Civil Engineering Basic Knowledge

Civil Engineering Basic Knowledge

Abbreviation, Full Forms, and Terminology.

Name Description
ASTM American society for testing materials
C/C Center to center distance
DL Development length
Sub-structure Structure which is below the ground level
Super-structure Structure which is above ground level
Elevation View which we can see when we stand right in front of the structure on any of the sides.
Plastering Cement, sand, and water mix applied on brick wall for smooth surface for painting.
Plinth level Level on which the actual structure stands on
Riser The vertical height of single step
Tread Horizontal portion where we put our foot on which going on steps
Footing The bottom most part of structure. These are categorized as Isolated footing, combined footing, Raft etc.
Columns The vertical members of structure
Clear cover Clear distance maintained from concrete face up to face of the reinforcement steel.
Effective depth Distance from top of the concrete face upto the CG of reinforcement.
Singly reinforced section Section of concrete member with reinforcement at only on tension face.
Doubly reinforced section Section of concrete member with reinforcement on both tension and compression side.
Stirrups Steel bent in closed shape of either Rectangular of circular shape.
Cantilever beam Beam with fixed support on one side and the other end is free.
Propped cantilever Beam with fixed support on one side and other end is with pinned support.
Pedestal Length of the member is less than 3 times in width
One way slab Ratio of length to width is more than 2 its one way slab
Two way slab Ratio of length to width is less than or equal to 2 , its two way slab.
Slender column Length to width ratio of column is more than 12 , then its slender column
Plain cement concrete Cement concrete mix provided on the ground level over which foundations, beams are constructed.
  • Pile foundation
The foundation system with Piles i.e cylinder shaped reinforced concrete member.
Retaining wall Wall constructed to retain earth
Scaffolding Temporary structure, where work needs to be carried out at higher elevations.

Construction Materials

1. Cement: Cement is essentially attained by crushing the gravels comprising lime in addition to clay. Cement is the binder that aids in the attachment of cement, sand alongside with water. Nearly of the actual significant categories of cement.

2. Aggregate: Two different type of aggregate are as follows.

1. Fine Aggregate

  • Fine aggregate is the material which permits finished 4.75 mm sieve then reserved on 0.075 mm sieve
  • Example: Sand

2. Coarse Aggregate

  • Coarse aggregate is the material which retains on 4.75 mm sieve.
  • Example: Gravel

3. Concrete: Concrete is attained by mingling cement, aggregate in addition water in accordance with a preferred mix. At this point

  • water to cement proportion shows a significant part.
  • Strength of concrete is inversely proportionate to the water-cement ratio.
  • Concrete is characterized by terminology as M-25. Where M is Mix and 25 is the compression strength at the 28 days allowing for
    concrete cubes of 15 cm cube.
  • Concrete has Two setting types.
  • Initial Setting time is of 30 min.
  • Final Setting time is of 10 hrs.
  • The test for setting time is through by means of Vicats apparatus.
  • Concrete setting time can be increased or decreased dependent on environmental circumstances by means of admixtures.
  • Admixture for increasing the setting time is named retarder then for decreasing the setting time is named accelerator.

Any Structure Typically Consists of Following

  • Foundation.
  • Columns.
  • Beams.
  • Slabs.
  • Main Walls and partition walls.
  • Staircase.
  • Flooring.
  • Finishes – Plastering and Painting.
  • Boundary Wall.

Basic Loads on Structure

  1. Self-weight of structure i.e slabs, beams, columns, walls, etc.,
  2. Live Loads due to furniture, equipment, machinery, etc.
  3. Wind Loads.
  4. Seismic Loads / Earthquake Loads
  5. Snow Loads
  6. Hurricane Loads at some locations

List of Major Indian Codes

Code for Reinforced concrete IS:  456
Specifications for steel construction IS: 800
Wind Loads on building IS: 875
For Seismic Specifications IS:  1893
For water retaining structures IS: 3370

