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Steps to Building a House
Summary: What are the steps in building a house and how long will each take? From construction loan, construction insurance, foundation contractors, siding contractors, to flooring contractors and home mortgage loan, here is how to build a house step by step.
During the planning stage (
https://www.byoh.com/gettingstarted.htmGetting Started), you will have prepared a
https://www.byoh.com/homebuildingbudget.htmbudget, found a
https://www.byoh.com/buying-land-to-build-on.htmbuilding lot (land),
https://www.byoh.com/costestimatingexplained.htmestimated the cost to build your new home, and have arranged your
https://www.byoh.com/financing.htmconstruction loan and home mortgage loan.
You have located most of your
https://www.byoh.com/subcontractors.htmsubcontractors and have contracts with them. You’ve visited various
https://www.byoh.com/suppliers.htmbuilding supply companies for lumber, windows, concrete, bricks, etc., and have opened lines of credit with them.
You’ve also completed the paperwork and obtained the cost for obtaining any necessary
https://www.byoh.com/permits.htmpermits and you have a good quote on construction insurance (
https://www.byoh.com/buildersrisk.htmbuilders risk insurance).
Congratulations! You’ve reached the day you thought might never come. You’re ready to start building your new home.
What is the sequence of steps in building a new home, and how long will each take? Here is a list of how to build a new home step by step.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse.htmStaking the lot and house: 1-3 hours 2.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse2.htmClearing and excavation: 1-3 days 3.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse3.htmOrdering utilities, temporary electric service, and a portable toilet: 1 hour 4.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse3.htmFootings (steps 3 and 4 can be reversed). First inspection must be made before pouring: 1 day 5.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse4.htmFoundation and soil treatment, then foundation survey: 1 week 6.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse4.htmRough-ins for plumbing, if on a slab, and inspection: 2-4 days 7.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse5.htmSlabs, basement, and garage: 1-2 days 8.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse5.htmFraming and drying-in: 1-3 weeks 9.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse6.htmExterior siding, trim, veneers: 1-3 weeks 10.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse6.htmChimneys and roofing: 2 days-1 week 11.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse6.htmRough-ins can be done while steps 9 and 10 are in progress: 1-2 weeks 12.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse6.htmInsulation: 3 days 13.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse6.htmHardwood flooring and underlayment: 3 days-1 week 14.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse7.htmDrywall: 2 weeks 15.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse7.htmPriming walls and “pointing up”: 2 days 16.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse7.htmInterior trim and cabinets: 1-2 weeks 17.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse8.htmPainting: 2-3 weeks 18.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse8.htmOther trims, such as Formica, ceramic tile, vinyl floors: 1 day-1 week 19.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse8.htmTrimming out and finishing plumbing, mechanical, and electrical and hooking up utilities: 1-2 weeks 20.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse8.htmCleanup: 2-3 days 21.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse8.htmCarpet and/or hardwood floor finish: 3 days-1 week 22.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse9.htmDriveway (if concrete, can be poured anytime after step 14): 1-3 days 23.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse9.htmLandscaping: 1-3 days 24.
https://www.byoh.com/buildingthehouse9.htmFinal inspections, surveys, and mortgage loan refinance or modification of the construction loan.: 1-3 days 25. Enjoying your new home: A lifetime! Carl Heldmann
House Foundations - Excavation - Footings - Basements - Concrete Slabs - Waterproofing
Summary: The three basic types of house foundations are basement, crawl space, and concrete slab. Home foundations form the basic structure of any new home. All three types of house foundations can be combined and used in one house.
Full Basement Foundation: Has either poured concrete walls or block and mortar walls and a poured concrete slab floor. The load bearing walls of the house are supported by the both the foundation’s perimeter walls and structural cross beams and/or posts and beams.
Crawl Space Foundation: Utilizes either pier construction with brick or block veneer curtain walls (see photo below), or solid poured concrete walls for supporting the perimeter walls of the house with either piers or beams for supporting the house’s interior load bearing walls.
Concrete Slab: As the name implies, the foundation consists of slab of concrete poured directly “on grade” (on the ground) that is thicker around the perimeter and under the interior walls of the house to carry the structural load.
All three types of foundations can be combined from time to time and used in one house.
Note: Slab construction can also have the slab raised above the existing grade in areas that are not level (sloped), prone to heavy water drainage, or for pure aesthetics (curb appeal). This is called a Raised Concrete Slab Foundation and is accomplished by pouring the slab on a raised perimeter wall made of poured concrete or masonry block. These perimeter walls are built to the desired height, then fill dirt is placed inside the perimeter, tamped down, then topped with 4-6 inches of sand or gravel for drainage. Piers or thickened slab areas are used to support the interior load bearing walls of the house. Sort of like the T-Shaped slab pictured below, only the slab portion is raised higher.
