of land costs, site preparation, permits and bringing utilities to your site, you are simply not going to build a post-frame home with 2000 square feet of living space for $100,000 turnkey (and unlikely to reach this even if you DIY absolutely everything).


Many lenders refrain from offering traditional mortgages for post-frame homes. For example, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will not offer these loans at all.

Those small percentage of entities offering mortgages for pole barn homes will typically have much higher requirements, because they’ll be using internal money to finance it.
They’ll likely require a 30% down payment (and oftentimes, more than this).

In reality, a fully engineered post-frame home is no different than any other wood frame steel roofed and sided home and any lender will approve a mortgage for one as long as you do not use terms like “barndominium”, “pole barn house”, “post frame house”, etc. Apply the K-I-S-S method (Keep It Simple Stupid) and refer to it only as being a fully engineered, custom designed, wood frame home with steel roofing and siding. Period and 100% factual.

But won’t my lender send out engineers and inspectors who will “catch” me building a post-frame home? No. Your lender will be concerned about progress, not how you are getting there.

Before going to a lender you will need a place to build (land), blueprints (floor plans and elevations) and a budget (or contract subject to finance approval with a builder).

Come back tomorrow for the next installment of myths.

Meeting IRC Slab Edge Thermal Breaks With Post Frame

Meeting IRC Slab Edge Thermal Breaks With Post Frame

Reader CHUCK in MUNCIE writes:

“Morning sir, I read your link in your post about post frame buildings for barn houses… one thing I am wondering, is how does the building pass energy code for residential construction, plus the IRC talks about a building being used for residential occupancy needs a thermal break at the foundation wall…. in a conventional post frame building the posts are on footings, and a slab on grade is poured, so how do you provide the thermal break to meet the building code?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru says:


Post frame construction for residences has no appearance of going away at any time according to my crystal ball. And why should it? Post frame is more economical than stick frame, very DIY user friendly and can be readily super insulated. Here, I previously expounded upon post frame’s residential virtues: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2022/01/why-your-new-barndominium-should-be-post-frame/

Slab edge thermal breaks (slab perimeter insulation) is only required in Climate Zones 3 and greater. You can look up your Climate Zone at codes.iccsafe.org/content/IECC2021P2/chapter-3-re-general-requirements When required, it must be a minimum of R-10 and down two feet (Climate Zones 4 & higher adds a horizontal R-10 component or becomes down four feet).

A common question with rigid foam insulations is how well it resists water. A number of studies show EPS retains less moisture than XPS. A case in point is a side-by-side analysis of these two rigid foam types installed on a commercial building foundation in St. Paul, MN. When extracted and tested after 15 years in service, EPS had 4.8% moisture content by volume, compared to 18.9% for XPS (a four-fold difference). A testing lab also found  XPS holds water longer than EPS. After 30 days of drying time, XPS still had elevated moisture of 15.7%, while EPS had dried to 0.7%.

For installations where insulation will be exposed to large amounts of water or frequent wetting, rigid foam insulation is available with water-resistant facers or pre-cut drainage grooves. Insulation with polymeric laminate facers keep water from entering insulation and also provide an added barrier to water wicking or diffusing through.

Moisture resistance is also important for below grade and under-slab insulation, since wet products provide much lower thermal resistance. Side-by-side insulation comparison found EPS retained 94% of its specified R-value, while XPS lost nearly half of its insulating capability over 15 years.

In addition to higher moisture resistance, EPS also is not subject to thermal drift. This means its R-value stays same over time. By comparison, XPS’s manufacturing process uses blowing agents diffusing from foam’s cellular structure over product life, thereby reducing its thermal performance. EPS manufacturers typically warrant 100% of published R-value for 20 years or more, while common XPS warranties cover just 90% of published R-value.

Whether selecting EPS or XPS insulation, to ensure performance, confirm product was manufactured to meet requirements of ASTM C578, Standard Specification for Rigid, Cellular Polystyrene Thermal Insulation. This standard provides a key quality check on rigid insulation.

As insulation becomes increasingly common at slab edges, understanding performance and cost factors of these different materials is important. EPS offers a number of advantages over more commonly installed XPS, including having highest R-value per dollar among rigid insulations, making it a cost effective choice for many jobs.

Arnold Missouri Bans Pole Building Construction

Arnold Missouri Bans Pole Building Construction!

Just a week ago I wrote asking my readers to assist in defeating a proposed restriction on post-frame (pole barn) homes in Madison County, Illinois. Some of you may have scoffed and done nothing, thinking it could never happen where you want to build.

Arnold, Missouri is a town of roughly 21,000 located on the Eastern edge of Missouri. It is best known (in recent history) for a 2004-2005 eminent domain issue – reaching Missouri’s Supreme Court and for unconstitutional use of red-light cameras (2013 ruling by Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern Division). In other words, they have a history of pushing contentious issues.

From an article June 28, 2021 by Tony Krausz and published at www.myleader.com:

“Arnold has guidelines regulating how residential buildings may be constructed and banned “barndominiums” inside the city.

City Council members voted 7-0 June 17 to ban the construction of pole buildings, also referred to as barndominiums, in Arnold and established new guidelines for how three categories of residential buildings may be constructed.

The ban on barndominiums, which are metal barns modified to include living quarters and are typically found in rural areas, comes after two moratoriums were placed on building permits for that kind of structure. A six-month moratorium was put in place Sept. 24, 2020, and the moratorium was extended on March 4 for another three months.

City Administrator Bryan Richison said the decision to prohibit barndominiums in Arnold was made primarily because they are so different than most houses in the city. Also, there are questions about the safety and structural integrity of the buildings.

“These metal structures can look fancier, but we do not feel they are consistent with our current housing stock,” Richison said. “We have concerns they will not comply with the building code as far as safety and structural integrity because they are not built to the construction standard of a house.”

Richison said the city received some inquiries about building barndominiums in Arnold before staff members began researching them and crafting an ordinance to address the structures.

“I do not believe anyone applied for a permit or submitted plans,” Richison said.

He said Planning Commission and staff members already were reviewing residential building regulations before the barndominum issue was brought up last year. He said because the two issues dealt with design, staff combined the issues into the amended city code.

The amended code classifies residential structures into three categories: single-family dwellings; two-, three- or four-family dwellings such as duplexes or villas; and multi-family dwellings, like apartment complexes.

New rules put in place for single-family homes or dwellings that can have up to four families do not allow for metal to be used as the main siding component. The new rules also say only 1 foot of concrete can be exposed on the front of a home and no more than 3 feet of concrete on a home’s other three sides.

