Tag Archives: Stem wall

Additions, Notching Posts, and Stem Walls

This Monday the Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about adding to an existing pole barn, the possibility of notching girts into posts, and use of a stem wall on an uneven site.

Hansen Buildings TaglineDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have an existing 36x36x12 pole barn and would like to do an additional 36-48 roof only build off the back. I used the Oregon ready build plans for my existing barn, built in 2019. My 2 over head doors are on the end wall. I was told by my county official that the ready build plans cannot be added onto because they are stand-alone buildings, but maybe with engineering they could be. Do I need to consider building a separate barn 12′ behind mine or can I possibly get it engineered to be attached? Thank you. CLAYTON in SCAPPOOSE

DEAR CLAYTON: Your county official is correct in stating your existing pole barn is a stand-alone building. It is likely we could engineer and provide your proposed extension, however it may require some modifications to your existing building. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you to further discuss your building needs.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If a DIYer had all the time in the world to build a post frame, could the posts be notched for the girts? MARK in KNOXVILLE

DEAR MARK: My lovely bride and I spent a fair amount of time in Knoxville as our oldest son got his Master’s degree at U.T., lived in Maryville and taught high school at Lenoir City. His youngest sister, used to play summer basketball for Pat Summit (she has a piece of championship basketball court signed by Pat for being best player one year). Beautiful area!

Could and should are not necessarily the same. Sound engineering practice limits notch depths in columns to 1/6th of direction being notched, without requiring more complex engineering review. On a 6×6 (actual dimensions 5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″) this would allow notches to be only 7/8″ deep for an externally mounted girts, or if one was doing bookshelf girts, 7/16″ deep on both sides of column. With externally mounted girts, this could pose challenges with aligning other wall framing members such as splash planks, door headers, etc. For bookshelf girts, nail or screw connections would have to be angled, reducing lateral strength of this connection so as to require extra fasteners.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My site is not level. Can you build in a stem wall? CHRIS in SEQUIM

DEAR CHRIS: You can either excavate and have a stem wall on the formerly high side, or have a stem wall on the low side and fill. Stem wall can be poured concrete, ICFs or concrete block with wet set brackets, or we can incorporate a Permanent Wood Foundation wall between columns. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you for more information about your new post frame building.

 

 

Wet Set Brackets, a Walkout Basement, and Rigid Foam Issues

Today’s Pole Barn Guru tackles reader questions about using wet set brackets on a stem wall foundation, if it is possible to build over a walkout basement, and the viability of installing rigid foam between framing and steel cladding.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hey there guru. We are planning on building a post frame home next year. Now for my question/s. Is it possible to use wet set brackets for posts on a block stem wall foundation? I also had the thought of marrying posts with brackets to a conventionally anchored double sill plate? If using a pier and wet set brackets system… Can a person do a raised floor design? And if so how would one keep the bugs and critters out of the “crawl space”? BRAD in SWANVILLE

DEAR BRAD: Wet set brackets can be poured into properly engineered and constructed block, concrete or ICF stem walls. In order to resist uplift forces, brackets are best installed directly into top of walls, with a properly pressure preservative treated sill plate between columns to attach siding to.

When using a pier and bracket mounted column system you can most certainly do a raised wood floor (crawl space) design. Any crawl space would require encapsulation (read more here https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/11/11-reasons-why-barndominium-crawl-space-encapsulation-is-important/) by Building Code. A non-decaying barrier to prevent burrowing creatures would also be prudent (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/rat-wall/). My recommendation (and we can show this on your engineer sealed plans provided with your building) would be to use 19 gauge, 1/2″ x 1/2″ galvanized wire mesh around your building’s perimeter to a depth of three feet. This can be done be means of a trench and will be far less expensive than pouring a wall between columns.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I put a walkout basement under a steel frame residence?
JEN in HARTFORD

DEAR JEN: While I would have no idea on what sort of engineering it would take to mount a PEMB (Pre-engineered Metal Building) to a walkout basement, fully engineered post frame buildings can be designed to incorporate a full, partial or walkout basement. Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/barndominium-on-a-daylight-basement/

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I am considering building a cabin using pole-construction. I was wondering is it possible to use rigid foam insulation between the outside of the structure and the roof/wall cladding? GILES

DEAR GILES: Placing rigid foam insulation board between framing and cladding is not structurally a good choice. Post frame buildings work due to shear strength of their ‘skin’. When a non-structural sheathing is added it allows for fasteners to deform between cladding and framing, reducing shear strength, causing elongation of holes in siding/roofing and potentially a failure condition. You would be better served to use two inches of closed cell spray foam on inside of cladding after your cabin is erected.

 

 

 

 

Labor Costs for a New Barndominium

Labor Costs for a Post Frame Barndominium

In my humble opinion, an average physically capable person who can and will read instructions can successfully erect his or her post frame barndominium. This is a great place to save money (provided time is available) and most people frankly will end up with a better finished home!

Why?

Because you care – you have “skin in the game”.

Reader JOHN in NIXX writes:

“We are interested in building a home. It’s crazy but I’m not sure what to call this structure

Long story short we started out investing a pole frame residence. Decided not to go w slab on grade due to our physical condition and walking on concrete. 

I’m thinking we are going to build a 3-4’ stem wall or crawl space w/ 2×6 exterior walls. With trusses 6/12 pitch   Metal roof and 3 sides metal. The front could be red cedar siding.

MoneyWe are building in a remote area and the trades are difficult to come by. I received a recommendation of a person who has been building fence for 20 years. He organized 2  Amish crews that have built 2 large pole barns. They set poles and framed in with 2×6 exterior walls. When we spoke about pricing I was told it would be $4.50 a sq foot. I have framed stick build for a lot  less in the past. A local subdivision in the area is paying $3.50 a foot for stick built houses. My question is how do I determine if that is a fare price. I’m having a difficult time seeing how that price is valid.  What am I missing?  Any input would be appreciated.   The zip code for the new build is 65571. Thanks.”  

