Post-frame Shop – Design & Site Prep

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When we downsized to our 3BR house on one acre in Mid-southern Tennessee, we quickly filled the two-car detached garage to the point we could barely walk through. Cars, tractors and implements, trailers and other yard equipment have had to live out in the weather, waiting until I could build a post-frame shop (pole barn).

About the largest I could fit in the back yard is a 30’x48′ building, and I went with 13′ tall sidewalls and a 6:12 pitch roof – this should give me enough height to be able to store infrequently-used items above the heated workshop that will be in one corner. I used an online building design tool to work out door and window placements.

Once I had that all figured out, it was time to start moving dirt. The Boomer 8N made fairly short work of this.

Next, I built batter boards at each corner, from which I stretched a level string to delineate the building outline. These strings become the reference point for making sure all posts are located correctly, as well as are at the correct depth in the soil.

The last step in prepping the site was boring the post holes. The company I bought my plans and materials from does proper engineering to ensure posts are placed and sized correctly, and that the post holes are the correct diameter to carry the load of the building in my soil type without risk of future settling.

More importantly. everything is also engineered to withstand expected “wind events” for our area (tornado alley). The building should actually be safer than our house!

I already had an auger for my tractor, but only a 12″ bit. The plans called for 18″ holes on the end walls and 24″ holes on the sidewalls, so I had to rent those bits. And of course, I hit several large rocks – always at the bottom of the hole for some reason!

My materials began arriving at this point, so I rechecked my building line strings and found they were slightly off. My goal was to have all dimensions within ⅛” if possible. From what I’ve read online, most folks are thrilled if they’re within ½”.

Next up, setting the posts.

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