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How to Prepare Sites for Pole Barns

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Pole Barns, built using a specialized post-frame construction method, have become incredibly popular in recent years thanks to their low cost, energy efficiency, and durability. To be able to install a new pole barn, property owners or, ideally, their building contractors must begin by clearing the site and stabilizing the ground. Read on to find out how this often-overlooked part of the construction process works.

Stake-Out the Perfect Spot

When siting a pole barn, consider factors like surrounding structures, accessibility of utility hook-ups, sun exposure, and the view. Once property owners have a general idea of where to site their new buildings, they can set out four markers to mark the building’s future corners. There’s no need to get the measurements exactly perfect, but try to be as accurate as possible and plan to build the pad a few square feet larger than the building’s footprint.

Clear Out the Undergrowth

The next step is to clear 100% of the undergrowth away from the future building site. Clearing the land of trees, bushes, and shrubs can be dangerous and difficult work, so it’s always best to leave this process to a professional with all the right tools and training. It’s also important to remove the stumps and large roots to avoid problems with foundation cracks later down the line.

Remove the Topsoil

Topsoil refers to the uppermost layer of soil composed of organic matter such as roots, decaying leaves, bacteria, and fungi. The reason it’s so important to remove the topsoil is that the organic materials will further disintegrate over time, creating air pockets that can cause problems with shifting and sagging of the concrete slab.

Install Fill Material

The best material to lay under a concrete slab for a pole barn is fine gravel or sand that can be uniformly smoothed out and compacted to form a stable base. Most experts recommend piling the fill up to a level 6-12 inches above grade to reduce the risks associated with standing water.

Grade the Site

Grading involves sloping the earth around the future building site away from the pole barn to ensure proper drainage and lower the risk of flooding. The slope should be at least 5% to ensure effective runoff.

Sign Off on Final Building Plans

Most contractors will have their customers sign off on initial building plans before they even begin to break ground. If property owners have any last-minute concerns or changes, they want to bring up, they shouldn’t wait until the concrete slab is laid and the poles are already going up. Take the time to check in with the builder to voice concerns and request change orders as needed now to avoid delays.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot of work that must be done before construction can even begin on a new pole barn. Unless they have experience operating chainsaws and heavy equipment, property owners shouldn’t attempt to perform this work themselves. The good thing about working with a full-service pole barn contractor is that they don’t have to. Let the experts tackle all that back-breaking preparatory work and keep in touch with the contractor to make sure everything is going smoothly.