What the True Home Should Be - Buying Versus Building - Selecting the Lot - Plan of the House - The Rough Sketch - Preliminary Drawing - Estimating the Cost - Plans and Specifications - Obtaining Bids - Superintending the Work - Requirements of the Law in Regard to Preparing, Executing and Filing the Contract - Filing Notice of Completion - Liens of Mechanics and Material Men - Notice Where Owner Leases Land to be Improved - Homestead Exemptions - How and by Whom to be Exercised - Conveyance or Incumbrance, and Abandonment, of the Homestead - Homestead as Applied to Public Lands.
Sec. 124. Building the Home.
(1.) A home should be more than a house - more than a place in which to eat and sleep - far more! The home should be a spot so cozy and attractive in its appointments and surroundings that the human heart will cling to it as to a bit of earthly heaven; a place the children will learn to love and to which their thoughts will tenderly turn in after years; a place where the husband and wife may find daily inspiration and enjoyment. Wealth is not essential to ideal home conditions, as some of the sweetest homes on earth are owned by people of limited means.
(2.) If the amateur investor is undecided whether to acquire a home by buying a house already built, or to purchase a lot and erect a house, he should make a comparison, as nearly as he can, with a view to arriving at a determination of the matter. Should he decide to build, the following remarks are intended to afford him some suggestions in regard thereto.
(3.) The house will cost practically the same wherever it is located and it will depreciate in value as the years pass. The lot will determine the future value of the premises as a whole. The lot should be selected in the best surroundings consistent with the means of the purchaser. (Read also Sections 31 and 47 in this connection.) A vacant lot with houses on each side, is a good one to buy, as one knows then exactly what the adjoining improvements will be. One can often buy a lot close to the center of town as cheaply or cheaper than he can buy in a new subdivision, and have sewers and all street improvements paid for, whereas, in the subdivision there will be no sewer and the odors from cesspools are eventually bound to be offensive. Close-in property will rent more readily and increase in value more rapidly than outside property. When the prospective home builder has secured the title in fee to a lot, he has a basis of security on which to borrow money from a building and loan association, bank or private party to erect a house.
(4.) As to the plan of the house. Any building contractor will be glad to furnish the intending home builder with blue prints of houses. From these, he can select one suited to his taste and means. If he wishes to work out some ideas of his own, he should procure a large sheet of wrapping paper, a ruler divided into quarter inches, and draw to scale a rough sketch of the outline of the house, allowing one-fourth of an inch on the paper for each one foot of the house. Any outline or plan not drawn to scale is of little value. If the house is to be two stories, he should draw a floor plan of each story. The upper floor, of course, must conform in outline to the lower. The plumbing of the upper floor should be directly over that of the lower floor, and all be kept well to the rear of the house, to save expense. The house should be made two full stories, as there is much dissatisfaction, and no particular saving is made, in erecting a house of one and one-half stories. Too many rooms should not be provided for, and the greatest amount of study should be expended in the arrangement of the sitting room and kitchen - the rooms that will be occupied most by the family.
(5.) The rough sketch should then be taken to an architect or building contractor and explained to him, and he should be requested to prepare a preliminary drawing from the sketch. Ordinarily, no charge is made for the preliminary drawing, but the architect or contractor will expect, of course, to prepare the plans and specifications if the owner decides to build. In the drawing will be incorporated such advantageous suggestions as may be talked over and decided upon.
(6.) The architect or contractor can give the owner an estimate of the probable cost of the house when completed, but such estimate will generally be under, rather than over, the actual cost. The following rule will enable the owner to ascertain the cost for himself within $300 or $400, more or less, viz.: Multiply together the length, breadth and height, and this product by seven; point off two places and the result will be the cost in dollars and cents. Thus, a building 28x56, 24 feet in height, should cost approximately $2634.24. This rule applies to ordinary, plain construction only. The estimate of the height of a house with a shingled roof should extend to only one-half the height of such roof.
(7.) There is much variety in plans and specifications, and for this reason no model set is given. What should be provided for will be suggested by the following division headings, viz.: Dimensions, height, foundation, cellar, chimneys, timbers, carpenter work, under-pinning, bridging, exterior covering, shingling, roofing, ventilators, mouldings, porches or verandahs, scuttles, sky-lights, interior finish, stairs, base boards, picture moulding, wainscoting, floors, closets, kitchen sink, doors, screen doors, screens, windows, glass, hardware, lathing, plastering, plumbing, waste pipe, ventilation, bath tub, water-closets, wash basins, drains, instantaneous heater, slop hoppers, wash trays, electric work, electric bells, electric lights, gas piping, painting, sidewalk and fence. The electric and gas fixtures and the shades are usually supplied by the owner after the house is completed.
(8.) When ready to build, the owner should have plans and specifications prepared by an architect or by a contractor who has access to an architect's office. A writer on the subject says: "The house was never erected that was satisfactory structurally, artistically or from a business point of view on which properly prepared plans and specifications were not employed. The size of the house has nothing to do with the necessity for plans. A small house involves about the same number of structural points and details, and all of the business hazards and complications, of a large one. An architect's knowledge and experience should save the owner more than the cost of his services in the actual construction of a house, to say nothing of the relief from business care." Building contractors are of the opinion, however, that the specifications prepared by an architect often times call for more material than is actually necessary.