The Basics of Home Construction

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1 6 Ι Construction Concepts Lesson 1 The Basics of Home Construction A stand-alone structure that we build to live in is called a house. Other buildings that people live in may be called apartments, duplexes, townhouses, or they may have other names. The earliest dwellings that humans occupied were probably caves. But caves are not found in all parts of the world, so the early humans had to be more resourceful. Groups that were mobile, such as hunting groups who followed herds and animal groups, needed housing that could move with them. They would stitch together the skins of the animals they used for food and make tents. The tents were very well suited for these groups since they often moved when animals and other resources became scarce. When early groups found a place that was stable enough to live in year round, they began to think of ways to build more permanent structures. Their buildings reflected the resources at hand and the climate in which they lived. In tropical areas, the building materials were often wooden poles with thatched roofs. Large open windows provided maximum ventilation. In areas such as the Pacific Northwest, structures were built out of the wood that was abundantly available. Log buildings provided a way to stay warm and dry through long winters. In the desert areas of the United States, people made buildings out of a mud and straw mixture called adobe. Web Activity Go to the following websites to learn about housing in ancient times: homes.htm

2 Construction Concepts Ι 7 While early houses were usually one or two rooms, houses gradually evolved into many rooms each with a specific purpose. Our modern homes now may have living rooms, dens, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and a garage for the car. There are social implications to the structures we call our homes. The group of people living together in a house is called a household. We might live in an area outside of a large city called a bedroom community. Small businesses that are operated out of a person s home are called a cottage industry. Have you ever redecorated your room? Our immediate surroundings are often the first things to which we apply our imaginations and artistic abilities. Some people study many years to become interior decorators and spend their lives creating beautiful areas. Architects are not only highly trained in the field of structural engineering, their role in our society is also to create buildings that are beautiful and inspiring. Web Activity Frank Lloyd Wright was a world-famous architect who did his most famous work in the early part of the twentieth century. His style was very unique. He is most well known for his ability to design his creations to match the needs and the lifestyle of the individuals for whom he was designing. Go to the web site at AS3d/about_wright.html and follow the links to learn more about this highly regarded architect. When you ve finished, answer the questions below. 1. Where did Wright first start working as an architect? 2. What style of architecture did Wright develop in his years at Oak Park? 3. What is the name of the home and studio that Wright built in Wisconsin? 4. What is the name of the carving stone Wright used throughout the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo? Our homes are also designed to keep us safe and healthy. Before modern plumbing, water likely came from a nearby natural water source such as a lake or stream. Next came home-dug wells. As handy as these were, someone still had to haul water from the ground one bucket at a time. Natural water sources were always subject to contamination or drying up. Today, clean water is available at the twist of a faucet. Early structures were subject to whatever ventilation the wind provided. They could be very hot in the summer and uncomfortably cold in the winter. Today, we control the environment in our homes with the flip of a switch.

3 8 Ι Construction Concepts As we ve begun to examine the effect that we are having on the planet, we ve found another way to think about our homes. Are there ways to reduce the amount of energy that is required to operate our homes? Are there ways to use energy and resources more effectively? These are questions we must ask ourselves as we see our role as good stewards of the environment. Beginning the Process of Building The design of a home or other building begins with a site and a plan. The building site has a big impact on what the final house or building will look like. After a proper site is selected, the site must be surveyed and prepared for building. This can involve removing other structures, trees and brush, leveling the land, and more! There are many options for deciding on a home plan. You can get a book or magazine at the home improvement store that has lots of different plans from which to choose or you can find a great plan online. Or, you might know exactly what you want the plan to look like and work with an architect to develop working plans from your ideas or you might use a combination of these options. Building plans are usually designed and drawn up by an architect or architectural firm. After plans are drawn-up, a contractor will take the project on and determine timeframes, select sub-contractors (if used), line up workers, order materials, and do everything else that must be done. Note: The concepts of home construction also apply to other buildings and structures. An office building will go through the same processes of construction as a home. So even though our homes are made up of floors, walls, and ceilings, they represent much more to us. They are a place for family to live and friends to gather. They allow us to express our need to create. Career Options Most careers in construction fall into the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster. The pathways in this cluster are Construction, Design/Pre-Construction, and Maintenance/ Operations. Possible career options related to Lesson 1 include: Architect Designer Historian Preservationist Contractor Surveyor Heavy Equipment Operator

4 Construction Concepts Ι 9 ACTIVITY 1 Create a scale model of an early home. What You Will Do: For this activity, you will research an early form of housing, describe the housing type, and create a scale model of the house. What You Will Need: Computer with Internet access Materials for creating your model Graph paper or plain paper Pencil Thinkstock Images What to Do: 1. Determine which type of early housing you want to research and build. Possible types may include a tropical hut, adobe home, log cabin, etc. What type of housing did you select? 2. Research your selection and answer the following questions. Where was this form of housing used? When was this form of housing used? What were the average dimensions of the homes? How many rooms did most of the homes have?

5 10 Ι Construction Concepts How would you like to live in this type of home? Explain. 3. Create a drawing of the home you selected. Use the space below or a separate sheet of paper. 4. Create a 1/10 scale model of the home you selected. Note: You can create a different size with your instructor s permission.

6 Construction Concepts Ι 11 ACTIVITY 2 Design a home as an architect. What You Will Do: For this activity, you will be a virtual architect by going online to design a home. What You Will Need: Computer with Internet access Access to a printer What to Do: 1. Go to and select one of the teenage clients. Use the left arrow to scroll through the teenage clients. 2. What are the needs of your client? 3. Now select a site by clicking on the location tab. Before selecting a site, read the hints and information on selecting sites. Be sure to click on the "More about: Sites" button. 4. Which site did you select and why?

7 12 Ι Construction Concepts 5. Select your floor plan, house height, exterior materials and roof. Be sure to read Wright s Hints by clicking on the image of him in the lower left corner. Each area has hints for you to read. Note: Be sure to save your design. There is a save your design button in the lower left corner. Write down your design number so you can retrieve your design if you lose your Internet connection or need to leave the program. 6. List your selections below and why you made that selection. Draw an outline of the floor plan you selected.

8 Construction Concepts Ι Read Wright s Hints About Rooms. Be sure to read the more about sections. 8. Select the rooms you want to include in your home and place them on the plan. Note: Use the plan view for the layout of your home. You can switch to the 3D view to see how your home looks at any time. 9. Draw the walls for your rooms. 10. Select flooring for your rooms. 11. Place openings (doors and windows) in your rooms. 12. Select furnishings for your home. 13. Landscape the exterior of your home. 14. After you have completed your design, save it and take a tour of your home your design to your instructor by clicking on the share button. This will open a new window. Select the send invitation button. You may also choose to submit your design to the gallery if desired. Competition Corner The information and skills you learned in this lesson may be used to help you prepare for the following competitive events. Construction Challenge This is a middle school team event. The team creates a display showing how they would use leadership and technical skills to fill a community need related to construction. Architectural Model This can be an individual or team event for high school students. Participants create architectural plans and other materials for an annual design challenge. They also create an architectural model depicting the design. Construction Renovation This is a high school team event. Teams develop a set of presentation boards that show plans, illustrations, and finishes for a specified space problem.

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