Tag Archives: post frame house

A Future House, Eave Height, and Pricing for Horse Arena

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about an ideal pole barn to convert into a house, the height of the exterior wall with an 11′ interior ceiling height, how clear span affects the costs of a horse arena.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good Morning, We just put in an offer on land in Chattaroy, WA. The parcel number is 39261.0106.  Ideally, we will like to build a pole barn structure and then convert it into a house. I was wondering if you offered a service where someone could inspect the land to make sure it was buildable for this sort of structure. 

Also, do you offer a military and/or teacher discount (I work at DPMS… can’t hurt to ask, right!). We have 20 days to get the testing done. I appreciate your time and your response!
Have a great day! EMILY in CHATTAROY

DEAR EMILY: We have provided our fully engineered custom designed post frame buildings on virtually every imaginable type of building site in all 50 states. As Eastern Washington’s largest post frame building contractor in the 1990’s, my firm erected hundreds of buildings annually in Spokane County, many in Chattaroy. Unless you have a truly unusual circumstance, a post frame (pole barn) structure should be ideal for this parcel. We would recommend you have it permitted as a R-3 (residential) use structure so you do not have future challenges.

Hopefully your offer is subject to being able to pass a perc test for a future septic system, as if anything would be a stumbling point, this could be it.

Please reach out to me any time with questions.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If my ceiling is 11′ tall, how tall are my outside side walls to the bottom of the eve? GREG in COLUMBUS

DEAR GREG: Depending upon your building’s truss span, in most instances a 12 foot tall eave height will get you an 11 foot finished ceiling. Here is some extended reading on this subject https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/02/eave-height-2/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I know the width of a pole barn has a drastic impact on price but does the increase in price go up steadily or are there certain widths that jump the price up more drastically?

I am planning to build a horse back riding arena and am deciding between the following widths: 60′ vs 66′ vs 70′ vs 72′ vs 80′

I know from 60′ to 80′ there is a huge jump in price (about $30,000 roughly based on the quotes I’ve gotten so far), but does it go up equally for each step up in size? Does being a multiple of 12′ vs 10′ make a difference? SARA in DAYTON

DEAR SARA: Our oldest daughter Bailey is a highly successful Walking Horse trainer in Shelbyville, Tennessee. She is having a new home constructed currently on acreage and had asked Dad to check out arena prices for her. I priced 60′ x 120′, 70′ x 140′ and 80′ x 160′ buildings, all with identical features. Surprisingly to me, they were all within pennies per square foot of being equal! Being as you are in a more snow sensitive area, I would suspect your pricing curve to have more of a gradual increase as spans increase from 60 feet.

In order to get some exact figures, a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you. Our system has an ability to adjust column and truss spacing to provide a most economical design solution at any span. Meanwhile – here is some extended reading for you https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/the-perfect-indoor-riding-arena/.





Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Our world (at least my world) of post frame buildings has evolved quickly into residential construction of barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame homes. Having built two shouses for myself, I have learned a lot about what to do and not to do, as well as receiving helpful contributions from thousands upon thousands of loyal readers such as JOE in BEDFORD who writes:
“Long time reader, first time poster. I’m in the middle of planning & prepping to build a post frame house (48′ x 60′ x 10′) for myself & I have some basic questions on how
to meet both the IRC & IECC codes for the foundation/floor systems. In PA (climate Zone 5) how is it possible to continuously insulate the “footings” (down 3′ – 4′) of my barndominium to prevent frost heave/moisture intrusion/etc? Wouldn’t that require digging a continuous “footing” thus defeating the main purpose of a post frame design?

To add to that thought, most “floors” of post frame houses are slab on grade concrete (with radiant heat in slab I assume), which to meet the IECC code for a heated on grade slab, it requires R-15 down 2′ on the slab edge (plus R-10 for the underslab insulation). See link below:

>From my understanding, the savings & efficiency of post frame houses comes from not having to excavate, pour & then backfill a continuous footer + stem wall (or footer with a slab on grade floor). How is it possible to meet these challenges & codes with a post frame design method? If you have to excavate a continuous footing & then insulate the footing & the house floor is going to be insulated & poured either way, wouldn’t the “stick frame” method be more cost effective at that point then?

