Tag Archives: site prep

Site Prep, Brackets on Slab, and Treated Lumber

This Wednesday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about site preparation and underground obstructions, a recommendation for building with wet set brackets on slab, and whether or not Hansen Buildings uses lumber treated for in-ground use– UC-4B.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We recently started the ground work for our future 48×72 pole building. Half way through excavation the crew hit a solid slab of rock at the corner of our building site. It appears to be Pennsylvania blue stone and the space that it takes up includes a majority of the back and left side where the building walls would sit. We were able to achieve a level pad but we are extremely concerned that now we won’t be able to build on this site. This is the only place on our property that has room for this build and we are very worried that we won’t be able to set poles in the ground do to the size of this solid slab. What are our options, if any? KIMBERLY in PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR KIMBERLY: This brought back childhood memories of my Dad taking me out on a Saturday to a site above Hayden Lake, Idaho where he and my uncles were going to be framing a custom home. Site had been cleared, and there were all sorts of roughly inch and one-half diameter holes drilled into solid rock – they had to blast in order to get a foundation in!

You do have many options, however blasting can be (I have found) quite affordable. Many years ago we built a horse stall barn near Benton City, Washington. This building had a total of 84 columns and was on a rock shelf. Powder monkey came out and blasted all of them for a couple of hundred dollar bills!

There are other choices – you can rent a “ram hoe” attachment for a skid steer or backhoe (this would probably be my pick). Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/attacking-pole-barn-rocks-holes/

Or, a jackhammer – I would not suggest this option for more than just a hole or two.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am in the planning stages for a pole barn build. The building will be 50 ft wide by 40 ft deep by 16 ft high at the eaves, posts spaced at 10 ft centers. This will go on a concrete pad and I am looking into using Sturdi-Wall Plus wet set brackets. My question is in regard to the height of the posts (roughly 16 ft) and the bending moment loads (wind loads) on the side of the building. Have you designed/installed posts with this height or higher before? If so, is there a place where I can point the planning officials to that shows the calcs and what not so they can make a decision as to whether or not this type of application with my situation will work or not?

I appreciate your help! MICHAEL in UPTON

DEAR MICHAEL: Thank you for reaching out to us. We have provided fully engineered post frame buildings using these very same brackets and eave heights of 24′. Your real solution is to have your building plans done by a Registered Professional Engineer who can provide verifying calculations for all components and connections.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a question about the structure of your pole barns. Do you use treated lumber or non treatmented lumber? I am asking about the post that go in the ground AND the boards that touch the metal roof. I worry about the wood rotting or bugs getting in it. KRISTEN in BAY MINETTE

DEAR KRISTEN: Any roof supporting structural columns are pressure preservative treated to UC-4B per International Building Code requirements. This is a greater level of pressure treatment than you can usually find at big box stores or local lumberyards. Any other lumber used in ground contact will be treated to UC-4A and tags will reflect ‘ground contact’. Lumber in contact with steel roofing (roof purlins) are not exposed to the weather, would not typically be pressure preservative treated. We do always recommend a condensation control be used between roof steel and roof framing. The easiest, from an application standpoint, would be a factory applied to roof steel Integral Condensation Control (DripStop or CondenStop). Other alternatives would be a Radiant Reflective Barrier (we can provide this in six foot width rolls with an adhesive pull strip attached for ease of joining rolls together) or to use two inches of closed cell spray foam.

 

Pitch a Roof, Up or Out, and a Site Prep Problem

Today’s Pole Barn Guru tackles reader questions about a “way to put a pitch on a flat carport roof,” when building is is cheaper to go “up or out,” and “extra” costs associated with poor site prep.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the fastest, least expensive way to put a pitch on a flat carport roof? My inclination is to use 2x material cut at 1.6 degree (3/8″/foot) across the 24′ width 16″ apart covered with 7/16″ OSB. DANIEL in YELLOW SPRINGS

DEAR DANIEL: Unless you are going to use a hot mopped or rolled EPDM roofing, you should probably be looking to do a slope of at least 3/12 for either shingles or steel roofing (steel will be least expensive and quickest). Below this roof slope shingles require added underlayment and most steel roofing paint warrantees are void. You should have a Registered Professional Engineer investigate specifics of your carport and determine a structurally sound design solution – rather than you guessing and either creating a bigger problem, or over killing and being more expensive than necessary.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My wife and I are researching pole barns with the intent of building within the next year. You’re site says it’s cheaper to build a larger footprint than it is to build up. When we built our home, our builder told us it was cheaper to build up than to build with a larger footprint. What’s the deal? JONATHAN in KENNEWICK

