A 'builder's bible' for those who want to make a house a home

November 27, 2008

Construction Technology 1: House Construction

Authors: Mike Riley and Alison Cotgrave

Edition: Second

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Pages: 352

Price: £32.99

ISBN 9780230203624

This book turns a potentially dull and dreary subject into a light and easy read. The topics are logically organised and presented in a manner that is easy to follow, and just about every relevant subject, from planning to completion, is included.

In the first chapter, for example, the basic form and function of buildings is covered; regulations, site survey and selection are tackled in the second; and the building process is presented in the third. The chapters are further grouped into three themed parts: Introduction to house construction, Building substructure and Building superstructure.

The style is not at all didactic, and it encourages students to think for themselves by explaining the reasons behind various design decisions. It also acknowledges that the examples presented are not necessarily the best or the only way to proceed. A wide range of subject material is covered in a clear and concise fashion, well referenced to current regulations and practices. Future trends and the likely resultant construction methods, for example low-energy dwellings, are covered alongside traditional approaches. Diagrams are informative and well chosen.

There are thought-provoking questions and exercises scattered throughout the book. Outline answers to these exercises are provided on the publisher's website, along with some excellent case studies that are well illustrated with relevant photographs.

Although intended primarily as a textbook for the construction technician or undergraduate, it also has the potential to be something of a "builder's bible". It would be a useful addition to the library of anyone involved in house construction and would be relevant on a wide range of courses, from basic technician level to architectural degrees.

One could perhaps argue that the book lacks any in-depth analysis of subjects that are traditionally inclined at undergraduate level - including mathematical topics such as beam deflections, structural analysis, elemental "U" value calculations and so on - but to do so would be to ignore the purpose and major strength of this book. It provides a straightforward presentation of relevant material without obscuring the facts or deterring the reader with unnecessary mathematics. After all, there are plenty of texts available to undergraduates that fall into this latter category.

Who is it for? A wide variety of construction students and professionals.

Presentation: Clear, logical, concise and easy to follow.

Would I recommend it? Yes, certainly.

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