Pole Barn Construction Basics

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pole barn

You don’t have to live down on the farm to enjoy the benefits of a pole barn. A few sturdy posts, a simple roof and you’ve got instant storage space for all your outdoor toys and goodies. The only drawback – if you’re planning on changing into your work clothes in your barn, you might be better off going indoors so the neighbors don’t catch an eye full. Aside from that, pole barn construction is a deliberately simple, but still a very useful form of construction. If you’re considering building a pole barn, or just want to broaden your construction knowledge, read on for a great primer on pole barn construction.

Building Officials and Buzz Killers

It’s always a wise idea to get permission from your local building department. Permits and the like are always a must, but you might also find out that you can only build your pole barn so high. In my area, we can only build the inside height to 18 feet. They say it’s because of the wind load codes in our area, but I swear it’s because they just want to be a big buzz kill. Either way, it’s prudent to research your local restrictions, codes, etc. before you break ground on your project.


Sometimes you gotta dig deep
Sometimes you gotta dig deep

Unlike a conventional footing that only needs to be anchored into the ground a few inches, pole barn footings need to be at least a few feet deep. In the pole barn we built in the photos, we anchored the footings into the ground four feet. We used post hole diggers since the ground was (thankfully) so soft. I’ve also used a gas powered auger when we built a pole barn in the hard Georgia clay.


Pretty little posts all in a row
Pretty little posts all in a row

Our posts set into the hole directly onto the ground. We drilled a hole through the center of the 6×6 pressure treated post and put a piece of rebar through the bottom of the post. After we leveled and temporarily braced the posts, we poured two bags of concrete into each hole. After it dried, we covered the holes back up to further support the posts.


To tie all of the posts together and provide support for the trusses, we tied each post together with a pair of 2×12 pressure treated boards. We notched the top of the posts to accommodate the two 2×12’s and installed a lag bolt through the beams and the posts. It was a pretty simple process, but it could easily get crazy if you’re not using a good and tight dry line to level between the posts.

Another good tip is to make sure your 2×12 seams break on a post. You can sometimes stagger the seams, but make sure at least one seam breaks on the post or else you could be looking at a sag barn instead of a pole barn. Your local codes may have something to say about this topic too.

Pole Barn Framing

Setting the first trussIn the pole barn we built in the photos, we used prebuilt trusses to get the roof framing done. That’s not to say that we could have conventionally framed it (we have many times in the past) but the truss company had a complete pole barn package that was far cheaper than if we would have conventionally framed the structure ourselves.

The odd thing about pole barn framing is that all of the joists are on a four foot layout versus a two foot or 16” layout. That’s because the roofing members are supported by lateral 2×4 bracing and don’t need the extra vertical support. This supports the metal roof as well as ties all of the trusses together. Our lateral bracing was placed two feet on center.

The lateral bracing is certainly a trick to get right. As you pull your trusses across to meet the layout, you’ll end up pulling the other side out of whack if the gable ends aren’t braced really well. I unfortunately know this first hand – I’ve pulled my fair share of lateral bracing off only to put it on and screw it up all over again.


It’s just not a pole barn without a good looking metal roof. While I have seen a few pole barns with wood shingles, the majority of them employ a metal or tin roof to keep the rain out. Metal panels are secured to each lateral bracing using a metal roofing screw.

All ready for metal roofing
All ready for metal roofing

Some roofing panels require the screw to go through the flat part of the metal, while other manufacturers require a screw through the crimped edge of the metal. Be sure you follow the manufacturer’s specifications to a tee or else you’ll void your warranty.


I live in hurricane alley or as we affectionately call it, Florida, so wind loads are a big issue in our area. Our pole barn needed lots of lateral and “X” bracing to support the gable ends. We also use a ton of metal strapping to tie the trusses to the beams and the beams to posts. Be sure that you at least support the trusses/joists with lateral bracing from end to end to prevent wind deflection troubles. Have any pole barn building tips we missed? Or questions about how to build a pole barn? Share them in the comments section below!

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About Eric

Since Eric built his first skateboard ramp in his parents driveway; he’s breathed, slept and eaten DIY construction. As a second generation master carpenter who runs two Florida-based construction firms, Eric’s had the chance to work on everything from Mcmansions to your local mall to the cat lady’s bathroom. So when it comes to dealing with construction s@#t; he’s the man—literally. There isn’t a tool or construction material that Eric hasn’t used and abused, and if there is; it’s rocking in a dark corner nervously waiting for him to show up for work.

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5 thoughts on “Pole Barn Construction Basics”

  1. well, as i was enthusiastically reading, i got to the part where you used trusses!! and a crane!! i called FOUL and CHEAT!! but then i read on and found you are in Florida so you probably need those trusses! i’m not totally sold on the crane though.
    The last pole barn i built was in 1968… in Arkansas. middle of nowhere, nowhere (not a typo) creosote telephone poles.. yikes! what’s a ‘code’? what’s an EPA?

  2. If the whole barn was enclosed could you go higher than 18′ or would you have to go to structural steel for increased height? A lot of farmers and contractors couldn’t get their equipment in an 18′ barn with trusses.


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