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Difference Between Framed & Load Bearing Structure!

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According to ‘Philip Garrison’ (Author of Basic Structures for Engineers and Architects), The structure of a building (or any other object) is the outer portion which is responsible for maintaining the shape of the building under the influence of the forces, loads and other environmental factors to which it is subjected. It is important that the structure as a whole (or any part of it) does not fall off, break down or deform to an unacceptable degree when subjected to such forces or loads.

Also Read: Which Load Combinations are to be Considered While Structural Designing of a House?

In the world of construction, the term ‘structure’ refers to anything that is constructed or built with interconnected elements at fixed location on the ground. This includes buildings, but can refer to anything that is designed to bear loads, even if it is not intended to be employed by people.

A combination of components connected together in such a way to serve a useful purpose is called structure. Structures can be approached in numerous models: solid, framed, shell, load bearing, membrane, composite, trusses, cables and arches, surface structure etc. These are mostly classified based on the geometry due to which these achieve strength to resist different types of loads.

In a framed structure, a framework or ‘skeleton’ of beams and columns is used to carry the structural loads down the building to the foundations. The framework is usually of steel or reinforced concrete, but in very small (usually single-storey) structures may be of timber or aluminium.

In a non-framed structure, the wall itself is load-bearing. These load-bearing walls are usually built in masonry, but may be of reinforced concrete too. Here the walls transmit the loads to the foundations.

Listed below are the differences between framed structure and load bearing structure.

Framed Structure vs Load Bearing Structure

01. Definition

Framed Structure

  • A framed structure is a structure having the combination of structural components i.e. beam, column and slab connected together to resist the gravity and different lateral loads. These structures are generally used to overcome the large forces, moments developing due to the applied loads.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Load bearing structure is the structure in which the loads of the roofs as well as lateral loads are borne by walls, and through walls they are transferred to lower floor and eventually to foundations.

02. Components

Framed Structure

  • Framed structure consists of beam, column, and slab.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Load bearing structure consists of heavy masonry walls of brick or stone that support the entire structure.

03. Load Transfer Path

Framed Structure

  • In a framed structure, vertical load transfer path is from slab/floor to beam, beam to column and column to footing and then to soil.

Load Bearing Structure

  • In load bearing structure, vertical load transfer path is from slab/floor to walls and walls to footing.

04. Height of Structure

Framed Structure

  • Multi storey buildings of any heights can be constructed. According to ‘R. Chudley’ (Author of Building Construction Handbook), these buildings are usually designed for office, hotel, residential apartment and contain the means of vertical circulation in the form of stairs and lifts occupying up to 20% of the floor area.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Limited storey buildings can only be constructed. According to ‘SP 62’ (S & T, 1997, Handbook on Building Construction Practices), For load-bearing construction, so far buildings up to 6 storeys have gone up. In many countries, even 14 storeys have been built only with masonry.

05. Resistant to Earthquake

Framed Structure

  • Framed structure is more resistant to Earthquake.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Load bearing structure has limitations to resist Earthquake. (If it is not done correctly.) However, for low rise buildings, it performs equally well.

06. Thickness of Wall

Framed Structure

  • In framed structure all the walls are thinner.

Load Bearing Structure

  • In load bearing structure walls are thicker.

07. Carpet Area

Framed Structure

  • In these types of structures more carpet area is available, as walls are thinner.

Load Bearing Structure

  • In these types of structures less carpet area is available, as walls are thicker and hence carpet area efficiency of planning is less.

08. Popularity

Framed Structure

  • Most used form of construction.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Not popularly used form of construction at present.

09. Excavation Required

Framed Structure

  • Excavation for this type of construction is less.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Excavation for this type of construction is more.

10. Labour Required

Framed Structure

  • It is less labour intensive.

Load Bearing Structure

  • It is more labour intensive.

11. Speed of Construction

Framed Structure

  • Speed of construction is more.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Speed of construction is less.

12. Material Required

Framed Structure

  • It is less material intensive.

Load Bearing Structure

  • It is more material intensive. Hence dead load is also more.

13. Repair Cost

Framed Structure

Load Bearing Structure

  • Cost of repair of load bearing structure is less.

14. Life of Structure

Framed Structure

  • Life is reduced if not done with proper technique, and specifications are not strictly followed.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Life is not much affected even though all standards are not strictly followed.

15. Worker Required for Construction

Framed Structure

  • Only skilled workers are needed for its construction.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Skilled as well as non-skilled worker can construct.

16. Uniformity of Wall 

Framed Structure

  • Thickness of wall can be maintained uniform throughout. Thickness of wall remains same with increase in height.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Thickness of wall cannot be maintained uniform throughout. Thickness of wall increases with increase in height.

17. Purpose/Function of Wall

Framed Structure

  • Here the walls are for privacy and security. No limitation exists in form of taking walls over walls and rooms over rooms. In framed structural system, external & internal walls serve only the purpose of enclosures for creation of rooms and protection from weather.

Load Bearing Structure

  • In Load bearing structure the walls carry loads apart from privacy and security. Limitation of wall over wall/ room over room. In load bearing structural system external & internal walls serve as a structural element as well as serve the purpose of enclosure for protection from weather i.e. rain, sound, heat, fire etc.

