Post & Beam Construction

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Old 06-27-07, 11:26 PM
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Question Post & Beam Construction

We're in the process of buying some acreage and would like to get a structure to live in built out there paying cash as we go. Also I will be doing most, if not all, of the work myself and I've never built before. I did redo 2 bathrooms (subfloor to ceiling sheetrock, plumbing, etc.) and some other stuff around the house we sold last summer. If the research I've done so far is correct it appears that our most cost effective option and the one that allows for some miscalculations on my part is a Post & Beam (a.k.a. Pole Barn) construction.

So on to the questions:
1. Can anyone recommend books and/or websites that cover the process from start to finish? I have purchased the book Sweat Equity but it is geared towards building a traditional stick built home but covers a lot of things that will be common to whatever structure I built (plumbing, electrical, etc).
2. Would any of the approaches to a subfloor be close as far as cost? Currently it seems that wood or cement are doable however wood appeals to be more since it would require less site preparation if I did a raised floor, correct?

Thank you for your time.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 04:06 PM
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How is it that post and beam allows for miscalculations?

I don't quite follow your question #2. A raised floor made out of what? And how high do you mean by raised?

I lived in such a place once. There were 3 rows of posts that went from way underground (6 foot or more),up to the roof. The row in the middle went to the peak of the roof. Beams were on each side of the post and bolted with big bolts. All cathedral ceiling did not require any cross-ties because the fact that the 2 1/4 x 8 inch beams rested on TOP of the beams that traversed the peak, gable to gable, (and were spaced 30 or 32 inches apart and on top of that was v-grooved 3/4 t & g boards, varnished on the underside) - therefore the walls could not spread, as what would happen in regular construction without cross ties or joists.

Above each patio door and 6' x 6' window in between every post, there was indirect lighting (about 6 foot long flourescent bulb inside a valanced board that was built similar to a window box under someone's window, except the valanced front (I think it was a 1 x 8, 6' long) tilted out some. Very neat effect at night.

The open construction of post and beams allows for huge windows in between every post, with no compromise to structural integrity.

Because the posts went from below ground to roof, they were not compromised by any severe notching-in for the beams. I can't remember for sure but maybe they were notched in 1/2 inch or something (if any). If they were fully notched in, this would have compromised the lateral strength of the house in high winds.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 06:12 PM
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First thanks for responding, obviously by your confusion I wasn't clear in my original post, hopefully this helps.

Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
How is it that post and beam allows for miscalculations?
By that I meant more that I didn't have to grade quite as 'perfect' (or at all) as if I did a slab prior to building because the slab can be poured after the posts are in place. Also I was referring to being able to adjust the plumbing a little after the posts are in place. Again this is a my first construction so maybe my 2 brain cells may not be in sync

Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
I don't quite follow your question #2. A raised floor made out of what? And how high do you mean by raised?
Just a regular wood subfloor instead of a slab. Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to fix quality defects after construction much easier with a subfloor I'm hoping the cost is close enough to keep it on the table.

If any of this terminology is not correct please put me straight.

As an aside if a mod stumbles across this thread is there something going on with the quote function?
 
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Old 06-28-07, 08:59 PM
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Texas DIY: I know exactly what you are talking about. I have done several of them. First of all forget the pole barn wordage. You want post and beam.
To make it very simple for our first conversation, You start out with the dimensions of your house. For example 24 x 48. Then you lay this out on paper to scale. And then mark in every six feet down each side and down the middle. You do this for both sides and these will be where your posts go. These are not wooden posts, these are concrete posts You have to dig a 12" hole 4 feet deep and fill with concrete. When the hole is full of wet concrete, you insert 4 x 6 post anchors in the concrete. Your posts set in these anchors and on top of the wood posts you set your beams. On top of your beams you set your floor joists. Then your sub flooring. I have really abbriviated this procedure. There is really alot more to it then this. If your going to do this your self, I am going to tell you that this is a very bad idea.
This is long, hard, and tedious work. And your measurements must be exact.You would need a laser level set up and alot more things. You would be alot better off going with a slab foundation, or a block foundation. Hire it done. I have built over 3000 homes and I would not even attempt this myself. Good Luck
 
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Old 06-28-07, 10:17 PM
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Jack, thank you for the information and the honest feedback. Doing it without having any understanding of the process is a very bad idea, I agree. Let me ask this differently then, how would I go about learning this procedure without quitting my full time job and going into construction? If you hire a new apprentice that has no experience do they only learn on the job? Are there any books/courses that you tell them they must learn?

