Coming Soon! – Home Plan Collections

Gustin Design Services is happy to announce that we will be establishing a new studio dedicated to providing premade plan sets for customers wanting the results of an architect designed home at a fraction of the price.  At Gustin Design Services, we don’t want to let you purchase poorly designed “stock” designs simply because the cost and time needed for custom architectural services doesn’t fit your needs.

For those who don’t have the inclination, energy, nor time to invest in a custom design program and project, Gustin Design Services is happy to offer our packaged designs at an affordable price. Within our digital ready-made Home Plan Collections you’ll find professional plan layouts, elevations, wall sections and custom detailing needed for your project without the weeks and months required for a typical design project. Each design is available in two versions: (1) Schematic Package and (2) Construction Package. You have the option to purchase the design as either downloadable PDFs or a CAD file.

The Schematic Package is not enough to construct the project as the set lacks the fine details a contractor would need to complete the home. It’s a scaled, abbreviated drawing package to give a basic description of the floor plans and elevations with dimensions and typical notes, including partition layouts and overall room sizes. The Schematic Package is enough to for preliminary budgeting and project scope discussions.

The Construction Package delivers everything you’ll need to construct the home, including detailed plans, exterior elevations, wall sections, and interior details, along with a window, door and hardware schedule. Selection of interior finishes, fixtures, developing a lighting plan or other custom interior alterations would be under the scope of you and your contractor; however Gustin Design Services would be happy to aid you with those items as upgraded services.

Contact us at info@gdsatx.com to sign up to get email updates when our Home Plan Collections are live and to be notified when new plans are available.

 

Understanding Materials – Gypsum Board

Introduction –

Today we are going to begin our series about construction materials and their applications in buildings.  There are a vast number of materials that any single construction project will use, and we will examine the most widely used materials.  The information in each of these posts are just the main highlights and your architect and design professionals will need a much deeper knowledge of each material discussed to best understand where in your project that material should or shouldn’t be used.  If you have a question about specific material not discussed or have more in depth questions regarding he materials explained contact us at info@gdsatx.com for one of our professionals to assist you.

Gypsum Board –

Gypsum Board (also known as plasterboard, wallboard or drywall) is a panel made of gypsum plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper. It is typically used to make interior walls and ceilings. Gypsum Board (Gyp. bd.) construction became a popular alternative to traditional lath and plaster because of speed and efficiency of installation[1].

Gyp. bd. panels are usually manufactured in 48” wide sheets that vary in length based on the need of the project. Typical panel thicknesses are 12” and 58”, with panels also available in other various thicknesses such as 14” and 38”. Both 12” and 58” panels can come in “Type X” (with additives to increase the natural fire resistance), and are used where an increased fire-resistance rating is required. Of the most common sizes, 58” panels are the standard in construction [2]. Gyp. bd. can act as the finished layer of an assembly or as the substrate for another finish material. The finish material can be applied directly to the gyp. bd. or can be installed over the panels, and can vary from paint to tiles to wall panels.

A drawback to gyp. bd. is that it is easily damaged by exposure to water. Gyp. bd. is a porous substance that supports the growth of mold when installed incorrectly and in an environment conducive to mold growth. Moisture will cause gyp. bd. to swell and eventually break down, requiring replacement [3]. However, there are various types of “special” gyp. bd., as well as construction practices, that can be utilized in order to combat the risk of exposure to moisture.

There are numerous different types of gyp. bd. Each type has a different application to ensure that the construction of the assembly is done correctly and is code compliant. These types include regular white board (gyp. bd.), fire-resistant (“Type X”), greenboard (contains an oil-based additive in the green colored paper covering that provides moisture resistance), cement board (a composite of cement and reinforcing fibers [4]), soundboard/sound engineered drywall (made from wood fibers to increase the sound rating-STC), lead-lined gyp. bd. (used around radiological equipment), and impact resistant gyp. bd.  There are other types of gyp. bd. for other more specific situations, however, these will be the most common types in a general application in a wide range of construction projects.

