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Q: House construction ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: House construction
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: tttaurus-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 23 Jun 2003 19:16 PDT
Expires: 23 Jul 2003 19:16 PDT
Question ID: 220983
I intend to build a "pole house"; the foundations of which consist of
large poles (not square posts) embedded several feet into the ground,
making a very strong foundation for a home that also has no interior
load-bearing walls - thus you can have large open inside spaces. Pole
houses are particularly suited to hilly sites and have been used
extensively in Hawaii and California.  I have bought the books that
I've seen available on Amazon, etc., but can find only very basic
house plans and I would like to see more home plans and pole-building
construction details.  I would also like to know a consultant or
building plan designer who could give some reasonably priced
assistance.  I will be the general contractor.  Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by thinkout-ga on 23 Jun 2003 19:21 PDT
Greetings tttaurus!

Before attempting to answer your question, I would like to better
understand what you mean by "reasonably priced assistance".  For this
portion of your answer, would a list of consultants suffice?  Or are
you looking for consultants in a specific price range.

Thanks in advance!


Clarification of Question by tttaurus-ga on 23 Jun 2003 19:24 PDT
A list of potential consultants would be OK.
Subject: Re: House construction
Answered By: angy-ga on 24 Jun 2003 02:26 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi, tttaurus

Pole construction houses are also very well known in Australia
(particularly Queensland).  John Koch runs a design service in the
more southern state of Victoria specialising in pole construction and
is happy to consult and  supply plans internationally. His site can be
found at:

He says:

"All my designs are completely original and apart from the basic cost
effective designs, have evolved out of my architectural philosophy
presented at the beginning of the catalogue. The range of
possibilities with pole frame construction is unlimited. The designs
illustrated, although available as they stand, should be taken as a
guide to style and a basis for developing an appropriate design for
you. Once I know what your requirements are, I can help you choose and
modify a design to suit, or I can develop a concept that will be quite
unique and personal for you."

He goes on to discuss various options and concludes:

"If you have your own design that you would like me to translate into
working drawings, or if you would like to participate in working
together with me to develop a new design, I will be most happy to work
in that way. You can e-mail me information about your personal needs
and site characteristics, and I will suggest some design possibilities
for you to consider...."

For non-Australian customers plans can be supplied in metric or
imperial units, and  local materials and wind loadings can be taken
into account. Structural computations will be in metric.

I imagine you can also ask him to work to your local building code if
there are any specific regulations that would apply.

He offers a plan catalogue of about 50 designs, which are then
available for purchase as is or with custom modifications. The base
price of the catalogue is AU$60.00 or US $53.00 subject to current
exchange rates. There is also a CD available.

You can look at some house photos and 3D graphics on the site. Have a
look at the photos of Series 14-1 for a large home with interesting
internal spaces.

In America Homestore Design Services have a very informative site
called B4UBuild. Here you will find a step by step look at the
construction of an Australian pole house by a school teacher and her
friends at:

They write:

"Leonie is a fifty-something school teacher who lives in the southern
part of western Australia; about 400 kilometers outside of Perth. One
of her goals in life was to build a mud-brick house using local
building materials whenever possible. So, when the opportunity to
purchase a small block of forest near a lake .... she decided the time
was right for her to build her dream.

She had watched other people build houses and she had listened to
their construction stories, but this would be the first house Leonie
had ever built. Most of her male friends advised her that the best
option, for her, would be to buy a kit home and have someone else put
it up. However, Leonie was determined to "do her own thing". "

There is a photo album of some 36 photos showing various construction
phases, with more to come. Each thumbnail picture is generally well
described on mouseover, so you can decide whether or not you want to
click to enlarge it.. There is a description of the stage at the
bottom of each photo, often quite detailed. For example:

"The verandah poles are going up. They are being attached at the base
to iron straps set into concrete. Some of the straps in the concrete
slab are visible along the edge of the slab and down the center of the
slab under what will be the ridge beam. The verandah poles will be
attached to straps set into individual concrete post footings, two of
which can be seen in the sand in the foreground. Also note that
branches were left on the corner posts to act as diagonal bracing
between the top of the posts and the header that will support the roof
- they look nice too."