My plan is to study up and then take on a smaller project (a shed) to do everything and make sure I have the process down and everything that is necessary to get it done.

Your time is appreciated.
 
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Old 06-29-07, 05:53 AM
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I do not know of any books that would teach this. My guys all go to house builders school which is taught at technical schools. It is mostly on the job learning. You might try your local permit office and they may have a phamplet on how it is to be built to code for your location.
 
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Old 06-29-07, 06:14 PM
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texas,

This may not be something you may have thought of but you can Google "houses on pilings", and click onto various sites off the page that comes up. Also, more obvious to ask is "post & beam construction".
 
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Old 06-30-07, 07:31 AM
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Years ago I worked for |"Upper Canada Post and Beam"
The company had videos that builders could watch because they are a special construction and carpenters had to get training to build them.
When you buy the kit you should get a number of times that a company tech rep will go out and guide you on the work being done.
We also had a dedicated electrician follow us around because he got use to wiring the houses.
Contact Post and Beam places and get information.
You might also find someone that use to build for them and could work for you.
I am not a carpenter and I would have a hard time building any kind of structure but I could build a post and beam house just because that is all we ever did.
You are talking about buying a kit, right??
 
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Old 06-30-07, 09:43 AM
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I'm glad somebody made an effort to kill he "pole building" association. Post and beam is definately NOT pole building. P and B is a complete structure in itself and includes cross timbers and support timbers rather than purlins and gerts.

I did find this link to a company that builds of supplies kits to P and B construction.

They have some neat plans and actually the costs seem reasonable.

http://www.vermontframes.com/frmlst.php

I'm sure there are many others out there. Since I live in Amish area Indiana, P and B buildings are not hard to find. As a matter of fact, I just finished up working on what is calimed to be the largest wood pegged P and B building in the country.

http://www.americancountryside.us/market/

(mods, this is not meant as a commercial endorsement, simply to relate that building to this situation. If the link dissappears, so be it)
 
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Old 07-03-07, 01:36 AM
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Smile

Texas-DIY

You asked if there were a way of “learning this procedure without quitting my full time job and going into construction”.

Have you checked into working with Habitat for Humanity or some other such outfits in your area?

While they probably won’t be doing the exact type or size of project that you are thinking of, you can set up a convenient work schedule, get some OJT construction time, get to know some of the local contractors, crews, suppliers, and other weekend nail-benders.

No one should object if you learn along with doing some good for a family.

Just a thought.
 
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Old 07-03-07, 01:18 PM
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P&B, TF & Pole - all the same

Post & beam, timberframe, and pole building are all the same. They all use a post to which beams are attached to create a strong structural frame. People want to make a distinction because of the type of joinery used, but it makes no difference except in the cost. Pegged and tenoned joinery is expensive. Very expensive! Metal plate joinery is strong and affordable. Rabbets and bolts are even less expensive from a hardware standpoint, but require more labor to cut the rabbets.
Now I'm sure some of you are upset by this blasphemy, but them's the facts.

I've been trying to find a company that designs plate-joined P&B frames for a house. It's very difficult. Even the ones that do use hardware want to cover it up and make it look like tenons and pins. Personally, I like the hardware. Here in New England we have many old mill buildings put up in the 1800s that are beautiful examples of P&B design. They used cast iron supports, rod and bolt hardware and they are fine examples of the art and craft of P&B.

