I get asked all the time what a Pole Barn is and how much they cost. Well, the short answer is they are large span structures constructed using columns or poles that are buried deep into the ground with trusses resting on top. They cost between $25/ft. to $175/ft. depending on how you finish them.
Some farmers just have dirt floors and only metal siding on the roof with poles exposed to the elements. Some people make completely finished churches, houses, or offices out of them.
The Pole Building was pioneered in the 1930’s using rounded utility poles for horse barns and agricultural buildings. Today, they have become a very cost effective way to create large structures. You can fill in the interior of the structure with non-load bearing traditional stick framing.
Materials have since been developed specifically for this building type; we use glue laminated square poles that range in size from 4×4’s to 10×10’s. The poles are pressure treated on one end so that end can be placed in a concrete pile. Typical pole spacing for a building is 8′ to 12′ on center.
Trusses are placed at two to four feet on center with some truss landing directly on a pole and the others landing on beams that span between poles. Trusses can clear a span up to 100 feet, usually constrained by truck size and site access. In my experience, 80 feet seems to be the upper limit of truss size that can be shipped. The size of the barn we just built in Oldham County (see below) is 80×160 ft.
Siding and roofing have changed over the years, but most pole buildings today use light pre-painted metal panels with exposed fasteners. However, you can skin these buildings in whatever material you like — cedar siding, brick, painted hardie plank, and so on.
Pole Barns are a very cost effective way to create a building that is becoming more and more attractive as technology improves.