Simple to follow, step-by-step

. '

Constructional Details for the

. •* <

. Amateur Home Builder



Can Build

Your Own Home!

. and save hundreds of pounds on the cost.

A simple and practical solution of the housing problem that is within the reach of the average mana scheme whereby YOU can build YOUR OWN home In your week-ends. First, by building part of it and living in it, and then adding each additional room as time and materials permit.

Details of the step-by-step procedure for the amateur builder are given in this book.

The Home Holders* Advisory

BOX 4397, G.P.O., SYDNEY

Registered at the General Post Office, Sydney, for transmission through the post as a book.

First Edition, October, I<)p6.

Second Edition, October, 1948


An Important Message to Every Home Seeker.................................... 5

How to Solve the Problem for Yourself ......................................................... “

First, the Question of the Site ........................................................................... H

The Plan ............................................................................................................................................ 11

Let us Build a Home............................................................................................................... ^

The First Step.............................................................................................................................. ^

Why we Suggest a Brick House ................................................................... 18

How to Make Your Own Bricks ........................................................................... 20

Machines that Make 3,000 Bricks a Day .................................................. 21

A Brick-making Machine that costs only £10............................................ 21

Meeting the Cost of a Brick-making Machine.......................................... 24

The Foundations........................................................................................................................ 25

Use of Profiles in Laying Out the Plan............................................................... 27

Formula for Foundation Concrete ..................................................................... 29

Points to Note about Concrete ................................................................................. 31

Brick Footings .............................................................................................................................. 32

How to Build a Vertical Wall .................................................................................. 34

How to Build a Level Wall............................................................................. 35

How to Cut Bricks ................................................................................................................. 35

The Art of Laying Bricks.............................................................................................. 36

The Use of the Trowel.......................................................................................... 38

Use of the Builder's Square ......................................................................................... 39

The Use of the Gauge Box............................................................................................ 40

Types of Brickwork ...................................................... 41

Importance of the Cavity Wall ........................................................................... 43

Building a Cavity Wall ............................................................................................. 43

Importance of Damp Course ....................................................................................... 45

Don't Forget the Air Bricks ........................................................................................ 46

Summary for Brick Walls............................................................................................... 47

New Ideas in Window Space.............................................................................. 48

Window Openings......................................................................................................... 50

Doorways ......................................................................................................................................... 51

How to Build the Floor........................................................................................................ 53

Floor Construction Summarised .............................................................................. 55

Constructing the Roof.......................................................................................................... 36

How to Lay the Bathroom Floor...................................................... 60

Contents - Continued

Step-by-Step Procedure for Brick Construction    63

Step-by-Step Procedure for Fibro and Wooden Houses    76

How to Build a Fire-place .......................................................................... 87

How to Build Steps ........................................................................................................ 88

How to Build a Carpenter's Horse........................................................................ 89

How to Build a Garage .............................................................................................. 89

How to Build a Pise (Rammed    Earth) House ..................................... 91

How to Dispose of Drainage     91

How to Build a Septic Tank ................................................................... 93

Final Word ................................................................................................................................. 95

Houses and Plans Sections ............................................................................ 96


An Imporfanf Message to Every Home Seeker

YOU can build YOUR OWN home!

Ii you can't get bricks you can MAKE bricks. Ii you can't get labour, you can use your OWN labour—in your spare time.

One would not have given such extraordinary advice to unskilled men once, but the housing position is a desperate position. There was a shortage oi 600,000 houses in Australia at the end of the war. The problem will not be solved by sitting down waiting on Governments. It will not be solved by building contractors bound and gagged by bureaucrats.

It will only be solved by the personal initiative, energy and drive oi hundreds of thousands oi individuals who are determined to have a home of their own within the next few years.

Consider the fantastic nature of the problem:

When the war ended there was, as we said before, a shortage of approximately 600,000 homes in Australia.

Due to the war, marriages in Australia increased to a round figure of 80,000 per annum and, with the increase of population, this will be about the average number of marriages per annum over the next ten years.

As every marriage creates the need for a home, the building industry is set this gigantic problem:

Housing shortage at end of the war...... 600,000 homes

Post-war additional per annum need

for homes .................................................................. 80.000 homes

Taking the housing needs over the next ten years, plus the accumulated shortages of the past, Australia is confronted with the need for some 1.400,000 homes!

Now, what is her capacity to meet that demand? The record home-building year in Australia, according to official figures, was 1938, when the following dwelling houses were built:

New South Wales.................................................. 18,236

Victoria .................................................................................... 9,405

Queensland ...................................................... 6,000

South Australia     (approx.)    2,000

Western Australia .....(approx.)    2,200

Tasmania     (approx.)    416

TOTAL 38,257

How long will it take Australia to again work up to that total? Remember, that record was achieved in the ''palmy days" of 1938, when full recovery had been made from the depression, and with the Second Great War a cloud on the horizon "no bigger than a man's hand."

In 1938 labour and materials were in abundant supply. New South Wales alone imported 80,000,000 super feet of American Oregon per annum in the years before the war. But so desperate is the housing position in U.S.A. and Canada to-day that we can expect merely a trickle of timber from those countries for the next several years.

Well, let us see how we are tackling the stupendous problem of home shortage in Australia. Here are the figures of the homes constructed in the first post-war year:

New South Wales............ 4,630

Victoria ............................................................................... 1,919

Queensland ........................................................................ 641

South Australia .............................................................. 346

Western Australia....................................................... 426

Tasmania .............................. 304

Aust. Capital Territory .......................................... 150

TOTAL 8,416

Not a very exciting start, is it? But suppose we anticipate a big improvement? Suppose we assume that over the next ten years Australia achieves an average of 40,000 homes per annum? Will that number solve the problem? No!


Black Outlook for 75 per cent.

of Families

The position facing the person who wants a home of his own, then, is this:

Over the next ten years approximately 25 families in every 100 will get their homes through private building contractors. State Housing Commissions and Co-operative Building Societies.

THE OTHER 75 FAMILIES WILL GO WITHOUT! In other words, 75 per cent, of the families who want homes of their own will be compelled to go on living in back rooms, or sharing houses with other families, enduring insufferable humiliation, indignity, inconvenience and unhappiness.

The unhappiness of such a big percentage of the families of Australia, due to appalling housing conditions, means an incalculable loss of production. More, there can be no industrial peace, no national security, and no prosperity whilst this state of affairs exists.

The object of this book is to suggest a solution, or part solution, of the greatest national problem facing Australia.

We admit that the solution is most unusual, indeed, unprecedented.

Build Your Own Home!

But it will never be solved by orthodox methods—state housing commissions, co-operative building societies, private building contractors, prefabricated builders, etc., though all these people and organisations are no doubt doing their damndest to solve it.

It will only be solved by tens of thousands of men BUILDING THEIR OWN HOMES!

It will only be solved by the initiative, enterprise, energy and driving force of every INDIVIDUAL HOME SEEKER determined to get his OWN roof over his OWN family, largely by his OWN labours.

There is no shortage of men with initiative, energy and driving force. Right! Then let us inspire them to go to work on their own behalf, instead of sitting around in their spare time bemoaning the problem and the intolerable conditions under which hundreds of thousands of people now live.

The man who takes refuge in the alibi that he has never laid a brick in his life, much less made one—that the problem is therefore beyond him—is defeated before he starts. Apparently he prefers to go on bemoaning his fate, merely adding to the growing discontent without raising anything more than a growl to solve the problem.

Hundreds of men throughout Australia—men who never laid a brick or nailed down a floor before in their lives—are proving that with sound and skilled advice in procedure, and a bit oi practice, it is possible for amateur builders to build their own homes and that it was only necessary to call in expert help with the roof, kitchen fittings, plastering and, perhaps, doors and windows. Soon there will be tens of thousands building their own.

Any man of average intelligence and energy can trench out the plan of his house.

Any man of average intelligence and energy can lay down the foundations and footings, or build the brick piers.

