4 ways technology is helping build better and safer homes
Residential construction practices have changed a lot over the decades and technology has played a huge role. From the construction equipment to the building techniques, technology is quickly reshaping the construction process. With advanced construction in mind, here are just a few ways technology is helping to build better, safer homes:
Mobile Tech on the Construction Site
Thanks to advancements in mobile technology, residential construction sites are becoming more efficient, which improves the end product: homes.
Not only are smartphones and tablets being used to track labor hours, they're also being used to analyze daily onsite production numbers.
Information like this helps ensure workers are getting the job done while avoiding overworking. When construction workers are overworked, it decreases quality and increases jobsite accidents.
Jobsite foremen are also using mobile applications to track the completion of specific tasks at residential construction sites. Whether it's tracking concrete foundation dry times or keeping an inventory of worksite supplies, mobile apps are improving jobsite efficiency across the country.
When construction is complete, an inspector must make sure the home passes code and is safe to inhabit. As the following article looks at, there are 3 ways technology makes home inspection more efficient, which is hugely beneficial to homeowners:
1. Home Inspection Software - Mobile home inspection software allows inspectors to check off inspection tasks in real time from a smartphone or tablet. This increases inspection efficiency and decreases errors in the inspection process.
2. Infrared Scanning - Just because a home is new doesn't mean it's problem-free. More and more inspectors are using infrared scanning technology to find moisture, wiring, ventilation, and gas leak issues concealed behind walls. These infrared scanners are invaluable tools during the inspection process.
3. Termite Inspection Technology - Most states require termite inspections during the inspection process. Inspectors are now using acoustic sensors to detect termites in new homes as well as resale properties.
Advancements in Surveying
Before any house is built, the land must first be surveyed to ensure the structure fits within the lot lines. Surveying technology hasn't changed much in the last century until now.
More and more construction companies are using high definition digital survey equipment for both residential and commercial construction sites.
With HD digital survey equipment, contractors can locate lot lines and place structures within the lines more accurately.
This allows architects to base their house plans on the most precise limitations possible. With accuracy like this, architects and contractors can build the most ideal home for the type of lot available.
Smart Home Technology
The smart home trend is spreading across the construction industry and for good reason. Smart homes not only increase quality of life, they also make homes safer and function more efficiently.
From smart thermostats and water heaters to smart security systems, smart homes are quickly becoming the new construction norm. Smart devices are helping reduce energy costs for millions of homeowners.
Likewise, smart security systems are now able to detect carbon monoxide and smoke and notify homeowners even when they're not home.
Thanks to technology, the residential construction industry is truly taking home building to a whole new level.
Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including construction and home improvement.
Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration
Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.
But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.
Resonance v Impulse
There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.
Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.
On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.
Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.
Potential impacts from human induced vibration
Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:
- Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
- Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
- Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
- Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.
How to avoid it
As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.