Pros and Cons of Post Frame Construction Pole Barns

By Jerome Graber,
July 10, 2019
Home | Pros and Cons of Post Frame Construction Pole Barns

Hopefully, this information will help you decide whether a pole barn style or conventionally constructed building is right for your next building project.

Post Frame Benefits (Pole Barn)

As we discussed last time, the single biggest benefit to constructing your next building using the post frame method is the cost savings. Typically, building a post frame building will be up to 30% less expensive than a conventionally built building. For more details on this, check out our first post in this series, Post Frame Construction Basics.

Another significant advantage is that, with post frame construction, you can easily build up to 20’ tall ceilings without sacrificing structural strength. With conventional construction, this typically requires steel support members, which can drastically drive up the cost. If your new project requires very tall ceilings, post frame construction is probably the right option for you.

A third sometimes overlooked benefit is the point strength that the posts provide. If you want to mount heavy weights to the walls, secure horse stalls, or have some other need for very strong point loads, post frame construction is a good option to consider.

Conventional Construction Benefits

The most important advantage that conventional construction methods offer is a continuous poured footer. This allows you to build in areas where the soil conditions are less than ideals because it spreads the weight out over the entire perimeter of the building instead of concentrating it every 8’. If you want to build in a location that has poor soils or unusually wet conditions, conventional construction with a continuous poured footer is probably your better option.

Related to the first advantage, because a conventionally built building has continuous footings, they are typically insulated around the entire perimeter to a depth of 3’. Many post frame buildings have insulated floors. But if you are building in very cold areas such as northern Michigan, spaces that are intended to be heated like a home should be built with an insulated footer for maximum warmth.

Post Frame Building Limitations

Post frame construction is best suited for putting lots of square footage under roof economically. You can definitely build porches, lean-to’s and more than one roof line. However, if your building plans call for multiple wings and complex rooflines, post frame construction might not be the best suited option.

Post frame construction is not designed for multiple story buildings over 20’ tall. If you want three or more floors in your building, conventional construction is your better option.

As mentioned above, in very poor or wet soil conditions, post frame construction can sometimes not be appropriate.

Conventional Construction Limitations

As mentioned above, if you want very tall ceilings or extra strong point loads in your walls, conventional construction methods might not work well for your application. Extra tall studs can be prone to warping, and putting too much load on one stud in your wall can cause it to break.

And of course, because of the cost premium for conventional construction, budget limitations may keep you from being able to build the size you really want and need!

So, which is right for you? Armed with this information, you should be able to make an informed decision about which construction method to choose for your next building project.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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