Unit Overview
Traditional Cavity Wall and Strip Foundation
Raft Foundations and Timber Frame Construction

P1 - Types of Low Rise Building


Prefabricated Timber Frame Construction


Buildings are made predominantly from timber, they are prefabricated in a factory and then assembled quickly on site.

Advantages: Modern stylish look. High level of thermal efficiency. Generally safer on site as less time working at height. Not held up by weather as built in factory.

Disadvantages: Can be hard to extend, build on. Need space for crane


Steel Frame

Steel is used more and more in construction, and is far more common in residential building. They are normally combined with concrete floors or brick walls. The steel is the main supporting element of the structure.

Advantages: Large open areas can be made due to load bearing ability of steel Quick to erect once steel has been pre-fabricated.

Disadvantages: Can be costly High level of accuracy needed


Portal Frames

These are generally larger buildings that provide a large open space, the steel is prefabricated in a factory then bolted together on site. Steel is moved into place with a crane.

Advantages: Large internal space Quick to build Easy to extend Good height to strength ratio Need lighter foundations than brick and block. Materials can be recycled.

Disadvantages: Need to be treated for rust. Need fire protection coating. Expensive to bend Need maintenance such as re-painting


Concrete Frames

Concrete is very strong in compression, so larger buildings can be built this way. The addition of steel makes the concrete stronger. Concrete can be cast into moulds or formwork on site, which requires about 5 days to cure. It can also be pre cast off site then joined together on site.

Advantages: Good fire resistance Can be shaped into any shape Good compressive strength No finish required Can be clad Pre cast construction is faster.

Disadvantages: Require initial formwork support Need a crane Not strong on tension Need skilled workforce


Load Bearing and Non Load Bearing

Load bearing refers to a walls ability to support the roof or floors above it. Non Load bearing refers to walls that separate rooms, also known as partition walls. Timber frame construction can use wooden panels covered with a plywood sheet to sheet to support the main structure of the building, this is then clad with brick on the outside of the building to achieve weather proofing.


Single Storey Buildings

Commercial premises are frequently made from a steel frame, this provides the anchor points rails and cross rails (purlins) these support aluminium sheeting which normally has ridges to give it extra stability. These buildings need large amounts of insulation as the main materials used have very poor insulation qualities. The lower part of the building is normally made from block work.



Low Rise Buildings

Commercial buildings up to three storey's in height. They make use of steel in order to get large open spaces internally, these can be easily adapted for different uses, or remodeled when a new client moves in.

Advantages: Easy to adapt internally Lots of glass allows natural light



Mainly built using brick and block, with slate or tiled roofing. Sometimes refered to as traditional building. Can be delayed by bad weather and speed of construction is limited by amount of courses that can be laid in one day. Detached – A house that is not connected to any other building Semi Detached – two houses joined together, they share a party wall, this reduces they build cost. Terrace Housing – A line of 3 or more houses joined together, normally cheaper to build as they share both side walls. You cannot access the rear of the house without going through the house normally. Historically fire can spread rapidly from house to house as there is no natural break. Modern building regs prevent this. Better U-Values due to shared walls, in older houses sound transfer between properties can be a problem.



Pitched roofs Usually supported by roofing trusses Clad in roofing paper and tiles or battens Advantages Natural shape helps shed water Gives loft space Disadvantages Makes the building taller, can hinder planning


Flat Roofs Short span can be supported by timber, long spans need steel. Advantages: Easy to construct Can give extra outdoor area in urban settings Disadvantages Often leak No loft storage space



Multiple residential dwellings in one building, normally with a communal entrance and hallways. They can be built using traditional methods or concrete, especially when over 3 storey’s in height.

Advantages: Provide affordable housing

Disadvantages: Sound travel between apartments



Normally built using portal frames to allow large open space internally.

Advanatages - Quick and simple to build, internal layout is easy to adapt.

Disadvantages - Hard to heat, not easy to adapt use.








Includes shops, shopping centres and out of town shopping malls. Various construction methods are used, but steel is normally involved to create a large central void so internal supporting walls are not needed.

Will often use false ceiling to allow ducting for various services to be easilt piped around building.

Higher ceilings allow more air to circulate and help prevent air becoming stale.

Internal fittings can easily be adapted to remodel shop.



These will often maximise external light, so a large amount of glass is often used. Often made using concrete and steel to allow large internal open spans that can be easily adapted as the needs of clients change.









Example Work