DEAR JONATHAN: Without comparing an exact set of variables – exact usable square footage, ceiling heights, insulation requirements, include concrete, HVAC, literally everything, I would find it difficult to predict other than they should be very, very close when all is said and done. This article goes further in depth on this vary subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/barndominium-one-story-or-two/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Our contractor set the poles without grading the site. Now he wants to charge us $5000 more because there’s a 2′ drop. He says he needs 7 truckloads of fill dirt to make the floor level. We are building the pole barn to put our travel trailer in and now the clearance of the 12 foot door opening is in jeopardy because he has to build up the outside ramp to get to the door. What can we do? RUTHIE in SPRING HILL

Entry Door ProblemDEAR RUTHIE: To begin with your site should have been graded prior to construction starting, obviously you did not know what you did not know. Fill should not be dirt, in any case. Up to within two to six inches of bottom of your building’s splash planks should be sub base – compacted no more than every six inches. On top of this should be two to six inches of sand or sandy gravel – also compacted. Seven truckloads of fill should amount to roughly 115 yards, so if this is for proper materials, compacted, price is probably not out of line.

You could solve much of this by cutting down high spots on your site – probably at least a foot inside your building’s footprint and sloping away from your building for 10 feet outside.

 

 

Site Prep,

Thursday’s edition will tackle three more reader questions. First up is about how level a site must be before erecting a shop, second is about pole barn homes and the many options available, and third is a question about the best method to fix an issue left by a previous builder.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning on building a 30’x 40’ post frame shop. The ground is dirt and has about an 8” drop from east to west. How level must the site be before erecting the shop? I will out in a concrete floor after it is built. JASON in JACKSON

DEAR JASON: Personally I would get my ground as close to level before building as possible, as it is far easier to place and properly compact fill without your building being erected. Of all things being neglected in building construction, proper site preparation and compaction probably ranks close to list tops. You will want to read my series of articles beginning here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

Photos: https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/0aaae906a4e86643f513e2c2c5b99bf1.jpeg

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I saw a few pole barn homes on your website and was wondering if that is all the plans you have?  We are interested in wood siding, not metal. TRACY

DEAR TRACY: Every post frame building Hansen Pole Buildings provides is 100% custom designed to best meet your wants and needs. We encourage our clients to design homes to best fit their lifestyle. By working from inside to out and not trying to fit what you need within a preordained box just because someone said using a “standard” site might be cheaper you can arrive at an ideal design solution. Differences in dimensions from “standard” are pennies per square foot, not dollars.

You can use the links in this article to assist with determining needed spaces, sizes and how to get expertly crafted plans and elevation drawings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

If you find an existing plan somewhere you feel will meet your needs, we can adapt it to post frame construction and save you money. Hansen Pole Buildings can provide fully engineered post frame buildings with any type of siding or roofing materials.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am working on finishing an apartment above a garage with framed walls/OSB and steel on the roof. The contractor who walked off the job did not put any type of vapor barrier between steel and purlins. I priced closed cell spray foam which is more than homeowner wants to pay. I was then thinking about using Visqueen on the ceiling (bottom cord of standard truss) with unfaced insulation for an airtight vapor barrier. But after more research it looks like that may not be a good option. There is ridge and soffit venting. What do you think? If not Visqueen or faced insulation do you think one inch of closed cell on the metal and batted down on the ceiling would work in Pennsylvania or would just an inch still allow sweating?

DEAR JOSHUA: Exasperating when contractors cheap out and leave clients (or client’s next builder) with a mess to have to fix.

You have only a couple of realistic options – first one is ugly, remove roof steel and place a thermal break between conditioned space and roof steel. This could be as simple as adding a Reflective Radiant Barrier. It never comes back together as well as it did originally, and when all is said and done, option number two will be less expensive.

Option two is closed cell spray foam. It really takes two inches to be an effective vapor barrier, and should run roughly two dollars per square foot of roof surface. While homeowner might not want to make this investment, he or she did not do their homework to initially be an informed buyer and if they do not solve this challenge it will be a problem forever.

 

More Information, Pricing for a Kit, and Site Work and Grade Changes

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “more information” on Hansen Pole Building’s product, pricing for a kit, as well as site work and grade changes.

