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Custom Construction Materials Used in Residential Houses essay paper sample

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A number of construction materials are in use today in Australia to assist in realization of residential houses of the various social status requirements. These include metal, glass, timber, plastic, concrete, masonry products and ceramic. Each of them gives the building a different feel and look aesthetically which is a major requirement for residential buildings.

Concrete material is often used in the construction of floors and building foundations. The material has also found use in the erection of pillars using concrete in combination with steel.

Timber is commonly used in the construction of residential houses. There is aesthetic value in wood grain finishes for the floors, doors and windows, and door and window frames.

Masonry blocks are used in the construction of foundations and walls of buildings. The material is durable.

Glass in construction of residential houses is used to make the windows. The glazing properties of glass have the capability to reflect harmful radiation from the sun. Double-glazing of windows often improves the insulating properties of glass preventing loss of heat in winter or maintaining a cool temperature in summer heat.

The materials used in construction are many. However, the main materials used in construction are discussed below in detail.

CONCRETE

The visual characteristics

It is grey in appearance due to the presence of cement with a rough appearance due to the coarse aggregate therein.

Advantages

Due to its strength, it offers superior protection against adverse weather such as storms and criminal activities.

It also offers a high level of resistance to fire.

Concrete also offers so level of resistance to noise and thus acts as an acoustic buffer for people inside building from the noise in the streets.

Concrete walls are easy and cheap to maintain in the case of permanent building because all they need is repainting.

Concrete construction takes less time, for example, to erect a wall involves pouring the concrete in a matter of hours take only two days to cure.

Disadvantages

Improper ratio of constituent elements may lead to either low workability, earl setting or plastic shrinkage cracking.

 In hot and windy conditions concrete needs to be cured through a plastic covering or spraying a liquid membrane covering compound.

Concrete is expensive, due the cost of constituent materials (cement and aggregate).

Compatibility of the materials

Concrete is compatible with steel, timber and ceramic tiles among other materials (Cement & Concrete Association of Australia, 2009). Steel and concrete work together to improve the tensile strength of concrete. Timber, on the other hand, works in concrete walls as a framework for openings that will accommodate doors and windows. Again, the concrete formwork, which holds the concrete in place, is made of timber.

The effects on the environment

Cement, which is part of concrete, provides a lot of carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas during its manufacture.

Concrete makes hard surfaces, which encourage surface runoffs and thus results in soil erosion, flooding and water pollution.

Concrete dust produced during the demolition of concrete structures results in air pollution.Some additives in concrete result in health concerns, especially those containing natural radioactive elements.

The onsite problems and possible corrective measures

 Lack of enough labor on site to place the concrete before it sets. Employ enough personnel to handle the expected volume.

 Lack of ready formwork to pour in the concrete. Formwork should be laid way before concrete preparation.

Poor weather conditions. Ensure that the concrete prepared is fit for these conditions, either winter or summer.

PRECAST CONCRETE

The visual characteristics of the material

It has the appearance of naturally occurring stone owing to the mere fact that it is in form of a mixture of the fine aggregate.

Advantages

Formwork used in preparing this precast concrete may be used reused over and over hence saving on their cost.

It is safer to produce precast concrete, as the work at producing is on level ground hence more safety on the employees.

Precast concrete is most easy to use in constructing tunnels, sewage pipes and storm water drainage.

Precast concrete saves a lot of time as it is manufactured off site.

It saves space on site because there is not concrete plant on site.

Disadvantages

It lacks on dimension and design flexibility because the manufacturers may only pose fixed sizes and shapes.

At times the precast may not be delivered on site on time and these delays the construction program.

In any case, of incorrect dimension in the precast concrete this mean having to change the entire design.

Compatibility with the other materials

Precast concrete is compatible with standard concrete, for example, it can be used to partition a building built using standard concrete. This is because they are both made of the same basic elements therefore the combine easily.

The effect on the environment

There is saving on natural resources, such as water where through the use of reclamation in the plant it is reclaimed, treated and re-used.

There is less air pollution in making precast concrete as the plant equipped with bag houses and filter to take care of this.

Noise control too in the production of precast concrete is achieved with the introduction of self-consolidating concrete that reduces the use of a vibrator.

The onsite problems and corrective measures

Delivery of concrete that is of wrong dimensions. Before production starts, the dimension should be double-checked because once manufactured concrete is not remold able.

Late delivery of materials. This can be avoided by early requisition of materials that is, before their due date.

Storage issues on site. The site manager should only request the delivery of these materials that are within a week’s time.

MASONRY

The visual Characteristics

Masonry can be divided into either three blocks or bricks. Blocks are generally large and hollow in appearance while bricks are smaller and either solid or with small cores.

Advantages

The thermal mass of the building increases in using blocks or bricks.

Since most of the masonry blocks do not require painting, they reduce the maintenance cost of the building.

Good fire resistance because masonry is quite heat resistant.

Masonry buildings built in compression have useful lives of more than 500 years.

Disadvantages

In extreme weather, wall surfaces are degraded by frost damage especially with bricks.

The masonry blocks are quite heavy and thus they require to be laid on a strong foundation, which is expensive to lay.

Compatibility with the other materials

These masonry blocks are compatible with several materials such as cement and concrete. During the process of construction, cement joins blocks in the form of mortar to build walls. The cement or concrete hold the masonry blocks in place and combine to form a strong structure.

Environmental effects

The mines from which material is obtained form derelict land once material is exhausted from them. This can pose dangerous accident sites for unknowing residents.

