How is pole house construction different from conventional housing construction methods?
Pole house construction uses a totally integrated engineering style not normally found in conventional house building. In a pole house, the skeletal structure carries the entire loading of the suspended floors and roof. The skeletal structure is engineered to be independent of wall placement, allowing all of the interior and exterior walls of the pole house to be completely non-load bearing.
How is a pole house different from the pier and piling buildings she sees at the seashore?
A pier and piling building is usually nothing more than a pole platform base on which a conventional building is placed. The pier and piling poles do not penetrate above floor level. In our pole houses, large diameter wood poles are bolted atop reinforced concrete footings and rise vertically through the entire structure to carry the suspended floor girder beams, floor joists, and the tension ring beam and roofing rafters. The entire engineered skeletal structure becomes an incredibly strong integrated frame.
Is a pole house the same as the stilt houses I see in the Gulf Coast region of the USA?
Sometimes Yes and sometimes No. A stilt house many times is nothing more than a piling platform base on top of which a conventional building is placed. A better method to design, engineer and construct a true "Stilt House" would be to approach the designing as we do our pole houses. Let the structure come alive by raising the pilings all the way up to the roof rim beam.
Are pole houses the same as Post and Beam and Timber Frame construction?
Our pole houses utilize some aspects of Post and Beam and Timber Frame construction techniques. We design and engineer our pole houses on a modular grid system which lends itself beautifully to the efficiencies of Post and Beam and Timber Frame construction, with the exception that our structural systems feature large cantilevering sections. All of our wall systems are completely non-load bearing throughout.
What does "non-load bearing" walls mean?
Conventional housing construction methods rely on the exterior walls of a home (as well as some interior walls) to be supporting structural members. The walls will typically be constructed of 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" wood studs or light gauge steel studs, placed at 16" to 24" spacing. Pole house engineering relies on the unique skeletal framework of interlocking girders, joists and beams which are through bolted into the notched vertical poles to create an extremely strong yet flexible structure. The walls of a pole house are not needed to support the structural elements and are thereby classified as "non-load bearing."
Is a pole house hurricane or earthquake proof?
No. Humankind is not capable of designing and engineering an economically feasible structure which is hurricane or earthquake proof. A pole house is, however, one of the strongest structures you can economically build which is hurricane, earthquake and flood "resistant." We strive to engineer structures which will be "survivable" in the case of a natural disaster. Our pole houses have withstood hurricane force winds (in excess of 125 mph), localized flooding and strong earthquakes of 6.0 and 6.7 magnitude.
Can a pole house be constructed to meet "green building" standards?
Yes. We pride ourselves on promoting pole houses as truly environmental, ecological, green homes. You will need to carefully choose your building materials, paying close attention to the emission ratings of products which release toxic naphthalene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, as well as to a products' hypoallergenic qualities. A pole house is ideally suited to the use of certified forest products, recyclable and sustainable materials.
What type of poles are used to build a pole house?
Most any species of sound wood poles will work for a pole house. We recommend ponderosa pine, southern yellow pine or Douglas fir. Success has also been had with cypress, cedar, ohia (a Hawaiian hardwood), ironwood, green heart, mahogany and eucalyptus robusta. Poles should be debarked and measure a minimum 12" diameter at the top tip. Twists in the poles will add interest and do not normally diminish strength.
Must the poles of my pole house be pressure treated?
No. You may use any species of sound, untreated wood pole. Some homeowners, however, insist on treating wood poles and beams to guard against wood rot, fungi and insect infestations. If you desire a truly environmentally green home yet still want protection from rot, fungi and insect infestations, excellent high tech wood treatments are now available which are not as seriously toxic as copper, chromium and arsenic treated products. Consider the new VOC compliant, non-toxic, environmentally safe wood oil preservatives which are available.
Note: Some homeowners have used new or recycled creosote or CCA treated telephone poles to build their pole houses. We do not recommend using new or recycled telephone poles due to the highly toxic nature of the pressure treated chemical preservatives used, which will leach out for many years to come.