Any man of average intelligence and energy can make all the bricks required for a dwelling-house.

Any man of average intelligence and energy can learn to build a sound brick wall that conforms to a plumb line.

Any man of average intelligence and energy can learn how to build floor piers, lay plates and floor joists on the level, and cut and nail down flooring boards.

Any man of average intelligence—if it is a fibro or timberframed house he wants—can erect the wall studs and the fibro or timber walls.

Those statements are unchallengeable. They have been proved by hundreds of amateur builders who have built their own homes—and built them at half to-day's costs. And the purpose of this book is to give the step by step procedure, in nontechnical terms, so that thousands of others may do the same.

Some kinds of brick-laying require highly skilled labour, but no serious training is required to lay a straight wall provided you conform to certain simple fundamental precautions, which are clearly set out in this book.

Incidentally, a small brick-moulding machine may be purchased for £10 which will enable you to make 700 perfect cement bricks a day, or you can hire a machine for a few pounds that makes 3,000 perfect bricks a day.

It may be objected that the home-made cement brick lacks the attraction and colour of face bricks. Granted. But the house built of cement bricks is usually washed over cream, with wood work and gutterings picked out in green or blue, and looks just as attractive as the face-bricked cottage.

Briefly, our message to you, as one of those desperately in need of a home of your own, is this: With a bit of skilled help with the roof, doors and window frames, plastering, etc., you can build the first section of your house, say two bedrooms and bathroom. One of the bedrooms can serve as a temporary kitchen.

Once that section is completed, you and your family can move in, and from that point onward you can proceed in your spare time to build the rest of the house.

It may not be the most perfect house, perhaps, but it WILL be a good house. It WILL conform to the usual dwelling house standards. It will pass the building inspector. And it will be YOUR OWN—built at one-half the price quoted to-day. Last, but by no means least, IT WILL NOT BE SADDLED BY A HEAVY LOAD OF DEBT.

Start Right In and Solve the Problem for Yourself!

If you get stuck financially before your house is completed, you will have no difficulty in borrowing the balance you require. There is plenty of private mortgage money available for the security provided by real estate—the best security in the world.

The man who is intimidated by the task, who quakes at the difficulties, or who feels he cannot successfully follow the simple, step-by-step constructional details given herein, will be dependent upon the usual channels to build a home for him.

This dependence will mean that hundreds of thousands of such men will NEVER get homes of their own. They will never escape from the housing conditions which make life for untold thousands a perpetual misery.

No. The man who wants a home urgently and is not prepared to wait till Doomsday for it, will start right in to solve the problem for himself. Now! And he'll SOLVE it!

Can you mix concrete? Of course, you can! Can you read a level? Of course! Can you drive a nail? Certainly! Well, go to it! Within twelve months—assuming you have a block of land —you and your family can move into the first completed part of the house.

No doubt you will have to fight like Hell for some of the materials you want, but nobody gets a home easily these days. This factor, however, will not deter the man who is resolved to get a home around him and his family.

When the family first moves in, the house will lack some comforts and conveniences, but thus inspired by the first fruits of your labours, you will proceed with new zest to add the kitchen and the other rooms you require.

And you will add the little artistic finishings that your skill and taste—and purse—permit.

By the end of a further year or two it should be completed. Perhaps wholly, or half, paid for. And you and your family will be the proudest and happiest people in the world.

Now go to work—and good luck to you!


According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumble-bee, due to its heavy body and short wing span, is incapable of flight.

But the bumble-bee, not being aware of these serious deficiencies, just goes ahead and flies!

There is a moral in that little story for the amateur home builder. According to the building experts, the amateur lacks the necessary knowledge, training and experience to build his own home. But by refusing to accept these limitations, he just goes ahead and builds one!

First, the Question of the Site

When you are considering the suitability of the site, examine it carefully on the following practical points:

(1)    It should not be subject to seasonal flooding;

(2)    Its subsoil should not be likely to become waterlogged;

(3)    From its levels it should admit of good drainage with, alternatively, outlet to public sewers, or space within its boundaries to permit disposal of drainage upon the site;

(4)    It should provide a sound foundation;

(5)    It should not be subject to any likelihood of nuisance from adjoining or near-by properties.

Give careful study on the spot to determine the exact position on a site in which a home should be placed. In the case of a commonplace rectangular suburban plot, controlled by a "building line," one has little choice, but even in such circumstances there are occasions when, by putting the house further back, advantage may be gained.

It may, for instance, be possible to retain some natural features such as trees, or to place the house on higher land, or with side outlook clear of adjoining buildings.

Now for fhe Plan!

The second step is the plan. Give it a lot of thought. Consider it from such angles as weather, sunshine, convenient placing of rooms, future expansion, etc.

It is well worth spending a few guineas with an architect, draftsman or plan supply service. These people are skilled advisers, and for a modest fee they will supply scale drawings of the house you want, for submission to the local building authority, similar to those published in this book.

Another factor of importance is to include as much windowspace in the plan as possible. Casement windows, plate glass windows, or louvre windows cost less in time and money than a cavity wall.

The modern house is, for all practical purposes, a glass house. At least one-third of the outer wall space of every room should be window space.

An artistic use of glass (page 50) adds much to the attraction of a room. Further, it ensures abundant light and air. And finally, glass means speed in construction and a great saving in the ultimate cost.

Important point: As soon as your plan is passed by the council, order your flooring and roofing timbers and all essential joinery (window sashes and doors) at once. You may have to wait several weeks for delivery. Do the same with your roofing materials. Order them well in advance.

If you don't want to go to the expense of an architect, you may be able to adopt a plan from one of those given herein.

The houses suggested herein were planned by some of the greatest architects in Australia and America.

If you adopt one of the plans reprinted herein, you will need to have a series of scale drawings made showing:

(1)    The proposed position of the house on your land, with distances from front, side, and rear boundaries;

(2)    The ground plan;

(3)    The front elevation;

(4)    The side elevations (left and right);

(5)    The rear elevation;

(6)    The general specifications of the house to be built, giving particulars of whether brick, wood, fibro, prefabricated. concrete, etc.; type of roof, etc. The type of fencing to be erected must also be specified.

Following is a typical series of the scale drawings required for submission to the local building authority:

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Drawings by A. S. F. Middleton, c/o Home Builders’ Advisory.

Let Us Build a Home!

Now let us start irom the beginning and build a house, illustrating as we go the logical procedure, should you decide to build two rooms and bathroom first.

First, the plan of the house. This is subject to a thousand variations, but here is a delightful little two-bedroom house, with a large living room, no waste space, and plenty of light and air. It is a slight modification of a plan by that brilliant Australian architect, Walter Bunning, of Sydney.

A simple plan, with a pleasing aspect. Generous louvre windows at front and side, with terrace hack and front. In the modern home, congenial “living out” space is as important as living in space.

The Ground Plan

The First Step

Oi course, you are not obliged to use that plan. It is merely suggestive. It will serve as a demonstration oi how you should proceed to erect the house you want.

As it is contrary to Local Government sanitary regulations to live in a house, garage, or room without bathroom facilities, the first step is to build one room and a bathroom.

In the suggested plan we will therefore build the first bedroom and bathroom, or better still, the two bedrooms and bathroom; that is to say, the two rooms and bathroom shown on the above plan.

This is the bedroom-bathroom section of the plan shown on the previous pae/e. Once the above is completed, the family can move in, and use it as a base of operations whilst the rest of the house is beinij constructed.

As soon as your plan has been approved by the local building authority, place your order for:

Flooring Timbers,

Roofing Timbers,

Roof Tiles or Corrugated Fibro Sheets,

Windows and Doors,

Bathroom Equipment,

Kitchen Cabinets,

Cooking Stove, etc.

Orders for the above require anything from six weeks to six months for delivery.

Why We Suggest a Brick House

Why do we suggest that the amateur home builder builds a brick house, in preference to any other kind of house?