Since masonry products are natural products, they do not deplete the limited resources such as timber. They also contribute to healthier homes for their inhabitants by creating near an airtight home.

The onsite problems and corrective measures

 The main problem is breakage due to poor handling. These blocks should be handled carefully to avoid them breaking as this increases the cost of the project. People handling them should be sensitized on this.

Efflorescence problem that causes stains on blocks. Avoid storing blocks in areas where they can get in contact with water or else provide better drainage for water in the storage area.

STEEL

Visual characteristics

It has a lustrous metallic appearance with a silvery color. It can either be smooth or rough depending of the final touch put on it depending with intended use.

Advantages

Steel maintains its strength indefinitely, does not deteriorate with age, and provides the surface with its protection against rust.

It is immensely strong and flexible, and thus used in bridges.

It can be recycled.

Steel is versatile in that extreme architecture can be done using steel.

Disadvantages

Steel is heavy and expensive to transport.

If surface protection from rust lacks, it is highly susceptible to corrosion.

Steel uses a lot of energy in its production process.

Steel has a remarkably high expansion rate with temperature and thus this has to be considered during the engineering design processes.

Compatibility with the other materials

Steel is well compatible with concrete. Both combine together to make reinforced concrete, which has extra tensile strength (NCRB and Standards Australia and Suppliers, 2009). It is also compatible with masonry but in this combination, steel comes first then the masonry. For example, reinforced concrete is used in the door and window frames in a masonry wall.

Environmental effects

Steel has the effects of using too much energy during its production process and thus depleting the available natural resources such as coal and fossil fuels. Again, in the event that it experiences corrosion, the materials produced therein pose a health threat if human beings happen consume them.

The Onsite problems and corrective measures

The main problem is formation of rust that negatively affects the structural integrity of steel. Corrosion takes place if the surface of the steel is not protected from rust or if the steel is poorly stored leading to exposure to moisture. To remove this effect, ensure that steel has protection against rust before delivery to site.

Twisting and folding of steel due to poor storage. This can be eliminated by ensuring orderly organization of steel materials in the store.

Injuries to those handling steel often occur. To prevent this the worker must wear gloves while handling the steel on site.

TIMBER

The Visual characteristics

Timber has an irregular character in texture and its grain, which reflects the growth of the tree from which it came from.

Advantages

Timber is light in weight hence requiring smaller footing.

Due to its flexibility, it is put to use in a variety of foundation conditions.

Has a better blend with the natural surroundings.

Reacts more quickly to both cooling and heating and takes less time to cool or warm a room.

Disadvantages

Timber requires a lot of maintenance in terms of constant repainting and repair due to age.

Timber requires constant treatment. This is done to avoid attack by termites and this is an extra cost to the project.

When exposed to either direct or indirect sunlight, timber matures and thus its color darkens.

As a natural product, there is always variation in both color and grain from various planks.

 

Compatibility of timber with other materials

Timber is workable with a number of other materials. For instance, concrete formwork can be made of timber and also door and window frames too in a concrete or masonry wall can be made of timber. Timber is also compatible with glass in construction of residential houses. Grooves can be made on timber to accommodate glass as part of the timber’s structure.

Environmental effects of the timber

Timber comes from cutting down of trees, and this has an effect on the environment. The deforestation process increases the impact and effects of green house gases. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the environmental air and release oxygen that is necessary for human survival. Hence, cutting down trees is one form of indirectly endangering the human race and life in general.

The Onsite problems and corrective measures

Timber is attacked by termites. In the process, it becomes weak. Often this is avoided by treatment with appropriate chemical to avoid termite attack.

Timber decays if exposed to water. It should be stored in areas that are free of moisture at all times.

Timber bends while in storage. This can be avoided by protecting the timber from direct contact with weather elements such as the sun and moisture.

GLASS

The Visual characteristics

Glass varies from transparent to opaque depending on what part of the building the glass is installed. Glass has valuable characteristics that are important for use to allow some form of natural lighting into the building.

Advantages

Glass can be molded into different shapes and sizes.

Glass does not allow the passage of water.

It does not undergo rusting.

It is easy to clean.

Disadvantages

Glass is brittle. That means that it breaks quite easily when exposed to high impact.

Glass is an expensive material thus not affordable to many.

At unusually high temperatures glass can melt thus it is not good for use in hot industrial processes.

Compatibility of glass with other materials

Glass is compatible with several other building materials. First is timber, where the compatibility may be achieved through either grooves on the timber or sticking glue. The glass often fits into specially cut grooves in timber frames and fixed into place using glue. Glass also combines with steel to make doors or windows, for example, casement windows.

Environmental effects of glass

The glass making process requires a lot of energy to form glass from its constituent elements (sand, soda ash, limestone and dolomite). This energy comes from the limited natural resources around us such as fossil fuels, thus depleting them. Greenhouse gases emitted in the process destroy eco-systems and disrupt ecological patterns. Furthermore, these gases cause respiratory diseases among communities living close to the factories. However, glass has the advantage of helping convert solar energy to several types of energy used in homesteads today through solar PV and solar thermal technology.

On Site problems and possible corrective measures

Glass should be handled and stored with a lot of care because it is quite fragile. Glass often shatters and breaks into tiny fragments that are very sharp. These sharp pieces cause injury to the individuals handling it during installation in construction works. To avoid accidents glass should be clearly marked using bright paint or duck tape during transportation. This prevents unaware comrades from walking into the clear plane of glass as it is transported to the point of installation. The workers handling the glass must wear gloves and goggles to protect their hands and eyes form injury by shattering glass during installation.

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