So don't let the elitists get you down Texas-DIY. They just like to feel superior. Here is a book and some links I have come across in my searching. You may find them useful:

http://www.amazon.com/Timber-Framing-Rest-Contemporary-Construction/dp/0865715084
http://www.stavehouse.com/
http://www.southernpine.com/
http://www.rocioromero.com/LVSeries/LVL150.htm
http://www.classicpostandbeam.com/who_we_are.php
http://www.raisearoof.com/post_and_beam_home.php
http://www.nwjoinery.com/planbook/introduction.htm
http://www.vermonttimberworks.com/index.html
http://www.spbrooks.com/
http://www.timberframemag.com/Commercial_Timber_Frames.shtml
http://www.miller-post-beam.com/
http://www.sandcreekpostandbeam.com/barns_combination.htm
http://www.shelter-kit.com/ - Loft homes, modular, cool!

Enjoy,

woodNfish
 
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Old 07-03-07, 03:38 PM
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WoodNFish: Thank you for your input, however, I have built many pole buildings, and many post & beam structrures, and they are not the same. Your remark concerning those who have answered just want to feel Superior was very uncalled for. If you would have asked nicely, I would have given you the name of where you could have gotten your design plates for your P&B. My grandfathers company built many buildings using design plates and I will bet 80% are still in use today.
 
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Old 07-03-07, 04:00 PM
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Post & beam, timberframe, and pole building are all the same. They all use a post to which beams are attached to create a strong structural frame. People want to make a distinction because of the type of joinery used, but it makes no difference except in the cost. Pegged and tenoned joinery is expensive. Very expensive! Metal plate joinery is strong and affordable.
==================

sorry woodnfish. P&B, and pole building are definately NOT the same. There are differences.

It is beyond the joinery involved.

I will accept that pole building is a kind of a P&B light but there are enough differences that while P&B is acceptable as a residential structure, pole buildings are not. (at least in any area I have dealt with).

If you want to accept them as the same, that's fine but I don;t think an engineer will tell you they are the same, probably because they aren't.
 
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Old 07-06-07, 10:14 AM
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Learning, bring it on'

ecman51`, thank you for some additional vocabulary which I know is a problem but I'm attempting to learn with responses from the experts here it is becoming clearer. This same type of issue comes up in my career, software, where guys like to throw out stuff that seems like entry level understanding to them but over time they forget how much they've learned. Seeing how the Amish are doing things without much high tech gadgetry and people have built for years with simpler technology I'm trying to figure out the point where cost, time and complexity seem to join my goals and experience level.

==

frankiee said, "You are talking about buying a kit, right??"
Maybe, this is a reason I'm trying to learn as much as possible so I know what to look for in a kit. If I don't do a kit I will absolutely be buying plans where I've had the opportunity to speak with person(s) who have built using the plan.

==

paul11 said, "Have you checked into working with Habitat for Humanity or some other such outfits in your area?"
Good idea and it would give me experience in the entire process and maybe I could spend some time with people on the electrical and plumbing, thanks.

==

woodNfish, the links are appreciated and I'm working through them slowly. The point about joinery is what I'm learning and after looking over some timber framing books I think I'll hold off on that type of experience for now and using some sort of bolt/plate combination would seem quicker and easier.

==

nap said, "I will accept that pole building is a kind of a P&B light but there are enough differences that while P&B is acceptable as a residential structure, pole buildings are not."
Since I'm still learning here can you explain what the difference is? Is it the heft of the materials involved or some sort of significant different in engineering?

==

Ultimately we would like to build our house however we're looking to erect a structure as quickly as possible without all of the bells and whistles that will give me the experience in the major things but also provide an office/guest house when we're done building our main house.
 
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Old 07-06-07, 06:03 PM
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Well, to start with, a pole building uses a pad footing under just the posts. The posts are inserted into the ground. This is part of the structural strength of a pole buildiing.

P&B uses a full foundation- spread footings and a foundation wall. The posts are set on top of this foundation. This spreads the weight bearing to a larger area.

