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Building a House - the Slating and Plumbing

"Your business, as clerk-of-works, when the plumbers begin their operations, will especially consist in having the metal that is brought in carefully weighed, and having the clippings safely put by in your. presence. These men, accustomed to occupy themselves with their craft, work somewhat after the fashion of artists, and are inclined to disregard material interests; they leave their lead and tin about in every corner. You must be aware that we ought not to expose our country fellows to such strong temptations.

"You must therefore weigh all the materials as they come in, and then the clippings. These will have to be put by in your presence in a place securely locked. The difference between the weight of metal that comes in and that of this residue is the amount with which we are chargeable, as lead work is paid by weight.

"The joiner's contract you have brought me promises, I believe, that the flooring, doors, and window-frames shall be sent at the end of August?" "Yes; and as regards the floorings, the contractor tells me that, having a good store of wood, he could begin laying them on the 1st of August." "That would be too soon; we must let the whole build ing dry a little first. He is an energetic man; if he begins on the 1st of September he will have finished by the 1st of October. We will have the painters in then, and by the 1st of December our house may be considered finished.

"We must remember the marble-mason also, and send him an order for the mantelpieces. It is not too soon to think about it. Have you given the joiner the dimensions of the fire-places?" "Yes; they were marked on the plans." "Well, make a copy of these plans, and we will send it to the marble-mason. For this article also we shall have to deal with a Paris house; it will be cheaper to do so, and we shall have a greater choice. It is a very troublesome thing to be obliged, as we are now-a-days, to have recourse to Paris for a hundred matters of detail with which build ing is concerned.

"But except in certain great cities, such as Lyons, Tours, Bordeaux, Rouen, Nantes, and Marseilles, where you may find warehouses tolerably well furnished, the provinces supply nothing. It was not so formerly; this is one of the results of our excessive centralization.

"I do my best to oppose this fatal tendency; but when time presses we must have recourse to those great centres of manufactures connected with building. If we ordered

our chimney-pieces at Chateauroux, or even at Tours, we should have to wait half-a-year and pay more for them.

The dealer of whom we ordered them would be sure to send to Paris for them, and we may quite as well go to the fountain-head ourselves. As regard the conservatory vesti bule opening on the garden, and the shelter over the en trance, our blacksmith aided by a full detail of particulars will be able to execute them; he is an intelligent work man. Country carpenters and blacksmiths are generally competent men." "Why are they so?" "Because the carpenters have kept up their organization or corporations, or at least something equivalent, and work men have to give proof of their efficiency before they can enter the guild.

"The blacksmiths, on the other hand, have kept up their habit of working at the forge; and the forge is the soul of blacksmiths' work. In the large towns, on the contrary, casting is all the fashion; and artisans connected with the building trades have lost their skill in the finer labour of the forge. They have become mere fitters. However there has been a reaction during the past few years, and at the Exhibition of 1867 you might have seen excellent speci mens of wrought-iron. Architects also have become unac customed to work of this kind, and very few know how iron is wrought by the hammer, or how welding is done; so they give instructions to contractors which are incapable of being executed, or which occasion them much useless labour. Architects ought therefore to be acquainted with the methods of workmanship in every department of labour they call into requisition, and it is not at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts they will learn that. It is now more con venient to persuade them that matter was made to obey all the fancies of the artist; that serves as an excuse for explanations, and makes teaching less complicated. The tax-payer and the owner of property who has occasion to employ an architect pay for this admirable doctrine rather dearly; while, without superior guidance, the manufactures connected with building suffer perversion in endeavouring to realize the fancies of these gentlemen."

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