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The Construction Of The Small House | by H. Vandervoort Walsh



A simple and useful source of information on the methods of building small american homes, for anyone planning to build.

TitleThe Construction Of The Small House
AuthorH. Vandervoort Walsh
PublisherCharles Scribner's Sons
Year1923
Copyright1923, Charles Scribner's Sons
AmazonThe construction of the small house

By H. Vandervoort Walsh Instructor Of Construction In The School Of Architecture, Columbia University

With Illustrations By The Author

The Construction Of The Small House 1
-I. Present-Day Economic Troubles
Immediately after the war the housing shortage made itself very evident, because the landlords discovered that it existed, and realized that they had it within their power to exact extortionate rents....
-II. General Types And Costs. Types Of House Construction
Type I All small houses may be classified into four types, according to their construction. The first type is the commonest and is the wooden-frame structure. This has exterior walls and interior par...
-The Question Of Costs
Ever since the closing of the war the problem of knowing the cost of the construction of the small house has been a very intricate one, and no sure estimates could be made, until the plans were comple...
-Cubic-Foot System Of Estimating
The average client, in spite of the difficulties above mentioned, insists upon securing from the architect an approximate idea of how much of a house he can have for $12,000.00, etc., or whatever sum ...
-Factors Influencing The Selection Of Materials
From what has been previously stated, it will be noticed that, as a rule, the architect in selecting the kind of material with which he will build his house is limited on account of expense to the fir...
-Some Principles Of Economical Design
In the first architectural studies of the house, since this problem of cost is ever with us, it is well to be familiar with some of those broad and general principles of economical design. The lower ...
-III. Essential Standards Of Quality In Building Materials. Materials Used
It will be remembered that the commonest types of small houses are the wooden-frame house and the masonry-and-wood house. Now it is essential that certain definite qualities be required of all materia...
-Woods
It is possible to enter into a long discussion of the classes, qualities, methods of conversion, defects of wood and similar subjects, but these are not pertinent to the main idea, namely, the essenti...
-Clay Products
Bricks. - In considering the essential qualities of bricks for the small house it must be appreciated that those bricks which are used on the exterior must be able to resist the effects of weather and...
-Cementing Materials
The most important cementing materials which enter into the construction of the small house are lime, cement, gypsum, and their various mixtures, as mortar, plaster, and concrete. The various technic...
-Metals
The most used metal in the small house is the so-called tin-plate or roofing tin. It is not a true tin-plate, for it contains 75 per cent lead and 25 per cent tin, applied to a base of soft steel or w...
-Glass
There are two kinds of window-glass used, double thick and single thick. The former is 1/8 inch thick or less, and the latter is 1/12 inch thick. It is customary to use double thick in all window-pane...
-IV. Types Of Wooden-Frame Construction. Types Explained
There are no sharp distinctions between the various types of wooden-frame construction. But in order to classify certain tendencies, we will arbitrarily define four types. To these we will give the na...
-The Features Of The Braced-Frame Which Have Survived
1. The use of the girt, because it permits the location of the second-floor windows at any point irrespective of the first-floor windows. This cannot be done when a ribbon-board is used, for this requ...
-Features Of The Balloon-Frame Which Have Persisted
1. The use of small timbers, or the standardization of the 2 by 4 for all parts except the sill, because of economy. The corner-posts are made of three 2 by 4's, and the plate is made of two 2 by 4's....
-Platform-Frame
It will be noticed in the illustration how different is the amount of cross-section of wood in exterior and interior walls of the combination-frame, a thing which causes the unequal settlement previou...
-Features Common To All
There are certain features which are common to all types of frames. For instance, the framing around all doors and windows requires the use of double 2 by 4's or the use of one 4 by 4. These framing ...
-V. Construction Of The Masonry And Wood Dwelling
In one of the previous chapters it was pointed out that the type of construction next in general use to that of the wooden-frame house was the dwelling of masonry and wood. This was designated as Type...
-The Stone House
The stone house is very adaptable to all those regions where this material can be secured from the excavation of the cellar or from some neighboring road improvement. Sometimes an old stone wall serve...