Slab-on Grade Foundation
Basement Walkout Concrete Slab
Know Your House: What Makes Up a Home's Foundation
In many respects the foundation is the most important element of any building, be it a house or a high-rise. Simply put, the foundation is what everything rests on. So getting the foundation right will go a long way toward having a sound and stable building for many years. From pilings to piers to spread footings and more, foundations can be built in many ways. The most common, though, is the simple foundation wall made of poured concrete or concrete block, and a poured concrete footing system. The vast majority of homes in North America are built using this approach, as it's relatively inexpensive and there are scores upon scores of tradespeople able to quickly and efficiently build it. Therefore, the focus of this piece is on the typical wall and footing foundation system. And remember that you should consult a local architect or builder to review any planned foundation and how local building codes will impact the system design and construction.
The three structural parts of this kind of foundation:
A continuous concrete footing
A foundation wall of either poured concrete or concrete masonry units (CMUs)
A concrete floor slab
These three elements are the foundation system's structural components, serving to transfer the gravity load (the weight of the house) down into the ground. While concrete is an ideal material to handle the weight of the house, concrete isn't very flexible. So steel reinforcing bars are introduced into the concrete to help resist any bending or twisting caused by ground movement. A very important design consideration is placing the bottom of the footing below the frost line. This line exists at some distance below the surface and is where the ground, or any moisture in the ground, doesn't freeze. Placing the footing below the frost line is essential to prevent any heaving or other movement caused by the freeze-thaw cycle. Note that the depth of the frost line varies by location. The frost line is closer to the ground surface in warmer climates and much deeper in colder climates. But it's essential to know where your frost line is when designing your home's foundation.
Keeping water out. A foundation system is in many ways like a big bathtub. But rather than keeping water in, we want to keep water out. Several components built into a foundation do just that. First, the exterior, ground-side face of foundation walls will have a waterproofing material installed on it. This material should be strong enough to prevent punctures or tears and flexible enough to allow for any movement the foundation will experience. This moisture barrier should form a skin not only over the wall but at the top of the footing as well. Next in the line of defense against water is a perimeter drain near the bottom of the footing. This drain is a perforated pipe surrounded by crushed stone to keep dirt and debris from blocking the perforations. Groundwater will find its way to this drain and be channeled away from the footing. Making sure that these drains are clear is a critical step in making sure water doesn't get into the basement or crawl space. Other parts of the waterproofing system:
A polyethylene vapor barrier installed between the concrete floor slab and the ground to keep ground moisture from migrating up into the slab
A finish grade that slopes away from the foundation so that water drains away from, not toward, the house
A ground level of at least 6 inches below the top of the foundation wall
A nice touch for brick exteriors. There are many variations in any foundation system. One variant is the incorporation of a brick ledge into the foundation wall design. This is a nice design detail if you plan to use an exterior brick or stone finish. Rather than the brick sitting on top of the foundation wall, the brick can start just below the finish grade, making it appear that the foundation is constructed of brick, as it would have been in an older home. Of course, this type of detail has to be worked out carefully so that the foundation stays dry over the long haul. Just make sure that you and your architect or builder work out the best foundation system for your particular project. Having a good, stable and solid foundation that stays dry will be worth every cent invested in it.
House Foundation Types
How basic foundations are built, including slabs, perimeter foundations, concrete blocks, and piers
A house needs a foundation to shoulder its considerable weight, provide a flat and level base for construction, and separate wood-based materials from contact with the ground, which would cause them to rot and invite termite infestation.
Depending on when and where a house was built, the foundation may be made of stone, brick, preservative-treated lumber, concrete block, or poured concrete. By far the most common material for foundations is concrete.
Most houses have a raised perimeter foundation that supports floors and load-bearing walls. Some are built on a flat, concrete slab, which provides both a base for the structure and serves as the bottom floor of the house. Still others, notably vacation homes as well as small, older houses, oftentimes rest on a series of concrete piers.
Some houses utilize all of these methods for different portions of the house. Houses with perimeter foundations, for example, often have post-and-pier supports beneath a beam that runs under a load-bearing wall along the middle of the house.
The bottom part of a foundation is called a footing (or footer). The footing is generally wider than the foundation wall and is located about 12 inches below the frost line (the average depth at which soil freezes year after year). The footing distributes the house’s weight to prevent settling or movement.
