Every building project is unique and needs to be planned and built to match its purpose and its location, say experts.
“It doesn’t mean every building needs an engineer to review that specific project,” says Don Carlson, building sales manager of UFA. “You may be able to use a pre-engineered package. A small shop, or a building that a farmer can put up on their own can be pre-designed to fit any situation you can reasonably expect in Alberta.”
Any building that is going to be used for commercial purposes, other than your own farming, must meet commercial building codes. In a farm situation, you can put up virtually any sort of building you want. Only commercial buildings have to comply with the Alberta Building Code. There is a National Farm Building Code, but it provides guidance rather than rules you must follow.
Snow-loading capacity is important in northern areas where heavy snowfalls are common, but in other areas, especially the southwest, wind loads have to be considered.
The size and complexity is the first consideration in deciding whether to frame the building with poles or studs, or with laminated poles. Engineered poles are needed for walls that are higher than about 12 or 14 feet. Laminated poles are good for buildings up to 100 feet wide. Buildings bigger than that need special consideration for mid-span support or consider using steel.
The type of frame affects the type of foundation. Studs need to be bolted to a concrete floor or at least footings. Carlson likes to have concrete foundations under poles to prevent the poles lifting out or sinking from frost heaves, wet soil or other unexpected conditions. “A good foundation for the poles of a building will improve its overall design considerably,” he says. “It costs a little more, but it can increase the lifespan of the building quite significantly.”
The number and size of posts and how they work with things like machinery doors all affect the materials you need. “Everything has to work together,” says Carlson. “That’s where it really pays to have a solid support system behind the person who sells you the building. And, of course, you want good-quality materials that meet the needs of your area.”