We have no desire in these remarks to say anything to the injury of those who make building a business, or rather, a speculation. If they have injured their business by shabby methods of building that is their business and not ours. But it is not only our business, but our duty, to point out to work-ingmen a method whereby they may provide themselves with comfortable dwellings, provided always that they possess habits of economy and skill sufficient io demand the average wages of skilled mechanics in this country. It is undoubtedly true that no man can now be sure of obtaining any one of the cheaper class of houses in American cities, ranging in price from $1,000 to $5,000, properly constructed, unless he can supervise its erection himself, or has it supervised by some trustworthy agent. If he buys one already built he runs the risk of finding it sadly in want of repair after a few month's occupation. The timber has not been properly seasoned, the walls crack from the settling of the foundations, the roof will perhaps leak, the floors will sag, and repair will te added to repair, only to disappoint the hopes of the deluded purchaser. It is true that in the best built houses there will be some cracking of the walls and shrinking of joiner work, but these necessary evils are not what we refer to ; it is of their exaggeration, consequent upon gross and willful negligence in the erection of such buildings, that we speak. Timber reduced to the smallest size at which it could be expected to bear the strain to which it must be subjected, even if of the best quality, is put in without regard to any other requirement than size ; so cross-grained sometimes that we have even seen it split obliquely across from the face of the hammer in nailing, and afterward spliced by strips of thin board nailed on to its sides with small nails so that it should not split a second time in the splicing. What matter! The house is made to sell, and if it will appear, when finished, to be well built, and keep up the appearance until sold, it has answered the purpose for which it was built, if not that for which it was bought. The obvious moral to be drawn from these facts is that those who intend to possess comfortable and substantial houses should have them built for themselves, and thus see that proper materials and proper workmanship are employed. But how is this to be accomplished by men of very small means 1 " We must rent such houses as are built for us ; we cannot build houses for ourselves," say they. " But you can," say we. It may take you one, three, or five years to do it, but you can do it, thus : First, you must obtain a lot. We will say this lot is worth four hundred dollars. By joining a well-managed building lot association, of which many now exist in this country, you will be able to take advantage of the market and perhaps get it cheaper, and, as you will be more likely to save when be- longing to such an association, we consider it a good plan to do so. But in order to get the required' lot, you must, of course, save something in some way. Two dollars per week for two years, will give you a fund of $408, exclusive of interest, sufficient for the purpose. You can now raise money by mortgaging this property to a savings bank, or you may get help to build your house from a building association, which we believe exists in most large towns. These associations, upon the payment of a small sum weekly, will erect a house for you, taking a mortgage on the entire property as security, so that at the end of four years, or thereabouts, you maylive in a house of your own, and the rent you are now paying will pay up the mortgage after a time, leaving you the property unincumbered. If the property has been well purchased (the aid of such societies as we have described cannot be obtained otherwise), you can probably dispose of the property at a considerable advance on the purchase price at any subsequent period you see fit. In most of our growing cities the first value of your house and lot will have doubled on your hands by the time it is paid for, so that you could at the end of ten years from the time you laid by your first two dollars, realize by the sale of your property a very comfortable sum to have in bank, or to reinvest in business, which would never have been yours if you had paid all in rent to greedy landlords. These remarks are specially applicable to workingmen in large and growing cities where rents are high, while suburban lots are low, and of easy access by means of horse cars and other facilities of modern travel.
This article was originally published with the title "How a Workingman May get a House of his Own"