Tag Archives: wood construction

My New Barndominium

Reader RENE in MICHIGAN is one of a growing tide of Americans looking to build a barndominium. She writes:

“I would like to build a barn with living quarters but I do have unanswered questions!

My property is in Riverside WA 98849 and therefore the first question is whether you service this area?

I have done a lay-out of what I have in mind but with no prior experience, help would be appreciated to point out possible problems or suggestions for improvements.

Would a wood construction be preferred to metal?

Would a wood construction be more affordable than metal?

Would a wood construction be better insulated than metal?

Would my 70′ x 70′ building be more expensive than a smaller downstairs and upstairs building

I am in my senior years and still in very good health but there will be a day when using stairs may become a problem and that is why the square footage is so much. The living quarters are two bedrooms (guest bed 15’x20′, bath 15×10′, laundry 15’x10′)(main 20’x20′, bath 20’x10′,dressing room 20’x10′) 2 bathrooms and open plan Livingroom and kitchen (35’x40′) and would be 70′ x 40′ and the garage/storage/RV space 70′ x 30′

May have more questions later but would like to start off with the most obvious, for me. I have to sell property in MI before I can get going on this side. If you could correspond with me by email, for starters, I would appreciate it. 

Thanks, take care and stay safe!


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

About Hansen BuildingsThank you for reaching out to us. I also qualify for those senior discounts and fully understand stair issues. When we built our own shouse (shop/house) in Northeast South Dakota 15 years ago we went with two stories and my lovely bride insisted upon having an elevator (we actually now have two of them).

I know Riverside well. Back in my younger days I was a prolific post frame builder based in Spokane. There was one year where we erected over 200 post frame buildings just in Spokane County! Hansen Pole Buildings happens to not only service Riverside, we provide more post frame buildings in Washington than any other state!

In my humble opinion wood post frame is going to have numerous advantages to a PEMB (pre-engineered metal building). While building shell costs are probably similar, it ends there. It is going to be easier to construct without a need for heavy equipment. Our post frame buildings come fully engineered including engineered foundation plans (PEMBs require you to hire another engineer to design foundations). Concrete slabs for PEMBs require significant amounts of rebar, resulting in much greater foundation investments. To have a home inside a PEMB, most usually one has to build a framed home inside of a building shell – unlike post frame where you only have to do it once. Post frame buildings are easily super insulated, whereas PEMB steel frames are a great thermal transfer. My ultimate guide to post frame insulation is here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

I have also written about one story or two: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/barndominium-one-story-or-two/

Here are a few plan tips to consider:

Direction of access (you do not want to have to drive around your house to access garage doors.)
Curb appeal – what will people see as they drive up?
Any views? You’ll want to access all windows with great views to look at.

North-south alignment. Place few or no windows on the north wall, lots on the south wall.
Have overhangs on the south wall great enough to shade windows from midday summer sun.

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

Wood: The Number One Green Building Material

There is a strong case to be made that wood is the greenest building material. But for it to really earn that title, we have to rethink how we build with it.

In North America, wood construction has dominated single-family and low-rise housing; steel and concrete have dominated commercial and mid-rise residential construction. This usage made some sense; the building codes favored noncombustible materials, and the low-rise residential market was big enough to suck up all the wood we could cut. The steel and concrete industries were, frankly, more innovative, and their products were considered more durable.

But this was before we worried about climate change, before fossil fuel prices started going through the roof, and before globalism started giving way to localism and the realization when one looks around, there sure is a lot of wood. In fact, right now we have more wood available than we know what to do with. So, why aren’t we using it more of it, and using it better?

With a few notable exceptions, we keep using wood primarily for the one thing we shouldn’t be building: single-family housing. There are 18 million vacant houses in the United States, yet we are cranking out 2x4s for the housing market.

There exists a more practical use for wood in construction. One which minimizes material use, from the ground up –is pole buildings. Wood really is the number one green building material!

The average footings and foundation for a 40’ x 60’ stick framed shop will take 10 to 15 yards of concrete, depending primarily upon frost depth. For a similar sized pole barn, less than two yards of concrete will support the columns.

Concrete, and the cement in it, is blamed for the production of 5 percent of the world’s CO2 production; aggregate extraction and transport is disruptive. But if you look at the concrete industry websites (for example https://www.cement.ca/en/Concrete-and-the-Environment.html), you would see the greenest of products, claiming it is a local resource (convince the neighbors of any gravel pit) and it is recyclable (into roadbeds). And it is heavy. So, when they say it only creates 175 pounds of emissions per ton, they don’t tell you how many tons go into a square foot of building (15 yards of concrete are over 5,000 pounds of emissions)!

When it comes to the structural framework, a post frame building uses only about 50% of the board footage of lumber required for a similarly sized stick frame building. Most pole buildings are steel roofed and steel sided. An average of over 25% or more of steeling roofing is recycled content and once its long useful lifespan is over, it can be recycled 100%!

When you talk about “going green”, go pole building!

To receive more pole building tips and advice subscribe to the pole barn guru blog!