Tag Archives: shouse

Do You Own the Land Your Barndominium Will Be Built On?

Do You Own the Land Your Barndominium Will Be Built On?

Barndominiums, shouses and post frame homes are not only a current rage, they may be America’s future home of choice. Pinterest has literally hundreds of photos of barndominiums. DIY network’s “Texas Flip-n-Move” feature a rusty old barn made into a beautiful home in Episode 6 of Season 5. Chip and Joanna Gaines took on a barndominium makeover in Season 3 Episode 6 of “Fixer Upper”. Tens of thousands of Facebookers join barndominium discussion groups of one sort or another.

However not everyone wants to take on the joys and challenges of trying to convert an old barn into a beautiful and functional new home.

Most potential barndominium owners are trying to escape urban or suburban living. They want to sneeze without hearing their neighbors say, “Bless you”. Oftentimes they have looked to buy an existing home, but could never find one exactly fitting their needs.

Here is where a blank canvas of vacant property has its allure. Within constraints of available space, budget and imagination anything becomes possible.
I accept my asking, “Do you own the land your barndominium will be built on?” in Facebook groups puts me in a position of being a brunt taker for jokes. There is, however, a method to my madness.

To begin with, I do not care if you own property free and clear (and let’s face it, your local property taxing authority owns it as well). It doesn’t matter if ‘your dirt’ is owned by a relative, a friend or a close enemy – just as long as you know where your new home is going to be.
For most this ‘barndominium build” is going to become their forever home (or at least theirs for a very long time).

Seemingly millions of canned house plans are available (for a small to large fee) across a plethora of internet websites. 99.9% of these plans have a similar problem – they were designed for a flat lot in suburbia! Yep, they look stunning on a website. Considering spending your hard earned money on one thinking you will save money by using cheap house plans? This would be an equivalent to everyone buying 34 inch waist 36 inch inseam Levi’s. They fit me just fine, but what if you are not 6’5”? Or maybe you do not even like Levi’s?

Your home should be planned to fit into its environment. Does it make sense to try to change (or ignore) your environment to fit your bargain house plans?
In order to craft ideal plans for your new barndominium, shouse or post frame home, your building site should be carefully considered.

If you are considering hiring a general contractor to turnkey your build, or merely an erector to put up your home’s shell, only once you ‘own the dirt’ and even better have a building plan developed to match your building site should you embark on a ‘builder hunt’. Builders are in short supply and their time is valuable. It is an unfair expectation to take advantage of them before they can reasonably ascertain you actually might have a need for their services.

Know where your barndominium is going to be built? Please reach out to me and I can give you some free advice on getting those ideal plans.

For extended reading on turnkey general contractors for barndominiums please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/does-my-barndominium-need-a-turn-key-general-contractor/

A Garage Apartment, A Moisture Problem, and Insulating a Ceiling

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about building a garage apartment aka a “Shouse,” how to address a moisture problem, and the best way to add insulation to a ceiling.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I design a garage apartment pole barn? JAY in HINTSVILLE

DEAR JAY: You may not have this ability however we have experts who can assist you. To develop a workable custom floor plan, designed specifically to meet your wants, needs and budget please use this link: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Live in the Midwest, have a 54 x 36 pole barn well insulated, walls, and ceilings. When it rains a lot I have a moisture problem, My building is approx. 1950 Sq. Ft. I found a dehumidifier that covers 3,000 sq. ft. I was thinking about putting one in the pole barn, it can run continuous if I put a hole in the side, for a drain, and let it drain out, just leave it running on its own as it needs to. Is this Ok to do to solve my issue? RON

DEAR RON: A dehumidifier may resolve your building’s symptoms, however not its problem. As this is a function of rain, I am led to believe you need to eliminate or reduce your moisture source. If your building does not have a vapor barrier under your concrete floor, seal top of floor. If you do not have rain gutters install them and ensure runoff is directed well away from building. Make sure ground outside of building is sloped away at least 5% for 10 or more feet.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 32X46X15 pole barn with purlins attached to the outside of the 6×6 beams. The barn has soffits and a vented ridge cap and is set up for a ceiling. I have since decided to keep the rafters exposed and have questions about sealing up the soffits and ridge cap but leaving several small openings in the ridge cap to allow for humidity to escape.

How much should I leave open on the ridge cap and should I totally seal off the soffits? Will it be ok to leave the beans and rafters exposed, putting a vapor barrier in between the beams and the rafters?

What are your thoughts on 2in foam with no vapor barrier glued directly to the metal in between the purlins every 2feet? Then another 2in foam board with a vapor barrier placed on top of that screwed to purlins and can spray foam the edges and gaps? Thanks for all your help! MARK in VALPARAISO

DEAR MARK: My response is with a thought you are trying to climate control your building to some extent. Your proposal to use two inch-thick foam insulation board sounds to be highly labor intensive as well as being fraught with challenges in trying to achieve a complete air seal. Any air gaps would allow for warm moist air from within your building to not only condense against your building’s steel cladding, but also to remain trapped there, potentially being a cause of premature degradation of steel panels.

I would recommend you look towards closed cell spray foam as a solution for both insulation as well as condensation control. You will want to completely seal both eave and ridge then have at least a two inch thick layer of closed cell foam sprayed on interior face of roofing and siding. A mechanical dehumidifier should be used to control relative humidity with your building.

 

 

 

 

How Roof is Done, “Logs” for Kits, and Two-Story “Shoffice”(?)

This Monday, Mike the Pole Barn Guru discusses the ins and outs of a roof, lumber provided with the Kit, and if we can offer a two story shed/office (“Shoffice”?).

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How is the roof done? Do you use screws or nails? Is the frame wood or steel? MARY in MT. PLEASANT

DEAR MARY: Most of our buildings have steel roofing (although any roofing type can be used – shingles, tile, etc.). We recommend using some method of controlling possible condensation on underside of steel roofing – either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/), an Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/) either of these two we typically supply or two inches of closed cell spray foam.

All of our steel roofs are fastened with 1-1/2 inch long, color matched and powder coated screws.

All Hansen Pole Buildings have a structural wood framework, making them very DIY friendly. This wood framework eliminates thermal transference issues found in steel frame buildings.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking at a 40x44x18 garage kit from sales at Home Depot. I read reviews & they talk about “logs” showing up & sawing the lumber. Is this the case?? Not much of a kit if you have to make your own dimensional lumber? RICHARD in SHILOH

DEAR RICHARD: Comments/reviews posted on The Home Depot® website for our buildings are literally nothing short of hilarious. Obviously these are not from verified purchasers of our engineered post frame buildings kits. All lumber needed for this and any of our buildings is sawn to size. Dimensional lumber has been planed (surfaced), dried to 19% moisture content or less and grade stamped to verify adequacy for structural usage.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking to build workshop and office, would like to know if the kits come in 2 story. Looking at 30 X 30 building with one garage door, two reg. door cut outs and 4 or 5 window cut outs. Looking to build late summer. Thanks, WIL in PROVIDENCE FORGE

DEAR WIL: Without sprinklers, we can provide up to 40 foot tall sidewalls and three stories. If you sprinkler 50 foot sidewalls and four stories.

 

 

 

A Multi-Use Building, Backhoe or Auger, and Loft Floors

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about a Multi Use building, using a backhoe to dig post holes, and the proper method to add floors to a post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am looking at building a pole building want it to be about 72 ft long, 50 ft wide and 14 ft high, I want to use the front for storage of hay, tractor want 20 ft of concrete then wanted to use the back portion to work my horse and cattle which would be a dirt floor. I wanted to have some living space about 1000 – 1200 sq ft have been advised to separate this from the rest of the building however not sure if later I will want to build a little bigger home after my farm sells then if this is separate there would be 3 buildings, I would not put up many walls in the living building so later it could be used for a heated work shop. Please give me your opinion I watch read your thoughts on Facebook. NANCY in LYNDON STATION

DEAR NANCY: It all depends upon what best serves your needs. If you combine them, living space will require at least a one-hour fire separation (and possibly two hours) from dissimilar uses. One-hour would be two layers of 5/8″ Type X sheetrock from floor to roof, certainly not overly cost prohibitive. You may want to discuss rates with your insurance agent, as these costs might prove to be a determining factor.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I just ordered my kit from you and am in the process of getting my permits. I’m very excited to take on this project. I have a question about digging post holes. I actually own an old backhoe. I had planned on hiring someone to come drill holes because that’s what I’ve always seen, but realized I could probably do it with my backhoe. Some of them anyway. My plans call for 18″, 24″, and 36″. I have 24″ and 12″ buckets for my backhoe. Are there drawbacks to doing this? I’m thinking about the shape of the hole not having side walls and flaring the bottom would be difficult. The only time it seems to be recommended is if the ground is rocky. Mine is solid clay. I’d rather hire that out if nice cylindrical holes are better. CHAD in MILLVILLE

DEAR CHAD: We are pretty excited about your new building also – as we live vicariously through our clients! Take lots of photos during construction and please share them with us.

It is entirely acceptable to dig column holes with a backhoe or mini-excavator. Your downside is you will slightly increase your volume of concrete required for hole backfill.

With your clay soils, you will want to carefully review site preparation in Chapter 2 of Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: For a pole barn house do you do framing for floors? CHRIS in TAYLORSVILLE

DEAR CHRIS: Any raised wood floors, whether over a crawl space, second or third floor, loft or mezzanine should be included in your engineer sealed plans. This accounts for proper weight distribution to columns and footings as well as connections of components. These materials are typically included with your investment in your new Hansen Pole Building (as well as instructions for assembly). Here is some extended reading for you: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/barndominium-wood-floors/.

 

 

Beginning a Shouse Journey in Washington State Part I

A shouse (shop/house), barndominium or post frame house project may seem daunting, however by doing lots of reading, research and asking questions, an average individual can craft for themselves a home they love, tailored to meet their family’s wants and needs.

Loyal reader ROBERT in OLYMPIA writes:

“Hello to the Pole Barn Guru or whoever reads this!

​I came across Hansen Buildings a few years ago when I first became interested in pole barn homes, and have been following the content posted by the Pole Barn Guru in various places online- always great information!  I am finally zeroing in on purchasing a piece of land and I would like to get some more information on going the “Hansen route,” either for a shouse or a house and detached shop, or for just a shop.​

I’ve spoken with my county’s planning department and was informed that there would be no problems building what I want.  The land is already improved with water and septic, is nice and flat, is south facing, and is zoned accordingly.  There is actually a building permit currently active from the previous owner’s stick built project (who passed away, and never further than the dig out for his foundation).  They told me that I could bypass some of the headaches (such as the Pocket Gopher review process) if I renew the permit before it expires (4/2020) and submit the new site plans…​

My ideal setup would be:​

– 50x90x(16 or 18) building​

-around 1200 square feet of living space, 2 bath, 2 bed, 1 “office”​

-3300 square feet as shop space with 1 bath and 1 utility sink.  Wired with electricity & lighting.​

-Very energy efficient (insulation, doors, windows, leakage).  Prefer spray foam if budget allows.​

-ERV?​

-1 large garage door/bay, 3″ thick​

-All large windows to be south facing with appropriately-sized overhangs (passive house principal).  These overhangs could potentially be in the form of a covered porch.​

-Enclosed overhang with vented soffits, but only on the eaves & vented ridge cap.  Solid gables.​

-Concrete piers with post brackets.​

-slight outward slope in concrete where garage doors meet concrete to make water drain away from/out of shop.​

-at least 2 drains in concrete – 1 near door, and one near a corner​

-insulated concrete slab w/ hydronic heating, sealed concrete flooring throughout (no other floor covering)​

-Possibly add ductless heat pump mini-split for additional heating if necessary. ​

-No cooling system necessary.​

-modestly finished interior​

-Ikea or similar non-custom kitchen​

-self-sourced appliances​

Questions:​

Someone at the Thurston county planning department told me that while the project definitely is doable, it might make more sense to build the home and shop as separate structures.  He mentioned that because they were attached, the whole building would have to meet WA energy code.  I guess he was implying that it would be cheaper to construct the shop separately if it didn’t have to meet that code?  Because I would like the shop to be insulated, does this really apply to me?  I’ve heard that insurance could potentially be cheaper with a detached setup, but I can’t seem to find anything concrete about that.  Have you found that to be the case?​

As I mentioned I would like to do hydronic radiant heating (probably by Radiantec) throughout the home and shop.  From my research that seems like the most cost efficient way to heat (mass rather than air).  However, the shop doesn’t necessarily need to be kept at “living temperature” all the time.  I would like it to be comfortable while I’m in there, but beyond that I just need it to stay above about 40 degrees.  I’m interested to hear your input on this.  In reading, it seems like whenever people opt for something like a radiant tube heater or mini-split for the shop, they always regret not going with radiant floor heating.  Natural gas is not available at this location, so my options are propane, oil, wood, or electric.

Because I’m very new to the world of home building, I’m not sure what other requirements there would be in building this.  I know that there are some pretty detailed drainage plans that exist for the previous project on the property, and I’m wondering who is in charge of creating new drainage plans for my project?  Does Hansen do that type of thing?  Or someone local to me?​

Pricing/plans:  Is it possible to get some sort of idea about costs/cost breakdown for the type of building I described?  How about for separate structures?  I love the idea of doing some of the work myself, I’m just not sure how realistic that really is with my work schedule, especially in the summer.  I would probably need contractor(s) to take care of the majority of the major work.​

Do you have any floor plans similar to what I’ve described?  I have a few different ideas on different floor plan ideas but it’s probably easier/cheaper to just use some existing plans.​

I love the “Shouse” idea but I find it a little overwhelming because there is not a “turn key” option like what exists from traditional home builders like Adair Homes in Olympia.  So to get the job done would require basically managing the project with a crew of different contractors to finish the shell, concrete, insulation, electrical, plumbing, finishing, etc……I just would really prefer something a little different and more energy efficient than standard construction.​

As of right now, I think those are all of the questions that I have.​

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing back!​”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Come back tomorrow for Part Two.

A Mezzanine for Your Barndominium

A mezzanine is a common design feature found in all types of buildings- very possibly even your new barndominium, shouse or post frame home. Think of a mezzanine as being a lofted area above a room.

International Building Codes outline some basic rules for mezzanines to help determine if it is an intermediate level within the room it serves or if it is considered another story. 

A mezzanine is an intermediate level between floor and ceiling of any story. In regards to building codes, mezzanines must comply in accordance with IBC (International Building Code) Section 505.2. (Please note all references in this article are 2018 IBC)

Mezzanines can be great features within a building because they provide an additional floor level without being considered an additional story as long as they comply with IBC Section 505.2. Even though they don’t contribute to “building area” or number of “stories” regulated by IBC Section 503.1, they must still be included within “fire area” calculations when determining need for fire protection systems.

Another important piece of information is they should be constructed of consistent materials according to your building’s construction type per IBC Table 601. 

Clear height above and below a mezzanine shall not be less than seven feet.

Total area of a mezzanine within a room shall be not greater than 1/3 floor area of room it is located in (IBC 505.2.1)

Code has some exceptions allowing for a mezzanine to be larger given certain factors such as building’s type of construction and whether the building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. IBC 505.2.1 Exception 3 allows for an aggregate area of a mezzanine within a dwelling unit with an approved automatic sprinkler system which can be up to ½ floor area of the room it is located in.

Means of egress (exits) for mezzanines shall comply with applicable provisions of IBC Chapter 10.

A mezzanine acts like a room or space as it has an occupant load. This occupant load must have correct existing parameters per IBC Chapter 10 (egress chapter). IBC Table 1004.5 provides for maximum floor area allowances per occupant. For R-3 (residential) occupancy purposes, this occupant load factor would be 200 square feet per occupant.

A mezzanine shall be open to the room in which it is located, except for walls not more than 42 inches in height.

Code does also provide some exceptions related to mezzanine “openness”. If you meet these exceptions, your mezzanine would not be required to be open. One exception would be if the mezzanine occupant load is not more than 10 (IBC 505.2.3 Exception 1) and another is if it has at least two exits (IBC 505.2.3 Exception 2). In either case you could have an enclosed mezzanine space.

Photos are of the mezzanine within our barndominium. My wife wanted a space within our shouse (shop/house) which would be a totally dedicated space for her sewing and crafts. She has a sign in her sewing loft which clearly states “This is my happy place.” I can tell she is really happy up there as I often can hear her singing along with her favorite rock and roll tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. Lastly, access to her mezzanine is by a wheelchair accessible electric lift system.

Monitor Style, Cost to Build a Floor Plan, and Adding OHD Openers

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about the possibility of an open floor plan Monitor style building, what the costs of building s specific floor plan might be, as well advice on adding overhead door operators to a building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you design a truss system for a monitor style building that has a complete open floor plan. 50 Ft front x 40 Ft depth. RON in SANGER

Monitor Barn Interior

DEAR RON: Absolutely. My first one was about 25 years ago, when I was a post frame builder. It was not near this wide, but I have since been involved in many others, both lesser and greater in width.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much would it cost to build this? I do not two RV doors. Can go with a smaller or shorter door on one side only. We would like it plumbed for sinks and showers ect but do not need to include the sinks, shower, toilet, cabinets ect. Just the walls. REBECCA in OLYMPIA

 

DEAR REBECCA: To some extent it will depend upon how you run rooflines. I would be inclined to recommend your garage area be 20’ x 42’ with a ridge line running front to back (peak gable end above where you show an RV door) with a 15’ eave height. For your living area, I would put a gable on your far right with ridgeline running towards garage area.

Other than rough-in for plumbing, you can probably safely budget $25-30 per square foot erected including a slab on grade. To get exact pricing of your building shell and discuss options, please reach out to a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer at 1(866)200-9657.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m considering purchasing a home that has a pole building with two overhead garage doors that never had openers installed. One of the doors is very high- for RV clearance. There doesn’t look like much structure above to hang them from. What would be the best way to do that or is there other opener alternatives? DAVID in WESTMINSTER

DEAR DAVID: You have stumbled upon one of my pet peeves – when sectional overhead garage doors are sold without openers. Let’s face it, almost every garage door truly should have one. It does not take much to hang an opener, should you purchase I would recommend you contact two or three of your local garage door installation companies to take a look at your building and provide a quote for openers and installation.

 

Barndominium on a Daylight Basement

As post frame construction moves into a world filled with barndominiums, shouses and homes, there are of course those who would prefer (or need due to lot slope) to build upon either a full or partial (daylight) basement.

Post frame buildings are ideal for this situation.

Reader LOUIE writes:

“Hi, I just started the process of building my first home and came across your website, hoping maybe you can help. So far I have purchased the land, got the septic design and have started to clear it. I have a good idea of what I would like to build but have a few questions. Can you design buildings to be built on daylight basement foundations? Also I see that the kits on your website include the windows, doors and exterior finish. Would it be possible to buy a kit for just the the framing?  Ideally I want to build something like this roughly 28×36. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Yes, we can design to build on a daylight basement, columns on the basement’s open side would be long enough to extend into the ground and be embedded. My shouse (shop/house) in Washington was engineered this way. In my case we dealt with 12 feet of grade change on a 40 foot wide site. Our solution was to have a 12’ tall ICF block wall on one side and 10 feet of front, then step down across the rear endwall to follow grade. Engineered wet set brackets were poured into top of ICFs (read about wet set brackets here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/).

