and a review of why you should avoid Heritage Building Systems

I call this building my "barn" to differentiate it from my garage, shed, woodshed, and shop.  Each of those names refers to a different structure, so it cuts down on naming confusion.

There was a lot of site work to be done, including clearing many trees and filling in an 8 foot deep ravine in the middle of the area, as well as drilling, blasting, and chipping some ledge high spots out of the way.  The middle bay of the barn has a grease pit where the deepest part of the ravine was.  

I made the building as large as I possibly could; sandwiched in between ledge outcroppings.  If it was any bigger, I'd have had to hire a very expensive blasting contractor to clean out more ledge.  As it was, I had to hand drill and chip away ledge at 2 corners to shoehorn it in.  It is 26' x 100', with ( 5) 20 foot wide bays. It was engineered to be completely open inside (no support columns in the way).

I started doing the site work for it in the summer of 1997.  By the fall of 1999, I had gotten all the site work done and received the building kit.  I had the building mostly done by the time snow came late that year in January of 2000.  I finished it up in the summer of 2000.

The building is a kit supplied by Heritage Building Systems in Little Rock, AR.  I am very unhappy with Heritage.  They advertise their products heavily in many magazines, promoting their buildings as "designed for the homeowner to erect".  They even send you a video showing you how easy it is for a homeowner to build.  But their plans stink, and even their support people, on the rare occasions when you can reach them on the phone, are often stumped by the plans.  Their excuse is that their plans are "industry-standard plans".  I suppose if I was a professional steel building erector, and I had built dozens of these buildings before, the plans wouldn't seem to be so poor and so cryptic.  

Before I bought from them, they kept referring to their "installation manual".  After I got the kit, I wondered "Where is my install manual?".  When I called them to ask about it, they switched stories and said I should just look at the plans.  I strongly recommend that others consider any other building supplier besides Heritage. 

The deception by Heritage continued with their strong inferences in their marketing materials, and in my conversations with their sales people, that they make these buildings and that they have their own engineers, plants, etc.  Later, I found out they don't have anything; all they are is a marketing company for the factory that makes the buildings.  They don't design or manufacture anything. 

Also, at the time I ordered the building, I told the salesman that we don't use 1:12 pitch around here, and that the minimum pitch should be at least 6:12.  He assured me that these buildings were designed to handle the snow load at that pitch.  We got a lot of snow during the late winter of 2000-2001, at a time when I was mostly working in CA, so I wasn't able to shovel the roof.  The snow crushed the box beams supporting the lower eaves, buckled the back walls, and caused other damage.  Heritage refused to stand behind their product, claiming that I was required to keep it free of all snow at all times.  So what the hell was the purpose in supposedly designing it for a certain snow load?   AVOID THESE SLEAZY CROOKS!

2007 UPDATE - I used Morton Building Systems to build my hangar at Springfield, VT (KVSF) airport.  Morton is a very efficient and professional builder, and I had no issues at all with them.  I would highly recommend them for any pole-framed building.  They are so good, all the other hangar owners at KVSF used Morton to construct their hangar.


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  This is what the area looked like before I started site work.  The barn now sits on the left side of this picture.  The photo also shows some of the many piles of firewood I generated from clearing the area for my house.  Note how low the winter sun is in this pic facing south.

The first columns get set into place! An exciting moment!  You can see the grease pit (built the previous year, then backfilled around) in the center. 

Putting up the first 400 pound rafter (in the rain).  Note the steel cables acting as temporary guy wires to hold things up.

Putting up the purlins. I couldn't have done this project without that wonderful tractor! I don't think this is an OSHA-approved erection method!

Whoops! Just when I thought all the site work was done, I had to bore some more holes and put in concrete columns for door anchors

The frame, mostly completed, except the door frames.  

12/99 update: It's about 75% complete.  I am already using the part that has a roof over it. I'll finish it in the spring. I got it in early October, and have worked on it continuously ever since, including working on it full time from sunup to well past sundown thru all of October and half of November. Building it has been a nightmare, mainly because of the deceptive marketing by Heritage Building Systems, from Little Rock, Arkansas, and the very poor plans they supplied with the building parts.

Jan 2000 update: I have been quite blessed by weather this winter. Due to mild temperatures and no snow, I was able to continue working on this during weekends up until the middle of January! Because of that, the roof is FINALLY complete! 100 feet of building is a LOT of panels, and more screws than you can even imagine! The walls are 95% done. They will be finished and the doors will be added in the spring. Pics of the sheathed building are coming soon!

April 2000 update: Here is a picture of the nearly completed building. All the roof panels are on, and most of the wall panels are up, except the far corner.

The building, mostly completed, except the wall panels at the far corner and the trim (and the doors, and.....)

Aug 2000 update: Here is a picture of the nearly completed building. All the wall panels are up, and all the doors are hung.

The barn - summer, 2000 - looks done, needs lots of trim & details. You can see the ledge humps at each end, which prevented me from making the building any longer.  You'll notice that the ledge spot in front of the barn (shown in large ver of prev pic) is no longer there.  I have been too busy all summer, mainly with racing, to get much of anything done on it. I do have some of the bays wired for outlets and lighting, though.

Last updated September 19, 2000