Tag Archives: steel buildings

Is Hansen a Pole Building Contractor?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How are the pre-engineered pole barns set up.. does Hansen provide the delivery and installation? Is the slab included in the installation? Or would the slab be by “others”? Question from Ashley in Austin, TX

DEAR ASHLEY: Hansen Pole Buildings delivers custom designed pole (post frame) buildings to building sites everywhere in the continental United States, or to the docks if shipping to Alaska or Hawaii. The buildings are designed for the average person who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings.

We are not a pole building contractor, so we do not build or install anything for anyone anywhere. If you are not interested in building yourself, we can assist you in finding a contractor who can assemble some, or all, of your building kit package for you. Many of these same contractors may be qualified to provide the labor to finish a concrete slab as well.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a 40’x80′ metal sided pole barn that is insulated in the ceiling and walls with double bubble reflective insulation and no venting system. Don’t have any condensation issues but it gets really hot in our Okie summers. Would some sort of vents or vent fans in the ends of the building be an effective way to mitigate the heat? Thanks in advance, just found your site and really like the access to good info. Mike in Blackwell, OK

DEAR MIKE: Thank you very much for your kind words and for becoming a reader! While you might start with trying just gable vents located as high up in the endwalls as possible, it is very probable you will need to use powered fans in order to move enough air out to make a difference. Whichever choice you pick, make some provision to close them off in the winter if you are intending any sort of heating in the cooler months.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How would a rebar cage for a base plate be constructed in the right way for a horse barn? I am interested in the step by step method once you have the hole, of implementing a rebar cage in the right position, pouring the concrete and then placing the base plate. ALMOST IN AUSTIN

DEAR ALMOST: My best guess is you are actually considering constructing a steel framed barn of some sort. Historically steel framed barns are not the ideal design solution when it comes to stabling horses. The steel framework makes it difficult to attach wood stall components to, and the concrete required at ground level poses a hazard to horses.

I’d strongly urge you to consider a pole building instead. One of the wonderful thing about pole buildings is they do not require complicated, expensive and time consuming rebar cages to be poured into significantly large concrete piers. By utilizing properly pressure preservative treated wood columns, embedded into augered holes in the ground, it eliminates the need for perfectly placed base plates (or base plates at all).

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part II

Yesterday I started a 3 part series. A simple typographical error on the Internet got me to “hansonsteel.com” (Hanson versus Hansen-which is the company I work for) where I found an interesting page on “Steel vs. Pole Buildings”.

To continue the story….

(For sake of ease of reading, words in italics are those from the all steel building website.)


Property insurance for a pre-engineered steel building is generally 30% lower as compared to wooden pole buildings. This is due to the increased fire hazard with wooden buildings.

Insurance rates are based upon the replacement costs of the building. As pole buildings are less expensive than all steel buildings, the insurance on them is less expensive as well.


All Hanson Steel Buildings include extensive assembly documents, plans and engineer certifications. All plans are engineer stamped and ready for submission to the local building department. Parts are numbered to enable easy and rapid construction.

Generally assembly instructions and plans are not as thorough for pole barns/buildings. Parts are normally not numbered or sorted. All of this can cause delays in obtaining permits and in overall construction.

Steel Building ConstructionWhat they do not tell you about all steel buildings, is the need to obtain (from yet another engineer) foundation designs. As long as the foundation bolts are placed absolutely perfectly, all steel buildings assemble fairly easily along with the use of lots of expensive heavy equipment (such as forklifts and cranes – neither of which is required for post frame construction).

Hansen Pole Buildings include detailed full sized 24” x 36” blueprints of seven or more pages which detail every component of the structure. Complete engineered calculations and seals are available for any of our designs. Every Hansen Pole Building kit package includes complete installation constructions with “live” pictures and diagrams in a fully illustrated construction manual.  We also offer technical support 7 days a week for assistance.  Does this all steel company provide technical support?  If they do, they don’t advertise it.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll finish my story…

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part I

A simple typographical error on the Internet got me to “hansonsteel.com” (Hanson versus Hansen-which is the company I work for) where I found an interesting page on “Steel vs. Pole Buildings”. Let me deflate their ego, by blowing holes in their misinformation.

For sake of ease of reading, words in bold italics are those from the all steel building website:

The most frequently-asked questions are about the differences between pre-engineered steel buildings and pole barns/buildings. The benefits of pre-engineered steel buildings are significant.


Hanson Steel Buildings bolt to a solid concrete foundation, Base angle or sheeting notch with closure strips to ensure the building will be frost-free and water resistant.

In comparison, pole barns/buildings are set directly into the earth and offer little or no resistance to water or frost heaving.

