Decoding the Secrets of Unusual Billboard Structures

The tell-tale signs of a unique construction

When you encounter a billboard structure that deviates from the standard – such as the one featured in the accompanying photo – it's likely that you're observing a one-of-a-kind, custom creation. Standard monopole signs rely on a single pole for support, while wooden and I-beam signs distribute their weight across multiple poles for stability and balance. A structure that diverges from these conventional patterns indicates something unusual, like a construction from salvaged parts. For instance, it's possible to cobble together an I-beam structure using scraps from a steel yard.

Signs of modification

Occasionally, a 'strange' structure could be the result of alterations to an originally standard design. For example, the billboard owner might have needed to increase the sign's height to avoid obstructions. This often involves adding an extension to the existing column, then attaching the sign head to the new section. Alternatively, if the ad space's size and weight were increased, the structure might have been adjusted to withstand the extra load. Look closely at the LED billboards in your vicinity; you might spot additional struts installed to manage the LED display's extra weight. Having seen a plethora of alterations over three decades, I can confirm that these modifications are easy to identify.

Repurposed structures

Have you ever noticed a billboard with a pole that appears too broad or too slender for the display it supports? This could be because the sign initially served a different purpose. A structure on Interstate 55 in Missouri, which originally functioned as a gas station premise sign, was later converted into a billboard. However, whether or not the pole can bear the weight of a billboard remains a concern.

A call for due diligence

All these unconventional billboard situations necessitate thorough due diligence if you're considering purchasing such a billboard. For example, if the sign was assembled from scrap, it may not have been engineered properly – or at all. In such a case, the structure might be unstable or not meet OSHA standards for catwalks and safety measures. Moreover, a billboard modified to bear extra weight or height may not withstand adverse weather conditions. If the sign has been repurposed from a different use, it might not possess a valid operating permit. A billboard converted from a premise sign, for instance, would only carry a premise sign permit.

In conclusion, any signs of alteration in a billboard should be approached with caution. These unique structures carry an increased risk and demand comprehensive due diligence. Hence, the wise saying holds true: caveat emptor – buyer beware.

Frank Rolfe started his billboard company off of his coffee table, immediately after graduating from college. Although he had no formal training on the industry, he learned as he went, and developed his own unique systems to accomplish things, such as renting advertising space. Frank was formerly the largest private owner of billboards in Dallas/Ft. Worth, as well as a major player in the Los Angeles market.