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Pole barn vs frame building

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-07-14          164046


After living in the same neighborhood for almost 50 yrs. you watch what happens to buildings after they age and start to need maintinence.
I built or helped build a good number of pole sheds over the years in the neighborhood, some mine some for others, and also helped build or built myself several frame sheds with a frost footing.
My observation now is that the 30-40 pole sheds are in sad shape, poles rotted off, etc. a couple have even been torn down.
The frame sheds also need maintenence at that age, shingles, paint, door repair, etc.
So my point of all this is that the last shed I had built three years ago was a turn key job, I can't climb and all that anymore. The price between a steel clad pole shed and a frame shed on a frost footing were within a few dollars of the same cost.
Now down to my final point. A pole shed at 30-40 yrs is pretty well shot, a frame shed at the same age with some maintenece is good for another 30-40 yrs. I just won't build another pole shed when the cost is the same and the life of a frame shed is double. Frank.

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Pole barn vs frame building

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2009-07-14          164048


I agree with you Franky. I echoed that regarding the recent post by the guy from Alberta, Canada.

I built a really nice pole barn for a couple using the standard poles. BUT, the building inspector would not let me just cement the poles in the ground and later dig a 42" x 8" rat wall between the posts then pour a slab floor. No. He had me trench out 42" x 12" continuous footer then suspend and brace the poles in the trench---PIA!--then make a continuous pour. From the start the inspector asked why they just didn't have me build a typical stud frame building. The couple is in their 80's and just loved the look of a pole barn. And that's what they got. ....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-07-14          164049


Quote:
Originally Posted by hardwood | view 164046
A pole shed at 30-40 yrs is pretty well shot, a frame shed at the same age with some maintenece is good for another 30-40 yrs. I just won't build another pole shed when the cost is the same and the life of a frame shed is double. Frank.


I'd argue that point Frank, to me it's like saying something along the lines of "All North American cars are junk.".

I've got a pole shed up at the farm that my grandfather and his father built during the first world war. It's still just as solid as it ever was.

I suspect it has more to do with things like soil conditions, local weather, construction techniques, etc. than it does about style of construction.

Oh, and before someone pipes in about wood in contact with soil, there's a log building at my gal's parents cottage that sits on 4 massive Hemlock sleepers (logs laying directly on the ground), it's a little out of level, but was built in about the 1850's. It's absolutely still usable as is.

Best of luck.

....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-07-14          164053


Murf;
I won't get in a shouting match over building design but either you guys up north keep all the good poles and send the poor ones down to us or what I don't know what the factor is but. I challenge you to find a pole shed in my part of the world that is 30-40 yrs. old that doesn't have most if not all the poles rotted off at ground level. They can be replaced but talk about a nasty job especially if any cement was involved, I know I've did it.
All you have to do is drive past a farmstead with an older looking colored steel pole shed and look at the eveline fron a distance, if it is uneven and wavy you can bet your boots the poles are rotted off. Frank. ....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2009-07-14          164054


Murf ol' boy I beg to differ. I dismantled two circa 1830-50's log cabins last year. They were built as you described. All the wood in contact with the ground which was yellow sand was rotted. In some cases there was nothing left. I believe the wood was oak. ....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-07-15          164059


Frank, I did say I suspected soil conditions or such could be the culprit, and if every one in your area is bad, then that's likely it. But yes, you caught on, we do keep the good stuff up here. LOL

Jeff, if the logs you encountered were Oak I could certainly believe they were gone bad by then, up here they used a lot of Hemlock where Cedar wasn't available for those kinds of applications. The high sap content, which is also very acidic, makes a great natural preservative.

There was a story in the news up here recently that a developer was digging up a big piece of former industrial land that used to be (prior to dredging and filling) waterfront lands on Lake Ontario, in excavating they hit the remains of a wharf that had been buried in the filling operation ages ago.

The wood (large Hemlock pilings and beams) is solid enough that a local guy with a portable bandsaw mill is cutting into lumber for furniture and stuff, it is solid as the day it was cut well over a 100 years ago.