All steel buildings require either a concrete foundation or significant concrete piers. What the all steel people do not say is, the foundation design is NOT included with the building purchase, and a local engineer must be hired to provide the design. Neither a base angle or a sheeting notch are going to have anything to do with preventing frost heave. A “sheeting notch” actually places the steel wall sheeting in contact with damp concrete, accelerating the rate of deterioration of the wall steel.  Bottom line – this notch is going to hold water with the steel sitting directly in it…causing it to rust.

Our company has an older pole building where the previous owners errantly put “fill” up to the bottom of the steel – see how it rusts the bottom to be in contact with water?

Steel Building Rust

Pole building design accounts for frost heave in the location of the base of the building foundation below the frost line. The top of a concrete slab in pole buildings is at least 3-1/2 inches above the highest point of the grade outside of the building – it would take a deluge to get water above this point.

Using the foam closures and base angle may prevent water moisture from getting into their building, but it’s not going to have any effect upon frost heave.

Again from their website:


Hanson Steel Buildings are made with solid steel framing that is coated with a highly protective primer applied after cuts and drill holes to ensure complete rust protection. We offer a lifetime product that does not warp, twist or decay like wood. Steel is a more sanitary product when used for livestock purposes. Steel is also preferred for permanent installations.

The pressure-treated wood used in pole barns/buildings can warp and shrink. It is not recommended for permanent installations. The foundation frame shifts and requires straightening every 5-7 years – a process that costs thousands of dollars! Clear-span capabilities are very limited with wooden construction.

An engineered Hansen Pole Building comes along with a Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty. Post frame buildings are certainly permanent – the millions of them existing everywhere in America are a testament to their durability. Many of them have been around for well over 100 years and I expect them to be used and useful long after I am gone from this earth.

With the use of dry lumber, it is dimensionally stable and won’t shrink.  If they are using green lumber, which never should be used on pole buildings, then yes, this could be an issue. Hansen Pole Buildings only uses dry lumber.

I’d like to see verification of any properly design and constructed post frame building having a foundation shift, or ever needing to be straightened! This is one I’d dearly love to see documentation to support their claim.  With adequate footings, (meaning the foundation was done right), in over 14,000 buildings and 30 years, I’ve never seen a building shifting or having to be straightened – whether it’s all steel or a post frame building.

Pole buildings can easily clear span 80 to 100 feet using wood trusses. Rarely are larger clearspans needed for any type of building.  When they are, (such as roping and riding arenas) – we are quick to tell folks they may want to check out an all steel building.,

I don’t have a problem with all steel buildings – quite the contrary. But they have their limitations in use, which you can check out by going to the search field and typing in “all steel buildings”.

Come back tomorrow for more….on all-steel building propaganda.


All Steel Buildings: Non-expandable Building Frames

All Steel Buildings: Non-expandable Bearing Frames

I learn at least one new thing every day. Seemingly whether I try to or not, which makes it ever so much more interesting. I’ve deduced this – when I stop learning, I am dead.

This morning, Eric (one of the owners of Hansen Pole Buildings), asked me, “non-expandable bearing frame – any idea what this means? I’m sure it is something off a steel building quote”.

I told Eric I would have to research further, and once again (thanks to the wonders of the Internet) I quickly had the answer.

This answer came from an all steel building website. A “main frame” is an assemblage of rafters and columns which support the secondary framing members and transfer loads directly to the foundation. An Expandable Frame is designed to support any future building additions with the same width and height which will tie-in to this frame. A Non-Expandable frame is used when X-bracing is not allowed in the endwall. It provides added structural support, compared to the bearing frame. It is also used in Hangar Buildings to support the Header system for the hangar doors in the Endwalls.

While all of this is a mouthful – it did set me to pondering.

My educated guess is, the majority of all steel buildings are designed so as the ends of the buildings cannot be added on to. Or, at least not without major structural considerations.

Post frame (pole buildings) can have their ends added on to relatively easily – however some thought still must be involved.

The easiest – is when the original design incorporates trusses on the endwall which are designed to carry the roof loads from a future “next” bay. In most cases, this takes having a double truss on the endwall which will be later added onto.

There are some things to be looking for when adding to the end of a pole barn.

If the siding is to be removed from the end of the existing building, the adequacy of the roof skin and both endwalls needs to be checked for the ability to carry the shear loads. Not just the new endwall, but also the remaining endwall of the existing building, which is opposite the proposed addition.

Are the existing endwall columns to be removed? This can be tricky – as some buildings are designed with rafters on the endwalls, rather than trusses, or the existing end trusses are not designed to be clearspan, they require the support of the endwall columns.

In any case, the adding to the end of an existing building is best done when involving the assistance and experience of design professionals who can do an analysis on the existing structure, as well as the proposed overall new building. This is the assurance of a result which will perform structurally as desired.


All Steel Riding Arenas

A client posed this question:

“We are planning to build a horse riding arena. We’ve talked with several all steel building companies. They say their buildings are going to be far less expensive than a pole building. Is this true?”

Maybe, but probably not.

