The following is a brief description of what is included in each of these parts of the structure of your home.
The Footings are where the house meets the ground. Everything is supported by the footings.
Footings (or footer) may be poured concrete, caisson piers, gravel, or even a turned-down portion of a slab.
Which one you would use is determined by the area you live in, the soils conditions, local building code requirements, and by the recommendations of your architect or structural engineer.
The Foundation consists of the foundation walls (sometimes called “stem” walls) and other vertical elements needed to support the floor (piers and steel columns).
Foundation walls may be formed concrete, treated wood, masonry (brick or concrete block) or nonexistent - in the case of slab construction, where the walls go up directly on top of thickened portions of the slab.
Floor systems are either wood or concrete. In residential construction, concrete floors are slab-on-grade (concrete poured on the ground).
You will usually use this type of floor system for the garage and basement, or for the main floor in southern areas where slab-on-grade is feasible for the first floor.
For the rest of us, the wood floor is the standard. The wood floor consists of the supporting members - beams and joists - and the flooring material, usually a plywood product.
Typically, there is a beam supporting the floor joists. The beam is supported by the foundation walls and intermittent piers or posts (the latter must have their own footing). Beams are made of a variety of materials including wood and steel.
The Walls divide the interior space into rooms. They may support a load from above (load-bearing) or simply their own weight (partition wall).
Ceilings are supported by the walls below or by a ceiling beam.
The ceiling does not actually support a vertical load. It is included in the load bearing elements of the home because it does support the rather significant weight of the drywall attached to it.
The Roof Structure will either be “stick built”, trussed, or a combination of the two.
The weight of the roof, with the wood members, the plywood decking, and the roofing shingles, is significant.
All of this weight must be carried down through the walls, floor, foundation walls, and footings to the ground.
idea is not to legalistically categorize very item in your home, but to understand
the broad categories of elements and how they all work together to form the
As you can imagine, each of the "Parts of Your Home" listed above is but a "box" into which we will put dozens of related "parts" as we get deeper and deeper into this wonderful journey - the journey of Building Your Own Home!
Ready to move on? Excellent! Click here to take a look at Funding your home building project.
For more insight on the various Parts of Your Home,
see Lesson Two of our online course .