Our reasons are as follows:

(1) The brick house is the soundest housing proposition in the long run. If, for example, you got three parts of the way with a brick house and couldn't finance the rest of it, you would have no difficulty in getting financial accommodation. Brick houses are a much sounder proposition from the investment point of view.

(2)    A brick house is far more suitable for Australian climatic conditions than any other kind of house.

(3)    There is no likelihood of any shortage of the materials required for machine-made bricks—sand, cement, blue metal screenings, shell grit, coke breeze, fine gravel, etc. On the other hand, there is already a national shortage of suitable timbers for a timber frame house.

(4)    The green, unseasoned and unsuitable timbers being used for timber-framed houses will very shortly have their repercussions. Walls will buckle, the asbestos sheeting will fracture, and roofs will sag. That is, where green or unsuitable timbers are used.

The amateur home builder is strongly advised not to erect a timber-framed house with unsuitable or unseasoned timbers.

(5)    The concrete house requires far more skill to erect than the brick house. It is a much more complex job, requiring far more building experience.

(6)    Finally, the brick house is the only type of dwelling house permitted in many of the city suburban areas.

Admittedly, even in the brick house, the flooring, roofing and chimney are no less difficult. The roofing and chimney in particular, will call for more skilled craftsmanship than the amateur builder probably possesses.

Very well. The logical thing, then, for the amateur builder is to obtain skilled help when he needs it. He will probably only need such help for the roof, ceilings, fireplace (if any), and the plastering. The fireplace and chimney is definitely a tradesman's job. Due consideration should be given, however, to whether a fireplace should be included in the plan. A slow combustion stove, a gas heater, or a radiator might be the simplest answer to winter's cold.

With regard to the bricklaying, our suggestion to the amateur home builder is this: After you've made some bricks, try your hand at laying them, according to the recognised rules of the game. Build part of your front fence, for example. Or build the outside lavatory. Or the garage.

Alternatively, you may think it wiser to attend the nearest technical college at night for a short course in straight line bricklaying. Skill in the art of bricklaying will always prove useful (even Winston Churchill found it so), and what greater use could you put it to than in building your own home, thus saving you hundreds of pounds. And what perhaps is more important to you—saving you years of waiting.

Some men who have taken a short course of bricklaying have acquired sufficient skill in one month, attending two nights a week, to lay a sound straight stretcher bond wall. Needless to say, such a short course of tuition will not make you a skilled bricklayer for the more complex classes of brickwork.

The technical college will show you the correct way to lay bricks, so that your subsequent work will be sound. But only PRACTICE in the actual laying of bricks will increase your skill and your speed.

_ 0

How To Make Your Own Bricks

Making your own bricks in the “good old days," when "commons" were dumped on the site within 24 hours after ordering, at £4 a thousand, was out of the question.

But the position is very different today. Bricks are hard to get. In out-of-the-way places they are impossible to get. Incidentally, common bricks now cost around £6 to £10 per thousand, thus adding considerably to the cost of the average brick cottage.

Further, bricklaying is a much more expensive proposition than it used to be. The man who wants to effect big savings in the cost of his house, both in time and money, will declare his independence of the brick manufacturers and bricklayers by making and laying his own.

After all, when you come to examine it, the proposition is not nearly so fantastic as it might appear. Ordinary clay bricks are machine-made and kiln baked, but cement bricks don't need any kiln, and you can hire a machine to make them at the rate of 2000 to 3000 a day. Thus, with a week's holiday, and the machine, sand, cement, etc., on the spot, two men can make enough bricks to build one house—in one week!

Machines that Make 3e000 Bricks a Day!

Throughout Australia there are now a number of cement and concrete brick-making machines on the market.

Already the demand for these machines exceeds the supply, but steps are being taken to increase production.

These machines have to be seen in operation to appreciate their remarkable efficiency. They turn out perfect bricks, conforming exactly in shape and size to ordinary kiln-burnt bricks.

Their speed, of course, depends on the people operating them, plus the help of electrical or mechanical concrete mixers.

At present, owing to the hold-up in the supply of bricks, many building contractors are using brick-making machines to make their own bricks.

In addition, increasing numbers of men, refusing to wait indefinitely to get a home in the normal way, are turning to these machines to solve their housing problem.

Some are making the bricks only, and stacking them on their building allotments. Others are going ahead and BUILDING THEIR OWN HOMES. To-morrow thousands of men will be doing this. It is the only solution of Australia's No. 1 Problem— Housing.

As we have seen, for 75 families out of every 100 it's a case of build your own or go without.

The machine which, to our knowledge, makes the largest claim to capacity, is the "E.C." Brick-making Machine.

With three men to operate it, and an electric concrete mixing machine on the job, the manufacturers of the ”E.C." brick-making machine claim that it is capable of turning out up to 4,000 standard-size bricks per working day. It makes three bricks in one operation.

The manufacturers further state:

"The 'E.C.' Machine is all steel welded throughout; it is simplicity in itself. There are only three levers to operate, two by hand, one by foot, which makes for speed of production and efficiency.

"The bricks are compressed on a steel pallitt, 15in. x 12in. x 12 gauge, and are allowed to remain on the pallitt until they are set sufficiently firm to handle, approximately 12 hours."

The pallitts, holding the bricks, are placed on wooden racks for a few hours, until the bricks are set, then they are used again.

The “E.C." Machine is manufactured by F. C. True and A. P. Anderson-Stuart, Esther Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, and the price is £56/9/-.

Ä Brick-making Machine that costs only £10

The same manufacturers also manufacture a small brickmaking machine called “E.C. Junior." This machine costs only £10/2/6, and the manufacturers claim that it has an output of approximately 100 standard bricks per hour. It is operated on the same principal as the larger model.

Fig. I A. The "E.C.” Junior Brick-making Machine.

Fig. J. The "Truline” Brick-making Machine.

The manufacturers say of it:

"It is amazingly efficient and easy to operate, having only two levers, one to compress the brick, and one to lift the mould, so that the finished brick can be withdrawn from the machine with ease.

"Two bricks at a time are made. It has an output of approximately 100 standard size bricks per hour. Using 1 part cement to 5 parts sand gives an ideal building brick. One bag of cement makes 100 bricks."

This little machine may suit the man who is satisfied to make a hobby of making his own bricks—piling them up over a period of six months.

The "Rapid11 Brick-making Machine

The manufacturers of the "Rapid" Block and Brick-making Machine are Messrs. Hall & Pyne, 63A Warren Road, Marrickville.

This firm produces three types of machine:

No. 1 produces plain rectangular blocks. Price £23/13/-.

No. 2 produces curved blocks in addition to rectangular blocks. Price £26/17/6.

No. 3 produces standard bricks as well as plain blocks. Price £32/5/-.

The manufacturers claim that two men, with a mechanical mixer, can produce 1,600 bricks a day. The “Rapid" machine does not require steel pallitts. Pallitts can be cut from any scrap timber.

The "Rapid" turns out a perfect brick of standard size.

The "Truline11 Brick Machine

The manufacturer of this machine is A. M. Duncan & Son, 84-86 Henderson Road, Alexandria, Sydney. Mr. Duncan claims that his machine is capable of an output of 2,000 standard-size bricks a day, working at average capacity, when operated by three men—one mixing, one operating machine, and one removing bricks from machine.

The "Truline" Machine is operated without the use of steel plates (pallitts). Wooden slats—lOin. x 3!in. x iin.—are used for removing bricks from the machine. Scrap timber can be used for the purpose.

The cost of the “Truline" Brick-making Machine is £65.

Mr. A. M. Duncan also holds the patent rights of a new brick which may revolutionise brick-laying—especially for the amateur. It's a brick with two one-inch diameter holes through the wide face, and a continuous frog.

No cement is used in the ordinary way. You simply build a section of wall, check it for accuracy, then pour liquid cement down the holes. The cement fills up both holes and frogs.