Types of Foundations
There are three types of conventional concrete foundations: poured concrete, concrete block, and post-and-pier. Size and acceptable types are regulated by building codes.
Raised Perimeter Foundation
©Don Vandervort, HomeTips
Concrete Block Foundation
As shown above right, a poured-concrete foundation may be either a raised perimeter foundation, a flat slab, or a combination of the two. Houses in warm climates may have a monolithic slab, where footing, foundation, and slab are a single, integral unit. A conventional perimeter foundation has a poured concrete wall supported by a poured concrete footing. Both are strengthened by steel reinforcing rods (rebar). This type of foundation is used in connection with both raised floors and slabs.
A stepped footing, as shown at left, can support a concrete block wall. Blocks have nominal dimensions of 8 by 8 by 16 inches (they are actually 3/8 inch smaller to allow for mortar joints). They are hollow when laid up; steel reinforcing bar is added and the hollows are often filled with concrete. They lend themselves to construction where forming concrete is impractical.
Concrete blocks are also used for standard foundation wall construction. They are supported by a concrete footing; both are reinforced with steel rods, and the concrete blocks are filled with grout.
Pier and Footing Foundation
A concrete pier resting on a footing, as shown at right, may be used to help support beams at mid-span. Though some older homes rest entirely on piers, this method has been phased out in favor of foundation methods with greater integrity.
Know Your House: Post and Beam Construction Basics
Simple and transparent while being an elegant expression of craft, post and beam construction has a lot to offer. It's one of my favorite building methods. First, post and beam construction is just so simple. We just can't get any more direct than having vertical posts that hold up horizontal beams, all made of wood. It's a directness that can result in visual elegance, as the resulting structure molds space to form rhythms and patterns, while defining rooms. Second, the simplicity of the basic structure gives rise to opportunities to explore how connections are made. These connections, whether
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2554441/list/Mortise-and-Tenonmortise and tenon or bolted plates of steel, are inherently mechanical. As such, they are wonderful design opportunities that allow us to express our own particular aesthetic, be it all sleek and modern or more rustic and handmade. Let's look at the basics of post and beam construction, and how to fashion connections that have meaning to you.
While post and beam construction can be used for just about any
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10353021/list/Know-Your-House--What-Makes-Up-a-Home-s-Foundationfoundation type, it really does lend itself to a system that relies on piers rather than a continuous footing. This makes sense, as the weight of the house is a series of point loads where the posts are. Some critical design considerations with these piers include the shape of the pier (square, round or other) as well as how the posts will connect to the piers. While the piers in the sketch here are rectangular, round piers could, depending on the particular soil conditions, be less costly. Just keep in mind that whether or not the pier is seen after the building is completed will be an important determinant of the size and shape of the pier. Also, prior to construction you'll want to determine a way to secure the posts to the foundation. Post anchors can be stock or custom and are made of steel. Much of the anchor gets embedded in the concrete to tie the structure together. In this sketch the anchors are meant to be exposed after the posts are installed. You could, however, use post anchors that would be concealed, embedded in the concrete and hidden within the posts.
This sketch shows a slab-on-grade approach to floor construction. This slab is built much like any other slab on grade, with a layer of crushed rock, a vapor barrier and a layer of rigid insulation all below the actual concrete slab. An important design consideration with this slab is to know what the floor finish material will be — you'll want to allow for the thickness of that material when setting heights and dimensions for the finished slab and the finished piers. In the sketch the concrete, maybe stained, is the finished floor, so the top of the slab is set flush with the top of the piers. If, on the other hand, the finish were going to be stone or some other thick material, you'd want to set the finished top of slab lower.
Post and beam construction is just that: a system of horizontal beams that transfer structural loads to a system of vertical posts. More traditional post and beam construction also employs a series of diagonal braces that reinforce the beams and help to make the structure rigid. Post and beam is visually quite distinct. Unlike with a
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10492368/list/Know-Your-House--Components-of-Efficient-Wallstypical wall built of dimensional lumber, post and beam allows for more openness and transparency. This is because the spaces or rooms aren't defined by planar walls but by points. A post and beam system still relies on a system of walls to help separate inside from outside and room from room. The difference is that none of these walls is structural, so they can be built in any configuration and of any material. In fact, the walls can be made as screens that can be moved as needed. It's not surprising that post and beam construction, just about the oldest form of building, lends itself to
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1174159/list/Good-Spaces--Mastering-the-Open-Floor-Planmodern open floor plans and contemporary design.
