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How Much Does a Post Frame Building Cost? A Comprehensive Budgeting Guide

Post frame buildings, also known as pole barns or pole buildings, have gained popularity for their versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. These structures find applications in various industries, from agriculture and storage to commercial and residential use. But how much does a post frame building cost? Before embarking on a post frame building project, it's crucial to understand the cost-influencing factors. In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive budgeting guide as we will explore the key elements that determine the cost of a post frame building.

1. Building Size & Type of Building

The size of your post frame building is a primary factor in determining its cost. Larger structures will require more materials, labor, and foundation work, resulting in higher expenses. When planning your project, consider the intended use of the building and its size requirements carefully. Also take into consideration if you are planning an enclosed building, a roof-only structure, a hybrid of the two, a barndominium, etc. A well-thought-out design and/or building plans can help optimize space and minimize unnecessary costs.

2. Site Preparation

Site preparation can significantly impact the overall cost of your post frame building. Factors such as the condition of the land, excavation requirements, concrete, and utility connections (e.g., water, electricity, sewage) can add to your expenses. The more work needed to prepare the site, the higher the cost.

3. Building Materials

The choice of building materials can vary widely in terms of cost. Post frame buildings typically use wood for the posts, purlins and girts in combination with steel or wood trusses for the main structure. However, other materials can be used for specific components. Because of the cost, longevity, functionality, ease of use and appearance, steel trusses are preferred. Adam Clark, Owner of True Metal Supply writes in his article, Steel Trusses vs. Wood Trusses: Which Should You Choose?,

While an individual steel truss may be more expensive than an individual wooden truss, steel trusses can be spaced 10-12 feet apart, sitting directly on the building posts.
For example, if you are looking to cover a ten foot bay (distance between two posts) you will need two steel trusses or six wood trusses.
40’ Gable 4:12 Steel Truss: $600.00 x 2 = $1,200.00
40” Gable 4:12 Wood Truss: $270.00 x 6 = $1,620.00
Steel trusses will save you over $400 in materials costs for just this one bay, not to mention the labor you can save by installing just two trusses instead of six. Another cost to consider with wood trusses are header boards. The wood trusses require a surface to mount on between the posts. Normally this is a double or triple 2x10 board that spans between the posts. The header board requires the top of the posts to be notched, another labor intensive step of the wood truss installation.

Clark goes on to explain the longevity of steel trusses stating that steel trusses, like steel roofing, are designed to last a lifetime. Because the trusses are coated in a protective finish, they prevent the steel substrate from rusting over time. When packaged, handled, and installed correctly, steel trusses and metal roofing panels should outlast every other part of the building (Adam Clark, Steel Trusses vs. Wood Trusses: Which Should You Choose?)

This segues us into the next point. The type and quality of materials used for roofing, siding, insulation, and doors, will also influence the overall cost. Remember to factor in the durability and longevity of the products, as some materials may cost more up front, but save you from reconstruction down the road. It's also essential to strike a balance between cost and the desired aesthetics.

4. Roofing and Siding

The roofing and siding options you choose will impact both the cost and the longevity of your post frame building. Metal roofing and metal siding tend to be more cost-effective and durable, while options like wood or vinyl may be more expensive and need replacement sooner. Clark writes in his article, The Value of Metal Roofing,

Longevity matters. As non-metal roofing systems become less reliable and fail to meet their promoted lifespans, metal roofing offers, for most, a lifetime roofing solution. With 40+ year warranties on the paint and even more exceptional durability on primers and the steel itself, metal creates a perfect long term solution for anyone tired of replacing their roof every ten years. While every metal roof offers an incredible lifespan, thicker gauge materials, and premium paint finishes are available if your essential needs demand system longevity beyond the standard metal roofing products.

A similar case is true for metal siding, as the two share durability and longevity properties. Unlike wood siding, steel Board and Batten Metal Siding isn't susceptible to termite damage, doesn't chip or crack, doesn't need repainted, and is extremely energy efficient.

5. Labor Costs

Labor costs can vary based on location, materials, complexity of the project, and the experience of the construction crew. Again, steel trusses can save on labor costs as they're much easier to install. Some homeowners opt to install themselves, completely eliminating labor costs. However, even for those who prefer or require a contractor to install the post frame kit, the labor cost for steel trusses is significantly less than wood due to the easy installation. Clark writes,

On a 40x50 post frame building an installer would need to set just 6 sets of steel trusses, one for each set of posts. Alternatively, a contractor would be required to notch every post, set header boards, and install 26 sets of wood trusses to cover the same area. This may take multiple days, requiring a longer commitment of rental equipment.

It's also essential to obtain quotes from reputable contractors and builders, and consider their expertise in post frame construction. Labor expenses typically include site preparation, foundation work, framing, electrical and plumbing installation (if needed), and finishing touches.

At True Metal Supply, we offer training courses on our metal roofing and post frame products. Click here to learn more about becoming a True Preferred Installer.

6. Building Permits and Codes

Compliance with local building codes and obtaining the necessary permits is a crucial aspect of any construction project. Permit fees and requirements can vary widely depending on your location and the intended use of the building. It's essential to budget for these costs and ensure that your project complies with all regulations to avoid potential fines or delays.

7. Additional Features

Consider any additional features or customizations you want for your post frame building, such as windows & doors, cupolas & weathervanes, or interior finishes. These features will contribute to the final cost but can also enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the structure. Similarly, note the addition of polycarbonate skylight and/or sidelight panels may aid in reducing energy costs as they provide a natural source of lighting. Finally, factors like insulation and ventilation should not be overlooked, as they can affect the building's energy efficiency and long-term maintenance costs.

8. Contingency Fund

Unforeseen circumstances can arise during construction, leading to unexpected costs. To mitigate this risk, it's wise to allocate a contingency fund in your budget. Typically, setting aside 5-10% of the total project cost for contingencies is a prudent approach.


The cost of a post frame building can vary significantly depending on factors such as size, site preparation, materials, labor, permits, and additional features. To determine an accurate estimate, it's crucial to work closely with your post frame building kit supplier and/or experienced contractors or builders; obtain multiple quotes, and carefully plan every aspect of your project. By doing so, you can ensure that your post frame building meets your needs while staying within your budgetary constraints.

Get a free quote for your post frame building here or give us a call at (865) 224-3055! You can also design your own post frame building using our online Post Frame Builder.

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