“Type X” –

When used as a component in fire barriers, gyp. bd. is a fire protection item. When exposed to heat or fire, this water in the gypsum boils away limiting the heat transfer from room to room. Therefore, a fire in one room will be contained from an adjacent room by a fire-resistance rated gyp. bd. assembly and will not cause damage to the adjacent room until the water in the gypsum is gone, expressed as a function of time (i.e. 1-hr fire rated assembly). Generally, increasing the number of layers of “Type X” gyp. bd. in a fire rated assembly, increases the fire-resistance rating of the assembly [5]. “Type X” would be used in places where the building code and ordinances require a specific fire rating. 

Greenboard –

Greenboard is water resistant, but not waterproof. It is to be used when the construction assembly occurs in damp environments that are subject to high levels of humidity and infrequent exposure to water. However, greenboard should not be used in wet locations because it is still subject to mold growth and deterioration due to exposure to water [4]. Green board would be installed in areas with hand sinks, food prep areas, areas with instrument sinks, and some restroom applications.

Cement Board

When an environment is continually exposed to water spray cement board is used. Cement Board is a combination of cement and reinforcing fibers formed into sheets. Typically, these sheets are ¼” to ½” thick. As a tile backing board, cement board has better long-term performance than paper-faced gypsum core products because it will not mold, mildew, or physically break down in the continued presence of moisture or leaks. Cement board is not actually waterproof, but it is highly resistant to absorbing moisture and has excellent drying properties [6]. The main drawbacks to cement board are the added weight to material itself (over twice as heavy as regular gyp. bd.), cutting cement board requires carbide-tipped saw blades, and the cost. Cement board would be used in areas such as showers, and wall backing for bathing tubs.

Soundboard/Sound Engineered Drywall (SED)

Sound vibrations can travel through elastic mediums, which include gyp. bd.  Therefore, vibrations can travel through gyp. bd. and special acoustical precautions need to be addressed if sound control is an important issue.

SED is a sounds deadening gyp bd. that absorbs the sound as to not let as much noise transfer from room to room. Sound travels through walls by vibration through the materials. SED is designed to reduce the vibrations by absorbing as opposed to conducting the sound waves [7]. It can be used either as the finished layer or as additional layer of gyp. bd. SED would be used anyplace noise transfer would be a major concern.

Lead Lined Gyp. Bd.

Lead lined gyp. bd. is a specialty type of gyp. bd. supplied with lead lining bonded to the drywall. It is used in very specific situations where radiation is a concern.  In addition, most jurisdictions will require a physicists report of the areas in question and to ensure that the shielding requirements are adequate.  The most common use for lead lining, but not limited to, is to protect adjacent rooms and areas from the radiation emitted in radiology rooms and x-ray machines.

Impact Resistant Gyp. Bd.

In areas where there is heavy traffic and risk for damage to walls, impact resistant gyp. bd. should be installed. Impact resistant gyp. bd. is a version of gyp. bd. that has heavy natural-finish paper on the face, and strong liner paper on the back. The face paper is folded around the long edges to reinforce and protect the core [8]. Impact resistant gyp. bd. should be installed in order to minimize the damage done to the wall where equipment and furnishings are located and can create dents and cracks in walls. Also, areas and rooms where other materials require extra strength for installation should utilize the added strength of impact resistant gyp. bd.

Overall, gyp. bd. will be the most visible material on a construction project. It is imperative to understand the different types of gyp. bd. that are available for each application, how the gyp. bd. affects finish selections for each assembly, and strengths and weakness of the material. Thought, preparation, and consideration will have to be incorporated into every aspect of the design, even with the most basic industry standard – gyp. bd. assemblies.

