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Old 08-21-2012, 10:21 PM   #1
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Pole barn vs metal building (quonset hut)

I hope to be putting up a building sometime in the next year, around 30' x 40' or maybe bigger even. (I want bigger, funds are always scarce though)

I'm pretty familiar with traditional pole barns as there are many around here, but I haven't seen many quonset huts to check out. Steel Master makes a couple of models with straight walls, so the arched walls aren't an issue. Steel Master seems to be competitively priced but I fear that maybe there's some vital thing not included in their pricing lists or something, since I've never dealt with them and there are no local reps, it's worrisome.

Main use will be as a shop for my bikes, truck, etc and I'll also have a lathe and mill in there and some day I'd love to install a 2 post lift. I want room to separate the metal working stuff from the vehicles and still have room to work in either space.

Just curious if anyone has experience with both and pro/con of them.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:39 AM   #2
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Just a thought-

Are any of manufacturers you're considering easily expandable? Maybe build what you can afford now but add another 30 feet a few years down the road?

If you position it so you can expand down a gable end that might make things easier?
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:50 AM   #3
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I can't say that I have first hand experience, but I have done a little consideration of a similar project. Like you, I see a lot of pole barns around and not so many of the pre-manufactured buildings. That has me thinking that I can't be the only one that has considered the two options and that a majority of those that have considered the options have chosen the pole barn.

I'm not sure what that means. Out here on the Great Plains the ag people tend to be frugal and practical. I'm sure those factors play into their decision to choose pole over pre-man.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:12 AM   #4
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I built a hangar, 42' X 64', all steel from "Rigid". The price was more than competitive with a pole barn. I had to dig the base for the uprights and then the concrete but I would of had to drill the holes for the pole barn. I found a contractor to put up in the winter when the construction business was slow for him.....great deal for me and he kept his crew busy in the off season.
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by josjor View Post
I'm not sure what that means. Out here on the Great Plains the ag people tend to be frugal and practical. I'm sure those factors play into their decision to choose pole over pre-man.
Mostly its that pole barns are very simple to design and build. All straight sections and right angles, etc. Their volumn is easier to fill and more efficient. Whereas a quonset hut has radii and curves and pre-stressed "ribs". They are more efficient in terms of building materials for the enclosed volume, but it can be hard to utilize much of the curved "ceiling" area.

Pole barns are also traditional. Quonset huts fell out of favor shortly after WWII because they became associated with cheap, temporary structures.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:57 AM   #6
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Metal arch buildings are a pain to insulate , lot of wasted wall space depending on the height of the side walls. Running electric & air lines can be a pain if you don't preplan /run in the slab. Water condensation is a problem on both if not insulated and proper air flow. Can't add windows to the walls of the metal building easily. The skylight panels are ok for about 5 years and then they start to yellow & leak also can be damaged in a hail storm.
Find a amish barn builder in the area ,great quality usually priced in the market and do the work on time. We have a 80 X 40 X 16 high pole shop ,96x36x16 machine shed & 2 80x60 arch buildings .
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:40 PM   #7
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Some friends of mine's father built a steel pole barn 40 years ago and it pretty much still looks the same today as it did back then. Concrete floor, Telephone pole beams and metal siding. It was built from some sort of kit obviously, and it's similar looking to the one in this pic below but is not painted, just raw galvanized. There's doesn't have any rollup just like the one below, I see a lot of designs have roll up doors but those can be expensive to buy and they do need maintenance as well.

If that thing can stand up to 40 years of New England winters then I'd say it's a good design; it even held up to us slamming basket balls into the side of it for 10 years as kids! The only drawback is it's HOT in the summer and cold in the winter. Theirs fits a ton of stuff, and has a loft as well.

Lumber is pricey these days so a Metal building I imagine is the cheapest route to go. I think the concrete will be a big expense as well.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:14 PM   #8
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I put a 30x40 pole building in about 5 years ago. I also looked at the Quonset type steel buildings, but IIRC the cost was similar enough that I went with the pole barn.

I was more comfortable with the pole building because I could put in some nice features like two tone sidewalls, full eaves, and scalloped garage doors. Those small details made the building look much nicer and that was important to me as we are in a residential area.

Two things I tell people I learned from the process:

Put down a concrete floor and do it before moving your stuff in. I waited a year and had to move all my crap out to a storage unit. I thought I could deal with a stone floor for a while, but it was miserable trying to deal with the stone and the dampness it lets in.

