There are fewer restrictions in locating the farmhouse on its site than there are in the placement of the urban dwelling on its usually small city lot. The farmhouse site in nearly all instances provides opportunities for suitable placement for sunshine, view, and attractiveness. The selection of the site and the location of the house are ably discussed in the two United States Department of Agriculture bulletins Planning the Farmstead,1 by M. C. Betts and W. R. Humphreys, and Beautifying the Farmstead,2 by Furman L. Mulford. A few of the essential considerations are included in the paragraphs from the bulletins which follow. Additional information with diagrams and illustrations may be obtained from these two publications. The following paragraphs from Planning the Farmstead contain a brief discussion of the factors which usually govern the location of the farmhouse.
1 Farmers' Bull. 1132, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2 Farmers' Bull. 1087, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"The planning of a farmstead layout involves the arrangement of the various buildings, yards, lots, etc., with relation each to the other, to the fields and to the highway, in such manner that there shall be a minimum of time consumed, no retracing of steps, and no lost motion in executing the routine work of the farm. It includes the designing of each building or other unit for the particular purpose for which it is intended, and its location with reference to its functional relation to other units. It means the creation of a practical business establishment in combination with a home which must be attractive and inspiring to its occupants if the best is to be had out of farm life.
".... Pleasing architectural effects, tempered with economy in materials and construction, should be sought in the designing of the buildings, such as barns, stables, and the smaller structures, but the first consideration is that of utility.
"The farmhouse is another problem. Here utility, while of prime importance, is not or should not be the only determining factor. The amount of money invested in a house should be such that the net income of the farm can easily take care of the interest, if interest must be paid, without too great restriction upon other expenses. Within this limit, the farm home should have all the conveniences and comforts possible, and should be as attractive in design and surroundings as it can be made.
"Where ample capital is available, all permanent buildings and equipment as a sound business proposition should be of the best materials and of substantial construction. The farmhouse, however, should be more than well built; it should provide ample accommodations for those it is to shelter; it should be well lighted and warm; it should have all the conveniences and labor-saving devices possible in order that the housework be reduced to a minimum, and it should be furnished in good taste. The cost should not be viewed as a financial investment upon which the farm business must pay full interest. Money judiciously expended on the farm home earns a return that is not to be measured in cash. A sense of pride in the ownership of an attractive abode; the physical well-being of those enjoying a healthy, wholesome, and happy family life; the effect of pleasing surroundings which, though rather intangible, is reflected in the contentment and loyalty of those concerned in the maintenance of the home, constitute a return which, while indeterminate, has a monetary value. A pleasant farm-home life affects the business of the farm in many ways, all tending to increase returns on the business investment.
"Careful arrangement of the farmstead and intelligent planning of the farm buildings is good business under any circumstances, but it is especially important when capital is limited and must be made to go a long way. When such is the case the farm business plant must be first considered, but the ultimate farm home should be planned for with the rest of the farmstead. Possessed of the plans for an attractive home, the farm family has something toward which to work, an incentive to thrift and economy in the operation of the farm, and a tie to farm and home life not easily broken.
"The established farmer who contemplates improving the working facilities of his farm must take conditions as they are, and remodel, tear down, or move, as may be necessary or advisable. When unimproved land is to be developed, the purchaser usually gives consideration to its suitability to the business he intends to pursue, the character of the soil, the lay of the land, the accessibility of markets for his products, etc., but a very vital consideration is frequently overlooked, namely, a suitable location for the farmstead.
"Much of the success of the farmstead plan depends upon the care expended upon selecting the location. This is not always a simple matter, because the features that influence a choice of location are numerous and often conflicting. Of the more important considerations there may be mentioned location with respect to the rest of the farm and to public utilities, elevation and drainage, water supply, nature of soil, orientation, prevailing breezes, and protection from heat and cold."
The principal considerations in locating the house are discussed by Mr. Mulford in the following paragraphs from Beautifying the Farmstead.
