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Building a Pole Barn? 7 Tips You Need to Know.

September 9th, 2019 | 9 min. read

Angie Dobson

Angie Dobson

Angie graduated from Indiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. Prior to joining the FBi team, Angie was a kitchen and bath sales consultant in Lafayette, IN. In 2012, she started with FBi as the Inside Sales/Marketing Assistant. Today she holds the role as Marketing Project Manager. Angie grew up in a farming community and has always enjoyed helping her family on the farm. A past 10 year 4-H Member, her passion for livestock pursued her to take a career in the agriculture field. Her and her husband live in Northwest Indiana with their two daughters. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor leisure activities and spending time with friends and family.

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After several months (or years) of kicking the idea around of building a pole barn, you’ve finally made the decision that you’re going to move forward with this long overdue project. 

You’ve spoken to friends who have a post frame building, you’ve done your research online, and you’ve probably even read Google reviews on who the best pole barn builders are. 

Your decisions have been narrowed down to the top three builders (in your opinion), and you want to do your due diligence and make sure you get an apples to apples quote comparison. The steps it takes to build a post frame structure is no easy task. At times, you probably felt confused, overwhelmed, or even annoyed with all of the hoops that you need to jump through just to put up a custom building. 

But before any of that happened, my guess is your Google question (because everything happens on Google anymore) was something like this ….

What do I need to know when building a pole barn?” 

To your surprise, a lot of different articles popped up. Over 111,000,000 to be exact. The wheels start turning and you have no idea how you’re going to cypher through all of the information that is in front of your eyes. 

Who do you trust? How do you know you aren’t making the wrong decision? How do you even know what decisions to make? 

We get it. Building a pole barn is a big task to take on, no matter what the use will be. From a multi-purpose farm building, hobby barn, riding arena, or even a two-car garage. Though they vary in size, the process is still the same.

To make the building process less overwhelming, consider these 7 pole barn tips to ease your mind that you’re making the right decision when it comes to a unique post frame building design that will satisfy your needs for years to come.

7 Tips for Building a Pole Barn

There’s no right or wrong way on how to research what type of pole building you want. You might research by design ideas others have done, requested literature from other post frame builders, or even designed your building online

However, our job as one of the preferred post frame builders in the Midwest, is to make this process easy for you. And it all starts with following these tips. 

1. What Type of Pole Barn Will You Be Building?

Farm_Shop_SuttonIf you’ve called us before for a building quote, you might remember one of our team members asking you, “What will your building be used for?” 

We ask this question because the type of building you choose will help us determine what you will need assistance with. For example, permitting, building code requirements, proper ventilation, material selection, insulation purposes - are you starting to get the point?

The more you know about building details (primary use, features, etc), will help your builder give you an accurate quote.  

To give you a better idea on types of pole barns, consider our primary markets:

  • Farm Buildings: Cold Storage, Farm Shop, Combination, or Seed Dealership
  • Commercial Buildings: Retail, Warehouse, Mini-warehouse, or Municipal
  • Residential Buildings: Garage, Hobby Shop, RV Storage, or Tool Shed
  • Horse Barns: Riding Arenas, Horse Stables, or Combination Barn
  • Repairs & Renovation: Building Reskin, or Building Repairs

2. Do You Need Help with Permitting?

Building PermitYou may or may not be aware that depending on where you’re located and what type of building you’ll be constructing, will determine the type of building permit you’ll need. 

Some jurisdictions are based off of county, while others are based off of cities/towns. 

Just remember that permitting costs are based on the following factors:

  • Building Size (square footage)
  • Building Segment (Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, or Equine)
  • Jurisdiction (state or county)

Another thing to keep in mind is pricing for building permits. Unfortunately, It’s not black and white. We recommend working with an experienced builder who can help guide you in the right direction. In some cases, the builder will help pull the permit for you.

3. Will You Be Working with a Professional Engineer Who Understands Structural Integrity?

Structural Integrity_Building a Pole BarnIf you’re going to invest money in a post frame building, make sure it’s engineered to handle various stresses. For example, your pole barn will inevitably encounter inclement weather, such as wind and rain. How your building reacts to these situations over time will determine its lifetime.

Understanding the importance of your building’s structural integrity will help you:

  • Make a well-informed buying decision
  • Gain greater confidence and peace of mind
  • And save money in the long run

You’re probably wondering what exactly is pole barn structural integrity?

Structural integrity refers to a structure’s ability to withstand anticipated structural loads without breaking. Any building, regardless of size or location, must be designed to resist both vertical and lateral loads safely.

Another key component to keep in mind is the engineering team who is creating your plans. Does your preferred builder have an in-house engineering team who can do the work for them or does it all need to be out-sourced? 

You’ll be saving yourself money by choosing a post frame builder who has their own in-house team. Why? Because you’re cutting out the extra cost of paying another company to create the plans for you. 

