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Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E

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Today, we will discuss something very general. Inspite of knowing these general thumb rules, Civil

Engineers still end up making disastrous mistakes which would not only cost them but also cost the

people living in the building designed by these engineers.

Earlier, I wrote an article describing one of my projects where structural designing was executed on site

(which was extremely pathetic) even before Architectural design was done. (Check out: Consequences of

Wrong Structural Design | Live Project example)

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Three thumb rules to be followed are as follows:

1. Size of the Columns

2. Distance between Columns

3. Alignment of columns

Thumb rule no.1

Size of the columns

The size of the columns depends on the total load on the columns.

Minimum size of the column should not be less than 9”x9”.

9”x9” columns are to be used for a single storey structure with M15 grade of concrete.

In case, 9”x9” column size is to be used for 1 and half storey structure, then it is advised to use M20

grade concrete.

A safe and structurally sound column size for a 1 and half storey structure should not be less than

12”x9” using M15 grade concrete. This should be in your most preferred and practical options list.

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Distance between the columns

Try to maintain equal distance between the centres of two columns. Always plan a column layout on a


The distance between two columns of size 9”x9” should not be more than 4m centre to centre of


If larger barrier free distances are required then going for larger column size is to be used.

The size of the columns increase because of two factors:

1. Increase in the distance between two columns (This increases the dimensions of the columns as well the depth of the beam.)

2. Height of the building (Increase in the number of floors is directly proportional to the dimensions of the columns.

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Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E

Alignment of Columns

A rectangular grid is to be made for placing the columns. This helps in avoiding mistakes and placing in

columns can be done in the right way.

The columns can preferably be arranged in two different fashions:

1. In a straight line with the help of a grid

2. In a circular fashion for circular buildings.

Zigzag arrangement of columns is an absolutely wrong way of working out Structural design. It should

be remembered that when columns are erected, beams are laid connecting the columns.

The Zigzag column placement causes three major issues:

1. Unbalanced load transfer

2. Problems in wall construction

3. Problems in laying beams

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Also read:

IntroductionIntroductionIntroductionIntroduction totototo designdesigndesigndesign ofofofof RCCRCCRCCRCC StructuresStructuresStructuresStructures

BuildingBuildingBuildingBuilding DesignDesignDesignDesign GuideGuideGuideGuide which includes design of:

1. RCC columns

2. RCC beams

3. Foundations

4. Staircase

of: 1. RCC columns 2. RCC beams 3. Foundations 4. Staircase ShareShareShareShare thisthisthisthis Post:Post:Post:Post:

ShareShareShareShare thisthisthisthis Post:Post:Post:Post:

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RelatedRelatedRelatedRelated posts:posts:posts:posts:

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5. FlyFlyFlyFly ashashashash BricksBricksBricksBricks |||| BuildingBuildingBuildingBuilding MaterialsMaterialsMaterialsMaterials andandandand ConstructioConstructioConstructioConstructionnnn

This entry was posted by Benzu JK on September 9, 2011, 9:27 am and is filed under Building Construction, Civil

Projects. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0.

Alignment of columns, Building Construction, Design of columns, Distance between columns, Guide to making a column layout, How to make a column layout?, Size of the columns, structural design, Thumb rules for making a column layout, Wrong Structural Design

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Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E

#1 by GhulamGhulamGhulamGhulam MustafaMustafaMustafaMustafa ViraViraViraVira on September 9, 2011 - 10:58 am

wow gr8 stuff thanx

#2 by BenzuJK on September 9, 2011 - 11:53 am

Hello Mustafa, I am glad our article has been of help to you. Do keep visiting. Cheers

article has been of help to you. Do keep visiting. Cheers #3 by RingwangRingwangRingwangRingwang on December

#3 by RingwangRingwangRingwangRingwang on December 22, 2011 - 1:36 am

Dear Sir/madam. My site plan total area is 45’X40′. I required longest distant b/w two coulmn is 20ft and 10ft. can you suggest me what size of column i have to take and also beam depth. and types.

#4 by RingwangRingwangRingwangRingwang on December 22, 2011 - 3:01 am

i need one office room for the five empolyer and one for the cheif person. also two toilet. and verandha of 7ft. please how i have to make the column layout

#5 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on July 26, 2013 - 5:33 pm

Hello Ringwang,

You can now approach our experts at Civil Projects Online for advise and also for getting the structural design done.