"The factors that should determine the location of buildings are (1) access to a good highway, (2) possibility of protection from objectionable winds or the utilization of desirable ones, (3) practicability of adequate drainage, (4) a sufficient supply of good water, and (5) desirability of outlook.
"The construction of hard-surface roads in the open country is making it possible to get to and from town at all times of the year. This is important for both business and pleasure. The exposure is an important consideration for securing the comfort of the family and stock. In cold countries protection from the winter winds is desirable, and the location of the most used rooms should be on the warmest side of the house, while in warm countries the house and living rooms need to be so located as to get the benefit of prevailing winds during the hottest months.
"If at all possible, the house should be so located near good trees that their shade may be used and enjoyed by the family every day during the summer. It takes so long to grow good trees that existing trees should be cherished and utilized to the fullest extent.
"The elevation should be such as to make possible thorough drainage, even though it may be desirable to keep off the highest ground. Under no circumstances should the house get the drainage from other buildings.
"In a hilly or mountainous country the site should provide a little level land immediately adjoining the buildings, especially the dwelling. This is necessary both for appearance and for comfort in living. Where such a setting is not provided the house is likely to give the impression of being about to slide from its location, while with a little level ground close by, it may give the appearance of fitting closely into the site. In the case of a side hill or bank house it may be necessary to build with one side facing on a higher level than the other. If the level areas are of reasonable extent, although at different heights and separated from each other, the desired impression may still be given.
"The rooms used most should be given the benefit of the best views; those from the kitchen as well as from the living room should be attractive. The near view should be over an unbroken lawn, and there should be some object of interest beyond. If there are no such objects in the general landscape, such as a mountain, a water view, a woodland, a meadow, or an extended farm view, a handsome tree or other bit of near-by landscape may be available. Lacking these possibly some feature may be created on the place, such as an attractive group of shrubs, well placed and arranged so as to have something of interest each month.
"The area that should be set aside for the house lot is dependent on many factors. The larger and more pretentious the house the more land should appear to be with it. Though it may be necessary to have a lawn that is small, it is frequently possible to increase the apparent size by making adjacent areas appear to belong with it. If the apparent size can not be increased, .... it should be at least possible to prevent the dwarfing of the appearance by growing only low crops in the near-by fields, keeping tall crops and orchards at a little distance. Where this is impracticable the area of the home lot should be doubled or trebled.
"The barns should be properly arranged to facilitate the farm work and be accessible to the road, but they must also be reasonably convenient to the house without being too close, prominent, or obtrusive. They should be so situated with respect to the house that the prevailing winds, especially during those seasons when the doors and windows are likely to be open, do not blow from the barns toward the house. On the other hand, in cold climates the barn as well as the house needs protection from severe winter winds.
"Further, the buildings must be arranged for convenience. The interior of the house and its connection with the outside features, whether the barns or the public road, should be adapted to the everyday life of the family. All too common examples of inappropriate farm architecture are front doors that are never used except for funerals, and parlors that are so seldom used that when they are they cast a reserve over the whole family. Drives and walks to such front doors are a meaningless formality and should be eliminated. In a house of such design the neighbors usually go directly to the kitchen, because they know that is the entrance the family uses, and the life of the family is so far from the front door that it is impossible to get any response even if the attempt is made. A more pleasing and satisfactory arrangement is to have the entrance open directly on the part of the house the family uses.
"The entrance should be so located as to be easy and natural for both family and visitors to use. The approaches to it should be so direct that there is no feeling of being taken out of the way in following the roads or walks provided. In such an arrangement the entrance and approaches are naturally used in accordance with their design.
"The barns should be at a little distance from the house, but close enough to facilitate the work to be done, and of such a character architecturally that they look as though they belonged together. The buildings should be as few in number as is practicable, or at least should have the appearance of being a unified group from the principal viewpoints. Such results can be brought about by careful grouping, sometimes even building them around a courtyard, or if necessary connecting some of them by sheds or walls. The objection to close grouping is the danger from fire,' but facility in doing the work may be an offset to this. A number of small unrelated buildings gives a 'cluttered up' appearance."