Best of luck. ....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-07-15          164068


Murf;
I'll have to back water a bit here, the very first pole shed that I helped my father build when I was in high school in the mid fiftys was built with genuine round creosote poles. I burned all summer from handling those with bare arms and hands.
Those poles did not rot off, but any square supposedly creosote or worse the green treated ones we used after that were basicly junk, and our soil conditions were likely the reason, don't know.
That first shed with the round poles has been torn down to make way for a bigger shed, I asked the owner if he would sell me those poles, but he said no.
I guess the reason for banning the genuine creosote was for some cancer reason, so far I haven't had cancer but my brains have tured to mush, the creosote must be to blame. ....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-07-15          164069


Murf;
I'll have to back water a bit here, the very first pole shed that I helped my father build when I was in high school in the mid fiftys was built with genuine round creosote poles. I burned all summer from handling those with bare arms and hands.
Those poles did not rot off, but any square supposedly creosote or worse the green treated ones we used after that were basicly junk, and our soil conditions were likely the reason, don't know.
That first shed with the round poles has been torn down to make way for a bigger shed, I asked the owner if he would sell me those poles, but he said no.
I guess the reason for banning the genuine creosote was for some cancer reason, so far I haven't had cancer but my brains have tured to mush, the creosote must be to blame. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-07-15          164072


Sorry about the double post, mush brains I guess. ....

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Pole barn vs frame building

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-07-15          164073


No worries Frank.

If you look in the fine print on the left, just under your name there is the words "edit | Delete" if you click on the 'Delete' word you can remove the double.

Funny thing about the Creosote, it's only banned for us regular folks, the railways aren't affected by the ban. Something tells me they have a bunch more of it in use than we do!!

That green-treated stuff is junk. One of my friends has a big fence & deck company near here. He says they have to leave the wood strapped in a bundle until the moment they are ready to use it or it turns into a pile of twisted crap. He has the lumber yard band it into 3 groups, the framing, the decking, and the stairs and railings, that way he can leave all but what he needs right then securely bound up.

I read an article about it and the results of a study were that they were treating it when it was way to wet, as a result the soggy wood couldn't absorb much treatment, pressure or no pressure.

Best of luck. ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2009-07-16          164130


Around here one can build a stick building for less than a steel clad pole barn now. Wasn't that way when I built mine. I would go with the stick built now. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-07-17          164143


I suspect a lot of that comes down to pure and simple, economy of scale.

Large posts and beams are a 'custom' thing that can be sourced from only the larger, straighter logs. Dimensional lumber on the other hand can be carved out of nearly anything these days with the computer controlled sawmills we have today.

We are lucky in that we still have a large bush lot and our own little sawmill to make whatever we need, others are not so lucky. Case in point, my FIL is rebuilding his dock at the lake, it was built using rough cut timbers on log cribs full of rock. He went to the local lumber yard to order 4 pieces of beam, each one being 6"x8" and 30' long. They quoted him $6 a running foot, or $720 for 4 beams. In comparison, 'making' them by laminating 2"x8" boards would have been only a little over $200 for all of it.

Likewise, in a stick frame building, there is more labour, but the materials cost far less so in the end it's a cheaper way to go.

Best of luck. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2009-07-17          164148


Probably 10-15 yrs. ago an aquaintence of mine had a steel clad pole shed built. I happend to stop by when they were setting the poles. The poles were simply three 2X6's spiked together on site to form a pole. They had a kid painting some kind of green stuff on the bottoms that would be in the ground. I haven't been in the shed since it was built, but drive past once in a while, the eveline still looks level. Frank. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2009-07-17          164151


Quote:
Originally Posted by hardwood | view 164148
They had a kid painting some kind of green stuff on the bottoms that would be in the ground.


Frank, that 'green stuff' is chromated copper arsenate (CCA), as the name suggests, it contains a derivative of arsenic, this is what prevents rotting, it is toxic to the mould and such.

It's also why 'green wood' has been widely banned.

There's a local builder who uses a slightly different twist on 'poles' for buildings, he sets pieces of used concrete utility poles, they're formed under very high pressure, then uses steel collars to connect the wood column to the top of it.

The theory is there is never any wood in contact with the earth.

He apparently got the idea from an old idea of putting a piece of used railway tie in the bottom of a hole sideways, then setting the post on top. It acts both to spread the weight out, and to transfer creosote as a preservative.

I don't think he's been doing it much more than about 15 years or so but to date I've never heard of anyone having a problem with any of his work.

Best of luck. ....

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anthonyc12
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 5 USA
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2013-09-20          187999


Most contractors I have talked to have said there is very little cost difference between a pole building or a stick building. Since I am building mine myself, I am going with 2x4 walls. This will make it easier to insulate with a thick type insulation. ....

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