Leonie is also using hand made mud bricks. 

The site also has an extensive plan center to be found direct at:

You can preview floor plans and elevations, and purchase plans
directly from them. Some have photos and virtual tours.They do not
specialize in pole construction, so the site takes a bit of digging
around. Plan AX-7944-A , under 'log construction", may be the kind of
thing you are looking for. Purchase price of plans varies from $99.00
for a planning set, to six or seven hundred dollars for multiple
construction sets. Under "recreation/vacation" Plan # H-806-2 might

The site offers a planning service and a free estimate service (scroll
down to the bottom of the page). They also will modify existing plans
to your specifications They say in their FAQS:

"Our fees are typically less than 1 percent of building costs (compare
this to the national average of 7 percent of building costs). This
translates to an average modification cost of $800 to $1,500, in
addition to the cost of the reproducible blueprint."

Kokoro Country Houses have some handsome designs with Japanese
influence on their site at:

They supply kit homes, and I suspect are very expensive, but to get
some ideas, click on "Portfolio" then on the name of one of the houses
in the top right, and you will find elevations and floor plans. There
are also some close-ups of construction details.

AZ-Built CAD offer standard house plans as well as a custom design
service at:

The standard plans look very boring, but are $349.00 per set including
free revisions and modifications for 120 days after purchase.

Custom plans are discussed at:

They  charge 50 cents per sq.ft. (total heated living area) for custom
house plans and that includes the same free changes for 120 days.

All the best with your project.

Search terms:

plans pole construction houses
pole construction houses

Request for Answer Clarification by tttaurus-ga on 25 Jun 2003 06:53 PDT
Thanks for your answer but:
1) I have previously been to John Koch's website but felt that his use
of metric would add another level of complication to an already
complicated matter.
2) Leonie's Aussie pole house on B4UBuild was built on concrete
footings and slab - and I don't intend to do that.  It sort of
destroys the whole idea of hanging your house off the poles for the
sake of simplicity and strength.
3) Since one of my main issues is attaching the framing to the poles,
a log house plan doesn't help much.
4) Kokoro houses were beautiful, but very expensive and complex.  I
can get some ideas there, but no real details.
5) garage-plan looks to be standard house plans.  

What I would like to find is a US version of John Koch or a company
that has multiple plans for pole-built houses and that can also give
me details on attaching the roof (or truss) to the poles as well as
how to connect framing to poles, as well as other construction
Thanks, again.

Clarification of Answer by angy-ga on 26 Jun 2003 01:54 PDT
Hi !

From the phrasing of your question, I understood you to mean you had
looked at books for ideas but not the web, so I'm sorry if my research
duplicated some of your own. I notice you are new to Google Answers -
it's always a good idea to give us a clear background to your own
research as this gives us a better starting point.

I take your point about Leonie's concrete slab, but it's possible that
was a local code requirement. You will need to check yours.

I have searched around the web a great deal further on your behalf
today, without finding any parallel US service to John Koch's, and
nothing like the quality and originality of design. The US builders
all seem to be coming from the direction of glorified barns, whereas
John (and some other Australians) start from the concept of home
design. Presumably that is why he is offering an international service

However, In Ohio I did find Durabilt Pole Buildings at:
They say:

"Twenty - two years ago it was the goal of Durabilt Inc. Pole
Buildings to give their customers more for their money than any other
builder. Upon that premise, Durabilt Inc. Pole Buildings has refused
to compromise.

Our designs, our materials and our ability to fit into one's custom
pole building needs, have allowed us to solve problems for our
customers. We don't just tell you what we can build for you, we help
you figure out what you need. Then we fit it into your budget. "

They also write:

"A pole building is a great way to start for the do - it -
yourselfers. Let us erect the shell and you can finish the interior
work as you go, and save. Loft barns and single story buildings can
all be used with some modifications. Let us get you started on your
home, vacation home, or retirement home."

To mu eye, they still seem to be basing their designs on a barn style,
but you might find they are happy to collaborate on a more original
design, and if so they might be just the people for you, especially as
they seem to be budget conscious.

