The Complete Visual Guide to Building A House
In America, houses are built in areas where several feet of snow accumulate, where hurricanes can be expected, or where temperatures exceed 100°F. In some areas, all these conditions might occur within the same year. Within these very different climatic regions, furthermore, individual building sites pose a wide variety of challenges. The surface of the land might slope steeply; the soil might contain expansive clay or bedrock; or there might be too much moisture in the ground.
To meet these and other challenges, builders have to adjust the design of their houses to the climatic and topographical conditions of the area they live in. In Florida, for example, roof structures must be tied down with steel straps to keep them from being lifted off the walls during hurricanes.
In Maine, on the other hand, roof frames must be beefed up to keep them from collapsing under the weight of several feet of snow. These measures, which are required by building codes, go a long way toward creating durable houses.
Beyond simply building houses that last, however, builders need to create houses that perform. Once viewed as basic shelters from the extremes of the weather, houses are now seen as climate-controlled enclaves. Most people expect the environment inside their house to be comfortable year-round, no matter how brutal the weather is outside. Accomplishing this goal in the face of ever-increasing energy costs is one of the biggest challenges confronting builders today. Again, the plan of attack has to be tailored to the location of the house. A house that keeps a family warm during the winter on the Northern Plains has to be built much differently than a house that provides relief from the heat and humidity in the Deep South.
The diverse local requirements of home building coupled with an ever-expanding choice of building materials, tools, and systems present a fundamental problem for a book like this one. Because there are so many approaches and options, it’s difficult to decide what to discuss and how detailed that discussion should be. As on any major building project, there have been many hard decisions to make and there have been many interesting and worthwhile topics that I could not include in this book.
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