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Building a House - Order in Finishing the Work


The nearer the building was to completion, the more com plicated did the office work become. When Paul saw that nearly all the particulars had been furnished to the con tractors, he thought that he would only have to see that every part was duly constructed and put in place, accord ing to his cousin's instructions; but the office work, which during the first few months had taken only two or three hours a day, was becoming onerous. He had to arrange the memoranda, in order to ascertain the quanti ties; and that time might not be lost, he was obliged to write or give orders to the workmen, that they might come at the very moment they were wanted, and, in certain cases, work together. The joiner had sent part of the doors and window-frames, and nearly all the flooring, at the end of August. They had then to order from the blacksmith the angle-plates, door-bands and cramps; and send to Tours for ironmongery, door-handles, crImones, locks, bolts, hinges, &c.; and to secure the due execution of these orders, they had to specify the size of each article as required by the strength of the wood and the nature of the articles themselves. Eugene had gone to Tours to look out samples of the ironmongery in question. The joiner and the blacksmith had to work simultaneously, and as they were not accustomed to be hurried, it was often neces sary to regulate the labour of each, so that time should not be lost. The slaters had come, and were perpetually call ing for the mason's or the carpenter's assistance. And as their daily pay was considerable, it was important not to allow them any pretext for idling.

Eugene had therefore taught Paul how he should con trive every evening to get a clear idea of the labour of various kinds that was to be executed next day, and how he should allot everyone his part before quitting the works. This necessity of foreseeing everything had appeared to Paul a difficult task; but his mind had become gradually accustomed to the business, and he was acquiring the power of calculating with some ease what had to be accomplished.

Eugene warned him that he must not expect help from the workmen in thus arranging things methodically; and he had in fact observed that most of them, when any piece of work was to be begun, could not set about it, because those whose duty it was to put things in readiness for them had not received notice to do so, and had not made the necessary arrangements. Then the time would

be wasted in running after one another.

"The workman,"Eugene would say to Paul,"is natu rally improvident, as are all those who have acquired the habit of being commanded by others, and have no respon sibility of their own. He is not unaware of what will be necessary for accomplishing such or- such a piece of work; yet he waits till the moment it will have to be done with out troubling himself whether the conditions required for its accomplishment will be present or not. When, there fore, labourers in several departments are working together, method, order, and foresight are demanded on the part of the architect; otherwise much time is lost; the workmen hinder instead of helping one another; each does his own work without concerning himself as to whether it is at the fitting time or not. The same piece of work may have to be recommenced twice or thrice." The workmen who were to set the grates and fix the warming apparatus had come; and though every provision had been made during the building for the passage of the flues, for the ventilation and the hot pipes of the warming apparatus, these workmen were continually calling for the mason. But as Eugene had pre-arranged everything for the purpose, he had enjoined his clerk of the works not to allow these workmen to make holes in every direction for the passage of their pipes or other arrangements, as they had been accustomed to do, without respect for the build ing and the bearings of the floors. But the passages were not obvious, especially as they took very little trouble to look for them, so that Branchu was obliged to go and show them how they lay, and open the orifices, enlarging some and contracting others. Then the plumbers set about lay ing the water-pipes, and the walls had to be pierced for them, and cramp-holes made. The joiners, too, would be requiring the mason to cramp in the window and door frames. It was necessary to mediate between these con flicting interests, for Branchu was getting confused, and was going from one set of workmen to another without getting anything finished. This period of his work there fore made Paul acquainted with many details in building to which he had scarcely paid attention a few months before.

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workmen, time, eugene, set and ing