Usefull Tips for Civil Engineers

Lapping of bars Diameter of bar is less than 36mm.
Circular column Use Minimum 6 longitudinal bars
Thickness of slab Minimum is 0.125m
PH value of water More than 6 should be used for building purposes.
Compressive strength of Bricks 3.5 N /mm2
Dead Load of structure Self-weight of Structure
Moisture content Sand that haves more than 5% must not be used for Concrete mix.
DPC Thickness should not be less than 2.5cm
RMC (Ready Mix concrete)
  • It is made at factory and transported to the site.
  • It is used where there is a lack of space for mixing the concrete
  • It is used where a huge amount of concrete is required for construction.
Height of floor 3 m or 10 ft
Cantilever Beam One end is fixed support and the other end is free.
Simply supported beam It has Minimum of two supports
PCC It is Used on members when the tensile forces are not acting on it.
Weight of first-class clay brick and crushing strength 3.85 Kg and 10.5MN/m2
Impermeability of concrete It is the concrete that resists the entry of water or moisture into it.
Curing Period of RCC 28 days
Minimum sill level height 44 inches
Ties Transverse reinforcement providing in columns
Stirrups Transverse reinforcement providing in Beams
The thermal expansion co-efficient of concrete and steel 12×10−6/°C
Number of Bricks necessary for 1m3 of Brick masonary 550 bricks
Specific gravity of Cement

Specific gravity of brick

Specific gravity of sand




Standard Size of Brick 19 cm x 9 cm x 9 cm
Slope or Pitch of the stair 25 degrees to 40 degrees
Rise in stairs 150mm to 200mm
Tread in staircase 250mm to 300mm
Hook length More than 9 * diameter of bar
Unit weight of PCC

Unit weight of RCC

Unit weight of STEEL


25 KN/m3


Volume of 50 kg cement bag 1.3cft
TMT bars Thermo Mechanically treated bars
Length of each bar from factory 12m

Concrete Basic Knowledge

  1. The concrete must not be thrown as of a height of more than 1m.
  2. Cube test is passed out for every 30 m3practise of concrete.
  3. A head mason must labour 25-30 m3throughtout a day.
  4. In manufacturing, the rate analysis for the work of labours is considered in Man Hours.
  5. Theodolite least count is 20 Secs while Compass Least count is 30 mins.
  6. Cement more than 3 months old cannot be used for construction.
  7. Calculation of extra water in the concrete mix to rise setting time primes to arrangement the Cracks or honeycomb in hardened
  8. Vibration in freshly made concrete is completed to eliminate the air foams in a concrete mix.
  9. The concrete can be raised to an extreme height of 50 musing Concrete Pumps.
  10. Stirrups in Beams and Ties in Column are on condition that to grip the shear force and to save longitudinal bars in location.
  11. The Major aim for by means of steel as reinforcement is owing to thermal expansion.
  12. M20 grade of concrete is normally used in the construction of a slab.
  13. Floor area engaged by 50 kg of Cement bag is 0.3 m2 and elevation of 0.18 m.
  14. According to IS 456: 2000, Maximum diameter of bar used in the slab would not surpass 1/8th of the entire thickness of the slab.

Test of Building Materials

Civil engineers need to ensure correct information of various tests of building materials.

1. Soil Test.

  • Core Cutter Test.
  • Compaction Test of Soil.
  • Sand Replacement Test.
  • Tri-axial Test.
  • Consolidation Test.

2. Concrete Test.

  • Slump Test.
  • Compression Test.
  • Split Tensile Test.
  • Soundness.

3. Bitumen Test.

  • Ductility Test
  • Softening Point Test
  • Gravity Test.
  • Penetration Test.