If a very large clearspan (say 100 feet or wider) is required, then all steel could be the answer. We have done actual cost comparisons against all steel riding arenas. We used the most common width arenas (60 to 80 feet) with all the features and load conditions comparable (snow, wind and seismic). All steel arena packages provided direct from the manufacturer at “wholesale” pricing typically are 30-40% more in price than a pole building. In all instances, we had delivery charges included.

Beyond just the price differences for the building kit, the all-steel version is going to require paying extra for an engineer to provide a foundation plan. Hiring a contractor to construct? For erecting the all steel building, expect to pay double what a contractor will charge for pole building construction.

Steel Building ColumnsFrom a practicality standpoint – because of the inward sloping angle of all steel frames and the large concrete piers which must be poured to anchor them, the entire interior space of all-steel buildings cannot usually be safely used for riding. We know of many all steel building owners who have had to construct an interior liner five to six feet on the inside of their walls to protect themselves and their horses from the frames and the piers.

Besides the added cost of the liner wall, it also entails having to order a building 10 to 12 feet greater in width and length than a pole building!

And speaking of liner walls….even if the other things were not an issue – how easy would it be to attach tongue-and-grooved 2×6, plywood or osb to steel frames which are spaced 20 to 30 feet apart? It is just not happening.

All Steel Buildings are Better Than Wood Pole Buildings: Really?

When considering a new building, end users often debate whether to use an all steel or wood framed pole building. Steel has the perception of strength and endurance. Research and independent studies show pole buildings have several advantages over all steel.

Wood is unquestionably the most environmentally friendly building material on earth. It has better insulation, better fire resistance and better strength.

Wood is constantly growing and is sustainable. Trees in forests absorb carbon dioxide, making a growing forest an efficient carbon sink.  As older trees are harvested, younger trees can grow more rapidly, allowing for a healthy and everlasting wooded area. Statistically, for every tree harvested, five are planted.

Other building types do not use renewable materials; they use materials such as cement and plastic, which severely impact the environment. Lumber does not need to be mined. Forestry practices adhere to rigid codes which have been instituted to not only balance, but improve our forests. Foresters are conscious of maintaining the ecosystem by replanting the trees, utilizing the whole tree and by leaving virtually no solid waste behind. The forests available for timber harvest are large enough to grow enough wood products to build millions of buildings each year, endlessly into the future. Wood is the greenest construction material on the market.

Wood is more workable than steel, so it’s easier for a building owner to construct it themselves. With all steel buildings, many components are far too heavy to be moved and placed without expensive material handling equipment, like forklifts and cranes. All steel buildings require hiring expensive engineers to design foundation plans.  With pole buildings, the foundation plans are part of the drawings. The foundations of all steel buildings must be absolutely, perfectly square and level and anchor bolts precisely placed, otherwise the bolt holes of the steel frame components will not align.

Wood buildings have longer life spans than steel buildings. Steel “sweats,” causing moisture to get into insulation and steel connections. This provides conditions for mold to grow, which leads to corrosion and rust, shortening the longevity of the entire building. Once installed in a building, dry lumber will rarely warp or twist, it remains dimensionally stable. The steel building wall girts and roof purlins provide excellent nesting places for birds.

It takes nine times more energy to produce a steel stud compared to a wood stud. Wood, a naturally more efficient insulator than steel, can cut costs on heating and cooling by 30 to 50 percent. Steel is an excellent thermal conductor, creating a pathway for the transmission of heat and cold.

Comparing rack load capacities on different wall panels, the shear walls of a Hansen Pole Building outperform the tie-rod braced and cable-braced walls of typical all steel buildings.

All steel buildings, due to having roof purlins spaced generally every five feet and wall girts every seven feet, require steel sheathing which is thicker than on a typical pole building (the difference in thickness being approximately equal to a sheet of notebook paper). This minimal difference in thickness does not provide for more strength or durability of the building. The quality and warranties on the steel and paint systems vary widely, from none to “lifetime”. However what is available on one, is available on the other.  They are not exclusive.

Wood is Safer in a Fire. While it sounds hard to believe, it’s absolutely true. Wood retains its structural strength at temperatures higher than 2000°F, while steel loses 80 percent of its strength at 1000°F. As it’s melting during a fire, steel bends and twists. According to many firefighters, it is extremely difficult and dangerous for them to stop a fire in a steel building and for people to escape. After a fire, while structural steel may appear intact, there is no way to effectively determine the remaining strength of the frame. The all steel building needs to be knocked to the ground, rather than being able to repair a wood framed pole building.

Over the years I’ve been offered opportunities to sell all steel buildings, either in combination or separate from wood framed pole buildings.  Each time I’ve gone back and done the research to compare the two.  People who know me…..know I do “due diligence” when faced with a decision.  I want to know not just the facts, but the whole story. Each time what convinces me to say “no” are the stories from past clients of all-steel buildings.  I just can’t endorse what I don’t believe in.