In this simple way, an amateur builder can build a straight, vertically correct wall almost as fast as he can pick up the bricks and place them in position. A "Truline" machine, with a special mould, turns out this "New Type" brick. Price £69.

Meeting the Cost of a Machine

It may be objected that the price of some of the brick-making machines listed is a heavy capital outlay for a man setting out to make just enough bricks for his own home.

Upon examination, it will be seen that this objection doesn't hold much water. The average price of common bricks in Australia to-day, striking an average of city, suburbs, and country districts, is about £6/10/—IF YOU CAN GET THEM!

The average cost of making your own bricks, taking city, suburban and country prices of sand and cement, is about £4. As some 25,000 bricks go into a small home, the saving, generally, on bricks alone will be approximately £62.

But even when you have made your own bricks, you still have the machine—an asset of ready sale value. As there is practically nothing to deteriorate in these machines, every buyer will drop no more than £5 or £10—perhaps less.

Some men have bought these machines—the more expensive ones—and gone round contracting for the supply of bricks on the site, and done well out of it, making a gross profit of about £2 a thousand.

Others have bought machines to make the bricks for their own homes, and then hired them out to others who have the same object in view. The rental in such cases is about £4 a week. Not only will a person save himself the cost of the machine by making his own bricks, but he will have little difficulty in getting his money back in hiring or selling it. The demand for these machines promises to exceed the supply.

Summary for Brickmaking

(1)    Examine the various brickmaking machines on the market and make your choice, having regard to your urgency, time, means, etc.

(2)    Experiment with the making of a small quantity of bricks first to ensure that they are up to standard requirements.

(3)    See that your cement and sand formula is slightly moist —not wet.

(4)    Stack the made bricks on racks of hardwood

(5)    The money saving you will effect by "making your own" will be anything from £80 to £125, and anything from six months to a year in time.

(6)    Sand, cement or concrete bricks should be made to the following specification:

Five parts fine sand to 1 part cement;

Or, 5 parts coarse sand to 1 part cement;

Or, 4 parts \ gauge blue metal to 1 part fine sand and 1 part cement.

Bricks made to the foregoing standard conform to the Public

Works Dept.'s standard tests, and are acceptable to housing authorities, building societies, banks, insurance companies, etc.

(7)    No skill is required to make your own bricks—just energy.

(8)    By adding red oxide to the sand and cement mixture, you can produce a brick of pleasing texture and colour.

(9)    It must be clearly understood that the Home Builders' Advisory has no vested interest in the lirms and machines mentioned in this book. The names and addresses are given merely to facilitate the amateur builder.

The Foundations

The foundation of a dwelling is a job well within the powers of the most amateur builder—provided he is not afraid of a little hard work.

Where the ground is sloping, in order to save material in foundation work, the site may be levelled, the amount to be removed being governed by the lowest portion of the site and also the means of access. Where only a small portion of the site is lower than the rest, this may be more conveniently made up to the required level with hardcore.

Alternatively, you may prefer to build up foundations from the lower levels and use the under the house space for a garage (if in front) and as a laundry and workshop (if at rear). Figure 8 shows how foundations on sloping land are built up.

Before building work commences, the site should have the top surface removed in order to clear any vegetation that may


Fig. 8.—Showing how foundations are terraced, or staggered, to conform to sloping ground.

have accumulated. The reason for this is that if there should be any growth of plants, tree roots, etc., after the building has been erected, the pressure exerted by roots may affect the foundations. The removal of the topsoil, which is usually soft, will also prevent any risk of settlement after erection of the structure.

Points To Watch

A good foundation is one which will sustain any load placed upon it either (a) without sinking, or (b) with an evenly distributed and minimum settlement.

As many soils encountered in building are, in greater or less degree, compressible, it is the object of foundation design so to spread the load conveyed to the base that it covers an area which can be borne by the soil. The characteristics of the principal soils when used as foundations are as follows:

ROCK. Incompressible and excellent as a foundation, needing only levelling, so as to counter any tendency for the complete structure to slide. This may be accomplished either by cutting down to a level, or by filling up uneven surfaces with the minimum quantity of concrete.

GRAVEL. Incompressible and good, provided the gravel bed is deep and does not overlie clay, in which case submerged pools are liable to form in wet seasons. In rare cases liability to shrinkage and settlement may arise from the drainage of

Fig. 4 shoivs the foundations required for a cavity wall. The concrete base should be 2ft. wide and ift. thick, with brick footings as shown in the sketch.

Fig. 5 shows the use of profiles in setting out the ground plan of a house on an exact rectangular basis. Nails can be used instead of saw cuts. Stretched lines mark the outlines of trenches and walls to be constructed.

water from the gravel bed, taking with it the finer sandy particles.

SAND can be an excellent foundation provided that it is contained, and thus prevented from escaping or washing away. To secure these conditions is often beyond the possibilities of minor building operations, and it is therefore to be distrusted.

CLAY and LOAM are in greater or less degree compressible, but they are subject to shrinkage and distortion in periods of drought.

When building a single storey dwelling on sand, clay or loam soil it is usual to sink your trenches two feet, and build brick or concrete floorings for the walls of TWICE the thickness of the wall to a depth of 22 inches (see Fig. 4).

The Use of Profiles in Laying Out the Plan

When the placing of a building has been exactly decided, the first step to be taken is soil-stripping. For this operation the shape of the buildings should be roughly marked, extending for a few feet in each direction outside the actual outline, and the topsoil within this area should be removed and deposited in a suitable position for garden use.

When this has been done, and the area roughly levelled, the exact position of all walls and their foundation trenches should be carefully set out by the use of board "profiles" placed well clear of their position so that they need not be disturbed.

On these boards the thickness of walls and projection of concrete are marked by pencil or saw-cuts; by stretching lines between the appropriate marks the outline of each trench, and subsequently of each wall, can be established and worked to as required (see Fig. 5).

To ensure all angles being right angles and the building "square," a long "set square" of boards is used, the longest straight line being first laid down and adjacent sides worked from that (see Fig. G).



Fig. 6 (right) is a builder’s J R5 slluare for checking the accuracy of the ground plan, as laid out prior to trenching.

The profile (left) is made of 2in. x I in. battens, with nails for the lines instead of saw cuts.

Where trenches have been excavated by hand or machine, it is necessary to trim up the bottom of the trench so that it presents a moderately flat face to the concrete foundations. This will ensure that the concrete is of even thickness and that the pressure on the ground is evenly distributed.

If you make a neat and accurate job of the trench excavations there is no need to timber the trenches. All you require are a few pegs driven in at intervals to guide you as to the ultimate level you require in your concrete foundations. The minimum thickness of concrete is 12 inches.

Formula for Foundation Concrete

The aim in good foundation concrete is to proportion the mixture so that a dense and solid substance without voids results. To achieve this, three components are needed—gravel or broken stone, sand or grit, and cement.

The gravel (coarse aggregate) supplies the substance and strength against compression or crushing; the function of the sand is to fill all the spaces between the individual stones, and the cement should be sufficient in quantity to ensure that every particle both of stone and sand is completely coated and in contact.

In everyday use and with suitable clean materials properly graded in size you produce these conditions by using:

3 parts of liin. gauge blue metal,

2 parts of lin. gauge blue metal,

2 parts of sand,

1 part cement.


Fig. 7 is a gauge box for measuring the quantities of sand and coarse aggregate metal for concrete foundations.

with water sufficient in quantity to colour the mixture. Too much water will tend to separate the material or even to wash away the cement and weaken the concrete.

To measure the amount of blue metal (rough aggregate) and sand (fine aggregate), use the gauge box (Fig. 7).

In foundation work do not use coke breeze, cinders, or materials that are not likely to take the load.

