What Is a Pole Building

If you are trying to construct a building with the potential of lasting for decades or perhaps centuries, the pole building may be what you are looking for.

What is a pole building?

A pole building is one of the most economical and sound structures you can build. It is constructed out of treated poles that are debarked like utility poles. The number of poles required will depend on the size of the structure you want to build. You simply set in holes in the ground, put poles in them, connect the poles with beams at the top, and add a roof.

You may have 8-to-12-foot centers between the poles, but for residential use, structural integrity is essential, so try to stick to eight-foot centers. You do not need a foundation, but you may pour one, if you desire.

Starting out

The first step would be to acquire your poles and lay them all in a horizontal pattern so that you can coat the first 5 feet or so with a suitable permanent wood sealant like creosote. Ask your power or phone company what they are using; you may even be able to buy the poles treated and coated from a commercial supplier.

After your site is laid out, hire a contractor with an auger, and have him dig the holes, at the proper distance from each other, larger that the poles themselves, because once you have settled the poles into their home, you will want to fill the surrounding vacant space with concrete.

Planning is a good plan

Once you are at this phase, you may consider laying a foundation. It is a good idea to extend the foundation a couple of feet beyond the poles to give them some protection from weathering. Once all the concrete is cured, you may go into the next phase of construction, which is affixing the roof trusses and secure them with pre-manufactured steel braces, which are like hurricane clips, but better.

When building the roof itself, don't skimp on thin sheet-metal roofing. Go for heavy-gauge steel. You will thank yourself later, when 30 years on, with good maintenance, you still have your original roof.

Insulation from the elements

If it is a home you are building, now is the time to plan for those cold winter nights and high utility bills. Plan on building a well-insulated ceiling to keep the heat from escaping into the rafters.

While building the walls, you have the opportunity to double-insulate by having an outside wall and an inside wall, stuffing the hollow space between with heavy-duty fiberglass insulation panels. You will of course have planned where your doors and windows will be, and this is another area where you should not go cheap.

Make certain that your doors are solid and not hollow core. When putting in the windows, you have two considerations to make. The first is how much of a view and daylight you want, and the other is heat loss in the winter. By installing double-pane glass windows, the initial higher expense will pay off in utility-bill savings from heating and air conditioning.

Overall, pole buildings, when built correctly, will withstand the elements much better than conventional, stapled-together, framed-out buildings and give you many years of relatively low-maintenance enjoyment.

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