Thanks for the help & clarification!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Appreciate your being a long time reader, hopefully you have found my articles to be informative and entertaining.

Thanks to glories of rigid board insulation, you can still do standard embedded columns, pour a slab on grade and meet insulation requirements to prevent both frost heave and to keep from having to heat ground outside and underneath your building (see drawing). Requirements for insulation and thickness can be found here: https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/fpsfguide.pdf.

Even if you were to opt to pour a continuous footing, post frame construction will still prove to be more cost effective due to elimination of redundant members and structural headers inherent to stick construction. Post frame is easier to super insulate (fewer members touch both exterior and interior surfaces), you can create some unique architectural features not easily done with stick frame construction and you can easily DIY it should you be so inclined.

Making Framing Work With Bookshelf Girts

Making Framing Work With Bookshelf Girts for Insulation

A most simple method to achieve a deep insulation cavity in post frame building walls is to use bookshelf girts, but how to make framing work?

Some quick background reading on commercial girts: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/.

Reader BRANDON in ST. JOE got today’s discussion going when he wrote:

“Hi there. I’m going to be building a post frame house and got a quote form Hansen for my building. Question is with the bookshelf Girts if they are 2x8s which measures 7 1/4” on 6×6 post that is 5 1/2” plus your 1 1/2” grade board will you notice the 1/4” difference.”

In an ideal dream world every 6×6 column would measure exactly 5-1/2 inches square. However lumber comes from trees, and trees are organic and tend to have a certain degree of variability. Rarely are timbers going to be dried after being milled, other than by nature. As such, they most usually start off being cut slightly over-sized in order to allow for shrinkage hopefully ending up with a 5-1/2 inch dimension.

I have seen builders attempt to use 2×6 bookshelf girts with 6×6 columns, if posts are perfect dimension then both sides can be set flush and surfaces for siding and interior finish are smooth. It does involve some extra work insetting things like splash planks, eave girts, headers, etc., as well.

I tried this in my own garage I had built in 1991. My posts were not perfect dimension, they were big! I had to stop drywall up against each column and then texture over posts. Trust me, it was a PITA (Pain In The Axx).

An easy fix – oversize girts by one dimension, using a 2×8 with a 6×6 column as an example. Chances are excellent columns will measure 5-3/4 inches in depth or less. If less, drywall (or other interior finish such as OSB or plywood) can be run directly across thinner columns with no adverse challenges.

I would recommend using closed cell rigid insulation sheets inside of framing, behind drywall, to create a thermal break.

Properly Treated Posts, Hillside Locations, and a Post Frame Option

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about properly treated posts, building on hillside locations, and an option to build with post frame.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: According to most of the answers on the Internet, if I bury the posts for my deck they will rot away and the whole thing will come crashing down 10 or so years. What proprietary space-age technology are you using in your pole barns that deck builders don’t know about?
(yes this is a bit tongue-in-cheek) MM in MILTON

DEAR MM: How about we start with over 50% of all builders did not graduate from high school? The great majority of deck builders call in, text or email the lumber list for the next deck to their supplier of choice. I worked in or owned my own lumber yards for years and never, ever can I recall a builder specifying a level of treatment when they ordered pressure preservative treated wood.

Builder says treated, and he gets treated….probably not adequate for most applications. Any lumber placed structurally into the ground should be treated to a minimum UC-4B retention. I wrote this article for Rural Builder magazine, so it is directed specifically towards builders and suppliers, however it should make my point: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/05/building-code-3/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a hillside location and am looking for information on pole housing in California and their seismic ratings? ROBIN in SAN DIMAS

DEAR ROBIN: San Dimas – the town Bill and Ted made famous! Post frame (pole) buildings perform admirably on hillsides, as they can be attached to partial foundations (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/02/grade-change/) or built on stilts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/stilt-houses/) to compensate for grade changes.