The important points in mixing small batches ol concrete are, briefly:

(1)    The operation should be performed on a clean platform, which may be either of boards or on a cement-paved space;

(2)    The gravel and sand should be measured and well mixed dry;

(3)    The measured cement should be added and the whole mixture turned over at least twice dry, so that all material appears covered by cement;

(4)    Water should be added by a fine rose spray, without force, the mixture being again turned over so as to be completely moistened;

(5)    The concrete should be mixed in no greater quantity than can be placed in position within half an hour;

(6)    It should be deposited gently—not shot from a height— and gently rammed to a level. Too much ramming tends to bring the finer ingredients up to the surface, where they form a dusty deposit after setting.

Concrete in foundation trenches will usually keep moist long enough to allow proper setting to occur.

Mixing Concrete by Hand and Machine

The materials should be mixed on clean boards with no chance of dirt or soil being mixed with the concrete. The coarse aggregate, sand and cement should be plaed on the board in the correct proportions and turned over twice dry, after which the water is added in sufficient quantity to make the cement workable, and again turned over twice while wet.

It should be remembered that the strength of the concrete is dependent upon the water-cement ratio, that is, it is governed by the amount of water and the amount of cement, and not by the quantity of aggregate. The water used must be clean and supplied through a hose or can with a spray.

A cheap hand-operated concrete mixing machine can be hired or purchased. This will save a great deal of labour and time.

Concrete is more economically and perfectly mixed by mechanical mixers and these are suitable for the mixing of large or small quantities of concrete.

The proportion oi aggregates to cement and water can be accurately measured and the ingredients thoroughly stirred for the correct period of time.

The mixer consists of a framework supporting a drum, which is rotated by a petrol engine. Inside the drum are scoops which raise, cut and stir the materials as the drum turns over.

The aggregates and cement are placed in a hopper which is attached to the framework. When the hopper is raised the material is poured into the drum and the correct amount of water is added. The drum is allowed to rotate for two or three minutes and then the concrete is tipped out into barrows and conveyed to the place required.

Points to Note about Concrete

The concrete should be mixed as near to the position where it is required as practicable to obviate any unnecessary wheeling, and to place it in position before the initial set has commenced.

A period of 28 days in required for the cement to attain its approximate maximum strength. Rapid-hardening cement will attain in three days the same strength as ordinary Portland cement in 28 days.

The concrete should be well tamped, that is, a rod should be raised and lowered into the concrete to make sure that no air pockets are left. Should steel reinforcement be inserted in the concrete, this rodding process will ensure that the concrete has surrounded the reinforcement and is binding with the steel.

Concrete should not be placed in position during frosty weather.

When concrete has been placed and there is a likelihood of frost, the concrete should be covered with sacks to prevent the frost affecting it. In very hot weather the top surface of the concrete should be kept wet by spraying from a watering can.

Summary for Fousidatioa

(1)    Mark out the exact position that your ultimate house will occupy;

(2)    Use profiles (as in Fig. 5) before you begin trenching;

(3)    Check the rectangularity of the squares with the large set square (Fig. 6). Further check from corner to corner with tape measure or string.

(4)    Fill up hollows or build up levels with earth taken from trenches;

(5)    Make trenches 15in. to 2ft. deep. Stone encountered below ground level will serve as foundation;

(6)    Make trenches 22in. wide under outside walls (1 lin. walls), and 15in. wide under inside walls (4lin.).

(7)    Remove stumps, trees and roots from the site.

(8)    Take care to get your concrete mixture in the right proportions. Mix it dry before adding water.

(9)    Use a series of wooden pegs, properly levelled, to guide you in laying a foundation bed of concrete with a minimum depth of 1ft.

(10)    Tamp concrete to make sure no voids (pockets) are left.

(11)    Check continuously, as you work, with the long spirit level.

(12)    Leave for seven days before commencing brick walls.

(13)    Keep the surface of the concrete covered with damp bags in hot weather. Cover in frosty weather.

Now, is there any reason why any man of average intelligence and industry cannot lay down the concrete foundations of his own home? No.

By doing it yourself you will effect a saving of from £50 to £100. Plus the saving of a great deal of time. Go to it!

Now for the Brick Footings

Once the concrete foundations are completed and thoroughly set, we can now proceed with the walls of the house.

The brick footings required by most municipal council building regulations are illustrated on page 26 (Fig. 4).

Now we start laying bricks! First let us see what tools we'll require.

The bricklayer's most important tool is the spreading trowel.

Fig. g,Bricklayer’s trowels. The large one is used for spreading cement in ordinary bricklaying, and the small one is used for pointing the beds of brickwork.

It is used chiefly for spreading the mortar, but it can also be used for snapping bricks into bats by means of the cutting edge. The trowels are made either right-handed to suit a right-handed bricklayer, or left-handed.

We suggest that the beginner should use a lOin. long trowel until he gets more experienced, when a larger size up to 13in. long will be better. A 13in. trowel is generally used for lime or cement-lime mortar, which is easier to work than cement mortar. Until a good knowledge is gained about a trowel, it is advisable that an experienced bricklayer attends with the learner at a reputable tool shop when a trowel is being bought.

Fig. 10 (above).Bricklayer’s lines and pins for governing the horizontal straightness of brickwork.




Fig. II (right).—The Builder’s Plumb Rule for ensuring vertical accuracy.

Lines and pins (as Fig 10), consist of two line pins of steel, each with a large head, long shank, and a reasonably thin blade. The size of the head and length of shank should be sufficient to allow a long line to be carried, and the thickness of the blade such as will allow the pin to be easily inserted in a brickwork joint.

The line should be bricklayers' line, and is usually sold by the knot of 12 yards.

The lines and pins are used to govern the horizontal straightness of brickwork.

How to Build a Vertical Wall

Figure 11 shows the plumb rule. For ordinary work it is from 4ft. to 5ft. long, stock lengths being 4ft. and 4ft. 6in. It is 4in. to 5in. wide and lin. thick, made of yellow pine. The bob hole should be from 6in. to 9in. from the bottom, shaped so as to permit the bob to swing in the hole without much space sideways, but with a height of about llin. more than the length of the bob. The scribed centre line must be accurate.

Three saw-cuts are made at the top of the rule, the centre one exactly in the centre, and the side ones as shown, to allow the bob line to be fixed and wound.

The bridle, just above the bob hole, prevents the bob swinging too far off the rule.

The plumb-rule must be placed vertically, so that the bob is quite free in its hole and its line coincides with the vertical line on the rule. When first placed in position the bob may swing a lot; to avoid this, first incline the top of rule a little so that the bob rests against one side of the hole, and if the rule is then carefully and slowly worked back into its vertical position, the bob will go into place without swinging.

The purpose of the plumb rule is to ensure that brickwork at corners and elsewhere is upright or vertical.

Figure 12 shows the straight edge. It is from 3ft. to 3ft. 6in. in length, about 3in. wide, and lin. thick, of yellow pine or deal, with two perfectly parallel shot edges. It is used for testing and setting straight surfaces or lines.

Fig. 12 (top) is an illustrntion of the Straight Edge used in bricklaying.

Fig. If (bottom) is a Spirit Level for longitudinal and vertical


How to Build a Level Wall

Spirit level, for longitudinal (horizontal) and vertical levelling, is shown by Figure 13. It is usually made of hardwood, 3ft. long and about 3in. wide and iin. thick. It has one horizontal tube placed in one edge for use as a level straight-edge, and two (sometimes one only) smaller tubes set in the face and near the ends at right angles to the length of the level. These small tubes are used for vertical plumbing; when the small tubes register level the straight-edge is vertical. This type of spirit level is important, as it is widely used while brickwork is being laid to ensure that the courses and work are being laid perfectly level. There are several types of smaller pocket levels, about 6in. to 9in. long, which are used for similar purposes.

How to Cut Bricks

The bolster, for cutting bricks, is shown by Figure 14, and in conjunction with the club hammer is used for rough cutting. It should be about 5in. wide for general purposes, with a slightly rounded, not too thin, and gently curved cutting edge. The reason for this curvature is that the greatest resistance when cutting a brick is at the centre of the cut where also the blow from the hammer is heaviest. With a lead pencil mark the

Fiti- 14 is a steel bolster for cutting bricks,

Fig. /J shows a club hammer used for cutting bricks.

