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Amish Pole Barn Guide & Where to Get a Real Thing (Top Builders Included)

old red amish post frame barn with an amish man clipart on a side.
Old gambrel type Amish pole barn. Image via Pixabay.com

The words “Amish pole barn” are thrown around a great deal when you are shopping sites and builders for a pole building. In addition, you’re likely to see terms like “Amish-Style” and “Amish-built”. But did you know that there is a huge difference between a true Amish pole barn and an Amish-style pole barn?

We are going to explain what an authentic Amish pole barn is and how to know you’re getting the real thing. Plus, we will compare them to Amish-style barns and discuss the pros and cons of building an Amish pole barn. Therefore, you can make an informed decision in choosing the right style of pole barn for your needs. Make sure to use the table of contents below to navigate this guide easily.

The Amish Pole Barn, Explained

The Amish settled in America in the 1700s and with them came the skill of crafting timber-framed barns, now known as Amish pole barns. The Amish pole barn is built by sinking timber poles into the ground. It is then framed using no metal brackets or other fasteners but instead using a technique called timber or wood joinery.

A real example timber beams of wood joinery without using any nails or metal fasteners.
A real example of wood joinery without using any nails or metal fasteners. Image via Pinterest.com

What is Wood Joinery?

Wood joinery is a way of connecting milled timber and wood-like puzzle pieces which are then held together with wooden pegs. This technique has been around since 700 BC. Not only does this type of construction hide every joint and connection, but it is also extremely strong, lasting decades, sometimes even centuries. Additionally, wood joinery produces breathtakingly beautiful Amish pole barns and buildings.

The example of the art of wooden joinery and various pieces.
The example of the art of wooden joinery and various pieces. Dietmar Widmann; Hans Hundegger Maschinenbau GmbH, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some examples of wood joinery techniques are mortise and tenon joints, tongue and fork and Amish peg, just to name a few. Once the frame, trusses and beams are carved and fitted together, the pole barn is then constructed by raising each part into place, hence the term “Amish barn raising.” 

Wood joinery is still used today, however, timber frame builders are not as abundant as those who build Amish pole barns using lumber, metal fasteners and brackets.

Do Real Amish Pole Barns Still Exist?

Yes and no. You can certainly find Amish builders and construction crews that will build Amish pole barns. However, today’s Amish pole barns are built primarily in an Amish style using lumber, nails, screws and metal brackets. Therefore, to get a true, old-English, Amish pole barn, you will have to refer to a builder skilled in timber frame construction, most probably hardcore Amish too.

Amish Pole Barn Styles

Amish pole barns and Amish-style pole barns both come in traditional designs. Each of these styles of barns have a distinct shape that are clearly recognizable and serve a specific farming purpose. Today, these Amish pole barns are used for everything from their original purpose to garages and unique homes and business spaces.

  • Monitor style pole barn: This type of barn is easily recognizable by its traditional barn shape but with a raised center. The raised loft-type area was used to store hay while the bottom sides were used for horse stalls.
A great example of a timber-trame monitor style amish pole barn erected by New Energy Works.
A great example of a wooden monitor style amish pole barn erected by New Energy Works. Image via Newenergyworks.com
  • The Gable Barn: This is the oldest style barn and the simplest in design. With a square building and a high, triangular roof, the gable barn gave farmers more upper space. Plus, the roof allowed rain to run off easily and had good ventilation. 
  • Gambrel pole barns: These Amish pole barns stand out because of the shape of their roof. The roof has a normal peak on top but with 2 slopes, giving the upper part of the barn a wider, rounder appearance. This allowed farmers to increase their barn size by 1/3 without taking up precious land space.
Red old gambrel-style pole barn in the middle of nowhere with a smiley face on it
Red old gambrel-style pole barn in the middle of nowhere. Smiling barn. flickr photo by twig73010 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
  • 0 The Bank barn: Also called “banked barns”, this design of Amish pole barn was usually built on a hill or bank. This gave farmers access to the barn on 2 levels, generally using ramps, and allowed them to utilize land that couldn’t be used for crops.
  • The English barn: This type of Amish pole barn is the oldest and most common type of barn seen throughout Indiana. They are rectangular in shape, have a simple A-frame roof and are used for drying and storing grain. The most recognizable aspect of this pole barn is that the doors are always on the wide side of the building.
  • Round pole barns: This barn design is rarely seen today. Its roots can be traced to the 1700s with George Washington having built the first-known circular barn in 1792. These 16-sided barns were used to mill wheat-grain. Horses walked on top of the stalks in the upper level of the barn and the grain fell through the floor cracks to the ground level.
Old school red round style amish pole barn still in use for horses
Old school red round style pole barn still in use. Story County, IA Round Barn flickr photo by cwwycoff1 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Not All Amish Pole Barns are Created Equal: Amish Style and Amish Built Barns

