Workshop / pole barn foundation questions ....

Old 02-20-12, 01:06 PM
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Workshop / pole barn foundation questions ....

I am about to put up a workshop of aprox. 2000 sq ft ( 40 x 50 ). My first thought was to simply put in a knee wall ( 4' below grade and 2 ft above) and use standard stick construction. This will obviously work but the foundation is very expensive (money is tight). I wanted the 2 ft of solid or protected wall so that the outside is protected from snow shoves and lawn mowers and the inside so I can was down the shop without fear of rotting the walls. It will also be protected on the inside when I weld as hot metal could not roll under the wall edge.

When I added up the cost of the foundation wall ... ouch!

OK so I just moved from SC where I put up a true pole building of 6400 sq ft for next to nothing in comparison. Just put the poles in the ground, erected the from, covered and poured a floor.

The problem there, I did not have my 2 ft perimeter wall so the building showed wear in a few months (inside and out) plus I ended up having to build conventional walls and put them up between the posts in order to get more than 2" of insulation in the walls.

I already know that if I put up posts this time, I will put in concrete pillars ( 4 ft down) then join the posts to them, but I am not sure how I can get my 2' wall or my insulation.

Does anyone have any ideas?

I thought of pole barn ( concrete pillars) but use that is referred to in my books as a "cast in place ring beam". My fear here is that the beam ( sitting just below the grade, but supported by the pillars) will heave in the winter.

Also found pictures of a floor / beam combination ( beam around perimeter poured as part of the floor) supported by pillar. Same problem ... I am scared the floor / beam will heave in the frost.

Anyway ... has anyone got any thoughts or suggestions. Is there a way to build something with a 2' ( concrete, block, ??) above grade, without a full foundation wall under it?

Finally, any thoughts on stick built vs pole building? I both sides of the wall need finishing and I want a few inches of insulation. I looked at SIP's ... again, saw ones that de-laminated, saw ones that rotted ..... worried .... I am turning 50 this year and whatever I build will most likely be the place I stay for the rest of my life ... so I want to do it right ( but on a reasonable budget).

Thanks .... Mike
Old 02-20-12, 04:03 PM
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The best thing to do is crunch the cost numbers for the various options you're considering, and then weigh those costs with the other pros and cons of each option. None of us can readily come up with material costs for your area, but your spending a few hours on the phone should be able to do it. As you certainly know, you can save significantly by doing all labor items yourself. Putting myself in your shoes, I'd be inclined to go with cast-in-place concrete walls on deep (below frost line) footings, keeping all wood members well above floor level. My present 36' x 50' shop (built by previous owner) is similar to that, except having concrete block stemwalls 2' above the concrete floor. That setup works well, for welding and hosing out, as you mentioned.
Old 02-20-12, 08:13 PM
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I'm thinking for what you are talking about your needs are best served with a building like a pole barn. So far as the 2' block kneewall there is no reason why you can't do as you initially have proposed and lay three courses of block right off the floor Which can be thickened and reinforced just as you suggest. Remember, in this case it is the base of each post buried at 42-48" carries the building and frost won't move them in Missouri's Winter I don't believe.

I'm talking about the concept which serves the same way as a garage slab. It is just as good as the pier foundation you speak of. If frost moves and cracks the perimeter of that slab beneath those block walls between posts I say it could effect and cause movement between when using a pier foundation just as easily as the only part that is truly effected because of the depth and subsequent protection to frost thrust is the base of the piers or posts and nothing else. The blocks being prosposed and 2 X6 framed walls are cosmetic to accomodate insulation.

If those posts are 6" square, I believe you could just lay up three courses of 6" block wall, stand 2 X 6 wall sections up and sheet everything across flush right across 6" block, post and 2 X 6" framing and insulate to your hearts content. Remember, these blocks give you a head start to get your plates up and could be built in addition to the perlins and skirt board and steel siding which goes across the face of the exterior of the posts. It all seems like overkill to me especially with the design of a pole barn now days where you could just sheet the exterior with styrofoam or fan fold and get at least R7 for insulation purposes. Then you could forget about the framing between the posts.

Keep in mind if your grade beneath the floor is granular and not saturated with water it is still inside under a roof which might tend to diminish the potential for ground movement. but still not a guarantee.

bs5 (Just a thought)

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