History of Pole Construction
Attacker of Wood
Choosing a Site
Choosing a Design
The Fastenings to Use
The Process of Construction
Plumbing and Electricity
Heating and Cooling
EXAMPLES OF POLE BUILDING
Pawleys Island House
Sketch of a Pole House
Nine Square House
Betsy Ross Nursery School
POLE BUILDING PLANS
Double Garage and Tool Shed
Camp Cabin 1
Camp Cabin 2
Suggested Tools for Pole Building
Maximum Wind Speeds
Maximum Snow Load
Excerpt from Introduction
Would you hang your house between telephone poles? The idea is not as silly as it sounds. In fact" as some 600 000 owners of pole houses barns vacation cottages and commercial buildings in the United States and Canada will attest the idea is downright sensible. Pole building a system of widely spaced poles embedded in the ground supporting both roof and floor is an easy-to-build low-cost alternative to conventional building methods. The pole building system is easily adaptable to even the most difficult sites: steep hills rocky soils marshy or floodland areas sandy beaches hurricane or earthquake zones. And the system's simplicity places pole building within the scope of the weekend do-it-yourself or the eager but inexperienced novice.
Though received with skepticism when first introduced on the West Coast in the 1950s pole buildings have earned the respect of the construction industry. In fact properly constructed pole buildings whether owner-built or contracted can meet all FHA requirements to qualify for mortgage insurance under local review.
The pole building system has an elegant clarity. Large pressure-treated wooden poles are embedded in the ground then linked at floor and roof levels with horizontal wood girders. Across these girders the floor and roof are laid; walls windows doors and fixtures attached; and the house is a home!
Because there is no continuous concrete or block foundation no excavation is necessary beyond digging the pole holes. The poles triple-function as foundation structural frame and wind bracing. Since the poles offer a rigid frame firmly anchored into the earth the building is highly resistant to the wind forces of shear racking overturning and uplift forces that could flatten a lesser structure.
Labor time and materials are saved when building with poles. There's no waiting for the foundation to cure. Moreover the roof can be built before floors and walls are completed protecting workers and materials from the weather.
Pole buildings are simple enough to be assembled by unskilled workers. Less sawing is required than in conventional stud framing. No forms are needed. Since excavation and masonry work are minimized foundation costs (15 percent in the typical house) are sharply reduced and highly skilled subcontractors are not required. If the site is inaccessible or remote from roads and utility lines the entire structure can be built with hand tools (although electricity will make sawing and drilling much less tedious).
The poles themselves may be round like telephone poles or squared off into timbers. Squared poles make joinery somewhat easier and reduce on-site construction time. But round poles are considerably cheaper and 18 percent stronger than square poles of the same cross-sectional area. The reason for this extra strength is that area. The reason for this extra strength is that knots and other defects in round poles remain "bound in" with the surrounding wood fibers and contribute to the pole's of a lower lumber grade may be used to achieve the same strength as expensive high-grade square poles.
Since the poles carry the roof's weight the walls are not load bearing. They therefore may be less substantial than conventional stud walls and may be built of cheaper-grade lumber. And since the walls have no roof-supporting responsibilities they are independent of the structure above and may be arranged as desired.
Pole construction has a further bonus: fire safety. Heavy timber structures are safer under fire conditions. In a severe fire stud framing will burn quickly like kindling in a fireplace. Even steel is not fire-safe: subjected to the intense heat of a fire unprotected steel expands distorts and fails collapsing the building with it. Widely spaced timbers on the other hand have the fortunate tendency to self-extinguish after forming a charred outer surface. The phenomenon is familiar to anyone who has tried in vain to set a single large log afire. This is not to say that a wooden pole building cannot burn down; it can and will. But the pole structure affords an extra measure of safety remaining in place and holding up the roof a little longer so that occupants can escape.
Copyright permission by Storey Communications