Now that we have described what an authentic Amish pole barn is, it’s time to distinguish the difference between “Amish-style” and “Amish-built” pole barns.

Amish-Style Pole Barns

Amish-style pole barns are the most common type of pole barn found today. Amish-style pole barns are simply pole barns that look like the Amish pole barn styles described above. They have the same size and shape of the Amish pole barns but are built using modern materials like metal, steel and vinyl.

Amish-Built Pole Barns

You may see the term “Amish-built” pole barns on many builder’s sites as well as sites that sell pre-assembled, smaller barns and sheds. Amish-built means exactly that; these pole barns are built by Amish craftsmen. Then, the pole barn pieces are delivered to your site and raised by a construction crew. Additionally, a few sites sell Amish pole barn kits, that you can build yourself.

Two amish with hats  building a wooden side wall of the pole barn.
Two Amish building a sidewall of the pole barn. Image via unknown source.

Amish Pole Barns vs Average Pole Barns: What’s the Difference?

Amish pole barns, as we’ve already discussed, are built using timber-framing and wood joinery. Even the more modern Amish-style and Amish-built pole barns display a higher level of craftsmanship and quality and are built primarily of wood.

In comparison, your average pole barn is built using a wide variety of materials, like metal and steel. They are still constructed in the same fashion, with poles or posts sunk into the ground. However, they can be framed using wood or steel and finished in materials such as metal, vinyl siding and wood. Plus, they come in shapes and sizes that are different from the traditional styles mentioned above.

Finally, these types of pole barns are easily replicated and can be mass-produced, lowering the overall cost of the building materials.

The Pros and Cons of Choosing an Amish Pole Barn

If you are considering choosing an Amish pole barn, there are several things to keep in mind, both good and not-so-good. Regardless of the pros and cons, Amish pole barns are seeing a rebirth in popularity due to their beauty and flexibility.

The Pros

  • True Amish pole barns are built to last, some standing for hundreds of years.
  • They require no foundation
  • Amish construction crews are less expensive overall
  • Amish pole barns are designed to look beautiful as well as be functional
  • There are far more options when it comes to insulation
  • Amish pole barns can have different types of roofing
  • Amish construction crews are very competitive when bidding on jobs, saving you money

The Cons

  • Amish pole barns can be more expensive ranging from $4,000 (for a shed) to $65,000 and more for a barn
  • Finding someone to build an authentic Amish pole barn can be difficult
  • The availability of Amish construction crews varies depending on where you live
  • Some Amish builders can only be reached via postal mail or in-person visits
  • Amish crews come with hidden costs like transportation and meals

Amish Pole Barn Builders

The Amish America website is filled with information, including a directory of Amish construction companies that build authentic Amish pole barns. If you’re looking for someone outside of the Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri areas, you can find Amish construction crews by visiting the site. 

However, if you are around these states, below are a few builders worth checking out. They do have a lot of experience in building Amish pole barns.

