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The Quality of a House
Not everybody drives a Cadillac or a Rolls-Royce; many people drive Fords,
Chevrolets, Plymouths, a...
Notwithstanding it takes a little time and careful work to match them and put
them up artistically, the result will well r...
Although birch cupboards are fine, pine also makes good cupboards at
considerably less expense, with less labour.
Instead ...
Copper flashing is more expensive than galvanized iron. The copper is more
durable, but the galvanized iron will probably ...
Some things may not be done with the precision of professional craftsmen, but if
the color scheme is good, and the defects...
I have travelled and built buildings in many parts of the world, particularly in the
Orient, and I have found many alterna...
Sometimes a contractor can be found who will lend his prestige and name to your
job, inspect your work, give you informati...
even in our own good old U.S.A. things vary greatly from coast to coast and from
border to gulf. Western framing is scoffe...
things have been done every possible way you could think of doing them, and
perhaps some ways that you would never dream o...
negotiating with contractors, subcontractors, and building officials. It makes an inter-
esting record if a note is made o...
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What Makes a Quality Home

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A house doesn't necessarily have to be expensive for it to be the best one for your family. Read this document to discover some ways to build a high quality house.

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What Makes a Quality Home

  1. 1. The Quality of a House Not everybody drives a Cadillac or a Rolls-Royce; many people drive Fords, Chevrolets, Plymouths, and some even drive Volkswagens. Photo owned by Ebyabe To be satisfactory, a house does not necessarily have to be of the very best and most expensive construction in every way. It must have a good substantial foundation and a weatherproof roof. Few economies are possible in these two features. There are less expensive ways, however, of doing many things in building a house. Here is an example. If a person is doing his own work and doesn't know how to plaster, he could put up wallboard or plaster board satisfactorily and get a good house, even while admitting that plaster is better. Many of the subdivisions, even the rather good ones, use dry wall construction with plasterboard, because it is quicker to do and perhaps less expensive. For the man building his own house, it is usually easier to do, it costs less money, and it is not nearly so messy as plaster. It is hard to clean up plaster, and it always seems to get where you do not want it. A job much more charming than plaster might be possible by the use of plywood panels, which are not very expensive and, if properly selected, make a beautiful wall.
  2. 2. Notwithstanding it takes a little time and careful work to match them and put them up artistically, the result will well repay the effort. Many different kinds of wood are available: fir, ash, birch, Philippine mahogany, walnut, and many rare woods. These vary greatly in price, but often one can find beautiful panels at a reasonable price. So, if you can't plaster, get something better for the same money. A room with panelled walls will probably look better with a ceiling of wallboard, properly painted in a light color. Or you may wish to reverse the usual practice by putting wood panels with exposed beams on the ceiling, and plasterboard on the walls. Either way, the effect can be very enchanting, if carefully done. Framing lumber comes in five grades. In the West these are, in order of quality beginning with the best: select structural, construction, standard and better, utility and economy. In some places these grades are known as: select structural, No. 1 common, No. 2 common, No. 3 common, and cull. While the joists and rafters should be of a good grade, at least standard or No. 2 common, there is no reason why the lower grade, utility or No. 3 common should not be used for studding, sheathing, sub-flooring, and various nailing blocks. Flooring is made in several grades. It is not necessary to use the most expensive; in fact, you will get a more interesting floor using No. 1 common than you will use either clear or select oak flooring. The most expensive grade is all light in color, while the darker pieces with striking grain are put into the lower grades. Admittedly it takes more time to lay the lower grades, but they can be made into a beautiful floor with considerable saving in the cost of the materials.
  3. 3. Although birch cupboards are fine, pine also makes good cupboards at considerably less expense, with less labour. Instead of expensive wool carpets, many people get along with viscose, and some people find cotton rugs at least endurable. Concrete slab construction is cheaper than wood joist and subfloor construction. Asphalt tile is a cheap durable flooring material which comes in many attractive colors. Radiant panel heating, instead of a forced-air furnace, will be less expensive and is reasonably satisfactory. Forced-air heating is cheaper than heating with steam or hot water. Gravity warm-air heating is cheaper than forced air. Group your plumbing as close together as you can to save on the piping. Asphalt shingles are the cheapest—built up roof next, then shingles, shakes, rigid asbestos shingles. The most expensive are slate and tile.
  4. 4. Copper flashing is more expensive than galvanized iron. The copper is more durable, but the galvanized iron will probably last as long as the rest of the roof, perhaps longer. Photo owned by Bryan An open cornice is cheaper than one that is boxed in. The more mouldings and the larger they are the more expensive the cornice. The appearance of a simple cornice may be more pleasing than an elaborate, expensive one. A roof with few or no valleys is cheaper than a complicated one. A hip roof does not add much to the cost, because the extra you spend on the roof is saved by not having to build the end walls so high. Avoid dormer windows since they are expensive and often leak. When you do your own work, you can often afford to buy better materials than when you hire the work done. The amount of labour required is usually the same whether you use cheap materials or the more expensive kinds; in fact, the more expensive materials often require less labour than the cheaper stuff, and you get a better house using the best materials.
  5. 5. Some things may not be done with the precision of professional craftsmen, but if the color scheme is good, and the defects do not happen to be in the most conspicuous places, you should be able to live very comfortably in a house, wholly, or at least partly built by yourself, with the help of your family and friends. Whatever you do, let it be done as well as your skill and your ability will permit. Never knowingly do a poor or slipshod job, especially when you are building a house. Besides causing you trouble later it will be difficult and expensive to remedy. Do the best piece of work that you possibly can do. Be thorough in your foundation work; just because it is out of sight do not conclude that it is unimportant. Take special precautions in your roof work, remembering that water will always run downhill under the influence of gravity and sometimes uphill when the wind blows hard enough. Fit your windows so that they operate freely. Do your plumbing so that it will not get stopped up, or if it does get stopped, have clean out plugs at the proper places. Solder the joints in your wiring carefully. Join wires only in boxes. Thoroughness in every detail pays big dividends in later satisfaction and especially in freedom from repairs. Repairs seem always to be needed at the most inopportune times. People who have never travelled often think that things are universally done the same way they are in the old home town. Those who travel and observe find that there are many acceptable ways of doing most things. Don't be afraid of inventing something new, or some new way of doing; in this way lies progress. To follow slavishly the accepted way stops progress and results in stagnation. As a Chinese worker once said to his friend who was interested in being up to date, "Don't try to tell me how to do this; my grandfather taught me."