Concrete Slump Value for Various Concrete Constructions

Concrete Mixes Slump range in mm
Columns and Retaining walls 75-150 mm
Beams and Slabs 50-100 mm
Cement Concrete Pavements 20-30 mm
Decks of bridge 30-75 mm
Vibrated Concrete

12-25 mm

Huge Mass constructions 25-50 mm

Grades of Concrete

Grades of Concrete Prpostion
M5 1:5:10


M10 1:3:6
M15 1:2:4


M25 1:1:2

Clear Cover to Main Reinforcement

Footing 50 mm
Top Raft Foundation 50 mm
Bottom/ Sides Raft Foundation 75 mm
Strap Beam 50 mm
Grade Slab 20 mm
Column 40 mm
Shear Wall 25 mm
Beams 25 mm
Slabs 15 mm
Flat Slabs 20 mm
Staircase 15 mm
Retaining Wall 20 – 25 mm
Water Retaining Structures 20 – 30 mm

Unit Weight of Different Materials

Concrete 25 kN/m3
Brick 19 kN/m3
Steel 7850 Kg/m3
Water 1000 Lt/m3
Cement 1440 Kg/m3

Development Length

Compression 38 diameter
Tension 47 and 60 diameter

Unit Conversation

1 Cent 435.60 ft2
1 Meter 3.2808 ft
1 M2 10.76 ft2
1 Feet 0.3048 m
1 KN 100 Kg
1 kN 1000 N
1 Ton 1000Kg 10,000 N = 10 kN
1 kG 9.81 N
1 Gallon 3.78 Litres
1 Hectare 2.471 acre
1 Acre 4046.82 m2

Super Structure

A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships having the degree of freedom zero (in the terms of theory of machines).

Plinth Level

What Is Plinth Level? The plinth is the part of the superstructure between the top of the tie beam at the finished ground level (the top level of the soil surrounding the structure that has been prepared and leveled before construction) and the floor level of the building( the ground floor level inside the building).

Effective Depth

Effective Depth (d) – The effective depth (d) of a reinforced concrete floor slab is the distance from the compression face to the center of the tensile steel when an element is subjected to a bending moment.

One Way Slab

One way slab is a slab which is supported by beams on the two opposite sides to carry the load along one direction. The ratio of longer span (l) to shorter span (b) is equal or greater than 2, considered as One way slab because this slab will bend in one direction i.e in the direction along its shorter span.

Slender Column

Slender columns can be defined as columns with small cross sections compared to their lengths. Generally, slender columns have lower strength when compared to short columns, for a constant cross section, increasing the length causes a reduction in the strength.

Civil Engineering Basic Knowledge

As a civil engineer, you need to have the fundamentals of civil engineering to be successful. These include understanding the construction of bridges, dams, and buildings. It is also essential that you learn the basics of surveying and drafting to get involved in land surveying.

Civil Engineering Basic Formulas

1. Triangle Basic Formula

Data of Triangle

  • Breadth of Triangle = B.
  • Height of Triangle =H.
  • Inclined Length of Triangle = C.
  • Length of Triangle (L) = L.

Formula of Triangle

  • Inclined Length (C) =√ (B2 + H2).
  • Perimeter = B + H + C.
  • Area of triangle cross-section (A) = 1/2 x B x H.
  • Area of Triangle = Perimeter x Length of Triangle.
  • Volume of Triangle (V) = Area of Triangle x Length of Triangle.

2. Rectangle Basic Formula

Data of Rectangle

  • Length of Rectangle = L.
  • Breadth of Rectangle = B.
  • Height of Rectangle = H.

Formula of Rectangle

  • Perimeter or Peripheral length (P) = L+ B +L + B =2 x (L + B).
  • Area of Rectangle Cross-section = L x B.
  • Area of Rectangle (A) = Peripheral Length x Height of Rectangle.
  • Volume of Rectangle (V) = Area of Rectangle x Height of Rectangle.

3. Square Basic Formula

Data of Square

  • Length of Square = L.
  • Breadth of Square = L.
  • Height of Square = H.

Formula of Square

  • Perimeter or Peripheral length of Square (P) = L + L+ L + L = 4L.
  • Area of Square Cross-section = L2.
  • Area of Square (A) = Perimeter x Height of Square = 4L x H.
  • Volume of Square (V) = Area of Square (A) x Height of Square.

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