Advantages of light, air, and space, of interior division and plan, of decoration and artistic construction, are very desirable if they are the direct means of securing earnings. But constructional and decorative details involving undue expenditure, both in first cost and in upkeep, are burdensome after their original effect has worn off or has become discounted by comparison with others, and there are many details of architecture and of constructive planning which carry with them a direct permanent annual burden of upkeep and repair out of proportion to their attractiveness to tenants. Interior redecoration is an increasing item of cost which the migratory habits of tenants impose on the management of residential buildings, which indicates the need for very careful limitation of original outlay in this direction.

Considerable interest has been of recent years shown by managers of buildings in the subject of economies in the items entering into operating costs. Those coming under the head of maintenance include exterior and interior building repairs and redecoration, house-cleaning and window-cleaning, house labor of all kinds, disposal of rubbish, and many other minor items, and are fortunately receiving a commendable detailed attention largely due to the interchange of information thereon.

These items must, however, be in the main regarded as necessaries, where the owner of property undertakes to maintain the building for the occupancy of a number of tenants.

The remaining element, or conveniences, consists of the operation of mechanical or engineering equipment provided at the owner's expense for the tenants' use, convenience, or even luxury, all of which require more or less mechanical apparatus of a fixed or of a motive character.

The growth of mechanical conveniences has been very widespread during recent years, and the general effect of their adoption in buildings has been to promote irregularity and unsettlement in tenancies.

These conveniences include such service as heating, refrigeration, hot, cold, iced, and sterilized water, artificial ventilation, elevator operation, and gas and electric lighting, with the accompaniments of apparatus for the necessary production of heat, and in many cases the further accompaniment of appliances for the manufacture of power.

Some of these conveniences must, of course, by custom and usage, be regarded in these days as having become almost necessaries. In all buildings, for instance, a certain amount of sanitary convenience is required by law. But the extent and character and even the location of such apparatus is very varied, and is, in some cases, extravagant as regards space, and there appears to be little agreement upon the subject of its desirable position. The result is that many buildings are burdened by this service with unnecessary cost in labor, upkeep, water, and even in elevator service. And in connection with the usage of sanitary equipment, the wastage of water alone is enormous in volume and not an inconsiderable amount in cost.

The heating of buildings in this climate must be regarded as essential, but the frequent misuse made of the convenient form in which heat is provided is noticeable, and is a result of the practice of providing this convenience without direct charge being made for it.

The provision of elevator service is a necessary common convenience in buildings of numerous floors, and its adequacy directly affects the rate of income of the property, affording, as it does, the only practicable means of access to the superimposed floors required to provide a return on large investments in land value.

If the foregoing were the only services of a mechanical nature imposed upon the owner, the burden of the operation of buildings would not be so severe as it is. But the obligation to render a building accessible and habitable does not appear to be necessarily extensible into obligations to afford other conveniences which are of such a character that their misuse may involve the property not only in loss of income, but through that in depreciation of capital value; nor does it follow, if tenants are to be attracted to a building only by such means, that the policy may be as advisable or prudent or justifiable as would be that of avoiding the responsibilities and uncertainties attaching to such features, and accepting a less rate of rental without them.

Of such character are some of the more recent inducements which have been introduced in certain properties, and they are:

Refrigerated boxes in apartments. Free ice to tenants.

Clothes-brushing by vacuum apparatus.

Cold storage for clothing.

Compressed air for barbers' use.

Omnibuses to carry children to and from school.

Children's playrooms with uniformed attendants.

Heated conservatories for flowers.

Free telephone service.

Sterilized drinking-water.

Recent Conventions of Building Managers have been occasions of great interest to all those concerned in the numerous features which enter into the operation of improved real estate, and have afforded unique opportunities for the comparison of experience, and of the results of the work of those who are charged with the responsibility of operating, for their owners, buildings of every description in all parts of the country.

Much interesting information has been afforded by such experts upon the details of costs and expenditures, and a number of references have been made by them to the numerous burdens now laid upon the owners of property, in the various conveniences which competition has introduced into buildings.

Upon one part of this subject so general an agreement was expressed that it may be regarded as a definite and wide-spread result of experience, namely, that electricity given to tenants without charge is mercilessly wasted, and its value is not appreciated. Frequent instances have been quoted of the reckless usage of electric force by tenants, in any of the now numerous conveniences in which electricity is the method of operation, and of the burden thus laid upon property-owners, where the practice has been established of including in the rent an assumably reasonable supply of electrical current for such purposes.