footing problem for pole barn under construction

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Old 10-05-04, 05:34 PM
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Question footing problem for pole barn under construction

We have a potentially huge problem and I'm hoping someone here can either ease our minds or suggest alternatives....

We're in the process of having a pole barn (post-frame) built. Purchased the barn as a kit from an out of state company through a local rep. Hired a builder who was recommended by the local rep. Had a neighbor with a dozer cut the pad.

Building is 40' x 72' (16' eave height with a 4/12 pitch) Poles are 6x12 and are to be placed in 2 foot diameter holes 7 feet deep.

After the pad was cut, we had the builder come up to inspect and make sure it was level enough for him. He said it was just a tiny bit out of level but that he'd be able to take care of that when the holes were dug. Holes were dug, inspected and the poles placed last week and concrete poured into holes last Friday. On Friday, he said it thought it might be as much as 1.5 feet out of level, but that was within acceptable limits and not to worry.

Today he says that the east side of the pad is 4.5 feet higher than the west side. Which means that our pad is off level by 4.5 feet on that 72' span.

Builder wants to cut the dirt and bust up the concrete - 4 feet high - from the east side and build up on the west side by 6 inches. Meaning that the posts on the east wall will be only 3 feet deep rather than the 7 foot called for on the plans.

He assures us that the strength of the building timbers, the size of the building etc. etc. will stand up to this change and that everything will be alright.

We don't know beans about this type of thing and are hoping that one of you will have some advice for us.

Thank you!
 
  #2  
Old 10-06-04, 07:29 PM
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alkeeney,

I'm surprised that on a building this size that no transit/laser level was in use. If it had been and staked out properly, we would have a level pad area, then dig your holes, place posts - plumb them in all directions and lock them in place and pour your concrete for posts. Then do the slab in one shot - LEVEL. IF this builder was recommended by the local rep, was it that he was cheap or getting a "kick-back" for the referral or just doesn't know anything?! Did you even inquire about getting other bids to do the installation? No offense but this is a grave error that is going to cost somebody and hopefully not you. I would be asking the local rep questions but I am assuming that you already have and they can' provide the right answer or won't provide one that would be acceptable to you.

I think it's best to tear it all out. The reason for deep holes is the stability it needs to sustain wind loads/lateral movement. What is proposed IMHO, is that this could be a major problem and you could sustain damage by strong winds without having that additional depth for the main support poles as required.

These are outrageous errors to say the least. I have designed and built pole barns and pole barn additions with and without hay lofts. Nothing ever happened like what you describe and I would personally tell that party responsible to do it right at their expense - no excuses for such a building being done so wrong! Period!

I would suggest that someone get there stuff together and do this right. Where you live has no bearing on depth of these posts as they are well below any frost line I am aware of within the US .

The other issue is, as you say,

"Builder wants to cut the dirt and bust up the concrete - 4 feet high - from the east side and build up on the west side by 6 inches. Meaning that the posts on the east wall will be only 3 feet deep rather than the 7 foot called for on the plans.

He assures us that the strength of the building timbers, the size of the building etc. etc. will stand up to this change and that everything will be alright."

I wouldn't trust what he is saying as he already got one major thing wrong. It sounds like he is just using his eyes to see if things are right or wrong. Hope he doesn't play golf! Do it like the plans to ensure you are getting your monies worth. Local rep or not, I would expect replacement posts and they builder and/or local rep to replace what has been lost. If need be contact the company office, take pictures, send a letter. It's your money. If you have this building insured, improper construction could mean loss of claim. Having a builder say it will be all right doesn't make it so. Even if he would sign something, and I doubt he would, you know what that means already. No sign off would make it better or insurable.

Sorry for the lecture but this really surprises as well as disturbs me that you are getting the shaft and noone seems to be willing to do it right unless I am missing something.

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 10-12-04, 11:14 AM
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Thank you Doug for your cautions, thoughts and advice. The barn manufacturer is having their enginneering team come up with several viable options that can be used to save the building without having to start over which is impractical because the rains will start here soon and the building is already three months behind schedule... We should hear back from them today or tomorrow.

The biggest obstacle we faced is that we are dealing with four separate entities rather than one person ultimately responsible for the job (other than myself as the end owner that is!) However, the builder is well known not only to the local rep but also the manufacturer and has a long history with them. Came with excellent references. We simply did not want to take the builders word that everything would be fine and sincerely appreciate your words of caution.

