What is Unsupported

Definition of Unsupported in Construction

The term unsupported when used in the construction industry, normally indicates a negative issue. There are occasions in the industry that the term unsupported is used as a descriptive term for an element that was intentionally designed, or constructed as an unsupported element. However, in normal conversation regarding the term, unsupported is the negative of supported. Unsupported will indicate any construction element that is not supported by a foundation, column or another construction element. The unsupported element must be held up, or maintained by the strength within itself, such as a cantilevered beam or the end of a tree limb. The important structural characteristics of an unsupported construction element is the forces that are required elsewhere to keep the beam, column, slab, or whatever construction element is noted as unsupported to remain static, or not failing. The end of a structural beam will place considerable force on the supporting element. If a long piece of wood is slid off the edge of a structure, the forces required to keep that piece of wood from simply falling off the side of the structure becomes larger as the wood is slid further off the edge of the structure. The end that is pushed off the structure is the unsupported end of the piece of wood. The elimination of a bearing wall within a structure will cause the floor joist or whatever construction element that is bearing on this wall, to become unsupported. This is a problem, if the weight or downward forces exerted by this floor joist is not supported by something designed to eliminate the unsupported condition. Basically, unsupported is bad and supported is good, in most situations on a construction project.