Pole buildings are old and proven structures. Ancient civilizations discovered the ease of pole building construction centuries ago and now it's catching on again. A basic pole structure consists of vertical supports, horizontal members, rafters or trusses, and supports. Pole buildings are very simple and sturdily constructed.
The poles are embedded deep in the ground and extend to the top of the building to support the roof. Skyscrapers are engineered and constructed following a similar philosophy albeit on a much larger scale using different building materials.
Stud-frame structures must have a poured concrete slab or foundation. The frame structure is then constructed on top of an and anchored to the foundation or slab. The additional cost, time, labor, and skill needed for the concrete portion of the building is the major disadvantage with using these building techniques.
Stud frame construction uses light-weight wooden supports spaced at regular intervals to provide nailing supports for the wall coverings and to provide roof framing. The popularity of stud-frame construction in residential homes is primarily due to the availability of materials and the rigidity of the building code regulations.
Traditional timber-frame construction and contemporary post-and-beam construction are very strong and have a pleasing appearance, but the require large beams or timbers for the horizontal and vertical members, which are usually not available these days without great expense and skill in working. These types of buildings also require more effort and care in placing the heavier supports.
Pole buildings are actually constructed using a combination of post-and-beam/timber framing and stud framing, using the best of these types of approaches. The upright poles are used as the building supports to which the lighter, more easily handled, horizontal framing lumber is fastened.
Pole buildings are particularly suited for barns, sheds, shops, warehouses, waterfront piers, roadside stands, aircraft hangars, and other simple shelters or structures. Many pole buildings are uninsulated and/or have one or more sides left open. Pole buildings construction can also be used to build vacation cabins and homes.
The practice of using pole construction for building vacation homes was started on the West Coast in the 1950s and had become increasingly popular although the cost of certain pole vacation homes can run as high as that of a similar conventional stud-frame house on a concrete foundation. It mostly depends on the building design.
Pole construction has become popular for several reasons. The biggest reason is the ready availability of new materials particularly suited to pole building. The creation of pressure-treated poles and posts is the most important of these new materials. Because the embedded poles are potentially in constant contact with moisture and insects, pole construction is very dependent on long-lasting, decay-resistant, and insect-resistant wood products.