Besides your framing package, we would like to provide your building’s steel roofing. If you are using some sort of board or plank siding, we would like for you to obtain it and we would provide OSB or plywood sheathing as well as a Weather Resistant Barrier.

We would need to have some wall at the corners of the window end in order to adequately transfer shear loads from roof to foundation. Ideally for a 10′ tall wall, roughly 3.5′ at the corners.

To achieve your vaulted ceiling as shown in the photo, the best method would be to place a column at peak 12′ in from each endwall. If your interior plans cannot stand columns, we could run a ridge beam down the center from end to end.

If you do opt for interior columns, I would also recommend using engineered prefabricated floor trusses for your floor system. This would provide a clearspan lower level and allow for all ductwork and utilities to be hidden in your home’s floor.

For extended reading on barndominium floor trusses please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/floor-trusses-for-barndominiums/

Post Frame Building Wainscot

Whether your post frame building will be a garage, shop, commercial building or barndominium wainscot an extremely popular option is wainscot.

Roughly 25 years ago I had an 80’ x 150’ x 20’ post frame building erected for my prefabricated wood truss manufacturing business. Whilst a great deal of thought went into this building’s design, there is one crucial element I missed.

Down each long side of our building we placed bollards (read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/07/a-real-life-case-for-pole-barn-bollards/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/lifesaving-bollard/) to protect steel siding from units of lumber and forklifts.  As there was no storage across our front wall, we did not place bollards there. A week before we moved in, someone backed a truck into a steel panel directly adjacent to our main entrance door. Of course this steel panel was nearly 30 feet tall, so to replace it would be no small undertaking. Instead of fixing it, I walked in and out of this door and fumed because of this dent! Had I planned appropriately and used wainscot panels, this dented panel could have been replaced in a matter of minutes, saving me untold hours of grief and aggravation!

By common definition, wainscot is an interior wall lower portion whose surface differs from upper wall. Wainscot was borrowed from Middle Low German wagenschot. It is not altogether clear what these origins were, but a generally accepted theory is it is a compound of wagen ‘waggon’ and schot ‘planks, boards’, and it therefore originally meant ‘planks used for making waggons’. Originally it was applied in English to ‘high-grade oak imported from Russia, Germany, and Holland’. This wood was used mainly for paneling rooms, and by 16th century wainscot had come to signify ‘wood paneling’.

Homeowners used to apply wainscoting, especially in dining rooms, to protect walls from damage from chairs and tables. A chair rail atop wainscoting serves as a “bumper,” protecting wall from dings and chips created when a chair or table gets a little too chummy. This wall decoration was often also used to add interest and texture to stairways, while protecting them, too. In fact, it first grew in popularity during Elizabethan times, and it’s quite common in historic English and American Colonial homes.

For post frame (or pole) buildings, wainscot has moved to building exteriors. In simple terms, it utilizes an alternate siding panel to cover approximately three feet of exterior wall lower portions. A most common application, with steel sided buildings, is to use a different color steel panel on the lower wall than the upper. Most often steel wainscot panels are the same color as roofing, however this is certainly not mandatory. This allows for an aesthetic look many find pleasing, while affording an ability to quickly and easily change out a short steel panel, if it would become damaged. This would prove to be a most cost affordable solution and is easier than changing out a full length wall panel.

Alternatively, other materials may be utilized, such as T1-11, cement based sidings, vinyl siding or even stone or brick. Mortarless masonry is a popular wainscot (for extended reading: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/10/mortarless-masonry-exterior/).  Pretty much any siding applicable to any other building exterior, can be incorporated as post frame building wainscot. It not only serves a useful purpose, it just plain looks good too.

Building Codes Apply to Shouses

Building Codes Apply to Shouses

Recently I shared with you, my faithful readers, a Park Rapids Enterprise article penned by Lorie R. Skarpness as Nevis, Minnesota attempts to deal with a shouse.

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/12/a-shouse-in-the-news/

Below is Lorie’s update from January 18, 2020:

“The discussion of a proposed shouse (a word that means a shop with living quarters inside) that began at the December Nevis council meeting was continued at their Jan. 13 Nevis meeting.

Planning commissioner Dawn Rouse shared a report from the city’s planning commission about discussion of shouses from their December meeting.

Their consensus was that any requirements should apply to all residences and not single out one specific type, noting that the Minnesota Building Code already addresses many of potential issues. The city also has a building inspector who determines whether a proposed building meets code.

Council member Jeanne Thompson said the way the building code is written is vague and open to interpretation.

“People up here don’t go and buy expensive plans with these beautiful entryways for their shops for the most part,” she said. “They do it themselves. That’s where I think something needs to be addressed so we don’t have industrial and “garageish” looking buildings in a residential neighborhood.”

Concerns about the building material of the shouse were brought up by council member Rich Johnson. “I don’t want something that looks like a pole barn built right next to me because I don’t know if someone would want to move into that neighborhood.”

“We can set more stringent regulations than what is in the building code regarding materials used and things like that if that’s what you want to do,” Rouse said, pointing out that Walker has residential performance standards stating corrugated metal is not to be used on exterior finishes.

Thompson asked Rouse to bring information on existing residential regulations to share at the February 10 council meeting.”

Where their council members get confused is Building Codes address structural components, not aesthetics (such as colors or exterior covering materials). Post frame shouses and barndominiums are Building Code conforming structures. What any jurisdiction can do is to set aesthetic requirements, however they need to be applied equally across all building systems of an Occupancy Classification.

Is a jurisdiction resistant to your proposed barndominium, shouse or post frame home? If so, provide me with specifics and chances are pretty well close to 100% I can assist with a positive resolution.

Barndominium Brick Wainscot

Actual Brick Considerations for Barndominium Wainscot

With post frame buildings becoming a ‘rage’ for use as homes, barndominiums and shouse (shop/houses) alternatives to dress them up are quickly arising. Amongst these options are clients looking to have actual brick wainscot, as opposed to using a different color of steel siding, thin brick, or other cultured stone.

I have opined upon this subject previously (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/08/brick-ledge-on-a-pole-building/), however it is now time to dive deeper into it.

Preparing an exterior surface of a post frame building wall for a brick veneer is a simple and straightforward procedure. This article will supply you with some helpful information if you are planning to install a brick veneer on your barndominium’s exterior.

First, term “veneer” can have a dual meaning. In construction terminology,“veneer” is applicable to any exterior finish material and this includes standard brick masonry installed onto an exterior wall. “Veneer” can also be taken literally to mean a thin superficial layer of material installed directly onto an exterior wall surface. There are many thin-brick wall systems available utilizing brick only ½ to 1 inch in thickness as opposed to a standard 4-inch nominal (3 ¾-inch actual) thickness. It typically consists of a thin layer of stone or brick mounted with adhesives directly onto a substrate material and is installed in panels. 

Step 1: Structural Support for the Brick Veneer

A fully assembled brick veneer is quite heavy and requires adequate structural support. Support is provided by a brick ledge as part of a foundation wall above wall column’s bottom collars. A decision to install a brick exterior is therefore made during conceptual design phases of your new barndominium’s construction. A brick ledge is constructed simply by adding a 6-9/16 inch thick concrete foundation wall outside your post frame building’s wall column. Ledge height will be six inches lower than top of finished concrete floor. Without an adequate structural support by a brick ledge, brick masonry is not an option for your barndominium’s exterior.

Step 2: Be Sure to Provide a one inch Air Space between Sheathing and Brick

Brickwork bears directly upon the concrete ledge, wide enough for both nominal width of brick and a building code required one inch air space. This one inch air space between sheathing and brick allows wall to “breathe” by providing an outlet for air and moisture. It also accommodates any irregularities in the wall surface.

Step 3: Install Weather Resistant Barrier

A weather resistant barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) must be installed onto sheathing to prevent water from entering the inner wall assembly since brick veneer itself is not water-resistant.

Step 4: Install Wall Ties to Anchor the Brick to Sheathing

Lateral support for brickwork is provided by wall ties or brick anchors. They generally consist of L-shaped strips of corrugated metal 1 by 6 inches long nailed through sheathing into wall girts (https://www.strongtie.com/clipsandties_miscellaneousconnectors/bt_tie/p/bt). Horizontal component of brick tie penetrates into brick veneer at a mortar joint. Ties are installed at every fourth brick course and at two-foot horizontal spacings.

Your Barndominium’s Planning Department

In most parts of our country (and probably most other developed countries), it will be a necessity to acquire a building permit in order to construct a new barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home. Easiest way to find out is to contact your local authorities to find out if indeed this is your case.

Whether a structural building permit will be required or not, there is some homework to be done before ever considering contacting anyone to get pricing on a new building.

Don’t worry –this homework is not difficult and there is no final exam!

Call your local Planning Department.

If no Planning Department is listed when you do a Google search, a call to city hall, or your county courthouse can get one directed to proper authorities. Just let them know a new home is being considered to be constructed, and they will tell you what you need to do to satisfy any local requirements.

When planning folks are reached, give them the physical address or parcel number where your barndominium (shouse) being thought about will be constructed.

Tell them what you would like to build.

Approximate footprint size is a place to start. Let them know where on your parcel your new building will ideally be placed.

Ask your planning people what restrictions there may be on a new building. Is it limited in size or in height? Setbacks – how far away must it be located from other buildings, property lines, streets, sewer lines, septic systems or drain fields? Are there any other restrictions prohibiting your building from being constructed, such as amount of square footage of residence in relationship to garage/shop areas? Are there restrictions on roofing and/or siding types, materials or colors?

While a telephone call will often handle most of these questions, it may be necessary to draw a scaled drawing of your property. If so, this drawing should show all property lines, existing structures, your new proposed building, as well as anything else acting as a possible impediment. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but please do use regular sheets of plain white paper, and not your local coffee shop napkins or paper towels!