Connecting the Posts and Beams There are two basic ways of making the connections between the posts and the beams: concealed or exposed. Concealed connection systems rely on embedding the connectors, whether wood tenons or metal plates, within the thickness of the posts or beams. While mortise and tenon joints were originally fashioned onsite in traditional post and beam construction, stock connectors are now available.
Exposed connectors are surface mounted to the posts and beams and are visually apparent. Traditionally individually forged by ironworkers and smiths, many such connectors are now mass produced and readily available. (In this sketch,the braces have been removed, as the exposed connectors provide the visual interest, and braces might well be structurally unnecessary.) I'd advise anyone considering exposed connectors to look into having them custom fabricated. These pieces are great visual elements that can really tell your story, so you might not want to rely solely on a generic piece.
Post and beam construction is a great fit for new homes. This type of construction enables large volumes and open floor plans while maintaining a traditional aesthetic and scale. It's an opportunity to have big, open, light-filled spaces that are inspirational and ...
Know Your House: Components of a Roof
After you've installed your
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10353021/list/Know-Your-House--What-Makes-Up-a-Home-s-Foundationfoundation, put down your
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10435824/list/Know-Your-House--What-Makes-Up-a-Floor-Structurefloor structure and erected your
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10492368/thumbs/Know-Your-House--Components-of-Efficient-Wallswalls, it's time to build your roof — one of the most important architectural elements. In fact, from the colonial home with its
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2554406/list/Gable-Roofgable roof to a Prairie-style home with its
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2554421/list/Hip-Roofhip roof, from a modern home with its low-sloping roof to an elegant mansard on an urban townhouse, we can't imagine a house style that doesn't have its associated roof configuration. Aligning the roof shape and configuration with the overall aesthetic you're after is essential to getting the look you want. A roof also has an impact on the interior. Simply put, if all of the interior rooms have a flat ceiling of the same height, you can save time and money and have the roof built with manufactured trusses. If you're looking for some ceiling height variety and a
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2240692/list/Vaulted-Ceilingvaulted ceiling in some rooms, you'll likely go with a stick-built roof that allows for this kind of flexibility. Or you can combine these two approaches to save time and money where possible while getting those special spaces you want. Here are the different parts of a simple roof structure, how they come together and how they impact the interior spaces.
A simple, stick-built triangular roof structure has three main components. First, there's a ridge board, which is a horizontal wood element at the peak of the roof, establishing the apex of the roof's triangle. Next are the rafters, which are fastened to the ridge board and slope downward to the exterior walls. The rafters do the heavy lifting for a roof structure. While resisting the downward force of gravity, the sloping rafters also provide the means by which the house sheds water, keeping the interiors dry and habitable. Last are the ceiling joists, which also act as ties. While the rafters resist the downward force of gravity, the ceiling joists will resist any outward thrust. Just think of it like this: The rafters, having stood up to gravity, want to take a rest and lie down. But if they were allowed to, they would push the exterior walls outward — not a good thing. The ceiling joists won't let this happen; they just keep pulling the walls back in.
An important design consideration is where to locate the ceiling joists, or rafter ties. These don't have to be set at the top of the exterior wall; they can be set higher up, allowing for a taller ceiling. What's important is that the rafter ties be placed in the lower third of the overall roof structure height. This makes sense, as most of the outward thrusting action these ties are designed to resist is located lower in the roof structure, closer to where the rafters meet the exterior walls. Setting the ceiling joists higher like this is, with the addition of some framing at the room ends, also the method used to create a
Let's say you want a really tall vaulted ceiling for a large great room. If this is the case, you'll want to get rid of the rafter ties altogether and replace the thin and light ridge board with a heavier and stronger ridge beam. The rafters will get securely fastened to this ridge beam so that the whole assembly will resist the outward thrust of the rafters. And because these ridge beams can be quite massive, they become a distinctive architectural element in their own right.
Another roof element, though not a common one, is the purlin. This is a board that spans rafters, or trusses, providing a way to fasten the roof sheathing and subsequent roofing materials. Purlins were traditionally used when the rafters were placed farther apart to save on materials in utilitarian buildings such as barns. But purlins have become popular in residential construction because of their unique architectural look. In fact, using purlins will create the illusion that the actual ceiling floats above the rafters, something that can be architecturally distinctive.