-Method Of Laying
According to the way in which the stone naturally lends itself, we have various types of rubble walls. The commonest is the rough rubble wall in which the stones have neither regular shapes nor regula...
-Mortar, Bond, And Thickness
The kind of mortar which should be used for the rubble wall depends upon its location and desired appearance. All foundation-walls, and all walls which are subject to dampness, should be built with Po...
-Furring
The interior of all stone walls, and in fact all masonry walls, will show condensation of moisture over the interior surface, and if they are plastered directly on the interior the decorations will be...
-Brick House
Like the stone house, the brick dwelling is one of the oldest types in this country. Examples of early brick houses show a taste for good brick, which later died out on account of the introduction of ...
-Bonding And Construction
The thickness of brick walls for dwellings not higher than three stories ought to be 12 inches, although 8 inches is considered by many experts to be quite thick enough for small houses. If the founda...
-Fundamental Bonds In Brickwork
It is very easy to understand the bonds in brickwork if the fundamental forms are known. There are, in reality, but two real bonds: namely, the English and the Flemish bond. The so-called running bond...
-Types Of Joints
Here, again, as in the stone wall, the mortar joint plays a great part in the final effect of the design. It can be safely set forth as a rule that the rougher the texture of the brick used, the rough...
-Lintel Construction
In the construction of lintels in either the wall of brick or stone, the introduction of either wood or steel is necessary for strength. Where the openings are less than 4 feet in width, timber lintel...
-The Ideal Brick Wall
It would be well to mention here the new type of brick wall which is being advertised widely by the Common Brick Manufacturers Association. This wall is claimed to be very suited to the small house, a...
-Hollow-Tile House
The past decade has seen an increasing use of hollow terracotta tile as a building material for the walls of the small house. It has many advantages which have made its popularity increase, such as it...
-Types And Construction
There are two types of hollow terra-cotta blocks, one which builds with cells vertically and the other which builds with cells horizontally. This latter is generally an interlocking tile. The stronges...
-Precautions Against Dampness
In order to prevent the penetration of moisture the mason should butter all joints on the inside and outside edges, leaving an empty space between, in order to insulate against the transmission of moi...
-Veneering
It is sometimes customary to veneer walls of hollow tile with brick, especially those tiles which are of the interlocking type, since a better bond can be secured. In any case, any brick veneer should...
-Wall Thickness
The thickness of hollow-tile walls should be the same as for walls of brick. The construction of light 10-inch and 8-inch walls, while strong enough as a substitute for a frame dwelling, is not strong...
-Concrete House
The development of the concrete house has been stimulated by large corporations erecting towns of them in one locality. The erection of concrete houses by individual builders cannot, as a rule, follow...
-Block House
The concrete house, especially that built of blocks, often has the defect of being damp on the interior, unless precautions have been taken to avoid this. It is always best to fur the interior of wall...
-Monolithic House
The commonest method of building monolithic walls of concrete is to use wooden forms. These are built in sets of panels, one for the exterior and the other for the interior face of each course. These ...
-VI. Safeguards Against Fire In Dwellings. The Necessity For Safeguards
The majority of small houses will be built of either wood-frame construction or of wood-and-masonry construction for many years to come, in spite of the propaganda favoring fireproof dwellings, for th...
-Placing Of The Fire-Stops
There are two general places where these fire-stops should be constructed: in the vertical walls to cut off concealed drafts and in the horizontal floors to act as barriers between one floor and the n...
-Materials to be Used
It is not necessary to use expensive materials for fire-stops, but they should be carefully placed. Materials like mineral wool are the best, since they expand as the wood shrinks and fill up the spac...
-Chimney Construction
In view of what was said in the first part of this chapter, the construction of a chimney by approved methods is also a safeguard against fire. It can be considered a rule that every chimney should be...
-VII. Poor Methods Of Construction Employed By Unscrupulous Builders
It would be an endless task to list and describe all of the possible faults of construction which an unscrupulous builder might use in the erection of a small house, and, indeed, it would result large...
