The Non-structural Systems of a Well Built House
Inside your home, there’s infrastructure that helps make your daily life work. You turn on the tap, and out comes the hot water. You flip a switch, and the light turns on. To previous generations, a lot of the residential home systems that we have today would seem impossibly luxurious. From its frame to its electrical wiring to its landscaping, your home is a system. The more you understand it, the more you’ll be able to ensure that it runs smoothly. Explore the many residential home systems that make up the non-structural elements of a well-built house.
Designing a Functional Home
You spend a lot of time at home, even if it’s time spent sleeping or relaxing. All too often, people struggle with home systems that aren’t adequate or a home design that doesn’t work for their family. The frame of your home supports the building itself, but it’s what’s inside the home that really matters to your family’s everyday life. Your home’s architecture must support your family. If you’re engaged in the construction of a new home or you’re renovating an existing structure, you’ve probably considered how the architectural elements of your home can support your family life. Think about these questions as you organize your home’s non-structural systems.
- How do people move from room to room or within a specific room?
- How does noise travel from room to room?
- What kind of light enters the room at different times of the day and the year?
- What are the sight lines like when you’re in each space in your home?
- How does the size and shape of each room match its function?
- What spaces are compatible sitting side by side?
- How much storage does your home have?
- How much work space do you have, such as kitchen counters and desks?
- How much play space do you have for children or for adult hobbies?
- What kinds of furniture and appliances work in your spaces?
- What does the home feel like, and does this fit your personal aesthetic?
If you’re designing a new room or redesigning an old space, consider the purpose of the room. Form should follow function when you’re designing your home’s non-structural systems.
Inside the Walls: Plumbing
In addition to the feel of your home’s space, your home has specific systems that allow it to function for your family. Some of these systems are hidden in your walls, but they’re essential to your wellbeing. Make sure that the plumbing is adequate to support the water needs of multiple family members at a time. For example, someone should be able to take a shower while the dishwasher is on. Your hot water tank or tankless system must be appropriately matched to the size of the house and the number of family members who will be using the plumbing system at the same time.
Water comes into your plumbing system through intake lines. These branch off into hot and cold water lines. Those branches then connect to fixtures.
On the other end of the plumbing life cycle, your drain-waste-vent (DWV) pipes carry waste and water out of the house. In the center of the DWV system is the main stack, a pipe that runs straight up to the roof. Secondary stacks branch out from the system. Branch drains that are up to two inches wide carry water from your plumbing fixtures to a stack. As you renovate your home, check your drainage systems carefully for leaks: older homes may have iron drainage systems that tend to rust through, and these may need replacement with plastic pipes.
Inside the Walls: Electrical
Inside the walls, your electrical systems also perform essential functions for your home. In most urban settings, electricity runs from the electrical line that’s attached to a pole. The entire system is connected to a meter that tallies your electrical use.
Electricity enters your home via a circuit breaker or fuse panel that controls the electrical systems inside. Different circuits run to each room or part of a room in a home. Some appliances are hard-wired into your electrical system, while others plug into the circuits in different rooms.
When you’re renovating your home electrical system, you need to consider:
- Poor connections in the circuits, showing up as blinking lights or appliances without consistent power
- Dead outlets that may be due to a breaker tripping or a ground-fault interrupter that’s gone off to keep you safe
- The number of outlets. Older homes may have too few outlets for today’s needs.
- Aluminum wiring. Popular in the 1960s and 70s, this wiring can be dangerous but can be remedied by an electrician.
Your home electrical systems must not only be safe, they need to be able to respond to your family’s needs.
Storage and Counter Space
Have you ever fallen in love with a house, only to realize that the kitchen has so little counter space that you can’t cook an entire meal or that there’s nowhere to put your child’s old baby clothes? Workspace and storage are two elements of a highly-functional home.
As you go through the home construction or renovation process, consider how much storage and work space you’ll need on a daily basis. Add a little extra to make your home systems even more functional. Pay particular attention to the kitchen, where extra cabinetry and moveable storage and work areas can add value to your home. In the laundry room and bathroom, you’ll find that additional storage allows you to avoid trips to and from other rooms to get supplies, and you’ll be able to work more effectively to get laundry tucked away.
Heating and Cooling Systems
Home heating and cooling systems include the HVAC system, fireplaces, and other systems such as geothermal heating and cooling. Your goal is to create a home environment that’s comfortable and consistent all year round.
Your home climate systems contain these parts:
- A source of warm or cold air
- A way to move air to different rooms
- Controls for the system
As you implement home heating and cooling systems, consider:
- The location of your home and rooms. How much passive heating and cooling do you receive?
- Interactions with other systems that influence heating and cooling, such as windows and vents.
- The economics of your system. What are gas and electrical prices like in your area?
- The ecological impact of the system. Is it possible to use geothermal energy to heat and cool your home?
Where You Walk: Adding Flooring and Stairways to Your Home
The flooring and stairway materials that you use not only add a sense of architectural cohesion and style to your home, they are a structural element in the room. They may be harder or softer or more or less waterproof. Take a look at the pros and cons of each building material before you decide to install it in a room.
At Harry Helmet, we’re here to help you create and maintain your home construction systems. From the frame of your house to the gutter covers and awnings on your home’s exterior, your home needs the constructive eye of a company that knows its home systems. Contact us today and learn more about the ways that Harry Helmet can support your residential home systems such as roofing, awnings, and gutters.