Homes that have shared roofs, like duplexes or villas, must have consistent roof material. A two-family home in Arnold that has shingles on one side of its roof and metal on the other side was given as an example for why that rule was established.

“Unfortunately, that picture is from Arnold and not some other community,” Richison said. “When that happened, it made us aware that there is a problem here, and we looked at it and there was no way under our existing codes that we could stop that.”

The new rules are more extensive for apartment buildings, and the city will require a site plan review for any apartment complexes so parking, landscaping and other issues can be studied. Developers also will not be allowed to leave more than 1 foot of exposed concrete on all sides of apartment buildings, and 75 percent of the building must be made with brick, stone or other masonry materials.

Richison also said the new rules only apply to structures that are being built and not existing homes or apartment complexes. He said homes that do not conform to the new rules will not have to be remodeled if ownership changes.

“The reach is limited,” Richison said. “It is not retroactive. It is for new construction. It will not apply to the vast majority of the housing in Arnold.”

Ward 4 Councilman Butch Cooley was absent from the June 17 meeting.”

As outraged as I am? Fire up your devices and start sending messages!

Council members are:
EJ Fleischmann efleischmann@arnoldmo.org

Jason Fulbright jfulbright@arnoldmo.org

Brian McArthur bmcarthur@arnoldmo.org

Tim Seidenstricker tseidenstricker@arnoldmo.org

Mark Hood mhood@arnoldmo.org

Rodney Mullins rmullins@arnoldmo.org

Butch Cooley bcooley@arnoldmo.org

Gary Plunk gplunk@arnoldmo.org

Mayor – Ron Counts rcounts@arnoldmo.org

Newspaper – peggyscott@leaderpublications.biz

Pole Barn Homes

Pole Barn Homes: Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Post-Frame Construction

Today’s guest blogger is Esther Williams, She specializes in Real Estate & Home improvement content, and wants to share her knowledge of creative interior designing ideas with those who are passionate about it. She’s also finishing her MA in journalism studies, dreams about publishing a book, and hopes to inspire people with her articles.

If you’re planning to build a house, you know this project requires a great deal of organization, perseverance, and money. At the same time, you will have to make many decisions that need to be thoroughly considered in order to move forward with your project. Like with everything, each decision you make – whether regarding the placement of windows, choice of the architect, or the construction – will have its pros and cons, and you, as the homeowner, need to be aware of them and their consequences.

Before getting started, you need to decide what type of construction you will use to build your house. You will have two options – either post-frame construction (the so-called pole barn home) or stick-frame. And although both options have their pros and cons, there is only one clear winner of this competition – post-frame home.

The Difference Between Post-Frame and Stick-Frame

The difference between post-frame and stick-frame might be confusing to those who have no experience building houses. Consequently, it might be hard to choose the best method for your own application. For this reason, first, you must understand what those two methods are.

Stick-frame building is what people think of when they think about basic home building. Stick frame projects are built on top of a concrete basement or another foundation and use interior walls for support. Buildings constructed on stick frames have complex wall framing structures and are known for a traditional style.

However, post-frame construction is a building method with no interior load-bearing walls. Thus, it is characterized by open interior spaces. The construction makes use of big foundational posts and roof trusses. Posts are buried into the ground for support, eliminating the need for a crawlspace foundation or a basement.

Reasons Why You Should Choose Post-Frame Construction

Generally, there are five top reasons why post-frame construction is nowadays a better option.


About Hansen BuildingsAlthough post-frame construction has been popularized thanks to pole barns, the truth is they are not your only option. Post-frame construction is nowadays used in many cases. For instance, you can build a pole barn garage – the garage door cost won’t be high, and the construction process itself will be very simple and quick. 

Moreover, you might also project a workshop and use it for an art studio or home business. Workshops will give you a lot of space to perform your hobbies and passions without disturbing family members or neighbors.


Post-frame construction has a simple yet incredibly effective design. Additionally, it doesn’t require as many materials and as much financing as stick-frame construction. The process is simpler and faster, which lowers the cost when hiring constructors.

Moreover, the posts supporting the whole structure are placed directly into the ground, which means no foundation costs. In short, post-frame construction is a great option if you want to save some money and, at the same time, have a good-looking, solidly built house. 

Long-Lasting Effect

If you decide on post-frame construction, you won’t have to worry about your home structure’s durability, no matter what the external conditions are that you live under. Pole barns are designed to withstand years of wind, rain, and snow. The force of snow and wind is actually transferred right into the soil thanks to the deeply-grounded poles. 

Generally, the deeper-seated the pole, the better resistance it will have to harsh weather. This gives post-frame construction a significant advantage over stick-built designs. Consequently, the construction will have a longer life span and will serve you for years to come.

Open Space

Post-frame construction is ideal if you envision having an open floor plan, which means you won’t have any interior walls. This provides an amazing modern design for the house and can also work wonders when it comes to event planning. When throwing a party, a post-frame house will function as a large space where all the guests will fit. 


Since post-frame construction doesn’t require many materials and it generally has a simpler design, the time it takes to build your home will be much shorter than in the case of stick-frame buildings. You will also save on time when it comes to the posts – they don’t require you to prep, pour, and cure a traditional foundation. 

This construction style doesn’t need thoughtful planning when it comes to terrain, as it adapts well to any kind of land. This makes the whole process affordable, simple, and pretty straightforward.

When it comes to building a house, the process could either be expensive and tedious, or affordable and pretty easy – it all depends on the decisions you make. One of the most important factors to consider should be the type of construction for the building – post frame or stick frame. Although both have their pros and cons, and it’s always valuable to be aware of both sides of the coin before spending your money. Nowadays, there is no doubt the more beneficial option is post frame. 

First of all, it enables you to use the building for many different purposes. Secondly, it’s also significantly cheaper and faster than a traditional stick frame. Moreover, the building will last long, even in harsh weather conditions and climate. 

Lastly, post-frame buildings come with great interior design possibilities, thanks to a lot of open space on the inside and a lack of walls. That allows you to experiment with your interior more and express your unique personality in the best possible way. 

Before making the final decision, you might want to contact specialists to make sure this type of construction will work for you, and you might want to read up on the subject on specialist forums on the web. 

Post Frame Barndominium Exterior Wall

Post Frame Barndominium Exterior Wall Questions

Reader IAN in RIDGWAY writes:

“I am looking for help understanding a couple of exterior wall questions.  

