There is much to be desired when it comes to building your own home. You can create your own living space that meets your needs and reflects your own personal tastes. The costs and plans that are accompanied in building one, however, can be pretty daunting. This is often a major setback for new prospective homeowners. Pole barn homes can provide a sensible solution for those seeking to build while on a budget. Unlike traditional homes, this style of building is based off of a simple frame structure that makes them much easier to build from and can be easily adapted for multiple uses.
For those that aren’t familiar with this particular type of building, pole barn homes are characterized as a frame consisting of posts and girts. This method of construction is often referred to as a post frame building. Modernized structures use pressure-treated timber and are typically covered in steel.
These simple, yet durable buildings are not a new concept. This technique of framing actually dates all the way back to the 1930’s during the Great Depression. A barn was an ideal means to shelter farm animals and livestock feed as well as other important things needing protection from the elements. During the 20’s and 30’s when corporate farming emerged, farmers needed additional place to store large equipment like tractors, plows, and harvesters in order to protect these sizable investments as they were a large contributor to their way of life and earning a living. During those difficult times, these barns were constructed using old telephone poles as a cheaper alternative to timber. This is where the name ‘pole barn’ comes from.
Due to the nature in the design of these pole barn structures, they required fewer and less expensive materials to build them. This made it easier and quicker to build large barns that were suitable for storing large farm equipment. As a durable and functional living space, it is not uncommon to find these types of buildings converted into homes in rural areas and farm lands.
Pole barn homes can be quite versatile despite what the name implies. While they make great barns for livestock or storing industrial equipment, they can also be made into incredible homes as well as businesses. Of course, you will need to look into the zoning and local building codes for the location that you’re planning to build on and acquire the necessary permits prior to building one of these structures.
Building Pole Barn Homes, as a Home!
For the DIYer, pole barn home kits are made available by pole barn manufacturers that are already designed and contain the plans and materials needed to build your own home from the ground up. Bear in mind, these kits are only for the exterior of the home. The interior will need to be planned out and designed as you would if you were building a typical home, albeit with some modifications. Prospective homeowners may want to consider going with a professional for finishing the interior, especially for the plumbing and electrical work to ensure the work is done properly.
Pole barn home kits are considerably higher in cost as compared to buying all of the materials and resources outright because you are not just paying for the materials. You are also paying for the time and planning that went into the design for the blueprints to build it, which may still be less than hiring a contractor to do it for you. All this aside, building pole barn homes is still significantly cheaper by comparison to building a home by the traditional means. Certain factors will influence the price point including the size you want it and the modifications you choose to add to the interior of the home.
How Are Pole Barn Homes Different from Traditional Houses?
One characteristic that is common of pole barn style homes is their shape. While these structures can have customizations added into the plans that blend in with other homes, they don’t have all of the added dimensions to the exterior that homes with multiple rooms have. Instead, pole barn homes are partitioned or separated into different rooms on the inside by adding dry wall or a second story. You can add as many different rooms as you need with different configurations that fit within the frame of the structure.
Traditional homes need a sound foundation to build on. This takes a great deal of time and money. For a traditional house or even a steel building, the foundation costs make up for more than 15% of the total construction cost for the home. A post-frame structure, on the other hand, simply requires drilled holes at least 4-6 feet deep, footers, and a backfill of dirt or concrete to serve as the foundation for the poles.
While we’re on the subject of foundations, a post frame home is more easily adaptable to land that isn’t level. A level piece of land is ideal when building any type of structure to maintain stability, but this isn’t always the case. Building a traditional home on land that is sloped requires making necessary preparations that usually involve adding soil and compacting to get a level surface for building your foundation. You can go this route with a pole barn house or you can choose to modify the design of the structure by using longer poles to make needed adjustments.
Determine exactly how off-level the ground is and secure your poles accordingly to adjust to the slope. Once all the posts have been secured, you can cut the tops off to bring them to the same height. The ground can easily be filled in afterwards in order to make your flooring level. In a pole barn building, it’s perfectly fine if the floor is slightly off-level by less than half an inch.