Last but not least are manufactured trusses made of 2-by-4 (sometimes 2-by-6) lumber and metal connecting plates. Trusses such as these are used quite often on large tract developments due to the efficiency of their repetitive design. But these trusses are also used in custom construction too, as they can be a great way to save time and money. Even with a complex roof shape, trusses can be engineered and built on a made-to-order basis. And because of the efficient use of material and less waste generated when they're built in a factory, manufactured trusses can be a more sustainable way to build. One caveat about a house built with these types of trusses: A roof built with manufactured trusses is more difficult to modify than a comparable stick-built roof. So if your home has ceilings all the same height and a truss-built roof, you'll find it more difficult to open rooms up and get that tall ceiling you want for that new great room. Be sure to get help from an architect or engineer before you modify the roof structure.
Know Your House: Stair Design and Construction for a Safe Climb
A stair is an integral part of the architecture in any home that has more than one level, even if there are just a few feet between levels. In a sense a stair is one of the most important pieces of architecture in a home. More often than not, a home's stair becomes a backdrop for many of life's significant events, including those high-school-prom and wedding-day photos. And as a day-to-day utilitarian item, a stair is a wonderful way to choreograph movement through a home. It's no wonder that architects and designers spend so much time designing stairs, and that true craftspeople build stairs that are absolute joys. In all of a stair's beauty, choreography and craft are elements that combine structure and material — all set to a required geometry to ensure that a stair is both a joy to traverse and safe. Some things are no longer allowed, such as risers that are too steep, treads that are too narrow, uneven riser heights and tread depths, and more. Let's look at some of the considerations that go into the design and construction of a simple, straight-run stair.
A straight-run stair is just that: a stair that doesn't turn or curve or something else. It just simply travels in a straight line from a lower floor to an upper floor and vice versa. Though we'll be looking in detail at a closed-riser stair, this stair has open risers. Some building departments don't allow such a stair design, as there's a fear that small children may slip between the treads and fall. What's interesting in this stair is that the open risers are kept narrow, 4 inches or less, to comply with the local building code and still be open.
As mentioned at the outset, a stair is an architectural element that allows people to easily move between differing floor levels in a building. Let's help Bob here find his way from the second floor to the first floor without having to slide down a fire pole, jump or take an elevator.
Get the angle right. The first thing we'll do is set up the geometry for our new stair. We'll divide the total rise (the distance from the first floor to the second floor) into equal parts, with each part not more than 7¾ inches (the maximum height allowable per the International Residential Code, or IRC). Next we'll want to establish the overall length of the stair, also called the carriage or total run. In our example that will be 140 inches. Now we know that we need a space that's at least 36 inches wide (a minimum code requirement) by 140 inches long (plus landings at the top and bottom) for the stair. We also know that the angle of the stair won't be too shallow or too steep, so it will be comfortable to walk up and down.
Fitting our feet. Looking in detail at how our stair lays out, the geometry of the treads (horizontal walking surfaces) and risers (vertical pieces at the back of each tread) is set. And note that while each tread is 10 inches deep, there's a 1-inch nosing that provides an overall depth of 11 inches. This is a comfortable dimension for most people, as it provides a suitable landing spot for most feet.
Supporting our weight. Now that we've gotten our geometry set and know we comply with the building codes, we can start to build our stair. First come the stringers. These are the sawtooth sides of the stair that the treads and risers will attach to. While a stringer can be of just about any material (wood, steel, aluminum, glass, plastic etc.), more often than not in residential contruction, it is made of wood. By simply taking a solid piece of wood and then cutting out the teeth, we'll have the basic structure of our stair. Stringers are typically designed to be strong enough to support themselves and the weight of risers, treads and people. This allows a stair to "float" away from a wall if that's the desired design. Of course, if the stringers aren't designed to support all of the added weight of people etc., make sure that they get attached to an adjacent structural element.
Next come the treads and risers. Once these are in place, you'll have a finished stair that can be used to go from one level to the next. An important design consideration is whether or not the treads and risers are to be visible surfaces or if these pieces will be covered with a finish (tile, stone, carpet etc.). For example, you can save some money by using utility-grade lumber for the treads and risers.
Preventing falls. While the stair is complete, our friend Bob can't make his way down it safely until there are railings. On the open side of the stair as well as at the second-floor landing, there should be a guardrail (not shown) that will prevent Bob from falling to the floor below. Another rail that will be needed is a handrail adjacent to the wall. The design, size and position of this rail is governed by building codes.
