Installing a footer in Post Frame Construction

When building a post frame building it is essential to have a proper footer so the building will not move or shift for many years. In this blog I will briefly detail the process of digging post holes and installing the footers for post frame buildings.

Post Frame buildings get their names from the posts that are essential to the entire structure. They hold up the building while also assuring the building walls will stay straight and square. If these posts are not installed on a proper footer they could sink or shift and then you have all kinds of issues.

After the skilled workers of Wagler Builders LLC have squared up the building (a topic for a later blog) and marked all the footer locations it is time to dig the holes.  Generally our post holes are 8 feet apart. If there are doors or the building length isn’t a multiple of 8 then it is easy to space them at lesser intervals.

Digging a post hole for a pole building

Digging a post hole for a pole building

The post holes for most pole buildings are 18 inches in diameter. On certain occasions the building is required to have 2o inch, 24 inch, or even 30 inch holes. The depth of the holes is 3 1/2 to 4 feet. The size of the holes depends on the size of the building and where it is located. New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania all have slightly different codes. The architects and engineers we work with determine what size footer is needed. The footer size is always specified on the building plan that was approved by the local building codes.

A post hole that is 4 feet deep and 24 inches across

A post hole that is 4 feet deep and 24 inches across

We dig all our holes with a Case 1840 skid loader and an auger attachment that works quite well. After the hole is bored we clean all the dirt away from the hole with a shovel. Then we clean the loose dirt out of the hole with a manual digger.

Cleaning loose dirt from a hole

Cleaning loose dirt from a hole

Usually our skid loader digs right down through the dirt. Occasionally we will hit big rocks or shale which is not optimal for nice post holes, but we always manage to get the holes dug. The ground in central Maryland and PA can be quite rocky at times. The soil in New Jersey is often sandy and sometimes if we drill too deep we hit a little water. Here at Wagler Builders LLC we have seen quite a variety of soil over the years and we have dug up a few interesting things. Before digging it is important to check with local utilities about gas, water, or electric lines.

After all loose dirt is cleaned out of holes the first inspection takes place. Most towns and townships these days require a footer inspection. We spend a lot of time waiting on inspectors, but it’s part of the job. Some inspectors measure every hole to make sure it’s deep enough while others glance at one hole and hand us an “Approved” sticker. Almost always the footers are approved on the first try and we are able to continue working.

The next step is to pour concrete into the bottom of the hole. There are several ways to do this. We often use dry sackrete, which will become hard from the moisture in the soil. The second option is to drop a pre-manufactured concrete pole pill into the bottom of the hole. The third option is to pour wet concrete and let it dry before setting the posts.

A Concrete Pillar 16" wide x 5" thick

A Concrete Pillar 16″ wide x 5″ thick

The advantage of footers used in post frame construction is found in the time and money saved in the installation. While conventional construction will require a footer to be poured around the entire perimeter of the building, a post frame construction footer must only be poured beneath each post. Conventional footers will take days and weeks to install, while a post frame footer can be dug and poured all in several hours. This greatly reduces the cost of the building.

A good strong footer is essential to the post frame building because it is the foundation. While customers save money they are not giving up quality. Here at Wagler Builders LLC we always use footers that are approved by our engineers and meet all state and local building codes.