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Functional requirements of building| Components of Building structure & Parts

The basic requirement i.e. designs as well as function play an important role in the design and construction of a building as a whole as well as its components. A good building should be structurally sound, functionally efficient, and aesthetically good in appearance. To achieve all these factors, the economy should also be given due importance.

In this post, we will discuss the functional or basic requirements of a building and various components to achieve functional efficiency in design.

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The building is one of the most important structures constructed by civil engineers. It is a type of structure in which not only civil engineer is required but also electrical, mechanical, electronics, sanitary man powers are required.

Parts of Building

There are mainly two parts of the building, which are considered during design:

(a) Sub-structure: The portion of the building below the ground level is called sub-structure

b) Super-structure: The portion of the building above the ground level is called superstructure. The portion of structure between ground level and floor level is called plinth


The design and performance of a good building should satisfy the following basic functional requirements should be important for the design and performance of a good building:

(I)The structure system of the building should be strong and sound.

(II) It should have sufficient stiffness so that its deterioration does not reduce the efficiency of the structure to its intended purpose.

(III)  From the performance point of view, the building should be well planned to make comfort and convenient to the occupants of the building.


A typical construction Plan_ and_ Elevation of Various building components
Fig. A typical construction Plan_ and_ Elevation of Various building components

To achieve the above three important fundamental requirements, a building should satisfy the following requirements in its design and construction:

  • 1. Comfort and convenience
  • 2. Durability
  • 3. Heat or thermal insulation
  • 4. Moisture or damp prevention
  •  5. Security against burglary
  • 6. Sound insulation
  • 7. Strength and stability
  • 8. Dimensional stability
  • 9. Economy
  •  10. Fire protection
  • 11. Light and ventilation

We will discuss the above points in detail here:

1. Comfort and convenience:

This is can of the basic requirements of the planning of a building. The following points should be kept in mind to achieve these requirements:

  • A building should be provided with enough light during day or night with an effect of glare
  •  A building should be onenied in such a manner to get maximum benette of natural air and light.
  • Due weightage should be given be to living, working and health conditions of the occupants of the building.
  • Grouping of the rooms should be so planned as to ensure better circulation proper utilization of space and maximum efficiency in a building,

2. Dimensional stability:

The changes in the dimensions of materials structures are by following caused:

  • Due to Elastic and plastic deformation or creep (long time applied loads).
  • Expansion and contraction due to temperature variation or moisture content) in the atmosphere, which results into cracking of the buildings.
  • Certain Chemical reactions between moisture air and building materials.

 Flowing are the measures to prevent dimensional changes:

  • The effect of elastic deformation is taken care by considering effective modulus of elasticity in design.
  •  The effect of plastic deformation is taken into account by considering proper ad factor against failure in design.
  • Avoid using the materials which are deformed due to moisture or temperature changes.
  •  Provide unnecessary restraint to shrinkage or expansion of the material.
  • Try to use the materials which have a large extensibility, means les tensile stress than its tensile strength to avoid cracking .

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3. Durability:

 Period of time up to which the building remains habitable n called its durability. The durability of a building depends upon the following factors:

  • Degree of maintenance
  • Method of construction adopted;
  • Types of materials used in buildings.
  •  Exposure conditions to weathering which is determined by the climate,
  •  Effect of frost action on exposed building materials
  • Crystallization of salts by groundwater movestents,
  •  Effect of sunlight on paints, plastics, glass, asphalt, rubber, ste

 To increase and maintain the durability, of a building following steps should be taken:

(i) Proper features like projecting eaves, copings, sunshades, cornices, parapets, sill should be provided in the building to prevent rainfall, might moisture, and other exposures to weather.

(ii) Proper care is to be taken in designing a building in the maintenance of building in chore of materials and in the protection of a building against weathering effects.

4. Economy:

At every stage of functional planning, designing, construction. maintenance and operation of a building economics aspect should be considered simultaneously The building should be functionally and structurally sound As well as should not cost much higher than usual.