As far as seismic design, structures are affected by earthquake in relationship to the weight of the structure. The lighter the structure, the more resistant it is to tremors! Here is a little earthquake reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/10/a-whole-lotta-shakin-going-on/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/05/earthquake-resistant-post-frame-construction/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am in the engineering phase of our forever home in Minnetonka. I have an architect drafting my designs, and am now working with structural engineers to figure out the best way to construct it. My original plans show double stud 2×4 walls (for super insulation), and our ceiling heights are on the tall side.

An option we are considering is getting the house pole framed for the interior stud wall, and then site framing the exterior stud wall, in order to create the cavity for super insulating. I also plan to use an interior ledger system for the floor joists.

Let me know if you think this is a possibility. I can send you our current drawings for you to look at. There are obviously a lot more details to sift through than what I’ve covered in this email.

Let me know! Thanks! SONJA in MINNETONKA

DEAR SONJA: One of the great features about investing in a post frame building kit package (at least from Hansen Pole Buildings) is it includes the engineered structural plans for your new home – no need to pay an expensive structural engineer!

Installing Drywall on CeilingThere is probably a much easier way to achieve your super insulated walls – using post frame construction and ‘commercial’ bookshelf style girts, you can create a deep wall insulation cavity for one or a combination of the following: unfaced fiberglass or rock wool (best since it is not effected by moisture) batts; BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/); and/or closed cell spray foam. Between the inside of the framing and the wallboard, use high R insulation board, which creates a thermal break between and wall framing and the interior conditioned space.

We’d be pleased to assist you in your project.





Hangar to House?

This article was triggered by an article I read recently by Karen L. Chandler at www.readingeagle.com in regards to a post frame building in Perry County, PA., excerpted below:

In other business, attorney Zachary A. Morey of Hoffert & Konis PC of Reading asked the supervisors to consider allowing an addition to Peter Lombardi’s pole building on Skyline Drive. The proposed addition would be used as a residence by Lombardi’s father.

Body noted the pole building was previously used as an airplane hangar, but Morey said it was now used for storage and as a part-time residence.

 Supervisors Chairman Dean A. Adam said the pole building was never intended to be a residence and questioned why Lombardi could not build a house on the site.

 “It was not disclosed to us what he’s doing until he did it. He’s defrauding us.” Adam said, adding that the property was not assessed as a residence for tax purposes.

Morey said Lombardi had gotten an occupancy permit for the building in 2001, but Shollenberger said if the building is permitted as a hangar, it could not be converted to residential use.

 Body asked Morey to provide documentation confirming the tax assessment on the property is accurate and said the property should be inspected to ensure it is appropriate for a dwelling before an addition is approved.”

Unless the hangar was to be used commercially, it is most likely designed at a Risk Occupancy I building (and probably constructed without engineered plans). Residences require a Risk Occupancy II which has more stringent requirements for resisting climactic loads.

There are more than good chances the hangar was not designed with trusses capable of supporting a significant ceiling load (like gypsum wallboard) or walls stiff enough to support drywall without cracking.

Structurally, albeit with some possible modification, a RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) could review the original plans and make a determination as to the repairs necessary to properly upgrade the building. This will probably also involve acquiring an engineered truss repair from the truss manufacturer. If a dead attic space is created, then ventilation must be attended to. Energy codes must also be addressed. It is possible these fixes could involve some significant expenses.

Now this does not even begin to tackle the question of whether or not the property happens to be residentially zoned.

How can you avoid these challenges with your new post frame building?

Design appropriately as a Risk Category II building, framed ready for sheetrocked walls and ceiling, with the appropriate ventilation and provisions to be insulated. The minor up front investment makes this route the road to race down!