The lower we keep our house to the ground, the less will be the expense of labor, for, when work must be done above the reach of a man's hands, it means the construction of scaffolds and the lifting by special hoists of the materials. This is not so important a consideration with the light wooden-frame building as it is with the masonry house. Wherever we have brick, stone, or concrete exterior walls, for the sake of economy they should be built low. Mr. Ernest Flagg has found this to be so very true that, in houses which he is constructing at Dongan Hills on Staten Island, he has carefully limited the height of all walls to one story, and starts the construction of his roof from this level. Of course, at the gable end of the house, it is necessary to carry them up much higher. Now, the starting of the roof from the top of the first floor makes all the second floor come within the roof, and this heretofore has been impracticable, on account of the great heat generated under the roof and the inability of dormer-windows to ventilate the rooms properly. Mr. Flagg has solved this problem by inventing a simple roof ventilator which is located on the ridge of the roof, and serves the purpose of both lighting and ventilating. So successful has this been, that the space which in most houses is called the attic, and is wasted, has been made available and livable. What he has accomplished by these ventilators is the ability to start the roof at the top of the first floor, and thus lower the exterior walls and set the attic in the place of the second floor and make it very livable. Not only does this principle of design save considerable money, but it follows one of those great laws of beauty, so prevalent in nature. It makes the house low and nestling in the landscape, thereby harmonizing it with the surroundings. The house of the uncultured speculator stares blatantly at you and is proud of its complete isolation and difference from the landscape; but the house of those who have taste is modestly in harmony with the surroundings. The ugly house thrusts into the air without close connection with the ground, while the comely one cuddles in nature's lap. Is it not strange that this principle of economy is a law of beauty?
There are other features of economy in design which should be observed. The simpler and more straightforward the design, the cheaper it is and the more beautiful it can be made in the hands of the good artist. Simplicity is the highest art, as it is also the most economical thing. Likewise the cost of a house can be reduced by shaping as nearly to a square as possible, and reducing the outside walls to the minimum. The semidetached house in the group plan accomplishes this in the best manner, and gives to the whole structure that low, long skyline that is so very pleasing. This also makes one soil line and one chimney do for both houses, a great point in economy. Some architects believe these group houses are the only economical solution of the problem of the small house.