Traditional homes require the trusses to be spaced closer together to provide enough support to the structure, whereas the trusses in a pole barn home can be spaced at least 8-feet apart and wider. When designed properly, the poles of a pole barn home provide sufficient vertical strength, given the proper bracing, that can support the structure using fewer trusses while able to withstand heavy snow loads. For this reason, pole barn homes are also much easier to insulate contrary to popular belief. They provide better energy efficiency than traditional homes since there are fewer thermal breaks in between trusses in the walls.
Living in a Barn
To some the idea of living in a barn may not seem appealing, but when you can see the potential and beauty of a pole barn house it really isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem. In fact, many pole barn homes can be designed to look just like a traditional home from the outside. With the evolution of pole barns being converted into homes and other buildings there are far more options available than just steel and metal. The posts that create the frame of the pole barn home are only visible from the inside and this too can be modified if the owner desires.
A pole barn house can offer greater flexibility to accommodate a homeowner’s needs than building a traditional home. For instance, there are no weight-bearing walls within a pole barn structure to worry about as in a traditional home. This makes it easier and more cost-efficient to make modifications later on if you want to add or take down a wall. Depending on the height of the frame for the pole barn structure, it is also easier to add a second story if need be than adding one to a single-story house.
Opting for this type of structure can allow for greater spending flexibility for those who are on a budget when it comes to the interior design. With a traditional home, the size you need per square foot may limit your budget for extras like a porch or a walk-in closet. It’s much easier to add these in without substantially raising your costs in a pole barn home. You may also have more options when it comes to picking out style and placement of windows as opposed to a traditional home.
There are so many great options and added features in choosing this style of home to create a place that is uniquely tailored to you. You can implement decorative doors and unique features that are not typically seen in traditional homes like sliding barn doors. Dramatic overhangs can also be incorporated to create a pleasant outdoor space. The money saved in constructing and building a pole barn house can allow you to add more luxurious modifications and details to the interior of the home that may not have been an option otherwise.
Benefits of Pole Barn Homes
The many advantages that come with building these types of structures have captured the interest in builders for various needs. In addition to providing a better budget-friendly option for a building, pole barns offer even greater benefits than traditionally-built structures which include:
Durability – These buildings were traditionally made to weather the harsh conditions they were subject to. They are suitable structures in cooler climates that are prone to receiving heavy snowfall. They’re also perfectly capable of withstanding strong winds if the trusses were installed correctly.
Long-lasting – When done right, the posts of these structures are secured in the ground with metal sleeves or concrete piers in order to preserve the wood from ground-rot. With some maintenance required, these buildings can remain looking like new with minimal effort and easily last for a lifetime. Since the exterior is typically made of steel or metal siding, there’s no upkeep to worry about with paint peeling or wood becoming warped because it isn’t exposed to the elements.
Adaptable – These are very versatile structures that can be easily adapted to suit different needs. The exterior can easily be modified to fit the neighborhood or a new homeowner’s preference as well as the inside. They can be modified with as many rooms as you need without having to add on to the exterior of the structure, or you can add a porch for a homier touch. They can even be re-purposed to serve an entirely different function if needed over time. For instance, a pole barn that was once designed to house horses can easily be transformed into a car garage or a boat shed.
Functional Uses for Pole Barn Homes and Structures
We are seeing more and more buildings that are being designed using this particular type of construction in more developed areas for their obvious benefits. A pole barn can serve far more purpose than just housing animals, families or equipment. They are also much less time-consuming to build with fewer materials required than in traditional buildings, making these structures ideal for commercial use. You may be surprised by the different types of buildings that have utilized post frame construction in order to build them. Here are some examples just to name a few:
Churches – The cheaper construction and simple design of these structures make them ideal for use as church buildings. Because churches typically have a very open design that requires minimal interior modifications, they are quite practical and more economical when built using a post frame structure.