Specifically, the rail can't be more than 38 inches or less than 34 inches above a tread (or walking surface), and must be extended horizontally at the top and bottom. Another code consideration is the requirement to provide at least 80 inches of headroom above any walking surface. Just keep in mind that this, the height of a standard residential door, is the minimum; as such, I've always found it to be very constricting.
by Phoebe Crisman, Assistant Professor http://www.arch.virginia.edu/University of Virginia School of Architecture
Last updated: 06-16-2010
Within This Page
http://www.wbdg.org/resources/materials.php?r=school_libraryRelevant Codes and Standards
The term "materials" refers to all the physical substances that are assembled to create the interior and exterior of a building. Today most buildings are constructed from a multitude of materials, each with very specific functional demands and complex assembly requirements. For instance, an exterior wall assembly contains materials that keep the rain and wind out, thermally insulate the inhabitants from exterior temperatures, structurally support the building and the associated enclosure system, and provide desired interior and exterior finishes. In addition, windows, doors, vents, and other apertures connect to the interior and exterior of the building. The list could go on, but this example should serve to illustrate the complexity and importance of the material selection process in building design. These decisions should be based on a number of carefully considered issues as described below, including symbolism, appropriateness, physical properties, and technique.
Fig. 1. Wood quoins symbolize stone
Particular materials carry specific connotations within cultures and regions. Terms such as natural or artificial, eternal or ephemeral, austere or opulent, describe a few such associations. We often refer to the enduring qualities of stone, or the ephemeral nature of glass or paper. In some cases, the material associated with a desired symbolic expression is not available or too costly, and another material is substituted to replicate that material and achieve the desired effect. Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, illustrates this situation. The symbolic solidity of stone was imitated in the carved and painted wooden construction of the house exterior. See Fig. 1.
There are three primary areas that must be evaluated in selecting appropriate materials and assemblies.
Material Compatibility with Climatic, Cultural, and Aesthetic Conditions
Climate is one of the most important factors to consider in material and assembly selection. Too often we see buildings that have not taken local environmental conditions into consideration, by either replicating the same prototypical design from Alaska to Arizona, or by designing a building for a specific site that ignores climatic issues. The result is a building that performs poorly—failing to keep inhabitants comfortable without excessive energy expenditures and near complete reliance on mechanical systems to rectify poor construction decisions (see
http://www.wbdg.org/resources/hvac.phpHigh Performance HVAC). Materials also must be compatible with specific regional and local cultural and aesthetic conditions. For example, the Southwestern adobe and flat roof residential construction would not export well to New England, where the widespread use of wood framing, clapboard siding, and pitched roofs is climatically appropriate, as well as culturally embraced.
Applicability of Material to Occupancy and Size of Building, Including Durability, Structural, and Fire Protection Requirements
Material choices are often legally limited by the building type and size, in order to protect public
http://www.wbdg.org/design/promote_health.phpwelfare. For instance, a detached single-family house has far fewer limitations than a high-rise
http://www.wbdg.org/design/office.phpoffice building or a
http://www.wbdg.org/design/federal_courthouse.phpfederal courthouse, from which hundreds of inhabitants must be evacuated in case of emergency. In general, buildings with large occupancy numbers (especially assembly occupancy such as theaters, lecture halls, and restaurants) and greater enclosed square footage require more fire-resistant construction and more complex
http://www.wbdg.org/design/fire_protection.phpfire protection systems. Another concern is the added wear and tear on a densely inhabited and intensely used building, such as a
http://www.wbdg.org/design/educational.phppublic school or
http://www.wbdg.org/design/hospital.phphospital, where material durability is a major concern.
Environmental Impact of Obtaining Raw Materials, Processing and Fabricating Building Materials, Transportation Impact, and Recycling Issues
In addition to the easily quantifiable issues above, the
http://www.wbdg.org/design/env_preferable_products.phplong-term ecological footprint of material production is equally important and must be analyzed holistically. For example, a number of questions must be raised and answered.
Where did this material come from? Ideally materials should be obtained from renewable sources, such as wood harvested from sustainably managed old growth forests.
How was it processed or fabricated? The energy and resources expended in material preparation, sometimes termed "embodied energy," must be taken into account.
How did it arrive on-site? Transportation impacts and expenses should be minimized, with locally available materials often making a better choice than those imported from afar. For example, if building in Vermont, select locally quarried stone rather than specifying imported marble from Italy.
How long will it last? How will it eventually be disposed of? Materials should be selected with durability and life span in mind. Recycled materials should be chosen when possible. Consider designing easily dissembled buildings that may be reused and recycled in the future.
How will this material impact the environment while in place? For example, many paints, carpets, acoustic ceiling tile, vinyl flooring and wallcoverings, and adhesives contain volatile organic compounds (VOC's). Avoid using materials embodying VOC's, and select low toxicity building materials to avoid off-gassing after construction completion.
