What is a Pole Barn? 9 FAQs and Their Answers

Posted by Jamie Kline on Sep 13, 2023 2:46:00 PM
Jamie Kline

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For the property owner looking for a new utility building, pole barns deliver on many fronts – from being a cost-effective alternative to a structure that lasts long and has minimal maintenance. 

For many pole barn – or post frame – builders, the same questions from clients come up, regardless of the intended application of the structure.

We've gathered the most common questions we've heard about pole barns and their answers. Let's dive in!

9 Pole Barn FAQs Builders Field

  1. What is a pole barn?
  2. What is a pole barn used for?
  3. Can you live in a pole barn?
  4. How long does it take to build a pole barn?
  5. How much does a pole barn cost?
  6. How do you finance a pole barn?
  7. What size pole barn do I need?
  8. What size posts are used in pole barns?
  9. Why invest in a pole barn?


1. What is a Pole Barn?

First and foremost a utility building, pole barns have a long history and versatile applications in commercial, agricultural, and residential applications.

Originally developed in the United States during the 1930s, pole barns were initially used as inexpensive and practical structures for storing farm equipment and livestock.

The design of a pole barn – or post frame building – is characterized by large posts or poles embedded deep into the ground to provide structural support. These posts serve as the 

foundation and framework for the building, with trusses or rafters supporting the roof. The walls of a pole barn can be made from a variety of materials, such as metal siding (the most common), wood, or even concrete panels.

2. What is a Pole Barn Used for?

In the past, pole barns were primarily associated with agriculture, serving as barns for storing hay, housing livestock, or providing shelter for farm machinery. And those applications are still very true today.

However, pole barns are now used in a variety of other ways.

  • In commercial settings, pole barns are commonly utilized as warehouses, workshops, storage facilities, or retail spaces. Their open design allows for maximum flexibility in organizing the interior space to meet specific business needs.
  • In industrial settings, the story is much the same, as they offer a cost-effective solution for storage or additional workspace.
  • In residential applications, pole barns have gained popularity as garages, workshops, or extra storage areas. They offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional construction methods while still providing ample space for various purposes. They've also become an option for those looking for a unique home (more on this one later).

3. Can You Live in a Pole Barn?


Some homeowners looking for a unique-style home are turning to "barndominiums."

A fully finished pole barn that includes living quarters, barndominiums – or barndos – offer the perfect blend of functionality and aesthetics, combining the utility of a traditional pole barn with the comfort of a modern living space.

Barndominiums have gained popularity in recent years due to their versatility and cost-effectiveness. One of the key advantages of a barndominium is that it can be easily customized to meet the specific needs and preferences of the homeowner. With panelized construction, it becomes even easier to create a living space within a pole barn.

The living quarters in a barndominium can include bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining areas, and even common living spaces. The interior finishes can range from rustic and industrial to sleek and contemporary, depending on the homeowner's style preferences.

Many people are drawn to barndominiums because they offer a unique and unconventional living experience. The open-concept design, high ceilings, and large windows provide a sense of spaciousness and natural light that is often lacking in traditional homes.

In addition, barndos can be designed to also include a traditional utility space, essentially doubling up on the building's functionality. 

4. How Long Does it Take to Build a Pole Barn?

The construction timeline for a pole barn can vary depending on various factors such as the size and complexity of the design. However, as a general rule, pole barns can be built relatively quickly compared to other utility buildings.

One of the main advantages of pole barn construction is its efficiency and speed. Unlike traditional stick-built or metal garages, which require extensive foundation work and framing, pole barns employ a simplified construction method. The use of poles buried into the ground as the foundational support structure allows for a quicker building process.

On average, a typical pole barn can be put up and ready to use within a few weeks. This includes the time required for site preparation, acquiring permits (if necessary), material delivery, and actual construction. Of course, more complex designs or larger structures may take slightly longer to complete.

5. How Much Does a Pole Barn Cost?

As no two buildings are exactly the same, it's difficult to provide an exact price as there are several factors that can impact the overall cost of a pole barn.

  • Size: Larger buildings will generally cost more due to the increased materials and labor required. Additionally, the height of the building can also impact the cost, as taller structures may require additional reinforcement.
  • Materials: Pole barns can be constructed using a variety of materials, such as wood, steel, or even concrete. Each material has its own cost and benefits, and the choice depends on factors such as durability, aesthetics, and budget.
  • Customization & Amenities: Additional features like insulation, windows, doors, electrical wiring, plumbing, and interior finishes will add to the overall cost of the pole barn.
  • Labor: This can vary depending on location and complexity of the project. Hiring experienced contractors or builders will typically result in higher labor costs but can ensure a high-quality construction.

Ultimately, the final cost of a pole barn is determined by the owner and their specific needs.

6. How Do You Finance a Pole Barn?

In short, there are two options that customers typically pursue:

  1. Paying out-of-pocket
  2. Getting a loan from a bank.

7 What Size Pole Barn Do I Need?

Not to say that depends again, but that depends on what the client plans to use it for.

One of the nice things about pole barn design is that they are easily adapted to their intended use. And unlike steel buildings, which tend to need more complex designs and construction, pole barns are relatively simple structures that can be scaled up or down as necessary. 

What's more, because building component weight isn't as big a factor, pole barns don't require center support poles in the same way a metal building does, which can limit the amount of actual usable floor space.

8. What Size Posts Are Used in Pole Barns?

Much of this depends on the pole barn's design, size, and the spacing of its roof trusses.

In general, pole barns are built using 8x8 posts. Depending on their design requirements, they can use 6X6 posts as well – which is our standard. Specifically, we offer four-ply 6x6’s. However, depending on the building, you may see four- or five-ply 8x8’s. 

9. Why Invest in a Pole Barn?

When compared to other utility building types, here are some key factors that make pole barns a preferred choice:

  1. Cost-effectiveness: Pole barns are known for being a more budget-friendly option compared to traditional structures. They require fewer materials due to their unique construction method, where poles serve as the main support system. This translates into cost savings without compromising on the strength and durability of the building.
  2. Durability: Pole barns are built to last. The combination of sturdy poles, high-quality roofing materials, and durable siding ensures that these structures can withstand harsh weather conditions, such as heavy snow loads and strong winds. This durability makes pole barns an excellent long-term investment.
  3. Low Maintenance: One of the advantages of pole barns is that they require minimal maintenance. The materials used in their construction, such as metal siding and roofing, are resistant to rot, pests, and decay common with other building types. Additionally, the open design of pole barns allows for good ventilation, reducing the potential for moisture-related issues.
  4. Easy Construction: Pole barns offer a streamlined construction process. The use of poles as the main support system eliminates the need for extensive foundation work, simplifying the building process. With proper planning and professional guidance, pole barns can be erected relatively quickly, saving time and effort.
  5. Versatility: Pole barns are highly versatile structures. They can be customized to meet various needs, whether it's for agricultural purposes, storage, workshops, or even as living quarters. The open floor plan and flexible design options allow for easy adaptation to specific requirements.

Simplify Pole Barn Design & Quoting

Did you know Barden Building Products offers access to SmartBuild Systems – software that makes it easy to design and quote a pole barn project? 

Learn more: 


Topics: Pole Barns

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