This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
A very pertinent question, to which I never yet knew an architect, or a builder, to give a correct answer. No one can read this extract without a conviction that Mr. Cousin understands what he is writing about. Half of the misery which arises from ambitious building, comes by underestimating the expense. If a rich man applies to an architect, or builder, to furnish him a plan and estimates, in some cases - depending on the character of the said architect or builder - he will get a correct one. In other cases, the applicant himself - screwing a bargain, as if buying a lot of unsaleable goods, - insists upon the gratification of all his wants and all his fancies, and beats down the price in everything to a degree of absolute meanness. His contractor, knowing his man, goes to work. The employer, finding, in the progress of things, that he is to have but a miserable clap-trap affair, or to get a good house, must pay for it, and his feelings and pride already enlisted in it, - or, worse than all, an insisting, persevering wife and daughters at his back - I dislike to say a harsh thing of the gentler sex, but they sometimes have the gift of persuasion to an eminent degree, - after an agony of hesitation, lets loose the purse strings, and a riotous expenditure is the consequence.
His troubles are now perpetual, and at the conclusion, the question of what it hoe cost will never be out of his mind. A successful man, who considers himself " cute" in his bargains, is apt to think, when looking at his neighbor's house, which has cost him five, ten, or twenty thousand dollars, as the ease may be, that he by his own more adroit management may build one equally good for half or two-thirds the money, not thinking that this matter of housebuilding is out of hie line. And so proceeds in the manner aboved stated.
There are two or three principles of action connected with building, in which every man about to build should be strongly fortified. First of all, he should know how much money he is willing to spend. Next, he should ascertain what sort of a structure, or structures, of a suitable kind, he can get for his money. Then, adopt a plan that will be compute within the amount of his appropriation, with twenty-five to thirty-three per cent added to the builder's estimate. And, lastly, not to be in a hurry.
These remarks, however, are in but a partial allusion to Mr. Cousin's article, which is full of sound sense, observation, and fine taste. Churches, and other public buildings, got up by corporations, associations, and other congregated bodies, are to be governed by different considerations in their cost, as they are often designed in given styles and for particular uses, which should be fully carried out, or let alone altogether. A tawdry affectation of a fine thing, is the sheerest folly imaginable.