How to cut a brick in halves.

position of the cut on the brick and place the latter on a firm base. Hold the bolster tightly in the leit hand and press it firmly on the pencilled line. Then strike the head of the bolster with the hammer, which is, of course, held in the right hand.

When the blow is struck the bolster should be inclined a little away from the bricklayer towards that part of the brick which is farthest from him. The blow should be sharp and strong enough to cause a good cut at the first blow.

The club hammer, as shown in Figure 15, is the one most generally used, in conjunction with cutting tools, by bricklayers for ordinary work. The handle or shaft is short, between 8in. and 12in. long. The hammer is made in weights from 21b. to 51b. —34 to 41b. being normal for general use.

The Art of Laying Bricks

Always pick up a brick with the "frog" uppermost. The frog is the rectangular indentation on the top side of the brick. The frog is approximately 44 cubic inches and, when filled with cement, plays an important part in bonding bricks together.

The next operation is the laying of a bed of mortar. It is an important one in which only good training and plenty of practice will ensure perfect workmanship. It is easy to lay the bed either too thinly or too thickly, and to waste mortar; it is remarkable how, as the result of experience, a bricklayer can gauge the quantity of mortar required to make the bed joint of the specified thickness, such as tin. or jin., and lay it evenly and solidly.

The bricklayer stands in a position, which is exceptionally important, near to the wall, with his head well over the brick he is laying; this allows him to see the vertical surfaces of the bricks in the quoin and to gauge the correct position of the brick being laid. The brick must be held firmly and pressed down by the palm of the hand on to the mortar-bed in its correct position according to bonding principles.

The first operation of laying should place the brick in practically its correct position, but not necessarily so. in fact, the beginner really must assume that it is not in a correct position, because if he does otherwise, he is apt to miss just those important little actions which, if neglected, will make him a slovenly bricklayer.

The faces of the brickwork should be tested with the plumb-rule (see Figure 16), and the thickness of the bed-joint should be examined to see whether it is of even thickness, and the horizontal joints are level with the bricklayer's line.

Any irregularities in position or level should be adjusted by tapping the brick with the trowel.

The Use of the Trowel

It will be found, after the brick has been pressed down and tapped into position, that a certain quantity of the mortar has squeezed out at the bed-joint, and such mortar is removed by the trowel. The blade of the trowel acts rather like a knife in cutting away the surplus mortar.

The blade must not be run flatwise along the wall, but sharply inclined, or be nearly at right angles to the face of the wall; this will prevent smearing the wall with mortar, and will cause the mortar to be cut off cleanly and to go on to the trowel, from whence it is transferred to the mortar-board. The cross, or vertical, joints must next receive attention.

A little mortar should be taken on to the trowel from the mortar-board and then the mortar laid on to the cross joint by holding the trowel in such a position that its blade is almost at right angles to the bed of the brick and at about 45 degrees to the vertical end of the brick.

Fig. l6 shows bricklayer checking the vertical accuracy of a wall with the plumb bob.

Fig. 17 shows the use of the spirit level in checking th horizontal accuracy of a brick wall.

The bricklayer then works the trowel, with the mortar on it, with pressure against the end of the brick, and in a direction away from the face of the wall and towards himself, thereby forming a coating of mortar on the brick against which the next brick to be laid will bed solidly.

Before laying the next brick the mortar is pressed with the inside of the blade of the trowel, so as to make the mortar solid and of reasonably even thickness. Surplus mortar from the cross joints is removed similarly to the method described for the bed-joints, the trowel being worked upwards.

The method of levelling is clearly shown by Figure 17; it is done with a spirit-level which is steadied and operated by one hand.

Use @f file Builder’s Square

The builder's square is shown in Figure 6. It is used for setting out right angles. It should be made of good well-seasoned boards properly framed and screwed together.

The boards are usually about lin. thick and of a width varying from 3 to 6in., depending on the size of the square, which may be of any convenient dimensions to suit the work in hand.

It may have the side with the figure 4 against it anything from, say, 4ft. to 10ft. or more. The figures 3-4 and 5 are dimensional units which will ensure that the angle at "A" will be a true right angle.

Any multiples of 3-4 and 5 may be used, such as 6-8 and 10, or 4£-6 and 7i. In other words, if one of the sides containing the right angle “A" is 6ft. long, the other 8ft., and the closing side (the hypotenuse) measures exactly 10ft., the angle “A" will be an exact right angle (90 degrees).

The builder's square may be used for setting out or testing whether work is at right angles. The square could be set on the quoin or angle of a wall and it would at once show whether one wall has been built at right angles to the other. When used for setting out care must be taken to set the square accurately on the work.

It should not be used for setting out long lengths of work, although in some cases it is so used for approximations by setting the square in such a position that a line can be run on and exactly coincide with the "4" edge and continue beyond the square to the point desired.

Particular care must be exercised in laying the damp-course and air bricks at correct levels and positions.

How to Mix Mortar

A certain amount oi care is necessary for mixing mortar properly. This is a most important operation. There are different methods of mixing: (1) cement-mortar, (2) lime-mortar, and (3) cement-lime mortar.

Be most careful about the correct proportions of the mortar ingredients and the thoroughness with which they are mixed.

Sand should be measured with a gauge box, as Figure 7, which is a bottomless box of a certain carefully considered capacity which is computed by the general foreman. Gauge boxes are commonly made of i yard cube capacity.

Cement, and hydrated lime which is powdered like cement, can be measured according to the contents of the bag or sack. A hundredweight bag of cement contains lift, cube, and therefore, if the proportions are specifed to be 1 part of cement and 4 of sand, the quantity of sand must be 4 times U, equalling 5ft. cube; if 2 bags of cement are used, the quantity of sand required will be 10ft. cube, and so on.

Therefore, gauge boxes for sand can be made of such sizes to suit the proportions. If the cement is not measured by the bag or sack, then a small gauge box, with bottom, is made to allow proper measuring.

The Use of the Gauge Box

Gauge boxes (see Figure 7) for sand may be of the following


iyd. cube 3ft. Oin. long, 3ft. Oin. wide and 1ft. 6in. deep

iyd. cube 3ft. Oin. long, 3ft. Oin. wide and 1ft. Oin. deep

Gauge boxes for cement should be:

1ft. cube.................................... 1ft.    Oin.    x    1ft.    Oin.    x    1ft.    Oin.

lift, cube................................. 1ft.    3in.    x    1ft.    3in.    x    11    fin.

2ft. cube.................................... 1ft.    3in.    x    1ft.    3in.    x    1ft.    3|in.

2ift. cube ................................. 1ft.    6in.    x    1ft.    6in.    x    1ft.    1 fin.

Or a gauge box may be made to contain 10 cubic feet of sand to which 2 bags of cement is added (4 to 1 mixture). Such a box should be 3ft. x 3ft. x 1ft. lfin.

A mixing platform, or stage, should be used for mixing mortar, and this should be made with close boarding of suitable size to permit plenty of room for the mixing, and, of course, be as near as possible to where the bricklayers are working.

Cement mortar is the most commonly used nowadays, and is the easiest to mix, although it is a little harder for bricklayers to use than lime and cement-lime mortars, which work more "fattily." It is important to remember that cement mortar must be used within quite a short time after it is mixed; any which is not used by the end of the day being wasted.

The bottomless gauge box is placed on the mixing platform, filled with sand, and the box lifted off the sand. The sand must then be spread out and the cement tipped, either from its gauge box or from the bag or sack, fairly evenly over the sand. With a shovel the sand and cement while dry are turned over a sufficient number of times, varying from two to four, to ensure that the materials are mixed well together.