Hansen Buildings TaglineDEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hey, I was wanting to see if I could get some more information on a steel house. My wife and I have 5 acres in Kings Mountain, NC and are wanting to start the home buying/ building process at the end of next year. Do you guys take care of the structure, concrete slab, flooring, electrical, grading, plumbing, well, etc? I am trying to find more information on the steel house process and how I can go about getting started. Looking forward to hearing back from you. SAWYER in KINGS MOUNTAIN

DEAR SAWYER: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. Here is a great resource to get you started: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

Our goal is to provide you with the best possible building value and to help you avoid making crucial mistakes you will regret forever. We take care of custom design and structural aspects of your home along with delivery to your site. We include detailed step-by-step assembly instructions for you or your builder as well as unlimited free Technical Support from people who have actually built buildings.

Sign up for our every weekday blogs, friend us on Facebook, or give us a call at 1(866)200-9657.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have seen your kits available other places so I decided to go to you directly. Where do I find pricing for 48 ft. x 60 ft. x 20 ft. Wood Garage Kit without Floor. LEAMARIE in NEW RICHMOND

DEAR LEAMARIE: Your quickest way to obtain pricing on this (or any dimension post frame building) is to call 1(866)200-9657 and ask to speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I live on the side of the mountain and planning on building a 36×40 shop, I have to do a little of grade work and may need to bring in some pit fill. Wondering if these pole barn kits will work for me? My plan is to have a concrete slab… was thinking of a Thickened edge slab because of my concern of frost heaving of a floating slab, does a pole barn make sense in my situation? Or should I just do a stick frame… DAVE in BOZEMAN

DEAR DAVE: Beautiful area – I spent a year in Bozeman when I was studying Architecture.

There have been many questions recently on dealing with grade change and fill…..all clear, level sites must be used up!


Regardless of what building type you are going to do, here is some information on site preparation, fill and compaction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/soil-compaction-how-to/.

Thickening your slab’s edge is probably not going to be a solution for frost heave. Here is some further reading on frost heave: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/pole-building-structure-what-causes-frost-heaves/.

Post frame (pole) building construction is going to be easiest and most cost effective design solution.

Proper Foundation and Slab, Two-Story Buildings, and Door Parts

Proper Foundation and Slab, Two-Story Buildings, and Door Parts

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Dear Sir, I read the details of pouring a concrete slab after building the barn. I live in Montana with some pretty cold winters. If I were laying a slab for a conventional stick built structure i would be required to dig footings 48” deep all around the perimeter. What should I do if I am building a pole barn? While I may supply low level background heat I would like a construction that does not require it to resist Montana winters.
Regards, DEREK in KALISPELL

DEAR DEREK: Regardless of the type of construction used, the success or lack thereof for your slab is going to come from what you do underneath it, as well as grading the site properly to keep water from pooling below it.

Follow along first by reading my series of articles devoted to site preparation which begins with: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

You will want to have your building site graded so as there is a 5% slope away from the building, when completed.

Now the fun part – protecting your building itself. I’ve become an advocate for Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations. Here are a couple of articles which should get you heading in the right direction: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/

and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/post-frame-frost-walls/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you offer 30 x 40 2 story apartment/garages?? ROB in ALPINE

About Hansen BuildingsDEAR ROB: We offer any dimension of footprint you desire, not just 30 foot width by 40 feet long and would encourage you to look at what works best for you in an internal layout, then create the exterior dimensions which best fit your interior needs. Two and even three full or partial stories can easily be done with post frame construction and if your zoning allows the overall height and you are willing to add sprinklers, you could go four stories.

Your mixed use will probably result in having to at least one-hour fire separate the apartment from the garage. This could include having to protect the stairs, if they are interior, as well as to provide clear protection all the way to the outside world. A discussion with your local planning and zoning friends could provide you with added insights.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have available, either metal or wood, a barn door and hardware for an opening 8′ high and 5′ wide, to be placed within a screen porch (the entrance to the garage)? TRISH in WIMBERLEY

DEAR TRISH: Thank you for your interest. Due to shipping challenges, we now only provide barn doors along with the investment into a complete post frame building kit. You might try contacting the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot®.

