Individual house project

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An article from a professional designer about what the project of an individual house is, what sections the complete project includes, how to work with an architect, what to look for when the designers develop the structural section and the section of engineering communications. What approvals and permits are required during construction. For people who are going to build their own home.

Each person, having reached a certain age, begins to dream of their own home – a family nest, where parents and children can live comfortably, receive guests and engage in favorite hobbies. So, you purchased or rented a plot of land for construction and decided to design your house. Where to begin?

Site assessment

First of all, you need to start by evaluating the site on which you are going to build your house. This means, from the analysis of factors such as its orientation to the cardinal points, the existence and location of trees and other green spaces, the proximity of neighboring buildings, roads and entrances, the presence of water supply and sewerage networks, a gas pipeline, power lines nearby.

All these factors must be taken into account when determining the location of the future home on your site. That is, if large beautiful trees grow on the site, and you want to leave them, then the place for the house must be chosen taking into account the existing trees. Or if there is a three-story house on the adjacent plot, and you do not want it to obscure the view of the sunrise from your bedroom, then you will choose a place for the house with this in mind. From where exactly the future house will be located – in the depths of the site or immediately in front of the entrance – its layout also depends.

Standard or individual project

Now, about the house project itself. We will not consider the option with a typical project, which must be “tied” to a specific site. Typically, a typical project is presented only in the form of drawings of plans and facades, and you still have to develop structures for foundations, walls and roofs, as well as internal and external engineering communications.

Individual project

If you want to get a unique – individual project of your own house, such that no one else will have, then you need to order it from a qualified architect.

Design. The architectural part of the project

Design is a special science that has been studied in higher educational institutions for five whole years, so an architect will be able to develop space-planning solutions for your home, taking into account all the many years of experience in this area. In addition, when designing, special regulations are applied – norms and rules, about which a non-specialist usually has no idea, but which are necessary for the normal functioning of the future house and comfortable living in it..

As the great architect Le Corbusier said – “a house is a machine for living”, and only a specialist – a professional can build this machine so that it works normally.

For example, there is such a thing as insolation – exposure to sunlight from rooms. According to the standards for insolation, living quarters must be exposed to sunlight for at least two hours a day, that is, for example, bedrooms cannot be placed with windows to the north, because in northern latitudes, the sun’s rays penetrate the windows only from the east, south and west. Or else, for example, from a residential building there should be at least 20 meters to a septic tank – a tank for draining sewage waste. And there are many such scientifically based norms, thanks to which the strength and stability of buildings is ensured and the microclimate in the premises necessary for housing is created. Of course, these regulations are mandatory applied by the supervision and control authorities in the construction field when accepting multi-apartment residential buildings for operation. That is, when building your own house, no one will require you to comply with mandatory insolation and other standards. You can arrange the bedrooms and windows to the north, and make a septic tank three meters from the house, but in the future, when living in this house, you and your children will get sick more often, which, probably, no one wants.

House design

You, of course, have your own ideas about how the future house should look like, and you should present all your thoughts to the architect. How many rooms do you want, what exactly, what size, a one-story or two-story house, or a house with an attic, with a basement or without a basement, what material should the walls and roof be from – this is a minimum of information so that an architect can get started.

Working with an architect usually works like this. First, you express your wishes about how you want your home to be. The architect, on the basis of the information received, makes a so-called draft design, in which the master plan of the site, planning solutions and facades must be completed. In the sketch project, you will see the plans of all rooms and the exterior of the house from all four sides. If you like everything and there are no comments, or vice versa, you don’t like something, then the architect should finalize the draft design taking into account your comments. After revision, the architectural part of the project must be approved by you as the basis for further design.

It is advisable at this stage to approve the architectural part of the project so that in the future no more changes are made to the space-planning solutions. Otherwise, when developing other sections of the project and directly during construction itself, this will cause unnecessary alterations and, accordingly, unnecessary costs.

The architectural part of the project, among other things, is an official document for various approvals and permits. After you accept the architectural part of the project as a client, it must be approved – which he must put a special record with a seal – the chief official in charge of the construction of your municipality, usually his position is called “chief architect” of the relevant city or district. Based on the approved architectural part, you can also obtain a building permit from the corresponding service of the same municipality..

If you want your house to be unique not only from the outside, but also from the inside, then you can order an architect as a separate section of the architectural part – interior design. There are tons of styles, from classic English to high-tech style, the choice of which depends on your personal taste.

What sections does the complete project consist of?

The architectural part of the project is defining, but not the only one in the overall scope of the project. An architect can work both independently and in a specialized design workshop, where other specialists – designers work besides him. If the architect works independently, you can conclude an individual contract with him to carry out only the architectural part of the project. Otherwise, you can conclude a contract for the entire project with a design workshop, which, in addition to the architectural part, should include a structural section and a section of engineering communications.

Constructive section of the project

In order to build a box at home, builders need to have working drawings, which specifically indicate how to carry out certain elements of the house – the so-called supporting and enclosing structures. The section in which these drawings are developed is called the constructive section of the project..