A personal visit to your Planning Department, with this drawing in hand, should help to get all answers needed, in order to move on to the next steps.

A hint – if told there are restrictions keeping your ideal dream building from being able to be built, ask what processes exist to be able to move past some or all of these “objections”. Sometimes it’s just a matter of filing for a special type of permit or “variance”, and having your local commissioners vote on it.  You’d be surprised how many local jurisdictions have laws or rules which are “behind the times” and are happy to discuss changing them to better suit public wants and needs.

Building PermitI’ve found some Planning Departments are allowed to administratively go “beyond the rules” right there at the counter, without a need for costly and time consuming hearings. One example is within Spokane, Washington’s city limits. The largest allowable detached accessory building within city limits is 1000 square feet, however if requested at the counter, this footprint can be increased by 10%, right then and there!

As my Daddy used to tell me, “the asking is for free”, so don’t be shy.  Often a planning department official is not going to offer this information, so it’s up to you to ask lots of questions.  If you see other buildings near your building site similar to what you want to build, you can bet someone else figured out “the right questions to ask”.

Floor Trusses for Barndominiums

In my last article I discussed limiting deflection for barndominium floors. Today I will take this one step further with a floor truss design solution.

Most of us don’t think too much about floors we walk upon – unless they are not level, squeak when we walk on them, or are too bouncy.

Traditionally wood floors have been framed with dimensional lumber (2×6, 2×8, etc.), usually spaced 16 inches on center. Often floor joist span limitations are not based upon lumber strength (ability to carry a given load), but upon deflection criteria. Building codes limit floor deflection to L/360, where “L” is span length in inches.

“Stiffest” (by MOE – Modulus of Elasticity values) commonly used framing lumber is Douglas Fir. A #2 grade Douglas-Fir 2×12, 16 inches on center will span 18’1” when carrying standard residential loads. An L/360 deflection event, would cause the center of one of these floor joists to deflect as much as 6/10ths of an inch!

Lumber is organic, so it varies in consistency from board to board. It also varies in size, and it is not unusual for a dimensional variance of over ¼ inch, from one end of a board to another. Combine this with probability some of these boards will be crowned with bow down and it means an uneven floor will result.

One of our friends lives in a fairly new home. In a hallway between her kitchen and sleeping areas, there is a good ½ inch dip in her floor – more than noticeable when walking across it!

I first used floor trusses in my own post frame shouse (shop/house) 25 years ago. My trusses were designed so they were only 1-1/2” in width (most spans up to this can be done with a 3-1/2” width), but these 30 foot floor trusses are only 24 inches in depth. They allowed me to create some unique interior areas, without a need for interior columns or load bearing walls.

When we built our post frame barndominium in South Dakota, we utilized floor trusses again – here to span 48’ (yes 48 feet)! We live upstairs in a gambrel building, with a clear-spanned half-court basketball court size garage/shop downstairs!

A few years ago, our oldest son Jake needed a new post frame garage at their home near Knoxville, Tennessee. His mom convinced him this plan would be so much better with a mother-in-law apartment upstairs. We used 4×2 (2x4s turned flat) floor trusses to span a 24 foot width!

I’d forgotten how fast a trussed floor can be done – until Jake ordered them for a second-floor  addition he put on his home when he moved back to South Dakota. In a matter of just a couple of hours, I framed this entire 24 by 32 floor by myself and was ready for sheathing. All ductwork and plumbing can be run through open truss webs, making for nice clean ceilings downstairs.

Considering a full or partial second floor in a post frame building? Don’t want posts or bearing walls down below to prohibit full space utilization? Then floor trusses may be your answer.

Make sure to allow adequate height for truss thickness. As a rough rule-of-thumb, I plan upon one inch of thickness, for every foot of span. While it will nearly always be less, it is better to design for having a couple of extra inches, than not enough.

Plans Only? Moisture Barriers? and Two Story Houses?

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “plans only” purchases, proper use of moisture barriers when adding insulation to an existing building, as well as the possibility or building a two story post frame house.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you offer just the plans? I own a sawmill and would like to mill my own lumber for my project. With the exception of the trusses. I can also source the metal roofing locally. THERON in WALDEN

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR THERON: Thank you for your inquiry.

We are unable to provide just plans as it becomes a liability issue for our engineers – it takes away insuring materials specified actually end up being delivered to your building site.

 

There are also issues with attempting to use home milled lumber: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/01/free-home-milled-lumber/

As an example, in sourcing your own metal roofing locally, even if steel quality was equivalent, they will not be able to provide powder coated diaphragm screws to attach it.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Purchased property with existing fairly new pole barn. Question is regarding wall insulation. Some installers say use double backed 6 inch glass rolls insulation under my drywall. Then I spoke with another & he says mandatory to spray closed cell foam or condition will ruin insulation…..there is no vapor barrier wrap on outside. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, DAN in GRANBURY

DEAR DAN: You should have some sort of barrier between wall framing and wall steel to prevent condensation within the wall cavity. Wall cavity moisture can lead to a plethora of challenges – premature rusting of steel siding, rot, mold and mildew on wood framing and lack of performance of fiberglass insulation.

 

You could remove wall steel and add a Weather Resistant Barrier (highly labor intensive and things never go back together as well as they were originally assembled), or do a two inch coating of closed cell spray foam, then use fiberglass inside of it.

Here is my Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi there! I was wondering if y’all do two story residential pole houses? Second question, if I sent you guys a rough sketch of a blue print would you guys be able to give me an estimate off of that? (with included trim choices and such)

Thank you! MAX

Gambrel roof pole barnDEAR MAX: I happen to live in a two story post frame shouse (shop/house) with a partial third story. Back in the great state of Washington, I also have a three story post frame building with roof top deck! We can provide any low rise building with up to 40 foot tall walls and three floors (or 50 feet and four floors with sprinklers).

 

Send us what you have and chances are very good we can get you an estimate from it (we might want to ask you a few questions about what you intend to build).

 

Barndominium Wood Floors

Barndominiums, shouses (shop/houses) and post frame homes have become a true ‘thing’. As they have developed from bootlegged boxes to serious planning being given to them, there has been a rise in people wanting them over full or partial basements, crawl spaces and multiple floors. In nearly every case, these floors are made of wood (because wood is good).

In my career, I’ve designed a plethora of wood floors for post frame buildings. I’ve never yet had a client question me about one thing which may later seem very important – how much will their floor deflect?

Barndominium buyers naturally take for granted a wood floor system in a new home will be safe and building code compliant – and rightly so. But buyers also have expectations for their floors unrelated to safety or building code. In particular, many clients are aware of their floor’s “vibration” in response to foot traffic and some people find annoying or disturbing.

Canadian building code includes limits on floor vibration, but U.S. codes don’t regulate floor vibration. So most U.S. builders design for deflection only—typically by holding deflection due to live load to a maximum of L/360 (where “L” is floor joist span), or perhaps a more restrictive L/480.

But what does L/360 actually mean? In a 12 foot span center of floor can deflect as much as 4/10ths of an inch, 16 foot span over half an inch. A 48 foot span (yes, our shouse has a 48 foot clearspan floor using floor trusses) 1.6 inches!!

Unfortunately, however, code compliance does not automatically equal customer satisfaction. Some components of a floor system greatly influencing a floor’s response to foot traffic—such as presence of a ceiling, floor sheathing, supporting beams or girders, and partition walls—are not captured in live-load deflection analysis required to satisfy code.

To make things even more complicated, floor vibration is highly subjective: A floor feeling fine for one person may seem annoying to another. For example, a client who previously occupied a slab-on-grade building may have a different performance expectation from one who has been living in the upper levels of an apartment complex. Additionally, problems not related to floor vibration, such as squeaks or sound transmission between rooms, often create a perception of poor vibration performance.

Subtle changes in floor usage or joist spans may also result in floor performance complaints. One common problem area is a kitchen with an island, where a homeowner may notice rattling dishes or ripples in a glass of water. A change in joist span at a bay window may also be a trouble spot, even if difference in spans would seem to be slight. A short stiff member will make longer spans feel softer.

Increasing joist depth (say 2×10 to 2×12) or increasing sheathing thickness improves floor response. Increasing both at once leads to a very high rate of customer satisfaction. But, reducing vibration requires joists be much stiffer than required by code.

Laboratory research at Virginia Tech has shown client perception of floor vibration is related to vibration frequency. Using lab built test floor systems built, researchers found people were particularly sensitive to vibrations of about 8 or 10 Hz (cycles per second). At higher frequencies, vibrations were perceived as less annoying. Field investigation in real homes confirmed occupants were not bothered once vibration frequency went above 14 Hz.

Increasing joist depth greatly improves client satisfaction rating. But you can achieve a comparable degree of improvement by increasing sheathing thickness, without increasing joist depth. And if you increase both joist depth and sheathing thickness, you can achieve a level of customer satisfaction approaching 100%.

Looking for a wood floor providing exemplary performance with a minimum of “bounce”? The solution is to specify an upgrade to a lesser deflection than Code required L/360. Ask your Building Designer about investment difference to increase stiffness to L/480 or even L/720. You might be surprised at how little the difference in price is!

Exciting Times for Post Frame Construction

Exciting Times for Post Frame Construction

Welcome to 2020!

My fifth decade of post frame buildings and I could not be more excited.

Pole Barn Guru Blog40 years ago today if you would have told me I was going to embark in an exciting career in post frame buildings I would have looked at you quizzically – and then asked what a post frame building was!

Now I realize 40 years is greater than a lifetime for many of you readers. Or, if you had arrived on this planet, you might have not yet been school aged even! A few of you may look upon me as being ancient. Trust me I know ancient –  probably 20 years ago my son (in all seriousness) asked me what it was like watching space aliens build the Great Pyramid!

