Are Pole Barns Safe?
Emerging trends in home design suggest that many homeowners are now shifting their interest from ultra-modern design to more rustic interior and exterior layouts. This shift has also triggered an interest in pole barns – both residential and commercial, and agricultural. Regardless of the growing popularity, however, some people ask, “Are pole barns safe?”
While there may be some apprehension to living in a pole barn house, there are numerous reasons why pole barn houses are safe places to live. The key to building a safe pole barn is working with experienced professionals and ensuring all building materials and procedures meet building codes. Below, we look at three key reasons why pole barns are safe.
Reason #1: Pole Barns Do Meet Residential Building Codes
Whether pole barns meet residential building codes has more to do with the builder and the design specifications than with the pole barn. However, there are some critical local or state building codes that you want to consider when building a pole barn, including:
- Whether your county allows two existing residential structures on the same property
- Codes for proper footings in frost lines
- Proper plumbing – specifically bathroom plumbing
- Electrical codes – specifically power systems that accommodate modern appliances
If you work with a reputable pole barn company, you will be able to design and build a pole barn that exceeds residential building codes. If you have questions about regulations, consult your local pole barn contractor.
Reason #2: Weather-Ready Design
Pole barn contractors approach pole barn designs the same as general contractors approach traditional home designs. Meaning, they build pole barns to withstand severe weather. Pole barn buildings withstand heavy rains, snowfall, high heat and humidity, hail, high winds, lightning, and even flooding. While there is some question about how well pole barns can withstand tornadoes, traditional houses are also just as vulnerable to heavy damage when a tornado hits.
Wood is strong, and most wood-frame buildings offer the advantage of repetitive members and multiple connections, which are ideal for resisting high winds. The post-frame design creates redundant load paths to effectively transfer wind forces from the building envelope to the foundation and soil below. As such, pole barns do withstand severe weather.
Reason #3: Pole Barns Last a Long Time
You’ll see a wide range of numbers thrown around when it comes to the longevity of pole buildings. However, 40-60 years is the most cited time frame. While it’s certainly possible that a pole building might last somewhere in this range, there is nothing to say that it couldn’t stay in working order for over 100 years with proper maintenance. There are several reasons why pole barns have a healthy lifespan.
- Some metal cladding typically protects the exterior of most pole barns.
- Manufacturers build girts and purlins to sustain the loads that they bear.
- Posts are structurally sound at the base in compliance with IBC codes.
- Many pole barn builders place the poles in concrete for more excellent stability.
The most likely reason the 40–60-year range is so often referenced is that it’s a safe estimate. Like any other structure, a pole building will require minimal upkeep over time; leading with a shorter potential lifespan eliminates disappointment on the owner’s part if that doesn’t happen.
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