Tag Archives: rebuild

Posts Out of Ground, Brackets Wrong Orientation, and a Rebuild

This week the Pole Barn Guru delves into reader concerns over use of a thickened edge with brackets instead of embedded columns in and area of northern Minnesota with heavy snow loads and lots of rain, the issues with wet set brackets set in the wrong orientation, and the prospect of rebuilding over current slab with existing building that is too small to fit needs.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I see your communications on here a lot so figure I would take a shot at asking you some questions. If you’re not interested in wasting your time I understand and disregard. I am trying to plan out a future build for a pole building probably 36x46x16 to heat and store a RV in. My area in Northern MN gets heavy snow and lots of rain so I think posts out of the ground would be best (mounted to slab). So we would do a thickened edge like we did with our home. Is there any semi-basic logic to what kind of thickened edge would be required or does it need to be calculated by an engineer? SHAINE in DULUTH

DEAR SHANE: Always happy to help. Thickened edge slabs are most often used in areas of little or no frost. It most instances, it is going to prove most cost and performance effective, to use embedded columns. Properly pressure preservative treatment (UC-4B rated) columns will outlast your grandchildren’s grandchildren, even in areas with profuse rainfall. If you do opt for a thickened edge slab, then it will need to be properly insulated (or extend downward to below frost line) to prevent heaving. Whoever provides engineer sealed plans for your building, can properly detail foundation depending upon route you ultimately pick.

Sidebar – if you have the space, consider building 36′ x 48′ as it will be nearly identical in investment due to efficiencies of material usage.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Builders put wet sets in wrong set 2×8 4ply glu lams columns now the laminated side is running with the face not the trusses. How much strength did I lose how can I fix it without demolition? 62ft trusses 80 ft long 10 ft post spaces in front (it’s open) back is 12 ft spacing with an additional 18ft lean to. Main building is 14ft high. KURT in HAGERSTOWN

DEAR KURT: Do-it-yourselfers just do not make mistakes such as your ‘professional’ builder just has, because they will actually look at plans, follow instructions and use common sense. 4 ply glulam columns measure 5-3/8″ x 7″ Column strength in bending is based upon Section Modulus (Sm). As designed, Sm – 5.375″ x 7″^2 / 6 = 43.896, as placed by your builder 7″ x 5.375^2 / 6 = 33.706, so you are losing over 23% of your bending strength. You have a bigger problem than strength of column – wet set brackets are not designed to take a load when rotated 90 degrees. Sadly, sounds to me like your builder has an expensive demo on his hands.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking into a property with an existing pole building on a 24×40 slab (construction history unknown, it’s old so there might not be any). The building is too short for my needs, and is also pretty worn out overall. My question is would I be capable of taking down the current building and reconstructing my own on the current slab? Would it be possible to have the slab inspected as to know it’s exact structural capabilities? Would it be best (or even possible) to have a 2′ skirt with footings poured and tied in around the entire perimeter, and just build a larger building on that as to avoid the structural limitations of the current slab? Thanks! BEN in ZIMMERMAN

DEAR BEN: As no building is ever too big, I would look to build outside of existing slab, then infill.

Rather than pouring footings – use properly pressure preservative treated columns, embedded in ground. Will prove structurally superior, easier to build and far less costly.

Roof Replacement, the next Steps, and Hurricane Codes

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about replacement of a roof damaged from snow loads, gravel and concrete steps, and what measures are taken in Florida to prepare for hurricanes.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a 24’Wx52’L pole barn in Northern California and the 2022 winter snow load compromised the roof structure. The roof structure needs to be replaced and we’re looking for builder/contractor recommendations, that serve Grass Valley, CA. RUSSELL in GRASS VALLEY

DEAR RUSSELL: Usually whomever insured your building can provide references for contactors in your area who do this type of work. I would reach out to them first. Most contractors, however, are not interested in partial rebuilds, due to them then becoming liable for structural integrity of entire structure. More often than not, it becomes less expensive to bulldoze what remains and rebuild from scratch. Best of success.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: This is my new pole barn wall on one side. It is smaller on the opposite side. What is the rule for gravel and concrete and where do I measure from? I am not planning on doing foam boards. Overwhelmed by the next steps, and a concrete plan…SEAN in CALIFORNIA

DEAR SEAN: Top of your concrete slab should be 3-1/2″ above bottom of pressure preservative treated splash plank. Measure downwards from this point for everything under slab.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For residential builds in Florida are there additional steps need to be taken due to hurricanes? LESLIE in BLOUNTSTOWN

Close up image of Florida on a map with a pin over Tampa.DEAR LESLIE: We have provided close to a hundred fully engineered post frame buildings to our clients in Florida. All of these are designed to meet latest Florida Building Code requirements. We always encourage our clients to design to greater design wind speeds than minimum requirements (we want yours to be last house standing). All of our doors are wind load rated and most of our clients purchase their own windows, in order to meet Code loading.