Build it as big as you are allowed. The extra square footage comes cheap when you are building it so you might as well go big. I initially wanted a 24x30, but I figured out I could squeeze in the larger building. It didn't cost much more and I can't imagine having anything smaller than what I went with. It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. I'm glad I went bigger.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:01 PM   #9
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This is 40X50, 14' walls, 4-12 pitch, had it built last year.

I put this mezzanine in to store all my junk.

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Old 08-22-2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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Wife and I put this together last year. A LOT of work, but worth it. Having it erected would have doubled the cost

30x60 with a 15' shed. Renegade from GA. Highly recommended.

Coworker of mine bought a straight wall qonset hut. Shady outfit. The parts arrived, WTF? where are the front and rear walls????

"Oh, THOSE are extra." Had them shipped ($$$ with $$ for another delivery charge). Then they held his drawings hostage and the local building inspector can't sign off until he sees the drawings. $$$ Then the drawings arrived, not signed by an engineer. Yup, more $$$ for a signed copy.

I felt terrible for him, I googled the company's name, many complaints, F- with BBB. I can't recall the name, but they were in Florida.

Do your homework and research. Make sure you order your doors wide/tall enough for anything you may park inside. Square and Plumb everything, then check it again. Steel isn't very forgiving!

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Old 08-22-2012, 09:49 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info guys, I am trying to avoid asking places for quotes at this point as I know it will be awhile before I build. I did get a "specials" thing sent to my email from one place and they have hounded me for 3 days now. I work in a steel frame building and really like it, but expected them to be much more expensive but I'm hearing that they are competitive.

KeithinSC, that is very much like I have in mind with the extra shed on it!
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:35 PM   #12
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My Father-in-Law had a Lester built about 15 years ago. It's really nice, but it wasn't cheap.
I don't know the exact size, but it has sliding doors on both ends. I think he paid over $30k for it, and that didn't include the partial loft, two horse stalls, and the little office/work area he put in one corner with power, water and phone. I want to say he left the floor dirt as well. Still, it looks as good as new after 15 Minnesota winters.
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Old 08-23-2012, 03:51 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by milq View Post

KeithinSC, that is very much like I have in mind with the extra shed on it!
The shed was the best decision I made. I open the center door and do 90% of my work under the shed. Welding and grinding mess, sawdust etc. all outside, so no mess inside! 3 Skylight panels on the rear roof is another must have. I never turn the lights on until after sunset.
If I did it again, I'd probably bias the center door more towards the 36" door. Having the overhead door near the middle kind of split the building in two, limits my storage/loft/office/workbench locations.
That building was just north of $20000 delivered. Cement not included.
Options/upgrades; Insulated, wainscote, 3 OH doors, 1 man door, framed for 5 windows (I bought those local), exhaust fan, skylights, 12" endwall overhangs, upgraded corner trim, closed end rakes on the shed.

Use a gmail or hotmail account and start requesting quotes. Just be upfront that you are xx months from purchase. The companies I dealt with often ran 'specials' that knocked 1-2000 off a standard type building. Raw material costs also moved prices around. I had mine delivered in Feb (a few months before I really wanted to) to avoid a steel increase, saved $3000. (real increase, we buy steel at my job and the market spiked a few weeks after)

A good resource;
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:25 PM   #14
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Pole barn

I I built a 20 x 30 Pole barn W 12' walls ( no building permit required for ag building where I live) The poured a concrete floor. I did have to pull a building permit to wire it. The county came out looked at the wiring, and said nothing about the building. I put 12' overhangs / shed roof on both long walls.

If I had poured a slab and built on the slab I would have had to get a building permit here.

suggestions 1) make as big as you can. I wish mine was 3x the sizei
2) Put in high walls, makes the shed roofs mre useable
3) don't put in aflat bottomed trusses wasted space above
4) wire it for as much juice as you can, I put in a 200 Amp panel

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Old 08-23-2012, 12:36 PM   #15
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I'm very glad to find this thread here- I've been thinking about this for a couple of years. I plan to retire to the home I inherited from my parents in rural SC in the next year or two and the first order of business is going to be a freaking shop/garage. Keith's building is very close to what I've had in mind; thanks for posting the photo and the name of the supplier. I'll definitely check into them.

I'm still curious to see what else shows up in the thread though; keep 'em coming.
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