Put simply, a pole barn is a building made of poles. Known today as post-frame construction, pole barns were developed in the 1930s in agricultural communities across the United States. In the decades since, pole buildings have improved with technology but remain a popular option for incredibly sturdy yet affordable barns, garages, homes and more.
Post-frame construction is an efficient mode of building in which large posts – typically 6×6 or 6×8 engineered or pressure-treated wood – are buried 4 to 6 feet underground every 10 to 12 feet to form the main frame of a structure.
When it comes to foundations, post-frame buildings are quicker and less expensive to build because they don’t require the same traditional foundations as conventional stick frame or steel buildings. Instead, pole barns and other post-frame constructions use concrete carefully poured in and around the vertical posts to create a strong yet simple foundation. In areas that experience winter, these posts are augered (dug) and anchored below the frost level to ensure a solid foundation no matter the climate.
These posts are reinforced with horizontal girts for both structural and wall support. In addition to poles and girts, trusses span the width of a pole building from post to post to form the slope of the roof. The roof cladding is then attached to purlins, which run from truss to truss to support the roof deck.
Finally – to be clear – while all pole barns are post-frame buildings, not all post-frame buildings are pole barns. Post frame is a building method, and pole buildings are just one possible product of that method. Likewise, pole barns are just one possible application for modern pole buildings.
Why is it called a pole barn?
As mentioned above, pole barns got their start in the 1930s in agricultural sectors of the United States. Resourceful farmers across the country, hit hard by the Great Depression and the stunted price of agricultural products, turned to telephone and utility poles to build their barns and farm buildings. If history is to be believed, it’s been said that some farmers were so desperate that they even cut down active telephone poles to use for their buildings.
As corporate farming started to grow later in the decade, the need for larger, inexpensive buildings to house agricultural tools, machinery and products, pole barns were quickly adopted as the fastest, least expensive and sturdiest option for agricultural structures.
Over time, telephone poles were replaced with natural wood posts – and now – pressure-treated posts designed specifically for post-frame construction. While the materials have changed throughout the decades, pole barns remain a popular, affordable option for more than just agricultural buildings.
What is a pole barn used for?
Pole buildings can be used for a whole host of different residential and commercial purposes.
From pole barn garages and storage buildings to pole barn pool houses and barndominiums – not to mention traditional horse barns, riding arenas and farm buildings – the sky, so to speak, is the limit. Depending on the intended use, there are various pros and cons to pole barns; however, the pros tend to outweigh the cons for most.
Pole Barn Garage
Dustin needed a place to store his recreational vehicles and also needed a home for his animals. This beautiful building delivers both; with the main building providing ample garage space and storage, and an enclosed lean-to providing a home for the animals.
Pole Barn Pool House
After getting her dream pool in the backyard, a pool house was all Camille needed to fully complete her backyard dream! We built this beautiful cedar board and batten pool house with sliding barn doors and lots of windows to let natural light in. Camille and her husband finished the interior after we were done with the shell, and now they have the perfect pool house for entertaining their guests for all their summer pool parties!
Pole Barn Workshop
Needing a workshop for his surfboard business and covered parking for his car, we set John up with a remarkable pole barn workshop where he can comfortably create his custom surfboards, and the partially enclosed lean-to provides a safe place for his car.
Pole Building Horse Barn
Liz needed a horse barn that could accommodate multiple needs — a home for her horses, a place to store hay, and a spot to protect her tractor from Utah’s harsh weather. This monitor style barn, with horse stalls that run along one lean-to and the rest of the space open for hay and tractor storage, turned out so beautifully.
Christel contacted us to create this pole barn home that includes an apartment upstairs, a woodshop in the back, and a dog kennel in half the building. Talk about an awesome multi-use barndominium!
Commercial Pole Barns
Cody runs a great tree service business – Nye’s Tree Service and Stump Removal – and needed a shop to store his work trucks and perform maintenance on them. We met his needs with this great shop that has room for all his trucks, equipment and even some space for his office needs as well!