Building Self-Storage: Creating a Harmonious Design Team

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Architect.  The design process starts with a survey of the land. The architect then creates a plot plan, indicating locations of buildings in relationship to the land. In this initial design the architect considers all the information the civil engineer has provided about site restrictions and the availability of utilities.

The next step is to design the walls and partitions for each floor or level. These are referred to as floor plans. Then the elevations, which are a drawing of what the building will look like, can be done. Elevations include all the exterior faces of the building, and resemble a conceptual picture of the building rather than a lined design. Cross sections and details are added to clearly indicate floor levels and details of footings, foundation, walls, floors, ceilings and roof construction. Details are large scale drawings used by construction personnel to give a close-up of a particular aspect of what they’re working on.

Civil Engineer.  The civil engineer is responsible for everything with regard to the land and what lies beneath the surface. Civil engineers are typically hired locally because of their familiarity with governing authorities and restrictions on land use. Duties include location of utilities, building setbacks, zoning, easements, ingress and egress, land elevations, watershed, etc. Civil engineer drawings are commonly referred to as “civils.”

Structural Engineer.  This person assures the materials and the manner in which they are assembled is strong enough to withstand its own weight, the weight of any use it may be put to, and all internal and external forces—known as vertical loads and lateral stresses—applied to the building.

A load is any force exerted upon a structure or one of its members. Snow load is the weight of snow resting on a building. Wind load is the force imposed by wind blowing in any direction; and seismic loads are the potential forces exerted by earthquakes. Additional loads are the weight of the building itself, referred to as the dead load, and live loads, produced by people, furnishings, equipment and materials inside the building.

Stresses, on the other hand, are internal forces of a material constructed so as to resist external forces. Tension is the stress to pull something apart; compression is the stress to push something together; and shear is the stress that tends to keep two adjoining planes of material from sliding against each other under opposing parallel forces.

Mechanical Engineers.  Mechanical, electrical and plumbing drawings are created by mechanical engineers and referred to as MEPs. They are often drawn by one engineer. Mechanical drawings cover the complete design, layout and installation of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems within buildings and on the premises. Their drawings show floor plan layouts, cross sections and details of products and materials.

The electrical drawings cover the complete design of the electrical system for lighting, power, alarm and communication systems, and related equipment. They should show connections to existing power, and floor plans indicating the location of outlets, lighting fixtures, power panels, etc. Plumbing drawings depict the location of plumbing fixtures, distribution lines and water-use connections.

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