How the Process Works...
Step 1: What do You Want?
Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, give a call to Graber on 1-800-964-1550. We can give some free advice and our input into what actual size would be best for what you have in mind. And once you know the approximate size, then you can start attaching prices to it. As early as the first call, the folks at Graber can start giving you Ball Park Quotes on what the project could run.
"This is always the fun part," says Graber's Eric, "Because most people are surprised, pleasantly surprised at the estimate. They generally expected it to be more."
"I also recommend having a conversation with your local building code office to make sure you are even allowed to have any kind of building. I just hate to see people get their hopes up, only to find that they live in one of those unique places where real strict building codes are in place", warns Ira. "Call the building code office, and give them the physical address of your site. Tell them where you intend to build and be ready for them to check that you are not building too close to a road, or too close to a property line or over a drainage/septic area. Most times, our customers are able to find this much out over the phone, but a simple drawing could be required."
When you speak to the building office this time, here are some questions we put together than could help keep you from having to go back two or three times...
- Give them your physical address
- Tell them how you intend to use the building, bearing in mind that "storage" is typically the easiest method to get a permit for. "Once you make it a dwelling or a living space, the building code requirements are stricter, and more complicated", counsels Ira. "A garage is safe because it's universally understood by all the zoning officers as storage. And in some cases, a storage structure under 1000 feet does not need a permit, but check with your local authorities first."
- Approximate square footage of building
Step 2: A More Detailed Discussion
After you've given some thought to the ballpark estimate we gave, you can either go right into a more detailed discussion, or give it some thought and get back to us. A lot of folks will come to our Southeastern Pennsylvania location and visit us. Once here, one can get a first hand look and feel of both our outside models, and our interior show room.
During this consultation, we'll interview to find out some more details about you want, and what you don't want, like:
- How much room do you need?
- What kind of doors would work best for you?
- Do you want any options, like wainscoting, additional entry doors, insulation?
- Do you want windows, or sidelights?
And during this consultation keep in mind two advantages unique to Graber:
- We have 30 years of experience in designing and building pole barns
- We always work within your budget. We can show "Your dream building", then help make changes that bring it within your budget but still give you what you want.
"I've really developed a knack for helping customers bring the design more in line with the budget. I guess I sort of pride myself on knowing where to cut, and more importantly, where not to cut," says Dave, a Graber Designer.
In a Hurry to Get Your Pole Barn Built?
Graber keeps a million dollar inventory on hand for the most common building sizes. For buildings that have a width of 20 feet to 40 feet, Graber has the trusses and material all here in our warehouse in Atglen. You can get buildings in these dimensions, regardless of the length, in less than 2 weeks.
During this discussion, we can start giving you some "homework" to begin working on to make sure the process goes smoothly. We'll give some priceless advice on site preparation, how to get your permits, and some helpful shortcuts. Following is an outline of what you'll need to do to get ready for your building.
It's a Really Simple Process: We're showing this as the "longest-case scenario." It's not unheard of for the whole process to take three weeks:
|Initial Call/Free Quote||Week 1||We've included practically everything we can think of on this website; so consider reading all of this first.|
|More In-Depth Consultation||Week 2||As long as you have a really clear idea of what you want, we know the exact questions to ask you to make your non-obligatory consult more meaningful. These can be done over the phone or by stopping by.|
|Get Your Permit, Find out what you need, Get the drawings||Week 3||Make sure you read our notes here on this page on how you can make the permit process evens smoother.|
|Final consult, deposits, details scheduled||Weeks 3 - 5||Here you and your Graber designer will decide on the aesthetic elements, now that the structural decisions have all been made. Things like final color choices, placements of doors, windows, etc.|
|Site is prepared||Week 6||Don't forget to ensure that your site will have access for our crews. And if you need help from an expert who specializes in site preparation, let us know and we'll give you the names of some folks who do great work.|
|Our truck rolls in and we build your structure!||Week 6||Hang on to your hats because you're going to be amazed at how fast our crews work. Our most popular 24 x 32 sizes will be up and ready for you to use in about three days.|
Now...Compare that with Traditional Built:
|Initial Call/Free Quote||Week 1||If you can't get the builder to even answer a call in person or return your call, you may be dealing with an outfit that's going to cause you some real headaches down the line.|
|More In Depth Consultation||Week 2||No matter who you chose, make sure the builder has experience with the design portion and has the ability to give you what you're looking for; not sell you the only design they have experience building.|
|Get Your Permit, Find out what you need, Get the drawings||Week 3||Another test for the quality of your builder - at the very least, they should provide guidance and help in this process. If they don't even bring it up, be a little worried.|
|Final consult, deposits, details scheduled||Weeks 4 - 6||Ideally, you'll want a builder that offers you a wide variety of aesthetic elements for your building, either online or in a show room.|
|Site is prepared||Weeks 7 - 10||This is where you really lose time with traditionally-built structures. At this step, you'll be managing a bunch of different workers: Crew #1 to do the site work, Crew #2 will do the footers, Crew #3 will be the masons, and Crew #4 the actual builder. Pay special attention to coordinating the work of these crews! With traditional built, this has to come off like clockwork. Building during winter? Add another 3 weeks to this process to find a few days in a row where the crews can work on the ground!|
|Framing||Weeks 13, 14||So finally, 3 months later, you are finally able to see the framing on your building go up, now that your footers have been dug.|
Can you see for yourself how much faster the Pole Building Goes Up?
