FREE RESOURCE GUIDE
What is Post-Frame Construction?
By Leon Leinbach
Keystone Construction, LLC
We get asked by customers all the time, “What exactly is post-frame construction?” The same goes for pole buildings, pole barns, engineered buildings, and so on. What is this type of construction exactly?
People also ask about the advantages and disadvantages of post-frame buildings. They want to know: “Is it the right type of construction method for the building I’m considering?”
This resource guide is meant to answer these and other questions. By the end of it, we hope you’ll come away with a better understanding of these buildings, whether you call them post-frame, pole barns, post barns, pre-engineered buildings, or whatever.
If you still have questions, please get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to talk with you.
What is the definition of post-frame construction?
Post-frame construction refers to an engineered wood-frame building system. This type of construction relies on large poles or posts buried in the ground or on a foundation. These posts, along with girts, give these buildings support.
The National Frame Builders Association (NFBA) provides this definition:
“Post-frame construction is an engineered wood-frame building system that meets UBC and IBC standards. Post-frame buildings feature large, solid sawn posts or laminated columns instead of wood studs, steel framing, or concrete masonry. They transfer loads to the ground or surface-mounted to a concrete pier or masonry foundation, and may use plastic barrier systems for enhanced protection of wood and concrete posts or piers.”
You can find a similar definition from Wikipedia, on its page entitled “pole building framing” here. It goes into a bit more detail regarding the history and evolution of this construction method.
Examples of Buildings
What about the terms pole barns, pole buildings, metal buildings, and pre-engineered buildings?
All of these terms refer to the same thing. We here at Keystone call them “post-frame buildings” or structures.
What are the main advantages of post-frame construction?
Post frame construction offers unique advantages in terms of design, construction, flexibility, and structural efficiency. It is well suited for many commercial, industrial, agricultural, and residential applications.
Here are some features and benefits:
Treated Wood Posts
Wood posts function as support columns in an engineered system of strategically integrated wood-framing components, a system that permits construction costs – both time and materials – to be cut in numerous ways.
Posts are often glue-laminated and solid-sawn columns are pressure-treated with preservatives approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
With posts in place, remaining framing components, including those for doors and windows of virtually any dimension, are installed in record time. Before you know it, framing is complete and ready for roof trusses.
The significant savings in construction time and materials means you can have the building you want at significantly less cost while meeting major building codes and construction requirements.
The basic structure incorporates diaphragm design, metal plate-connected wood roof trusses, shear walls, and other engineered elements that make it very resilient.
Diaphragm design makes buildings capable of flexing and returning to their designed shape, making them more resistant to extreme environmental and seismic loads than other structures. Numerous studies have demonstrated that post frame performs well in high winds and seismic loading conditions.
The unequaled flexibility of post frame construction means your building can be designed to make best use of the available site. Post frame buildings offer clear spans large enough to meet the most demanding requirements and total widths and heights can be tailored to meet your need for today and tomorrow!
Further, the flexibility and adaptability of post frame construction means you specify the style of architecture most appropriate for your business, building site or your individual taste without incurring budget-busting costs.
The bottom line: You’ll get the lowest cost per square foot when you choose post-frame construction!
What are some common uses for these buildings?
Here are several examples of post-frame construction in action:
- Farming and other Agricultural Uses (barns, farm speciality, farm storage, cattle barns, and other livestock barns)
- Equestrian (horse barns, riding arenas, horse training facilities)
- Residential Storage
- Big Toy Sheds (storage for boats, jet skis, cars, hunting vehicles, and more)
- Sheds (various sizes and uses)
- Man Caves
- Commercial and Industrial Storage
- Mini-Storage Facilities
- Church Activity Buildings
- Sports Facilities
- Manufacturing Facilities
- Veterinary Clinics
- Airplane Hangars
As you can see, there really is no end to what you can use these buildings for. That’s why we think they’re such a great option for both consumers and businesses alike.
How much does it cost to get a post-frame building, pole-barn, or pole building?
It depends largely on the size, the features and options you choose, the availability of providers near you, and so on.
Are there any do-it-yourself (DIY) options available?
Yes. For example, we here at Keystone provide building kits to customers who want to do most or all of the work themselves. We guide people towards the best options available. We will never try to sell you more building than you need.
Big box stores sometimes sell them or you might be able to find them in catalogs. Those options are okay in some cases, but you’re not going to have the same level of flexibility at your disposal.
Chances are the sales person you work with at these big retailers won’t be as knowledgeable about these buildings as a local provider that specializes in them.
Do you have to get traditional building permits?
Check with your local jurisdiction to see what requirements there might be.
What custom options and features can a person choose from?
First off, just about everything can be customized in the sense that you get to pick and choose everything from dimensions to colors. Here are some of the options we offer and talk to clients about:
- entry doors
- sliding doors
- insulation (insulated walls and doors)
- heated floors
- radiant heat
- wood siding
- post wrap
- gutters and downspouts
- door canopy
- dutch corners
- widow’s peaks
There are a lot of great options to choose from. That makes the look, feel, and overall functionality of each building unique. Granted, there are some buildings sold by retailers where you won’t get to pick and choose certain options and features. That’s not true of Keystone, though.
Is there an industry trade group associated with the post-frame industry?
Yes, there is the National Frame Builders Association, referenced above. There are also individual chapters of the NFBA spread about the U.S. and Canada. We here at Keystone are an approved building company by the NFBA.
How can I get started or learn more information?
The easiest thing to do is to contact a post-frame business near you. If you’re in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, or Illinois (see our full service area), please feel free to contact us.
If you’re not in our service area, we recommend contacting the NFBA or looking at their website for a list of dealers near you.