One of the questions we hear from our customers time and time again during the pole barn design process is, “What is the difference between eave height and clear height?” To understand the difference, you first need to know some basic pole building vocabulary.
Short answer: Eave height is the wall measurement from the exterior ground to the eave. Clear height is the vertical measurement between the floor and the bottom chord of the truss. Clear height is how much vertical space you’ll have inside your pole barn. The difference between eave height and clear height is typically one foot, but it can vary. We’ve provided a more detailed explanation below.
General Pole Building Construction
While pole buildings are quick and efficient builds that can cost less than other building methods, there is still a certain amount of complexity to the pole barn construction process. Confusion over varying pole building design and structural aspects are common. The following terms are helpful in understanding the difference between eave height and clear height.
A wall that runs parallel with the roof’s ridgeline (or peak) and meets with the roof plane. The length of the sidewall is considered the length of the pole building.
Also referred to as an endwall, this wall is perpendicular to the ridgeline of the building and rises to the roof’s peak. It is typically the triangular-shaped wall on the building (usually the front and back walls).
The flat surface of the roof with four separate edges and a pitch. This is the main exterior section of the roof.
The point where the sidewall and roof plane intersect.
The portion of the roof that projects past the edge of the sidewall. A standard overhang is 12” wide.
So… what is eave height?
The eave height is the distance from the ground to the lowest point at which the sidewall intersects the roof plane at the eave. To put it simply, eave height is the measurement from the exterior ground to the eave.
It’s important to note that this measurement does not take the roof’s overhang into account.
What is clear height?
As with eave height, there are a couple terms essential to understanding the clear height of a pole building.
A pre-manufactured rigid structure that spans the width of the building from one post to another. A truss is what forms the slope of the roof.
The top and bottom of a building’s roof truss.
While a pole building’s eave height is an exterior measurement, the clear height is an interior measurement. The clear height of a pole building is the vertical distance between the floor and the bottom chord of the pole barn truss. To put it more simply, clear height is how much vertical space you’ll have inside your pole barn.
Pole Barn Eave Height vs Clear Height
After learning the basic definitions of eave height and clear height, you might still be wondering what the difference really is between the two measurements. If you look at a basic drawing of a pole building, it may appear that these two measurements should be the same.
In reality, a host of factors can affect the relative height of each. A pole barn’s length (sidewalls) and width (gable walls), frame types, roof pitch and roof design can all change the required eave height and clear height. While the difference between a pole building’s eave height and clear height is typically one foot, the interior clearance of a pole barn can be anywhere from one foot to six feet higher or lower than the exterior eave height.
As you now know, eave height and clear height are two reasons why it’s important to consider any and all potential uses before designing your pole barn. An RV garage will require a much higher clear height than a standard garage for your truck. Likewise, a horse barn needs a clear height tall enough to accommodate horse trailers – but a simple livestock or hay barn may not.
Whether you’re building your own pole barn from a kit or contracting a trusted pole barn builder, the design and build process needs to take your planned usage into account. It’s much easier – and cheaper – to get it right the first time than having to (literally) raise the roof after the fact.