  1. My county is enforcing the 2018 IECC for energy efficiency. In my region this requires R-20 cavity + R-5 exterior wall assembly.  From everything I’ve read, this means a continuous layer of 1″ rigid between the framing members and the metal siding.  Is this an accurate understanding in your mind?  Does the 1″ of rigid between framing and siding affect the integrity of the structure at all?  Are the fasteners that are shipped with your kits long enough to accommodate the 1″?
  1. We will be living in our pole building, which means we will need to meet minimum code standards for receptacles at the exterior walls.  I am under the impression that the poles must remain whole and are not designed to have a hole drilled through each for ease of pulling wire.  Am I correct here?  What is the suggested solution? Conduit everywhere below my slab?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Nice to see jurisdictions enforcing IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) requirements, as it will result in more energy efficient structures. In Ouray County, you are in Climate Zone 6B. This requires ceiling R-49, wood frame walls of R-20 plus R-5 (or R-13 plus R-10) where second value is continuous insulation and slab edges to have R-10 four feet deep.

According to Martin Holladay (Green Building Advisor editor) your continuous insulation is just as effective when installed on the interior of your wall framing. This is very important when it comes to fully engineered post frame construction. Properly engineered, post frame construction relies upon shear strength of steel skin to transfer wind loads through building planes to ground (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/12/lateral-wind-loads/). Having rigid insulation between framing and siding would reduce or negate your siding’s shear strength and result in a less than satisfactory outcome. My recommendation would be to use a Weather Resistant Barrier on the outside of the framing, directly inside of steel siding. Fill insulation cavity with unfaced batts (preferably stone wool such a Roxul as it is not affected by moisture https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/roxul-insulation/) or BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/), then a well sealed rigid insulation board between framing and interior finish. Done this way, your wall will ‘dry’ to the exterior, making your home’s HVAC system less responsible for reducing interior humidity levels.

Your wire pulling is far easier than you may have initially envisioned. 

Very little drilling, if any, will be needed for holes in order to run electrical wires. Wall framing (girts) extend or are placed so as to leave a 1-1/2 inch space between outside of wall columns and siding.

Think of a hole being drilled through as being an “open knot”. Lumber grading rules refer to these as being “Unsound or Loose Knots and Holes” due to any cause. Most structural framing – like wall girts and roof purlins or posts and timbers are graded as Number 2.

For practical purposes, a hole up to just less than ¼ of board face being drilled through will be within grade in #2 lumber. Example: 3-1/2” face of a 2×4 a hole up to 7/8” may be drilled through, as often as every two feet. Allowable hole sizes are reduced and spacing increased for higher grades of lumber. 

Any holes drilled through pressure preservative treated lumber or columns, especially near         grade, should be treated with a Copper Naphthenate solution. Copper Naphthenate is available as a brush-on (Cuprinol No. 10 Copper-Green® Wood Preserver          https://www.homedepot.com/p/Copper-Green-1-gal-Wood-Preservative-176223/300502829)

or spray-on(https://www.homedepot.com/p/Copper-Green-Wood-Preservative-14-fl-oz-  


Blog 2000

Thank you to loyal readers who have made this blog a success – today marks 2000 blog articles written and shared! It could not have been done without your continued support and encouragement.

Back in December 2015, I shared a milestone of reaching 1000 articles, and thought it was a very big number (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/12/1000/). Having written now over a million words in these articles, I try to put it into perspective when compared to Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual. This manual walks through complete assembly of structural portions of fully engineered Hansen Pole Buildings. At just over 500 pages, it has nearly 70,000 words – meaning these blog articles are roughly 15 times as lengthy!

Sidebar – for those who are interested in acquiring one of these manuals, they are available by reaching out to Plans@HansenPoleBuildings.com. It does offer many tips for prospective Do-It-Yourselfers as well as builders.



Our industry has changed dramatically since article #1000. Although I have owned and lived in shop/houses (shouses) for over 25 years, and had clients from time-to-time invest in our post frame buildings for homes, there has been an explosion in demand for barndominiums. Over half of all inquiries we receive are for people in search of homes. Some are looking to create unique architectural features or just love their aesthetics, while others are trying to find an affordable housing option.

Post frame construction is going to be more affordable than what most people consider ‘traditional’ construction – stick framing. Most savings are to be found by utilization of ease of construction of post frame buildings. Average physical capable people who can and will read directions can successfully erect their own beautiful post frame homes – and many of our clients do. A total DIYer can cut costs in half! Want a $400,000 home for $200,000? Unless you knock down some huge dollars at your career, one could take a year or more off work to erect their new home, and come out ahead financially.

Consider also – when you pay someone out of pocket to do this work for you, you have had to pay taxes on your income, to pay a subcontractor. Depending upon which state you reside in and your tax bracket – it takes gross earnings of $100 to pay out $50 to $65. Yet one more reason to do it yourself.
Who would have thought, five years ago, our world view would be changed by a virus?

Certainly not I.

With Americans fleeing big cities with huge taxes, for rural and greener pastures – fully engineered post frame homes make sense. Your new home can be crafted to best meet you and your family’s wants and needs, both for today and for future decades of happy living. Your only limitations being your imagination, your budget and available space.

How a Realtor Can Participate With Post-frame Barndominiums

Reader (and Realtor) JIM in NEW PALISTINE writes:

“How can I participate in the post-frame industry as a Realtor?   How do people develop their custom residential interior designs?   How are residential pole barn projects coordinated A-Z?

Okay, that was three.  Can you help me, please?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Post frame construction generally flies ‘under the radar’ as a design solution. Few people realize our industry is a multi-billion dollar a year one just in our country. Post frame offers affordable and unique design solutions for virtually any low rise building. Low rise being defined as up to and including three stories above grade with a maximum of 40 foot sidewalls (add a floor and 10 feet if equipped with fire suppression sprinklers). Modern fully engineered post frame buildings have moved off farms and are seen everywhere (often without people realizing they are post frame). Commercial buildings, strip malls, retail establishments, restaurants, fire houses, schools, churches and yes homes are all being designed and built as post frame.

How to best participate? Become an expert and let people know you are one – put it on your website, business cards, any promotional literature or videos. Residential post frame construction is evolving rapidly as people want to leave cities and flee to low tax, less governmental intervention regions of our nation – bringing forth a rise in what are affectionately known as barndominiums. Post frame homes are most often steel sided and roofed as this presents your most cost effective and durable option. However any types of siding and roofing may be utilized. Be on your lookout for rural properties where people can build on anything from a large lot to multiple acres, as there are plenty of folks looking for these parcels.

Post frame homes are less expensive to erect than stick frame, primarily due to foundation savings. For those willing and able to DIY some or all, these savings multiply. Having clients with a realistic expectation of investment certainly is a starting point: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

Before getting crazy over floor plans is where you play a huge part: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/a-place-for-a-post-frame-barndominium/

Done right, barndominium interior designs begin with clients doing a bit of homework on their own to determine what spaces best meet with their needs as well as how big those spaces should be https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/ and 


Only after land has been acquired and homework done, should floor plans be developed: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Processes for residential pole barns projects follow an identical path to stick frame, they just have building shells more quickly assembled.

