(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Close-In, 6.Roofing, 7.MEP, 8.Finish )

So, that’s it. If you followed this blog month to month to this end, I’d be impressed by your determination (stay tuned). ITMT I hope it’ll help you build your own house — someday.

Standard checklists
To that end, the Finish phase closes with a series of checklists used to think through any loose ends that might remain.

There is a checklist for each phase of the finish work: HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, and shouldn’t be confused with the construction checklists used during the construction process.

Punch lists to finalize a contract
In addition to the final checklists, “punch lists” are used to close out a construction contract and approve final payment to the contractor.

A punch list includes incomplete or incorrect installations and is prepared during a walk through with the owner and building contractor. The list is compiled and tracked with the help of punchlist software or spreadsheet templates.

Final payment is withheld as a legally defined retainage until the work is completed according to the original contract agreement.

Note that commercial structures, especially ones built for public use or with exposure to the health and well being of its users, must undergo a much more detailed commissioning process.

FWIW here’s an early walk through of the construction model for this project. Adobe Flash or similar VLC media player is required.

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(To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Insitebuilders

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Close-In, 6.Roofing, 7.MEP, 8.Finish )

Most residential kitchens and bath cabinets are modular units, prefabricated assemblies, built to match standard cabinet dimensions and installed by finis carpenters.

Kitchen and bath planners
Modular units are laid out using kitchen and bath planners available online. These include online planners from the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes, as well as websites like CliqStudios or National Kitchen and Bath Association.

By far, the easiest and most intuitive cabinet design tool is the one offered by IKEA. To aid customers, the company publishes Quick Start and Guide videos that make the kitchen and bathroom planning process completely intuitive.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

The Ikea planner uses a two and three dimensional graphic interface to visually guide the design. There are icons and menus to locate doors, windows, plumbing, electrical, and other features that need to be incorporated into the final layout. (Millimeter to feet converter).

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

The planner also keeps a running inventory, along with the cost of the cabinets, to make it easier to order the cabinets (from any supplier). Plans and specifications can also be printed to guide the installation.

Modular cabinet design
Prefabricated cabinets reduce the cost of materials and installation. Their modular construction also makes it easier to coordinate their installation into the construction schedule.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Because the cabinets are finished on all sides, they can be uninstalled and rearranged as the kitchen and bathrooms evolve over the life of the house.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Note that countertops must be measured for sink cutouts, backsplashes, and other special features after the cabinets are installed. That means plumbing and electrical fixtures can’t be finalized or tested until the countertops are in place.

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(To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Insitebuilders

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Close-In, 6.Roofing, 7.MEP, 8.Finish )

Finish carpentry includes baseboards, chair rails, wainscoting, crown molding, shelving, cabinets and stairs. This kind of carpentry is not as physically rigorous as exterior construction and requires an entirely different set of tools and skills.

Stair construction
Interior work is not normally regulated by building codes. Exceptions include secondary structural installations, some types of materials, and hand and guard rails, balusters, and stair treads and risers (See Buzzwords).

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

The Stairway Manufacturers Association provides detailed guidelines for stair manufacturing, including general codes and standards.

Prefabricated installations
Access stairs that are required for upper floors are usually built into the structural framing and approved by the local building inspectors prior to issuing a building permit, but there are also prefabricated stairs for installation by finish carpenters and wood workers.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

In this example, a prefabricated ships ladder is used to access the storage loft. The ladder is retractable and detailed on shop drawings for fabrication and installation. See websites similar to the Loft Centre for ideas and specifications.

If the loft is to be occupied and space is at a premium, a circular stair is a good alternative to the ships ladder.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Circular stairs are designed to meet all code requirements and are cut and assembled on site by metal fabricators to match field dimensions.

Efficient design
The value of interior designers as opposed to building designers is that they find ways to increase the efficiency of a given space. For example, the space under a stair can be used for storage.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

But the installation of special features such as these must conform to local building codes. In this example, if there is not an alternate exit from the upper floor, built-in storage under the stair may be rejected as a fire hazard.

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(To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Insitebuilders

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Close-In, 6.Roofing, 7.MEP, 8.Finish )

On most projects, work continues inside the building at the same time as the sitework. The interior work begins with wall and roof cavity insulation, sealing the underside of the floor joists, and expansive foam injected into the seams in the framing to prevent drafts and air loss.

Insulation
In this example, the roof rafters and ceilings are insulated with batt insulation. Foil and rigid insulation boards were laid on the roof’s upper surface at the same time the metal roofing was installed – see Roofing.

When a truss roof is used, the bottom chords of the trusses are filled with blown fiberglass.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

The wall cavities are filled with batt insulation or an expansive-foam. Rigid insulation was installed against the foundation walls prior to the excavation backfill.

