Building Construction Types: A Detailed Guide About The Type Of Building Construction

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Building Construction Types

Building construction types are the various ways of constructing buildings. A building is built by its function, site conditions, aesthetics, history, tradition, and culture.

The earliest forms of construction are vernacular. They are designed based on local traditions and specific geographic or environmental contexts; they have evolved for individuals’ comfort needs over many centuries. Vernacular architecture is still famous today in countries with low population densities and high transport costs. As populations grow and people migrate to cities for work opportunities, they often bring their vernacular traditional building knowledge to develop new solutions. These can be labeled as “modern vernacular architecture” or as appropriate to the specific context of the building.

Specified by trained professionals

In areas where professional architectural services are readily available, construction types tend to be categorized and specified by trained professionals based on what they judge to be the most efficient way of meeting the owner’s function and aesthetic requirements. In industrialized countries, this is usually a project designed by an architect or engineer that will then be constructed either by a builder or a construction company under the supervision of a structural engineer. A consequence of this approach is that it can frequently lead to significant increases in cost and time for a project and unexpected problems during construction due to discrepancies between design intent and actual site conditions.

And in developing countries, there is often little formal construction planning, and building design is left to the informal sector, small businesses, or even individual families, rendering many buildings unsustainable.

Types of building construction

Building construction types are the various ways of constructing buildings. A building is constructed by its function, site conditions, aesthetics, history, tradition, and culture. The earliest forms of construction are vernacular. They are designed based on local traditions and specific geographic or environmental contexts, have evolved over many centuries for individuals’ comfort needs. Vernacular architecture is still popular today in countries with low population densities and high transport costs. As populations grow and people migrate to cities for work opportunities, they often bring their vernacular traditional building knowledge to develop new solutions. These can be labeled as “modern vernacular architecture” or as appropriate to the specific context of the building.

In most cases, people view a building as nothing more than a structure. But contractors have a different perspective. An architectural element such as structure, walls, floors, or roof can tell a story about a building’s class. It’s wise to be familiar with the five types of building construction if you don’t already have a keen eye for them. Fire restoration is a good example. Five types of construction can be distinguished: fire-resistive, non-combustible, ordinary, heavy timber, and wood-framed.   

1. Fire-resistive

Fire-resistant ratings for walls, partitions, columns, floors, and roofs are the highest for this type of construction. Generally, they are easily recognizable due to their height. Built with poured concrete and protective steel, fire-resistant buildings are taller than 75 feet. To prevent a fire from spreading further, they are built to withstand fire effects for a long time. The roof of these buildings must also be made of non-combustible materials, so ventilation in these buildings is not an option.

2. Non-combustible

Buildings classified as non-combustible are similar to those classified as fire-resistant since they lack combustible walls, partitions, columns, floors, and roofs. While they are less fire-resistant and do not withstand the effects of the spread of fire and Type I, these building types are called non-combustible because of the amount of fuel they contribute to the fire. This type of construction is often found in new school buildings. The floors and roofs are made of metal in these buildings, and the walls are usually made of masonry or tilt slab. This type of building is the least stable in a fire. 

3. Ordinary

A brick-and-joist structure is also known as a brick-and-joist building. Fire is not protected in facilities of this type, as the walls are made of brick or block, and the roof or floor is made of wood. The structural elements of the interior (frame, floors, ceilings, etc.) are made of wood and are combustible. Such buildings are capable of venting vertically. There is no difference in construction for old and new buildings.

4. Heavy Timber

There are no combustible exterior walls or interior components in Type IV buildings. The buildings are constructed of solid wood or laminated wood. Dimensional specifications must be met for all wooden members. A wood column, beam, or girder must have a thickness of at least eight inches. It is necessary to have at least 6 inches of thickness for heavy planks on floors and roofs. Due to their structural mass, these buildings can resist fire and don’t collapse easily if they catch fire. However, if they do catch fire, they require a large amount of water to put out. 

5. Wood-Framed

Out of all the buildings, wood-frame buildings are the most flammable. Combustible exterior walls are permitted only in these construction types. The interior of Type V structures (structures, walls, floors, and roofs) can also contain combustible materials such as wood. Modern homes usually have Type V structures. There are typically exposed woods, so they are not fire-resistant. The structure ignites significantly and does not collapse easily unless it is made of lightweight material, in which case it will fail within minutes.

Economics plays a central role in determining building types

Economics plays a central role in determining building types as it determines what is affordable to whom and where. This is especially true for planning to house for poorer people, including low-income earners, who typically have only limited resources at their disposal to buy land/housing on which to live. When land values are very high, this can result in cost-cutting measures that will have negative consequences further down the line, for example, poorly planned layouts resulting in overcrowding or poor construction quality leading to health problems due to unsanitary living conditions.

Read More: Landscape Construction: A Comprehensive Guide About Landscape Construction

Climate is a factors in design for buildings

Climate is a factor in design for buildings as buildings must respond appropriately to local climates. In hot and humid regions, vernacular building types tend towards open porosity (e.g., large eaves) to allow cooling breezes to pass through the building envelope. In contrast, vernacular buildings in calm and wet regions tend towards enclosed porosity (thick walls with small window openings) that provide insulation from cold winters and hot summers. In these cases, vernacular methods of climatic adaptation can also be considered an alternative system of passive solar heating/cooling applied directly within architecture instead of relying on expensive mechanical systems such as air conditioning or heat pumps.

Vernacular architecture may require the consideration of local and sustainable systems. For example, in regions prone to earthquakes or cyclones, measures such as densely packed hardwood floors and heavy roof timbers can reduce damage from shaking or wind, respectively. In island communities, building locations need to consider the risk of flooding.

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