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Pole Barn Renovation vs. New Post-Frame Construction: Which One is Right for You?

July 13th, 2020 | 11 min. read

Cori Lane

Cori Lane

Cori grew up on her family's small grain and livestock operation in Northwest Indiana. In 2018, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration & Marketing from Marian University Indianapolis. Having shown beef cattle for 12 years at the county, state, and national levels, Cori chose to pursue a career in agriculture. Today, she serves as the Marketing Content Creator on the FBi team. In her free time, Cori enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching sports, listening to live music, and traveling.

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Is your existing post-frame building showing aging signs? Are your metal panels starting to chalk, fade, or rust? Unfortunately, your pole barn sits outside in the Midwest weather, so deterioration is inevitable. 

Some wear and tear won’t impact the structural integrity of your post-frame building. However, pole barn damages like metal roof leaks or rotted columns can be destructive if not fixed immediately.

So, how do you know if it’s too late to repair or renovate your post-frame building?

This article discusses why you should consider repairing or renovating your pole barn and when to build a new one.

Pole Barn Repair Quote_FBi Buildings

Why Should I Repair or Renovate My Existing Pole Barn?

You may have purchased a property with an existing post-frame building, or you already have an older one in the backyard that needs some TLC. 

Whatever the case, your pole barn appears to be in good condition. Not to mention, you’re pleased with the post-frame building size.

Therefore, why wouldn’t you invest in your current pole barn? Below, we list three reasons why you should repair or renovate your post-frame building instead of building a new one.

1) Pole Barn Structural Integrity

Structural Integrity_Building a Pole BarnFirst, structural integrity refers to a pole barn’s ability to withstand anticipated loads without breaking. Any post-frame building, regardless of size and location, must be able to resist vertical and lateral loads.

If no structural components are bowing, sagging, or uplifting, your older post-frame building may be salvageable.

To be on the safe side, we recommend contacting your post-frame builder to have them inspect your pole barn for structural damages.

2) Extend the Pole Barn's Useful Life

Second, you can extend the useful life of your pole barn if it’s structurally sound. Your post-frame building may not look like it did in the 1980s, but a simple pole barn reskin will make it look good as new.

Moreover, you can repurpose your post-frame building by framing it for living quarters and adding an interior finish like drywall. You can also add to your existing pole barn if more storage space is needed.

3) Potential Pole Barn Cost Savings

Pole Barn Reskin AfterUnless you’ve been living under a rock, the cost of a new post-frame building has increased since the start of COVID-19. The lack of building materials amid the “Great Supply Chain Disruption” is namely to blame for the fluctuation in pole barn prices.

Renovating your existing pole barn sounds like a no-brainer if you’re satisfied with the post-frame building size and if its structural integrity is intact.

Depending on the project scope, you’ll most likely avoid “hidden” costs associated with new pole barn construction, like permitting and site preparation.

You may think building a new post-frame building is a great way to ensure its use for decades. But simple repairs and renovations can have the same lasting effect for potentially less money.

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Which Pole Barn Renovations Can Increase the Longevity of My Post-Frame Building?

As mentioned above, two types of pole barn renovations will significantly extend your post-frame building’s useful life: re-roofing and re-siding. When you re-roof and re-side an existing structure, it’s called a pole barn reskin.

Editor’s Note: Again, your post-frame building must be structurally sound before renovating. Pole barn repairs may need to be made based on your post-frame builder’s assessment.

1) Re-Roof Your Pole Barn

Arguably, the most annoying pole barn repair is a leaky metal roof. The following occurrences can cause metal roofing leaks:

If your pole barn roof starts to leak, you must consider replacing it soon! Moisture damage over time can lead to condensation and rotted roof purlins.

Installing new metal panels to your roof system will extend your post-frame building’s lifecycle by 30 to 50 years.

Editor’s Note: Please ask your post-frame builder which type of fastener they use to secure the metal roofing panels. 