 I have no qualms about being 62 years old – and am still excited to see what each new day will bring.

Well, back on task, if you would have told me a post frame building was a pole barn, at least I would have heard about them.

I had migrated from Northern Idaho to Oregon late summer of 1979, when home mortgage rates topped 10% and home loans were no longer available there due to a state mandated cap on interest rates. By January 1980, interest rate issues brought housing starts in Oregon to a screeching halt as well.

 My truss plant typically produced eight to 10 buildings worth of trusses a day. In January 1980 we had only four orders in an entire month! Not good – however there was a single common denominator among those four orders, they were all for pole barn trusses. I didn’t have the slightest idea what a pole barn really was, but it was time to find out. Long time pole barn builder George Evanovich allowed me to pick his brain and I was an apt student!

Frankly (knowing what I know now) these buildings were not very good. I suppose they do resemble some buildings I see people buy from their local lumberyards – a great price and not much else! At least I established quickly a firm policy of always supplying all materials to assemble a building. It might not have been much of a building, but it was all there.

Virtually every building 40 years ago was nothing more than a barn. Very few ever required building permits and if they did, engineer sealed truss drawings usually got a permit acquired!

Technology has changed our everyday lives. I grew up actually dialing a rotary phone! These same technologies allow us today to structurally design intricate post frame buildings for virtually any use – with walls up to 40 feet in height and three stories high (add 10 feet and another story for sprinklers).

True residential construction, not just a garage or shop out back, is becoming a driving growth force for post frame buildings. Today’s post frame homes (also known as barndominiums and shouses) are quickly becoming our business core. They can be erected quickly, even by DIYers, are more cost effective than any other Building Code conforming permanent structure and can meet exacting demands of energy efficiency.

Ready for your new building? Think no further than post frame construction. Call Hansen Buildings at 866-200-9657 and talk to a Building Designer today!

A Shouse in the News

A Shouse in the News!
Casual readers might not understand what a shouse even is. My lovely bride and I happen to reside in an 8000 square foot shouse (combination shop and house) in Northeast South Dakota. (The shouse in this article is not our house.)

Whether shouse, barndominium or merely post frame (pole barn) house – chances are good you will be seeing more and more of them cropping up as people are recognizing their architectural aesthetics, cost effectiveness and ability to be self built.

Photo from Google images
Below is from a December 14, 2019 Park Rapids Enterprise article by Lorie R. Skarpness

“Have you ever seen a shouse? A shouse is a relatively new word for a combination shop and house, and a Nevis resident approached the planning commission recently with a request to build one that is 40 by 60 feet.

Described to the Nevis City Council Monday night as a “glorified man cave with storage,” it would have to meet state requirements to classify it as a living structure.

As far as council members can tell, this is the first such request in the city’s history. The building inspector said the council could make suggestions for the finishing of the building. Plans have not been received for the shouse, but the individual who wants to build it stated he plans to use siding for the exterior.

He also requested having shipping containers approximately 25 feet by 9 feet to store belongings for less than a year while constructing the shouse on a large lot located in a residential zone.
Mayor Jarod Senger said he has friends who built a shouse. “There are some very nice ones,” he added.

“It can be a pole barn that’s like a gigantic garage and they finish off one corner of it with a front door,” council member Jeanne Thompson said. “They come in there to the living space and the rest of it can be storage or a personal woodworking shop they can putz around in.”

Thompson said her concern is the aesthetics of these structures. “If it does look more homelike versus a metal shed someone is living in, all of those logistics,” she said.

Building on the proposed shouse would likely not start until April, if approved.
Council member Rich Johnson suggested the planning and zoning commission look into the proposal and draft some ideas for acceptable finishes for a shouse before proceeding along with an ordinance to cover future requests that may come in.

The Minnesota state building code addresses minimum size issues required for shouses.”

Considering construction of a new home? Give a barndominium or shouse some consideration, you might be surprised. Here is an article with several helpful links for prospective barndominium owners: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/.

Ready to take the plunge? Please call 1(866)200-9657 today and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

Flashing Wires and Pipes Through Steel Siding

Flashing Wires and Pipes Through Steel Siding

There are some things one just does not give a lot of thought about and this subject is one where I am entirely negligent. My post frame buildings outside of Spokane are both sided with 1×8 Cedar channel. While it looks great, I would never do it against due to having to solid body stain it repeatedly. Maybe this will be a story for another day?

My negligence?

Not having paid attention to how to adequately and permanently seal pipe or wiring penetrations through roll formed steel siding. I went out and looked at our own steel sided shouse (shop/house) and for our contractors like to use liberal amounts of caulking. I just do not see this as a permanent design solution.

This was a post in one of my Facebook Barndominium groups:


“First this isn’t my building! But I will need to have some piping coming thru the side of my building soon. Also need to think about water spigots, securing them to the building (not just to the metal siding)

How do you penetrate a metal building siding and seal this penetration from water intrusion and/or prevent it from rusting in the future.

I have a hydraulic punch out tool to smoothly cut the size needed (i have up to 4in die’s) but sealing AM<he metal to piping (pvc, metal, copper what have you) is my hold up. I don’t want to just caulk it up, I feel there has to be a better and  more long term solution, metal/plastic flashing?”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

There was a suggestion made of a silicone flashing product, however when I visited their website, I was unable to locate any data on exterior use.

There is a product available for sealing pipes going through roll formed steel roofing: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/dektite/. I have used them several times and find them to be 100% reliable.

I have spent some time Google searching for a solution similar to Dektites™, but to no avail. Somehow I believe there is a well-hidden product available. If you happen to know of a great solution, please share it with me. It is not often I am stumped – this one has me.

Airtight Post Frame Homes and Barndominiums

Back in my 1990’s post frame building contractor days, we constructed a shop for a client near Moscow, Idaho. We probably didn’t ask enough questions up front and our client didn’t provide enough information to adequately prevent what was initially quite a challenge.

After we had completed construction of this building’s shell, our client poured a concrete slab-on-grade. He placed fiberglass insulation in exterior walls, with a well-sealed vapor barrier. Walls and ceiling were sheetrock and insulation was blown into the attic. Heat was provided by a propane heater.

After the building was occupied, our client called us to advise every one of his windows was leaking!

Turns out these “leaks” were a symptom of a larger problem. Our client had sealed his building so tightly, in order to close an exterior door, a window needed to be open. There was no under slab vapor barrier, nor was a sealant applied. His propane heater was not ventilated to an outside source, adding moisture to interior air (and drawing moisture through his slab). With nowhere to exit, moisture was condensing on the insides of his building’s cooler windows! 

Owning and operating an airtight post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium will increase its energy performance and lower its carbon footprint. However, there are certain things one should keep in mind before building a new airtight post frame building.

A post frame building’s envelope consists of its roof, foundation and exterior walls, doors and windows, and this is what keeps indoor and outdoor air from mixing. When a post frame building envelope is not tight, it can lead to air leakage and drafts, decreasing a building’s overall energy efficiency and increasing utility bills. With a sealed building envelope and upgraded mechanical ventilation systems, energy costs can be controlled and a comfortable indoor environment can be created.

Airtight post frame buildings are passive buildings meeting Passivhaus standards for air leakage. This is a residential construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. This standard recommends (not requires), a maximum design heating load of 10 watts per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14.

Unlike most United States standards for energy-efficient homes, this standard governs not just heating and cooling energy, but overall building energy use, including baseload electricity and  domestic hot water.

These buildings have air leakage rates of less than .60 AC/H @ 50 Pascals (2012 IECC Code allows an air infiltration rate up to 3 AC/H @ 50 pascals). Use no more than 1.39kWh per square foot in cooling energy. Use no more than 4,755Btus per square foot in heating energy, and maintain a maximum entire building energy usage ratio of no more than 11.1kWh per square foot.

Airtight post frame buildings are extremely energy-efficient because mixing of indoor and outdoor air is extremely limited, reducing energy bills associated with heating and cooling. Besides a dramatic reduction in energy bills, expect improvements in building comfort, and whole house and heat recovery ventilation system energy efficiency. Moisture infiltration systems will be reduced.

When post frame buildings are constructed with airtightness and energy-efficiency in mind, it can lead to unintentional problems, like excessive moisture and CO2 levels. Thankfully, most of these problems can be corrected with proper installation of a mechanical ventilation system – condensation on exterior walls and windows, excessive indoor humidity, poor indoor air quality, mold and mildew.

Since airtight post frame buildings do not allow for a transfer of indoor and outdoor air, they need one or more mechanical ventilation systems to help ensure a building receives enough fresh air and indoor air, along with excessive moisture and particulate matter, is properly vented outside. This can be accomplished with fans, air ducts and ventilation control systems with sensors monitoring indoor CO2 levels.

Trained professionals can look at a proposed post frame building’s critical systems, including HVAC, lighting and plumbing, and help determine best upgrades to reduce consumption. These may include custom mechanical ventilation systems and sensors to help control indoor air quality and achieve optimum ventilation.

Show me Your Barndominium Plans Please

Like a bunch of little kids exploring differences in body parts – “You show me yours, I will show you mine.” Barndominium, shouse (shop/house), post frame home want to be owners are not far removed from here when it comes to floor plans. In numerous Facebook groups I see this request over and over!

Each family truthfully has their own wants and needs – ones where chances of anyone else’s plans being ideal for them being close to those of winning a major lottery.

Gambrel roof pole barnFor those who have been following along, I have covered preliminary steps leading to actually designing a functional and affordable floor plan.

Step number one, determining if a new barndominium is even a financial reality: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/

Once fiscal reality has sunk in – your new barndo will need to be located somewhere: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/a-place-for-a-post-frame-barndominium/

And unless you and your significant others have been squirreling away stacks of Franklins or are independently wealthy, financing must be secured: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/borrowing-for-a-d-i-y-barndominium/

With all of these steps squared away, it is time to start considering a floor plan. Popular home spaces and sizes need to be determined: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/the-first-tool-to-construct-your-own-barndominium/.

I read about people in barndominium planning stages looking for free or low cost design software, attempting to put room sizes and orientations together in a fashion making any sort of sense. This becomes daunting and can be an all-consuming struggle, regardless of how many pads of grid paper you own.

Most people are not far removed from reader MARK in WAYNESTOWN who writes:

“Looking for a 3 bed- bath 1/2- open kitchen living room vaulted ceiling concept and maybe with 1 or 2 bedroom loft up top — and 2 car garage in back what size of pole barn should we look for?”

Here is where it is well worth investing in services of a design professional. Someone who can take all of your ideas, those wants and needs and actually craft a floor plan best melding them with the realities of construction. 

Hansen Pole Buildings has just this service available and it can be done absolutely for free! Read all the details here and we look forward to continuing to walk with you in your journey to a beautiful new home: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Planning for a South Carolina Post Frame Home

Planning for a South Carolina Post Frame Home

A barndominium, shouse (shop/house) and post frame home wave is sweeping across America. There are numerous articles available on Hansen Pole Buildings’ website – just click on SEARCH (upper right of any page) and type in BARNDOMINIUM and hit ENTER and relevant articles will appear for your reading pleasure.

Loyal reader LANE in NORTH AUGUSTA writes:

“Hello,

I’m currently planning a post frame home in North Augusta, South Carolina.

I’m planning to build 72x40x16 with a wrap around overhang around one end and part of the front or 84x40x16 with the last 12′ bay open to create the end porch then a lean-to on part of the front. 

I’m curious firstly on the shipping. There are a few local businesses here that sell kits and will erect the building as well if desired. How much will freight affect my final cost if I buy from you vs. sourcing it locally? I haven’t gotten any prices from the local companies yet. I decided to reach out to you guys first because I’ve been reading your blog and it seems like you really have this pole building thing figured out. I’m also really interested in the design and plans that you provide. Do these also include the interior walls, plumbing and electrical, or is it just the shell of the building?

I’ve already drawn up a simple floor plan for the living space that really fits our needs so I’d like to incorporate that.

Thank you for your time. Look forward to hearing back.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru answers:
Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. We have wholesale relationships all across America and will ship bulkiest items, in most cases lumber and trusses, from your locale – freight costs will be no more for you, than they would be to any other location.

We would like to believe we have at least a reasonable idea of what pole (post frame) buildings are all about :-). It is all we do, unlike your local businesses who also do other things – we are specialists.

With your investment into any complete post frame building kit are detailed structural plans showing every member and all connections. For those with living areas, we have available an offer for interior floor plans: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q. For a nominal fee plumbing and electrical can be provided (a hint – your plumber and electrician will normally provide these at no charge as part of their service).

One of our Building Designers will be reaching out to you shortly to further discuss your ideal new building!

Partially Enclosed Buildings

Partially Enclosed Buildings (and Why It Matters)

I have previously written how a fully enclosed building could be less of an investment than a three sided building – even though a fourth wall has been added: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/three-sided-building/

For those of you who neglected to click and read my previous article, consider your building as a balloon, rather than a building. Until tied (enclosing your balloon), your balloon is partially enclosed. More air can enter through its neck and if over-loaded “BOOM”!

From a structural aspect on buildings, force multipliers are applied to adjust wind forces upwards in order to combat “BOOM”. But what actually constitutes a partially enclosed building?

A building is considered “Partially Enclosed” if it complies with both of these following conditions (ASCE 7-10, Section 26.2, “BUILDING, PARTIALLY ENCLOSED”):

  1. the total area of openings in a wall that receives positive external pressure exceeds the sum of the areas of openings in the balance of the building envelope (walls and roof) by more than 10%, AND
  2. the total area of openings in a wall that receives positive external pressure exceeds 4 square feet or 1% of the area of that wall, whichever is smaller, and the percentage of openings in the balance of the building envelope does not exceed 20%

IF EITHER IS NOT TRUE, ENCLOSURE BY DEFINITION IS NOT PARTIALLY ENCLOSED.
 
On occasion, building officials will assume a building originally designed as enclosed to be partially enclosed if storm shutters are not provided, a conservative worst-case approach, but is defendable by fact there is no written code provision for this and the structure won’t meet the above definition. Also, everything needs to be designed for partially enclosed, roof, connections, walls, foundation, beams, columns, etc. A building won’t stand if only one part of it is designed as partially enclosed and not the rest.

It is possible to have a building appearing to be fully enclosed, when in reality it is not. 

How could this occur?

Failure to use wind-rated doors and windows!!

Sliding “barn” doors are not wind rated. Neither are most entry (person) doors.

Most sectional overhead garage doors are not wind rated. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/wind-load-rated-garage-doors/

This becomes especially critical in cases of barndominiums, shouses (shop/house) and post frame homes. Many of these have a wall with one or more garage doors. If these doors are not wind rated doors, in an extreme weather condition they could be literally sucked right out of your home, leaving it prone to forces it was not structurally designed for!

Lives are priceless, please do not try to save a few bucks upfront by risking you or your loved ones.

Barn Conversions, Raising a Building, and Pole Barns on Concrete Slabs

Today’s Pole Barn Guru discusses a possible conversion of an old pole barn, raising a building, and how site preparation helps with concrete slabs.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Have a 40’ x 100’, 2 sides enclosed, pole barn I would like to convert to a house / garage combo. Columns are 20’ on center in the front and 10’ O/c in side and back. (Pics attached). Is this doable in Ky and roughly cost per sq ft.? We plan on 3 bed, 2 bath, open concept, 40 x 50 living and 40 x 50 garage. Thank you for your input / knowledge. JIM in FRANKLIN

DEAR JIM: Pole barns for agricultural use are rarely designed by a Registered Professional Engineer and in many cases do not require a Building Permit. If it did happen to be both of those things, it was probably designed to a lower set of design standards than a residence would be. Is it doable? Perhaps, however it may cost so much to upgrade your existing building so as to make it financially unrealistic. If you want to pursue this avenue further, it would be best to invest in services of a competent local Registered Professional Engineer who can do a physical examination of your building and make detailed recommendations as to what it would take to make necessary structural upgrades.

Your best solution might be to erect a new building properly engineered to residential requirements.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a newer pole barn, 30 ft wide, standard trusses 10ft. above the floor. What options do I have to raise the clearance to 14ft? Trusses with a kick up, add a knee wall, scissor trusses? Would prefer whole area at 14ft but could consider just the center 12 ft or so to accommodate a travel trailer. RON in MANISTEE

DEAR RON: It could be possible to increase height of some or all of your building however it will take some significant structural engineering (as well as a serious investment of labor and materials) in order to do so – a competent Registered Professional Engineer should be engaged to visit your existing building, do an analysis and provide a design solution. My educated guess is it will prove to be less expensive to erect a new post frame (pole barn) building to fit over your travel trailer, than to make an attempt to remodel what you have.

pole spacing

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Builders in the northwest Ohio area don’t seem interested in building a pole barn house with a concrete slab. They said not a good idea do to cracking but there are all sorts of commercial pole barn facilities built on concrete pads. Couldn’t I just use fiber in the concrete to help with expansion? MATT in ARLINGTON

DEAR MATT: Your top factor for getting a good result from a slab on grade concrete slab in a post frame (pole barn) home is proper site preparation. (Read more beginning here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/) Just adding fibermesh to your concrete mixture is unlikely to be a satisfactory solution unless you have a great site prepped.

For a pole barn house, you might want to consider building over a crawl space – investment is probably fairly similar, however wood is so much more comfortable to live on.

 

 

 

Planning for a Post Frame Home

When it comes to planning for a new post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium, there are a myriad of questions and concerns to be answered and pondered.

Or, at least I hope you are – rather than just stumbling in blindly!

Reader NICK in NORTH CAROLINA writes:

“Hi, I’m looking into options for building a post frame home in the coming year in NC and wanted to understand more of the details regarding your current building products and suggested techniques.  

Do you provide a means to support the posts on top of the concrete pillars with a bracket vs the post being embedded into the concrete?

Your current package only provides for insulation of the roof, no interior walls, correct?

Can another 2×6 skirt board be added to the inside of the building to isolate the concrete flooring from the post and to provide a cavity for insulation to be installed between the outside/inside girts?

Do you have a listing of contractors that are familiar with your products in given areas that could be used to build the structure?

If using the design service listed for $695, does that include the design for all interior walls/rooms/fixtures as well as electrical/plumbing/mechanical?

Thanks for any information you can provide.”

All good questions. In answer to them:

Yes we can provide plans with a third-party engineered design for bracket set columns, as well as brackets. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/

We typically recommend using either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/) between roof framing and roof steel, or using roof steel with factory applied Dripstop https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/drip-stop/

We can provide batt insulation for walls and/or ceilings, however there are more energy efficient methods of insulating https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/

It (extra 2×6 interior splash plank) could, however there are structural advantages to having columns surrounded (constrained) on exterior splash plank interior. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/importance-of-constrained-posts/) I’d recommend doing a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation post frame style instead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/post-frame-frost-walls/

Although our buildings are designed for an average literate English speaking person to successfully construct their own building (most of them do, and do a wonderful job – because they will read and follow instructions), for those who do need an erector, in many areas we can provide contacts for you to vet.

Our floor plan and elevation package offer (http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q)  includes all interior walls, rooms and fixtures. For an added fee you can include electrical/plumbing/mechanical (note: typically all of these last three services can usually be provided at no charge by subcontractors who will be doing these specific trades).