Luckily, everyone at this point seems to be invested in making sure that the building is structurally sound. One of the options they are running the numbers on is to cross 1/2" cables on that wall (can't remember what that's called). Another would be to pour a concrete stub wall to act as a pier situation with the slab at that end. The last option would be to end up with a building that's only 14' eave height, which is not what we purchased....

I think that we'll be able to get this resolved. Thank you for your time and your assistance. Having this resource available is amazing and we truly appreciate it!

Oh, and you can believe that there is a very large and very impressive transit on the property now!
 
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Old 10-12-04, 01:26 PM
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alkeeney,

You're very welcome.

I'm glad there is a transit on site NOW! Where was it in the beginning?

The diagonal tension steel cable bracing is to prevent racking.

I do think that everyone seems to be "making due" with more band-aid approaches that you are paying for. I do hope that you get the results you want and paid for.

Good Luck and keep us informed.
 
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Old 10-13-04, 09:56 PM
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EVERYTHING that Doug has said, twice over.

A building this size, 1-1/2" out of level is pushing the limits, but MIGHT be acceptible. A FOOT AND A HALF??? NO WAY!!!
 
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Old 10-13-04, 09:58 PM
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Lefty,

Thanks! Where you been?

Transit would have prevented this in the first place, don't you think?
 
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Old 10-13-04, 10:12 PM
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Doug --

"Where have I been?"

Oh, building decks, replacing water heaters, installing doors, ... the list is ENDLIST!!!

Yes, a transit at the VERY beginning would have eliminated the problems. (Even MY naked eye would have seen 1-1/2' out, with or without the glasses!!)

An INCH and a half out, you can deal with on a building this size. But there is NO excuse for a FOOT and a half out!!! (The building that Boeing built in Everett to build 747's in is less than 2" out, and that thing is measured in ACRES!!!)
 
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Old 10-13-04, 10:20 PM
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Lefty,

I was out at one job and did a diagonal on the foundation - it's right on the money - 86' x 36" - large home. Even the post footings at the walk out for the balcony above is right on. Slab is level, at least with my 6 footer. I was surprised at how good this contractor has been. He's been placed on my "preferred" list.

I too have been busy, lots of additions to design and draw up. Winter is coming here, leaves are dropping and cooler temps.

I think with a builder not using a transit especially with the severe discrepancies as was noted by alkeeney that he deserves some compensation of some type if not a complete new project done right. I understand his concerns on delays but whose is paying for this anyway?

I doubt the builders skill with such differences. So much for complaining but I hope alkeeney does get what he needs done right.
 
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Old 10-14-04, 07:33 PM
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Doug,

This seems to be turning into a converstion with you and me picking on alkeeney's builder. So be it. If he can't get the footings for a 40' X 72' building any closer than 1-1/2', he DESERVES to be picked on! I'm not sure I want to know 'what's going to be next?'.

Mike
 
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Old 11-03-04, 12:14 PM
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Update on the building from hades

Hi Doug and Lefty. Thought you might be interested in a bit of an upate on our pole barn delima.

We had the engineers from the building kit company look at the problem and they gave us several alternatives. Then I took another look at the engineered plans and discovered that the east wall (40' long) is not a weight bearing wall and the poles only are at a 5 foot depth. That changed quite a bit when we went back to the engineers. So most of the prohibitively expensive options were now not needed.

We re-graded to level and it appears at this time that everything will be fine. Purlines and girts are in and once it stops raining here we'll get to the roof.

Took some time and more money that we anticipated, but the engineers are satisfied that the building is sound.

Thanks for all your advice. It is unbelievable that the builder wouldn't have checked for level when he laid out the placement for the poles. One of those things that never occured to me to question... lesson learned for next time (if there is one)!
 
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Old 11-03-04, 12:33 PM
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alkeeney,

Thanks for the feedback. I hope that all will be as you want it. It's infortunate that you had to spend more for one's mistakes.

Experience doesn't mean "tenure" but learning from the years of tenure! What a terrible thing to go through. I guess they can give that Builder's company an new name "Half a bubble off Construction Company".

Good Luck!
 
 

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