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Pros and Cons of Post-Frame Homes

by Criss Gill

Pole barns, more often referred to these days as pole buildings, are structures built using post-frame construction techniques. This construction method involves driving poles into the ground or securing them above ground and then using them to support the roof. Pole buildings are sturdy, durable, and require no foundation since they do not feature load-bearing walls.

Given that post-frame construction is more affordable than traditional stick-framing, it should come as no surprise that people are embracing the technology. Now, it’s as common to see a Pole Building used as a full-time home as it is to see an actual pole barn. Before calling a post-frame contractor, read on to find out about the pros and cons of building a pole barn home.

Pro: Generally Lower Labour and Material Costs

Unlike traditional stick-framed homes, post-frame houses don’t need foundations. Instead of having basements, they’re built on concrete slabs. The lack of a traditional foundation helps to cut back on labour and material costs.

Con: No Basement

Large families sometimes rely on basements as storage space or even extra living space. They won’t be able to do that with post-frame homes.

Pro: Improved Energy Efficiency

Post-frame construction lends itself to excellent energy efficiency ratings. While stick-framed exterior walls have studs set to 16″-24″ on centre, pole buildings only need posts set to 8′ apart. This extra space can be insulated more efficiently to prevent heat transfer.

Con: Potential for Permitting Issues

Not all locations allow property owners to construct post-frame homes. Some zoning boards prohibit it. Interested landowners should always check with their local authorities and file appropriate permit applications before starting construction.

Pro: Wide-Open Floor Plans

Post-frame homes require no interior load-bearing walls, which allows homeowners to adopt open floor plans. Families can construct interior walls if they want to, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to deciding where to place them. No matter what the interior design looks like, it’s the posts that hold up the roof, so there won’t be any structural or engineering complications.

Con: Difficulties With Assessment

Not all lenders and appraisers have a framework in place for valuing post-frame homes. Most current and future post-frame homeowners find that the best way around this issue is to describe the buildings as “wood-framed” instead of “post-framed.”

Pro: Faster Construction

It takes far less time to construct a post-frame home than a traditional stick-framed building. This shorter time frame for project completion comes with two distinct advantages: it keeps labor costs low and allows families to move into their new houses sooner.

Con: Mortgage Issues

Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage lenders require concrete footings below the ground level. Property owners who want to build post-frame homes may not be able to secure financing from these popular lenders. Before throwing in the towel, though, they should speak to their contractors about whether concrete footings can be placed to accommodate the lenders’ restrictions.

The Bottom Line

Post-frame homes aren’t for everyone. Because pole buildings have only recently become popular in residential construction, property owners may have trouble with zoning boards, lenders, or appraisers. The good news is that contractors can often help with navigating zoning laws and permits, so don’t be afraid to reach out.