To best participate, I would recommend you try to team with a General Contractor (or more than one) who is willing to embrace post frame construction as well as to work with clients who want to do some DIY work.

Seven Reasons Why Your Next Barndominium Should Be Pole Frame Construction

Today’s blog comes from Don Howe, who is a retired sales executive but has a burning passion for barndominiums.

About Hansen BuildingsSeven Reasons Why Your Next Barndominium Should Be Pole Frame Construction

One of the first design details to consider when building a barndominium is the building process. Most barndominiums are built using a stud frame, steel frame, or pole frame construction. 


Wood frame construction uses stud walls to support the roof. Steel frame construction involves the use of large steel frames for wider designs. As with steel frames, pole frames allow for wide, open designs, but typically feature wood posts instead of metal.

So, why should you use pole frame construction for your next barndominium? Here are seven of the top reasons.

  1. More Energy Efficient

Pole frame buildings often have thicker wall cavities compared to other types of buildings. With thicker cavities, you can use more insulation and increase the energy efficiency of the property.

The frame itself is also more energy-efficient compared to steel. The thick timber used for the post columns has natural insulating properties. They also conduct less heat, which may help save on cooling during the warmer months.

Many pole frame barndominiums include an attic, which allows for space for ceiling insulation and enhances air circulation. With the combination of energy-saving benefits, your home is likely to experience less heating and cooling loss through the roof.

  1. Aesthetically Appealing Designs

A pole frame building provides a wide range of design options, including various overhangs and trims. You can also choose from a variety of exteriors, including brick, wood, block, and vinyl siding.

Compared to stud frame homes, pole frame homes also have wider column spacing. Studs are typically spaced up to 24 inches apart while posts are spaced up to eight feet apart. The wider spacing allows for more design flexibility, such as wider windows and doorways.

A pole frame also eliminates the need for interior support columns. This means the interior floor plans do not need to accommodate load-bearing walls. You can have a completely open design spanning the entire floor or add rooms to any area. 

  1. Greater Durability 

With the right contractors, a post frame barndominium can be more durable compared to a steel frame building. The posts are often anchored four feet or more into the ground. When severe weather and wind hit the side of the building, most of the energy is transferred directly to the ground. 

Horizontal girts also connect the post columns, which increases the overall structural integrity of the frame. Trusses are also attached directly to the columns. 

Due to the superior stability of a pole frame building, these types of homes also tend to last longer. The posts are anchored in concrete slabs or basement foundations, protecting them from moisture and bacteria.

  1. More Affordable

Post-frame construction is often more affordable compared to both steel frame and stud frame construction processes. Steel is a relatively costly material for home construction while stud frame designs require additional labor and materials, which increases the costs.

The efficiency of constructing a pole frame building reduces the cost of constructing your barndominium. Thanks to the durability of the design, you are also likely to spend less on maintenance and upkeep in the coming years. 

  1. Faster Assembly

With enough help, people often put up pole barns in a single day. Barndominiums that use pole frame construction may not be completed in one day, but they are quicker to build compared to other construction methods.

As the columns are spaced further apart, there are fewer materials and less work needed to complete the frame. After the frame is erected, the rest of the work can proceed, including putting up interior walls and adding exterior features, such as doors and windows.

  1. Available in Kits

Pole frame barndominiums are available as kits, which simplifies the construction process. You get almost everything needed, including house plans, building materials, hardware, and various prebuilt components, such as doors and windows.

The availability of barndominium kits gives homeowners more control. You are less likely to deal with an overage or underage of materials, reducing the risk of delays and unexpected costs.

While barndominiums are available as kits, most homeowners should still consider hiring a contractor to assemble the home. Contractors can ensure that the frame is erected properly and meets all local building codes.

  1. Add Space for a Barn or Workshop

The original barndominiums were extensions of barns and workshops on farms and rural residential properties, combining workspace with living space. Pole frame construction allows you to continue the original tradition and add space for a barn or workshop.

In the end, pole frame construction offers a wide range of advantages over your other options. Steel frames may offer wider spacing between columns, but they also tend to cost a little more and offer less energy-efficient designs. Compared to pole frames, stud frames are costly and take longer to construct.

If you want fast, affordable, durable construction, consider using a pole frame for your next barndominium.

Helping a Student with His Post Frame Thesis

Post frame buildings are becoming more relevant as a design solution for residential construction. I recently was contacted to assist a student and will let him tell his story:

mr owl tootsie roll pop“My name is George xxxxxx, I am currently a thesis student at Auburn University’s Rural Studio, located in Hale County, Alabama. I am looking into pole barn // post frame construction as a method for quickly building strong homes. Hansen seems like it has more experience in this methodology than most in the nation, where most contractors are afraid of diverging from traditional stick-frame construction. I am particularly interested in the structuring of your residential homes (the retirement home in Decatur is beautiful), and your opinion on steel vs. wood roof framing. If there is an expert who would be willing to spend some minutes this week answering a few of my questions it would be greatly appreciated! Also, if you have more questions about the Rural Studio I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.”

Being all about education and post frame, my answer was to the affirmative and here are George’s questions and their answers:

“We have seen a lot of other builders using steel trusses for both residential and commercial applications, however, your portfolio shows a large number of projects using wood trusses spaced significantly further than the typical 2′-4′ you see in stick frame. 


  • 1. When do you make the decision to go wood over steel?
  • 2. In relation to residential projects, is one more advantageous than the other in terms of detailing, cost or time?
  • 3, What kinds of applications do you use the 12’+ spacing, is it something you would employ for a small home? 
  • 4. What are your typical dimensions of wood posts?
  • 5. What are your standard dimensions between posts?
  • 6. Do you use girts or studwalls in the framing of residential post frame construction?
  • 7. Does using girts provide greater lateral stability?
  • 8. Why, in your opinion, has residential construction been dominated by stick frame construction, while post frame is a viable alternative?”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

1) We use wood over steel trusses 100% of the time.

2) Prefabricated wood roof trusses are highly engineered products subject to intensive quality control standards. Every truss is fabricated from engineer sealed drawings with design wind and snow loads specific to the jobsite upon where trusses will be used. Each manufacturer must keep a log of all trusses produced and any deviation from sealed drawings (higher grades of lumber used, larger pressed steel connector plates, etc.). Every truss must be stamped with appropriate information about it as well as the fabricator’s name and location. Prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses are also subjected to random quarterly inspections from a third party provider – and one does not want to ever fail an inspection. Most steel trusses used for post frame construction are not engineered, not fabricated by certified welders and face none of these quality control standards wood trusses are required to have. For these reasons, most of them get used in jurisdictions with either no permits required, or no structural plan checks or field inspections.

