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Types of building structures

Written by LetsBuild

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Buildings are everywhere!  We see them every day, as we drive or walk to where we need to go.  However, how often do we all pay attention to any of the details from the structures themselves?  Do we ever wonder what the buildings were constructed from?  How long it took to build from start to finish?  Or wonder what it looks like on the inside?
Most of the time, the answer to those questions is no, because we are too busy with other aspects of our life to have the time to care or wonder.  However, it is important that we all know the main types of building structures, even though we may hardly ever use that knowledge unless we are in the construction field.

When a person is trying to determine what type of building structure they want, they often ask themselves certain questions.  Those questions include the following:

  • What is the purpose of the structure? – The answer to this question will give you the reason why you are building the structure, to begin with, as well as how you plan to use it.
  • What is the size of the structure? – It is important to know the size of the structure because it will allow you to plan accordingly with the materials that you want, or need, to use.
  • Are there any load-bearing constraints? – The taller the building, the more load bearing restraints there might be. This information is needed sooner than later, so the proper issues and changes can be addressed.
  • Are there any environmental factors to consider? – Everyone wants to be environmentally friendly nowadays, which is good news. This question will allow you to see potential issues prior to the construction process and make the necessary changes before the work even starts.
  • How soon does the building need to be completed? – Some people want their buildings constructed faster than others, so a different building type might need to be chosen to get the desired results.
  • What are the costs of the materials? – The cost of the materials being used may cause you to choose a different building type over another.

Here are some of the building structures that are found in the field of construction:

1. Wood frame

Wooden frame buildings have been around for many years and in fact, this type of building structure is the oldest of them all.  It is also the type that is used the most everywhere in the world.  These building structures are completely made from wood that is cut and then put together on-site.  That means that the workers are cutting the studs, plates, joists, and rafters as they are needed and putting them in place before installing the drywall, paneling, and all other materials.

The advantages to wooden frame building structures are that the materials are renewable, the cost is fairly low, and they can be put up fairly quickly using basic construction tools.  Of course, there are also disadvantages, which include the structure being flammable, subject to deteriorating due to the elements, and not being strong enough to withstand the winds from hurricanes and tornadoes.

2. Light gauge steel

Steel is becoming more commonly used for the construction of some buildings, because it does allow buildings to be built much faster.  The materials all arrive at the job site ready to put in place, so there is never any cutting required once the construction starts.  All the rafters, joists, studs, and plates are made from steel.  Every piece of steel is protected by a galvanized coating, protecting it from the elements.  Currently, this material is being found in more commercial buildings, but some homeowners are choosing to have their homes built with it as well.

When you are considering light gauge steel for a building structure, you will see that it has many advantages.  A few of those include having a high strength compared to the weight of the building, low cost for the construction, and capable of being erected quickly.

This material is also flame-resistant, so you will never need to worry that it will catch on fire.  The downside to light gauge steel is that if any adjustments need to be made on-site, the tools needed are not the everyday construction tools.  Specific cutting and fastening tools are required to construct with this material.

Related article: 6 stages of a project in construction

3. Steel frame

A steel frame is slightly different than light gauge steel, as this is much stronger and normally used for larger buildings.  These types of building structures are made from steel columns and trusses, which easily support the larger roofs and floors.  You will see this used on many high-rises, as it is simple to get the materials up high using a crane before quickly welding them all together.

The advantages of steel frame include being strong, flexible when it comes to assembling, easy to weld to get the building constructed faster, and all the components are readily available.  This material is perfect for areas that are prone to hurricanes and tornadoes and the material can easily be recycled and used again in the future.  The disadvantages include being prone to corrosion in areas where there are high humidity and the fact that the material will lose strength in temperatures that reach higher than five hundred degrees.

4. Concrete frame

High rise buildings and parking garages are normally built using a concrete frame because it is stronger than many other building materials.  Concrete frame construction utilizes reinforced concrete columns, as well as concrete slabs and concrete beams to construct the support structure of the building.  Most reinforced concrete is readily available, but it can be a time-consuming process if it needs to be cast on the construction site.  Unfortunately, building structures often require that the concrete components are cast on-site.  That means that it takes longer for completion due to the curing process.

The advantages of a concrete frame building structure are that it can use recycled steel for the reinforced steel portions.  The concrete can also be locally sourced and formed into almost any shape that is desired.  As mentioned above, this can be a time-consuming process, plus the concrete may need to be substantially engineered if the building is in an area prone to earthquakes.

5. Pre-engineered

Sometimes, the best building structure is pre-engineered, because it goes together quickly, and you can begin using it sooner than you thought possible.  Oftentimes, you can design the building to meet your specifications and then pieces are made and put together to be shipped to the construction site.

The advantages of pre-engineered are that they are put together quickly, they are strong, and they are easy to personalize.  Unfortunately, they are more expensive than other building types and you must keep your design within a square or rectangular shape.

Now that you know the different types of building structures in construction, you can easily decide which one you want to use in the future for your home, business, or other building that you need.  The best part is that you can even mix and match some of these building structures so that you have the building that best fits your needs.