-Poor Methods Of Construction Employed By Unscrupulous Builders. Part 2
Looking up now at the neatly whitewashed ceiling we cannot help but be suspicious of the plaster beneath the surface, so going over to that part of the ceiling above the smoke-pipe leading from the fu...
-Poor Methods Of Construction Employed By Unscrupulous Builders. Part 3
Glancing around at the walls of the living-room and the dining-room we notice that the wall-paper has cracked in a number of places, pulled up, and curled away. It is extremely ugly and unkempt, and w...
-VIII. Essential Features Of Good Plumbing. The Problem
There are three things which will affect the plumbing system of the small house; namely, the existence or non-existence of municipal plumbing codes under which the structure is erected, the existence ...
-Simplest Type Of Drainage System
On page 97 is represented the simplest type of drainage system that can be installed in the small house, but since it uses anti-siphon traps and no back-venting, it will not be possible to make use of...
-The More Complicated Back-Vent System
The essential parts of the plumbing system remain the same as described above, but each trap is considered to be siphon-able, and must be prevented from loosing its water-seal by the use of back-venti...
-Rain-Water Drainage
The small house need not drain off its roof-water into the plumbing system, if the plumbing code does not require it. The simplest and easiest method to dispose of it is to collect the water in gutter...
-Tests And Precautions
There is nothing very complicated in the plumbing system of the small house. Certain sanitary precautions should be observed in arranging lines, however. For example, the termination of the main soil-...
-Refrigerator Connections
The drainage from the refrigerator should never be directly connected with the drainage system of the house. If the plumbing code requires any connection at all, the usual arrangement is to drip the i...
-Water-Supply Pipes
If there is a city supply of water, the small house should have a main supply-line from the water-main in the street of at least 3/4-inch diameter, but this does not give the service that a larger pip...
-Hot-Water Supply
It is generally accepted to-day that the most convenient method of securing hot water in the small house is with the instantaneous type of gas-heater, connected with a boiler for storage purposes, but...
-Fixtures
The modern bathroom fixture may be made of one of three materials: true porcelain, earthenware, or enamelled iron. The true porcelain fixtures are the heaviest, the most durable, and the most expensiv...
-IX. Methods Of Heating. System Adapted To The Small House
The heating problem for the small house was for our ancestors a very simple mechanical device, consisting, as we all know, of either the fireplace or the stove. The former method still has a charm whi...
-Methods Employed In Calculating The Required Size Of Heater
The basis of calculating the required size of any one of the systems previously mentioned is to assume that a certain temperature of heat is to be maintained when the weather is zero, and then by mean...
-X. Lighting And Electric Work. Modern Developments
When we talk of lighting the modern home, there is generally but one idea that enters our minds - electric lighting. Even those dwellings remote from any power-house are installing small generators in...
-Indirect Lighting
Now we have reacted so far in the matter of protecting our eyes from a direct view of the source of light that some enthusiasts advocate a system of indirect illumination, concealing the lights so com...
-Common-Sense Solution Needed
Moreover, the lighting of a small house must be studied with common sense, and no rule of the thumb can be laid down. Certain enthusiastic illuminating engineers offer typical plans and suggestions fo...
-XI. Construction Of The Trim
The wood trim, the doors and windows, and the built-in furniture of the small house can make or mar its appearance more than any other one factor. Indeed, in no other form of architecture is the study...
-Construction Of The Trim. Continued
Softwood doors, 1 3/4 inches thick, have panels, if they are raised, only 1 1/8 inches thick; while doors 1 3/8 inches thick have raised panels only 9/16 inch thick, and flat panels 5/16 inch thick. T...
-XII. Lessons Taught By Depreciation
What happens to the small house after it has been built? This is a question which should interest both the architect and builder, because from the answer can be had some very important lessons in cons...
-XIII. Selecting Materials From Advertisements
In the planning of the construction of the small house, the architect has many problems of selection, such as the choosing of this brand of roofing material from among many makes or the specifying of ...
