Post Frame Advantage

Post Frame Advantage Handbook

2: Efficiency

Speed of Construction|Long-Term and Short-Term Value|Case Study

Post-frame buildings are highly efficient, not only in terms of initial construction but also throughout the building’s life span.

The amount of time it takes to get “under roof” for post-frame building is half what you would normally expect of other construction techniques.

Post-frame also cuts down on construction costs because it reduces construction time. Construction time is dramatically reduced for these reasons:

  • Posts or building columns may be implanted in the ground. This eliminates the delay caused by poured foundations that, in many instances, are unnecessary in post-frame buildings. Site preparation time for post-frame buildings is cut to a minimum.
  • Construction delays due to inclement and cold weather are minimized. Post-frame is readily adaptable to frost-wall construction; however, construction of structures with ground-embedded wood or precast concrete post foundations may commence at or below freezing temperatures.
  • Once the posts are in place, construction proceeds briskly. The remaining framing components, including those for doors and windows virtually any dimension, may be quickly installed.

Post-frame construction has both short- and long-term value.

Short-Term Advantages: Lower construction and labor costs.

  • Wood-frame components are almost always much less costly to purchase and install than steel, brick, and concrete block.
  • Post-frame column spacing is wider than 2×4” stick frame construction allows, so there are less structural members that the crew needs to spend time installing.
  • Posts and laminated columns are exceptionally sturdy, so less wood materials are needed than for traditionally-framed buildings.
  • An experienced crew may erect a basic frame of posts, girts, trusses and purlins within two or three days, so erection time and associated labor costs may be much lower.

Long-Term Advantages: Durable and efficient

  • Post-frame is long-lasting. Wood posts placed in the ground are pressure treated with preservatives to protect them from insects and rot. Post-frame buildings with foundations made of treated wood have been erected since the 1930’s. They may also employ concrete foundation footings or foundation products specifically developed for post-frame such as plastic barriers fro enhanced wood protection and concrete posts or piers. Many builders and building column producers offer lifetime warranties.
  • It’s energy efficient. The gap between inside and outside walls on a typical post-frame building averages more than six inches, providing exceptional space for insulating material. Because of its wide column spacing, there are few interruptions in insulation material. Where the insulation is interrupted, wooden structural members have natural insulating properties and do not conduct as much heat as structural steel or masonry components. ComCheck and other analysis of insulation applications confirm that post-frame buildings are the most energy-efficient building choice, compared to other conventional forms of construction.
  • It’s design efficient. The diaphragm design intrinsic to post-frame structures efficiently transfers lateral wind and seimic loads to the foundation. Therefore, they may handle wind, snow, and seimic loads more efficiently than most other types of structures.

More information about the short- and long-term values of post-frame technology is available from

Case Study

Lawrence Township Fire Station

Lawrence Township, Michigan needed to retrofit their old brick and block fire station to house their brand new fire engine. “Winter was rapidly approaching”, recalled builder Glen Thomsen.

Thomsen considered using block and steel. But, given the cold weather and the longer building process of both, the project would have taken an estimated six to eight weeks longer than with post-frame. “It would have been impossible to secure masons on such short notice to complete the addition with block. Post-frame was the only type of structure that could be erected within the short amount of time given for completion,” he noted.

“With the extended fabrication and construction time and the higher costs of labor and materials for steel or block and brick construction,” Thomsen continued, “we estimated that the post-frame structure would cost almost half as much as either of the other alternatives.”

With the help of an architect, the existing fire station and the new addition were seamlessly merged into one structure that was more attractive than the original block and brick structure. They extended the trusses from the new structure to make it look like one new building, incidentally solving their recurring problems with leakage from the flat roof on the original structure.

Not only did the new post-frame structure eliminate a leaky roof, it also allowed the builders to attain the required R-value,”…which we surpassed,” said Thomsen, “with a final rating of 30. The best R-value we could have achieved using block would have been a 4.”

The project was a huge success. “We could have selected any of a number of construction techniques for the project, but post-frame made by far the most sense.” Thomsen concluded, “We couldn’t have done it as economically and quickly with any other type of permanent construction.”

Challenge: Lawrence Township, Michigan needed to retrofit their old brick and block fire station in order to house their new fire engine.

Solution: The construction manager chose post-frame technology to complete the project in the shortest amount of time possible, in the most efficient way possible.

Result: Occupancy was available in less than four months. The community was thrilled with the improved appearance, competitive cost and improved energy efficiency of the building.