5. Fire Protection:

To protect the building against fire, composite and non-combustible materials should be used in the construction of walls, columns, beams. etc. Also, standards of fire safety or fire extinguishers as specified in the building code should be provided with sufficient and quick-fire ext. The chances of a fire can be reduced through adequate planning of buildings in horizontal and vertical directions.

6. Heat or thermal Insulation:

Properly insulated building cuts down the cunt of electric burring in summer as well as in winter. To achieve heat insulation requirements for different types of buildings, one or more of the following means should be adopted:

  • Exterior walls thould be thicker which imparts strength to the building and also provide insulation against heat and cold.
  •  The best insulating material is used to construct cavity walls as external walls, which can prevent the heat and cold to follow the space between the wall.
  • In the construction of walls, roofs, floors etc. to fill air spaces in construction materials, heat insulating materials like slag wool, light weight concrete, mock wool, quilts, mais, foamed slag aggregates should be used.
  • The building should be provided with chhaffas, canopy, weather sheds, verandah, courtyards, tress, garden etc. to achieve heat insulation.
  • Top terrace of the building should be insulated against heat economically by using special flooring method.

7. Light and ventilation:  

In every building position, the number and sizes of doors and windows should be in such a way that sufficient day height is free from glare from the right direction.

Sufficient daylight should reach each and every room of the building, to create a pleasing environment to work and to live in. The design should also keep in mind the lighting requirements with hem insulation of the building.

Ventilation in a building means the free passage of clean air in Ventilation is essential in every building because of the following reasons:

  • If the room is not properly ventilated, there will be excessive quantity of carbon dioxide in the air. The more carbon dioxide cause difficulty in breathing. It is observed that breathing is difficult when the amount of carbon dioxide by volume is about fi per cent and a man loser consciousness when it reacher about 10 % or so.  For comfortable in breathing and working, the carbon dioxide content should be less than  about 0.6% by volume.
  • The ventilation is required to control dust and other impurites in the air Thos to the main cause of insting proper ventilation in the industrial buildings. 
  • The ventilation is also required to suppress odours, smoke, concentration of bacteria, ete.
  •  The proper and sufficient ventilation results in absence of condensation The difference of temperature between the outside air and the inside air tends to the deposition of molature on the room surfaces. This is known as the condensation and it can be effectively controlled by the provision of ventilation.
  • For removal of body heat liberated or generated by the occupants, the ventilation à necessary.
  • in order to prevent the formation of conditions leading to suffocation in conference rooms, committee halls, cinema halls, big rooms, eto.. the proper ventilation of such premises must be made.

8. Moisture or damp prevention:

One of the basic requirements in the case of all the buildings is that the structure should remain dry as far as possible. The presence of moisture in any building deteriorates the strength of materials and results in a reduction in the durability of failure of the structure. In order to prevent the entry of dampness into a building, damp proof courses are provided at various levels.

The provision of damp-proof courses prevents the entry of moisture from walls, floors, and the basement of a building.

The moisture in the building is normally due to faulty construction, poor materials, and workmanship. The moisture gets in a building due to water penetration through Tool or external walls which are called mater leakage.  The water leakage in the buildings is the most common problem and is concentrated on the terrace roofs and in the toilets.

For more detail on this topic please refer to the chapter on Damp Proofing, Water Proofing.

9. Security against burglary:

Enough strong external walls make building safer. Also, window openings should be protected with M.S. Grill or concrete fail or by any other means. In important buildings where high security is required, automatic alarm systems are also provided.

10. Sound Insulation:

It is necessary to give attention to the sound insulation of buildings because of various factors such as an increase in population, change in habits of the community, increase in noise pollution, improvement in building construction practices, etc.

Sound insulation reduces the sound passing through it. Generally, hard materials are used for sound-insulating material construction.

