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It is an accepted fact that computers and specialized software have had a significant impact on planning, designing, constructing, and furnishing modern housing units. Computers are now used for various tasks, such as: drafting, designing, and rendering plans; adding color and shading to layouts; displaying plans in three dimensions; touring building interiors from a walk-through perspective; analyzing a housing unit's energy use; and generating all the necessaiy reports. Today practically every architect, builder, and interior designer can have access to powerful drafting, that are designed to make their work easier and more efficient.

The four basic categories of computer applications in the housing field are: design and analysis, selection of construction elements and processes, service to clients and customers, and project management.

Design and analysis This category includes four primary areas: computer-assisted drafting and design; plot, site, and landscape planning; kitchen and bath design; and energy analysis. The number and type of software programs for these topics are rapidly increasing.

Computer-Assisted Drafting and Design. The largest and most familiar area of computer application in housing is computer-assisted drafting and design. CADD is a computer program that can automatically draw objects to scale or exact measurements. By being able to retrieve standard components or drawings from the computer's memory, the designer is able to save time and improve accuracy. Previously, traditional drawings were done by hand, which is very labor intensive and costly for large-scale projects. Another benefit of CADD is its computerized symbols library. Inserting standard symbols and shapes is quick, easy, and accurate. For example, symbols for trees, furniture, doors, windows, etc. are usually included in an architectural symbols library. When inserting an image in a document, it can be enlarged, reduced, or rotated to a different angle to meet a specific need.

Plot, Site, and Landscape

Planning. These plans are required for most homes and apartment buildings. The plot plan shows the site and location of the buildings on the property. A site plan includes a complete description of the shape, size, and important features on the site. The landscape plan shows all the plants on the site as well as paved areas, fences, and other landscape elements. Some landscape programs even have an aging feature to show how the landscape will change over


time as plants mature. Other computer applications used in plot, site, and landscape planning include:

design and evaluation of water treatment systems water surface profile analysis

calculation of the volume quantities of earth that must be removed from the site or brought in for fill automated contour mapping.

Kitchen and Bath Design. Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most expensive areas per square foot in the home. Both require careful planning to achieve maximum efficiency. As a result, numerous software programs have been developed to assist in designing these rooms and selecting standard appliances, cabinets, and fixtures. These programs allow users to select specific units and place them on a floor plan.

Energy Analysis. Since energy costs today are so significant, a complete energy analysis should be performed for most planned structures. Using these programs, the designer is able to analyze all aspects of energy efficiency and plan energy-efficient structures. Other computer applications of energy analysis include: 1) performance analysis of mechanical and lighting systems

Evaluation of thermal and economic aspects of solar energy systems evaluation of energy reflection and transmission from various surfaces.

Selection of construction elements and processes

The design process frequently involves one or more areas not generally included in typical CADD software. These include: structural component analysis and selection and preferred techniques for construction. Application-specific software is available to aid the designer in making decisions that will improve the use, function, efficiency, or safety of a design.

Structural Analysis allows the designer to design building components able to withstand the building's own stress and weight plus the impact of outside forces. Most nontraditional building designs require structural analysis to ensure design integrity. An architect uses descriptive analysis to calculate stress forces in unique residential structures and structural elements. Other common computer applications of structural analysis focus on the following: strength and elastic stability of building materials heat transfer

pipe rupture and fluid-flow analysis conditions that exert force and strength.

Structural Component Selection. Great assurance is required that the structural components have enough strength to support the intended loads. Many of these structural components are available in new engineered-wood products, which are unfamiliar to many designers and builders. As a result, both do-it-yourselfers and professionals are turning to application- specific software programs to help them select components of the proper size and type for a particular application.

Some common computer programs related to analyzing and selecting structural components focus on the following areas:

fixed arches and other supports steel-structure design

structural members of frames, including cables, beams, and columns.

Computer Simulation. One of the more useful functions of the computer is its ability to simulate, or illustrate, results before the structure or system is built. For example, by changing the layout and/or mixing cabinets of different dimensions, the kitchen can be


tailored to satisfy the client's needs. A wide variety of computer simulation applications are available to show the ultimate results of changing various materials, designs, and systems affecting the home's interior and exterior.

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