How can the use of a particular material minimize construction waste? Choose construction materials that don't have a lot of by-products. For instance, building with reusable formwork for cast-in-place concrete construction avoids plywood and wood formwork waste on-site.
http://www.wbdg.org/design/sustainable.phpSustainable design objective section for a comprehensive discussion of sustainable building design, including fundamental principles, implementation strategies and sustainable building material links.
C. Physical Properties
A number of physical properties must be taken into account in the material selection process. While certain properties are inherent to the material and unchangeable, other qualities can be determined in the fabrication or finishing process. The following outline lists only primary considerations, since each material possesses a unique combination of properties.
Material strength quantifies resistance to compression, tension, and other types of loading on a given material. For instance, masonry performs most effectively as a load-bearing or compressive material, while steel is a more suitable choice for greater spanning and tensile requirements.
Mass and Thickness
After an initial material selection is made, the dimensional thickness of each material must be based on requirements for durability, strength, and
Physical and Visual Density
Often a particular tactile density is desired, ranging from heaviness to lightness in degrees of opacity, translucency, or transparency. See Figs. 2 and 3.
From Left to Right: Fig. 2. Masonry solidity, Fig. 3. Glass translucency, Fig. 4. Smooth glass surface
Many materials may be finished to different textures, either during off-site production or while finishing materials on-site. Smooth to rough, soft to hard, and a range of surface finishes—matte, satin, polished, and so on—are possible. See Fig. 4.
Selection of a building color palette must consider the surrounding context, as well exterior and interior light qualities under which the colors will be viewed. The cool diffused light of Seattle will render colors quite differently than the hot clear light of Phoenix. Colors may be light absorptive or light reflective, warm or cool, while the palette may be monochromatic or polychromatic. See Figs. 5 and 6.
Fig. 5. (left): Brick pattern in color and line and Fig. 6. (right): Brick pattern in relief
The tactile qualities of architecture are of utmost importance, especially those surfaces that building inhabitants touch on a regular basis, such as door hardware, work surfaces, and floor materials. Metal surfaces quickly register temperature change, while stone more slowly absorbs ambient temperatures and retains temperature much longer. Thus, material
http://www.wbdg.org/resources/psheating.phpthermal conductivity is an important consideration in the
http://www.wbdg.org/design/provide_comfort.phpcomfort of occupants.
Material patterning must be designed at two scales: the individual elements themselves, such as bricks or glass panes, and the composition of these elements into larger assemblies. For example, at the individual element scale the inherent patterning of wood grain or stone marbling must be considered. The creation of larger patterns occurs when the material is assembled into building facades. See Figs. 7 and 8.
Fig. 7. (left): Stucco patterning and Fig. 8. (right): Patterned glass
Fig. 9. Prefabricated sunshading
The methods of material fabrication and assembly are a complex aspect of the construction process. Technique includes the fabrication process, the detailing of how materials and systems are joined and erected, and the craft employed to execute the work.
Fabrication refers to how a material was created, processed, and assembled. Fabrication techniques range from handcrafted to mass produced to prefabricated. Materials carry traces of their making and assembly that can be used to create surface modulation and richness. See Fig. 9.
Fig. 10. Exposed steel truss
Construction details determine how individual material elements or systems are joined. Common methods of joinery include various types of mechanical fastening (nails, bolts, rivets...), welding, adhering, and so on. Construction details should relate to the overall architectural intentions of a building. Attention to detail is evident in a well-resolved and finely executed building, such as the elegant assemblage of wood and concrete systems in Fig. 10.
The quality of design and construction workmanship is crucial to the success and longevity of a project. The employment of well-trained and experienced trades people is the best way to assure a high level of building craft. See Fig. 11.
The passing of time has an immense impact on the appearance and life span of building materials. Thus, future weathering must be carefully considered during material selection, building detailing, and construction. See Fig. 12.
Fig. 11. (left): Careful craftmanship and Fig. 12. (right): Exquisitely weathered stone wall
http://www.wbdg.org/resources/materials.php?r=school_libraryBack to top
The application of particular building materials and systems is discussed in numerous sections of the Whole Building Design Guide. Particularly refer to the
http://www.wbdg.org/design/productssystems.phpProducts and Systems category and the
http://www.wbdg.org/design/sustainable.phpSustainable design objective sections for more detailed information.
Relevant Codes and Standards
Building codes limit the allowable materials for a particular building, based on building occupancy type and zoning considerations.
http://www.wbdg.org/design/fire_protection.phpOccupant life safety is the primary concern of such codes, which limit material combustibility, flame spread rating, and smoke toxicity. In some jurisdictions, Historic District guidelines or other visually-based design guidelines may specify allowable exterior materials, color selection, and other aesthetic considerations including style.