Even with today’s record high lumber prices, prefabricated metal connector plated wood trusses still compare favorably in investment to steel trusses. Wood trusses are not conductors of heat and cold, as are steel trusses, meaning they do not need to be thermally isolated from climate controlled areas as steel trusses should be. Wood trusses are very user friendly in attachment of other wood framing members.

3) More often than not a 12 foot on center column spacing is most economical in use of materials and labor. Our Instant Pricing system allows for rapid checking of various column spacings in order to determine a most efficient spacing for any given set of loading conditions. Wider truss spacing means fewer column holes to dig and less worry about trying to place openings (doors and windows) to avoid column locations.

4) In solid sawn columns 4×6 (3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″), 6×6 (5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″) and 6×8 (5-1/2″ x 7-1/2″). In glulaminated columns 3 ply 2×6 (4-1/8″ x 5-3/8″). 4 ply 2×6 (5-1/2″ x 5-3/8″) and 3 ply 2×8 (4-1/8″ x 7-1/8″) are most common.

5) With 12′ on center columns and 6×6 columns space between columns would be 11′ 6-1/2″ as an example.

6) We use bookshelf style inset girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/) for most applications as they require no additional framing in order to be drywall ready. They happen to lend themselves to a better finished drywall surface than studwalls (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/).

7) Lateral stability of any framed structure (stick or post) comes from shear strength of siding – whether wood sheathing such as OSB or plywood, T1-11 or steel.

8) Stick frame has been around longer and Building Codes (especially IRC – International Residential Code) have embraced stick frame by providing a ‘cook book’ for it. Post frame construction just happens to be more economical in terms of foundation costs, use less wood, have fewer thermal transfer points, can easily be built DIY and can be customized far more economically than stick frame.

More than anything, lack of familiarity (by buying public, lenders, building officials and contractors) with post frame as a viable alternative to stick frame. Our team at Hansen Pole Buildings is doing our best to provide educational resources to all interested parties to make a change.

Truss Spacing for Shingled Roofs

Roof truss spacing seems to be a topic with no consensus. Most Americans live in traditional stick framed houses, apartments or condominiums, where roof trusses (if they were utilized, rather than using dimensional lumber rafters) are most typically spaced every two feet.

Reader CHARLIE writes:

“Dear Hansen Pole Buildings, May I ask how far apart was the Truss placement in your “Re-roofing with Shingles” article? 


I’m considering a 24’x 36’ pole barn for a recording studio build but would need asphalt shingle type roof. I’m concerned that a suitable design would need additional rafters to meet the 7 lb/sq ft load requirement.

Most designs I have seen are showing the trusses 4’ OC. 

Respectfully, Charlie”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
In this particular article roof trusses were actually spaced with a pair every 12 feet – directly aligned with sidewall columns. This style of post frame construction affords several advantages:

Fewer holes to dig. There is nothing more deflating than getting down to digging one or two last column (pole) holes and hitting a rock larger than a Volkswagon Beetle! Minimization of holes to be dug reduces chances of underground surprises.

No need for truss carriers (structural headers) between columns in order to support trusses. Structural failures are almost always due to connection issues. Truss carriers rarely have adequate fasteners from header to columns and trusses themselves are rarely anchored sufficiently to them.

By far my most read article of all time has been on pole barn truss spacing: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/06/pole-barn-truss-spacing/.

Asphalt shingles need to be installed over asphalt impregnated paper (felt) or ice and snow shield, most usually over OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or plywood. Weak link of this system is spanning ability of this underlying sheathing.

In order to be within spanning capabilities of common sheathing, dimensional lumber roof purlins, on edge, were joist hung between truss pairs, every two feet.

When you order a post frame (pole barn) kit from Hansen Pole Buildings with asphalt shingles, we automatically have our engineers design for this added load, as well as reducing deflection criteria so you end up with a nice, smooth roof. We also take into consideration Building Code requirements to account for a future overlaid reroof (even “lifetime” shingles will not last anywhere near a lifetime).

Considering a shingled roof due to how long they are warranted? You might want to read this article first: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/shingle-warranties/.

Why Post Frame Construction is So Efficient vs. Stick-Built

I recently had this comment from a client, “In normal construction projects I would order at least 5% overage and it looks like closer to 1% here, I have like 20 extra screws total, a foot of extra eave trim, two whole extra pieces of vinyl soffit.”
Obviously this client didn’t grow up being the cutoff man for the framing projects of my father and uncles – where at the end of a project our cutoffs had better not cover the top of a card table. It was all about no waste and was one of the reasons they were paid top dollar, their clients saved it in material costs.
Post frame construction, at least as we practice it, is about shipping exactly what it takes to get the job done. After all, what do you do with a pile of random leftover pieces? And do you want to pay extra, just for those random pieces (not to mention what do you want extra of – a column? Or, how about a truss?).
But just how true is the wastefulness of stick frame construction?
From a recent article in the Journal of Light Construction:
“Clark Ellis, CEO and founder of Continuum Advisory Group, a management consultancy based in Raleigh, N.C, says his team analyzed hundreds of house plans from several divisions of the nation’s top builders.

building-plansEllis found that many builders were spending $2,000 to $4,000 more per home than necessary. “Material takeoffs are rounded up to the next highest number, then padded with generous waste factors. Inaccurate deliveries aren’t identified as such and materials get used inefficiently, so the builder has to order more to make up the shortfall,” he says. While these numbers include all materials, he sees the most waste in framing and siding. The causes include the following:

Sloppy takeoffs. “Most builders don’t know exactly how much of what materials go into their homes,” says Ellis. In particular, relying on suppliers for takeoffs often results in inaccurate shipments that have to be augmented later, making it difficult for the builder to get an accurate handle on costs.

Waste acceptance. Some trade contractors routinely add a 10% or 15% waste factor after rounding the takeoff up to the next highest number.

Stressed superintendents. With skilled job supervisors in short supply, those who are employed have more responsibilities than ever. They lack the time to verify deliveries or the experience to question field purchase orders from trade contractors who failed to do accurate takeoffs.

Lumber poaching. Framers who run short on sticks will often “borrow” from the next house in the development, leaving that one short. The practice can have a domino effect as the community is built out.

Poor tracking. “Many builders lack a system for ensuring that unused materials get returned and credited,” Ellis says. Field supervisors may see this as an accounting issue, but the accountants can track down a missing credit only if someone notifies them of the return.”

It is pretty easy to sort out the post frame building erectors who fall into the category of those mentioned by Mr. Ellis. They want to quote a flat price for labor to assemble, then have the client open an account at the local lumber yard, so they can charge whatever they want to the assembly of a building.

Seriously? And folks actually buy into giving builders an open line of credit to spend as they see fit!
Want some cost control on your new post frame building? Go with the material supplier who can provide plans produced specifically for your building at your site and who will guarantee they will deliver all of the components necessary to assemble.

Pole Barn Bid, A1V Barrier, and Definitions

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am bidding on a simple 80×140 pole barn with 12′ sides. I can’t come up with something reasonable. What would you bid. I need help. Last time I did it wrong and it hurt financially. Thanks. JASON in MINBURN

DEAR JASON: As you probably found out on your last post frame building project, they are far more than just simple barns, especially when they get to this sort of footprint. Our buildings will not be the least expensive, as there is always going to be someone out there who is willing to sacrifice quality for price. What you will get is the best possible building value for your investment. You will be hearing from one of the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designers shortly.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: So I decided to put up a pole building for a garage. I bought a standing roof kit, 30×50 with 12″ eaves and steel trusses that are arched in the middle of the building, for future dreams of having a car lift. My trusses have brackets welded on them for my 10′ 2×6 purlins to run in. My question is, do I need some sort of vapor barrier in between my metal roof and my purlins? My purlins run horizontal, I plan to use vented soffit the whole way around the building, 2 gable vents, and it also has a ridge vent. I will frame inside underneath the lowest point of my truss and insulate above that. It will leave about a 16″ gap between my interior ceiling and the steel roof. Thanks for the help. BRYENT in OHIOVILLE

Reflective InsulationDEAR BRYENT: Yes – it is essential you have a vapor barrier between the roof purlins and the steel roofing. I would recommend using A1V (aluminum one side white vinyl inwards toward conditioned space. Hansen Pole Buildings has six foot net coverage rolls in stock for immediate shipment. These rolls have a tab on one edge which has an adhesive pull strip – so no rolls of tape to deal with.

Code does not allow for gable vents to be used in conjunction with eave and ridge vents. It is one or the other and I would pick eave and ridge for the most uniform ventilation.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What defines a pole barn? The last building I put up on my property is an all steel truss roof structure and the foundation has 3’x3’x3′ footings at each of the six columns. What is the foundation used? STEVE in PALMDALE

DEAR STEVE: Technically a “pole barn” is a post frame building. Below is the definition for a post-frame building system from ANSI/ASABE S618 Post-Frame Building System Nomenclature. This standard was written to establish uniformity of terminology used in building design, construction, marketing and regulation.

Lean BuildingA building characterized by primary structural frames of wood posts as columns and trusses or rafters as roof framing, Roof framing is attached to the posts either directly or indirectly through girders. Posts are embedded in the soil and supported on isolated footings, or are attached to the tops of piers, concrete or masonry walls, or slabs-on-grade. Secondary framing members, purlins in the roof and girts in the walls, are attached to the primary framing members to provide lateral support and to transfer sheathing loads, both in-plane and out-of-plane, to the posts and roof framing.”


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!

Post Frame Public Library

In Bend, Oregon, Hacker Architects, out of Portland, Oregon, designed a library with wooden beams similar to pole barns in the area. Hacker is an architecture firm which has designed over 30 libraries in the U.S. In my humble opinion, rather than trying to give the “feel” of a pole barn, libraries would be best served by the utilization of actual post frame design, which could result in savings of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to the taxpayers.

Laura Klinger, a library specialist with Hacker, gave some insight into modern libraries:

“I often get the question, ‘Aren’t libraries dead?’” Klinger said. “Actually, on the contrary, libraries now are more essential and popular than ever before.”

She said libraries are becoming less focused on books and becoming places for people. Old libraries used to be more like bunkers, but she said modern libraries have lots of windows to let in natural light. They also forge connections to the city and surrounding natural environment.
Nearly all new libraries have interactive environments for children as well as versatile space for ‘tweens and teens.

Libraries in the new style are “just really kind of vibrant, energetic places to be,” Klinger said.
Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography, had this to say about the country’s first library, which he founded in 1731, “This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair’d in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended for me. Reading was the only amusement I allow’d myself.”

If your municipality is considering a new library, Hansen Pole Buildings would be more than interested in working with your architectural firm of choice to help best design a post frame library which best meets with the needs of the community while keeping a practical budget in mind.

Post frame construction is Code conforming and allows for many unique architectural spaces to be created – including wide clearspans to provide comfortable open areas. Energy efficiency is growing more and more important. Post frame building systems allow for thick walls and roof systems to best utilize added insulation thickness – reducing the annual costs of maintaining any commercial building, not just libraries.

When is Too Small for a Pole Barn?

Reader JENNIFER from CANON CITY writes:
“Is there such a thing as too small of a pole barn to build? I am wanting a shed/hobby space with enough height to make a loft in the future. Due to setbacks and sewer lines, I can only do a 12’X26′ building. Plans for pole barns begin at 20′ or 24′ in width. I absolutely love the concept of the pole barn because I can get the structure set up quickly, then add plumbing, electric, slab floor and loft later as my budget allows. Wish I only needed a 10’X12″ shed that does not require a permit for my needs, but I am in an in-between size that may be too small for a pole barn build.”

About Hansen BuildingsOne of the beauties of post frame (pole barn) construction is it lends itself to buildings of any dimension – from what might be considered tiny to covering an acre or more!



Searching the deepest archives of my fading memory, I believe the smallest I have been involved with is about six feet square, to be used as a pump house. Regardless of the dimensions, it is going to be pretty tough to find an alternative construction method which will yield such a cost effective permanent structure as post frame.

In the case of a Hansen Pole Buildings, our Instant Pricing™ program allows for our clients to get exactly the dimensions they desire – width, length, height and roof slope down to fractions of an inch, without having to pay a premium! Your investment is not going to be predicated upon some larger size which happens to be a “standard”.

I always encourage clients to construct the largest building which will fit on their available space and within their budget. It appears working around the limitations of your property, you are planning exactly as I would.

Whether large or small, post frame construction is most likely the answer!

Afraid of Buying a Pole Barn Home

Reader Carol recently wrote me this: I’m encountering problems with folks looking at my house and being “Afraid” of buying the house.  Because it’s a pole barn house rather than a stick house.

 What can I tell these folks to help them understand pole barn houses are still a good purchase?”

