When one contemplates building, and has put his thoughts and wishes into a tangible form, the leading question asked is, how much will all this cost? for what price in dollars and cents, without extras or additional charges of any kind, can this dwelling be erected for, in a good and workmanlike manner, in accordance with plans and specifications, and satisfactory to the owner? This is precisely the plain English of what a business man wants to know; for we hold that it is right and proper, that every one should look right through all the connected links and complications that require a considerable expenditure of money, and see that he lands carefully in the place anticipated. To start with the intention of disbursing $5,000, and wind up with an expenditure of $12,000, is not only annoying in a money point of view, but an impeachment of one's judgment and good sense, not pleasant to hear outsiders reflect on; for however much one might wish to shift the responsibility on to others, it is one of those things that time will always place where it belongs.

As long as men consider the arts of designing and constructing buildings to be of no special importance, or that they are qualified, without instruction or experience, to practice them, expensive blunders will naturally result, and sooner or later it will be discovered that such wisdom is dearly bought. There are many, however, who prefer to manage their building affairs thus, and who can only learn more agreeable and less expensive modes by actual experience; some do it from ignorance, some from supposed economy, and others from the supposition that they are best qualified.

The design for a house or other building, and a plan of the interior arrangement of each floor, prepared by a professional man who makes such things the business of his life, is now very generally admitted by intelligent men to be essential; but the management or superintendence of the work by the party who has studied and designed it, does not seem quite so apparent. An architect prepares the drawings for a dwelling to cost $5,000; now whether it actually will cost $5,000, $8,000, or $10,000, in the hands of another superintendent, is an unanswered problem. A prevailing folly which we find very general, is to suppose that ail men can build the same house, in all places, for precisely the same amount of money; and but few are willing to admit that they, of all others, are not the most competent to carry through the whole business of building at the lowest figure. Some must find out in the most expensive manner, that the profession of an architect, or the skill of a builder, can only be attained by long years of care-ful application.

What a house will cost to build is a question always asked with the utmost symplicity, and a prompt and reliable answer always expected, and if not forthcoming at once, gives rise to a suspicion that one's professional ability is not of the most thorough character. There are so many conditions to govern results in house building, that even an approximate estimate may fall very wide of the mark. Two houses may be built from the same plan, and we may also say, from the same specifications; one by day's work, and the other by contract, and they shall be so exactly alike in all respects when finished, that an unprofessional observer would detect no difference, and yet one may honestly cost just double the amount in money expended on the other; even the same builder may build two houses precisely alike in all respects, and yet the cost be quite unequal. On one site stone may be easily obtained, a sand bank on the premises, a running brook close at hand, saw mills, brick yards, and lime kilns within moderate distances and accessible by good roads. The other site may be quite the reverse in situa-tion, or have some decided disadvantages in obtaining some very necessary materials.

We once built a fine stone house where stone was abundant and close at hand, but all the lumber and brick had to be hauled thirteen miles over hilly roads; the cost of that house has nothing to do with the cost of a similar house in a different locality.

A competent business superintendent has a great deal to do with the cost of a house; one that understands all the tricks of every building trade, that knows the market well, and the value and quality of all building materials, and where inferior workmanship and materials can be used to an equal advantage with those of first class. To slight work and yet do it justice; to give it all the strength and endurance necessary, requires one of skillful acquirements. A mechanic may persuade a proprietor into many a long day's work, as it pays well to nurse good jobs when other work is slack, but an architect who understands such things would save the value of useless work.

The cost of a house depends on a well-studied plan; this plan does not consist alone in the arrangement of rooms, windows, doors, etc., but involves a careful study of the anatomy of construction. One may save by a proper distribution of timbers, as well as make a very great saving by the arrangement of rooms.

Good management is of the greatest importance, not only as a matter of economy, but as securing the best class of workmanship, and the most judicious use of materials. Good or bad management produces the same results in building operations as in war or any other pursuit.

To make a work on architecture sell, it is necessary that the cost of the houses must be given; it is a species of humbug the public demand and are willing to pay for, yet every architect has encountered those who have been thoroughly fleeced by book architecture; not but what the book was honestly and truthfully written, but that the would-be self-instructed builder was ignorant of the conditions of success.

One takes up a capital work on rural architecture, written perhaps ten or fifteen years ago, before the general introduction of furnaces, steam pipes, gas, baths, marble basins, etc.; they find a house that suits them, which the book says will cost $6,000, and that is just the amount, by close figuring, that can be raised for building. The house is ordered, put in the hands of the best mechanic to finish all complete, and he goes ahead; he is unrestricted except by the book, and the author of it is a man of reputation. In the way of details perhaps nothing has been said; they are therefore extravagant in the use of materials, and elaborate in workmanship; as it is not considered good policy for a workman who has a good order to make suggestions calculated to decrease the amount of work. When the bills to the amount of $6,000 have been settled, the house is found to be half finished, and an additional $6,000 is necessary to complete it; less than one year's interest of which would have amply sufficed to secure the services of one who has spent the best years of his life to learn how to design and to manage work to cost a specified price.

When an architect says a house can be built for a certain price, it is to be understood that materials delivered on the ground shall not exceed an average cost, that the payments made are to be in cash, and that he manages the work. To hold an architect responsible or blame him for blunders in the cost of work that he designed and did not superintend, is manifestly unjust, yet it is a frequent occurrence. The cost of work is a question easily answered, when one is fully acquainted with all its bearings and has it under his control, but no one can say at what price a novice in building operations can execute.

[The class of persons had in view by Cognosco would very properly come under the old saw of "penny wise and pound foolish." We commend his remarks to all persons about to build. The remarks will hold equally good of landscape adornment. - Ed].

Rural Architecture #1

This is a pleasing, yet plain design. I like the hoods and the bold casings of the windows, but no diamond panes of glass for me. They may do for a dark old English cottage, but American people like the light