What is a pole barn? No, it’s not a building used to store poles. It’s a building method developed in the 1930s for farms.
A pole barn is a large building with no basement and a high ceiling. Most often, it’s an agriculture building that provides open interior space. Think horse stables or a building to store farm equipment.
The name comes from the original structures built with poles like telephone poles.
Construction methods evolved over the years. Builders switched to square columns, known as posts. Square posts are easier to build with than round poles. Today, builders use laminated columns and trusses. They’re much stronger and more precise than traditional poles.
The terms post frame and pole barn are interchangeable. Both terms reference the same type of building. Many people continue to use pole barn or pole building to describe a post frame structure.
Let’s take a closer look at the purpose and benefits of a pole building.
What is a Pole Barn?
A pole barn isn’t always a barn. The original structures solved the problem of storing expensive farming equipment. Now, post frame structures include many types of buildings. Such as a:
- Man Cave or She Shed
- Self Storage Units
- Equestrian Stable or Arena
- Feed Storage
- Equipment Storage
- Office or Retail Space
- Rustic Cabin
- Residential Home
It’s essential to consider building codes and zoning before building a structure. The purpose, materials, and ventilation are important, too.
Keep reading to see the major benefits of a pole barn structure.
Framing System Comparison
Let’s compare post frame structures to stick frame structures. This comparison refers to the framing method. It doesn’t compare the interior or exterior walls, roof, ceiling or floors.
Post Frame Structures:
The pole framing method buries large poles or posts in the ground. The posts are 4 to 6 feet in the ground. The poles provide vertical support for the structure. The posts connect to wood girts to create the sidewalls. The girts create horizontal support.
Pole building construction uses laminated wood posts to form the main framing. The exterior is clad in steel panels that hold the building together. The frame moves wind and snow loads to the foundation.
Stick Frame Structures:
Stick frame structures are most often used for residential homes. The stick framing needs a foundation, basement or crawlspace. The frame needs a continuous foundation for support. The foundation is expensive.
Now that the frame structure difference is clear. Let’s examine the benefits of pole barn/post frame construction.
One of the most important benefits is cost. Pole barns are more affordable than stick frame structures.
Post frame structure buildings don’t need a major foundation or basement. That’s a big deal because foundations are expensive.
A concrete foundation requires excavation, concrete, and labor. The average cost for a basement foundation is $18 per square foot.
Most post frame structures don’t need a foundation at all. Concrete goes at each footer to set the poles. A concrete slab is often added, but it only costs about $4 per square foot.
Post frame construction works well in a variety of terrain situations. Pole barns don’t need level ground.
There’s no need for expensive processes like excavation and leveling the ground. You can build a pole barn on a site that won’t work for a stick frame structure.
It’s possible to build a post frame structure in different soil types. The design can deal with soil wall pressure without a concrete foundation. That means less work to frame out and build the structure.
Another aspect of flexibility is future expansion. Think about the future when you choose the location for a pole barn. If your needs grow it’s easy to build an addition on a post frame buildings.
Whether it’s more office space, stables or storage areas you can extend a post frame building if you leave room to do so.
Pole barns have on-center spacing. Stretches of 8 or more feet are available for large doors and windows. This isn’t possible in stick frame systems. Stick framing needs expensive headers and frame reinforcements.
Large openings are vital for agriculture situations. Animals and equipment move in and out of the building. Proper ventilation is essential.
The ability to create large openings is also ideal for retailers. Display windows and indoor/outdoor spaces are easy to create with pole framing. Exterior features like a porch or overhang are easy to add on post frame buildings.
The large post frame trusses make it possible to create wide-open interior spaces. Support walls aren’t needed. This is excellent for gymnasiums, workshops, studios, event venues, and open shelters.
Construction time is shorter for post frame structures. Fewer components speed the process and reduce building costs.
Post frame buildings don’t need interior load-bearing walls. That lowers framing costs.
Less site preparation is another time-saver. There’s no need to pour a continuous foundation.
You don’t need to level the ground first. The interior floor grading occurs later. Often, interior gravel, dirt or a slab gets added after construction.
Superior Strength and Durability
Solid posts anchored 4 or more feet below the surface transfer wind and snow loads down to the ground. The transference of force gives greater strength to the building.
A post frame building is more resistant to wind than a stick frame building. Stick frame buildings are weak at joints and the ends of stud walls.
Pole barns don’t need extensive framing and structural support. Stick frame buildings do. If a barn is built using stick frame construction it could need on-center framing of 16 to 24 inches.
As mentioned earlier, a pole barn can span up to 8 feet and still handle a snow load. The span between framing depends on the amount of snowfall. Pole barn construction always considers the local weather.
Extra strength and durability come from the larger components used in post framing. Bigger components are stronger and last longer.
You don’t have interior load bearing walls in a pole barn. That makes it possible to get higher insulation R-value. Larger spans between the posts create more room for insulation. That extra space lets you meet or exceeds code requirements.
The wider spans also deliver better ventilation. The result is significant energy savings in the heat of summer and cold of winter.
You can frame a pole barn to look like a traditional stick frame structure. At the same time, you achieve better insulation.
Pole barns can be taller than traditional stick frame buildings. The larger structural components make it possible to build higher walls.
Think about traffic and access when you design your pole barn building. Do you need to move large equipment in and out of the structure? How tall and wide should doors be?
Retail spaces, stables, and event venues all have different needs. The height of the building, width of walkways and openings effect usability. The dimensions also create a mood.
Don’t forget to consider building codes. Codes vary depending on location. Check with your city or state. The purpose of the building comes into play. The code for a retail building is different than a garage in your yard.
The Benefits Add Up
As you can see, post frame construction offers many benefits. Pole barn structures are superior to stick frame buildings.
If you want a flexible, durable, less expensive building, choose post frame construction. It works for every type of building from homes to retail spaces to horse stables.
Ready to Build a Pole Barn?
Now, when someone asks “What is a Pole Barn?” you know the answer. The next question is do you want to build it yourself, or hire the experts?
If you want to work with a post frame building expert, check out this website. You’ll find resources on everything from your dream cabin to storage buildings.
Consider your skill level and budget before making a final decision. Building a pole barn is a big project. Permits, building codes, and actual construction are important aspects.
Creating your ideal structure is a huge project. Weigh the pros and cons of spending time, money, and effort. It’s an important decision. Don’t hesitate to hire a professional if the structure is beyond your capability.
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