 

 

 


Condensation Control, Home Plans, and Grade Changes!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If I put double bubble under metal on roof for condensation control, then insulate bottom chord of trusses with white vinyl faced insulation , will this create a problem if I ventilate attic space ? Thanks. SCOTT in DUNLAP

DEAR SCOTT: You actually have several things going on here. First, single bubble reflective radiant barrier will do everything double bubble will, at a far lesser investment. The difference in the minimal R value is a fraction of one! Your building ceiling should not have an additional vapor barrier, you want the moisture from inside the building to be able to migrate through into the ventilated attic space. Blowing in an appropriate thickness of fiberglass or cellulose insulation will be far more effective, probably less expensive and will allow the moisture through. Make sure to have adequate intake at the eaves and exhaust at the ridge to be able to properly vent the dead attic space.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello!

Do you all also finish the interior of pole barns if we want it to be a home or would I contract that separately?

Thanks! TIFFANY

DEAR TIFFANY: Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. We provide the custom designed plans, materials delivered to your site and assembly instructions for the shell and load supporting portions of your new building only. Any interior walls and/or interior wall finishes would be up to you to contract for.

 

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I build a pole building home in the side of a hill, where the back will be below grade and the front above. RICK in CLEAR LAKE

Post Frame HomeDEAR RICK: Most certainly you can. I have a post frame building on the back of our property outside of Spokane, Washington. The site has 12 feet of grade change across the 40 foot width. After excavating the area where the building would be placed to level, ICF blocks were placed 12 feet high along the southern wall, stepping down with the slope on the east wall, with the other two walls being “daylight” and utilizing traditional columns embedded in the ground. You can read more about my building here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/06/garage/

 

Commercial Girts Best for Drywall, Site Prep, and Condensation

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m considering a pole barn for my residence but had a question about the girt placement between posts. I read in the FAQ section that they are placed like shelves between posts. Would it be possible to mount drywall directly to these for interior walls without additional bracing or building of interior wall frames? I’m trying to avoid framing an entire building within a building, it seems pointless and not cost effective. If I need to frame every interior wall to hold drywall and insulation, I can simply build a standard stick frame house. VAN in INDEPENDENCE

Installing Drywall on CeilingDEAR VAN: Bookshelf girts for insulation (e.g. Commercial Girts) is a quick and easy way to create a deep insulation cavity as well as providing the framing for your interior GWB (Gypsum Wall Board). You will want to confirm your new post frame building frame is stiff enough to prevent undue deflection from cracking the GWB joints.

Learn more about commercial girts here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have property in an area that floods from time to time. For example, can a monitor barn (approx. 25×50). with side sheds be built. The idea I have is the side sheds serving as porches and under the barn would be a drive through area. there is already a modular home built in the area that is elevated about 4 ft. off the ground and they have had no problem . Thanks, MIKE in MOLINA

DEAR MIKE: You can build any sort of post frame building on your site which will be allowable under the limitations of your Planning Department. As to dealing with the flood issues, you should have your property elevations determined by a surveyor, and the site where the building will be constructed can then be built up so the floor will be above the flood plain level.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I recently purchased several 4’x50′ reflectix double bubble foil rolls. I’ve put up a brand new 30×56 post frame metal building and was going to use this product to keep the metal roof and walls from condensating not to mention I was hoping it would help keep some heat in during the winter and heat out during the summer until I truly insulate the inside. My question is, for ease of installation on my metal roof panels, is it acceptable to put the foil on the underside of the 2×6 roof joists instead of sandwiching it between the roof joists and metal? There will be no roof venting due to leaving the trusses and attic space exposed. My only real concern is that it could condensate worse installing it this way. Also I will not be continually heating the building. Only on occasion with a propane heater while I’m working. I’m not real savvy when it comes to insulation and condensation control so any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance! Brandon

DEAR BRANDON: While it would be easy to install the steel roofing without having to place the reflective radiant barrier between the roof purlins and the roof steel, it is going to be the easiest method to limit condensation issues, given the product you have invested in. Hopefully you have gotten the double bubble with a tab along one side and an adhesive pull strip, otherwise you will have to tape all of the seams as you work your way along the roof.

Could you place it on the underside of the purlins? Yes, however in order to work as an effective condensation control, it has to be absolutely tightly sealed against any protruding framing members. Remember the time you saved on installing the roof steel? You just ate it all up.

If you have not yet ordered your steel roofing you could resell the reflective radiant barrier online and order steel with I.C.C. (Integral Condensation Control) attached (see the article and video here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/).