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Trent Tarter

Post Frame Construction Home

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I have been interested in building "post frame" homes for many years now. I am getting ready to build a post frame home for a client. This will be the first home I have built, in process of getting my general contractors licence. I will be the general contractor and will sub out most of the work including the post frame structure (shell).  There's an old house on the property that has to be torn down first. This will be an interesting project for me as I have quite a bit of freedom in making design choices. I am currently working on plans and budget, the home is going to around 1200-1500 sq ft. single story, maybe a loft area. My goal of using post frame construction is cheaper cost per sq ft, more energy efficient and quicker to build than stick frame. It will be a few months before I get started.    

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I question your premise. If your final product will be cheaper, more energy efficient, and quicker to build, then why do you suppose that the vast majority of builders use stick frame construction in North America? 

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7 minutes ago, Jim Katen said:

I question your premise. If your final product will be cheaper, more energy efficient, and quicker to build, then why do you suppose that the vast majority of builders use stick frame construction in North America? 

Most builders either don't understand or are unaware of the potential that post frame construction has to offer.  They still think of basic pole barn construction with treated posts in ground. With design advancements the post frame industry is currently taking off in both commercial and residential markets. It' more common in the mid west and south. 

My goal is to be able to build a more cost effective qualify home that's more energy efficient than a typical stick built home. Post frame construction will allow me to do this. I am not saying post frame is better than stick built but it has huge potential.      

Here's a good article  http://www.constructionmagnet.com/frame-building-news/going-residential

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2 hours ago, Trent Tarter said:

They still think of basic pole barn construction with treated posts in ground. With design advancements the post frame industry is currently taking off in both commercial and residential markets

If it isn't posts in the ground, what is it?

What are the design advancements?

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Regarding 'pole barn' and 'post framed': pole and post are two different things right?  Pole is round and in the ground and post is rectangular and above ground, anchored atop a poured-concrete pile, yes?

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1 hour ago, Bill Kibbel said:

If it isn't posts in the ground, what is it?

What are the design advancements?

The posts can be installed in a variety of ways that keep them above grade. One product is called "Perma_Column"  You can also use "wet set" column brackets and pour footing onsite, which is what I am leaning towards. You also use brackets to mount the posts  on any type of concrete foundation (stem wall, basement, monolithic slab). They are making premium laminated post columns that are treated all the way through, they claim to have a 50+ year warranty.  I would only consider that for a real small home or cabin.  

I will use "bookshelf" girt design for walls. I will place horizontal 2"x8" girts between the posts at 24 inches apart. This eliminates the need to install standard girts on top of posts and then have to fame interior side for drywall.  This will give me an R-30 wall using fiberglass batt, the walls end up having less thermal breaks than stick frame. 

Edited by Trent Tarter

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50 minutes ago, Marc said:

Regarding 'pole barn' and 'post framed': pole and post are two different things right?  Pole is round and in the ground and post is rectangular and above ground, anchored atop a poured-concrete pile, yes?

Pole barn and Post Frame are the same thing. While some older styles used round poles most all pole barns &  post frame buildings use posts (columns). "Post frame" construction is the professional term that's used. The basic concept is the same but there are many variations as far as foundation types, wall framing methods and truss type.     

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On 10/14/2018 at 4:23 PM, Trent Tarter said:

Most builders either don't understand or are unaware of the potential that post frame construction has to offer.  They still think of basic pole barn construction with treated posts in ground. With design advancements the post frame industry is currently taking off in both commercial and residential markets. It' more common in the mid west and south. 

4

I'm very familiar with post frame construction and been accepted as an expert witness in that construction style. I've also inspected a couple of dozen local vineyard properties that use that construction technique. You can certainly build a very energy efficient residence with it - no doubt there. I question the cheaper and faster part, especially since this is your first construction project. It reminds me of all my friends who built geodesic dome houses in the '70s . . . (Ok, it's not as bad as that.) 

That said, I'll be very interested to hear about your progress and see how the cost and time work out, and I'll be happy to be proved wrong. 

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I've been in several homes built this way. They all had unusual bypass issues, particularly at the floor platforms.

How do you reduce thermal bridging when you replace slim studs with chunky columns?

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On 10/17/2018 at 6:02 AM, Tom Raymond said:

I've been in several homes built this way. They all had unusual bypass issues, particularly at the floor platforms.

How do you reduce thermal bridging when you replace slim studs with chunky columns?

Can you describe what you mean in regards to unusual "bypass issues".

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10 hours ago, Trent Tarter said:

Can you describe what you mean in regards to unusual "bypass issues".