Detail of insulation types
This wall section illustrates how heat is transferred through the ceiling, walls, and foundations of the building.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Heat transfer
Heat is conducted through the exterior surfaces over time. A warm room will lose heat to cold outside air and, conversely, a cool room will draw in heat from warmer outside temperatures.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Insulation slows the rate of the heat transfer and the rate of the transfer varies according to the weather, type of construction, and total R-value of the exterior surfaces.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

R-value is the measure of resistance to heat transfer. The greater the R-value the slower the heat transfer. Every component of the construction adds to the total R-value, but only the insulation adds significant thermal resistance.

Calculating heat loss and heat
Energy is expended by the building’s mechanical system as it adjusts the heating or cooling supply to moderate indoor air temperature.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

For complex structures, mechanical engineers use performance-based heat loss calculations to determine the size of the mechanical system. For standard residential construction a prescriptive code lists minimum R-Value for all outside surfaces.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Calculations are then based on temperature differentials, volume of the conditioned spaces, surface R-values, and the size and location of windows and other openings.
Heat gain calculations also take into account the number of occupants, solar exposure, equipment, and appliances.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

Heating and cooling requirements for the mechanical system are specified in British thermal units (BTU). The efficiency of the system is measured as a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER or ESEER). The higher the SEER ratings the less energy consumed.

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(To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Insitebuilders

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Close-In, 6.Roofing, 7.MEP, 8.Finish )

The finish phase for this house includes the sitework, insulation, wall board, furnishings, cabinets, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) fixtures and trim. From the start of this phase, contaminants, flammables, and smoking are no longer allowed in the building.

The Finish Phase seals the walls
The sequence of the work varies according to site conditions, contractor availability, and the specified interior details. To prevent conflict or damage while the sitework is underway, staging areas and pathways are marked for subcontractor access.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

When all work within the wall cavities is complete, insulation is installed to seal the frame and the walls.

Finish Phase Phase – Insitebuilders

Wall board installation includes a variety of types of drywall, plaster, cement boards, tile, paneling and trim. Furnishings include shelving, flooring, baseboards, mirrors, crown molds, stairs, rails, and related finished carpentry.

Finish Phase – Insitebuilders

The cabinets are installed over primed or painted surfaces. At the same time, MEP fixtures and trim are fitted and tested. These include electrical equipment, outlets, lights, wall plates, as well as hot water heaters, sinks, control knobs, and water closets.

After inspection, final power and water are hooked-up by the public utility companies. Testing and operational checks begin once the contractors have finished and the building is cleared of debris and cleaned for occupancy. 

Why a construction model ?
A 3D design model illustrates a static concept. A 4D building information model (BIM) is put together to publish and print a set of specifications, 2D contract documents, and material takeoffs.


MEP Phase – Insitebuilders

A construction model is a piece-based assembly used to simulate a dynamic process. It animates site utilization, resource planning, site safety, staging, falsework, scaffolding, and of course the sequence of construction.

MEP Phase – Insitebuilders

As a construction model, it is a hands-on tool that can be annotated or streamed as video delivered to the jobsite as an interactive virtual environment. The result bypasses the printed page to deliver proprietary project information throughout the construction process.

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(To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Insitebuilders

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(Introduction, Syllabus, 1.Prelims, 1-4Precon, 2. Excavation, 3.Foundation, 4.Framing, 5.Close-In, 6.Roofing, 7.MEP, 8.Finish)

The electrical plan for a residential building looks a lot more complicated than it really is. This is because licensed electrical contractors are careful to comply with local electrical codes that clearly specify materials, connection, and methods of installation.

The Electrical Plan
Electrical contractors use the electrical plan to understand the general layout of the building, note any special features or unusual conditions, and apply a rule of thumb based on the number of outlets, switches, fixtures, and special connections that are specified.

MEP Phase – Insitebuilders

The plan uses a standard set of symbols to show the location of the service connection, meter location, and interior distribution panels. It also shows the placement of outlets, switches, and the fixtures that will be required.

MEP Phase – Insitebuilders

The locations shown are not exact. Final placement is determined by the electrician and owner just before the subcontractor begins the work to rough-in the wiring and junction boxes.

The Service Panel Distributes Power
Circuits are balanced according to anticipated loads and the detailed requirements of state and local electrical codes. Generally, there are three types of circuits in a residential building.

MEP Phase – Insitebuilders

Wiring to all the required connections depends on the location of the service panel and the structural framing members that will be drilled for the installation.

MEP Phase – Insitebuilders

The total amperage entering the house from the utility provider is divided into branch circuits at the service panel. Each branch is designed to carry anticipated loads for receptacles, lights and switches, and dedicated fixtures on that circuit.

For safety, it’s important that an experienced, licensed electrical contractor calculate the loads represented by the electrical plan and install the correct circuit breakers.

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 (To be continued…)

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The material presented in this series has been taken from our book, “How a House is Built: With 3D Construction Models” The book includes annotated illustrations, captioned text, videos, models, and the 2D Preliminaries.

