Article About Pole Barns & Pole Barn Construction

About Pole Barns (contributed by Keystone Barn Supply LLC)


There are many builders that specialize in construction of pole barns (post-frame buildings), and even though different builders use different techniques, the idea of a pole barn is basically the same. The typical pole barn is constructed with pressure treated posts placed in the ground (approximately 48” below ground level).  Posts of most of the pole bans are usually spaced 8’ on center. On outside of these posts you’ll find 2x4 girts that are fastened 24” o.c. (the siding is fastened into these 2x4 girts), double 2x12 headers to support trusses, and 2x4 purlins (or plywood) on top of trusses to support roofing material. Pole barn is probably the least expensive and the simplest way to build yourself a nice building (garage, horse barn or any other type of building).  If you are looking for a small building and can’t afford to hire a contractor, you can probably have one build yourself, perhaps with the help of your friends - you’ll need at least 1 helper to build the frame and 2 helpers to set the trusses up.  If you have enough money to hire a contractor or simply don’t have time to build the barn yourself, then you’ll need to find the right contractor for the job. If you are like me, or like most of the people, you probably want to spend as little as possible and build the barn as nice as possible. Well, that’s what we all wish for, but it doesn’t always work like that.  Did you ever hear of the saying "greedy pays twice"?  Being in construction business for a while, I personally know of several customers that "tried to save money" on either site excavation, foundation or some other work, by having their "friends" or "someone they know" to do the work.  Guess what? These customers ended up paying more than the quote given by us, since their "friends" didn’t do the job right and we either had to redo the excavation (how can we put up a building on the site that's 2' or 3' off level?) or fix the foundation.  The bottom line, if you want to keep your friends, don’t hire them.

What to look for in a quality constructed Pole Barn

Consider these options and features for your pole barn:


1. Perma-Columns - Instead of placing your posts in the ground, you can now choose the concrete columns to avoid any possibility of rotten posts. A Perma-Column is basically a manufactured concrete column with a U-shaped metal bracket on top. These concrete columns go in the ground and your wooden posts are placed on top of these columns and are bolted into U-shaped brackets. See for more information. Keep in mind, pole barns built with Perma-Columns cost more. Plan to spend $120 - $150 per each post extra.

2. "Glue Laminated Posts" - Instead of using regular 4x6 or 6x6 pressure treated posts that have a tendency to twist, crack and bow, glue-lam posts are stronger and have a lot less chance to twist or bow. Different sizes of glu-lam posts are available on the market. For smaller buildings, you can use 3 or 4-ply 2x6 posts, for larger and taller buildings you will need to use 3 or 4-ply 2x8 posts. The other advantage of glue-laminated posts is only the bottom of these posts are treated (in case you decide to put them in the ground).

3. "Use Proper Bracing" - Make sure your pole barn is built with proper bracing. Tell your builder to install side braces and truss braces if you want to have your barn withstand strong winds. Installing metal hurricane ties is also a good idea, especially in hurricane-prone areas. Believe it or not, some builders do not bother to install truss or side braces to save money. If you have ever seen a collapsed pole barn after strong winds, it’s most likely due to improper bracing techniques used.

4. "Use Reflective Insulation and Ridge Vent" - Now, I know you don’t want to spend more than you have to, but believe me, reflective insulation placed under metal roof will help keep your entire building cooler in hot summer days.  So would the installation of a ridge vent.  If you don’t know what reflective insulation is, just Google it and you’ll find all the information you need.

5. "Overhangs" - By all means, please do use overhangs on your barn or any structure you build.  Don't know about you, but I personally can't look at the barn that doesn't have any overhangs.  Honestly, it looks like crap. Be aware that some builders would include overhangs on the eaves in their quote, but not on the gables.  If you want overhangs on the gables, they'll charge you extra.

6. "Compare Construction" - Don't get too excited when you find the builder with the cheapest price for the pole barn. Beware of those salesmen and companies that get you on the hook with a "cheap price" and than start charging you extra for different features and options that should have been included in the price in the first place.  If this happens to you, forget about that builder.  The bottom line, compare construction specifications and features, not just the price.