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large towns, many of the houses are built upon artificial soil, or “made ground" as it is called. This made ground consists of the refuse of dustbins, ash-pits, midden-heaps, and the like, which is shot at some place where the ground requires to be raised. It is very undesirable that houses should be built on any such made ground, at any rate for a considerable period. There is no doubt, however, that, after some time, the action of the air and water in the soil causes a slow decomposition of the organic matters in it, and renders it less objectionable as a site for building purposes. Nevertheless, no one would choose to live in a house built upon “made soil” if he could help it.
The proximity of buildings is the next matter to be considered. It is important that houses should not be too near together, as otherwise both light and ventilation are interfered with, and it is now a regulation in the metropolis that a new street shall be at least as wide as the houses on either side of it are high,
and that no new street shall be less than forty feet wide.
Having determined the site on which to build, we come next to the foundations. These should not be on made ground, nor on purely vegetable soil, as peat, humus, &c. Their depth is a matter which it is the architect's province to determine, and depends upon various circumstances, such as the weight they have to support. The material used must be the best concrete. The inferior kinds, made with too little lime or cement, crumble away, allow damp air to pass through them, and make the house unwholesome, besides endangering the structure. It is important to remark here that a house should not be built, or even its foundations laid, in frosty weather, for the work will not hold when a thaw sets in.
Basement. The covering of the ground with some impervious material is imperative, in order that the moist air from the soil may be prevented from rising into the house. In the case of made soils, the covering of the ground should extend for some distance round the house. This' covering is best made of concrete some inches thick, and should be used in all cases, whether there are any underground rooms or not. Such underground rooms or basement floor should only be used as cellars--not as living rooms—and should always be arched. The concrete floor may be covered with asphalte, tiles or York paving, but wooden floors should never be used below the ground level. The walls of the house, below the level of the ground and a little above it, should be made with exceptionally good materials, and set in cement, so as to be as impervious as possible to damp. This is a matter that is very frequently lost sight of, and the walls below the level of the ground are frequently made of the worst possible materials. Being hidden from sight, it is often considered that the best materials need not be used for them. It is advisable to have a damp course in the walls all round the house, at a little dis
tance above the ground level, whether the site be a damp one or not. This damp course may be made of asphalte, stoneware, or slate set in cement. Cement alone cannot be depended on. If such a course is not placed in the wall, moisture will rise up through the bricks by capillary attraction, and make the walls of the house damp, rendering the house itself unwholesome. The inner side of the walls in the basement floor may be advantageously made of glazed bricks or of hard black Staffordshire bricks, but no covering of any kind whatever should be placed on those walls. The money should be spent on good construction, and not on covering
dry area all round the walls of the house outside, starting from the concrete foundations. Its width is a matter of little importance, as it is only required to ensure dryness of the walls below the level of the ground, and the ventilation of the cellars in the basement, unless, indeed, the basement rooms are inhabited, in which case, at any rate, the regulations of the Public Health Act must be complied with. This area must have proper connections with the land drains to allow of the removal of the surface water. The materials used for building the walls of the house depend upon the locality. They may be bricks, stone of various kinds (the choice of which must be left to the discretion of the architect), and, in some parts of the country, flint. Bricks stand fire better than anything else, for the simple reason that they have been already burned. This fact was remarkably shown in the great fire at Chicago, where the brick houses remained comparatively intact, while the granite ones were utterly destroyed. In any case the materials should be set in mortar or cement, and in wet and exposed positions the walls should be double or “hollow" walls, as they are technically termed. Occasionally, in such positions they should even be slated on the outside, or covered with glazed tiles. Walls are sometimes made