It may seem unnecessary to recall the fact that the walls and framework of the house should be substantial, with all the important parts well tied together. Yet, whenever a high wind comes, we learn of roofs that merely rest on the top of brick walls, without being anchored by ties to the masonry; frame houses that get out of plumb because they have not had proper diagonal bracing; and porches and ells that become detached because they are not tied to the main structure. In regions subject to high winds, frame houses without plaster to add weight are in an especially dangerous position. The Building Code Committee of the Department of Commerce recommends that all frame houses be anchored to the foundations. The too familiar sagging roof line is generally a sign of the spreading of side walls because of thrusting of the rafters, a condition which might have been taken care of by proper ties at the line where the roof meets the wall.
There are, of course, many other points involved in good framework. It is fairly common for the interior framework to be built up with a greater depth of horizontal timbers inserted between the vertical members than in the framing in the outside wall. This results in greater shrinkage, which lets down the interior partitions, and causes distortion of the whole frame and cracks in the plaster.
Diagonal sheathing is recommended as preferable to horizontal. Eight-inch brick walls should have a row of headers at least every sixth course. These and many other points are covered in the pamphlet entitled "Recommended Minimum Requirements for Small Dwelling Construction" by the Building-Code Committee of the Department of Commerce.
Possibly there are areas where leage rock, field stones, and locally burnt brick could be used more extensively in rural construction.
Needless to say, it does not pay to skimp on surfaces exposed to the weather. It does not pay, for example, to expose too much of the shingle surface to the weather. The rural builder can make his labor count to full advantage in assuring good workmanship on roofing, flashing, weather boarding, and pointing up of brick walls. Furthermore,he can see that the openings around window frames in brick walls are well caulked.
In this field the home builder has a wide range of choices. Assuming that there is already sheathing, good building paper tacked on to it under the weather boarding is probably the least costly step toward assuring a house that can be kept comfortably warm at reasonable expense. Weather stripping around doors and windows comes next. Insulating materials over the top floor ceiling joists or under the roof and in the walls, and storm windows may all be used to advantage, as is pointed out in Letter Circular No. 227 of the Bureau of Standards.1 It must be remembered that it is relatively hard to add heat-insulating materials in the walls after the house is built, whereas weather stripping, or heat-insulation on the attic floor or under the roof, can be added at any time.
The interior walls may be finished with wood or metal lath and plaster, with "gypsum lath," a type of composition board which takes the place of lath and one or two coats of plaster, or with a wall board which can be left as finished at the factory, or decorated as desired; or interior walls may be ceiled with matched lumber.