-Selecting Materials From Advertisements. Continued
Still another fact is brought to light by Fire-pot - one piece, heavy-ribbed for purposes of increasing its radiating surface and to give it greater power of resistance against expansive force of the...
-XIV. Roofing Materials
A roofing material should not be judged by its first appearance, but rather by its condition after four or five winters have passed over it. And in choosing the roof for the small house, this is a sta...
-Shingle Roof
The wooden-shingle roof is of such old and traditional origin in this country that it seems useless to describe the essential features of its construction, yet for the sake of completeness we shall ca...
-Method Of Laying Roofs. Slate
There has been much made of the so-called European method of laying slate roofs in recent years, but this type of roof costs more than the ordinary slate roof, since special heavy slate is used at the...
-Tile Roofing
Preparations of the roof for the laying of tile should follow similar lines described for slate roofs. Over the roofing-boards should be tacked asphalt roofing felt, weighing not less than 30 pounds p...
-Asbestos Shingles
Asbestos shingles are applied in practically the same way as slate. Over the roofing-boards should be laid slater's felt as for a slate roof, and a cant strip 1/4 by 1 1/2 inches should be nailed alon...
-Asphalt Shingles
Before laying asphalt shingles the rafters should be covered with tongued and grooved roofing-boards, and these covered with black waterproof building-paper, lapped 2 inches. There are two types of...
-Tin Roofs
Flat roofs, with an incline of about 1/2 inch to the foot, should be covered with the flat-seam roof. The standing seam may be used on roofs with a pitch not less than 2 inches to the foot. The tin is...
-Copper And Zinc Roofs
For a while, during the high prices created by the war, the thought of building a copper roof or a zinc roof on the small house would have been received with a doubtful shake of the head. This is no l...
-XV. Painting And Varnishing The House
Actually the process of varnishing or painting the woodwork and metalwork on the house is the spreading of a thin protective coat, one thousandth part of an inch thick or less, over the surface, in or...
-Painting And Varnishing The House. Continued
But before any varnishing can be done, and for that matter any painting, it is essential that the pores of the wood are filled, so that the surface to be varnished has no soft and absorbent places, bu...
-XVI. Labor-Saving Devices For The Home. The Demand
The need for labor-saving devices to help in housekeeping is more evident in the small house than in the larger house, although the cost of such machinery often prevents its installation in the former...
-Machines For Cleaning
Under this classification ought to be included machines which reduce the need of cleaning, for they accomplish the same results, but in a negative way. One of the dirtiest and meanest jobs about the ...
-Machines For The Preparation Of Foods
Machines of this kind include a great variety of small inventions intended to safely store the food, prepare it for cooking, and cook it. There is the small electric refrigerator, the thermonor which ...
-Machines For Moving Objects About The House
The electric dumb-waiter belongs to this class, but it is not installed in small houses very often. However, every one can afford the clothes-chute, which guides the dirty clothes down to the laundry....
-Machines That Automatically Keep Watch
There is no need of getting up at five o'clock in the morning to turn the draft on in the furnace so that the house will be warm by breakfast. An electric thermostatic control can be made to do this, ...
-Machines To Simplify The Toilet
We often forget the elegance of the modern bathtub, but think of the labor of our forefathers when the bath night came around. The water had to be heated on the stove, the tub gotten out and filled wi...
-XVII. Concrete Work Around The House
Concrete has become such an excellent servant to the needs of various objects built around the house that no apology will be offered for devoting a chapter to its use. Of course, one is familiar with ...
-Sidewalks And Porch Floors
It is generally recognized that one-course concrete sidewalks are the most successful when built by the average workman, for the slab is of one uniform body and not two layers, which might not have kn...
-Tennis-Court
In laying out any other platform construction of concrete, such as a tennis-court, the same principles of construction should be observed which were given above for sidewalks. However, more care shoul...
-Concrete Driveway
Such driveways may lead to the garage or up to the porch of the house. One of the cheapest types to the garage is a double runway for the wheels of the automobile. These runways should be about 4 feet...
-Small Retaining Walls
Wherever terraces or lawns need the support of a small retaining wall, concrete is excellent for this purpose. The foundations of such walls should be carried down below the frost -line. The usual mix...
-Pools And Fountain-Basins
Such ornaments to the garden are not entirely outside of the possibilities of the small house-owner's pocketbook. They should have the exterior walls carried down below frost-level, and the bottom and...
-Ornamental Garden Furniture Of Concrete
There is no great difficulty or secret in making simple garden furniture of concrete. Generally where the furniture is of simple lines, the mould can be made of wood. If, say, a bench is to be made, t...
-XVIII. Classification And Construction Of The Architectural Motifs Used In Small-House Designing
There are not many architectural motifs that can be used in designing the small house, and the ones which are employed over and over again are fundamentally a part of the construction. The plan must b...
-Classification And Construction Of The Architectural Motifs Used In Small-House Designing. Continued
VARIATIONS OF DESIGN DEVELOPED FROM THE FEW FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURAL MOTIFS. Even when it comes to the design of dormer-windows, the limits of originality are quite restricted. The drawings show al...
-XIX. Traditions Of Building From Which Our Modern Methods Are Derived. Importance Of Tradition
The art of building has grown by evolution, like other things in this world. The carpenter who builds in wood to-day builds according to certain customs which come down to him from centuries of carpen...
-Styles Of Design Change, But Construction The Same
The styles in designing houses may change from year to year, or more likely from generation to generation, but the methods of building and the traditions in back of them continue on, with only slight ...
-Fundamental Building Traditions Inherited From England
It is from England that we have inherited most of our building traditions of domestic work. The earliest methods of constructing a home were much the same for all European countries. Woven brushwood o...
-Revolt Against New England Traditions
It was only a matter of time when the thinning-down process began to make itself evident in the traditions of Colonial carpentry, and from its clumsy beginnings it evolved into the more or less standa...
-XX. Traditions Of The Construction Of Doors And Windows. Windows
What are the elements of design in the elevations of the small house? Surely they are not the five classical orders, as commonly used in monumental architecture, but rather they are the doors and wind...
-Doors
There is an ancient English expression, put t' duur i' t' hoile (put the door in the hole), which comes down from the times when the door was not fastened by hinges and did not swing into place, but...
-XXI. Building The Setting For The House. Theoretical Features Of Ground Arrangement
There are five fundamentals which should be considered in finishing the grounds about the small house, for it must not be forgotten that the finest gem of domestic design will be lost unless it is pla...
-2. - Natural Framing For House
When viewed by the passer-by in the street the planting around the house should be so arranged that it makes a natural frame for it and creates a composition for a picture. Regarded from this angle th...
-3. - Interesting Approaches
Generally speaking, due to the smallness of the average plot upon which the little house is erected, the building of a prominent pathway to the front door directly in a straight line from the street, ...
-4. - Planting For The Seasons
The composition of the picture which is the aim in all of this work about the house, should not be spoiled by careless selection of plants for the various seasons of the year. It is very unwise to pla...
-5. - Improving The View From The House
Next in importance to planning the setting of the house and its appearance from the street should be the planning of the views from windows of the house itself. The development of the private garden a...
-Construction Of The Lawn
From what has been said, the importance of the lawn in front of the house can be appreciated. It is the rug spread out before the jewel-box. Over it one can view the beauty of the home, and so it need...
-Construction Of Roads And Paths
Attention has already been called to the use of materials for paths and roads which harmonize with the materials of the house. In a previous chapter, details were given on the construction of concrete...
-XXII. Financing The Construction Work
The problem of financing the small house is a part of the problem of building, and to some extent is a very personal affair, and every prospective owner has his own difficulties and personal solutions...
-Financing The Construction Work. Continued
Up to this point the financing of the small house, for the one who has the money, is not complicated, but this is the unusual condition, because the average person who builds the small house has not t...
-Cost to be Met during Year of Ownership
1. Interest on building loan. 2. Payment on reduction of loan. 3. Interest lost on owner's money which he invested in the lot and building. 4. Fire insurance. 5. Up-keep, usually about 1 1/2 per c...









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