References

1.     Preservation Brief 21: Repairing Historic Flat Plaster-Walls and Ceilings (http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/TPS/briefs/brief21.htm#Historical%20Background)
2.     Gypsum Association – Fire Resistance Design Manual (GA-600-2009) (http://www.gypsum.org/pdf/GA-600-09_Print_7_Megs.pdf)
3.     http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/momo/momo_007.cfm
4.    http://homerenovations.about.com/od/wallsandtrim/a/artgreenboard.htm
5.     http://www.nationalgypsum.com/resources/fire-safety.htm
6.     http://www.usg.com/durock-cement-board.html
7.     http://www.supressproducts.com/soundproofing-articles/Sound-Engineered-Drywall.html
8.     http://www.usg.com/sheetrock-abuse-resistant-gypsum-panels.html

Navigating the Building Code – Part 2 (Construction Type)

This installment of Navigating the Building Code examines construction type and why it is important.  Construction Type is a classification of a building or structure that determines fire-resistance rating requirements.  Construction Type has a direct impact on the allowable area of the building, the number stories of the building, and the building height above the grade plane.  The purpose of classifying buildings and structures in this way is to protect the structural elements from fire and collapse, and to divide the building into compartments so that a fire in one area can be contained long enough to allow people to remain safe until firefighters can arrive.  Within the code are charts and tables that show the requirements for the different fire-resistance ratings for building elements for each Construction Type (Chapters 5 and 6 in the International Building Code).

Construction Types

Construction type is based on the materials and fire-resistance properties of the main building elements.  The components in question, but not limited to, are the structural frames, bearing walls, exterior and interior non-bearing walls, floors, and roof construction.  There are five classifications types for construction, and are aptly labeled as Type I, II, III, IV, and V.  Type I are the most fire resistive, while Type V is the least fire resistive.  Types I and II are constructed from noncombustible materials, while types III, IV, and V are considered combustible.  Also, each type is further sub-divided into “A” or “B” types, where the construction assemblies that separate spaces need to be considered. Generally, rated separation is need for “A” types and is more fire resistive than “B” types, where fire rated separation is not needed.  Therefore, generally speaking, Type IA is the most fire-resistive and Type VB is the least.

Let’s look at a quick look at each Type:

Type I

Type I are those types in which building elements and components are of noncombustible materials.  The assemblies are constructed in such a way that they are the most fire restrictive in terms of rated-hours (generally it is at least 2 hour rated or greater construction, however, each scenario is explained in the code and needs to be followed accordingly).

Type II

Just as in Type I, Type II are those types in which building elements and components are of noncombustible materials. However, the assemblies are constructed in such a way that they are the less fire restrictive in terms of rated-hours (generally it less than 2 hour rated, however, each scenario is explained in the code and needs to be followed accordingly).

Type III

Type III are those types in which the exterior walls are of noncombustible materials (and 2 hour rated assemblies) and the interior building elements can be of any material.

Type IV

Type IV are those types in which Heavy Timber construction is used.  This construction type is highly specific and special care needs to be taken in terms of referencing the code allowances.

Type V

Type V are those types in which the structural elements, exterior walls, and interior walls can be constructed by any materials (noncombustible or combustible) permitted by the code.

Allowable Area, Number of Stories, and Building Height

Construction Type is the classification that determines the maximum allowable area of the building, the number stories the building is permitted to be above the grade plane, and the overall building height.  A building that is the most fire-resistive (Type IA) has the least amount of size restrictions.  Generally speaking, although not in all cases, Type IA buildings are unlimited in their size.  A building that is the least fire-resistive (Type VB) has the most amount of size restrictions.  As you can see, Construction Type, therefore determines a building’s overall form and massing.  The form and massing has a direct impact on the operations in a floor plan and functions and aesthetics of the exterior.  By having an understanding of how Construction Type is determined and applied to your project you can best decide what is and what is not possible for your project.