Picnic Shelters – You will likely recognize this structure that is commonly used in parks, campgrounds, and other communities for their ideal use as picnic shelters. They are simple, practical and far more economical over brick and mortar shelters. Picnic shelters are generally constructed with an open frame design with no walls to allow a cool, comfortable breeze to pass while still providing shelter from the sun and rain. Some shelters may have what’s referred to as a floating concrete slab to place tables and chairs on. Larger post frame structures can also be used for hosting outdoor events like concerts.
Storage buildings – This is an obvious use for these types of buildings with storing lawn and garden equipment among other household items or farming equipment. Many commercial storage units have implemented the design of a pole barn structure because they are much easier and cheaper to build for long structures consisting of numerous rooms. These buildings usually have a metal or aluminum construction and need very minimal interior modifications. Because they are much quicker and more affordable to build than a traditional garage, pole barns also serve as an ideal means for recreational vehicles, boats, and your other big toys.
When Choosing a Pole Barn for Business or Commercial Use
There is yet another form of construction that comes into question when debating on an alternative resource for building, which is steel frame construction. Like any type of structure, it too has its advantages and disadvantages for different uses. It offers a very durable building over traditional construction methods, but the materials for an all-steel or metal frame do cost more than those which are used in pole barn structures. So how does a steel frame built structure measure up against a post frame structure for use as a business or commercial building?
For those with a limited budget who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, a post frame structure is a more practical choice for various types of buildings. Pole barn kits allow landowners and small business owners the option to build and construct the frame of their home, barn, or business on their own. A steel frame building still requires a great deal of labor and can take much longer to build, unless you have the money to hire a professional contractor to map out the plans and designs. That is in addition to building the structure for you.
With steel frame buildings you still need an entire foundation to build on as with traditional buildings. This is because the steel posts are not buried into the ground. As we touched on earlier, building on a foundation is an added expense in the construction and has its limitations. For a larger building that will be purposed for industrial or commercial use, a steel frame building will cost significantly more due to the size of the foundation to support it that must be factored in.
A steel-frame building is more difficult to insulate to keep in warmth as well as a block and concrete building than a pole barn. This is also considerable factor when building a structure that will be used to store food or other contents that can be sensitive to temperature changes. For a climate controlled design such as a home, shelter, or storage unit, pole barns are clearly the more sensible option.
In addition to serving as great barns and even remarkable homes, pole barn buildings have proven to serve better for business buildings and commercial use over steel frame and concrete buildings. They are also ideal for startup businesses with a very minimal budget because the building cost is considerably lower and will last much longer. These structures will also hold their value over time providing a considerable lifelong investment.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Pole Barn Homes
There are many factors when building a post frame building that have to be taken into consideration carefully before going through with the construction. These are some common questions that can arise concerning a pole barn when looking at different options.
Are Wood Frame Buildings Like Pole Barn Homes : Safe for Long-Term Use?
When comparing a wood frame structure to a steel frame or concrete structure, it is commonly believed that wood is susceptible to deterioration. Modern wood is well-treated to preserve the integrity of the wood so that it does not rot nearly as easily. A post frame building like a pole barn, when constructed well, provides a substantially sound and sturdy structure that will last you for many years and even generations.
Can a Pole Barn Homes and Structures Withstand Natural Disasters?
For people that live in areas prone to natural disasters, this is a common concern when it comes to their buildings. The structure of a pole barn is very stable to withstand strong force winds and even has a little more give to them that can allow them to bounce back rather than become bent or damaged. In the midst of an earthquake, a pole barn building can and will hold up much better than other types of buildings, though they may still encounter some damage.
Another concern that isn’t necessarily related to an environmental factor is fire resistance. These buildings are frequently used to store automobiles and engine-powered machines as well as possibly flammable substances such as oil. Fire is always a possibility with any building, but especially buildings storing these types of machines. Wood will burn more easily than steel, so the trusses of a pole barn building are subject to becoming damaged. However, in a steel frame building it can only withstand temperatures to a certain degree then the structure will reach a failing point. When this occurs the damage is far greater. In wood, it must char first and then burn completely through and even then, the damage is more localized. This would allow an owner more time to save their valuables in the event the building would catch on fire than if it were a steel or metal frame building.