Following methods are used for sound insulation in the building:

  • Construction of cavity walls, provision of air tight windows, think external walls with hard reflecting surface, hollow floors over structural floors, lloors with suspended ceilings, etc improve sound insulation in the building
  •  Construction of inner will using the non-homogeneous structure, hollow walls, insulating materials, use of sound absorbent materials like fiber boards, mineral wool, air tight doors, etc. reduces sound transmissions through wall partitions.
  • Construction of floors using sound insulating materials, massive and rigid floors construction, insulated and suspended ceilings etc. reduces the sound
  • using sound insulating materials like cork slabs, bitumen, asbestos, compressed straw slabs, fibre boards, mineral wool etc.
  • To achieve acceptable noise level in a building it should be planned against indoor and outdoor noises laid down by the standards or as per the sing regulations.

11. Strength and stability:

The structure should be stable to resist all the loads like dead loads, live loads, and wind loads along with all compressive and tensile stresses coming over it. The stresses for the materials should be modified by considering plastic deformations and the effects of moisture and thermal changes. To achieve strength and stability of the building. proper load factor should be applied while designing the structure.

12. Termite Control:

The termites are popularly known as white ants as they are in one way related to the ants. The front pair of the ants are longer than their hind pairs while in termites both the pairs are equal. There are over 2300 species of termites but only about 4% of the termite species are responsible for the damage of the buildings.

The termites live in a colony and they are very fast in eating wood and other cellulosic materials and food. The cellulose forms their basic nutrient. They may also damage household properties like furniture, furnishings, clothing, stationery, plastic, leather, rubber, etc.

The termites are a nuisance and also affect the structural safety and durability of the building. Once the termites enter the building, it becomes very difficult to get rid of the theme. The removal of termites from a building is not an easy task.

The termites get rich supplies of food in a building such as textiles, woodwork, paper products, vegetable products, plastic insulation of wiring, etc. All the items are easily attacked by termites and their strength and value are considerably reduced by the termites. It is therefore advisable to adopt the pre-contraction techniques of termite-proofing,

The post-construction treatments of termite proofing consist of opening earth day building and treating it with chemicals, drilling holes in the damaged parts of masonry and woodwork and injecting chemicals under pressure; etc. These two are costly and complicated and should be carried out through experts in this field.

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Normally building three components are important and are:


(2) Plinth and

(3) Superstructure.

  • Foundation:

It is the part of a building constructed below ground level and which is in direct contact with sub-strata and transmits all the loads.

  • Plinth:

The components of the building below the floor to the ground level are known as plinth level. The built-up areas are measured at the plinth level.

  • Superstructure: It is the part of the building constructed above the plinth level .

We can discuss the following structural components of a building here:

Importants Building Components
Fig.1. Important Building Components
  • Foundation
  • Plinth
  • Masonry or RCC walls and columns in superstructure
  •  Basemen, Ground floor and upper floors
  • Sills, lintels and weather sheds
  •  Door windows and venulators
  • Roofs
  • Stairs, lifts, ramps, etc.
  • Building finishes like plastering, painting, whitewashing, flooring, etc.
  • Utility fixtures.

Fig 1 and fig. 2 shows important building components:

(i) Foundation:

The lowest part of a building is called the foundation, it is also known as substructure. It is the most critical part of the building which transmits the entire load of the building to the subsoil in which it rests in such a way that settlement of the soil does not fall in shear Foundation of a building should be designed very carefully as most of the failures are probably due to faulty design of foundation rather than any other cause. Various types of foundations. the purpose and design principles are discussed in detail in the chapter of Foundations chapter.

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(ii) Plinth:

 A part of the superstructure located between the ground level and the floor level is known as the plinth. The height of the plinth should not be less than 45 cm. The level of the plinth depends upon structure elevation, ground level, highest flood level in the area, etc. Usually coping, plinth beam, and damp proofing course see provided at the top of the plinth.

(iii) Masonry or R.C.C. walls and columns in superstructure:

Walls are the filling enclosure and divide the floor space. Load-bearing walls should be able to withstand loads like their own weight, superimposed weight, and lateral pressure of the wind. They should provide stability, weather resistance, fire resistance, heat insulation, sound insulation, privacy, and security.

