Progress Report 5 – 30×48′ Pole Barn build


In today’s update, the crew raises the trusses with a custom skid steer attachment, finish the framing, and start installing the insulation and metal sheeting.

These guys are true professionals, it is amazing how quickly they are able to put these buildings up. After talking to the foreman this is his ~800th building. I could tell just watching them that they didn’t even have to think about what was next, it was just automatic.

Framing the Posts

Steps to building a pole barn
Here is the building as they left it from the Friday before. The pile of materials was staged out behind.
Steps to building a pole barn
As some the crew was working on the framing, one guy stayed out back and pre-cut a lot of the lumber and brought it up when needed.

Raising the Trusses

Steps to building a pole barn
Here are the trusses ready to put up. It had rained before they started the Friday before and there was some residual mud still hanging around.
Steps to building a pole barn
The only piece of equipment other than power tools used on the whole job was this skid steer to auger the holes and use this hydraulic extendable boom attachment to lift up the trusses. One guy lifted them up and the other two nailed them in, it went really fast.
Steps to building a pole barn
All the trusses put up. They put in some temporary diagonal bracing to keep everything square until they had more of the framing up.
Steps to building a pole barn
I was surprised the front truss was a scissor truss as this is where the garage door will be. It worked out well though as you will see later.

Garage doors and headroom

I was struggling with the decision on door height vs ceiling height when ordering the building. I wanted a 12′ door which would accommodate most RV’s (trailers, Class C, Most smaller class A and some fifth wheels) if I ever got one in the future. The problem was that I wanted the ceiling height to be as low as possible (less to heat/cool, smaller building). After talking to lots of people about it I think I figured out the secret.

Garage doors need a certain amount of ceiling height to accommodate a garage door opener and have enough room for tracks. Without enough head room (approximately one foot or less) you will often have to order custom ‘low headroom’ door tracks with more expensive jackshaft type openers and torsion springs.

By doing a 12 foot door with 13 foot ceilings AND scissor trusses at the front, I was able to avoid any extra cost or reliability issues with a custom door. This is a large garage door at 12′ tall x 18′ wide, so I wanted it to be reliable and not stressed or fatigued over time. The scissor trusses allow plenty of head room for a conventional garage door opener and tracks.

Steps to building a pole barn
Here you can (kind of) see, the first 4 trusses are scissor trusses. We did this so we could have a 12′ tall door with only 13′ tall walls and still have enough headroom for a garage door opener and normal door tracks.

The same could also apply to other shop heights, say you wanted a 10′ door with 11′ ceilings, you might be able to get away with just scissor trusses at the front. It would be wise to talk to your builder and some garage door installers to confirm though.

Venting a pole barn

I will be finishing the inside eventually but we are in the middle of January and it might be a while before I get to it. I had asked that the contractors not vent the roof peak and soffits that way I could just cut the insulation when I was ready. However the contractor told me that he wouldn’t suggest totally blocking it off as some others that did the same had major moisture problems once the concrete was poured (as in it was so moist water was dripping from the ceiling).

His suggestion was to go ahead and vent the roof peak but leave the soffits covered until I was ready. He simply nailed a 12″ wide strip of the Solex insulation along the soffit area that I could just rip / knock out before I insulated and finished the interior.

Steps to building a pole barn
Here you can see they started attaching the outer fascia boards and the strip of insulation mentioned above to temporarily block the soffit vents (the silver bubble wrap looking stuff at the top)
Steps to building a pole barn
Next they started by rolling out the insulation on the roof and applying the roofing metal. The roofing metal was pre-cut to length and pre-drilled for screws so this part went really fast. They simply screwed the tin down to the purlins.

About pole barn vapor barrier and insulation

When putting up a pole barn, you can do nothing under the tin, house wrap type vapor barrier, or what I did which was SOLEX brand insulation. It gets super humid in Kansas so you pretty much need to do some kind of vapor barrier in our area.

The SOLEX vapor barrier has 1/8″ of insulation with a reflective silver side that faces towards the metal (that keeps water/condensation out) and a white plastic side that faces in (and looks nice and clean). The R value varies depending on how it was installed (the manufacturer doesn’t specifically say an outright number) looking at the chart I think it would be safe to say it is around an R value of 4 or 5. There is a lot of debate if you google this.

Again, it was one of those things that was cheap-ish to add now but can’t really be added in the future. When I finish out the building I will be adding additional insulation and interior walls.

Steps to building a pole barn
I took this picture to show the difference in purlins (the boards running from truss to truss under the tin.) The boards on the right are 2×6″ and the left are 2×4″. This is because I spec’d one side (West facing) to be beefy enough for solar if it ever made sense in the future. This is one of those things that is cheap to add now but would be really expensive to modify down the road.

Another option is to do the SOLEX just under the roof and not the walls. This would be a cheaper option to keep the heat load and moisture out but not break the bank. (Link to the SOLEX type insulation for more info below)

Steps to building a pole barn
While part of the crew was working on the roof, another guy started rolling out the insulation on the sidewall. They just roll it out and staple it to the framing with a hammer stapler which was cool to watch (link to tool below).
Steps to building a pole barn
At the front of the garage, I have a window between the door and the wall. This makes it so they can’t put a diagonal brace in the framing. So instead they added plywood to give it diagonal strength.
Steps to building a pole barn
More insulation and metal going up.
Steps to building a pole barn
About this time, they lifted the cupola up on to the roof. We were on the fence for a while on if we were going to do one or not but in the end we are glad we did. These come with a weathervane sometimes called a ‘topper’ but we chose not to have it put on.
Steps to building a pole barn
More SOLEX insulation / metal. Here you can see the cupola up!
Steps to building a pole barn
Here is the insulation going up on the back wall before they hung the metal.

The insulation is installed from bottom to top with the top pieces overlapping the bottom. That way any condensation that might drip down between it and the metal can’t get into the building.

Steps to building a pole barn
They did the two easy sides with no windows/doors first. These went fast.

A note on trim colors

Most pole barns only have two colors. The sheeting color and roof color. The roof color is typically also the same as what is used on the wainscot (the bottom 4ft of steel on the walls) and trim. We went a little bit different to try to match the house better by going with white trim instead. You will notice it more later but here are some close-ups.

There wasn’t any additional cost to specify a different color of trim, they just change it on the order sheet when ordering from the manufacturer.

Steps to building a pole barn
Here is a close up of the trim between the upper steel and the bottom wainscot. The bottom wainscot is ‘burnished slate’, the top is ‘stone’ and the middle trim color is white.
Steps to building a pole barn
Here is the trim at the bottom of the wainscot that attaches to the skirt board. Both this and the middle pieces of trim extend ~4″ up under the steel to where the screws are to keep water from getting under the steel.
Steps to building a pole barn
Here they were framing out the two windows on the west side before adding insulation and metal.
Steps to building a pole barn
Installing the header boards and additional framing for above the garage door. They framed this part on site.
Steps to building a pole barn
Here they had framed and installed the two west facing windows. These are each 3′ tall by 4′ wide which sounds big until you put them on a large wall like this.

These windows come with a plastic flange around them that they can just screw to the framing. After the window they add the insulation then use some special weather proof tape to seal the window to the insulation. Moisture is the enemy on these buildings.

Steps to building a pole barn
Here is the header and entrance view from the inside. You can see they cut the plywood for the 3′ x 3′ front window.
Steps to building a pole barn
A view of the West wall from the inside

This update rounds out day 2 and 3 of the 4 person crew building the pole barn. Stay tuned for more of the process with lots of details! Next up is more sheeting, windows, doors, and a breezeway connecting to the house.

Now YOU, go outside and work on something!

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