Resources for the historic preservation of buildings include:
http://www.preservationnation.org/National Trust for Historic Preservation—Provides resources and support in the effort to preserve and revitalize America's historic structures and communities.
http://www.wbdg.org/design/env_preferable_products.phpSustainable—Use Greener Materials
Products and Systems
Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers:
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=802301 67 00 (01611) Environmental Product Requirements
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=802401 74 13 (01740) Progress Cleaning
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=802601 78 23 (01830) Operation & Maintenance Data
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=803605 05 00 (05050) Common Work Results for Metals
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=803806 05 73 (06070) Wood Treatment
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=803906 10 00 (06100) Rough Carpentry
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=804006 16 00 (06100) Sheathing
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=804106 20 00 (06200) Finish Carpentry
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=804206 60 00 (06600) Plastic Fabrications
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=804306 90 00 (06700) Alternative Agricultural Products
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805007 92 00 (07900) Joint Sealants
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805108 14 00 (08210) Wood Doors
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805309 29 00 (09250) Gypsum Board
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805409 30 00 (09300) Tiling
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805509 51 00 (09510) Acoustical Ceilings
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805609 65 00 (09650) Resilient Flooring
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805709 65 16.13 (09654) Linoleum Flooring
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805809 68 00 (09680) Carpeting
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=805909 72 00 (09720) Wall Coverings
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=806009 90 00 (09900) Painting & Coating
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=806511 13 00 (11160) Loading Dock Equipment
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=806611 28 00 (11680) Office Equipment
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=806711 30 00 (11450) Residential Equipment
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=806812 10 00 (12100) Artwork
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=806912 48 13 (12482) Entrance Floor Mats and Frames
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=807012 59 00 (12700) Systems Furniture
There are numerous materials and trade associations, some of which are listed below. See
http://www.wbdg.org/design/productssystems.phpProducts and Systems for a more complete listing.
http://www.aisc.org/American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)—Online resource for information about structural steel design and construction.
http://www.steel.org/American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)—Excellent web links to steel trade associations and manufacturers.
http://www.copper.org/Copper Development Association (CDA)—Information on both copper and brass.
Masonry and Concrete
http://www.concrete.org/American Concrete Institute (ACI)
http://www.bia.org/Brick Industry Association (BIA)—Brick Technical Notes available online
http://www.imiweb.org/International Masonry Institute (IMI)
http://www.cement.org/Portland Cement Association
http://www.ncma.org/National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA)—Trade association site representing concrete masonry producers across the industry
http://www.apawood.org/Engineered Wood Association (APA)—APA technical publications available online
http://www.wwpa.org/Western Wood Products Association (WWPA)—Western Lumber Product Use Manual available online
Sustainable Materials (See
http://www.wbdg.org/design/env_preferable_products.phpUse Greener Materials)
Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
http://www.buildinggreen.com/menus/ebn.cfmEnvironmental Building News
http://www.sbicouncil.org/Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC)
http://www.usgbc.org/U.S. Green Building Council
http://www.mcdonough.com/William McDonough + Partners—The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability available online
Building Design and Construction Handbook, 6th ed. by Frederick S. Merritt and Jonathan T. Ricketts. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Construction Materials Reference Book by D.K. Doran, ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1992.
The Details of Modern Architecture, Volumes I & II by Edward Ford. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990 & 1996.
Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1962.
"Form and the Nature of Materials" by Pierre Von Meiss in Elements of Architecture: From Form to Place. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990: 165-198.
http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2191068-10438326?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wiley.com%2Fremtitle.cgi%3Fisbn%3D047007468X&cjsku=047007468XFundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods, 5th Edition by Edward Allen. New York: Wiley, 2008.
Guide to Resource Efficient Building Elements by Tracy Mumma. Missoula, MT: National Center for Appropriate Technology's Center for Resourceful Building Technology, 1997.
On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time by Mohsen Mostafavi & David Leatherbarrow. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993.
Studies in Tectonic Culture: The Poetics of Construction in 19th & 20th Century Architecture by Kenneth Frampton. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995.
http://products.construction.com/Building Products and Materials by Sweets Network.
"The Tell-the-Tale Detail" by Marco Frascari in Via 7: The Building of Architecture. Cambridge: MIT, 1984: 23-37.
Thermal Delight in Architecture by Lisa Heschong. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1979.
http://www.wbdg.org/resources/materials.php?r=school_libraryhttp://www.wbdg.org/resources/materials.php?r=school_librarytp://www.steel.org/American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)—Excellent web links to steel trade associations and manufacturers.