Insitebuilders

Some might think social media is only good for constructors (and designers) with nothing better to do than shift through the self-promoting babble found in the constant banter of marketing information on Facebook or MySpace. But they have it wrong.

Insitebuilders - Twitter Use

For many project managers, social media is a way to see both the big picture of what’s happening in the industry and eavesdrop on what their competitors are doing. In practice, they are able to mine public information by reading posts and searching keywords to build competitive strategies in an ever changing construction industry.

Twitter is simple and spontaneous
In particular, the simplicity and off-handed comments found in apps like Twitter bring out unguarded exchanges that are telling when seen in the context of a stream of related tweets. This includes inadvertent security breaches by marketing staff and employees about current or pending projects.

Insitebuilders - Twitter Followings

You might think nothing substantive can be said in 140 characters, but add a consistent presence in a Twitter timeline along with links and pictures and these seemingly innocuous little posts begin to reflect not only a broad view of the industry, but a particular company’s way of thinking. As such, it doesn’t take long to read, recognize, and evaluate the collective thoughts found in the underlying messages that are exposed by this media.

This deeper understanding of a group’s thinking is in fact what makes Twitter valuable as a collaborative tool. In fact, any idea that Twitter is just for sending, sorting, and searching messages misses the power of this new media to visually direct a team’s collective consciousness toward a single minded focus.

Twitter as a management tool
The key to using Twitter as a management tool is to harness this interaction in a carefully controlled Twitter list or account. The objective is literally to crowd source the project from its inception, deeply embedding “buy-in” for team members as they are invited to join as followers. Important is that as followers, they are invited into the group and remain only as long as they add value to the team as a whole. In other words, their tweets become a measure of the value they bring to the collaborative efforts of the team as a whole.

Insitebuilders - Twitter Basics

In these exchanges, the concise nature of a tweet means project communications are no longer delayed or distorted by staged meetings, reports, proposals, or carefully rendered models. Instead spontaneous messages are sent immediately as part of a continuous flow of input, ideas, and second screen comments that shape the ongoing communications between active team members.

The value of Twitter is therefore the immediacy of the media itself. Participating in the conversation is like feeling the pulse of the entire project team, mashed together into a project long stream of consciousness that is visible in the flow of tweets, retweets, replies, hashtags, and comments, supplemented by photos, video, illustrations, and model images that carry their own perceptive insights.

SketchUp and Twitter
SketchUp adds to these interactions with site scans, photographs, videos, and illustrations from construction models that reinforce content with an immediate visual context for each tweet.

Insitebuilders - SketchUp Image Library

Collaboration begins between principals using site utilization models and overlays to establish scope, later in massing studies, simplified design models, and engineering as early images are gradually mixed by select followers with line item specific content from spreadsheets and schedules.

Like the tweets themselves, cumbersome documents are reduced to real time snapshots, visually gif-ifying content by clarifying collaborative exchanges from concept, through construction, and into facilities management.

Twitter apps are tools
The apps used to contribute and maintain this content are an ever changing collection of programs that were once used to send simple quick posts to a public forum, but have now advanced into sophisticated tools that incorporate multi-project administration. These include:

Insitebuilders - SMS Tweets

Short message service (SMS), still the fastest way to tweet images and video into a project account. Twitter uses short codes to sync text messages and images directly into an account from any cell phone with a camera.

Insitebuilders - Twitter App

Twitter also has an app that makes tweeting a little more complicated. The app has four icons: Home for your current timeline, Connect to track Interactions/Mentions, Discover as the search menu, and Me for settings and profiles. Click the New Tweet icon in the upper right corner to tweet and add a picture, video, or a library image.

Insitebuilders - TweetDeck
Tweetdeck works pretty much the same way as the Twitter app, except it categorizes tweets into separate timelines. Image attachments are currently limited to Library Photos and Take Photo, but no videos, which eliminates motion captures (except via YouTube). Names have been changed to Home, Me, Inbox, and Search as you swipe horizontally to access adjacent screens.

Insitebuilders - HootSuite
HootSuite adds menu features to manage lists as categories of followers. It has a Compose menu for tweets, with images limited to Take Photo and Choose From Library, again no video, except through YouTube. Hootsuite’s menus also include Streams instead of Home, a Search function, Stats, and Contacts.

iNSITEBUILDERS - pOSTEROUS
Posterous is one of the most comprehensive of the Twitter apps. Instead of lists, Posterous uses Spaces to divide content. Each Space is actually a micro-blog/website where any member in the Space can contribute longer descriptive text along with a range of photos, videos, and illustrations. Text and images are posted through tweets, emails, or directly within the Posterous program.

In the end, each of these apps has its limitations, with some, like GroupTweets, fading with obsolescence and inattention. At the same time, to maintain the value of immediate and unguarded collaborative exchanges, a Twitter app should be simple and fast enough to serve its purpose as an immediately useable multimedia messaging tool.

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