Knowing the basics of building construction is important when creating a building plan, but understanding the different types of building construction is vital to ensure the structure’s quality. Buildings are categorized into five different types following the standards of the International Building Code or IBC.

Every kind of structure must follow the guidelines to which category it belongs. You should understand each type to know if a certain structure follows the IBC standard or not. The five types of building construction that you must familiarize yourself are the following:

Type I: Fire Resistive

Building Office

The first category of building construction is the Type I or Fire Resistive category where most of the high-rise buildings are categorized under. This type of building is made with reinforced concrete, steel covered with a fire-resistant coating, and other materials that are non-combustible.

Type I building category is also divided into two sub-categories which are Type I-A and Type I-B. The Type I-B is considered as the basic Type I construction. Buildings with 12-16 stories are under the Type I-B sub-category, while skyscrapers that need more protection belong under the Type I-A, or the enhanced Type I construction category.

Type I buildings have exterior walls with a fire rating of three hours, while the ceiling and floors have a fire rating of at least two hours. Type I buildings can withstand high temperatures and are strong enough not to collapse easily in case of fire.

Type II: Non-Combustible

The next category of building construction is the Type II or Non-Combustible buildings which are pretty similar to the Type I building category. Most buildings that use type II construction are malls and big-box stores.

The same with the type I construction, type II buildings are also made with non-combustible materials such as reinforced masonry, concrete, and metals. However, type II buildings are less fire resistant and can not withstand high temperatures compared to type I construction. It only got its name “non-combustible” due to the fact that the building is made with non-combustible materials which provide less fuel for the fire to spread.

Type II construction is also sub-categorized by Type II-A and Type II-B. Type II-A is considered as protective non-combustible buildings which most newer school buildings are made of. Type II-B on the other hand are buildings that are referred to as unprotected non-combustible which are commonly used in commercial buildings.

Type III: Ordinary

Old Houses

Most residential properties and old school and office buildings are categorized under type III construction. Just like Type I and Type II building construction, the Type III buildings or Ordinary construction also have a sub-category.

Type III-A is called protected combustible where the exterior of the building is made of non-combustible materials such as bricks, blocks, or concrete but the interior is made only from wood which is a highly combustible material.

The Type III-B construction has non-combustible exterior walls and combustible interior walls, floors, and roofs. This type of construction is not protected from a fire at all which is why it is often found mostly in old warehouses.

Type IV: Heavy Timber

Massive Timber used in office building

This type of structure was popular during the 19th century and has recently been introduced again into the construction industry. Type IV buildings are made from wood but given the size of the wood used to build this type of building, it can withstand fire more compared to buildings with light wood frames.

The minimum requirements for a type IV building are to have six inches above floor planks, and eight inches above beams and girders. This type of building has a fire rating of one hour maximum. The denser the wood used the greater it can withstand fire.

Type V: Wood Frame

Type V category buildings are the most basic type of building construction where it is only made from wood material. This building category does not need a fire-resistance rating and is considered as a budget-friendly building for it only consists of the basic elements of a structure such as primary frame, wall, floor, and roof.

When constructing a type V building, it is recommended to have bigger barriers to protect the properties near the building in case of a fire. Because the entire structure is highly combustible, fire will spread easily and rapidly which is why it is important to protect the adjacent properties.

Type V buildings are also subcategorized to A and B. Type V-A buildings are protected wood frames where there is no wood visible at all while the Type V-B buildings are structures where you can see exposed wood materials.

In Conclusion

Site Construction

If you are constructing a building, it is important that you know which category it belongs to. Knowing the five types of building construction can also help you know whether the building you are living in or planning to build is resistant to fire or not. It is important to rate the safety of the structure which is why you must understand each of the building types.