The architect's duties require him to follow the progress of the work from the first excavation till the last workman is out of the house, and the owner should also keep in close touch. Neglect of the contract requirements or slovenly execution can be corrected before it is too late, and where modifications are optional, such as the texture of the brickwork, the color of the paint, or the exact location of a light fixture, the owner can obtain what best suits his particular desires. He should remember, however, two points. First, that he cannot demand changes from the contract drawings and specifications without readjustment of the cost; and second, that his experience in technical matters is more limited than that of his architect or contractor. A fussy and querulous owner may break down the morale of an entire building-crew and their boss, but a tactful and enthusiastic observer may stimulate the contractor to friendly concessions and the workmen to real craftsmanship.
If the progress is not satisfactory, a frank conference between owner and contractor, in the architect's office, will often assist matters. It is best to avoid discussions on the job in the presence of the workmen. Care should also be taken that instructions be given to foremen or to the contractor himself, rather than to individual workmen. Orders for any changes should go through the architect's hands and be confirmed in writing.....
Durable construction is an important consideration in building dwellings as (1) rebuilding is costly, (2) poor construction means high maintenance cost, (3) dwellings poorly constructed if combined with undesirable architectural design will soon become obsolete. Duration of construction does not depend so much upon kinds of materials as on grades and manner of construction.
Wood, brick and brick veneer, stucco, hollow tile, concrete and stone are the most common building materials used in house construction. Wood has long predominated. Steel also is coming into use. Wood shingles, composition shingles, tile, and slate are commonly used for roofing. The most important consideration in insulation materials is the thickness of the material which is to be applied providing the choice is of those classes of cellular or fibrous materials. Interior woodwork includes cabinet work, interior paneling, molding, door and window frames, built-in arrangements, and stair parts. Millwork is not only cheaper than specially-made woodwork but it is now being made most attractive and satisfactory. The most common finish-flooring material is wood, but others of excellence are linoleum, rubber tile, cement, slate, and various composition materials. New building materials improved by extensive research and experimentation easily and quickly erected are now on the market. Steel is one of the new materials used in the house-building field, and the experiments in it indicate that the time in building is considerably lessened through the use of factory-made members.
Poor foundations and walls, inferior beams and joists, poor plaster work, leaky roofs, inferior painting, cheap millwork, and cheap plumbing often make maintenance so expensive that ownership is a burden.
With proper equipment and precaution nearly all construction work can be carried on in winter, and often at less cost.