Also, to reiterate a few important points from previous posts, keep in mind that there are other regulations and rules set forth by the authorities having jurisdiction over your project.  You and the architect must identify what is in place for the project to ensure that the project is designed correctly.  In order to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the general public, the architect and client needs a thorough understanding of the building codes and be able to adapt the design practices to meet the needs of the code.  You are more than welcome to contact us regarding any questions you may have regarding building codes and the effect of regulations on your project – info@gdsatx.com

Navigating the Building Code – Part 1 (Use and Occupancy)

Today we are going to dive deeper into understanding what is really important in understanding key aspects of the building code.  We will examine two of the main factors that dictate what drives code compliance – use and occupancy.  Also, to reiterate a few important points from previous posts keep in mind that there are other regulations and rules set forth by the authorities having jurisdiction over your project.  You and the architect must identify what is in place for the project to ensure that the project is designed correctly (we will focus on the International Code Council family of codes as it is the most widely adopted).  Before we get into a more detailed look at the code let’s review the approach to navigating the building code (as described in previous GDS posts):

Introduction

For years the building code has been viewed as something that tells architects and clients what they cannot do with their project.  Architects typically see it as a battle to design according to the code and the client’s wants simultaneously.  Also, most architect’s see it as a hindrance to “good design”.   However, in most cases the code is not in place to limit design, it is in place to allow design to happen within the framework of maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of the public.  Basically, the most productive way to approach the building codes are that, as long as certain conditions are met, then the project can be designed to function in the best way possible.  So, it is the set of regulations that describes what is allowed, not what isn’t allowed.

Let’s look at the terms and see how they will affect your project.

Use

The Use Designation is a subordinate category of the Occupancy.  It is the designated use of a space.

Occupancy

The Occupancy is the formal designation of the primary purpose of the space, or portion of the space within a structure.  It is based on the nature of the hazards and risks associated with the purpose of the space.  Occupancy of a space is determined to be in one of the following categories:

  1. Assembly – Groups A-1 (spaces for the production and viewing of performing arts or motion pictures), A-2 (spaces for food and/or drink consumption), A-3 (spaces for worship, recreation, or amusement), A-4 (spaces for viewing indoor sporting events and activities with spectator seating), and A-5 (spaces for the participation in or viewing of outdoor activities)
  2. Business – Group B
  3. Educational – Group E
  4. Factory and Industrial – Group F-1 (moderate-hazard factory industrial), and F-2 (low-hazard factory industrial)
  5. High Hazard – Groups H-1 (structures containing materials that pose a detonation hazard), H-2 (structures containing materials that pose a deflagration hazard), H-3 (structures containing materials that support combustion), H-4 (structures containing materials that are health hazards), and H-5 (semi-conductor fabrication structures and research and development areas)
  6. Institutional – Groups I-1 (structures for more than 16 people who require 24 hours supervision and receive custodial care), I-2 (structures for medical care who require 24 hours supervision for more than five persons who are incapable of self preservation), I-3 (structures for more than more than five persons who are under restraint or security), and I-4 (structures for more than five people who require less than 24 hours and receive custodial care)
  7. Mercantile – Group M
  8. Residential – Groups R-1 (containing sleeping units where the occupants are primarily transient), R-2 (containing sleeping units or more than two dwelling units where occupants are permanent), R-3, and R-4
  9. Storage – Groups S-1, and S-2
  10. Utility and Miscellaneous – Group U

Within the code there are lists of the individual types of spaces that fall within these categories.

Applying Use and Occupancy

A building may be single Occupancy or mixed Occupancy (where more than one Occupancy make up the building).  A single Occupancy building may be an office building (Business Group), with a single or multiple tenants.  In the scenario of multiple tenants, the building could have many different Uses (determined by individual needs of each tenant) and just the one Occupancy – Business Group.

An example of a mixed Occupancy building would be a multi-level building that has restaurants (Assembly Groups) and retail stores (Mercantile Group) on the first floor and condos on the upper levels (Residential Groups).  Knowing the mixed Occupancy groups is important because there are specific requirements for keeping the different Occupancies “separated”.  One of the most important issues is the fire separation needed in order to keep the individual Occupancies isolated from damage when a problem occurs in an adjacent space.

One thing to note: typically, Use and Occupancy are used interchangeably but there are cases where it is not the case.  Most often, the Use vs. Occupancy designations factor into remodels of a space when the purpose of the space is changing.  For example a single family dwelling could be converted to a two family changing how the building is used, but not changing the occupancy. There are also sub-classifications in the occupancy that may not change the type of occupancy (Mercantile comes to mind) but could change in use (larger or smaller sub-class).  Regardless of whether the project is new construction, remodels, renovations, or additions, determining the use and occupancy of the spaces is an important step because it determines the subsequent processes and restrictions that will be applied to the construction of the facility.

