Pole Barns

Pole barns are easy to put up and relatively inexpensive. With a little pre-planning, you can even build a pole barn with a plan to enclose it later, adding to it as you would a regular framed structure. Planning is the key. What is the barn's main purpose? Are the location of poles an issue? Is it important that the floor/foundation be sealed all around the edge? Will the building need electricity, water, sewer?

What are you options?

Most pole barns are used for storage of farm equipment, hay, or supplies. Electricity may be supplied but as a somewhat limited resource. Often the floor is dirt and the building isn't necessarily airtight when finished. Of course, it can be airtight and you can have full electrical and water services. In a climate where freezing isn't an issue, or it's easy to winterize, you may choose to have water only part of the year. If you choose to use water in freezing conditions, you'll have to determine how to insulate. One great way to have partial winter use of the facilities is to insulate one end or room in the building and house the main water supply there.

What advantages are there to building a pole barn structure?

Pole barns usually save you money in concrete (even in pole barns with concerete floors, there's no cost for a footer), and materials (unless the inside is finished initially, the main cost is in structure, not finished walls). There's also less building/setup time involved from breaking ground until you have a roofed structure to use.

What is the basic process for building a pole barn?

Setting up a pole barn can be broken into three main processes: setting poles, adding trusses and perlins, and roofing and siding the barn.

Poles: It is important to set your poles properly. These are the main supports and actual foundation of your structure. If you choose to skimp on building materials, don't skimp while setting the poles. Use of recycyled tin or rough-cut lumber could save you money. In an attept to save money, sometimes people try to exceed recommended load ratings for trusses or rafters. It's important to know load ratings for various types of wood and to know the local building codes for snow load. You can check span tables at the American Wood Council website. Understand your basics for creating a sound structure before you start.

Trusses and Perlins: Once you've determined sizing and how to set your poles, it's time to plan for trusses and perlins. Again, understanding load ratings of trusses and perlins will be an important part of this planning. However, free pole building plans are often available and many stores that supply pole barn kits will supply instructions and the exact recommended materials.

Roofing and Siding: You may choose to use recycyled siding and/or roofing. Pole barns can be a great use for recycled materials; however, if you begin with a leaky roof, you've already influenced the durability of your building.

Pole barns can be relatively easy for the homeowner to build, providing you do some research and follow a few solid tips. Local building supply stores often sell pole building kits (always remember that just because it says "all materials included" it doesn't mean you won't need to buy additional materials). Remember, when building a pole barn, you may want to rent equipment to make it easier and faster to dig holes, stand up poles, or set trusses.

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