Can a Pole Barn be Insured as a Home?
This is an important question to ask if you are considering this choice as your home as well as a building for commercial use. For an investment such as this, you want to be sure you have adequate coverage to protect you from loss should something happen to it. Homeowner’s insurance will cover buildings such as garages and sheds but may require an additional policy on pole barns that are used for farming or other purposes.
As a tip to new homeowners, if you are building a pole barn house be sure to insure it for the value of the home with improvements. Pole barn homes that are insured under a homeowner’s policy should include personal property. When insuring your pole barn for other purposes, be sure the policy that you choose covers the contents such as farm equipment and other valuable possessions.
Pole barn structures can serve a vast number of purposes for different needs from housing livestock and people to automobiles and offices. It’s truly amazing to see how easy it is to transform a seemingly simple and affordable building into something that can be so much more.
Here is even more about Pole Barn Homes and their features and benefits. I have also included videos on how to make a bole barn home. A few fun and functional products suggested to enhance your outdoor living space at the end of the article, but first, lots of rich content on pole barn homes.
This Pole Barn Home resource has 5 features:
The Beauty of Pole Barn Homes
Pole Barn Accessory ideas
In what way do pole barn homes differ from other buildings?
Types of Pole Barn homes, how to build a pole barn home
Resources on P0le Barn Homes
Pole Barn Homes, also known as post frame houses, are a type of building that use a template known as ‘do it yourself kit’. This template reduce costs of coming up with these amazing and durable homes. This a relatively simple way of building, yet labor intensive. It is a decades old traditional timber framing technique. Pioneered in the 1930’s here in America, the process involves using large poles (or posts) buried in the ground or on top of a foundation, giving vertical structural support, plus girts to provide horizontal support. A girt is commonly used as a stabilizing element to the primary structure (in this case the poles). One of the other features of these homes is within their frames, which are insulated and wired. The cost of constructing this homes varies based on square feet covered and the modifications made. They can be simple or extravagant. For general agriculture purposes or for living. Of course, after looking at these photos, we certainly love the extravagant ones!
The Beauty of Pole Barn Homes
Before building a pole barn for home use, always seek a permit and follow local building codes. It goes without saying, but we need to say it, always check with local authorities before building a permanent structure on your property.
While building, plan for all interior modification as you would a regular home, consider seeking assistance from architects, interior design resources or professional builders. Pole barn homes are suitable for an amazing home, a small shed, a small commercial store, live stock, storage of whatever you need stored.
In a traditional sense, and why they were so popular decades ago, they provide the best way of storing farm equipment, farm animals, livestock feed and sheltering vehicles. Of course, they make great homes as well (so I guess they are ideal for storing families, furniture and all your stuff!). These kind of homes are common in farming and rural areas with lots of space, but they are being incorporated in urban centres as well. Note: Their design is obviously dependent the amount of money you have budgeted to invest in them, they can be simple or very large and ambitious. As you see in these photos, some pole barn homes are absolutely beautiful.
Video on how to build a pole barn home, a good tutorial:
Here is another video on how to build a pole barn, this one is from Heffernan Construction Company:
In what way do pole barn homes differ from other buildings?
The following are some core differences between pole barn houses and other building structures;
- Whereas other buildings require a firm foundation, pole barns only need deep post holes. These post holes consume less time and money. As for all structures, foundation is vital to long term stability, so make sure you do your home work on a proper foundation to build on and think years into the future, if you want the structure to last.
- Pole barn homes provide a structurally stable house which is able to withstand wind and other environmental forces unlike some other temporary building which can be damaged easier by extreme weather.
