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Building a House - Clerk of the Works


"Go, my dear Paul, and see how far the excavations are advanced this morning,"said Eugene, two days after the visit to the ground,"and bring me your report. Take a rule and a note-book with you, and take notes and mea surements of what has been done. You will examine the ground, and tell me if they find blocks of stone near the surface of the soil, or if the loose earth is deep. In the meantime I am going to draw the plan of the cellars. But take the tracing of the plan of the ground-floor of the house, and on this plan, mark out what they have begun to excavate, and what they find. The work cannot be far advanced; but some excavations will have been already made, since I have told Branchu to set as many labourers to work as he could find, so as to comply with your father's intentions." A little embarrassed by his new duties, Paul soon reached the ground. Aided by Branchu, he took the measure of the diggings, indicated the depths as well as he could, and marked the spots where they found rock or loose earth. This took him two good hours.

"Well,"said Eugene, when they were settled in the study, after breakfast,"there is the plan of the cellars (Fig. 21). Let us see how it will suit your report of the ground, and whether we shall have to make some modifi cations in this plan. Ah ! I see the rock is nearly on the surface towards the south, and the loose soil reaches pretty uniformly a depth of three yards towards the north of our buildings. We shall, therefore, make the cellars under the drawing-room, the dining-room, and the billiard-room, in the limestone rock, - cutting the latter; and we shall make a foundation for the front part, especially for the stabling and coach-house, with good masonry.

"Here (Fig. 21) is the plan of the cellars. You see these axial lines : they indicate the centres of the walls of the ground-floor, and must not be departed from. The figures denoting the thickness of the walls are always marked from these centres. Thus you see these dimensions are greater where the cellar-wall will have to carry the spring of the vaulting of the cellars - as I explained to you, the other day.

"We have a rivulet that will supply the services of the house, by means of a reservoir, which we will place as high as possible. We have not yet taken the levels; but judging by a glance, I should say (reckoning by the falls of the rivulet and the rapidity of its course) that at too yards from the house the reservoir will store the water so as to enable it to reach the level of the first floor by pipes. That we shall have to ascertain. Otherwise we shall have recourse to a pump worked by horse-power or by a windmill. We will afterwards conduct this stream of water into a drain along the walls at the north of the house, as you see at A, so that this drain may collect the waste water from the house by a conduit, B, and receive the closet discharges at C, D, and E. The running water will thus take off this sewage into a tank, which we will make down below in the kitchen-garden. This water when it has settled is ex cellent - let me tell you - for watering the vegetables.

"I have indicated on the plan at G the sections of the cellar barrel-vaults. The cellars will measure 5 feet from the floor to the spring of the vaults, and the vaults will have a rise of 5 feet. These cellars, therefore, will have a height of to feet under the crown, which will be very satis factory, especially as the ground is dry. We shall then be able to make use of the cellars, not only for storing wines but vegetables, for a larder, &c. The level of our ground-floor being 5 feet above the general surface of the ground, we shall easily ventilate these cellars by air-holes, as I have marked at H. The descent to them will be by the steps on the right, situated near the wash-houses and by the servants' stairs in the turret. The right-hand steps will serve for taking down stores, and the winding-stairs for carrying up the wines and other things to the pantry.

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cellars, plan, ground, water and feet