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Demystifying Building Construction Types for Quick Assessment

Building construction types significantly influence safety measures, usage, design, and regulations. Each type corresponds to varying degrees of fire resistance, materials, and design characteristics. In today's blog we provide a brief overview of these building types.

One Paseo, in San Diego CA - Green MEP aided in the development of this combined type III (residential) and type I (garage and first floor residential) project.

  1. Fire-resistive (Type I): Think high-rises and parking garages. They comprise non-combustible materials like concrete and steel, offering exceptional fire resistance (2-4 hours). Features include self-pressurizing stairwells and smoke seals, enhancing safety. High cost is a trade-off for their robustness.

  2. Non-combustible (Type II): Similar to Type I, these buildings use non-combustible materials like metal and concrete. They are common in shopping malls and newer schools. They have less fire resistance due to the lack of fire-resistant coatings, offering some flexibility in design.

  3. Ordinary (Type III): These structures combine non-combustible materials for exterior walls (brick, masonry, etc.) with possibly combustible interiors (like wood). They aim to contain fire within the building, preventing spread to nearby structures.

  4. Heavy timber (Type IV): Characterized by large wooden beams, these buildings like barns or older churches offer moderate fire resistance due to the thickness of their structural elements. The use of noncombustible materials for exteriors is common.

  5. Wood-framed (Type V): Common for smaller structures like single-family homes or small offices, these buildings primarily use wood or other code-allowed materials. They have lower fire resistance, and their size and safety are regulated by the International Building Code.

Identifying the construction type is critical in assessing the building's safety, fire resistance, possible usage, and compliance with local codes. Green MEP's team of engineers are able to identify and design for all building types, don't hesitate to reach out to gain insight into your next project.

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