Internships: Residential Design, from Conception to Completion.

Student: John LaBreck
Faculty Sponsor: Peggi Clouston
Project Type: Independent Study
Year: 2005

During my 2005 winter session brake from college I looked to further my education in a somewhat different way. I was looking for hands-on experience in the field of Residential Construction rather than more coursework. I felt strongly that some on-site experience in the field would be a great asset for my resume and for my upcoming career. I have owned a residential design business for the past three years and wanted some more experience within the other areas of the field. Developing the construction drawings was a start but I wanted to tie it all together. Some of the areas I wished to work more closely within included: framing, estimating, on-site and off-site leadership, etc. I was given the opportunity to work for a residential builder that I had just recently done a set of construction drawings for and the project he happened to be starting during the month of January was the project that I had just finished for him. This project was not your typical ranch or colonial box. It was a 5-unit set of luxury townhouses that totalled over 10,000 square feet of living space. I quickly set up an internship with the builder realizing that this would be a great opportunity.

Aim of Internship:
The aim of this internship was to take those plans I had just finished, which was an accomplishment in itself, and actually get on-site and put it together. The construction project will be reviewed from start to finish outlining any coursework that was involved within the project. Before I had left at the end of January, the townhouses had been framed, roofed, and the windows were installed. I actually got to see and install the LVL’s, I-Joists, and steel beams I had sized back during the design phase. I was reading these plans and I was developing change orders in the office from the plans that I had designed. The amount of experience I took from this job was amazing and I don’t think I could have asked for a better learning experience.

Design Process:
My part of the project was to develop a working set of construction drawings designed around site conditions, zoning ordinances, building codes, and the developer’s needs and wants.

Framing Process:
The framing started the first day I was on-site. It couldn’t have worked out any better. The foundation had already been poured and was ready for the sill to be installed. Shown are pictures of completed foundation, and complete construction.

Related Coursework:
Throughout the entire project much of the work that was encountered involved BMATWT coursework in a variety of ways. Designing the plans with AutoCAD and writing up change orders during the building process are just a couple of the things that involved knowledge taken from the classroom. Below, I will go into more depth on a couple areas of the project that involved large amounts of experience and knowledge taken from the classroom.

In order to design these various beams a couple different beam report programs were used. Many times these beam reports are required by building inspectors. These reports verify that the beam can withstand the numerous loads acting upon it. Loading can include: uniformly distributed loads, span carried loads, and point loads. Even though these programs allow calculations to be done much faster than those done by hand, they don’t excuse the knowledge needed to derive proper live load, dead load, and deflection ratings. Being able to be on-site installing these various beams was a great learning experience. Actually seeing the post that that supports the beam and the loads acting on beam was a great visual learning experience. Seeing these things first hand will make my next set of plans be that much easier. I can take this experience back to the drawing board.

On a few occasions change orders needed to be developed. Most of the time these change orders were brought on by the buyers of the townhouses. I was often sent back to the company office to deal with these changes. On top of coming up with new prices and material lists based on the changes the overall job schedule needed to be amended every time this happened to account for lost time Below I have listed a few of the building components that were changed after the plans were finished and after construction had already begun.

  • Due to unforseen grade conditions at the start of the project foundation walls needed to be amended.
  • Many cathedral ceilings within the units were abandoned in order to achieve extra bedrooms and additional square footage.
  • Interior walls were added, moved, removed
  • Instead of decks on the back of many of the units the new homeowner’s preferred 3-season rooms.

In the end, this project brought together both the knowledge taken from the classroom along with my prior experience within the field. I realized how much coursework from Building Materials and Wood Technology tied together with a full fledged construction project. I also realized how much more you can learn from a project that you are building both on a piece of paper and in real life. I took away many new skills and enhanced many that I already had.