History of Construction

History of Construction and Renovation

Building construction is a trait that we inherited from our ancient human ancestors. As early humans were faced with different environmental and climatic factors, they were forced to design shelters. The materials that were used in the infancy of building include branches, leaves and animal hides. Early human shelters were built for their functionality. In most cases, they were simple and only lasted a couple of days or months. The design of early constructions improved over time, especially after the introduction of agriculture that necessitated a passive mode of living. The use of agriculture followed the building of more sophisticated symbolic and functional structures. This marks the genesis of the distinction between building and architecture.

Since it was first invented, the building industry has come a long way, and several trends mark its path through history. First, building materials advanced from perishable to more durable options. These long-lasting natural materials included stone, timber and clay, later supplemented by artificial building materials such as concrete, plastic, metal and brick. As the knowledge of building and the durability of materials slowly increased, humans could now erect more extensive, taller constructions. A lot of experimentation was done before society settled on preferred methods and materials for construction.

The final step was taking control of the internal environment. This required more effective management of light, sound, draughts, humidity, and smells, among other factors that influenced the comfort within buildings. Finally, the shift towards more powerful machinery that replaced human muscle brought the industry to its modern complex form. The contemporary building scene brings together many systems and materials that cater to various markets. Modern construction involves highly organised methods that rely on extensive research on building materials and how they perform under different conditions. This is complemented by the enforcement of safety standards custom-designed to meet the users’ needs.

The division of labour has enabled different stakeholders in the construction industry to achieve more incredible feats. The manufacturers of building materials and other systems get their products to the craftsmen who assemble them at the construction site. Some buildings are large enough to require hundreds of craftsmen, coordinated and employed by contractors. Other aspects of construction such as insurance cover, quality control and building management are placed into the hands of specialised consultants.

Undoubtedly, these steady advances in construction essentially enabled today’s industrial culture. Skyscrapers are the norm in most countries, and they stand as a testament to mans’ mastery of natural forces. However, the needs of society are constantly changing, and construction has kept a steady pace to satisfy these demands by providing a wide variety of building designs. This article will explore the history of construction and how it has evolved to attain its present glory, and the industry’s prospects.

Roman Achievements in Construction

Romans borrowed most of their construction techniques from the Etruscans who occupied the northern part of today’s Italy. Etruscans were the first to build a proper arch using stones. Terracotta technology was highly advanced among the Etruscans, enabling them to make good quality fired bricks.

Roman Masonry Construction

One of the construction techniques that Romans borrowed from Etruscans was to build the arches and other structures they named opus quadratum. This consisted of cut stone blocks arranged in regular patterns primarily applied to make bridges with longer spans than previously possible.

Brick Building

Romans had to invent complicated timber frameworks and lifting machines to achieve such feats. Brick-making boomed as an industry that enjoyed state monopoly. Because building bricks were cheaper than stone, they were easily mass-produced and did not require any complex training to achieve. The brick arch was slowly incorporated into building wall openings, and mortar was used to hold them in place.

Most Durable Concrete Ever

Initially, the Romans used mortar obtained from mixing lime, sand and water. However, at the start of the second century BC, the Romans introduced a new mortar called pulvis pateoli. The material was formed and mined at Mount Vesuvius, and we now know it as pozzolana. When mixed with lime in different proportions, pozzolana forms a more durable cement that would harden even underwater. Finally, the Romans invented opus caementicium by mixing pozzolana with lime, water, and sand with broken bricks or stones.

Other Achievements

Other advancements Romans made were in timber and metal construction. For example, they invented the truss, a hollowed-out beam that helped them build truss bridges that their armies would use. Even though the theoretical understandings of the truss may have been absent, Romans took the idea further and incorporated metals such as bronze. Bronze was chosen for its durability and tensile strength. Apart from trusses, it was also used to make gilded bronze roof tiles and bronze doors.

Romans’ other revolutionary material in construction was glass borrowed from their Egyptian counterparts, who mainly used it for jewellery and interior decoration. Coloured glass was invented to be used in mosaics and to decorate the inside of Roman buildings. Romans were the first to create clear window glass, which was made by blowing molten glass into cylinders and then laying it flat.

Doing renovations yourself

It is generally recognized that there are some renovation tasks that you do not want to do yourself. Anything to do with plumbing, electrics and gas supply are definitely best left in the hands of the qualified experts. But there are some renovations that you can try yourself, but make sure you are wearing something comfy, like yoga pants, when you do it.

Tasks such as plastering and tiling are not difficult to learn for those who really want to acquire those skills. Some local colleges will offer weekend courses to teach the basics of these and if you are taking on a large renovation project it is worth doing a course. These will show the right techniques and you can pick up a few tips and tricks from the experts.

Simple renovation tasks

Simple, cosmetic renovations are fairly easy for anyone to do. Tasks such as painting or wallpapering are easy to learn and are a relatively quick way to give your home a facelift. However, if you are new to this there are ways to learn before you let yourself loose on your home. Why not look at the videos on YouTube, where there are lots of instructional information videos that have been developed by experts?

For tasks that are less messy, such as fitting carpets, then you need to be dressed comfortably. Something like yoga pants are ideal as you would be stretching quite a bit and you don’t want anything restrictive. Yoga pants and t-shirts made from similar materials will allow the skin to breathe while aiding movement. You don’t have to buy the most expensive workout gear] for tasks like this and there are plenty of options that are great value for money.

No matter what type of work you do on your home, you need to make sure you have the right equipment and clothes. it is worth making sure that you have the best tools that you can afford for the job you want to do. They will last a long time if you take good care of them. With clothes, it will depend upon the task you want to do as to what you should wear. If you are doing something such as plastering or tiling, then it is worth investing in proper overalls. The same applies with painting. These can be very messy jobs.

By tackling a few of the renovation tasks yourself, you will feel a great sense of achievement when you are finished and you can invite friends and family around to admire your handiwork. You will save some money as you wouldn’t need to hire any tradesmen and you will have learned a few skills that will stand you in good stead in the future.

The Ages of Construction

The First Industrial Age

A series of inventions and events had to happen before the first industrial revolution could take off in England. Building technology took new strides during this period because of the specialised and large-scale production of iron which was melted using coke. The availability of iron was followed by the invention of machinery such as the steam engine. The puddling process was invented by Henry Cort, which allowed the establishment of the first rolling mill powered by the steam engine to smelt wrought iron.

Wrought iron is more robust than cast iron which is more brittle due to its high carbon content. In the first industrial age, building materials were in high demand, and companies began mass-producing building bricks by mechanical extrusion in the 19th century. Beehive kilns became common, and more elaborately shaped building materials could be produced. At the end of the century, many people adopted tunnel kiln technology to make bricks faster.

The emergence of building science meant that the performance of buildings could be assessed accurately using mathematical models. Quality control became important mainly because of the elastic theory of structures that took root in the construction industry. In addition, industrial and enlightened economies demanded more significant buildings, and the architect became a licensed professional.

The Second Industrial Age

This industrial age was driven mainly by steel and electricity, which required to be mass-produced to keep pace with the growing demand from the railroad industry. The Paris Exposition showcased the Eiffel Tower and the Gallery of Machines, built primarily of steel. Fast forward to the 1880s in Chicago; steel-framed high-rises were cropping up to keep pace with growing land prices. The industry made other improvements over the years to reach its present state.