Basics of Building Construction

Basics of Building Construction
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Basics of building construction are the set of principles, processes, and events that are necessary to implement a building project. Every building construction starts from an idea and culminates to a form a structure that will serve the occupants for decades or centuries. Building construction will involve the assembly of materials in a planned and orderly manner.

Basics of building construction can be explained by going into detail the various phases involved in a building project.

Different Phases in Building Construction

Understanding the basics of building construction will require clear knowledge about different phases involved in a building project. Some changes may exist as every building project is unique. But general phases based on which a building is constructed are explained below.

  1. Preliminary Design Phase
  2. Building Design Phase
  3. Preconstruction Phase
  4. Construction Phase

Preliminary Design Phase

This is called as the predesign phase or the planning phase. How well this phase is conducted decides the success or failure of the project. Different tasks involved in the phase are:

  1. Defining building functions, activities, sizes, relationships, and spaces required
  2. Analysing the economic feasibility, overall budget, and finance
  3. Assessment of site, suitability, and verifications
  4. Analysing the government constraints and building code constraints
  5. Selection of a design team

Building Design Phase

The design phase of a building construction will start with the selection of the design team. The design team will mainly involve architects, civil engineers, and structural consultants. They also include mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection consultants (MEPF). The organisation chart for a typical construction team is shown in figure-1 below.

Members of a Typical building design team
Fig.1. Members of a Typical building design team

For a complex building project, there will be consultants directly reporting to the architects as well as the owners as shown in the figure-2. In the figure, the solid line represents the contract between the two parties. A dashed line indicates a communication link which is not a contract.

Members of a Complex Building project design Team
Fig.2. Members of a Complex Building project design Team

Every Building design phase will have three phases:

  1. Schematic design stage
  2. Design Development Stage
  3. Construction Documents

1. Schematic design phase

Several design options are developed and the best is chosen based on the cost and requirements. These designs are concluded after several revisions. This is prepared by an architect or engineer in charge. The owner or the client finally approves the design. For this, the architect prepares several drawings, plans, sections, elevations, 3D views to represent the complete context of the project.

2. Design Development Stage

At this stage, a schematic design of building to be constructed is in hand. Now it is necessary to undergo detail analysis to develop the design methods. Here the practical and the realistic solutions to bring the schematic design into real is studied. Solutions to develop the structure, the exterior and interior systems, MEPF systems are determined by the help of the strategic consultants in the design team.

The design development stage will analyze in detail the selection of materials, products, and equipment. A well-managed design development phase helps to execute the construction documents efficiently.

3. Construction Documents

All the documents required by the contractor is developed in this stage. Engineering consultants and architects study minute details of the building and develop the documents called as the construction documents. The construction documents consist of Construction drawings and specifications.

Construction Drawings: The different construction drawings developed for a building construction are civil and structural drawings, landscape drawings and MEPF drawings. These consist of plan, elevations, sections. The construction drawings will indicate the layout, dimension, geometry, the material types, colors, textures, details of components to be assembled etc. These construction drawings are used to calculate the cost estimate of the project by the contractor.

Read More: Types of Drawings used in Building Construction

Specifications: The construction drawings are just a graphic representation. But the specification documents will give the material type, quality and test method in compliance with the construction drawing. For example, the grade of cement and the concrete mix ratio is clearly given in the specification documents. The two construction documents – construction drawings and specifications complement each other.

Read More: How to Write Construction Specifications for Contract Documents?

Preconstruction Phase

By this stage, the construction drawings and specifications are in our hand that will require a construction team to implements this practically. Even the construction of a small building requires different skills that will demand different contractors. It is not necessary to completely hand over the project to a single contractor.

There may be contractors and subcontractors associated with a project. Subcontractors are contracted by the main contractor. The main contractor is only liable to the owner. The selection of a contractor is based on the bidding process. Hence, the preconstruction phase is a bid negotiation phase.

Read More: Bidding Process in Construction

Figure-3 below shows the interrelationships between the owner, the design team and the construction team.

 Interrelationships between the owner, the design team and the construction team
Fig.3: Interrelationships between the owner, the design team and the construction team

Construction Phase

At this phase, the general contractor is selected and the contract is awarded. A contract is same as bidding documents but it is a legally signed document between the owner and contractor.

The design team develops construction and contract documents such that the requirements are effectively communicated with the construction teams with minimum confusions. Good bidding documents will let the construction, product and manufacturing contractors to:

  1. Accurately prepare bids
  2. Prepare detail submittals
  3. Construct building with fewer revisions and charges

During the construction phase, the contractor undergoes daily supervision of the construction work. The architect observes and evaluates the quality and efficiency of the contractor’s work periodically. Any non-compliance with the construction contracts will be notified to the owner.

Read More: Roles and Responsibilities of Architect in Construction

The work is inspected until the project is completed and handover to the owner. Final inspection may leave some corrections and errors that are to be corrected from the contractor’s side. After complete correction, a certificate of final completion is issued by the architect in charge. Only after this, the contractor receives the final contract amount.











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