The techniques of building houses and other buildings

Learning the basic methods of construction

The shelters that men build in which to live, work, study, and enjoy recreation are almost unlimited in size and design.

Among the tallest structures scientifically designed and built today are carrels, or individual cubicles for study installed within other buildings such as libraries. Between these extremes are house, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, factories, schools, hospitals, and other specialized types of buildings. The science of designing and construction buildings is called architecture.

The Materials of Building Construction

Primitive men used natural substances of the earth, such as rocks, sand, and trees, to build shelters. Today, however, nearly all the building material used in the civilized world is first processed in mills and factories.

Metals, for example, are made into beams, frames, hardware, and panels. Lumber is cut to standard sizes, shaped, and treated. Other wood is blown or chopped apart, then pressed together to form panels of hardboard, flakeboard, or chipboard. Materials from the earth, such as clay, stone, lime, sand, and gypsum, are converted into building products, such as concrete, bricks, insulation, and glass and coverings for walls, floors, and roofs. Chemicals are made into plastics, paints, and adhesives.

The Changing Building Industry

In recent years several important developments have affected the building-construction industry. In one such technique, prefabrication, partial or complete structures are mass-produced in factories, then shipped by rail or truck to building sites where they are assembled or installed.

Components are large or small factory-made units which may be used in prefabricated structures or in custom, built-to-order structures. Component wall panels, for example, are sandwiches consisting of exterior siding, insulation board, framing, a moisture barrier, and interior wall covering. Other combinations are also used.

Mechanizations, or the use of cranes and other powered machinery, has also become important. Machines perform many jobs faster and more efficiently than older,  manual methods.

The use of precast concrete for roof or wall panels, beams, or other parts is also a recent development. The precast concrete may be combined with metal for added strength.

Plastic construction materials are at present used primarily as parts of prefabricated panels or sections. Most of the plastic in modern buildings is applied where structural, or load-bearing, characteristics are not required. Some plastics, however, such as rigid urethane foam and polyvinyl chloride, have been used for roof panels and for structural framing around doors and windows.

Residential Construction

The construction of houses is a distinct specialty within the building industry. Most single-family houses in the United States are of standard frame, or lumber, construction. Multiple units, or apartments, are more often of brick or concrete construction. High-rise buildings, or multistory apartments, require construction similar to that of commercial, or industrial structures.

The principles of construction frame houses have remained basically the same for many years. Lumber and other building materials are readily available, and carpenters know the techniques of framing doors, windows, and roofs.