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Pole barn house – homesteading today

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As a homebuilder, I generally agree. I just “reframed” the exterior walls of a friend’s pole barn, and it struck me as a waste of time and material, compared to having started with a standard stud wall.

pole barn home cost


As for the specifics of your advice, based on experience, I would do things a bit different. I have had extreme issues with OSB wall sheathing buckling, when used 24″ O.C. This was on sheets that were properly nailed and spaced. Now I’m back to everything on 16″ centers, the “savings” of spacing studs out just aren’t there. I have used attic trusses and found that they are both expensive, and unacceptably bouncy, when used for anything other than attic storage. I would stick frame the second floor and use standard roof trusses on 24″ centers. Last, 1/2″ CDX on 24″ roof trusses can either be a quality job, and expensive, if using decent fir plywood, or a cheap disaster if done with yellow pine plywood. My first choice is Huber brand “Zip system” roof sheathing, second choice is 5/8″ OSB.

pole barn house cost


Another point to consider is that many pole barn houses are built in areas where there are no codes and enforcement. This is both good and bad. Adding stud walls to the interior of a pole barn wall can result in a real life safety issue if you don’t follow reasonable standards for fire blocking. Balloon framed walls, unintentional hidden “chinmeys” and other extreme fire hazards can burn a structure down in a few minutes, trapping occupants inside. These are problems that haven’t been seen in many decades in well regulated constuction, yet they are hardly mentioned here on the construction forum. It’s important to understand that residential interiors need fire rated wall, floor and ceilings to control the spread of fire, and give you and your family time to get out. Modern codes dictate 1/2″ sheetrock or 3/4″ thick wood boards or panels on walls and ceilings. I often see comments about how nice and cheap it is to do things like use painted 7/16th OSB instead of sheetrock, or luan, or thin paneling over foam panels, etc…… It may be a great cost saver, and never be an issue. It may be the reason why an accidental fire becomes a structure fire that burned nearly to the ground before the first fire truck rolledup, and involved fatalities.

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I know a lot of us have no interest in folllowing rules, and I am no exception. I absolutely despise the code regime that currently controls the area where I work. However, the fact is that inexpensive construction, following current “rules” can save your life. Current townhouse constuction is a good example. A lot of newer townhouses are just pure scrap. The construction involves cutting every possible corner to make a buck, then stuffing all the “hot buttons” into the unit, so it sells. Basically a house that falls apart in a few decades, but has really sharp trim, stainless steel appliances etc… and looks impressive. The interesting part is what happens when a unit accidentially burns to the ground. Due to proper design and construction, it’s common for a middle row unit to burn clear to the slab, while the adjoining units sustain little, to no damage. This was a result of a lot of sheetrock used as a fire barrier, and proper attention to detailing.

OTOH, I work in an area with thousands of older vacation homes. A home from the 70s typically has thin wood panelling, and a zero clearance wood burning fireplace that should of been replaced a decade ago, and is installed in a poorly built, bone dry, wooden chimney chase. The house typically has old dry, T-1-11 plywood siding on the exterior. Several times a year, a fireplace will fail, the chimney starts to ignite, and the place is usually well on it’s way to burning to the ground before the first truck arrives.

As a DIY homebuilder, it’s all in your hands. it doesn’t take much effort or cost to make your home dramatically safer and to limit damage and loss of life from a fire.

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