Material For Farm Buildings
In a country like ours, containing within its soils and upon its surface such an abundance and variety of building material, the composition of our farm erections must depend in most cases upon the ability or the choice of the builder himself.
Stone is the most durable, in the long run the cheapest, and as a consequence, the best material which can be furnished for the walls of a dwelling. With other farm buildings circumstances may govern differently; still, in many sections of the United States, even stone cannot be obtained, except at an expense and inconvenience altogether forbidding its use. Yet it is a happy relief that where stone is difficult, or not at all to be obtained, the best of clay for bricks, is abundant; and in almost all parts of our country, even where building timber is scarce, its transportation is so comparatively light, and the facilities of removing it are so cheap, that wood is accessible to every one. Hence we may indulge in almost every fitting style of architecture and arrangement, to which either kind of these materials are best adapted. We shall slightly discuss them as applicable to our purposes.
38 Stone is found either on the surface, or in quarries under ground. On the surface they lie chiefly as bowlders of less or greater size, usually of hard and durable kinds. Large bowlders may be either blasted, or split with wedges into sufficiently available shapes to lay in walls with mortar; or if small, they may with a little extra labor, be fitted by the aid of good mortar into equally substantial wall as the larger masses. In quarries they are thrown out, either by blasting or splitting in layers, so as to form regular courses when laid up; and all their varieties may, unhammered, except to strike off projecting points or angles, be laid up with a sufficiently smooth face to give fine effect to a building. Thus, when easily obtained, aside from the greater advantages of their durability, stone is as cheap in the first instance as lumber, excepting in new districts of country where good building lumber is the chief article of production, and cheaper than brick in any event. Stone requires no paint. Its color is a natural, therefore an agreeable one, be it usually what it may, although some shades are more grateful to the eye than others; yet it is always in harmony with natural objects, and particularly so on the farm where everything ought to wear the most substantial appearance. The outer walls of a stone house should always be firred off inside for lathing and plastering, to keep them thoroughly dry. Without that, the rooms are liable to dampness, which would penetrate through the stone into the inside plastering unless cut off by an open space of air between.
Bricks, where stone is not found, supply its place 39 tolerably well. When made of good clay, rightly tempered with sand, and well burned, they will in a wall remain for centuries, and as far as material is concerned, answer all purposes. Brick walls may be thinner than stone walls, but they equally require firring off for inside plastering, and in addition, they need the aid of paint quite as often as wood, to give them an agreeable color—bricks themselves not usually being in the category of desirable colors or shades.
Wood, when abundant and easily obtained, is worked with the greatest facility, and on many accounts, is the cheapest material, for the time, of which a building can be constructed. But it is perishable. It requires every few years a coat of paint, and is always associated with the idea of decay. Yet wood may be moulded into an infinite variety of form to please the eye, in the indulgence of any peculiar taste or fancy.
We cannot, in the consideration of material for house-building therefore, urge upon the farmer the adoption of either of the above named materials to the preference of another, in any particular structure he may require; but leave him to consult his own circumstances in regard to them, as best he may. But this we will say: If it be possible, never lay a cellar or underground wall of perishable material, such as wood or soft bricks; nor build with soft or unburnt bricks in a wall exposed to the weather anywhere; nor with stone which is liable to crumble or disintegrate by the action of frost or water upon it. We are aware that 40 unburnt bricks have been strongly recommended for house-building in America; but from observation, we are fully persuaded that they are worthless for any permanent structure, and if used, will in the end prove a dead loss in their application. Cottages, out-buildings, and other cheap erections on the farm, for the accommodation of laborers, stock, or crops, may be made of wood, where wood is the cheapest and most easily obtained; and, even taking its perishable nature into account, it may be the most economical. In their construction, it may be simply a matter of calculation with him who needs them, to calculate the first cost of any material he has at hand, or may obtain, and to that add the interest upon it, the annual wear and tear, the insurance, and the period it may last, to determine this matter to his entire satisfaction—always provided he have the means at hand to do either. But other considerations generally control the American farmer. His pocket is apt more often to be pinched, than his choice is to be at fault; and this weighty argument compels him into the make shift system, which perhaps in its results, provided the main chance be attained, is quite as advantageous to his interests as the other.
As a general remark, all buildings should show for themselves, what they are built of. Let stone be stone; bricks show on their own account; and of all things, put no counterfeit by way of plaster, stucco, or other false pretence other than paint, or a durable wash upon wood: it is a miserable affectation always, and of no possible use whatever. All counterfeit of 41 any kind as little becomes the buildings of the farmer, as the gilded pinchbeck watch would fit the finished attire of a gentleman.
Before submitting the several designs proposed for this work, it may be remarked, that in addressing them to a climate strictly American, we have in every instance adopted the wide, steeply-pitched roof, with broad eaves, gables and cornices, as giving protection, shade, and shelter to the walls; thus keeping them dry and in good preservation, and giving that well housed, and comfortable expression, so different from the stiff, pinched, and tucked-up look in which so many of the haberdasher-built houses of the present day exult.
We give some examples of the hipped roof, because they are convenient and cheap in their construction; and we also throw into the designs a lateral direction to the roofs of the wings, or connecting parts of the building. This is sometimes done for effect in architectural appearance, and sometimes for the economy and advantage of the building itself. Where roofs thus intersect or connect with a side wall, the connecting gutters should be made of copper, zinc, lead, galvanized iron, or tin, into which the shingles, if they be covered with that material, should be laid so as to effectually prevent leakage. The eave gutters should be of copper, zinc, lead, galvanized iron or tin, also, and placed at least one foot back from the edge of the roof, and lead the water into conductors down the wall into the cistern or elsewhere, as may be required. If the water be not needed, and the roof be wide over the walls, there is no objection to let it pass off naturally, 42 if it be no inconvenience to the ground below, and can run off, or be absorbed into the ground without detriment to the cellar walls. All this must be subject to the judgment of the proprietor himself.
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