Post frame Construction
Having been in the construction industry for over forty years, I have used practically every type of construction material there is, and I have found that for many applications post frame construction has the edge in versatility, cost of construction, environmental impact, operating cost and the quickest build time.
Versatility:Other than multi-story buildings, a post frame building can be used for most agricultural, commercial, residential, institutional and church structures. Almost any facade can be used to enhance the architectural aesthetics of the structure or something as simple as metal siding and roofing can be used for storage and agricultural buildings.
Cost of construction:It is really hard to beat the cost of wood compared to masonry or steel. Also, heavy timber posts and beams that carry the weight of the building do exceptionally well in the case of a fire. Wood will usually outperform even fire treated steel. Therefore, in some commercial or institutional application money can be saved on fire protection coatings. The weight of a building is another factor in the cost of foundation design. Since wood is much lighter than steel, concrete or masonry the foundations can be much smaller thus reducing cost. Additionally, if you have a site that has soils with a low bearing capacity the foundations for a post frame building may work with your bearing capacity where a heavier building may exceed the bearing capacity of the in-situ soils.
Environmental impact:Wood is a renewable resource that has a very small carbon footprint. Also, trees that are replanted in a managed forestry operation remove CO2 from the atmosphere where most other products create CO2 during the manufacturing process. Some people have indicated that wood preservatives used for some of the wood can be a hazard and possible pollutant. However, new products make it possible to eliminate some of the need for wood preservatives, such as precast concrete posts or post covers for the part of the post exposed to earth.
Operating cost:Since most wood posts are at least 8’ on center, insulation has fewer breaks in the wall insulation and may allow for greater thicknesses of insulation. Wood is not a conductor of cold like steel and masonry are. Therefore, heating and cooling costs should be lower.
Build time:Some steel building components can have up to 16 weeks lead time and erection can take several weeks or months. Masonry and concrete can also be a slow and laborious process. On the other hand wood products can be on site within days of purchase not weeks or months. The erection time for post frame construction is very fast, sometime less than half of what other types of construction would take to erect the super structure.
All in all I think that post frame construction is the most efficient way to build for low rise, lighter construction projects. The exciting part is that there are more new products coming out every year that make this system even better and more versatile. Consequently, the post frame market will continue to expand as customers see the advantages to this type of construction.