Why do you use round wood poles instead of squared timbers for the vertical elements?
A round wood pole is inherently 20% stronger than a squared timber. As a tree grows, the wood fibers grow around any knots or imperfections, thereby becoming an integral part of the strength of the total mass. An "undressed" round wood pole remains a flexible and strong element in the pole house skeletal structure.
Are the poles of a pole house buried in the ground?
No. Our engineers have detailed the poles to be securely bolted atop reinforced concrete footings or a slab on grade.
Can the walls of a pole house be easily moved and reconfigured after construction?
Yes! Non-load bearing walls means you can freely move interior and exterior walls, change room configurations, open up spaces. As your family dynamics change, you can economically reconfigure your home to suit your changing lifestyle.
What materials are typically used to construct the walls of a pole house?
We recommend using climatically appropriate materials for your locale. For example, if you live in the tropics, you may want to consider using only insect screening, canvas or bamboo for your walls. If you reside in a cold, harsh environment, an insulated high tech argon gas filled glazing and a passive "Trombe" rock wall system may be appropriate. Most any type of wall construction can work with a pole house, you are only limited by your imagination!
Will I feel movement in a pole house?
Perhaps. The inherent characteristics of a wood house mean you may feel movement at times. In a pole house, the cantilevering areas may react with a very slight sine wave (vibration) when a "live" load is present, sending a slight sensation of movement through the wood framework. This is normal. The live load can be the result of heavy wind or a person jumping up and down in a cantilevered area of the home. Your new pole house will not sway wildly or make you seasick.
Can a pole house be designed to meet the restrictive CC&Rs of my neighborhood?
Yes. The pole house exterior can be designed to have any finished facade or curb appeal you choose. Exterior walls can be finished with stucco, plywood siding, lap siding, shingles, vinyl or a host of other materials. In some cases, exterior walls can even be brick or stone faced, though it is best to consult with us first if you plan to use any of these types of heavy finishes.
Can a pole house be built as an addition to an existing house?
Yes. Versatility in designing the exterior facade of a pole house means it can match almost any finish material or style. The skeletal structure of a pole house is similar to the skeleton in our bodies. We all have a similar internal skeleton, but we all look different on the outside: tall, short, petite, stout, dark or light skinned.
Are pole houses expandable?
Yes. Pole houses are designed on a modular grid system which adapts easily to future expansion. Pole house skeletal structures can be lengthened or widened simply by adding one or more modules. Consider purchasing several pole house plans to link together as separate living pods connected by decks or walkways.
Is a pole house expensive to build?
No. Typically, a pole house is among the most economical homes to build per square foot. Your local contractor or lumber supplier can assist you in pricing the building materials package for your new pole house. The skeletal structural system utilizes the economies, efficiencies and spanning characteristics of wood beam construction by maximizing spacing and cantilevering of members.
Will my pole house plans be concise, complete and ready to submit for a building permit?
No. You may also need to provide your building department with a site plan showing where your new pole house will be located on your lot. Your architect or builder can assist you with drawing a site plan. In some cases you may also need to provide a cesspool or septic system design. Your architect or plumbing contractor can assist with designing your sewerage disposal system. Some areas of the country also have energy codes which need to be addressed. Your local building department officials can assist you in filling out the necessary forms of compliance.
Will my pole house plans meet the building code requirements for my area?
In most cases, yes. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure our pole houses are designed and engineered to surpass current regional and national building codes in effect at the time you purchase your plans, including: the Uniform Building Code (UBC), the International Residential Code (IRC). However, you, the Purchaser, may reside in an area which has unique or restrictive requirements and regulations, such as snow and wind loads, frost upheaval which may require additional structural engineering calculations or services. You may need to hire a local structural engineer to review and analyze the plans and provide additional drawings and calculations required by your local authority. Such additional structural engineering services are the sole responsibility of the purchaser.