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions. An answer to most questions can also be found at www.HansenPoleBuildings.com by clicking on SEARCH in the upper right hand corner of any page. Type in a word or two and hit ENTER and up pop relevant articles.

Planning for a New Post Frame Home

When it comes to planning for a new post frame home, shouse or barndominium, there are a myriad of questions and concerns to be answered and pondered.

Or, at least I hope you are – rather than just stumbling in blindly!

Reader NICK in NORTH CAROLINA writes:

“Hi, I’m looking into options for building a post frame home in the coming year in NC and wanted to understand more of the details regarding you current building products and suggested techniques.  

Do you provide a means to support the posts on top of the concrete pillars with a bracket vs the post being embedded into the concrete?

Your current package only provides for insulation of the roof, no interior walls, correct?

Can another 2×6 skirt board be added to the inside of the building to isolate the concrete flooring from the post and to provide a cavity for insulation to be installed between the outside/inside girts?

Do you have a listing of contractors that are familiar with your products in given areas that could be used to build the structure?

If using the design service listed for $695, does that include the design for all interior walls/rooms/fixtures as well as electrical/plumbing/mechanical?

Thanks for any information you can provide.”

All good questions. In answer to them:

Yes we can provide plans with a third-party engineered design for bracket set columns, as well as brackets. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/

We typically recommend using either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/) between roof framing and roof steel, or using roof steel with factory applied Dripstop https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/drip-stop/

We can provide batt insulation for walls and/or ceilings, however there are more energy efficient methods of insulating https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/

It (extra 2×6 interior splash plank) could, however there are structural advantages to having columns surrounded (constrained) on exterior splash plank interior. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/importance-of-constrained-posts/) I’d recommend doing a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation post frame style instead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/post-frame-frost-walls/

About Hansen BuildingsAlthough our buildings are designed for an average literate English speaking person to successfully construct their own building (most of them do, and do a wonderful job – because they will read and follow instructions), for those who do need an erector, in many areas we can provide contacts for you to vet.

Our floor plan and elevation package offer (http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q)  includes all interior walls, rooms and fixtures. For an added fee you can include electrical/plumbing/mechanical (note: typically all of these last three services can usually be provided at no charge by subcontractors who will be doing these specific trades).

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions. An answer to most questions can also be found at www.HansenPoleBuildings.com by clicking on SEARCH in the upper right hand corner of any page. Type in a word or two and hit ENTER and up pops relevant articles.

The First Tool to Construct Your Own Barndominium

Your First Tool to Construct Your Own Barndominium

Whether you are contemplating constructing (or having constructed) a barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or just a post frame home – there is one essential tool you should invest in long before you consider breaking ground. Even if you have hired this world’s greatest General Contractor who will do absolutely everything for you, without your involvement, you still need this tool.

What is it, you ask?

Well, first of all – I will assure you this tool will not break your project’s budget. In fact it is under $30 at your nearby The Home Depot™!

What I am talking about here is a General Tools 50 foot compact laser measure.

This Model #LDM1 compact laser will accurately measure up to 50 foot distances quickly. You can use it to measure full rooms within seconds (handy for discreet measurement taking), all with a push of a single button. Portable and compact, it will easily fit in a pocket!

Just last week you should have read my article on “Room in a Barndominium” (quick, go back and read it again: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/room-in-a-barndominium/). In this article a litany of possible barndominium room choices were listed, along with general floor areas for each of them, based upon overall living space.  From this you have made a list of those rooms you cannot live without as well as ones it would be nice to have, provided they will fit within your available space and budget.

Begin by practicing measuring rooms in your current abode. Note dimensions and if they are too large (it does happen), too small or just right (sounds like a story involving a young blonde girl and three bears, I know). 

Now your real work begins. Saddle up your horse, or favorite other mode of transportation, and start visiting weekend Open Houses. Even better, if you can get into a Home Builders’ Association “Parade of Homes”, as these normally feature new and innovative ideas. You want to visit as many fully furnished homes as is reasonably possible. Why do I say fully furnished? Because empty rooms feel much larger than they actually are. Get out your new tool and start taking measurements.

Once you have accumulated your data, you can start to narrow down how much space will actually be needed to meet with your family’s needs and lifestyle. Keep in mind – all of these measurements are INSIDE dimensions. Eventually you will be adding walls and interior ones will take up at least four and one-half inches.

Starting to get excited?

If not, you should be. You are one step closer to your new dream home!

Room in a Barndominium

Room In A Barndominium

I read plenty of chatter in Facebook barndominium groups where people want to see other’s floor plans. In my humble opinion – this is a mistake. Building your own barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home from scratch gives you probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to craft a home specifically to fit your needs.

Home sizes can be split up into three groups – small (under 2000 square feet), medium (2000-2999 square feet) and large (over 3000 square feet). In discussions about possible rooms and sizes average square footage (sft) for each size will be indicated.

Entry Foyer  (65/89/138 sft)

Most homes have some sort of space inside the front door where coats and boots are removed, etc. Coat closet should be in this area as well. 

Our shouse in South Dakota has a tiled floor in this area located where top of stairs and  elevator are. Ours is on small end of spectrum, at well below average. My own personal favorite was in my Willamette Valley home where I created an ‘air lock’ entry – front door opening into an area where a nearly full glass door divided it from living spaces. This design was very practical for maintaining interior temperatures.

Kitchen (193/275/423)

Face it, we all have to eat. This is going to be your ideal dream home, so kitchen space is not a place to scrimp. Ours is most certainly beyond large average.

In our shouse’s case, I personally enjoy to cook, my bride to bake. Our kitchen tends to also become a social place where company congregates as meals are organized and prepared. Things I feel we really did right in ours include:

4’ x 8’ center island. We designed it with a two foot bank of cabinets on one side, a two foot space for a chair from each side (and grandkids can crawl through) and four feet of cabinets on other side. This chair space worked out to be ideal for my wife’s powered wheelchair after she became a paraplegic. 

Separate side-by-side refrigerator and freezer units. There is seemingly never enough space inside a standard combined unit. We also raised ours a foot above floor level so we didn’t have to stand on our heads to see what was at the bottom.

If one is good, two are better. This applied to our ovens, where one is stacked above another. This became even more important after my wife’s accident, as she can easily reach the lower oven. We also have two dishwashers – one of my pet peeves is fixing a meal for a large group and having dirty dishes remaining on counters and sinks. Two dishwashers solved this. We also raised each of them a foot off the floor and it has made loading and unloading so much easier! Our other duo is his and hers microwaves. Even though it is just the two of us here, it is amazing how often we have both of these in use at the same time.

We have large spaces (four feet) between island and surrounding kitchen counters.

Long eating bar (easily seats five on bar stools) – at the same height as the top of raised dishwashers, with sink and range on the other side and lower. With a passle of grandchildren, this makes serving and cleanup a breeze.

One thing I did miss (and I have had before) is a trash compactor.

Walk-In Kitchen Pantry (17/31/51)

Originally we did not have one in our shouse. After my bride’s accident, we ended up adding a full sized elevator, requiring a mechanical room. The space at living level, above mechanical room, became our pantry. Even with our kitchen having side-by-side refrigerator and freezer units, there just was never enough room, especially around Winter Holidays. Our pantry has both a refrigerator with a top freezer and an upright freezer. Refrigerator is a handy spot for 12 packs of soda and adult beverages, as well as when guests bring refrigerated items over for a get together. 

We also used heavy duty shelf brackets and have two foot deep shelves all up one wall and above cooling units.

Come back tomorrow for more on designing your new barndominium.

See Your New Barndominium Here

In our last episode, we were escaping odors produced by mushroom people – now let us move forward to getting a clearer vision and a view from your new post frame barndominium’s windows!

Once you have narrowed your choices down to a handful, ideally you can watch each site over a year’s time – as well as gathering more information about your area. Watch for ponding after rains, or Spring runoffs, you don’t want to wake up and find yourself in a slough. In snow country – what sort of drifting occurs?

Spend a few dollars and buy a beer or two for a local geotechnical engineer. You want to build upon stable soils – not prone to undue shifting and settling. One of our sons has a home high above the Missouri River East of Pierre, SD. Years of nearby river flow created a huge sand hill, upon where his now neighborhood is located. His home, and those of his neighbors, is constantly moving!

Make sure your potential site will not be in a habitat protected area. Don’t invest in land and find out some rare insect only lives or nests on what you thought was going to be your forever dream home site. Wetlands can prove problematic – get to know any possible restrictions.

Are wildfires a possibility? Is area a known fire hazard? Is your fire department supported solely by volunteers (if so, be prepared for higher insurance costs)? My Auntie Norma lost everything as 2018’s Camp Fire destroyed Paradise, California and surrounding areas. It can happen.

Avoid a site within a flood zone, unless you are prepared to invest extra to build above flood levels. Same goes for hurricane prone areas.

If not on a regularly maintained county road, who does maintain it? What might it cost you for your share to upkeep a private road? If access is across property of others, check for written easements. Investigate any easements across what could be your future property.

Order a preliminary title report, this will disclose easements and restrictive covenants or conditions. You might want to order a land survey as well, especially if property boundaries are loosely defined. Don’t count on fence lines to be accurate.

Water is important, and not all water is potable. Sometimes water rights don’t “run with the land,” this would mean you couldn’t dig a well.

If planning on a well, find out the depth of water table and determine difficulty of digging. 

It can be costly to bring electricity, telephone, or cable service to a property if they’re not already established nearby. Will you need to install a propane tank? What will it cost to install a septic system?

If you’re not planning to finance a land purchase through a conventional lender—requiring a lender appraisal—obtain your own appraisal to determine an appropriate price before making an offer. Comparable sales are sometimes difficult to find when you’re buying rural land.

