Tag Archives: UC4B treated columns

What Is Keeping Posts Above Ground Worth?

What is Something Worth?

I can be overly anal. Sometimes I have to really work hard to get around it – I purposefully have conundrums on my desk and for some perverse reason I feel comfortable in them. 

I inherited my maternal grandmother’s counting gene. Even into her nineties, if I called her up and asked what she had been doing, she could tell me she picked 384 strawberries. Passing trains are my worst – if I see it right in front of me I have to work to not count cars.

Back on track – traditionally post frame buildings have been pressure preservative treated columns, embedded in augured holes.  Pretty low tech – as most people have available technology to dig a hole.

I will share a recent Facebook exchange, regarding a drawing posted by a potential barndominium owner:

MK:  “Looks great if its stick built on a poured stem wall.”

Me: “Looks like it would be a challenge to stick build. Those poured stem walls also add significantly to costs.”

Here is an article I had authored on foundation costs: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/

MK: “I imagine $20k extra. But you more than doubled the lifespan of a “AG building” with a wood foundation, which average is 60 years depending on soil. Usually less.”

Me: “Your $20k is probably pretty close. Properly pressure preservative treated columns will last far longer than any of us will be around to witness. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/

MK: “I’ve personally seen rotted pressure treated wood. For AG buildings, use perma columns. You won’t catch me building my dream home on a wood foundation. That would fall under the same term as “throw away society”, and what about our children who inherit a house that’s rotting? I understand these shomes are driven by demand, but please inform people about the differences between a AG building and a house.”

Me: “I have seen it also and every single case I have seen documented the pressure treating was unrealistically low what its intended use should have been.

The treating standards in the past were much more lax than today. 30 years ago you could treat wood to “.60 or REFUSAL” with CCA. Lots of really not treatable wood was ‘treated’ – I personally know people who did it. A past employer of mine used to send 6×6 DouglasFir to be CCA treated. DougFir will not take a waterborne treatment except with heat and different chemicals.


Hansen Buildings only uses properly treated lumber to UC4B. UC4A doesn’t cut it. After over 30 years and 20,000 buildings I have yet to see a member treated to UC4B rot.

I could live in any type of building anywhere in the world I choose. Even though our weather can be brutal, rural Northeast South Dakota has its own charm. We live in a million dollar post frame building by choice and we love it. How much do I believe in our product? Good enough to live in it every day.

If you become a reader of my blog articles, you will find me referring people to Professional Engineers and promoting the use of plans from a Registered Design Professional. A great post frame engineer will design a stronger building, with few(er) materials. It actually costs less to do the job right.

Permacolumns are expensive and difficult to handle – in my humble opinion. It is more economical to pour a pier with a wet set bracket and far easier. If the bottom of the column is an inch above the top of the slab, the columns do not have to be pressure preservative treated even.”

For information on Permacolumns: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/04/perma-column-price-advantage/

All of this got me thinking and thinking hard. For four decades I have been standing upon a soap box extolling longevity of properly pressure treated wood embedded in ground. Perhaps I have been making this issue more difficult than it had to be.

In this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVwUl4cm8fQ Kyle from Rural Renovators demonstrates how to pour piers and place wet set brackets: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/.

I conducted an informal and not overly scientific poll on Facebook:

“Traditionally post frame (pole barn) buildings have been designed with pressure preservative treated columns embedded in holes. Research proves properly pressure preservative treated columns, in ground, should last a lifetime without decay. There are at least two very popular post frame building companies who use only columns above ground, in brackets. We are investigating if there are enough perceived benefits to justify an added investment.

Along with this we would consider going to all high strength glu-laminated columns. These would be stronger than any other regularly utilized post frame columns in the industry. They are also very straight and lighter weight.

Per column, what range do you think is reasonable?”

Out of 22 respondents, exactly 50% felt an added investment of over $100 per column would be reasonable.

The good news is – we can make this happen for about half of this!

Life of Pressure Treated Columns

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: What is the life expectancy of the 6×6 pressure treated columns that go in ground? MIKE IN SEARCY

DEAR MIKE: If you are investing in properly pressure treated columns which are designed for structural in ground use (they will be tagged as UC-4B rated) chances are excellent no one alive on the planet today will live long enough to see them decay.

The catch – many retail lumberyards do not carry properly treated columns in inventory. For more reading on pressure treating please read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/03/pressure-treated-lumber-3/

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We would like a building that can have a floored attic for storage, as well as being insulated for heating and cooling. From what I have been told, Henderson County’s code doesn’t allow for this kind of building unless it is ‘stick built’. Are you familiar with our county’s codes? Any help would be appreciated. DAVID IN ROBARDS

DEAR DAVID: Regardless of what or where the jurisdiction is, it would be unlawful for them to attempt to preclude a Code conforming structural system (of which post frame – pole – construction is). They can have restriction upon types of siding and/or roofing, but those need to apply towards all construction types.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are looking for a Horse barn with a 3 bedroom apartment above the barn. Have you done any of these types of building before? Do you have any pictures/layouts that we could look at? JOE IN MONTROSE

DEAR JOE: We’ve done numerous horse barns with living quarters above – both as monitor style and as full two story buildings. Keep in mind, to get three bedrooms you will need at least 1000 to 1200 square feet of space, so a monitor style will probably not give an adequate area.

Not to discourage you, but you will want to consider the added costs of going this route as opposed to constructing two individual buildings. Two floors is always going to be more expensive than one. There will be fire separation issues to solve, as the barn and living spaces will need a minimum of a one-hour fire separation, and in some jurisdictions two hours. This is probably going to mean needing outside stairs for access. You will also need to contend with having to pay more for insurance….possibly quite a bit more, and it is an every year expense. With individual structures, the house would be insured and the barn becomes a rider as an accessory building at little or no added cost.

As for pictures and layouts – everything we do is totally custom, to best meet the needs of the individual building owner. I’d recommend calling (866)200-9657 and talk with a Hansen Pole Buildings Designer who can guide you through the process, as well as providing schematic drawings to give you ideas and representations of what your finished building will be like.

Because we furnish complete pole building kit packages in all 50 states, we end up with very few photos of our completed buildings. You will find some of them in our online photo gallery.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am wrapping my overhead garage door openings with aluminum coil stock. My question is in the upper corners do I bend any extra to place under the top piece. Or bend extra to place under the verticals. NICK IN FREDERICKTOWN

DEAR NICK: The rule when doing exterior trims is to install from bottom to top, making certain each newly installed piece has a watertight seal and overlaps the previous piece. This may mean you will need to run each piece long, so the verticals can underlap the top horizontal and the horizontal can overlap the vertical.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru