Components of a Building

A building can be broadly divided in two parts viz. 

i) Sub-structure (ii) Super structure.

The portion of the building below the surrounding ground is known as sub-structure and the portion above the ground is termed as super structure. The components of a building can be broadly summarized as under:

  1. Foundation: Foundation is the lowest part of a structure below the ground level which is in direct contact with the ground and transmits all the dead. live and other loads to the soil on which the structure rests. The provision of foundation is made in such a way that the soil below the foundation is not stressed beyond its safe allowable bearing capacity and the type of building which is required to be constructed, a structure may need shallow or deep foundations. In case of load bearing walls, the foundation could be in the form of independent column footings, combined footing, rafts or piles.
  2. Plinth: The portion of the building between the ground surrounding the building and the top of the floor immediately above the ground is known as plinth. The level of the surrounding ground is known as formation level or simply ground level and the level of the ground floor of the building is known as plinth level. The plinth height should be such that after proper leveling and grading of the ground adjoining the building (for proper drainage) there is no possibility of the rain water entering the ground floor. The built up covered area measured at the floor level is termed as plinth area.
  3. Walls: Walls are provided to enclose or divide the floor space in desired pattern. In addition, walls provide privacy, security and give protection against sun, rain, cold and other adverse effects of weather. The division of floor space varies according to the functions required to be performed in the building. The walls divided the space in such a manner so as to achieve maximum carpet area and minimum area of circulation. Walls are constructed by use of building units like bricks, stones, concrete blocks (hallow or solid) etc. The building units are bonded together with mortar in horizontal and vertical joints and the construction is termed as masonry. When bricks are used as building units it is known as brick masonry and when stones are used as building units it is termed as stones masonry.
  4. Column: A column may be defined as an isolated vertical load bearing member the width of which is neither less than its thickness nor more than four times its thickness. Pier is a vertical load bearing member similar to a column except that it is bonded into load bearing wall at the sides to form an integral part and extends to full height of the wall. A pier is introduced to increase the stiffness of the wall to carry additional load or to carry vertical concentrated load. Pier also strengthens the wall resist lateral pressure without buckling.
  5. Floors: Floors are flat supporting elements of s building. They divide a building into different levels thereby creating more accommodation on a given plot of land. The basic purpose of a floor is provide a firm and dry platform for people and other items like furniture, stores, equipment etc. Floor is generally referred to by its location. A floor provided for accommodation below the natural ground level is termed as basement floor. A floor immediately above the ground is termed as ground floor and all other floors such as 1st floor, 2nd floor etc., are termed as upper floors.
  6. Doors, Windows and Ventilators: A door may be defined as a barrier secured in an opening left in a wall to provide usual means of access to a building, room or passage. This can be termed as the most constantly used moving component in a building.
  7. Windows: A window may be defined as an opening left in a wall for the purpose of providing day light, vision and ventilation. Similar to door, a window has a frame and one or more shutters. The shutter are normally fitted with glass or similar transparent material. The window can be side-hung, top or bottom hung, louvered type and the shutter can be fully glazed, paneled type.
  8.  Stairs: A stair may be defined as a structure comprising of a number of steps connecting one floor to another. The stair must be constructed in such a manner that it is safe and comfortable to use it should be so located as to permit easy communication. Stairs may be made from material like timber, stone, bricks, steel, reinforced concrete etc. The selection of the type of material to be used depends upon the aesthetical importance, funds available, durability and fire resisting qualities desired.
  9. Roof: It is the uppermost component of a building and its main function is to cover the space below and protect it from rain, snow, sun, wind etc.
  10.  Building Finishes: A building is considered incomplete till such time the surface of its components is given appropriate treatment. Building finishes include items like plastering, pointing, white/color washing, painting varnishing, distempering etc. The building finishes not only protect the surface from adverse effect of weather but also provide decorative effect.
  11.  Building Services: Building services include services like water supply, drainage, sanitation, lighting, electricity, acoustics, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire detection and fire control etc. The services like water supply, drainage and sanitation are normally clubbed under the term ‘plumbing services’. From consideration of safety of the users, the planning, designing and detailing of all services should be done based on provisions in national building code and also based on norms prescribed by various statutory municipal bodies.

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