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10 questions to ask when buying a pole barn10 questions to ask when buying a pole barn

SPONSORED: Avoid common pitfalls when you buy your next structure.

June 9, 2016

3 Min Read

1. Will my building be fully-engineered?

Be sure that all of your building’s components are engineered to work together and to last. Don’t assume that “a pole barn is a pole barn”. Often, the only engineered component is the truss. The truss relies on the rest of the building for support and bracing. If these are inadequate the truss may fail.

2. Where are the parts of my building sourced?

There’s a big difference between buying a building system versus a list of building materials. The components must be designed to work together as a system.

3. What type of lumber is used in my building?


Size, species and grade all have a meaningful impact on your building performance. Bigger is not necessarily better, as shown below.

4. Will my builder use multi-ply columns or solid wood posts?

Testing has proven that laminated multi-ply columns provide higher design strengths than solid wood posts. The chemical treatment to prevent wood rot is better because each ply is fully treated, rather than just the perimeter of a solid post. Column consistency and straightness can be controlled by laminating wood plies together.

5. What type of structural framing will my builder use?

It is important to compare structural framing details.

a. Truss to column connection: A symmetrical truss centered on the column eliminates an unexpected load on the column and minimizes the risk of the column bowing.

b. Purlin to truss connection: Purlins in steel hangers provide positive truss bracing (the truss cannot prematurely buckle) and eliminates places for birds to nest.

c. Truss to truss bottom chord bracing: With a side mounted truss connection a large torque can be produced that could cause the column to bow, reducing the column’s ability to carry its vertical load.

6. Can I help design my building, or do you only offer standard models?

Ask about options for building width, bay spacing, foundation type and framing choices. Some builders offer little-to-no flexibility and will not construct a building outside of their standard cookie-cutter methods.

7. Is my quote a complete proposal or just an estimate?

An estimate is just that…an estimate. Its final value is determined at project completion. A complete proposal is a firm quote, subject to change only if the scope of the project changes. Review your quote to ensure it includes everything you want. The quote should clarify in writing what is included and what is excluded. Avoid unpleasant surprises by understanding the true scope of work before you sign a contract.

8. Whose responsibility is excavation and site preparation?

This is a common area where unforeseen expenses occur. The building contract should clearly state who is responsible and set clear guidelines for performing each task. Be sure both the gravel hauling (in and out) and the placement is included. The handling of conditions such as high water table or buried rocks should also be clearly defined in the contract.

9. What does the warranty cover?

Ask for warranties that cover treated lumber, steel paint and the structure itself. Be wary if a builder is not willing to provide a written warranty covering the building’s long-term performance.

10. Is my builder fully insured?

To protect you and your property during construction, ask for a current copy of the builder’s certificate of insurance, which documents worker’s compensation, general liability and builders risk.

This buying guide is sponsored by Lester Buildings. To get started on your project, call 800-826-4439 or visit LesterBuildings.com.  

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