Gambrel roof pole barnI happen to live in a “pole barn” (aka post frame) home and can tell you it is a fantastic building. Here is my response to Carol:

“Some of your challenge may be in how your home is being presented. If you are telling people it is a pole barn house, you are probably turning them off just because of the term “pole barn”. Whether post frame or stick built, what you have is a “wood framed” home. Period, end of story. Same with when you have an appraisal done. If your post frame home is not attached to a continuous perimeter concrete footing, then the foundation should be listed as being, “Pressure preservative treated wood foundation”. It all just comes down to a matter of concept.

Post frame construction happens to be fully recognized by the IBC (International Building Code) as being a conforming structure. Having the engineer wet sealed plans for your building also allows you to market your home as a building which is actually designed by a Registered Design Professional – not just somebody winging it together. In most areas, very few if any, homes are actually engineer designed. In the event you do not have the original engineered plans, it may behoove you to invest in an engineer who can provide “as built” plans for you.

As in selling anything, make a list of the features your home has which are exceptional, along with the benefit to the end user of each feature. A feature without a corresponding benefit is not going to make the cut. All the prospective buyer cares about is what is in it for them. Once those benefits are perceived as being greater than the prospective investment, all of those fears go away.”

Sharing the Pole Barn Blame

Sharing the Blame

Welcome to 2017!

As you may recall, 2016 ended with me sharing an email from a builder who is constructing a new Hansen Pole Building and may possibly be a legend in his own mind.

Our company policy, when a challenge arrives, has always been to begin by looking to see what, if anything did we do wrong. In this particular case, we (and yours truly) share in some of the blame.

For you, gentle reader, I will paint a picture of the building in question, so you may get a better feel for the entire process.

The building is a 40 foot clearspan in width, 100 feet long with an eave height of 16 feet and five inches. It is designed under the 8th edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code, with a 90 mph (mile per hour) design wind speed and a 50 psf (pounds per square foot) design flat roof snow load.

It features 12 inch enclosed overhangs on all four sides, as well as three 14 foot wide by 14 foot tall overhead doors on one sidewall.

The most practical design solution actually (which is a rare case) turned out to be based upon the traditional “East coast” style of post frame construction, with a single truss spaced every four feet on top of “truss carriers” (beams) spanning sidewall columns generally every eight feet (other than at the overhead door locations).

This building happens to be narrow in width in relationship to length (1 to 2.5 ratio) and is fairly tall. As such, the wind load was great enough to exceed the shear resisting capacity of the steel roofing in the eight feet closest to each endwall.

In order to carry the load, the building was designed so the trusses in the affected areas would have a traditional ¼ inch butt cut (educate yourself on what a butt cut is here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/05/truss-butt-cuts/), while the balance of the trusses would have 11/16 inch butt cuts. This would allow for the top of all truss carriers to be placed at the same height, and 7/16” OSB (Oriented Strand Board – https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/10/osb-versus-plywood/) to be installed on top of the lower heel height trusses.

Pretty darn skippy sounding ……. Until we get to tomorrow!!

Yep – yet another cliff hanger!!

Polo Arenas

Hansen Pole Buildings Designer Rick and I were having a discussion about the amount of headroom needed for a horse riding arena which would be for hunter/jumpers. I referred him to a previous article I had written on the subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/02/riding-arenas/

Rick used to play some serious polo, against folks like the Busch brothers (yes, the beer Busch brothers https://www.anheuser-busch.com/). He commented upon the 16 foot eave height probably not being tall enough for indoor polo.

I (being the polo ignorant person I am) became slightly more educated due to Rick’s enthusiasm and my being a willing student. I always had the idea polo was to be played outdoors, where it is typically played upon a large grass field up to 300 yards long by 160 yards wide (for the non-farmers amongst us, this is nearly a 10 acre field)!

Now and then I enjoy visiting Chicago, and try to take in one of the walking architectural tours: (for more information on tours: https://tickets.architecture.org/public/show_list.asp?cgCode=1&cgName=Walking ).

On one of these tours, one might have visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. Just a block east of the Water Tower is where the massive Chicago Avenue Armory stood from 1907 until 1993. The imposing design by the famous architects Holabird and Roche featured multiple turrets, and several additions over the years. And it was indeed the home of indoor polo matches in Chicago for decades.

It was one of several National Guard armories built in Chicago partly in response to labor uprisings. In addition to housing weapons, the armory had large indoor parade grounds for foot soldiers and cavalry.

All the space and arena seating made it a perfect location for an indoor version of polo, a sport often used to train cavalry regiments. It’s sort of like hockey on horseback. Players use mallets to knock a ball into the opposing team’s goal.

The sport was actually a pretty big draw in Chicago sports for a time. The Chicago Polo Club started in the 1890s, but matches weren’t played at the Chicago Avenue Armory until 1925.

In 1949, the Illinois National Guard created a polo league, and the Chicago Avenue Armory became the center of Chicago’s polo action. The Guard’s elite ceremonial Black Horse Troop was made up of the crack polo players who took on other Guard teams and civilian teams alike. Teams from the Chicago area as well as Milwaukee and Detroit played matches every Saturday night from November to April, attracting as many as 4,000 spectators a game.

Despite polo’s lofty reputation as “the sport of kings,” in Chicago it attracted all kinds. One Chicago Tribune account from 1982 described the crowd as split between folks wearing blue jeans and munching potato chips, and well-heeled fans in furs dining on pâté and fondue.

The last season of polo turned out to be in 1982 at the Chicago Avenue Armory, when the National Guard reclaimed the space for guard units and equipment. The state sold it a few years later in 1987 to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In arena polo, only three players (with their mounts) are required per team (as opposed to the traditional four). The arena game usually involves more maneuvering and shorter plays at lower speeds due to space limitations of the arena. The minimum size for arena polo is 150 feet by 75 feet, which is easily doable within the confines of a modern pole (post frame) building.

Rick shared photos of the now defunct Joy Farm Polo Club (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4276611289726&set=o.158718637505333&type=3&permPage=1 ),4r where he and hundreds of other people learned to play polo.

Need a polo arena or horse arena? Call Hansen Buildings for a quote. Even better – ask to speak with Rick, who has experience in polo arenas!n

Residential Pole Barns

Common Sense – It Isn’t Common Any More

As reported in the West Frankfort, Illinois Daily American, in an article posted November 12, 2014 by Leigh M. Caldwell:

“The much-discussed ordinance establishing codes for mobile homes, modular homes, portable buildings and pole barns will go back before city commissioners tonight for a vote.

West Frankfort’s Planning Commission has drafted a couple of different versions of the ordinance over the past few months, garnering much discussion and public comment.

