Pole Barn Engineering

Pole barns are a popular and cost-effective option for building a variety of structures, including
homes, barns, and sheds. They are constructed using poles or posts as the primary support structure, rather than traditional lumber or steel framing.

The poles used in pole barn construction are typically made of wood. The wood poles may be solid
sawn lumber or glulam (glued laminated timber). The poles are anchored deep into the ground,
providing a sturdy foundation for the structure. Often a concrete collar is poured around the base
of the post, underground, before it is backfilled. Any portion of the pole in contact with the ground
is required by code to be pressure preservative treated. Horizontal wood members, called girts,
are attached to the poles at a uniform vertical spacing. These girts provide additional wall
structure, and exterior wall sheathing (such as plywood or oriented strand board) is nailed to the
girts. In a similar fashion, horizontal wood members called purlins are attached to the roof trusses
at a uniform spacing. These purlins provide additional roof structure, and exterior roof sheathing
(plywood or OSB) is nailed to the purlins. Pole barns may be finished with many common exterior
cladding materials such as corrugated metal, wood siding, Hardie panel, and so on.

One of the main advantages of pole barns is the cost savings compared to traditional construction
methods. Because the poles are the primary support structure, less lumber is needed, and the
labor required is also less. Experienced pole barn constructors can often have the primary
structure erected in just a few days.

Another advantage that pole barns enjoy is design flexibility. Pole barns can be built in a variety of
shapes and sizes, and can also be customized with a variety of features such as windows, doors,
skylights and dormers. Pole barns are also known for their durability and longevity. The poles used
in construction are treated to resist rot, decay, and insect infestation, ensuring that the structure
will last for many years.


Pole barn engineering is often required when the building is of a certain size (square footage) or
height. Your local building department will be able to tell you if engineering is required for your pole barn project. Design typically involves structural engineering of the poles, girts, purlins, trusses, wall and roof sheathing, and foundations. Tall pole barns require structural engineering to ensure the structure will resist wind loads and earthquake loads. Additionally, pole barn designs in Colorado must be evaluated to ensure the structure is adequate to support the imposed snow loads. The truss spacing, purlin size and spacing, and roof sheathing all contribute to supporting snow loads. Walls poles and other members finally transfer these loads to the foundation and then to the ground.

Another important aspect of pole barn engineering is ensuring that the structure is properly
insulated, heated, and ventilated. This becomes important when owners wish to use their pole
barn as a residence, accessory dwelling unit, or shop. Insulation can be accomplished through a
variety of methods, such as rigid foam, spray foam, batt insulation, as well as other products. If the
space inside the pole barn is to be conditioned (heated), the code requires that the pole barn be
insulated and equipped with energy efficient doors and windows.

When planning to construct a pole barn, its important to consult with a professional engineer
who has experience in pole barn engineering. They will help you design a structure that meets
your specific needs and complies with local building codes. With proper design, construction, and
maintenance, a pole barn can provide a cost-effective and long-lasting solution for a variety of
structures. Whether you’re building a home, barn, or shed, pole barn engineering can provide a
sturdy and reliable structure that will last for many years.

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