Fig.2. Components of a Building Front view

(iv) Basement, ground floor and upper floors:

A floor provides support to the daily using components like workspace, occupants, furniture, fixtures, and equipment of a building. Different floors divide the building into different levels to provide more accommodation on a given plot of land. Ground floors area immediately above the ground. All other floors above the ground floor are known as upper floors. The floor below the ground level is known as Basement flour or lower-level floor: Every floor has the following two components:

  • Sub-floor: It is a structural component of a building which imparts strength and stability to support the super imposed loads, durability, damp prevention, heat and sound insulation and fire protection
  • Flooring: It consists of suitable floor finish which imparts clean, smooth. durable and wear resisting surface.

(v) Sills, lintels and weather sheds:  

Window sills are provided between the bottom of the window frame and above the top of the wall below. The lintel is provided above the openings of windows, doors, and ventilators in the wall to support the weight of the wall above the openings. Weather sheds or chhajjas are generally combined with lintels to protect doors, windows, or ventilators from xun, rain, wind frost, etc.

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(vi) Doors, windows, and ventilators:

Doors are provided in a building to allow free movement outside and in the internal part of the building. It consists of a frame and shutter. Windows and ventilators are generally provided for entering light, air ventilation, and proper vision. Their sizes and numbers should be properly determined as per requirements. When windows are provided for light and ventilation only, they may be fixed so that they cannot be opened. They are known as ventilators.

(vii) Roofs:

A roof is the uppermost part of a building used to protect the building against rain, heat, snow, wind frost, etc. A roof basically consists of structural elements provided at the upper parts of the building to support the roof coverings. A tool consists of the following components.

(a) Roof decking. It is a structural component of a building used to support the roof covering. It may be flat, sloping, dome-shaped, truss, etc.

b) Roof covering: It is provided on the roof deck to protect the building against sun, rain, wind, frost, etc.

(viii) Stairs, lifts, ramps, etc:

Stairs, lifts, ramps, escalators, etc. are for the vertical access between the floors. Out of these, a stair is the most common. It is defined as a sequence of steps suitably arranged for the purpose of ascent and descent between the floors or landings. It consists of treads, risers, stringers, newel posts, baluster, balustrade, handrail, etc. Stair may be constructed of different materials like timber, stone, reinforced concrete, metal, bricks, etc.

It may be of different shapes like straight stairs, turning stairs, circular or helical stairs, geometrical stairs, etc. A ramp is a sloping surface and it is adopted as a substitute for stairs for easy movement between the floors. A slope of 1 in 10 is desirable.

The flooring of the ramp should be of nun-slippery material. Its shape may be a straight, zigzag, spiral, curve, etc. Escalators consist of moving flights operated by electricity on stairs. These escalators maintained a constant motion by a revolving drum.

ix) Building finishes like plastering, painting, whitewashing, flooring, etc:

To protect the exposed surface of walls and floors from the effects of atmospheric actions, building finishes are used. They improve the appearance of the structure as a whole and give a smooth surface. They also rectify the defective workmanship or conceal inferior materials.

Plastering, pointing, painting, varnishing, distempering, whitewashing, color washing, flooring, etc. are considered as building finishes. Plastering is a thin plastic covering which is applied on the surface of walls and ceilings. It removes the unevenness of the surfaces and imparts decorative effects.

Painting is the process of finishing mortar joints of either stone masonry or brick masonry. The joints are raked out to a depth of about 20 mm and then these spaces are filled up by a suitable mortar in the desired shape Painting, varnishing, and polishing are generally done on doors, windows, cupboards, and other exposed wooden and steel components.

Whitewashing, color washing, and distempering are generally done on the plastered surface to protect them against weathering effects and to give a better appearance. Flooring is the process of finishing the upper surface of the floor in order to give a pleasing appearance.

The materials like asphalt, brick, concrete, wood, glass, linoleum, marble stone, terrazzo, tiles moorum, granite, granite, ceramic tiles, etc. are used as flooring materials.

(x) Utility fixtures:

Utility fixtures are built-in items in the building. They are immovable in nature. Wooden cupboards made in walls, shelves, smokeless Chula, etc. are utility fixtures.

Generally, they are provided by making recesses in walls, which makes the structure weak. So in modern construction, utility fixtures are avoided by sound insulation in a building? Discuss three main parts of a building.

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