7 Pole Barn Design Flaws to Avoid

Posted by Jamie Kline on Aug 26, 2021 8:00:00 AM
Jamie Kline

pole barn design

Clients usually have a good idea of what they're looking for in a pole barn by the time they're ready to have it built. 

Whether they’re building for residential, agricultural, or commercial purposes, a pole barn is a big investment on their part. They’ve probably thought a lot about how this post frame building will look and what it will need.  

But their vision may not consider relatively common pole barn design flaws that are often overlooked. 

Like any building, pole barn design flaws tend to be difficult and expensive to fix down the road if they were included in the original design

A builder or project manager plays a critical role in making sure the client’s realized vision is one they’ll love for years to come.

7 Pole Barn Design Flaws to Steer Clients Clear Of

When it comes to designing a pole barn that meets your client’s needs and matches their budget, your building or project-management expertise goes a long way. As a guide to your client, you can identify design flaws that may cause expensive problems down the road.  

Seven of the most common pole barn design flaws include: 

  1. Size
  2. Location
  3. Improperly sized openings
  4. Missing features 
  5. Wrong foundation type
  6. Questionable color choice
  7. Missing utilities

1. Size

There’s nothing more frustrating for a client than having a pole barn they’ll quickly outgrow or never use to its full extent. 

With a pole barn that’s too small, a client may find themselves quickly needing to add onto the structure (resulting in more overhead costs). On the other hand, a pole barn that’s too large may not look good on a property or become a financial burden because of utility costs (heating and lighting). 

One of the easiest ways to design a pole barn that’s the right size is to spend a few minutes with a client creating a list of everything they plan to put inside it. There’s a huge size difference for a pole barn that’s intended to store a push mower and garden tools vs. tractor and farming equipment.

2. Location

Like a custom home, a pole barn’s location has an impact on its functionality, especially as it relates to the environment. 

Its orientation to the sun’s path or wind currents may not allow a client to take advantage of natural lighting and cooling. Conversely, poor orientation may mean a pole barn gets too much sunlight or is drafty. 

Did you know pole barns are an eco-friendly building alternative? Learn why:

5 Factors That Make Pole Barns Eco-Friendly

3. Improperly Sized Openings

What’s more frustrating than a pole barn that’s too big or too small? One that you can’t get equipment in and out of.

A major consideration for those storing heavy equipment or large vehicles, an improperly sized opening(s) is a barrier to actually using the structure for its intended purpose.  

When designing a pole barn, find out exactly what your client plans to keep inside it. You may need to get measurements of large vehicles and equipment to ensure the building’s openings are an appropriate size. 

4. Extra Features Missing

Although these extra features aren’t essential for every pole barn owner, they can enhance the appearance and versatility of the building:

  • Overhead doors
  • Windows
  • Wainscoting
  • Porches
  • Other 

Most of these features are easier and more cost-effective to include in the original design than they are to add later.  

5. The Wrong Foundation Type

Pole barns don’t require a foundation. Most feature a dirt floor. However, this may not be ideal for a client -- a concrete slab foundation may be a better fit. 

Durable and easier to clean, concrete slab foundations enhance a post frame building’s functionality. They are, however, an expensive addition, and it’s nearly impossible to add a concrete foundation to an existing post frame building.

6. Choosing the Wrong Color

Although color is not as big a deal as the functionality flaws on this list, choosing the wrong color can result in extra expenses for the client. Whether your client does the job themselves or hires professionals, repriming and repainting a pole barn costs time and money.

7. Missing Utilities

When your client designs their dream pole barn, certain utilities may not seem like a priority:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Heating

Omitting them may be a cost-saving measure at the time.

However, including utilities in a pole barn’s original design saves the expense and headache of installing them separately later. Utility installation often requires emptying large sections of the barn to ensure accessibility, and the client may be left without a usable building for several weeks. Not to mention the ensuing cleanup.

Avoiding Pole Barn Design Flaws From the Onset

Most design flaws can be fixed -- or at least improved -- after a pole barn is built. However, it’s much more cost-effective to design a post frame building that delivers exactly what a client needs on Day 1.

As an expert in providing building solutions, your job is to ensure that design flaws won’t be an issue to begin with. 

Simplify the Pole Barn Design Process

SmartBuild Systems through Barden optimizes designing and quoting post frame buildings for professional builders. Learn more:


Topics: Behind the Scenes, Process, Resources, Pole Barns

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