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How Much does your Building Weigh?

When thinking about the topic of weights and measures, I automatically asked myself how to apply it to my trade. I am in the business of designing and constructing buildings that have import, that is, “weight.” They matter to the owner or the person doing the development, or the individual who has the original conception. They fulfill a purpose, meet a given taste, satisfy a budget, and more.

A building has weight in the community. It stands for something whether it be an office that employs residence or a home that houses a family. If it is new, it will be judged and deemed successful or not. It adds to its weight if it lasts the test of time. Maybe weight is importance. It implies functional meaning and human purpose. It also denotes the vision of the creator and the ability to make something within prescribed limits that meets practical and aesthetic needs.

Does your building have weight? Most people think that only very special ones do, those constructions that are particularly public and become known as this or that hospital, school, mansion, or civic center. It doesn’t have to be so. Any work that comes from the hands of an architect, planner, engineer, or contractor is worthy of note. Then its existence will be noted as the property is otherwise lived in, used for commerce, or sold.

On the other side of the coin, buildings have literal as opposed to metaphoric weight. They must thus be structurally sound and distribute this weight accordingly down to the very foundation. It must be solid and intact to handle the poundage. It is an engineering feat to make it all work. Weight reduction matters if there are cost associated with certain kinds of structures: metal as opposed to wood, for example, and giant beams that sit on high in oversized great rooms. All of these needs to be calculated – you can’t just throw a building on an oversized set of bathroom scales to work out what it’s weighs in order to determine what the foundations are going to need to support

Anyone who has done remodeling, knows the problem if the removal of a beam or pillar will bring the house down. You may have to keep it in place or create a substitute that is even stronger. With new buildings, the contractor will follow the path begun by architects and engineers. If cost is a factor, they will eliminate unnecessary supports that mar the openness of a room, or add to overall expenses.

What are typical ways to reduce weight and therefore cost? For one, the builder who executes a pre-existing concept must stick to the plan and not cut corners to meet a given budget, no matter how much this pleases the client. Safety comes first. Lack of knowledge is an inherent vice during construction, requiring project managers to hire only licensed and experienced people. The contractor must remain on premises at all times to avoid unforeseen problems. Even the best workers have been known to make mistakes.

Support elements like beams, columns, pillars, and the like must be placed exactly as prescribed. They must be of the stated dimensions. It has all been figured out in advance. If a room needs additional support because it is particularly high, for example, this cannot be ignored. There are ways to disguise this support if it is unsightly or spoils the view across a space.

If you are building a new home and are concerned about earthquakes, for example, you will want to know that every precaution has been put into place. You can read up on construction engineering to get up to speed. This will enable you to make some preliminary judgments when you see your blueprints. It is not always an issue after the fact. During building, especially something large like an office, there can be accidents if load is not taken into careful consideration. There are times when bracing is required while final support is being devised. Safety means conformance to industry standards, so find out what they are and ask the foreman and contractors selected for the job. A life you save may be your own.

In your discussion, you will use terms life like lifting lugs, rigging design, lift beam and frame design, erection aids, crane capacity (if they are in fact used), stability analysis, and more. It may all seem a bit formidable at first. While it is a matter of cost and safety, it is also interesting for onlookers and helps them evaluate and understand the project at hand.

All in all, weight is an issue of import looked at from a variety of perspectives. Know its value, how to anticipate needs, and review final results.