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Q: Definition of pole barn ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Definition of pole barn
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: dalimama-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 04 Sep 2005 19:43 PDT
Expires: 04 Oct 2005 19:43 PDT
Question ID: 564311
What exactly is a pole barn vs a traditional structure?
Where did the term pole barn come from?
Subject: Re: Definition of pole barn
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 04 Sep 2005 20:41 PDT
Hi dalimama,

Thank you for your interesting question. - What is what? Everything you always wanted to know

"Pole barn. A barn built on poles set in the earth." 


National Frame Builders Association

"Post-frame buildings are not just ?pole barns? anymore. Although
pioneered for horse barns and other agricultural buildings..."


History of the Post Frame Industry

"The post-frame building concept is not new. Many pre-historic peoples
throughout the world used posts embedded in the ground to fashion
sturdy structures for residences and other uses. For centuries,
buildings along shorelines and in low-lying areas have been built on
poles to elevate the structures above the guideline and/or water
hazard. In rural areas, poles were used to erect sheds or temporary
structures in 19th-century America. In all these cases, the limited
life-span of poles in contact with the ground made them unsuitable for
use longer than a few years, except in very dry areas or when
rot-resistant strains of wood were used."


H. Howard Doane is credited with being the innovator who, in 1930,
first combined the availability of poles and metal roof sheeting into
a ?modern? building concept. The founder of Doane?s Agricultural
Service, Doane was looking for a way to reduce the cost of
agricultural structures. He did not believe the traditional barns
being built on farms could be economically justified. Doane believed
that the ?pole? building could provide the needed economy in
construction and still have the necessary durability.

The Depression of the early 1930?s called for practical structures to
be built on farms across the country. For Doane, it made good business
sense to use a pole construction method, rather than build an
extravagant structure that would outlast its usefulness on a farm.

He began to build barns that utilized round poles as the primary
supporting member for the sidewalls and roof systems of the
agricultural structures. These barns used read cedar poles as the
primary structural support. Rafters were constructed every 2 ft., on
which 1 in. of sheathing material was placed 12- to 18-in. apart. The
sidewalls were covered with galvanized steel. This building method
eliminated much of the structural material used in other methods, and
best of all, it reduced costs.

Doane?s Agricultural Service?s farm manager, Bernon G. Perkins, has
been credited with refining the evolution of the modern pole building
from a temporary to long-lasting structure. Red cedar poles were used
at the time, lending up to a decade or more of longevity to structures
at that time. When red cedar poles became scarce in the mid-1930?s,
Perkins used creosote-treated poles to provide the primary structural
support. This extended a typical pole building?s life by some decades.
By the early 1940?s, creosote-treated poles became the mainstay of the
building concept."


"Ever the pioneer, Perkins had other ideas on improving the building
method. He began to overlap the roof purlins, without cutting, by
using 2x4 lumber direct from the yard with whatever length was
available. This eliminated the extra handwork required to cut the
purlins to size, saving time and money. The pole-building method
proved to be an economical way to construct rural buildings.

During World War II, the U.S. government imposed a $1,500 limitation
on the amount it could spend on constructing new barns. The pole-barn
building method, which eliminated up to two-thirds of the lumber
needed by other systems, made the government?s guidelines attainable.

Doane?s Agricultural Service actually received a patent for the ?pole
building design concept? on June 6, 1953. However, rather than protect
the patent, they widely publicized the concept and encouraged its use
throughout the United States. Doane?s Agricultural Service made its
pole barn building plans available worldwide to anyone interested in
the concept. Perkins spoke to farmers all over the country on the
benefits of pole-building construction.  They listened.

Initially, the nation?s college and university personnel were hesitant
to accept pole buildings. But doubts about the ability of the
structures to withstand wind and snow loads were put to rest, as time
proved the buildings? capabilities. After scientific tests proved its
superior performance, the academic community became an invaluable ally
to the growing industry.

As the concept developed, the performance of post-frame buildings
proved excellent. Structures with smaller columns and post-soil
embedment depths less than those indicated by accepted design
techniques at that time withstood high wind forces and snow loads. It
was clear that post-frame buildings were transmitting loads in a
manner unaccountable in previously used design processes.
Academically-based researchers began to study the phenomenon to unlock
the secret of its superior performance. They attributed the manner in
which the frame interacted with trusses to absorb loads and
resiliently return to its intended shape as ?diaphragm interaction? or
?diaphragm design.?

In the 1960s, pole structures began popping up on farms all over the
country. The concept quickly spread beyond the farm into commercial
and other applications. The method?s name also changed from pole
construction to post-frame construction around this time."


"The post-frame building had its origin in agricultural applications,
primarily for cold livestock housing, machinery storage, and hay or
other crop storage."


Beautiful Barns - Building a classic, functional barn can be easier
and more affordable than you think. By Lynn Byczynski with
Illustrations by Eric Sloane

"The type of construction you choose will depend on the barn?s style.
The least expensive is the pole barn, now known as post-frame
construction.  Post-frame involves sinking posts into the ground, then
connecting them horizontally with lumber. The poles serve as
foundation, bracing and framework, and no excavation is required other
than digging holes for the poles. This is the type of construction
used for most metal buildings today. But it doesn?t have to be limited
to shallow-pitched roofs and single stories; two stories are possible,


"He says a single set of poles in a pole barn can be set 16 to 20
horizontal feet apart (the barn?s ultimate width) and still support a
loft. Anything wider than 20 feet requires additional posts to carry
the loft?s weight. The barn itself can be any length."


"Build your Own

Experts say that you can save half the cost of a pole barn by doing
the work yourself. If you have some building skills, you?ll find a
pole barn is a good place to hone them because you don?t need every
detail cosmetically perfect."


"... a great article, ?I Built a Pole Barn for Under $3,000"

(see article)


"Pole barn construction refers to a design using poles placed in holes
in the ground, which are then filled with cement. These poles are
generally spaced 10+ feet apart to form square or rectangle buildings.
The poles provide support for engineered trusses. These trusses are
connected to the poles and are designed to support the roof system,
which usually consist of purlins. Pole barns can have enclosed sides
or open side, as in a lean-to design."



"Once regional variations by climate are acknowledged, the most
critical factor in the shape and construction of barns on the typical
farm is the type and scale of agricultural operation. Every region of
America has produced specialized barns for single crops or animals or
individual agricultural operations. The tobacco barn, hop barn, cattle
(pole) barn, potato barn, tractor barn, apple barn and many regional
specialty barns attest to the popularity of single usage barns."


Keyword search terms:

pole barn origins
history of pole barns
pole barn building
pole barn construction
pole barn agriculture
post-frame building
post-frame construction


Best regards,
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