Tag Archives: post frame engineering

Shopping for Pole Barn Engineering

Shopping for Pole Barn Engineering
When most of us shop for a new computer or a new car, we don’t go shopping for the best deal on the design so we can go buy the pieces on our own – we shop for the finished product which best meets with our needs.
Getting a “great deal” on engineered plans only, doesn’t do the end user one iota of good, if the materials specified are not necessarily the best design solution from a cost or practicality standpoint. As a design professional – if you came to me looking for just plans, I am probably going to overkill your building, as my advance vision of you is of someone who is trying to cut corners and get by on the cheap. Chances are you will buy inferior, undersized or inadequate products and when your building doesn’t pass inspections, or fails, you will come blaming me for poor design!
Here is a recent inquiry which has triggered this article:
DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you offer pole building engineering as a stand alone service without a kit? Can you give me an estimate on this project?
I have an attached picture of the building I am wanting to build.
All the dimensions are to fit specific needs, irrespective of available building material dimensions. If material dimensions and costs dictate different dimensions I am open to hearing suggestions.
Likewise, I like the appearance of the Monitor style building for our property and neighborhood. But if there is another layout that is much less costly to build, I am open to suggestions.
I have a meeting with the city, hopefully next week, where I can learn more about the wind and snow loads. So I am not certain of those.
Hopefully you know what is called for, because I would prefer not to wait for the city meeting to move forward.
If possible, I would like to use beam construction on the roofs, instead of trusses to gain usable height inside the main bay in particular. But if this is a problem, or it adds a great amount to the construction costs, I would be open to suggestions about trusses.
The center and left bays will have a dirt/packed earth floor. The right bay will have a wood floor for a boat shop. There is a utility sink and toilet room in the right bay.
I am hoping the engineering plan you provide has dimensions of materials, and specify correct attachment techniques or hardware requirements.
So, can you let me know a cost to provide stamped engineered plans for this building that will pass code in Port Townsend? And what would be the timeline in which you could provide those?
Thanks for your time. GALEN in PORT TOWNSEND
DEAR GALEN: Thank you very much for your inquiry. No, we are not a plan’s service. We take great pride in providing the most economical and practical engineered custom post frame building designs, along with all of the materials which meet or exceed those structural requirements delivered to your jobsite.

This is the insurance all of the components meet with the specifications called out for by our engineers, who have experience in thousands of post frame building designs. You are going to make a serious investment in your new building, we only want you to have to make it one time.
Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Engineered Pole Barn

This is Why Pole Barns Should be Engineered

A line of strong thunderstorms moved through North Central Florida Saturday March 23, prompting severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado warning.

The photograph is of the remains of a pole barn, which is suspected to have been hit by a tornado. No other structures in the area were destroyed, however there were reports of severe hail damage to the siding and windows of one manufactured home.

Luckily the eight horses who were housed in this barn survived.

fallen pole barnOf course I am not able to personally visit the site to examine the damage forensically, however I can make some observations, which leads me to suspect this particular destruction was as much due to poor design, as it was to having been hit by high winds. If it had been an engineered pole barn, my educated guess is the damage might have been been minimal, if not “fixable”.

Look first at the building columns – leaning every which way. They did not break off from the wind, but are in pretty much every direction other than being plumb. This tells me they did not have any concrete around the bases of the columns, which would have kept them upright.

The columns are notched on the outside – which is a sign there was once a truss carrier (a beam from column to column to support the trusses) in the notch. As no truss carriers are yet in place, the connection between the columns and the truss carriers was obviously inadequate to withstand the uplift forces.

Connections are always the weak link in any structure. Every once in a while, the History channel will show a segment on building failures – and it is nearly always the fault of under designed, or under sized connections.

While a properly engineered pole barn may not have survived the full onslaught of a direct hit from a tornado, the chances of damage being minimal would have been far greater had a registered design professional been involved, and his or her plans followed.

Don’t take unnecessary risks with valuable property and animals.  Seat-of-the-pants design is rarely adequate.

Should You Invest in Pole Building Engineering…or Not?

Clients ask me, “What is the difference between your engineered and non-engineered buildings”? In the case of Hansen Buildings, the only difference is the engineered buildings have been reviewed by a professional engineer, who is registered in the state where the building is to be constructed. This review is for structural adequacy.  And, following the review, plans and calculations are printed originally wet sealed by the engineer.

From a practicality standpoint, what pole building engineering is… is insurance. Insurance? Yes, it means a registered design professional verifies the building design will work and withstand the forces of nature up to the levels specified on the building plans.

There are some pole barn providers who do make structural changes to their buildings depending upon whether the buildings are engineered or not engineered. Morally and ethically, it is this author’s opinion there should be no changes in material design whether an engineer seals the plans or not. If changes ARE needing to be made, it could lead one to believe the non-engineered buildings are under designed and could fail within the load parameters the buildings should have withstood!!

While I do not agree with this practice, many Building Departments will issue pole building permits without engineered plans. In some cases, permits are issued with no plans being submitted at all!

Regardless of Building Department policy, any building used for commercial purposes should include “sealed” plans with pole building engineering.

Many Building Departments have “prescriptive requirements” for non-engineered post frame (pole) buildings. What are “prescriptive requirements”?  If you construct your building to match what their specifications are, they will issue you a building permit. Rarely are these requirements economically practical from either a materials or labor standpoint. Almost universally, it will prove less expensive to invest in a fully engineered building kit, rather than following the prescriptive requirements. Colorado and Washington are two states in which Building Departments often hand out these requirements.

Any building in Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon, Nevada, Utah or Washington which requires a Building Permit which includes a structural plan review (pretty much a guarantee), should have engineered plans.

If prefabricated trusses are used, the company manufacturing the trusses will provide engineer sealed truss drawings. The truss engineer is NOT the Engineer of Record for the building, nor does this make the building itself engineered.

The International Building Codes, on their own, do not have specific prescriptive tables for post frame building components – unlike “stick built” buildings. Even stud wall framed buildings are required to be engineered when the walls are over 10’ in height.

In the 2009 version of the Codes, is a new twist. Any buildings of 60′ or greater clearspan REQUIRE the end user to hire a Registered Design Professional (engineer or architect) to provide special inspections to assure truss bracing is properly installed.

Don’t underestimate the value of pole building engineering. The engineer provides for you the peace of mind, in design reliability, and helps to ease your permit application through the structural review process.