For example, a stainless steel-capped, self-sealing screw encapsulates the washer, preventing deterioration that causes metal roof leaks and pole barn rust.

2) Re-Side Your Pole Barn

Pole Barn Reskin DuringDepending on the pole barn paint system, metal siding can fade or chalk when exposed to sunlight.

Polyvinylidene fluoride, known as Kynar 500®, is the premium resin for post-frame construction. 

Its unique formula contains one of the strongest bonds known to humankind. A mixture of fluoropolymer resin and ceramic pigments produces excellent resistance to weathering.

New metal siding (with a warranty) can last 40 years if installed correctly.

Replacing the metal panels on your pole barn roof and sidewalls can have the same curb appeal as new post-frame construction without paying a hefty price.

Pole Barn Gallery_Pole Barn Pictures_FBi Buildings

When is it Time to Build a New Pole Barn?

Unfortunately, there may come a time when repairing or renovating your existing pole barn isn’t worth the investment. 

Below, we detail three scenarios where you may opt for a new post-frame building over pole barn repairs and renovations.

1) Rotted Pole Barn Columns

Rotten_Pole_Barn_ColumnsRotted pole barn columns are caused by continuous exposure to moisture and subsequent fungi growth. 

Uncovering your solid posts at ground level is the best way to determine if they are rotting.

You must dig up the “decay zone” (6” to 8” deep) outside of your post-frame building.

While wood is a natural element, we recommend installing the following building materials to prevent rotted pole barn columns:

  • Laminated Posts: 2+ layers of dimensional lumber that have been mechanically laminated with nails; stress-rated and pressure-treated; permeated with 0.80 lb./cu. ft. of Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) wood preservative.

  • Perma-Columns: No wood goes into the ground; sized to fit any laminated post; microfibers included for shock resistance and durability; microsilica enhances compressive strength and erosion resistance; corrosion inhibitor protects the rebar reinforcement and brackets from rust.

  • Bracket-to-Concrete Column: No wood goes into the ground; a black powder-coated bracket is screwed into a laminated post and anchored to the concrete foundation with heavy-duty screws.

Some rotted pole barn columns can be replaced, while others may be too far gone from a structural integrity perspective.

2) Sagging Pole Barn Roof Purlins

In severe cases, metal roof leaks can cause the purlins to soften and sag. The structural damage to this building component is relatively easy to fix. The construction crew will disassemble and rebuild the entire roof system.

However, you can argue that it takes the same amount of time (or less) to install a metal roof on a new pole barn as it does to replace an existing one.

Sagging pole barn roof purlins pose a safety risk to the people and stored belongings inside the post-frame building.

3) Bowing Pole Barn Trusses

Rotted Pole Barn TrussesLastly, trusses handle all the stresses received from the pole barn roof (via purlins) and transfer those structural loads to the laminated posts.

Bowing trusses compromise the structural integrity of your post-frame building. Well-designed trusses are crucial because if one fails, the others will follow suit. This domino effect results in building collapse.

A miscalculation in the snow load or abnormal snowfall in your region causes bowing trusses. Avoiding this type of pole barn repair can cause more structural damage.

Furthermore, high winds can cause the walls of your post-frame building to rack. As a result, your pole barn roof may no longer be squared. The solution to this problem is challenging, with the entire roof system being disassembled and reassembled. 

At that point, you may want to consider new post-frame construction.

Will You Renovate Your Existing Pole Barn or Build a New One?

After learning more about pole barn renovations versus new post-frame construction, do you know which route you’ll take?

Given the marketplace, pole barn repairs and renovations may be the most cost-effective solution for your building needs. However, depending on the structural integrity of your post-frame building, you may have no choice but to build new.

Both options are appealing. Our Repair & Renovation experts will be able to answer questions that may help you in the decision-making process. They have the knowledge, resources, and manpower to extend any pole barn’s useful life or reconfigure it for a new purpose.

Just remember to build with confidence.

Pole Barn Repair Quote_FBi Buildings

Do you have more questions about pole barn renovations 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’re 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.