Anyone involved in a responsible role in building needs a very
broad understanding of a wide variety of materials, their potential and
deficiencies in use. The aim of this book is to provide this fundamental
understanding as a starting point.
Many formal courses in architecture and building teach building
construction as a major subject and refer to the products used with little
background information regarding these, their manufacture, raw materials
and peculiarities.
When local buildings used local products, which were basically few,
easily identified and understood by local tradesmen, this was a tolerable
situation. Present-day conditions in industrialised communities are very
Materials of exceptional qualities have often been transported long
distances for special projects, but it was not until the 19th and 20th
centuries that modern transport made this commonplace for modest
houses as well as major monuments.

As a result of this, the variety of materials available in cities and many
industrialised regions has increased dramatically. Whereas stone, brick,
timber, mortar, plaster, terra cotta and slate were the primary materials
two hundred years ago, the range commonly available today, even under
those general classifications, is far wider than ever before. With the rise of
the steel, cement, aluminium, glass and chemical industries, comparative
newcomers as major building component manufacturers, the traditionally
restricted range has exploded.
To help readers extend their knowledge and to relate the material
characteristics to further studies of its uses, references are given to many
documents from recognised Australian authorities and some overseas
publications. Trade publications referred to often have local counterparts
in other countries.


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