Pole Barns to Engineered Post Frame Buildings: A Snapshot in History

Published: 12th January 2011
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The "pole barn" has been around for centuries. In fact, many prehistoric people used posts driven into the ground as a way to erect buildings for a number of uses. Buildings along shorelines were built with poles to raise them above the water line. In rural areas, poles were used as the base for farm sheds.

However, these buildings could only be relied on for a short period of time as the lifespan of the poles were limited due to contact with the ground, unless they were built in very dry regions.

As the Great Depression settle in and building materials were hard to come by, a new type of pole building emerged. An American entrepreneur designed a building that used 2′ x 4′ boards and a truss system.

Pole Buildings Move into Canada

In 1963, Irvin Goodon, known as Canada’s Post Frame Pioneer, designed and built the first treated pole cattle shelter in Manitoba. "Over forty years later, that same design is being used," says Goodon. He continued to developed the design and engineering focusing on efficient buildings for the farm community, paving the way for today’s modern post frame buildings.

Award-winning Goodon is widely credited as being instrumental in developing a practical and economical building alternative for the Canadian farmer.

Advances in Post Frame

Since the humble beginning of pole buildings, the industry has experienced many advances in engineering. Treated, laminated posts are standard in most building practices. Another option is the superior Permanent Wood Foundation (PWF) treated wood post that has an even higher level of protection than regular treated wood. Engineering to local codes, large rib metal with 40-year warranty, energy efficient doors and windows, Hardie Board siding, new building designs and modern accessories are just some of the innovations of the post frame industry.

New Era for Post Frame with Engineered Concrete Base for Post

Probably the biggest advance for post frame today is the introduction of the Perma-Column. Perma-Columns are precast concrete columns that keep wood out of the ground. They are the first product to combine the economy of post frame construction with the durability of a concrete foundation. They are offered in Canada exclusively through Integrity Post Structures.

About Perma-Column

Uses the latest in self-compacting concrete precasting technology, which gives three times the strength of standard concrete

The special concrete mixture is designed to be so dense that water can’t penetrate it and subsequently freeze/thaw to break it up. The mixture is comparable to that used in bridge piers—meaning that it must stand up to cold temperatures around water.

Find out more about why this concrete works

Used for years in the U.S. and thoroughly tested by the universities of Wisconsin and Purdue, the Perma-Column outperforms standard wood posts

Comes with a lifetime guarantee

Find out more about the Perma-Column engineering specs.

Goodon also believes the Perma-Column to be the most important advance in the post frame industry in years. "Having been in the industry for close to 50 years, I believe this technology will significantly extend the life of post frame buildings here in Canada–especially considering the weather extremes of our climate."

Modern Applications for Post Frame

If you look around the rural Canadian landscape, post frame buildings are everywhere serving a wide range of purposes: machinery storage, farm shops, hay and grain storage, riding arenas, commercial operations, new hip roof style barns and more. And it’s just started. Stay tuned to the happenings at Integrity Post Structures to see what else is coming for post frame!

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Al Williams: Co-Founder, Integrity Post Structures With close to a decade of front-line experience in the post frame industry, Al Williams is very familiar with the needs and expectations of today’s post frame customers. For him, the ability to serve customers with true integrity, is a tremendous opportunity.

"For me, Integrity is more than just a company. Our goal is not to maximize share price, but rather to give the best building and service," says Williams. "We are not driven by how quickly we move from one project to the next, but by doing the best job and paying detailed attention to each aspect of the building."

Williams manages the sales team and daily operations of Integrity Post Structures.

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