18. Flexibility in Design 

Framed Structure

  • It is flexible in design as you can shift location of walls. More functional architectural design is possible. Flexible utilization of space. No necessity to construct walls on walls. Any wall can be taken anywhere. Hence, flexibility in use.

Load Bearing Structure

  • It is not flexible in design as you cannot remove/shift walls, hence effectiveness becomes less. In load bearing structure, it is necessary to construct wall over wall, as walls are load bearing components. Therefore, you cannot change the location of wall resulting in less flexibility in use.

19. Room Dimension 

Framed Structure

  • Room dimension can be altered.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Room dimensions cannot be changed as walls have to be above walls only.

20.  Feasibility of Cantilever Elements

Framed Structure

  • Cantilever elements can be easily included in the system.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Inclusion of Cantilever element is a tough task.

21. Span in Structure

Framed Structure

  • In case of a framed structure, large span areas are possible. No Limitation of span i.e. room sizes.

Load Bearing Structure

  • In case of a load bearing structure, large span areas are not possible. Limitation of span i.e. room sizes.

22. Cost Variation According to Foundation Depth

Framed Structure

Load Bearing Structure

  • Foundation cost of Load Bearing is more than the Framed Structure if the depth of foundation increases beyond 1.5m, and sometimes may become costlier than RCC framed structure.

23. Flexibility in Construction 

Framed Structure

  • Construction of a framed structure is simple.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Construction of a load bearing structure is cumbersome, particularly for earthquake resistant structures.

24. Materials for Construction

Framed Structure

  • Frame can be of RCC frame, Steel, Wooden, etc.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Load bearing walls can be from Brick, Stone, concrete block, etc.

25. Opening in Wall

Framed Structure

  • Large openings in walls are possible.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Limitations for providing openings in walls, which will affect the light and ventilation in room.

26. Design Complexity

Framed Structure

  • Design of framed structure is not simple as compared to load bearing structure, you need design skills and software tools.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Design of load bearing structure is simple.

27. Plant & Machines for Construction

Framed Structure

  • Framed structures require expensive plant and machines to construct.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Load bearing structures can be constructed without expensive plant and machines as compared to a framed structure.

28. Carpet Area Efficiency

Framed Structure

  • As the carpet area efficiency is more, framed structure is not only efficient but also cost effective particularly when the land prices in urban areas are huge; for example, if there is a saving in area by 5%, and one would spend Rs. 50.00 to 70.00 per sq.ft. extra for the cost of construction by using RCC framed structure, however, in such case if the land prices are say Rs. 10,000.00 per sq.ft. and FSI is 2 the saving in terms of cost of land would be Rs. 500.00 to Rs. 1000.00 per sq.ft.

Load Bearing Structure

  • If the land area is more, then the saving resulting by way of less cost of construction will be useless as your ultimate usage of carpet area i.e. usable area will be less.

29. Use of Construction Based on Load Bearing Capacity of Soil

Framed Structure

  • It is mostly used for High rise buildings and for Low rise buildings where good soil for resting load bearing foundation is not available, say up to 1.5 to 2.00 mt and simultaneously cost of bricks is also more.

Load Bearing Structure

  • It is used in Low rise buildings where good soil for foundation is available at 1.2 to 1.5 mt. According to ‘Frederick S. Merritt’ (Author of Building Design and Construction Handbook), such construction is often limited to relatively low structures, because load-bearing walls become massive in tall structures. Nevertheless, a wall bearing system may be advantageous for tall buildings when designed with reinforcing steel.

30. Time for Completion

Framed Structure

  • Generally, RCC framed structure is constructed first and the external as well as partition walls are constructed later.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Walls have to be built first as they support the slab / roof and hence all walls have to be built simultaneously which is time consuming.

31. Strength of Masonry Unit Required

Framed Structure

Load Bearing Structure

  • Bricks having good compressive strength, as defined by local codes, mostly 75 kg per cm2 are needed as these are the elements which ultimately take the load.

32. Alteration of Structural Element

Framed Structure

  • The frame is an active structural element and if any change in the structural element is done it may endanger the safety of the building.

Load Bearing Structure

  • Walls are the active structural elements and thus no change in it can be done at any time. (The load bearing walls are the earliest form of construction known to the civilization)

To sum up, Load bearing structures as such are way cheaper as compared to the framed structures. However, this is true only if the bricks used in load bearing structures are low prices as compared to concrete used in beam and column for framed structures, and depth of foundation is not more than 1.00 m to 1.2 m. When the structures are large and where you need flexibility in design i.e. you don’t want a wall over wall and when you have large span structures, R.C.C. framed structure is always favored, as load bearing structures have a lot of limitations. Load bearing structure is economical only if the bricks and stones are available easily and at a competitive price. In area, where clay for bricks is not available easily, the cost of the load bearing structure may shoot up or might not be very competitive as compared to the framed structure. The cost of a load bearing structure will also increase with increase in height, as the thickness of walls will be inflating.

Must Read:

Difference Between RCC Framed & Steel Framed Structure
Difference Between Steel Framed & Load Bearing Structure

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