  6. 6. I have travelled and built buildings in many parts of the world, particularly in the Orient, and I have found many alternative ways of doing building work, some of it superior to our own, and much of it just as good. When I was a boy, an old carpenter told me that a casing is always exactly 41/4" wide. I have seldom seen them that wide since. It was a custom of a time and a region. All is now changed; any width of casing from 11/2" to 31/2" is now correct, or the casing may be omitted altogether. Baseboards were once 12" wide, then 8", then 5 1/2". Now they can be 31/2" or 2", or any width you want, or none at all. Instead of following the cheapest things you see, observe how the better builders do, following their example and asking their advice. Photo owned by Andy Trommer
  7. 7. Sometimes a contractor can be found who will lend his prestige and name to your job, inspect your work, give you information and advice as you need it, help you buy your materials for a reasonable fee and the profit on the things he buys for you. Since he can usually get a liberal discount which is not available to the ordinary buyer, his profit does not cost you anything extra. If such a working agreement can be arranged with an honest contractor, it will greatly simplify both the problems of getting the loan and putting up the building. The contractor may also be willing to help you with parts of the building on a cost plus a reasonable per cent for his profit, allowing you to do as much of the work yourself as you wish to do. You merely contract with him to do parts of the building. Your contractor would also help you in negotiations with the subcontractors who will do the parts of the building you cannot very well do for yourself. They will be glad to help you and give you information. You can always find friendly people who will be proud to share their information with you, showing you how to do things. (Some may not want to help you, so don't go back to them the second time.) Be sure the information you get agrees with common sense and what you find out from other sources, as it is sometimes great sport to mislead a beginner who seems to be gullible. Sometimes you can hire an experienced carpenter by the hour for a few days now and then to help you with complicated parts of the building, as framing the floor, walls, or roof. This way you can do most of the work yourself, having help only when you need it. Don't let anyone embarrass you by telling you that you have done a certain thing "wrong" just because you have done it differently from the way he is accustomed to seeing it done. True, there are certain accepted ways of doing many things, but
  8. 8. even in our own good old U.S.A. things vary greatly from coast to coast and from border to gulf. Western framing is scoffed at in some places, yet Western houses seem to stand up about as well as any other, even in earthquake zones. Some people are sure that a house with no boards on the exterior walls (just paper, wire, and plaster) is cheaply built and will not last, but many houses are being built that way today, and some of them are very excellent houses. A two-story house without corner posts—who ever heard of such a thing?—boxed with diagonal Photo owned by Common Good sheathing well nailed can be stronger than many braced frames by actual test. Some people even insist that studs go down and rest on the sills, when that is fre- quently the cause of a gap that often develops between the walls and the floor, and also gives the rats a chance to get into the walls. If you do a thing so that it makes a permanent and satisfactory job, don't let anyone say that you have not done the work "right;" even if it isn't done the way he has seen it, tell him not to be provincial, that out West or somewhere else it is done the way you have done it. You are sure to be right, because somewhere
  9. 9. things have been done every possible way you could think of doing them, and perhaps some ways that you would never dream of. How much time does it take to build a house? Several friends of mine have spent their spare time, vacations, and weekends for about two years on the average in getting their houses completed, where they did most of their own work. If you sub-let practically all of the work, a house can easily be completed in from three to five months. Houses are often built in a month, but that requires better organization and correlation of the various sub-contractors than is usually possible, except for one who is experienced in the business and who knows the local market and workmen, and has work for them often enough so that they will come just when he wants them. Do not be in too big a hurry to begin the finish work. Wait until the plaster is thoroughly dry; two or three weeks should elapse from the time the plaster is completed before the finish lumber, flooring, doors, and cabinets are even brought into the house. Otherwise, the moisture from the plastering will swell the wood and damage the surface of the finish lumber. An extra few days' waiting will result in a much better job of finishing. An accurate account of the cost of a building should be kept as the work progresses. This is not too difficult if one is careful to keep all bills, vouchers, receipts, check stubs, and all other papers involved in buying the materials, getting the permits, and paying the labour. It is also a good idea to keep an account of the hours you spend in the building work. Keep a separate account of the time spent in actual labour on the job really building and the work spent in buying,
  10. 10. negotiating with contractors, subcontractors, and building officials. It makes an inter- esting record if a note is made of the exact kind of work done each day, to see how the various kinds of work consume time. A very young man may wish to hire help for the more skilled types of work and do the more strenuous physical work himself, while a man in his fifties or sixties might prefer to hire the heavy work done and do the skilled and more puttering kinds of work himself. This will vary with the individual, and the type of help he can get. A person should usually plan on hiring some help in building a house, as it is rare to find a person who can do skilfully all kinds of work necessary to do in a building. If you plan to hire at least one or two persons to help you, make sure that they are skilled in doing specific things like wiring and plumbing. Such tasks might be too difficult for you to handle. As your house is nearing completion, search for security options that can keep your house and lot safe from possible crimes. This reproduction is brought to you by Omega Security Solutions. Stop by our website to know more about good security options for your home.

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