DesignDesignDesignDesign ServicesServicesServicesServices bybybyby CivilCivilCivilCivil ProjectsProjectsProjectsProjects OnlineOnlineOnlineOnline

#6 by awaisawaisawaisawais on April 2, 2012 - 9:27 pm



thanks for this good welfare

#8 by AbdulAbdulAbdulAbdul on September 22, 2012 - 7:54 pm

Hi Benz!! I really find this site educative residential house with rooftop

between column is 3.5m Sincerely Abdul




am a new bee in this field


am now planning to construct a 2-storey


a lot.

my 25cmX25cm column with 4-20mm rebars is safe? Average distance

for your valuable comment

#9 by venkateshvenkateshvenkateshvenkatesh on November 21, 2014 - 11:06 am


It is really very informative.

Thanks a lot…!

#10 by Poonguzhale.VPoonguzhale.VPoonguzhale.VPoonguzhale.V on September 27, 2011 - 2:53 am

worth stuff. thanks a lot

#11 by sharifsharifsharifsharif on November 13, 2012 - 3:39 am

Hello dear I have some question in column and beam about column please tell me the minimum and maximum steel bars in column and beam numbers and dia of steels

#12 by VaibhavVaibhavVaibhavVaibhav kashyapkashyapkashyapkashyap on December 3 2011 - 4:42 am

Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E

Igts really worth article… Thnx…

#13 by sunitasunitasunitasunita on January 31, 2012 - 3:02 am

Really helpful article Thanks for sharing

#14 by rhonrhonrhonrhon ammangammangammangammang on February 15, 2012 - 11:14 pm


#15 by YTSRAOYTSRAOYTSRAOYTSRAO on March 11, 2012 - 11:50 pm

I am new to RCC & Structural design. Can i know suitable books for Slab, beam, Staircase designs etc.

#16 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on December 7, 2013 - 5:15 am

There are a lot of books, most of them have the same technical information. My personal favourite was a book by Shah-Kale. Very easy to understand and learn structural design.

#17 by RajuRajuRajuRaju on March 20, 2012 - 6:46 pm

I’m building a 2 storied residential building (800) sq.ft. There are 12 columns. height of each column from base to floor level is 9 ft. I want to make singletie beam of 10×12 at pl level. My engineer suggests me for 2 tie bems, one at 5′ & another at 9′ height. Is it required? pl. mail me

#18 by khankhankhankhan on April 14, 2012 - 2:51 am

how i calculate steel of roof if we have 20 meter short bore and 40 meter is long bore steel type is 6# and how we will convert in weight, thanks

#19 by loiloiloiloi on April 20, 2012 - 12:08 am

it helps me a lot…thanks for sharing.

#20 by KANNANKANNANKANNANKANNAN on May 1, 2012 - 2:35 am


#21 by GerardGerardGerardGerard on May 2, 2012 - 4:51 pm

Sorry, if I may sound dumb as I am a new bee. What does ‘1 and half storey structure’ mean? A house will be either 1 or 2 storey.

Also, would it be ok if the column size is 12″x12″ using M15 grade concrete?

Thanks in advance.

#22 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on May 15, 2012 - 10:17 am

Hello Gerard, 1 and half storey is calculated by adding the length of the plinth beam and the parapet wall. When their lengths are added, they sum up to 5′ which is equivalent to half storey. This is assumed so since they have to be considered in the structural design calculations. As far as column size is concerned, the column size for any building is derived from its structural calculations.

GoGoGoGo throughthroughthroughthrough thethethethe followingfollowingfollowingfollowing article.article.article.article. ItItItIt willwillwillwill bebebebe ofofofof helhelhelhelpppp totototo Building design Guide | Structural Design

#23 by mahanteshmahanteshmahanteshmahantesh on July 13, 2012 - 4:56 am



very nice article if possible mail me thumbrules for brick masonry.

Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E

#24 by GouravGouravGouravGourav tiwaritiwaritiwaritiwari on July 30, 2012 - 4:49 am

Very nice articles. Thanks for such a wonderful job. GhPlease mention some more thumb rule practised in civil eng.

#25 by NishiNishiNishiNishi on August 22, 2012 - 9:18 am


are working on a large area and have to give a barrier free movement like in a hospital?

also if we plan to give some parts double height

that was really helpful but can u tell me what should be the size of the columns and c-c distance if we

will that change the dimensions of the column?

#26 by DongaparDongaparDongaparDongapar NyikangoNyikangoNyikangoNyikango on October 8, 2012 - 12:28 am

Could you kindly provide with an article on how to design flat slabs. You are articles are helpful to civil engineers. with best wishes, Donga.

#27 by ShwetaShwetaShwetaShweta on November 5, 2012 - 8:32 pm

Really its very easy to understand.

