A good system of plumbing with a supply of pure water has been said to be the most important single contribution of modern civilization to comfort, health, and elimination of disagreeable housework. Those who have been accustomed to its advantages can have but little realization of the toil that is required to pump and carry water from a well or spring, and of the difficulty and unpleasantness of disposing, in one way or another, of the wastes which plumbing fixtures and house drainage systems carry away so easily. A committee of sanitary engineers and plumbing experts, associated with the Department of Commerce, has formulated a set of basic plumbing principles which have been widely accepted by sanitary engineers.
Anyone who has had experience with leaking, stopped-up, or overflowing drainage systems, needs no warning that good standards should be rigorously carried out.1
The interior decoration of the home has an undeniable effect on the general atmosphere and happiness of home life. A family may have to live for a time in a house where the walls and floors have to be covered with newspapers to keep out the cold, and for a time a family may "camp out" under almost any conditions without being the worse for it. But a family which resigns itself to makeshifts, which it has the power to replace with something adequate, as a part of its permanent living conditions, cannot have a successful home life.
It is impossible to define what standards should be set for a house that is attractive, but it may safely be said that it should be neat, should not reveal obviously unfinished parts, and should look well both in detail and as a whole.
It might be difficult to convince some people that bad architecture is a significant violation of housing standards. There are few, however, who would deny that, other things being equal, a house is better when it is pleasing to look at from the outside, and that whatever the architecture, it should be maintained in a state of good repair. The exterior of the house is seen by all the neighbors and by every visitor to it, and when a family gets to the point where it does not care whether anyone sees that its shutters are falling off, or that its porch has sagged, or that the rain leaders from the gutters have rusted out, and the side of the house is being stained, it has lost the honest pride which it ought to have retained. How many a farmhouse looks like a hovel because a flock of chickens has free run around it, killing the grass and leaving filth and feathers! How many a family, on the other hand, stands out in a community because it has the best kept lawn and the best garden, or because it keeps a little plot of grass and a few shrubs where its neighbors do not?
1 Those interested in the design of house plumbing systems are referred to Recommended Minimum Requirements for Plumbing, by the Subcommittee on Plumbing of the United States Department of Commerce. This pamphlet may be obtained from the Department or from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.