As technology improves, and more construction methods and materials are developed, the building codes will be updated.  In order to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the general public, the architect and client needs a thorough understanding of the building codes and be able to adapt the design practices to meet the needs of the code.  You are more than welcome to contact us regarding any questions you may have regarding building codes and the effect of regulations on your project – info@gdsatx.com

Navigating the Building Code – Introduction

In the next few posts, we will take a look at how to understand the building codes for most projects.  In this post we will do a quick introduction to how to approach the building codes, the history of building codes, and the general application of them to most projects.  Also, keep in mind that there are other regulations and rules set forth by the authorities having jurisdiction over your project.  You and the architect must identify what is in place for the project to ensure that the project is designed correctly (we will focus on the International Code Council family of codes as it is the most widely adopted).

Introduction

For years the building code has been viewed as something that tells architects and clients what they cannot do with their project.  Architects typically see it as a battle to design according to the code and the client’s wants simultaneously.  Also, most architect’s see it as a hindrance to “good design”.   However, in most cases the code is not in place to limit design, it is in place to allow design to happen within the framework of maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of the public.  Basically, the most productive way to approach the building codes are that, as long as certain conditions are met, then the project can be designed to function in the best way possible.  So, it is the set of regulations that describes what is allowed, not what isn’t allowed.

Building Code History in the United States (the short version)

In the early 1900s building regulations were set forth by regional code agencies and were basically enforced due to pressure from insurance companies to increase the quality of construction standards.  The model codes continued to be enforced by individual jurisdictions throughout most of the century, but were viewed as fragmented and varied from region to region.

Even though each regional or state code was effective for that particular jurisdiction as the twentieth century was ending it became clear that a nationally adopted code was needed.  So the three main regional codes (developed by the Building Officials Code Administrators International, the Southern Building Code Congress International, and the International Conference of Building Officials) were combined to eliminate the regional limitations of the model codes.  The International Code Council (ICC) was formed and developed the International Building Code, as well as the other ICC codes.  Since it’s formation in 1994 the ICC has developed the base codes for most jurisdictions in the United States.

Which Code Governs The Project

There are various building codes that will apply to your project.  In order to determine which code dictates the design of the project contact the authority having jurisdiction.  In most jurisdictions, the International Codes are adopted and govern the project.  These codes include, but are not limited to:

  • International Building Code (IBC)
  • International Residential Code (IRC)
  • International Fire Code (IFC)
  • International Plumbing Code (IPC)
  • International Mechanical Code (IMC)
  • International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC)
  • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
  • ICC Performance Code (ICCPC)
  • International Wildland Urban Interface Code (IWUIC)
  • International Existing Building Code (IEBC)
  • International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC)
  • International Private Sewage Disposal Code (IPSDC)
  • International Green Construction Code (IgCC)
  • International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC)

 

The International Codes all have different editions, which were first published in 1997 and are updated every three years, i.e. 1997 IBC, 2000 IBC, 2003 IBC…, 2018 IBC (which is the latest edition as of this writing).

In addition to the International Codes, some jurisdictions have local amendments that override or expand on the base regulations.  Also, some jurisdictions have adopted their own state or local codes (typically based on the International Code) which can govern the project.  Again, it is imperative for the client and architect to research which codes have been adopted for the specific location of the project.  In order to do so, the authority having jurisdiction must be contacted and the codes verified.  Once the adopted codes are established then it can determined how those codes will affect the design, especially in terms of budget and schedule.

As technology improves, and more construction methods and materials are developed, the building codes will be updated.  In order to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the general public, the architect and client needs a thorough understanding of the building codes and be able to adapt the design practices to meet the needs of the code.  You are more than welcome to contact us regarding any questions you may have regarding building codes and the effect of regulations on your project – info@gdsatx.com