Structural Integrity eBook_FBi Buildings

4. Choose a Custom Pole Barn Builder (No Cookie Cutters)

Design Online_Step 6For many of our customers, one of the most fun parts about construction is bringing your dreams to life through the design of your building. The beauty of post frame is its flexible design to fit all of your needs, regardless of your ideas.

When you’re researching post frame builders, pay attention to their building gallery

Do they have a lot of pictures for you to look through? What do the designs look like? Do you see a pattern in the types of buildings they’re constructing? 

Some builders who don’t have access to valuable resources (like an in-house design and engineering team), aren’t able to meet the needs and desires of their customers. Their knowledge and expertise is in the “simpler” projects - the ones that are easier to build.

If you’re looking for a simple building with no bells and whistles, then going this route might be the perfect option for you. 

Once you’ve selected a building design, dig a little deeper and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your desired building size? Does the building size meet your needs? Is the builder able to meet your building size?
  • If your budget is being stretched, do you plan to add on to your building in the future?
  • What type of external features do you want to include?
    • Wainscot
    • Cupolas
    • Overhead doors
    • Windows
  • Do you know how you want to finish the interior of the building?
    • Office space?
    • Fully lined and insulated?
    • Concrete?
  • Does the flow of the building maximize your use and lower operating costs?
Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings

5. Does Your Builder Focus on Appropriate Ventilation (to Avoid Condensation)?

Condensation-Management-300x179Ventilation goes a long way towards accomplishing condensation control. The post frame construction saying goes, “Your IN is only as good as your OUT.” In other words, your airflow is only as good as its ability to escape your pole barn.

There are four ways to ventilate your pole barn properly:

1. Overhangs

Air moves upwards as it warms and rises. Having 1’ or 2’ overhangs with vented soffits on the sides of your building will draw air inside. At the peak of the roof, ridge vents work to release the warm, humid air.

2. Cupolas

Often added for aesthetic purposes, cupolas can help with ventilation. If installed to be functional, cupola fans require electric.

Adding a cupola to your building will allow a way for trapped heat to escape through the fan and side vents. For a personalized touch, you can top it off with a weathervane.

3. Doors & Windows

It seems evident, but doors and windows are standard building features that encourage air movement.

During the summer, do you find yourself opening all the windows or screen doors to let a breeze into your house? If we had to guess, the open doors and windows are located on the east and west side of your house. Here’s why…

Typically, the wind blows in a west to east direction. Placement of this ventilation system depends on your building’s location and use. Whichever way the wind blows will determine the doors and windows you’ll want to open for the best ventilation. Also, we recommend evenly distributed doors and windows for better results. 

4. Mechanical Ventilation

Opposite of natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation controls the air movement by using one or more fans. It isn’t commonly used for post frame buildings because it increases initial, operating, and maintenance costs.

Mechanical ventilation is used when natural ventilation isn’t enough. In this case, you’ll want to consider installing the following interior items:

  • Ceiling fans
  • Portable fans
  • Larger, installed fan units

6. Keep Future Expansions in Mind

If you’re running out of space, then you might want to consider a pole barn addition or connection. Often, adding square footage to your existing building proves to be a practical choice. 

The convenience of having your whole operation under one roof is compelling. Before you go too far, identify the amount of additional square footage needed. This number will help you decide if expansion is possible, as well as the best option for you.

Running out of room in your pole barn isn’t the end of the world. Building additions, connections, and lean-tos are feasible options for extra space.

Take a step in the right direction and download our free Building Connections & Additions Guide. Our goal as one of the top post frame builders in the Midwest is to get you the space your operation needs to succeed.

Pole Barn Additions_FBi Buildings

7. Does Your Builder Have Dedicated Repair Crews?

Crew_WinUnfortunately, the weather is an uncontrollable natural force. However, we can control how we react to the situation.

Sure, any damage to your building can be upsetting. You’ve spent thousands of dollars on building design, only to have high wind speeds put a couple of dents in it. Or worse, a tree fell into the side of your pole barn.

Don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, focus on following these helpful tips in hiring the right builder to restore your building to its original condition.

  1. Select a builder that is responsive.         

  2. Select a builder that is insurance friendly.

  3. Select a builder that specializes in storm damage.

  4. Select a builder with the manpower.

  5. Select a builder with experienced engineers.

  6. Select a builder with purchasing power.

  7. Select a builder with stability.

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?

Now that we’ve given you our 7 tips for building a pole barn, you need to take the next step and decide if you’re ready to move forward with your project. Do these tips help you with choosing the right builder for your job?

We understand that this is a big decision to make, and taking your time in figuring out your choices and options is the best route to go. If you want to talk more in depth about our building process, just give us a call.

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings


Do you have more questions that are not covered in this article? If you need help designing and planning, please contact FBi Buildings at 800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our customer engagement team will help you determine the next steps of your project.