Constructive section of the project

Any house must stand on a solid and reliable foundation, the type of which is determined by a special calculation and depends on the type of soil on which the foundation rests. The main types of soils are rocky, sandy, clayey and loamy. The most reliable, of course, rocky soils, next in terms of reliability, are sandy, contrary to the generally accepted opinion that houses are not built on sand. Sand is practically incompressible soil, that is, it does not sag when soaked, which means that a house built on sandy soils will stand unshakably for many years. Problems arise mainly with clay and loamy soils. The former often have such an unpleasant property as “frosty heaving” – that is, they can expand when freezing. The latter, on the contrary, can shrink when soaked. These properties can further negatively affect the built house. That is, if the foundation is designed incorrectly, then after a while, cracks may appear in the walls of the built house, which can later expand and, ultimately, make it impossible to live in it. Therefore, you can never save on the foundation, since by saving here, then you can incur much higher costs for strengthening or alteration of already completed structures.

The main types of foundations are strip (monolithic or prefabricated), columnar and pile foundations. Usually, strip and columnar foundations are used for individual houses. If the soils are not subsiding and not heaving, then the simplest foundation of precast concrete blocks can be adopted. If the soils are subsiding or heaving, then the most optimal option is a strip foundation made of monolithic reinforced concrete. It works as a whole and in case of local swelling or subsidence of the soil, it intercepts and evenly distributes the resulting stresses over the entire structure, which excludes possible deformations in the walls of the house. Specialists – designers, depending on the characteristics of the soil, will calculate the necessary reinforcement of the monolithic foundation, its dimensions – the width of the base and the depth of the foundation from the ground surface.

There is always a certain amount of moisture in the soil, and when it freezes in winter, it expands somewhat, and in summer it contracts accordingly. To exclude the influence of these seasonal deformations of the soil, the depth of the foundations is taken to be slightly greater than the freezing depth. The depth of soil freezing in Russia varies depending on the region and in central Russia is about one and a half meters. As you move northward, this depth increases up to the permafrost zone, where the soils never thaw at all. Accordingly, as we move to the south, the freezing depth decreases to less than 1 meter, and the required depth of the foundations also decreases. Naturally, if the house is with a basement, then the depth of the foundations is taken slightly more than the height of the basement, usually about 3 meters.

The walls of the house are subdivided into load-bearing, non-load-bearing and partitions. Bearing walls take the load from the floors and the roof and transfer it to the foundation, so they must be more massive than the rest of the walls. Curtain walls perform a fencing function, and partitions divide the interior of the house into separate rooms. There are a lot of materials for walls, both traditional, those that have been used by man for thousands of years – brick, various types of natural stone, wood, and those that appeared in the 20th and 21st centuries – basically all kinds of modifications of concrete and products from it. The choice of wall material depends on your personal preference..

Country house projects

Walls must perform two main functions – to carry the load from the structures located above, and also to reliably protect the interior from adverse weather conditions (this applies to external walls). Depending on the material of the walls, the designers must calculate the optimal structure and thickness for these tasks. In recent years, when the issues of energy saving are acute, new construction solutions have emerged that make it possible to effectively solve these issues. For example, the outer walls of bricks are now being built not solid, almost a meter thick, as it was done literally fifteen to twenty years ago, but in the form of a three-layer “pie”. In this “pie”, the inner layer is brickwork, the middle layer 5-10 centimeters thick is insulation made of synthetic materials, the outer layer is cladding made of various materials. The cladding can be made of either special decorative bricks or other modern cladding materials. Such a wall design allows, firstly, to more reliably retain heat or, on the contrary, protect the interior from heat, and secondly, to significantly reduce the consumption of bricks, since the thickness of the wall is reduced by almost half..

In addition to a reliable foundation, strong and warm walls, the house must have the same strong and reliable roof. For individual houses, the traditional construction is a rafter roof made of timber and planks. There is a wide variety now in the choice of roof coverings. These are again traditional clay tiles, galvanized steel sheets, recently appeared synthetic coatings such as “ondulin” and various types of the same tiles made of modern materials. When choosing, you only have to evaluate the pros and cons of each material. Several details depend on the coating material that designers must take into account when developing a roof structure. For example, ceramic shingles require more powerful load-bearing wooden structures, metal shingles require a base layer of polyethylene film, and for covering from rubber-bitumen sheets of the “shingles” type, it is necessary to make a continuous flooring of boards or plywood.

Engineering communications section

In order for the house to be light, warm in winter, cool in summer, and to have all the amenities, a section of engineering communications should be developed in the project. It includes subsections of heating, water supply and sewerage, power supply and electric lighting, gas supply and telephony.

To develop the section of engineering communications, you need to receive and transfer to the designers the so-called technical conditions for connecting to existing engineering networks. Technical conditions are issued by municipal services in the administration of which certain engineering networks are located. They must indicate connection points or tie-ins to existing networks and other data necessary for design. Based on the received technical conditions, the designers will develop this section, which in turn is subdivided into drawings of external and internal networks..

Engineering Communication

The drawings of external networks indicate how they should be laid on the ground from the connection points to your home, taking into account the permissible distances from buildings and intersections with other networks. The diameters of the pipes through which water and gas will enter your house, household drains are removed, the cross-sections of wires and cables for power supply and telephone installation are calculated on the basis of special standards. On each finished drawing, you will need to get the approval of all services, the networks of which are carried out in the places where communications are laid to your home. Only after these approvals will it be possible to obtain permission to carry out earthworks.

In the drawings of internal communications, also on the basis of standards, the number and power of heating devices in each room, cross-sections of electric lighting wires, installation locations of electrical panels and emergency shutdown devices, junction boxes, plumbing fixtures and diameters of plumbing and sewerage pipes are calculated.

When the section of utilities is completed, we can assume that you have a complete project necessary for the successful construction of your own individual house and the construction process itself will occur without many problems that will inevitably arise when they undertake to build using a couple of drawings with plans and facades.

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