How to Design Your Own Pole Building for Free


Pole buildings have been around for a long time due to their ease of construction, low cost and wide variety of uses. They get use as barns, garages and business locations. Designing a pole building, also known as a post-framed building, can be simple and free if you do it yourself. The design of the pole building should be done in 2-foot increments for ease of construction. The design can be easily sketched on standard graph paper at a scale of one-quarter inch equaling one foot.

Things You'll Need

  • Architect's scale or ruler
  • 1/4-inch graph paper
  • Pencil or pen

Building Design

  • Sketch the plan view of the pole building first, then the elevation and section views. Determine the desired length, width and height of the pole building.

  • Sketch the pole grid layout starting at the corners. You should place a pole every eight feet. Each pole should be installed on a 6-inch thick minimum concrete foundation that is 2-feet-deep-by-2-feet diameter. The foundation must be built below the frost line. Typical posts are 4 or 6-inches square.

  • Sketch intermediate poles which may be required under the center of the trusses for additional support, depending on the width of the building.

  • Sketch the walls by drawing two lines along the exterior edges, between the poles, to represent 4-inch thick stud walls. Sketch any additional interior details such as extra rooms or doors.

  • Sketch the desired window or door openings in the 4-inch thick stud walls. Typical doors and windows are 3-feet wide. Doors can swing into or away from the building and should be at least two to six inches away from any wood poles.

  • Sketch the concrete stoops and/or floors, if desired. Typically stoops are 4-feet wide by 5-feet deep minimum and 4-inches thick. This should complete the plan view sketch of the pole building.

  • Begin sketching the elevation views. Draw a line representing the ground.

  • Determine the desired wall height. All poles must be aligned properly and cut off at the same height. A 2-by-10-inch beam, running the full length of the building, can be used as the top plate for the walls or the roof trusses can be set directly onto the poles.

  • Sketch horizontal lines that represent the top of the wall at the desired height.

  • Draw a rough section view through the building that shows the full height wall and desired roof slope. The slope of the roof and overhang length will determine where the roof lines will appear. The top line of the roof will be where these sloped lines intersect each other.

  • Determine the desired roof overhang length and extend the roof lines in the section view to match. In the elevation views this will be shown as the top line on the end of the roof truss. Fascia boards should then be drawn below that line at 6-inches tall.

  • Sketch the doors and windows. Typically doors are 6-foot 8-inches tall and have a 2-inch frame. The top of the windows should match the door height. Windows are usually 36 to 60-inches tall with a 2-inch frame.

  • Determine the preferred exterior wall finish and roofing materials. This could be corrugated steel, wood, siding, or even brick. Sketch it on the elevations if desired.

  • Determine whether the building will have gutters and downspouts. Show them on the sketch if desired. They are usually 4 to 6-inches square. This should complete all plan, elevation and section view sketches for the pole building.

Tips & Warnings

  • Research potential pole building designs and construction methods prior to starting construction.
  • Coordinate with local authorities for any building code and permit requirements.
  • Research and utilize free drafting programs to assist in your pole building design if hand sketching is not your preferred method.
  • Pole diameters, framing materials and thicknesses can all vary greatly depending on your situation.
  • Coordinate with structural and architectural design professionals if you have any safety concerns prior to attempting construction.

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