Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Building Components and their Functions

Building Components

Building is the structure which is built to provide shelter to human beings. It is the enclosed structure with wall and roof built over a plot of land to provide security, safety and living space to human. A building structure has two basic components:
1. Substructure
2. Superstructure

Function of building components


It is the supporting structure below the ground surface which provides firm support to the building against sliding and settlement. It is the lower part of the building which transmits the dead load, live load and other loads of the superstructure to the subsoil or foundation soil. Substructure has the following components:

1. Foundation

Foundation is prepared by excavating the earth surface. After excavation a cement concrete base is prepared on which footings are constructed. Footings are stepped course build of brick masonry or concrete masonry to distribute the load of the superstructure over a larger area of sub-soil. Footings are provided under the wall or column of the superstructure. The strength and depth of the foundation depends on the building requirements and functionality, i.e., how much load is going to be transmitted from the superstructure to the foundation and what will be the height of the building (one storeyed, two storeyed or multi storeyed ).

2. Plinth

Plinth is the portion of foundation above the ground level upto the ground floor level. The plinth provides an even surface to the building called floor level of the ground or the plinth level. The plinth level is kept at certain height above the road level to keep certain gap between the road level and floor level incase if the height of the road is raised in future to keep it safe from rain water. The plinth level is provided with a damp proof course to keep the floor free from moisture coming from the ground surface.


Superstructure is the upward extension of a building parts above the ground surface. Superstructure is the visible part of the building built on the foundation. In general superstructure may be termed as building. Superstructure has the following components:

1. Wall

Wall is the vertical structure which encloses an area, carries loads, provides safety, security and privacy. Wall is an important part of a building it covers the building externally as well as provides internal segregation, i.e., separates a room, kitchen, dinning, bathroom, etc. An external wall may be 10 or 15 inch in thickness depending on the amount of load it carries and internal wall may be 5 or 10 inch in thickness. The wall is generally made up of brick masonry but nowadays concrete blocks are also being used in place of bricks.

2. Floor

Floor is the smooth horizontal levelled surface provided for walking, sitting of the building occupants, keeping furniture, equipment, etc. It is the lower surface of the building structure which supports live loads of human as well as dead loads of equipment and furniture. Floor can be made stylish with the use of tiles or artificial floor covering material like carpet, rugs, etc.

3. Stair

Stairs are the set of steps provided vertically to access one floor to another easily. It carries the live loads of human being during their vertical circulation. It is made up of cement concrete and wooden or tile flooring is sometimes provided for stylish and decorative look. There are many types of stairs depending on usability and functionality. You can check out the types of stairs in my previous post Types of Stair Styles

4. Doors, Windows and Ventilators

Doors are the movable opening provided in the wall for the exit and entry of a person. It provides safety and privacy by blocking inside sound and sight from passerby's reach.Windows are movable openings provided for circulation of air, natural breeze and sunlight. Ventilation are provided in the wall at floor level to  serve the purpose of circulating warm air and foul gases from the room.

5. Sunshades

Sunshades are horizontal structure provided above windows, other external opening and at floor level to reduce the effect of direct scorching sunlight. Sunshades also prevents the entry of rain water by blowing winds in case of heavy storm.  

6. Roof

Roof is the topmost part of the building which acts as a covering over the structure. It protect the building from the effect of natural elements like rain, snow and wind. Roof also provides the area for sit out in the open air. One can enjoy the soothing sunlight during daytime in winter and cold moonlit night during night in summer. 

7. Parapet Wall

Parapet is a low height wall provided at the edge of a roof, terrace or other structures. It acts a barrier to protect anybody especially children from falling from the roof of a building. It is the low rise solid fencing which encloses the roof or terrace and provides decorative appearance.

8. Finishing

Finishing is the last step of building construction. It provides a protective covering to the building components by plastering, white washing, colouring, paintings, etc. The finishing provides good appearance , stylish and decorative look to the building structure.


  1. I didn't really know that much about the actual names of structures. New to me were the terms plinth and parapet wall.

  2. We just built out first home last year - this post would have come in handy back then.. I would have known all of the builder's lingo aha. I've definitely learnt something here, such an interesting read! x

  3. I really enjoyed reading about the parts of a structures foundation. Your illustration really helped me to understand footings much better. Thank you for this!

  4. I've learned so much from reading this post. It's amazing how many different styles there are in stairs.

  5. This is a great overview of building components - so much juicy info. Learning lots. Thanks! Evelyn, PathofPresence

  6. this is very helpful for me. i am planning to build my house. Your design is so good.

  7. Am not nuch into house building and construction, but it is nice to know these information. Costing is more important to me.

  8. I didn't know the terminology of construction but enjoyed reading your post! Thanks for sharing the information with us!

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