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Nationally framing a standard 2,100 square foot stick frame house will cost $9,030 – $17,220 or $4.30 – $8.20 per square foot for labor. A crew of five should be able to complete work and pass framing inspection within 2 – 3 weeks. Contractors typically will estimate garage area at 15 – 20% lower rate than living space.

If you are hearing $3.50 per square foot for framing labor, it sounds like they either work too cheaply or houses being built are extremely basic. Keep in mind, stick frame labor does not usually include siding or roofing installation and never includes hanging overhead doors.

Most usually a fair market price for post frame shell erection labor is approximately 50% of an engineered post frame building kit price.

With post frame construction, you can have engineered an elevated wood floor supported by building columns, eliminating a huge expense of pouring a concrete footing and stem wall.

Remember – cheap is rarely good, and good is rarely cheap.

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

Meeting Barndominium Perimeter Slab Insulation Requirements

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

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

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

Thanks for the help & clarification!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

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

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

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

Concrete Floor Thickness for Heavy Equipment

Concrete Floor Thickness for Heavy Equipment

Reader KRIS writes:
“Dear Guru,
My husband and I are getting ready to construct a pole barn 40 x 80. He wants 2 x 14′ doors, 1 x 10′ and a service door. It will be used for heavy equipment storage and workshop/florist shop to keep critters out.
We had a contractor recommend a 6″ floor and 4 ft cement walls which I’m guessing drives the price up substantially. My husband thinks the floor should be more like 10″. An excavator, track loader, 9n tractor, and UTV/ATV will be stored.
We will want to heat the 2 workshops.
I don’t even know where to begin. What do you recommend?
Thanks”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Unless there is far more to this than I am seeing, there would be no practical reason to have a four foot high concrete wall. Perhaps he is thinking of a foundation (below grade) wall, rather than an above grade wall.

Starting with floor thickness….to give a perspective 60% of the U.S. Interstate Highway system has 11 inch thick concrete. From the PE (Professional Engineer) Civil Exam, in Basics of Concrete Pavement Thickness Design, the thickness depends upon traffic load, subgrade and climate, but city streets, secondary roads and small airports are typically four to seven inch thicknesses). This leads one to believe a 10″ thick slab would be perhaps excessive.

What is going to make the biggest difference in the success of your concrete floor will be the gradework which is done underneath. You will want to read this series of articles, which begins with https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.
I’d invest my dollars in the preparation of the site, rather than pouring lots of dollars into an overly thick slab which is over a poorly prepared subgrade. Six inches of thickness should be more than adequate for areas where heavy equipment will be driven and parked. For lesser loads, four inches.

Now let’s talk about the perimeter. If a foundation stem wall is being considered, I’d recommend using the Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation design, which you can get details on here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/. Using this eliminates the need for foundation walls, plus provides an energy efficient insulation solution, while reducing the possibility of frost heaves.

For heating, you should consider radiant floor heat – at the least have PEX tubing placed in the floors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/pex-tubing/.
Please take the time to browse our website for more articles on the design of energy efficient post frame building walls and roof systems.

Flood Rebuilding, Retrofitting Stem Wall, and Platinum Engineering

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi. I am an architect with a flood victim client in Houston whose 1500 sf house must be rebuilt 5′ above grade. C panel, aluminum sliding windows/doors, low budget. Is it crazy to think they could buy a custom kit from you and have a crew from MN install it in January when said crew needed a winter break ? Attached images are just place holders to show elevated frame. Thank you. STEPHANIE in SAN ANTONIO

DEAR STEPHANIE: We can certainly get the house designed and delivered for your client, however we are not building contractors. Our buildings are simple enough so the average person who can and will read instructions in English can certainly erect the structural portions of their new home – and do a better job than the majority of building contractors.

With a high degree of certainty, you (or your client) could run an ad in Craigslist and get a builder from the great white north to travel to put the building up, if the client is not so inclined.

Vinyl windows are going to be about the same price as aluminum and will be far superior in performance. Our goal is to offer the best possible value for our client’s investment, so it is very probable we will prove to be a good fit.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hi there!

Mom and I have a existing metal pole barn with no foundation – just dirt. We need to convert it to a work room with a raised pier foundation inside a concrete ”curb”. So my question is, what do we use to insulate/separate the concrete from the side of the metal walls?
Thank you sooooo much! ANNIE and MOM in AUSTIN

Dear ANNIE and MOM: It sounds to me like your idea is to have an elevated wood floor inside your building. If this is the case, the floor can probably be constructed by the attachment of beams to the building columns and running joists in between them. The question will be what needs to be added to your building (if anything) to provide for structural adequacy.

As an alternative, you could pour concrete stem walls (curbs) between the sidewall columns and as needed inside the structure. This is going to entail far more expense as well as work. Stem walls along the perimeter should be able to be isolated from the wall steel by pouring against the pressure preservative treated skirt board (splash plank) at the base of the walls.

In either case, a Registered Design Professional (RDP – architect or engineer) should be hired to do a field analysis of your building to determine both the adequacy of your building as well as to design the solution for you.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How much does the platinum engineering package cost? DAN in VIRGINIA BEACH

DEAR DAN: The Hansen Pole Buildings Platinum Engineering Package includes adding elevation drawings (showing the siding) to the standard structural engineering package which is included with your investment in a new Hansen Pole Buildings complete post frame building kit. The extra investment is nominal and can be obtained for your specific building upon request to your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.