#28 by RollsonRollsonRollsonRollson LasradoLasradoLasradoLasrado on December 2, 2012 - 7:17 am


tons of useful info on the site. Awesome work. Kudos! Would like to clarify a few things about though – when you say zigzag arrangment of column is wrong what exactly do you mean. i’ve come across projects where there is a basic grid but all the columns may not be alligned to form perfect rectangles. but the beams connecting four columns do form a rectangles. when you say zig zag what exactly do you mean? clarification much appreciated!


Rollson lasrado

#29 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on July 26, 2013 - 7:07 pm

In this case, it means the columns should preferably in a straight line and not placed randomly.

#30 by shankhpalshankhpalshankhpalshankhpal shivdasshivdasshivdasshivdas D.D.D.D. on May 19, 2013 - 12:07 am

sir,i am planned to construct g+1 storey my depth is 6’on hard strata i.e on hard murum strata.length of house is 50’*10.5′ .pl.advice me about r.c.c. footing, no.of columns placing of columns,reinforced bar details in column, same details about beams and slab

#31 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on July 26, 2013 - 5:11 pm

Hello Shankpal,

There is some good news I would like to share with you. Civil projects Online has officially launched its Architectural and Structural Design Services. You can immediately get in touch with them and get the answers to your questions. It is important for you to understand that we cannot generalize the structural design of columns and footings. It needs expertise without which it cannot be constructed safe and sound. We spend lacs of rupees on the construction of our houses because we build them once in our lifetime. Hence, it is important to go the right way and not take chances by deciding the number of columns and footings on our own. The entire aim of offering design services at such low costs is so that people belonging to all levels are able to afford it. We want the best for you.

Take a look and you should definitely get in touch.

ArchitecturalArchitecturalArchitecturalArchitectural andandandand StructuralStructuralStructuralStructural DesignDesignDesignDesign ServicesServicesServicesServices bybybyby CivCivCivCivilililil ProjectsProjectsProjectsProjects OnlineOnlineOnlineOnline

Look forward to hearing from you. Regards, BenzuJK

#32 by RamRamRamRam on July 20, 2013 - 6:13 pm

Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E



#33 by RamRamRamRam on July 20, 2013 - 6:18 pm

hi . i need some another web sites for our civil related

#34 by RiteshRiteshRiteshRitesh kumarkumarkumarkumar singhsinghsinghsingh on July 20, 2013 - 10:44 pm

nice guidance

#35 by gokulgokulgokulgokul on October 29, 2013 - 3:45 am

it’s very nice

#36 by victorvictorvictorvictor on December 5, 2013 - 3:55 am

Dear sir, room size 36feet /13 feet. please let me know reinforcement details of coulmns and slab. soil is gravel in loose condition

#37 by hemanthhemanthhemanthhemanth on July 24, 2014 - 11:21 pm

Is 12 mm iron 8 numbers enough for column size of 6″*18″ for site measuring 250 sq feet for 4 floors

#38 by lakhwinderlakhwinderlakhwinderlakhwinder singhsinghsinghsingh on September 27, 2014 - 10:34 am

Sir.i want to construct two stories house problem is that we want to live on first floor leaving ground floor on columns for parking a car tractor area is 800sqft

#39 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on October 26, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Dear Mr Singh,

It would be wise to employ a Civil Engineer to guide you.


Hello Sir,

Thanks for all the posts & your suggestions, it is very helpful for all peoples. Here after reading the post “thumb rules for designing column”, I have some problem. Last year I have constructed my home of G floor & made all column & beam of 9″x9″ with 4 nos. 12mm bars & used M15 concrete. Distance of all column are


I want to construct this year one floor more (so G+1), pls suggest whether my home will be at risk or OK to survive. And another thing, Suppose in future I want to construct one more floor, How the same can be achieved???

….Ashish Sahu

#41 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on July 16, 2015 - 6:23 pm

If you do that your house will collapse. Thumb rules are minimum standards and not meant to be used by layman like you. They are to be used under the supervision of a Civil engineer who is an expert in this field. If you need experts working on your project, you should be willing to pay them as well unless you want your house to collapse and your family killed under the debris.

#42 by virendervirendervirendervirender on January 26, 2015 - 10:47 pm

Dear Sir\mam I want to know that if we are constructing a 3 storey house than what should be the distance between 2 columns. please tell the minimum distance which can be between the two coloums.

#43 by BenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJKBenzuJK on February 18, 2015 - 12:41 pm

Thumb rules for designing a Column layout | Civil Engineering | Civil E

There is no minimum or maximum distance. It all depends on the design. You should hire a structural designer. You are building a house for 60 years lifespan. You can get a good structural designer for Rs 7 per square feet builtup area. That is a small investment for complete peace of mind.

#44 by bidulbidulbidulbidul boruahboruahboruahboruah on May 29, 2015 - 9:47 am

thanks for your article

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