It’s common to pay cash for land because getting a loan for this type of purchase can be tricky. Raw land can’t be leveraged by a bank.

If you do get a loan—and there are a few lenders out there who specialize in and will touch this type of transaction—don’t expect to be approved for more than maybe 50 percent of the purchase price. You might have more success if your land has utility access and is reasonably accessible by roadway.

Once you do acquire a place to build – then and only then is it time to move to your next step – designing your own ideal dream custom barndominium!

A Place for a Post Frame Barndominium

You and your loved ones have decided to take a plunge – building your own barndominium, shouse, or post frame home. 

But where?

Other than formulating a rough budget for building (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/) your journey is realistically at a standstill until you have acquired a place to build.

It is easy to idealize what it’s like to live on acreage away from city hustle and bustle, and there are indeed some advantages. Rural land costs are lower and generally further away from a city one gets, acreage becomes cheaper. Many people buy land because they want to build a custom home to their own specifications. They also want cleaner air and more space.

However, consider potential challenges fully before deciding to dump urban living and become Oliver Wendell Douglas (for those of you too young to remember Google “Green Acres”).

Now my lovely bride and I happen to have our own rural shouse. We live in a county of 10,278 souls scattered across 1136 square miles. Deduct our nearby metropolis of Sisseton and we average less than seven people per square mile!

Gambrel roof pole barnFinding skilled craftsman who are willing to travel to our location ranged from difficult to impossible. Few were interested in a jaunt of 60 miles from Watertown or 100 miles from Fargo. Those who would travel charged extra to compensate for driving time and distance. Transporting building materials and paying for delivery costs more than building near a major city.

Although modern conveniences are usually available, they aren’t always reliable. We are now installing a backup propane generator for those times when we can go days without electrical power. Cell service here can be problematic, “Can you hear me now?”. 

While we do have two grocery stores in Sisseton eight miles away, and serious shopping involves planning and a 100 mile drive. We’re in snow country and a blizzard means we could be stuck at home for days.

Take time to become familiar with any area being considered for your new home site. Get to know your potential community and hear stories from locals before diving in deep with a realtor.

Use some caution as all of your future neighbors might not be overjoyed to hear you’re going to buy up land behind their homes and erect your own palace there, obstructing their pristine views. You might meet up with some resistance—even organized resistance involving municipal and county authorities.

Consider rural resale values can be less in rural areas, due to a smaller pool of potential buyers. If demand is low and supply is high, prices will be more negotiable. 

Check with local authorities, including city, county, and state, to determine zoning ordinances. Find out any possible restrictions before committing to a land investment. Some areas prohibit construction on anything other than large parcels of five, 10 and even 20 acres.

Realize you might be subjected to sounds and lovely odors produced by nearby farms. In my past life I once rented a home, not realizing it was occasionally downwind of a mushroom growing plant. Mushrooms grow real well given dark and manure!

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode – where stench goes away and you move one step closer to making your dreams a reality!

Post Frame Home Construction Financing

Most people building their own post frame post frame home (barndominium or shouse included) need some amount of post frame home construction financing.  (shouse=shop+house)

Some important things to keep in mind with construction loans:

Obtaining one takes more time and financial investment than a conventional loan (loan on or against an existing building).

Lenders require more documentation – building plans, budgets, time lines, etc.

“Single Close” loans finance land and post frame home and serve as long-term financing.

“Two Step” loans finance land purchase and construction. New post frame home owners must refinance with a conventional loan upon completion.

Plan on needing at least a 20% down payment. In some cases, if property is free and clear, some or all of land value can be applied toward down payment.

Your lender’s equity will be based upon whatever is least – cost or finished appraised value. Be wary – some items or inclusions have a greater cost than their finished appraised value.

Typical payments are interest upon portion of funds used during construction.

Borrower/builder will take draws as needed to cover materials and labor completed. In an event a general contractor is hired, do not give him or her direct access to funds without you having to approve.

Borrower and builder must be fully approved by lender. This is one of the few cases where I recommend using a general contractor – but only if your lender will not allow you to self-build. 

Do NOT apply for your loan telling the potential lender it is a barndominium, pole barn/building or post frame home, etc. Your post frame home should be listed as a “wood framed with a concrete foundation”. Period.

Post Frame Home

While it sounds ideal to build a post frame home for your specific wants and needs, processes of applying for and closing a construction loan will require a much greater commitment of time and financial resources compared to financing an existing home with a traditional Conventional Mortgage. This is because those banks funding construction loans are investing a considerable sum into an intangible asset, one not yet existing. As such, their requirements for documentation and a greater down payment from buyer are greater than if they were financing an already existing home.

There are effectively two types of construction loans, and while they may go by different names by banks offering them. 

A single close construction loan is a single loan financing property acquisition and post frame home construction, it serves as long term financing as well. Since this bank is taking a leap of faith the home will be built “as advertised” with plans and specifications they’ve been provided, they’re still taking a risk in home buyer and builder. If something goes wrong during construction, they could end up being lien holder on a partially constructed post frame home. Since banks are NOT in the business of building homes, they will mitigate this risk charging higher interest rates on construction loans. Greatest risk to a bank closing a construction loan is having either builder or buyer default during construction and higher rates allow them to spread this risk.

A Two Step loan differs as home buyer will close on one loan solely used to finance land purchase and dwelling construction. Once completed, post frame homeowner refinances construction loan with a permanent conventional loan of their choosing.

Both single close and two step loan have their distinct pros and cons and each individual home buyer/builder needs to evaluate those to determine which is best. While a single close loan only requires a borrower to sign one set of loan documents and they have one loan covering both construction and long term home financing, rates at closing are anywhere from .25 to .5% higher than a traditional conventional loan may be. Again, this is due to construction lender’s added risk. Two step loans offer client an ability to choose (after completion) a permanent loan of their liking. Typically this will be at a lower rate than a conventional loan, but two loan closings result in two sets of closing costs, two signings, etc.

Variables a post frame homeowner should consider include length of time they plan to keep the home, current interest rate environment (are rates rising or falling?) and their own risk tolerance knowing rates can and probably will either go up or down while the home is being built.

Barndominium is Popping Up Everywhere

Back in 1981 Barbara Mandrell recorded and released a hit song written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”. Well Barbara certainly has it over me in the looks department and I doubt I will ever have a Top Ten hit with, “I Had a Barndominium When Barndominiums Weren’t Cool”.

Read more about barndominium here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/barndominium/.

My first personal barndominium, built in 1994, was actually more of a shouse – a 40 feet wide by 36 feet deep, but not rectangular, post frame building! Seriously, it was built as a parallelogram 14 degrees out of square to follow property lines of a very narrow lot. Shop portion is on the ground floor – a garage level with three overhead steel sectional doors 9’ wide x 8’ tall, 10’ wide x 11’ tall and 8’ wide x 7’ tall. I would never recommend the latter of these for an automobile, but it works superbly for motorcycles and our log splitter.

Gambrel roof pole barnThis building is entirely clearspan – no interior columns to have to work around. Second floor has a 10 foot wide step-down by four feet. This area has its own vaulted ceiling at a 7/12 slope and is used for exercise equipment. With a series of nine windows overlooking a beautiful lake, it takes one’s mind off the agonies of treadmilling and lifting weights.

Upper level is only 30 foot by 36 foot, however it has a vaulted ceiling with a 4/12 interior slope. Another set of nine windows for lake view and a cantilevered deck facing eastward – perfect for a BBQ, with access from a sliding glass patio door.

A June 11, 2019 article by Becky Bracken and provided by www.realtor.com tells a story of bardominiums for sale from coast-to-coast: https://m.chron.com/realestate/article/Barndominiums-Blooming-The-Popular-Style-Is-13967497.php.

Ready to make your custom home dreams into an affordable reality? Then a post frame barndominium or shouse might be exactly what you need. Call 1(866)200-9657 to discuss your wants and needs with a Hansen Buildings’ Designer today.

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Space

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Usable Space With Trusses

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel and I recently had some discussions in regards to maximizing post frame gambrel truss useable space.  Most often gambrel roofs are supported by one piece clearspan gambrel trusses. Largest downside to this type of truss system is lack of bonus room width. Usually you can expect a room from 1/3 to ½ building width with smaller span trusses (generally 24-30 foot spans). Sort of like this:

My bride and I happen to live in a gambrel style barndominium (for more reading on barndominiums https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/the-rise-of-the-barndominium/). It is actually probably more appropriately a shouse (shop/house). We wanted just a lot more living space than what could be afforded by a bonus room in a gambrel truss.

This is what we did…..

Center width of our home is 48 feet. We clearspanned this using 48 foot long prefabricated wood floor trusses, placed 24 inches on center. These parallel chord trusses are close to four feet in depth. With our 16 foot high finished ceiling downstairs (it is a half-court basketball court), this made our second floor level 20 feet above grade. Ends of these trusses are supported by LVL (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/lvl/) beams notched into four ply 2×8 glu-laminated columns every 12 feet.

This got us across from column to column to support a floor, now we needed a roof system! We utilized trusses much like these, only much bigger:

Our trusses were so much larger, they had to be fabricated in two halves, split right down the center and field spliced to create a whole unit. We utilized the “Golden Ratio” (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/gambrel/) to create slopes and pitch break points. Our steep slope is 24/12 and our upper slope is 6/12/ On the inside, our slope is 12/12 and our flat ceiling ends up at 16 feet above floor!

We also ended up with a very, very tall building. Roof peak happens to be 44 feet above grade! Living at 20 feet above ground does afford some spectacular views – we look due south down Lake Traverse and can see the tops of tall structures in Browns Valley, our closest town six miles away.

In my next article, I will clue you in on things I would have done differently, so stay tuned!