Now, the pole building. posts. the only beam is the rafter or truss support which isn;t actually a beam but merely 2X10 or so lumber to support the trusses for the roof. gurts (2X4 lumber) are run horizontally around the structure. skin is attached to the gurts. Roof can be made in any typical fashion or main trusses can be used with purlins run horizontally across them and then sheathed. Most post buildings use a typical rafter or truss 2' on center and sheathed with plywood, the same as typical modern house building methods.

P&B; A bit hard for me to explain so it makes sense but I'll try.

an assembly consisting of main posts and cross beams and roof beams is assembled as a unit. (think of a slice of a house where you would see the side walls, floor unit and roof construct only make that shape with posts and beams) Multiple copies of this assembly are made. they are placed whatever distance apart as needed and connecting beams are placed, connecting each of the assembled units.

That is the post and beam part of the construction. The rest can be achieved in any of several different methods.Typically areas are studded out so walls can be covered. purlins are placed on the roof and then sheathed. floors are made by placing additionsal support beams and then sheathed. The framing past the P&B portion obviously will add to the overall structural integrity and support but the only true support members are the main P&B with everything else supported by these members.

go to this link and click on any of the subtitles by a picture to see a gallery of photos of the building I was involved with recently.http://www.americancountryside.us/market/watch/gallery/
 
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Old 07-07-07, 07:48 AM
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Habitat Houses

I work on Habitat houses in my area. We do not use post-and-beam construction. We use concrete and block foundations, floor trusses, coventional 2x4 stick framing, trussed roofs, and vinyl siding.

There is much to be learned about construction techniques by working on these projects. If you can devote a few hours a week for 12-14 weeks, you can learn a lot. Being on site during each phase of the work is most beneficial. Good luck with your project.
 
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Old 07-08-07, 01:10 PM
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There is a paperback book for about $15 called Practical Pole Building Construction with plans for Barns, Cabins and outbuildings by Leigh Seddon, Susan Williamson that you might want to get. It was published in April 1985
The usb number is 0913589160 It may be a bit outdated but will help with the understanding of living space building, especially the cabin part. The major pole building companies can erect one in less than a week. They also might explain how to make the a home. Several of these are here in Southern IL. (pole barn homes) One guy I know built a large 30 by 90 one. He poured a slab floor in one end (30 x 30) and lived there while using floor trusses to make the rest a home. Then when he was done he used the poured floor part as a garage. He had the barn built with metal siding and shingle roof. The garage and entry door were on the gable end that he poured the floor in so it would indeed be a garage when done. proper planning is the key. Where everything will end up when finished is important (windows, doors, Plumbing,Electrical and such.
 
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Old 10-30-07, 02:03 PM
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you guys are picking nits

I appreciate that you think there is a difference between P&B, pole buildings and timberframe, but there isn't. I don't care what kind of foundation you use whether it is a footing, a frost wall, a footer beneath a ploe stuck in the ground or even gravel, a full basement - whatever, you are building a structure that uses posts and beams to tie together a "skeleton" to which you attach the roof, floors and walls. The posts do all the support work and the beams tie the structure together.

Now I know some of you think that a pole building has poles that go all the way up through a building and P7B posts don't. You're picking nits. There is no reason why the post can't go up all the way other than it is less expensive to buy posts in shorter lengths and no other reason.

Add in any kind of joinery you want and it is still the same. The only thing that varies is the quality of the materials, and the cost of the joinery.

And I don't know of any areas that won't allow you to put up a P&B house. All you need is an engineering drawing that passes the local building codes. Most local codes are based on the national codes. Most commercial buildings are P&B. If they can do it, you can do it.

Now can you come in with a pole barn plan and try and get them to let you build it as a residence? No. The planning board wants to know that your house will be properly insulated, plumbed, and electrified, and sits on an approved foundation of whatever type. But you can certainly start with a pole barn plan and have an architect modify it into a buildable house for you.
 
 

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