Graber Post Buildings

Grey Amish style pole barn erected by Graber Post Buildings.
Grey Amish style pole barn erected by Graber Post Buildings. Image via graberpost.com

Indiana has the third largest population of Amish in the country. So, finding an Amish pole barn builder is relatively easy. Graber Post Building began in 1973 as a 3-man Amish crew building structures in order to support their families. Founded by Glen Graber and officially opening a business in 1984, Graber Post Buildings has constructed over 10,000 post and pole buildings. Today, Graber has a 300,000-foot warehouse and production facility as well as a hardware store. The company produces trusses, hardware, metal sheeting, trim and roofing. They also offer full-service construction of Amish-built pole barns and other buildings and a design tool right on their website.

Milmar Pole Buildings Serves Michigan, Illinois and Ohio

White and grey monitor style amish pole barn raised by Milmar Pole Buildings company.
Monitor style pole barn raised by Milmar Pole Buildings. Image via milmarpolebuildings.com

Marvin Miller is the owner of Milmar Pole Buildings and has been doing construction since he was 18-years-old. Raised in an Indiana Amish community, Marvin is experienced in Amish building practices and still employs the same work ethic today. Milmar Pole Buildings offers Amish-style pole barns for agricultural purposes as well as pole barns for residential use. They also construct garages, sheds and pole barns with extras such as lofts, lean-tos and porches in a variety of finishes.

Central Structures Inc. Serves Missouri

Monitor style pole barn erected by Central Structures.
Monitor style pole barn erected by Central Structures. Image via Centralstructuresinc.com

Central Structures Inc. was founded by John Minor and built on his 30 years of experience in constructing pole buildings of all types. CSI offers Amish-style pole barns and post frame commercial structures such as storage facilities and businesses. They also build suburban pole buildings including garages, workshops and storage barns. CSI offers their buildings services to customers in Missouri and Northern Arkansas.

New Energy Works (Nationwide Timber-Frame Pole Barn Builder)

Outstanding wooden pole barn interior constructed by New Energy Works
Outstanding wooden pole barn interior constructed by New Energy Works. Image via newenergyworks.com

If you have your heart set on an authentic Amish pole barn, New Energy Works builds timber-frame pole buildings for businesses, event spaces and agricultural purposes. With 30 years’ experience, New Energy Works uses reclaimed timbers making them an environmentally responsible business. They have offices located in New York and Oregon, yet provide their pole buildings to consumers across the country. In addition to pole barns and buildings, they offer interior finishing such as custom cabinetry, floors and stairs.

Freaquently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an Amish pole barn raising?

An Amish pole barn raising is an Amish community event where families gather to raise and build a pole barn for a neighbor. The practice dates back to the 1700s but is only used now in the event of a fire or natural disaster.

Timelapse of Amish Barn Raising in Ohio.

How do I know I am getting a true Amish pole barn?

A true Amish pole barn will be designed and constructed by an Amish company and building crew. They can either be timber-frame construction using wood joinery practices or be constructed with lumber and modern materials.

Can I buy an Amish pole barn kit and build one myself?

Yes, you can! They are difficult to find, but a few companies offer authentic, timber-frame Amish pole barn kits. You can buy kits from Harvest Moon Timber Frame, Legacy Post and Beam or Need-a-barn. In addition, you can build your pole barn from scratch by purchasing pole barn plans like these, offered on Etsy.

Verdict: Strong, Long-Lasting and Beautiful

Authentic Amish pole barns are an important part of American history and a design that will never go out of style. They are built for strength and longevity and make the most beautiful spaces for storage, farming and even garages and homes. Amish pole barns are attainable by nearly everyone, whether you go with a high-end, timber-framed beauty or an Amish-style or Amish-built pole barn. Plus, if you are a seasoned do-it-yourself builder, you can have a beautiful Amish style pole barn by ordering a kit or finding blueprints.

You can share your Amish pole barn dreams or journey with other pole barn enthusiasts by joining our Barndominium Living Facebook group with over 110,000 members. You’ll find ideas, inspiration and tips from people who have been-there-done-that. And while you’re there, like our Facebook page for daily posts and inspiration on metal pole barn homes, barndominiums and more.

Written by Metal-Building-Homes.com

We strive to deliver informational and inspirational content for unconventional homes. From barndominiums to steel-framed modular homes, this is the place to browse if you're looking into untraditional housing options.