Then water is added through a rose—the open end of a hose-pipe should not be used as too much force of water will wash away the cement—and the whole of the materials mixed together into a suitable consistency: not too wet, nor too dry, but of such a consistency that the mortar will not “slump" on the trowel. A little experience will soon ensure a proper consistency.

Types of Brickwork

The amateur builder will be quick to realise that the whole purpose of bond in brickwork is to arrange the bricks and their joints so as to provide the maximum strength and unity between bricks and mortar; this is done by overlapping the bricks and the vertical perpend or cross joints in one course over those in the adjoining courses, so that there will be either an entire absence or, at least, a minimum of vertical joints in one course running through or coinciding with those in the adjoining courses.

The secondary reason of bond is to provide a pleasing pattern to any faces of brickwork which are exposed to view.

Stretcher bond (see Figure 19) is the one you will use to build your home, and it is one of the simplest.

Stretcher bond is used in half-brick-thick walls or partitions, or in the half-brick-thick partitions of cavity walls.

Big. IQ.—Stretcher Bond. A wall consisting of stretchers, i.e., bricks laid on the 4\in. face.

Fig. ¿0 shows the junction to two brick walls and how they are bonded together.

Two walls which join each other must at their junction be bonded to each other, otherwise a straight joint would occur and one wall would not give adequate side, or what is termed lateral support, to the other. Study Figure 20, which shows two half-brick or 41-inch-thick walls joining each other at a right angle. Every other course has a brick marked "A" which bonds or ties the two walls together.

Importance of the Cavity Wall

Cavity walls in brick houses are demanded by all building authorities in Australia. The cavity wall consists of two "skins," or parallel walls, built side by side, with a cavity of 2in. between them. This cavity keeps out dampness and acts as an insulation against heat and cold.

It is important to note that the cavity begins immediately above the footings (see Figure 4), but not below ground level. The two "skins," or walls, are secured to each other by wire wall ties (see Figure 21), which are placed in the cement along a course of bricks at intervals of three feet. (The space between the ties need only be approximate.) The ties should be inserted every four courses of bricks.

The metal wall ties (8 gauge galvanised iron) are bent downwards in the middle, to ensure that any moisture which penetrates the outer wall will not travel, via the wall ties, to the inner wall. The water drops off the bend in the middle.

The metal ties, by the way. MUST be kept clear of mortar-droppings.

Fig. 21 shows the details of a cavity wall, with its two layers of bricks, each 4\in. thick, enclosing a 2in. cavity, reinforced by metal ties.

Building a Cavity Wall

The "bond" of a cavity wall is the simplest possible, and is called "stretching" bond, all bricks used (except where cut for angles and openings) showing their long face, in which position they are known as "stretchers," the shorter end-face when shown being called "headers."

As an alternative to the cavity wall, which needs care in

Another example of stretcher bond, as used in cavity walls and inside walls of half-brick thickness.


construction, walls may be built 9in. thick and covered with water-repellent coatings of cement or roughcast. But don't build a solid wall without first consulting your local building authority.

Walls 9in. thick or over require careful consideration to be given to "bond." There are two main methods in use, known respectively as "English" and "Flemish bond" (see Figure 22). In the former alternate courses consist each of headers and stretchers entirely; in the latter, alternate headers and stretchers are laid in each course with an arrangement on face so that each header lies centrally over the stretcher below. That is the essence of "bond," and complications only occur at angles, openings or other places which cause regularity to be interrupted.

It will be clear that, if all dimensions horizontally are designed as multiples of brick width (4Iin.) and vertically of brick height (3in.), the simplicity of building is greatly helped. In

Fig. 22.—How bricks are arranged in English bond (left) and Flemish bond {right) for solid construction.

straightforward work the bricklayer needs few tools; with trowel, level, plumb-rule, pins and line, most simple buildings can be competently built, and of these all but the trowel can be quite successfully home-made.

Please note that all inside walls—that is to say, walls not exposed to the weather, are single "skin" walls. No cavity is required.

The Importance of Damp-course

It is most important that the amateur does not overlook the provision of damp-course. Damp-course is usually inserted between two courses of bricks under the floor joists. The damp-course should be at least 6in. above the ground surface. Cavity walling should have the cavity extended at least Gin. below the damp-course.

Damp-course is necessary to prevent dampness in the lower part of walls which are in contact with the ground, from rising up the wall and rotting timbers, and also to avoid unnecessary dampness in the wall above ground level.

Most Australian building authorities require that the damp-course consist of 21b. lead, bituminous coated. Other approved damp-courses are Malthoid or similar bituminous products (see Figure 23).

Don'f Forget the Air Bricks

The air bricks, which must have a clear airway behind them, are used to provide ventilation through walls to timber iloors and the cavities of cavity walls. They are shown by Figure 23, and are usually placed well above ground level. Like damp-courses, they are subject to important principles and details as regards position, size, and number, which are governed by the specification and drawings of the work. Air bricks are generally of cast iron or terra cotta, and common sizes are 9in. x 3in., and 9in. x Gin. These and other larger sizes work in with the bond of the brickwork.

lLlvation of an [xytR-NA L wa LL showing

pOSI-pOM Of WALL Jits AN 0 VE-NfS.

Fig. 23, showing where damp course and nit bricks tire built in.

To admit fresh air, "air bricks" of cast iron or pottery are built into the external walls on each face of the building. The best position for these is toward the corners of the rooms, since air at the corners tends to stagnate, favouring the growth of fungus decay.

Where the walls are cavity walls, the air-brick apertures should be sealed off from the cavities by slates set in cement to exclude mice and other vermin.

Left.These, with the trowel, etc., are the simple tools used in bricklaying.


Right.Stretcher bond, showing corner finish.

Summary for Brick Wdfls

(1)    Buy, borrow or acquire a set oi bricklayer's tools and equipment as illustrated.

(2)    Use your builder's lines to ensure straight footings.

(3)    Build two courses 18in. wide, two courses 14in. wide, and one course 9in. wide under 4iin. walls, and two courses 22Mn. wide, two courses 18in. wide, and one course Min. wide, under 9in. and 11 in. walls. (Building regulations vary in each municipality, and are now being amended. Check up with your local building authority before starting.)

(4)    Tap bricks down gently as you work and use the spirit level from time to time.

(5)    Lay all bricks with the frog up. See that the frog is filled with mortar to ensure a good bond.

(6)    Mortar should consist of 1 part cement to 4 parts sand, with a small quantity of lime added. Use the gauge box to ensure correct quantity of sand. Cement can be measured by the bag. Mix on boards. Mix dry first, then add water.

(7)    Use stretcher bond for brick wall construction, but do not begin your walls (except footings) until the brick piers to

carry the floors have been built. (See summary for flooring.)

(8)    All outside walls must be cavity walls. The cavity walls consist of two "skins," with a cavity of 2in. between them.

(9)    The two walls are reinforced together by metal ties inserted in the mortar about 3ft. apart every fourth course of bricks (breaking bond).

(10)    The cavity wall should begin immediately above ground level.

(11)    Insert damp course two courses of bricks under floor joists, but at least 6in. above ground level.

(12)    Build in external walls under floors two 9in. x 6in. vents (air bricks) to each room. Similarly, build in two vents to each room two courses above the floor. See that one vent is inserted below and above the bathroom floor. See that all air vents, below and above, are on corresponding alignments.

(13)    Allow for window and door openings as walls grow in height.

(14)    Check constantly with spirit level, plumb rule and straight edge for accuracy of wall construction. And, of course, never start a course of bricks without vour lines being in position.

Every home seeker who has the WILL to do so can erect his own brick walls. AND IN DOING SO HE WILL SAVE HIMSELF ANYTHING FROM £300 TO £500 ON THE COST OF HIS HOME.

(What can be done by the amateur builder in brick construction can even more easily be done in fibro or timberframed construction.)

And his reward will be a HOME for his family—not merely a hope in the dim and distant future.

New Ideas in Window Space

A feature of the hypothetical house we are building is the amount of window space suggested.