Tear Down to Rebuild? Bay Spacing, and Condensation Problems

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I am going to tear down a 30x40x10 pole building to rebuild on my property. I noticed that the trusses are spaced 10 feet apart and are set on the 6×6 pole that has been notched. With no header board. This is an all metal building. Was wondering if this is an acceptable method of notching the post to put trusses on. Thanks. SHAWN in INDUSTRY

DEAR SHAWN: The most typical engineered post frame design provided by Hansen Pole Buildings utilizes a double (two ply) prefabricated wood truss notched into the columns (most usually spaced every 12 feet). This, in my humble opinion, is a combination which provides the best possible truss to column connection for post frame buildings, along with the reliability of the double truss system.

I would have concerns about the reassembly of a tear down, due to possible materials damage, as well as the building possibly having been designed to a no longer valid building code. My recommendation would be to contact the original engineer of record for advice as to how to proceed. If you are unable to contact him or her, then a local RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) should be engaged to determine the structural integrity of the building as well as its adequacy to support the given climactic loads under the current building code.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello again! I reread the instructions and it said for immediate response to leave email. So I posted it above. Hello Pole Barn Guru! Wishing you a blessed day. My question is about a studded wall with double trusses. What I am trying to do is avoid having to build a 14 ft wall to accommodate a car lift. I am building a 30×50 shop. The garage doors will be on the 50 side. My thinking is build stud walls and frame in laminated posts to resemble a 6×6. They would be set at 10 widths to accommodate a 10×10 garage door. This way I could set the trusses and have open overhead bays between the trusses to accommodate the car lift and not have to build 14 ft walls. Would the idea of double trusses work in this type of build? TONY in ATHENS

DEAR TONY: If you are starting from scratch, why not just construct an engineered post frame building and columns and double trusses approximately every ten feet? I say approximately as a 10 foot width residential overhead door requires roughly 10’1″ of width between the columns. We can design a building for you, which would not have bottom chord bracing between the trusses in the bay where the overhead door would fall – thus allowing for extra headroom for your car lift. You will certainly get the most for your building investment by using post frame design.

In the event you are already constructing some other sort of building, you should consult with the Registered Design Professional (RDP – registered architect or engineer) who designed your building, as he or she would need to make the appropriate alterations to ensure the structural adequacy of what you have in mind.

In any case, for the sake of safety, do not attempt to do design work on your own – entrust it to a RDP.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a pole barn in Colo Springs.   I have pretty bad ceiling condensation in the winter.  The prior owner just stuck R-36 up there.  I am thinking of removing each roof panel and putting Rufco Vapor Barrier and putting the metal roof panels back down. 

I would prefer to do it inside with a radiant barrier but that will probably not work.  Any suggestions?  Something better than Rufco?  Thank you. FRANK in COLORADO SPRINGS

Reflective InsulationDEAR FRANK: On your existing building – while Rufco is an excellent vapor barrier, it will not stop condensation issues, as it does not provide a thermal break. If the prior owner installed the batt insulation in the plane of the ceiling, I would recommend the use of closed cell spray foam on the underside of the roof steel. This would eliminate having to remove and reinstall the roof panels. If this is your only option, Hansen Pole Buildings does provide a reflective radiant barrier in six foot net coverage widths with a tab on one side with an adhesive pull strip for easy sealing of laps. You might give this a consideration.


The Disaster Solution

All too often we read, hear or see news of tragic events in our world – earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes….not to underscore the loss of human life, but property damages are huge – homes, barns, businesses are damaged or destroyed.

After the dust settles (or the waters recede), the first thoughts are how to “get back on one’s feet”. This usually brings about thoughts of how to repair damaged structures. Building repair can be a tricky undertaking. Truthfully, unless damages are minor, it can often be less expensive to knock the building to the ground and rebuild. Initial inspection of damaged buildings does not usually disclose the full extent of needed repairs. Even when repairs are completed, undamaged portions of buildings are often times left as not being compliant to current building codes.High winds damage a steel building

The essential keys to recovery from a catastrophic loss are time and budget.

Time – there is no permanent structure which can be erected in as short a time period as a pole building. From concept to delivery onsite is often a matter of weeks, not months. When I was a  building contractor, I had a four man crew who could leave the office Monday morning and return at noon on Friday with the final check from putting up a 7200 square foot building with 16 foot tall walls. It was not uncommon for experienced three person crews to construct two 1000 to 1500 square foot buildings in the same week. Pole buildings are so easy to build, the average “weekend warrior” who can and will read instructions can build a fairly good sized building in a few weekends.

Budget – even an all steel building cannot compete with the cost effectiveness of a pole building. During World War II, the U.S. government imposed a $1,500 limitation on the amount which could spend on constructing new barns. The pole-barn building method, which eliminated up to two-thirds of the lumber needed by other systems, made the government’s guidelines attainable. Unlike stick frame construction, every piece in a pole building has a direct structural function. Redundant and unnecessary members are eliminated (often still used on stick framed buildings).

Besides the efficiency of the pole building framework, footing and foundation costs are significantly reduced. Pole buildings eliminate the need for continuous footings and foundation walls. This results in savings in equipment for excavation, lumber for forms, significant amounts of concrete as well as manpower.

When life has been turned upside down by disaster, the building to turn to is a pole building. By the time the wreckage is cleared, your new building has been delivered.  Before your neighbors have even given thought to their solution, you and your loved ones are once again safe and protected from the elements.