- Flexibility. In case you want to add an additional room or expand your pole burn home, you can knock down existing walls easily to add other walls. Flexibility is a key feature of these structures. This is not as easily done in traditional built homes / structures.
- They are easy (easier is probably a better word to use) to build, finish and insulate as compared to other buildings. See below for external resources to help you build or consult the videos.
- The cost involved in building pole barn homes can be substantially less than constructing other kind of houses. Of course the cost can increase dramatically depending on the options and size you want added, but as a rule, it is cheaper to construct this type of building.
- They have added features such as overhangs, wainscot and various decorative doors and window not found in common buildings. Even with all these added features, it can be considered a budget friendly home to build.
- They require less building materials as compared to other buildings and that is one of the reasons they are more cheaper to construct. The supporting poles are placed 10 ft to 12 ft apart and this saves the number of poles to be used. Always follow proper designed plans, ideally from a professional.
- Pole framing provides superior strength to the entire house. The poles are only visible from inside (which we think looks great!).
- The good thing with Pole Barn Homes is that they can be customized in order to suit your needs and desires. They can be made or converted into the size you want with all the features you could be looking for. Note that this does not involve extra costs as it is the case with other type of buildings.
- A pole barn house can be installed with unique roofing and siding. A unique design can be applied so that your pole barn house can stand out among other house. It is hard to re-design permanent or already completed buildings.
Types of Pole Barn homes
The types of pole barn homes varies from sheltering to storage to farm and commercial houses as outlined below;
(1) Garage homes which are used as car parking or long term storage,
(2) Horse Barns (these include horse feed rooms and stalls) or other live stock,
(3) Agricultural and storage buildings. They are mostly used to store agricultural produce and farm equipment,
Time lapse Video of a cattle pole barn being built:
(4) Commercial homes that may comprise of small stores and shops.
A little recap on some of the reasons why you should consider buying or building a pole barn home;
Pole barn homes are flexible and convenient, ideal for many purposes. They easily adopt to changing circumstances. They tend to be the cheapest house you can construct. They are easy to insulate and finish.
Having little to no exposed wood, your pole barn home may require less upkeep, making long term maintenance of the wood easier, requiring less work for things like re-painting.
With steel sided pole structures, you are assured of long lasting home. Steal sided structure may be the easiest to maintain, durable and versatile. Flexibility on the type of siding you use is up to you.
With these type of homes, you can feel safe and secure from the elements, as strong winds and other forces can easily be withstood with a properly constructed pole barn. Built right, this type of building will last decades. This is a home that can be customized to suit all your desires unlike other house. It are efficient and effective and hence it meets all your sheltering and storage needs.
Pole Barn Home Accessory ideas:
Sliding barn doors are a great accessory idea, look at this talented handy woman for a how to video:
Beauty is all in the details, and this American made product is a must for the real rustic feel:
American Made 8ft Classic Sliding Barn Door Hardware – Black Powder Coat
Made in America, from Artisan Hardware:
The product is the door hardware (not the actual door, you need to add that yourself)
8 ft Pre-Drilled Track
Customer reviews agree it is easy Installation
This product includes Lag Bolts and Spacers, nylon wheels with Bearings
Easy to open and rolls quietly
Durable high quality Powder Coated Black Finish
Can be used for your Pole Barn home inside, or as an exterior application
Includes all Hardware Needed to Hang Single Door, 2 Hangers, Track, Stops, Guide, Bolts
Amazon.com has them for an aggressive price, ships in 24 hours:
Here is another suggestion to adding to the comfort of your home. I don’t want to get too techie, but this product is great addition for any new or renovated home. The Nest Thermostat. It is smart home product, works remote, and may be the most important innovation in energy efficiency in a decade. My 12 year old programmed ours, so it is pretty easy to use. Customer reviews are extremely impressive.
The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself and automatically helps save energy when you’re away. Yes, you read that correctly, it programs itself! It learns from your environment. It helps save energy (saves money). You can control it using your phone, tablet or laptop.
Resources on P0le Barn Homes: