This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
The point where the majority of people, who know nothing about architecture, come in contact with the architect, is when they make up their minds to build houses of their own.
To develop this point more clearly, let us consider the situation that arises when a business man wishes to build.
Let us say that Mr. Smith, after lookng at various lots and making as many inquiries as possible through friends and acquaintances, and having also gone to some real estate agent who deals largely in land in such locations as he considers desirable, has obtained an option on, or possibly has purchased, a lot, the price being, say, $800. He has available $2,000, besides the money he has set aside for furnishing the house and paying the architect's fee. He is willing to give a mortgage on the house for, say, $3,000. Taking $4,600 as the value of his proposed house would leave him a margin of $400. Accordingly, he goes to an architect who, he he thinks, will plan his house satisfactorily, and tells him the circumstances, the requirements, and the amount of money available. A visit is made to the lot, to get the points of view, etc., and preliminary sketches are made.
Sketches. From the architect's point of view, the sketch period is vital in respect to the success or failure of the house. It is at this time that he becomes acquainted with the owner's ideas and does his best to interpret them properly so that there will be no criticism or feeling of disappointment on the part of the owner - in other words, so that the house will harmonize completely with its owner's habits and tastes.
Every man has certain hobbies and independent wishes in regard to his house; these the architect should study and give the proper expression.
In regard to the practical use of the house, every member of the family, should be thought of and consulted. The architect should obtain a careful outline of the requirements from the owner, going over the number of rooms, size of rooms, comparing them with rooms already known to the owner, heights of stories, location and exposure of rooms, for the view, etc.
After sufficient data have been procured to make a complete schedule, several different plans of the proposed house may be sketched out at a small scale. Co-ordinate or section paper is very useful in sketching out different schemes. As a general rule, it is better for the architect to work out with great care some one plan which he considers the most satisfactory. In dealing with some clients, it is sometimes better to show this plan only; in the case of other clients, it is better to show them all the studies and consult with them about details that would be merely wearisome to other men The sketches are generally laid out to the scale of one-eighth inch to the foot, though small "thumb-nail" sketches are frequently made at no scale, or sometimes several different schemes at a scale of one-sixteenth inch to the foot. Memoranda should be kept of all conversations with the client, for use in completing plans and in writing specifications.
Working Drawings. After the sketches are approved, the working drawings can be started. They are sometimes called "contract drawings," meaning the scale drawings accompanying the specifications and contract, though contract drawings really include the details, which are not generally made at the time the contract is signed. The character of these drawings has changed very much, even in the last few years, an astonishing amount of detail being put into the working drawings, while the architectural drawings of the English and Italian Renaissance show that the old masters must have studied much of their detail while the building was being erected. The main purpose of the working drawings is to give complete information of the building to be erected, as far as size and form can be expressed in projection, quality and general description being left to the specification. It is of considerable importance to put on a single drawing as much as can be clearly expressed, since workmen generally are not inclined or able to gather information from several different drawings.
The working drawings are laid out at quarter-inch scale,* i.e. one-quarter inch equals one foot, with details at a scale of three-quarter inch to the foot, accompanied with full-size details. This is the customary scale in America. In England and also in some American offices, the rule is to make the working drawings at a scale of one-eighth inch to the foot, with details at a scale of one-half inch to the foot.
Plans of every floor, including basement and roof, all the elevations, and such sections as may be necessary to explain the construction, are required. In the sections, the vertical dimensions should be figured from finished floors.
Besides these drawings, a block or ground plan is frequently given, generally at 1/16 or 1/32 inch to the foot, to show adjacent walls, gardens, etc., and layout of grounds, location of drains, dry wells, cesspool, and water supply.
Separate plans may be given in procuring estimates for heating, ventilating, plumbing, and gas and electric lighting. These should be made subject to changes that may be proposed by the successful bidder, and, with these changes, should be presented by him to the architect for approval before finally going ahead with the work. This method is followed, because a guarantee is expected from the contractor for the successful operation of his work; and each contractor in the trades mentioned is likely to have good methods of his own, which he should be allowed to use. Sometimes all of these drawings may be incorporated in the general drawings.
Full-Size Details. Mouldings, and special parts of exterior and interior finish, such as base-courses, water-table, belts, cornices, capitals, special arrangement of brickwork, panels, carving, window-casings, mantels, stair-newels, balusters, etc., are drawn full size; carefully drawn sections are made full size. "Key drawings" at small scale, isometrics, and freehand perspectives are invaluable aids if drawn on the full size drawings. For cast iron and terra-cotta, allowance is sometimes made for shrinkage. This should preferably be left to the pattern-maker.