I think Tom means thermal bypass in the walls.

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Exactly what Marc said. Air infiltration. Some from outside, some stack effect. Odd because it doesn't move like you would expect in more conventionally framed buildings. 

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Ya know, I wonder if anyone's ever considered SIPs installed in the spaces between the posts of a post-framed house?  Use 6X6 posts and 6" SIPs.

Edited by Marc

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I've been in a couple timber framed homes with SIPs. One was a reassembled 18th century barn frame. The panels were applied to the exterior, not tween the timbers.

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we used to have a company around here  that did the post and beam with sips.  Think it was Wm Porter.  Nice buildings;  quick and easy to construct, efficient and seemed to be durable. 

 

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I like post (and beam) construction, but have to say stick frame is more practical. You can build a frame wall, square it with a sheet of plywood and stand it up in about an hour.

I built a pergola from six 6 X 6 Douglas Fir posts this summer. One post was bowed pretty badly, and one had a bit of twist to it. I don't know how I missed the defects, except that I selected the wood by myself, hard to pick through the pile, and I was putting aside posts with visible scars and loose knots. Anyway, a post with twist or warp would be hard to use in a wall.

A twisted 2X6 can be nailed at one end and then twisted straight while the other end is nailed.

Getting each post plumb and bracing it was a pain, and then I had to get them all level at the top. It took quite a while. Good luck with yours. I realize you will be standing them on a level foundation maybe with beams to square them up. But it is work for a crew of guys.

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3 hours ago, John Kogel said:

 

 

3 hours ago, John Kogel said:

I like post (and beam) construction, but have to say stick frame is more practical. You can build a frame wall, square it with a sheet of plywood and stand it up in about an hour.

I built a pergola from six 6 X 6 Douglas Fir posts this summer. One post was bowed pretty badly, and one had a bit of twist to it. I don't know how I missed the defects, except that I selected the wood by myself, hard to pick through the pile, and I was putting aside posts with visible scars and loose knots. Anyway, a post with twist or warp would be hard to use in a wall.

A twisted 2X6 can be nailed at one end and then twisted straight while the other end is nailed.

Getting each post plumb and bracing it was a pain, and then I had to get them all level at the top. It took quite a while. Good luck with yours. I realize you will be standing them on a level foundation maybe with beams to square them up. But it is work for a crew of guys.

I have nothing against stick built construction. However, my goal is to be able to build quality, durable homes that are more affordable than typical stick built construction. A typical post frame shell home goes up twice as fast as stick built, with much less excavation and foundation costs. Post frame builders are telling me I can have a 2000 sq ft dried in shell built in about two weeks. I am getting quotes for around $30-$38 a sq ft for a residential post frame shell. This includes reinforced/insulated concrete slab, roof, siding, windows, doors.  24 inches eaves, 8/12 roof pitch, 9 foot and vaulted ceilings, 2x8 walls. 

Here's a cool video of post frame home tour   

  

Edited by Trent Tarter

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On 10/14/2018 at 8:15 PM, Trent Tarter said:

I will use "bookshelf" girt design for walls. I will place horizontal 2"x8" girts between the posts at 24 inches apart. This eliminates the need to install standard girts on top of posts and then have to fame interior side for drywall.  This will give me an R-30 wall using fiberglass batt, the walls end up having less thermal breaks than stick frame. 

 

Why not install 2x4 girts 24" oc. staggering the inside and outside ones? That will eliminate thermal bridging at the girts, and make it much easier to install the insulation in two layers with no gaps. It'll also make it much easier to run wiring perpendicular to the girts - no drilling necessary. 

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15 hours ago, Jim Katen said:

Why not install 2x4 girts 24" oc. staggering the inside and outside ones? That will eliminate thermal bridging at the girts, and make it much easier to install the insulation in two layers with no gaps. It'll also make it much easier to run wiring perpendicular to the girts - no drilling necessary. 

That's an option I might consider, however it takes more labor.

I am also looking at "zip wall R sheathing". It's an OSB sheathing that has one inch foam insulation attached.    

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3 hours ago, Trent Tarter said:

That's an option I might consider, however it takes more labor.

I am also looking at "zip wall R sheathing". It's an OSB sheathing that has one inch foam insulation attached.    

Does the Zip wall R sheathing retain the structural ratings of the original Zip sheathing?

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15 hours ago, Marc said:

Does the Zip wall R sheathing retain the structural ratings of the original Zip sheathing?

Not sure if it has the same structural rating. It would not matter as the post frame walls would not require sheathing, the Zip sheathing would simply be an upgrade vs having metal siding over wood frame only. 

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