Building construction means generally the construction of sheltered enclosures with walk-in access for the purpose of housing persons, machinery, equipment, or supplies. It includes all construction of such structures, the installation of utilities and the installation of equipment, both above and below grade level as well as incidental grading, utilities and paving, unless there is an established area practice to the contrary. Additionally, such structures need not be “habitable” to be building construction. The installation of heavy machinery and/or equipment may not change the project’s character as a building.
Types of Building Construction
There are five (5) types of building construction and they are enlisted below:
Type I Construction: Fire Resistive
This category applies to any building that stands over 75 feet tall. This applies to all high-rise housing and commercial space. That includes apartment buildings, offices, and hotels. These buildings are designed to withstand high temperatures for a long time without collapsing. Beyond that, all structural materials are non-combustible. Walls, floors, and roofs are constructed with reinforced concrete and protected steel. While these features make these buildings extremely durable, it also increases construction costs.
Some Type 1 buildings have HVAC systems and self-pressurizing stairwells to prevent fires from spreading. These building elements make it easier for firefighters to access and extinguish fires. When entering a Type 1 building, their main objective revolves around securing stairwells to ensure a safe evacuation.
Type II Construction: Non-Combustible
Similar to the Type 1 buildings, Type 2 buildings contain non-combustible walls, partitions, columns, floors, and roofs. Though these structures typically contain fire suppression systems, they are not often protected with fire-resistive coatings and are prone to collapse. They typically contain metal floors and metal roofs with masonry or tilt-slab walls.
Newer school buildings, shopping malls, and recently renovated commercial structures typically fall under this construction type. If firefighters are called to a Type 2 building, their main priority will be to ventilate the building to prevent a dangerous rise in temperature.
Type III Construction: Ordinary
Also known as brick-and-joist structures, Type III buildings consist of either tilt-slap or reinforced masonry walls. These materials are non-combustible. That is to say, some of the interior structural elements (frames, floor, ceilings, etc.) are made with wood or combustible materials. This kind of construction can apply to both old and new buildings. Old buildings will generally contain conventionally framed roofs, while newer units are typically built with lightweight roof systems.
Schools, buildings, and houses can all fall under this construction type. One of the perks associated with this construction type is that ventilation is possible. That said, many Type III buildings contain connected attics or horizontal void spaces, making fire extension more likely.
Type IV Construction: Heavy Timber
Type IV buildings are largely constructed using large pieces of lumber, connected using metal plates and bolts. This was a common practice before 1960, which makes heavy timber construction so easy to spot. Old churches, factories, and barns typically fall under this category.
This building type demands that all wooden members meet specific dimensional requirements. Structural wood supports such as columns, beams, and girders must be at least 8 inches thick. Heavy planks for roofs and floors must be at least 6 inches thick. Type IV buildings have noncombustible exterior walls and interior elements.
Though these buildings contain combustible materials, they generally fare well when exposed to fire. Their structural mass also makes them more resilient against collapse. Still, firefighters will require large volumes of water to extinguish a fire in this type of building. Metal joint connections can also lead to a rapid increase in fire severity.
Type V Construction: Wood-Frame
Type V buildings are the most combustible construction type on this list. It is the only category of construction that allows combustible exterior walls as well as combustible structural members on the interior. Frames, walls, floors, and roofs are made entirely or partly out of wood. These building elements are cheaper to develop and increasingly common in the construction of single-family homes and garages.
These structural elements can be particularly worrisome to firefighters, as exposed wood offers no fire resistance. If a fire starts, the building will ignite significantly. These buildings may be somewhat resistant to collapse unless it is a lightweight construction. In that case, it will collapse within minutes of a fire breaking out.
At Green Bliss, we construct any type of building from start to finish. We are also involved in different types of renovation and refurbishments of abandoned buildings.
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