And since much of the expenses in any building project is the labor for the hard working team, the larger the crew, and the longer they are working on your project, the more expensive it will be.
So saving time = Saving labor = saving you money on your project when you chose Graber.
Step 3: Getting the Needed Permits
Now that you have a clearer idea of the details of your building, and where it will go, you are ready to apply for your permits. "We kicked around the idea of getting permits for our customers," explains Dave, "but we found that the zoning officers and building inspectors are much, much nicer to their own local residents and constituency. So we try to prepare our customers with everything they'll need to make this process smooth."
Rosita from Graber shares some of her 18 years of experience in guiding customers through this process, "You should take your plot line or plot drawing along with you to the zoning office. If you don't have one, don't worry; you can get a copy of your plot drawing or plot line from the same office that collects local property taxes; usually the county courthouse."
Once you're there, the folks in the zoning office will want to know where your new structure will go on your property. Be ready to give them or show them a simple sketch showing your property, your home, the roads, the driveways and the new building. This way, they can easily see how the structure will be in relationship to everything else.
"One of the benefits to the Graber customers," Rosita offers, "is that we can often provide a picture of what the building will look like, which can make this process much easier for our customers. They have a better chance of sailing through their zoning office meeting if they have all their ducks in a row."
We'll give you two copies of the plans for your building so you can present to the local office. Early on in the process with the permits, tell the officer that you are working with Graber. Unlike most builders, our reputation with them preceeds us, and many times when permit offices know you are getting a Graber building, they'll actually give their approval much faster.
Every Graber building is engineered to comply with the regional building codes, wind load and snow load requirements. We design your building to meet the requirements of most local building codes.
In some cases, you may be required to provide plans that have an "Engineer's Seal". If you need one of these, just let us know. For about $1000 more, we can provide that for you.
Our Permit Drawings Include:
- Specifications that are included as part of your proposal
- Sealed truss drawing
- Floor plan
- Cross Section
- And anything else they ask you for! Just let us know, and we'll help you out and have you prepared.
If any trees need to be cut down or earth moved to provide space for your building, you may in some places need a permit for this kind of excavation.
Step 4: Set up, Excavating, Preparing the Site, Confirm the Details and Deposit
We're getting closer! Now that you're permits are in order, we'll have another consultation to review the finer details and begin working on a more detailed schedule.
- At this time, a deposit of 25% is due.
- This is also the time to contact someone to handle the excavating of your site. We can give you some guidelines of what to look for or we can even recommend someone we've had first hand experience with in your area.
- You need an excavator to make sure your site is level and the drainage is good.
- Ideally, your site will be level, with about 4 inches of gravel to give you good drainage. This all should be completed before our crew rolls in.
- Also, make sure our crews in the trucks can have easy access to your site.
- If the site is not level and it's not feasible for an excavator to level it, or if we don't have enough dirt to make it level, we can build retaining walls or provide another solution. It will alter the project, but it's something we have experience working around.
- Once we receive the deposit, we'll schedule a day and time. Sometimes, we can be there as quickly as two weeks, but we find most customers want 4-6 weeks to get everything completed on their end.
- And of course, we'll stay in touch with you to make sure that we are still on track to meet our "Building day" deadline.
- Make sure you've lined up the inspectors. Because you are really the "Acting General Contractor", the inspections are required to be set up by you, and not by the builder.
Step 5: We Construct Your Building!
For the average size garage of 24 x 24, allow for 2-4 days of construction. For more complex projects, like a 40 x 60 commercial building or riding ring, allow up to two weeks.
For large riding arenas, such as an 80 x 200, allow at least three weeks.
When we're finished, we leave all our trash stacked together in a neat pile. If you want, we can help line up a hauler for you, or you can set that up yourself.
We finish on time and complete the job!
There's no running back and forth dragging out your project for weeks. Once we start, our craftsmen stick with the job until it's complete.
As you can see, with conventional building methods, you are looking at a more complicated process that takes longer. Part of the added time is the work, including expensive labor that needs to go into the foundation. And if you have any chance of uncooperative weather, you'll have to add even more time. The weather has to be nearly perfect for foundation pouring, really, to avoid any chance of freezing. When the foundation is finally completed, then you can begin building on top of it, but with many more pieces than with post construction/pole buildings.
Post Construction/Pole Buildings go up so much faster (and cheaper)! At Graber, we focus on getting the roof up early on, so our craftsmen can work inside and have your building completed in as little as three days.