My local building department requires that an architect or structural engineer, licensed in my state, stamp ("wet seal") all building plans. Is such a stamp included with my pole house plans?
No. If your local authorities require an architect's or structural engineer's review or analysis of the plans and/or an architect's or structural engineer's stamp ("wet seal"), you will need to have the plans reviewed and stamped (at your expense) in your local area. In some cases, local authorities may even require an architect or structural engineer licensed in that state to completely redraw the plans and "wet seal" them. It is the responsibility of the purchaser of our plans to ensure the accuracy, compliance with building codes, and compliance with statutes or regulations in force where the house is intended to be built.
Will my pole house plans include an HVAC system design?
No. Due to the climatic variations encountered worldwide, it is not practical for us to include details on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. In many cases, a pole house can be designed to take advantage of your locale's natural, passive energy conditions without use of air conditioning or heating. We encourage the use of solar hot water, solar passive space heating and natural ventilation systems in floors, walls and roofs where feasible. Your architect, builder or local suppliers can help design a climatically appropriate system.
Will my pole house plans be complete enough for a contractor to build my new home?
Yes. The pole house plans we send you will include everything necessary for your contractor to construct a quality pole house. Included with your plans are detailed shop drawings of all engineered steel joinery pieces, ready for your contractor to provide to a local machine shop for fabrication purposes.
I am not a contractor. Can I build a pole house myself?
Yes. Anyone with basic carpentry skills, who can read architectural blueprints and have an understanding of how to use a framing square, building level and a beam saw, can pre-cut and assemble a quality pole house. Our plans and details are precise and concise and are easy to follow.
Is any specialized equipment required to build a pole house?
Yes. We recommend a mobile construction crane be used to safely raise poles and beams into position. You or your contractor should also have access to a beam saw to facilitate cutting and detailing the wood beams.
Can I have a basement or garage with my pole house?
Yes. The pole house foundation system can be modified to sit on top of a slab on grade, or over a basement. Please contact us if you want to add a garage or basement to your pole house plans. We will assist you in engineering the modifications.
I want a pole house, but none of your floor plans suit me. Do you do custom designs?
Yes. Send us sketches of your desired floor plan layout and we will quote you costs to custom design a pole house especially for you. The typical cost to custom design averages about $3 per square foot of the total enclosed floor plan area. For example; a 1,500 square foot pole house will cost approximately $4,500 for us to custom design for you.
Can I modify the pole house structural plans?
Yes. However, since the skeletal structure of a pole house is key to the structural integrity of your new home, please contact us should you have a need to modify the structural plans. Hourly rates for structural modifications are $150. We will quote you in advance approximately how much it will cost to engineer the modifications you request.
Will you modify the pole house floor plans and elevations to suit my exacting needs?
Yes. The best method is to select and print your desired floor plan from this website, note your modifications on the print and fax it to us. Hourly rates for CAD modifications are $150. We will quote you in advance approximately how much the modifications will cost.
Can I reproduce my pole house plans?
No. All of our plans and details are copyrighted and may not be reproduced. These pole house plans are sold to you for your exclusive use, for a one time use to construct a single pole house. Multiple use is strictly prohibited. Giving away for free, bartering or selling our pole house plans to other people or entities is also strictly forbidden by copyright laws.
Can I order reversible floor plans?
No. All of our Planning and Review Sets and our Construction Blueprint Sets are only offered as Standard Orientation plans. Standard Orientation plans mean that they are drawn exactly as you see them on the plan description pages of this website.
Can I return my pole house plans for a full or partial refund?
No. You may cancel your order prior to shipping for a full refund. Construction blueprint plans may not be returned for a refund, product exchange or credit under any circumstance once they have been shipped to you, or if modification requests have begun. We will strive hard to satisfy every customer's needs. If any details of our plans are unclear to you or you need assistance in interpreting the construction intentions, please contact us. We want you to enjoy the process of constructing your exciting new pole house!