What exactly is a “pole building”?
Simply put, it is a building composed of primary structural frames typically made up of a clear span truss supported by two columns. These primary frames are supported or connected by purlins, girts and sheathing. Loads are transferred to the ground through columns, typically embedded in the ground. Pole building construction simply uses fewer larger framing members to span greater distances which cut down on construction time and material cost.
What can a pole building be used for?
Any low-rise structure. This would include most structures with up to a 50-foot high sidewall. Residentially, they can be homes, carports, garages, storage for recreational vehicles or boats, workshops, home businesses or storage. Commercially, they are often shops, airplane hangars, offices, self-storage buildings, stores, retail buildings, churches, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, even strip malls! On the farm their uses include machinery storage and shops, animal barns, riding arenas and stall barns, loafing sheds, bulk storage, processing, hay storage or as simple as just a roof to keep large valuable items or animals out of the weather.
What is the difference between pole buildings, stud framed and all-steel buildings?
Stud framed (or stick built) structures are how most homes are typically built. Generally they require a great deal of excavation and have a continuous concrete footing and foundation around the perimeter. Walls are made of 2x4 or 2x6 vertical “studs” 16 or 24 inches on center. By code, stud walls without lateral support are limited to 10 feet in height, unless a structural analysis is done. Roof trusses or rafters and ceiling joists can be no greater than 24 inches on center. In some cases, interior load-bearing walls may be required and door or window openings in loadbearing walls must have structural headers.
All steel buildings can have much taller sidewalls and wider clear spans than stud framed buildings. Their main support structure is composed of large steel frames, spaced as much as 30 feet on center. The frames require large concrete footings with carefully placed anchor bolts. In building widths of less than 90 feet, their constructed cost can be almost half again more than a pole building, when the great amounts of concrete and need for heavy equipment is factored in.
Pole buildings allow the greatest flexibility and lowest construction cost of any permanent building. The pole building concept was developed so the least amount of materials could construct the largest building. Typical pole buildings use widely spaced pressure preservative treated posts for the main vertical supports. The foundation is these treated columns, embedded in the ground with a small amount of concrete cast around them. Roof trusses are aligned with the wall columns, normally every 10 to 12 feet. As pole buildings are modular, they can be constructed of any length, as long as land is available to construct. Usually structural headers are not required for windows, doors or other exterior wall openings.
Are pole buildings cheaper?
Cheaper as in less expensive or more cost-effective, yes! In comparison to other building methods, pole buildings are hands down the fastest and most cost-effective construction. They are easy to install, resulting in lower assembly and building costs. They are virtually indestructible and maintenance-free. Add in lower insurance costs and less overall maintenance over the years and you’ve got a winning combination!
Isn’t building with steel more expensive than building with wood?
Yes and no. Structural steel has become very expensive over the past few years (in some cases, having doubled in price!), making wood structural members, in most cases, a true bargain. Colored steel siding and roofing has gone up far less in price (percentage-wise) than have alternative products such as T1-11, cement-based, wood or vinyl sidings.
Doesn’t all of the wood utilized in a pole building frame destroy forests?
Area for area, pole buildings use far less wood volume than any other wood frame structure. Wood is the only readily renewable natural resource and it is increasing in reserves every year. Today there is 25% more wood volume growing in the United States than just 50 years ago.
Are pole buildings reliable?
Yes! Without question. The building design concepts utilized in pole building construction are proven and time tested. Millions of pole buildings have been constructed around the world and perform admirably.
How long will a pole building last?
Your new pole building should out-live its useful lifespan. Pole buildings require far less maintenance than traditional buildings. Steel siding is galvanized or galvalume-coated under the paint to prevent rusting. Wood members in contact with the ground are pressure preservative treated to resist decay. Your new pole building should last at least – and actually far longer than – a traditional building under the same conditions.
Do pole buildings hold their value?
Yes! Not only do they hold their value, they are almost always worth more the day they are completed than their cost of construction. This is because most insurance companies, realtors, banks and consumers look at a building as a building regardless of how it is constructed. The low costs of a pole building, give it a decided edge over any other form of construction in value.