Every family needs a building to reside. Apart from residential purposes buildings are required for
educational, institutional, business, assembly and for industrial purposes. Buildings are required for the
storage of materials also.
In this article basic requirements of buildings are presented and then planning of the building
with respect to orientation, utility of space, energy efficiency and other requirements are explained.
The following are the basic elements of a building:
3. Walls and columns
4. Sills, lintels and chejjas
5. Doors and windows
8. Steps, stairs and lifts
9. Finishing work
10. Building services.
The functions of these elements and the main requirement of them is presented in this article.
1. Foundation: Foundation is the most important part of the building. Building activity starts
with digging the ground for foundation and then building it. It is the lower most part of the building. It
transfers the load of the building to the ground. Its main functions and requirements are:
(a) Distribute the load from the structure to soil evenly and safely.
(b) To anchor the building to the ground so that under lateral loads building will not move
(c) It prevents the building from overturning due to lateral forces.
(d) It gives level surface for the construction of super structure.
2. Plinth: The portion of the wall between the ground level and the ground floor level is called
plinth. It is usually of stone masonry. If the foundation is on piles, a plinth beam is cast to support wall
above floor level. At the top of plinth a damp proof course is provided. It is usually 75 mm thick plain
The function of the plinth is to keep the ground floor above ground level, free of dampness. Its
height is not less than 450 mm. It is required that plinth level is at least 150 mm above the road level, so
that connections to underground drainage system can be made.
3. Walls and Columns: The function of walls and columns is to transfer the load of the structure
vertically downwards to transfer it to foundation. Apart from this wall performs the following functions
(a) It encloses building area into different compartments and provides privacy.
(b) It provides safety from burglary and insects.
(c) It keeps the building warm in winter and cool in summer.
4. Sills, Lintels and Chejjas: A window frame should not be directly placed over masonry. It is
placed over 50 mm to 75 mm thick plain concrete course provided over the masonry. This course is
called as sill. Lintels are the R.C.C. or stone beams provided over the door and window openings to
transfer the load transversely so as to see that door or window frame is not stressed unduly. The width
of lintels is equal to the width of wall while thickness to be provided depends upon the opening size.
Chejja is the projection given outside the wall to protect doors and windows from the rain. They are
usually made with R.C.C. In low cost houses stone slabs are provided as chejjas. The projection of
chejja varies from 600 mm to 800 mm. Sometimes drops are also provided to chejjas to improve acsethetic
look and also to get additional protection from sun and rain.
5. Doors and Windows: The function of a door is to give access to different rooms in the
building and to deny the access whenever necessary. Number of doors should be minimum possible.
The size of the door should be of such dimension as will facilitate the movement of the largest object
likely to use the door.
Windows are provided to get light and ventilation in the building. They are located at a height of 0.75 m
to 0.9 m from the floor level. In hot and humid regions, the window area should be 15 to 20 per cent of
the floor area. Another thumb rule used to determine the size and the number of windows is for every
30 m3 of inside volume there should be 1 m2 window opening.
6. Floors: Floors are the important component of a building. They give working/useful area for
the occupants. The ground floor is prepared by filling brick bats, waste stones, gravel and well compacted
with not less than 100 mm sand layer on its top. A lean concrete of 1 : 4 : 8, 100 mm thick is laid. On this
a damp proof course may be provided. Then floor finishing is done as per the requirement of the owner.
Cheapest floor finish for a moderate house is with 20 to 25 mm rich mortar course finished with red
oxide. The costliest floor finish is mossaic or marble finishing.
Other floors are usually of R.C.C. finished as per the requirements of the owner
7. Roof: Roof is the top most portion of the building which provide top cover to the building. It
should be leak proof.
Sloping roof like tiled and A.C. sheet give leak proof cover easily. But they do not give provision
for the construction of additional floor. Tiled roof give good thermal protection.
Flat roofs give provision for additional floors. Terrace adds to the comfort of occupants. Water
tanks can be easily placed over the flat roofs.
8. Step, Stairs and Lifts: Steps give convenient access from ground level to ground floor level.
They are required at doors in the outer wall. 250 to 300 mm wide and 150 mm rise is ideal size for
steps. In no case the size of two consecutive steps be different. Number of steps required depends upon
the difference in the levels of the ground and the floor. Stairs give access from floor to floor. They
should consists of steps of uniform sizes.
In all public buildings lifts are to be provided for the conveniences of old and disabled persons.
In hostels G + 3 floors can be built without lifts, but in residential flats maximum floors permitted
without lifts is only G + 2. Lift is to be located near the entrance. Size of the lift is decided by the
number of users in peak hours. Lifts are available with capacity 4 to 20 persons.
9. Finishing: Bottom portion of slab (ceiling), walls and top of floor need smooth finishing
with plaster. Then they are provided with white wash, distemper or paints or tiles. The function of
finishing work is:
(a) Give protective cover
(b) Improve aesthetic view
(c) Rectify defective workmanship
(d) Finishing work for plinth consists in pointing while for floor it consists in polishing.
10. Building Services: Water supply, sanitation and drainage works, electric supply work and
construction of cupboards and show cases constitute major building services.
For storing water from municipal supply or from tanker a sump is built in the house property
near street. From the sump water is pumped to over head tanks placed on or above roof level so as to get
water all the 24 hours. Plumbing work is made so as to get water in kitchen, bathrooms, water closets,
sinks and garden taps.
For draining rain water from roofs, down take pipes of at least 100 mm diameters should be
used. Proper slopes should be given to roof towards down take pipe. These pipes should be fixed at 10
to 15 mm below the roof surface so that rain water is directed to the down take pipe easily.
The sanitary fittings are to be connected to stone ware pipes with suitable traps and chambers.
Stone ware pipes are then connected to underground drainage of municipal lines or to the septic tank.
Many carpentry works are required for building service. They are in the form of showcases,
cupboards, racks etc.
Electric supply is essential part of building services. The building should be provided with
sufficient points for supply of lights, fans and other electric gadgets.
Ref New Age Civil Engineering