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Pole Building Frequently Asked Questions
To help you consider whether or not a pole building is right for you, we’ve provided some basic information about pole buildings and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about pole buildings.

Have a specific question about your pole building?
Call (503) 302-7020
during regular business hours (PST) to speak directly with a licensed engineer about your project free of charge!

 Do I need to have engineering to build a pole building?

This depends on your local building department requirements.  If the building is going to be used specifically for agricultural or farming activities, such as housing farm animals, hay storage, and farming equipment, then the county may not require engineering for your building.  However, this allows the building to be built however the owner or contractor decides, which may or may not be adequate for wind and snow loads for that area.

Since a pole building uses less components than a standard stud frame building, the individual components in a pole building are often exposed to higher stresses than a stud frame building.  So having your pole building engineered is always a good idea to ensure structural adequacy, and is usually cheap insurance!

How much does pole building engineering cost and how long does it take?

This depends entirely on the building size, configuration, design criteria and location.  South Valley Engineering strives to offer the most competitive rates for pole building engineering and can typically provide a complete set of engineered plans and calculations in 1 to 2 weeks after receipt of the order.   We are happy to give you an estimated cost right over the phone, with no hype or sales pressure.  We’re here to serve you when you’re ready.

What does pole building engineering typically consist of?

Pole building engineering usually consists of a set of plans and supporting calculations all stamped and signed by an engineer licensed in the state that the building is located.  Typically engineered plans consist of:

  • Cover Sheet with building owner, location and design information

  • Plan and Elevation Views showing building dimensions, post sizes and locations, door and window sizes

  • Sections and Details for truss and rafter connections, purlin and girt connections, post embedment and sheathing details.

  • Other structural information that might be required for permitting

Our engineered plans and calculations are done specifically with the requirements of building departments in mind for issuance of the building permit, showing just what they need to know about the structure.  This typically speeds up the permitting process for the building departments.  Each set of engineered plans and calculations is specific to the actual building, and is not just a “generic” set of plans.

NOTE:  Truss engineering is NOT included with engineering from South Valley Engineering, as it is provided by the truss company.

How important is the soil and grade of building site for a pole building?

Because the embedded post provides much of the structural stability it is very important that the posts be embedded into undisturbed naturally compacted native soil.  If fill is required to level a building site, a compaction test is recommended to ensure that the fill has been compacted adequately for post embedment.  As an alternative, for places with minimal fill the post embedment can be increased through the fill to obtain the required minimum embedment into native soil.

Can a pole building be insulated and finished on the inside?

Absolutely!  If you install ceiling joists between the trusses then the ceiling can be finished and insulated just like a standard building.  Wall girts can be installed commercial style (horizontally between posts, installed like a shelf) and insulation installed horizontally between the girts and finish applied to the girts.  Another option is to install studs vertically between posts, similar to traditional stud frame construction.

How does sheathing provide strength to a pole building?

Contrary to what many believe, the lateral strength (i.e. resistance against horizontal wind and seismic forces) in most pole buildings comes not from the posts, but from the roof and wall sheathing attached to the purlins and girts.  This is known as shear, or diaphragm design.

A good example of how this works is with a typical inexpensive “assembly required” bookshelf purchased at any office furniture store.  Once the sides and bottoms of the bookshelf are assembled, if you stand it up it will want to lean to one side or the other-until you install that thin piece of cardboard on the back with a hundred little nails!  Then the bookshelf is very stiff and stable.  This is exactly how roof and wall sheathing work to stabilize a pole building.

The metal cladding is adequate for most walls, provided there is enough cladding on the wall.  If not, plywood may be required to further strengthen the wall.

How do I get started?

Every job requires the submission of the Pole Building Engineering Order Form included on this page. This order form can be faxed to us or attached as a PDF in an e-mail. Give us a call or fill out the Pole Building Engineering Order Form to fax and let's get started on your project!

Ph. (503) 302-7020
Fax (888) 535-6341

South Valley Engineering
4742 Liberty Rd S #151
Salem, OR 97302

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