As for portable buildings and pole barns, the proposed ordinance would ban them from being used as residences. Anyone wanting to build a so-called pole barn house would have to meet the requirements for residential structures.”

residential-homeFor the benefit of the unenlightened in West Frankfort (or anywhere else in the United States), “pole barns” are actually more technically “post frame buildings” and their construction is covered as Code Conforming in the International Codes.

It could be unlawful, as well as possibly unethical, for a jurisdiction to deny a Code conforming structural building system. However, as best I have been able to ascertain, to place limitations upon types of roofing and/or siding as well as even colors is certainly within a jurisdiction’s area of control.

Now if you are one who is faced with these types of limitations – keep in mind the folks who have enacted them were either elected by you, or appointed to positions by the folks you elected!

Regardless of the type of building system, whether it be stick framed (stud walls), masonry, concrete, straw bale, or yes – even pole barns – if it falls under residential pole barns, the International Residential Code (IRC) requirements must be adhered to.

The September 2014 Rural Builder Magazine recently focused upon residential pole barns, including the cover story which was authored by yours truly! To read more visit: https://www.constructionmagnet.com/post-frame-technique/post-frame-comes-home-part-i-brave-new-world-of-the-pole-barn-house

Pole Building: Honest Architecture

I recently read an article in Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave about “Historic barn enthusiasts preserve living agricultural heritage” written by Zinta Aistars.

pole barn framingIn the story Steve Steir, president of the Michigan Barn Preservation Network is quoted, “Barns are a symbol of peace and quiet, you can see the bones of the building when you walk inside. A barn is the most honest piece of architecture.”

This quote really got me to thinking about why it is I love pole buildings so much. My three decade involvement with them has been far more than just a way to make a living.  It has been the enjoyment of the simple grace and beauty of a structure which utilizes materials in their most practical form.

Going to architecture school, I recognized so much of the true beauty of a building, comes from the underlying structure – which in most cases gets covered up and buried by one of a myriad of interior and exterior finishes.

In the 1990’s I had built for myself a pole building for manufacturing purposes. The building was truly a structural work of art with 92 foot roof trusses, 150 feet in length and a 20 foot eave height. I remember standing in the middle of the floor after it was completed, just taking in the entire experience.

One of my favorite all time photos, is of a pole barn we were constructing for a wheat farmer near Creston, Washington. Completely framed, ready for the steel roofing and siding to be applied, the photographer caught it in black and white, with the full moon rising behind it. To me, absolutely stunning. We utilized it on the back cover of our sales brochure and received numerous comments about it.

Simple, practical, strong…..these words fit so well with my vision of the perfect structure – a pole building.

Pole Building Design

Why Are Humans so Resistant to Change?

For something which is built into our human DNA, change is something most humans find uncomfortable. Strange when one looks at the history of evolution – we love new things and we normally like improvements around us.

Jumping into the Wayback Machine, roughly 25 years ago, as a post frame builder, I was elected to the board of directors for the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA). One of my fellow directors was a long time pole builder from Mankato, Minnesota. We developed a friendship and he asked if I would mind him visiting the Pacific Northwest so he could see how we constructed pole barns in Eastern Washington.

I quizzed my friend about their pole building design – how they constructed their pole buildings. All of their construction (as well as all of his competitors) was posts every eight feet, single trusses to align with the sidewall columns, with 2×4 roof purlins on edge.

Pole Building Design - Pole SpacingHe liked the looks of our pole building framing system (as he figured there would be far fewer pieces to handle), especially not having to dig so many holes (with columns typically every 12 feet), double trusses and 2×6 or 2×8 roof purlins.

However – he was absolutely certain we would never be allowed to construct buildings done “our way” in Minnesota, as the Building Officials just would not allow it.

Moving back to “today” – interestingly enough, Hansen Pole Buildings has provided post frame building kit packages based upon the very same pole building design over the past eleven years, which would “never be allowed”, all across Minnesota! Not only Minnestoa, but every Midwest state, and every other state in the United States.  Many Building Officials have not only “approved” of them, but have taken a real liking to this simple yet sturdy pole building design, always based upon the Building Code.

In our own state of South Dakota…..about ten years ago we contracted to provide a fairly good sized engineered pole building in Belle Fourche. The client was perfectly happy, until their contractor got ahold of our plans and wanted us to start adding more posts and more trusses.

His theory, he had built at least 30 and maybe 40 pole barns over the past 17 years and none of them had fallen down! I asked him about how he had changed his building style after the IBC (International Building Code) had been adopted. His reply – he didn’t even know there was a new code.

He bragged on how his buildings were designed to withstand 130 mph (miles per hour) winds. Surprisingly, he then proceeded to tell me he had never before constructed an engineer designed building. As long as he built them and they didn’t fall down, that was his “proof”.

There was no hope for this one….

To builders – just because none of them have ever fallen down, is not an indication of quality. And there is more than one design solution for every client’s needs. Sometimes it is beneficial to take a leap of faith and try something new, especially if it has the endorsement of a registered engineer behind it.

At Hansen Buildings, we design to suit the client, poles at 8’, 10, 12’ – or whatever it takes – but first and foremost we design to fully satisfy the building code.  We never design to “less than code”, and every one of our buildings is designed as if an RDP (Registered Design Professional, (aka engineer), is going to put his stamp of approval on the plans.

To do otherwise, is quite frankly…criminal.

Be on the Lookout for More Pole Buildings!

The post-frame construction market has the potential to grow to $8.9 billion by 2016, up from $6.4 billion in 2011, finds a new report by FMI Corporation, a management consulting firm in Raleigh, NC. The report predicts the residential/suburban and light-commercial markets will be the fastest growing segments of the post-frame market in the next 5 years.

The report was conducted for the National Frame Building Association (NFBA) to provide a fact-based assessment of the U.S. post-frame market. The findings are based on online surveys and in-depth interviews with a diverse group of builders, architects, and manufacturers (both NFBA members and nonmembers) and on previous research.

Several key benefits of constructing pole buildings were noted by those who participated in the research, including its low cost compared to traditional building methods, quick speed of construction, adaptability—meaning it lends itself well to different designs and end uses.

While the recent recession hit the post frame industry pretty hard in the middle of 2008, the request for quotes from potential clients has never wavered. As the economy recovers, consumer confidence is rising and unemployment rates are dropping. All of these things bode well for the pent up demand for pole buildings.

Over the past few years, the number of registered (and qualified) contractors has dropped precipitously. This means, as demand increases, there will be long backlogs in order to get a builder with the skills to read plans and follow assembly instructions properly. Labor prices will increase, making it more favorable for building owners to investigate doing the erection work themselves.

The average physically healthy person, who can and will read instructions, can not only construct their own pole building – but in most cases, will end up with a better finished product than having hired out the construction.

Why? Pride of ownership!