In Hawaii I was able to find a mention of Pole Homes & Custom Building
- Phone: 254-1626 - on the Kailua chamber of Commerce website at:

There is no web link. Possibly they could recommend someone in your

I think, however, you have misunderstood what John Koch is offering.
He does provide the plans and details in imperial measures as well as
metric. It is the computations - the actual calculations he has used
to arrive at his structural decisions about loadings etc. that he has
carried out in metric units. You should not need to know anything
about those in order to follow the plans.

On his "International" page he says:

"For countries that use imperial units, plans will be converted from
metres to feet and inches. Structural computations will be in metric
units and based on Australian Standard Codes. These are recognised
internationally to be of the highest standard, and are usually
acceptable to local authorities. " Find this page at:

You might like to check with your local building regulatory body what
they need to see in order to approve your plans. In all likelihood
they will not need to see the computations, unless perhaps there is
some special requirement such as earthquake provisions, or provisions
for high wind or cyclones.

John goes on to quote a Texas customer, with some (blurry) photos
which give some idea of the framing up, and there is a link to that
customer's website at:

Here the builder, Robert, has posted large clear photos of the
building process, and also a contact button, so you would be able to
email him to find out what snags he encountered, if any, and what
aspects of the collaboration he was pleased with. He might be able to
set your mind at rest about the metric to imperial conversion.

Robert says - Page 2 - "John (Koch) is an experienced home builder,
pole house expert and structural engineer. Not only did he design my
house, he also provided me with detailed construction procedures &
critical structural calculations. Furthermore, his ongoing assistance
throughout this project has been invaluable."  So obviously the
collaboration worked for him.

You should find Robert's photos interesting as they take you step by
step through the construction process, including notching out the
timbers for the beams. He also tells you when he does something
different from Koch's recommendations. Robert's house is simpler than
the one you want, I suspect, but the construction principles should be
the same.

In any case, if you are after ideas, as you said in your original
question, you could do worse than to purchase Koch's catalogue and CD.
If he has something you really like, I suggest you do not allow
yourself to be put off by the distance factor, but instead contact
Robert by way of a reference, and then make some detailed email
enquiries. Otherwise have a talk to Durabilt and see if they are able
to work on more imaginative projects.

For further reference, also in Australia, Stainton Homes have
interesting photographs of the pole homes they build at:

Clicking on some of the homes gives you more pictures including
interiors from which it is possible to make out how brackets, bearers
joists and crossbeams are arranged. They also offer an individual
design service:

" Individual Designs & Development 
7 Turnbull Street, Garbutt, Townsville .. PO Box 19 Belgian Gardens
Phone +61 7 4775 7557 .. Facsimile: +61 7 4775 7558.. Email:"
They are winners of the Queensland Master Builders' Association Home
of the Year with one of their pole homes.

Homeplan Architects number pole designs among their other plans at:
Kime House is a five bedroom home ..."Situated on a rocky sloping
rural site...  designed to respond to the site and retain the bushy
character of the site by touching the earth lightly with steel post
structure to minimise excavation and disturbance on the site. The
interior opens to the environment with glazed roofs, window walls,
cantilevering decks with trees that penetrate the building.

Designed as a passive solar home and with a plan that includes
octagonal elements this home provides a home rich in character but
comfortable and practical for living in. Although the site is bushy,
light and warmth is maintained with cathedral ceilings, glazed roofs
and clerestory windows. Changes in levels relate to the site."

Note the use of steel poles. They produce designs in close
consultation with the client, but do not seem to operate an
international service.

Other Aussie sites include Rivergum homes at:

The New South Wales MBA winner for pole homes for 2003 was Australian
Hardwood Homes, Lot 1 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin 2758 +62 2 45677644.
They do not appear to have a website.

Thank you for an interesting question.

Search terms:

architects pole homes
consultants pole homes
US architects pole homes
tttaurus-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
The answers were helpful but I expected that there would be more
information available.  Next time I will also know better how to ask
the question.

There are no comments at this time.

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