In designing your home we strongly counsel you to incorporate the maximum amount of window space for three reasons:

(1)    Light and air are free gifts of nature which make a home bright and airy.

(2)    Window space is much cheaper than brick or fibro walls.

(3)    Windows can be inserted in a fraction of the time required for ordinary walls—provided you've ordered your window sashes and glass or your louvres well ahead.

The most modern, and probably the most effective type of window, is the louvre window. The louvre window consists of a number of narrow strips of glass, clear or opaque. The strips are cut in almost any length, with a uniform width of 6in. These

glass slats or shutters are operated by a lever on the Venetian blind principle, and thus give as much daylight, air or outlook as is required (see Figure 24).

The louvre window only requires wooden mullions inserted between the sill and the lintel, and it can be easily installed by the amateur builder, with full instructions and metal fittings and glass from the manufacturers.

Fig. 2^ shows louvre windows from the inside, and indicates how air, light and outlook can be easily controlled with a series of control levers. The louvre window is hailed as the window of to-morrow’s


The 10ft. x 7ft. louvre window shown in front of the house we are building in this book would only cost approximately


The other windows you will use in your home will be the outward-opening casements, hung on hinges to solid frames, or double-hung lifting sashes hung on lines and pulleys to boxed frames.

Finally, it is worth noting that by two simple observances the untidy and disordered appearance which characterises so much minor building can be avoided. The rules are two:

(1) See that all window-heads in a house are at the same level.

Th e above sketch shows an attractive use of casement windows.

(2) Adopt a uniform proportion for window-panes throughout.

A happy exception to rule No. 2 might well be the large set of louvre windows suggested herein, which reach from two feet above floor level to the ceiling.

Whatever type of window you finally select, be sure that there is plenty of window space. Incidentally, don't attempt to make window sashes yourself. It's a skilled craftsman's job. Some firms specialise in this sort of joinery, and it pays to give them the work. The main point is after completing the design of your house, that you order the joinery you require at once. You may have to wait six to nine months for it, and by that time you should be ready for it.

Window Openings

As your walls take shape, so it becomes necessary to allow for the windows and doors marked on the plan.

Make sure to allow for a wrought iron lintel over each window. This wrought iron lintel is fin. thick; it must be the width of the brickwork, with a 4Iin. bearing at each end.

For example, if the window is to be 3ft. wide, the lintel needs to be 3ft. 9in. long. The lintel is cemented into the course of bricks immediately above the window recess and carries the weight of brickwork above the window (see Figure 25).

Fig. 2j shows the use of a timber lintel over a window opening in a brick wall. Wrought iron lintels are now specified in place of timber.

If the window exceeds 3ft. 2in. in width, use two 3 x 2 x § angle irons.

In your recess for windows, be sure to allow for the sill. The window sill is of hardwood, usually 2in. to 3in. thick, and 6in. wide. The flat inside part of the sill takes the mullions (usually 4in. x 3in.), on which casement windows are hinged or in which they lock (see Figure 26).






Fig. 2Ò.—Casement frame, showing mullions, horns, jambs, etc.

Window sill is bought by the running foot from the joinery. You will notice, upon examining it, that it is rebated and weathered to prevent rain water from flowing back. It is also grooved on the underside so that water will drip off.


Doorways require much the same care and treatment as windows, except that the openings you must provide for are usually uniform in size.

Doors in the interior of a brick building are hung to jamb linings. These linings are nailed to wooden plugs fixed in the walls. Soitwoods are used for these linings for interior doors and are usually liin. thick. Outside doors are hung to solid 3in. x 2in. hardwood jambs where plaster reveals appear.

The usual method is to make the width of the lining the exact thickness of the subsequent wall, including plastering.

Solid door frames (for outside doors) constructed similarly to casement frames, consist of jambs, head and threshold.

Panelled and flush doors are usually fitted with mortise locks let into their thickness. They are hung by a pair of butt hinges.

Lead flashing should be provided over all external doors, and over all windows and under all sills.

Summary for Windows and Doors

(1)    Allow plenty of window space.

(2)    Aim at uniformity in the style of windows used, with the possible exception of a louvre group.

(3)    Keep window-heads at the same level.

(4)    Use wrought iron lintels over all window and door openings. Use angle-irons if the window opening exceeds 3ft. 2in.

(5)    Use 4in. x 3in. mullions for casement and louvre windows.

(6)    Don't overlook lead flashing for doors and windows.

(7)    Order joinery nine months ahead.

How to Build the Floor

First you build the brick piers to take the bearers and build up 9in. x 4!in. piers along the brick walls to take the plates (see Figure 27).

The brick piers are simple 9in. x 9in. construction—two bricks in each course laid as headers and stretchers alternatively (see Figure 28). Building regulations require that the piers rest on two courses of 14in. x 14in.

The piers to support the floor should be spaced at not more than 6ft. centres. Similarly, the 9in. x 41in. brick piers should be spaced at not more than 6ft. centres.

Fig.    —Shows how one-brick piers (gin. x J^in.) are built up

alongside the walls to carry the floor plates and bearers.

Fig. 2$.—Method of constructing two-brick piers and one-and-a-halj brick piers to carry floor bearers.

Where the bearer piers exceed 5ft. in height, the lower portion of the pier is to be Min. x Min.

The brick piers must be exactly level, and 8iin. lower than the ultimate floor level.

On the piers you lay the plates and bearers. These consist of 4in. x 3in. hardwood or cypress pine. (Do not build the bearers and plates into the brick work.) And be sure to cap the piers with 26 gauge galvanised iron sheeting, projecting lain, over brickwork.

method«; of s oppof^yiNG wood $ conc^lje. fLooi^s

As a further safeguard against white ants and damp, paint the bearers and plates with creosote.

On the bearers and plates place the floor joists at 18in. centres. Floor joists should consist of 4in. x 2in. hardwood.

Don't make the mistake of laying plates, bearers and joists on their side. They must be laid on their EDGE, thus increasing their weight-bearing capacity. If the bearers or joists are slightly bent and won't lie flat on the piers, a diagonal saw cut will ease them into position (see Figure 31).

Fig. 31.—A diagonal saw-cut will case a bent bearer into position. Be sure and make the cut where the bearer rests on a pier.

Always scarf bearers directly over the piers.

It is usual these days, once the joists are in position, to cut the flooring and turn the boards over, without nailing them. This procedure gives facility and safety of movement about the job.

Once the roof is on, the floor boards can be turned over and nailed into position and countersunk.

Floor boards are tongued and grooved. These are boards with a tongue on one edge and a corresponding groove on the other. When placed edge to edge the boards thus lit into each other, leaving no cracks in the floor.

Before boards are nailed to the joists, a portion of the flooring is laid and cramped into position by means of floor cramps or timber wedges. This process of closing the boards together under pressure ensures that they fit tightly.

If you are held up for suitable flooring and are anxious to move into the first completed section of your new home, consider using paling boards as a temporary makeshift. The palings can be taken up when your proper floor boards arrive, and used for the back fencing.

Floor Construction Summarised

(1)    The centre brick piers to carry the bearers should be built before the brick walls are constructed.

(2)    Side piers (nibs) along the walls (to carry the plates) are 9in. x 4Mn. Centre piers 9in. x 9in.

(3)    Piers should be at no more than 6ft. centres. They should be capped with galvanised-iron sheeting.

(4)    Piers should be 8!in. lower than the ultimate floor level.

(5) Bearers and plates consist of 4in. x 3in. timber, and should be placed at 6ft. centres.

(6)    Floor joists consist of 4in. x 2in. hardwood, at 18in. centres.

(7)    Lay bearers, plates and joists on their EDGE.

(8)    Cut floor boards and turn them over on wrong side to facilitate work; turn them over again and nail when the roof is on. Floor boards should be cramped before nailing.

There is no reason why a good amateur builder should not build his own floor piers, cut and lay the bearers and joists, and cut and lay the floor boards.

If YOU do this your reward will be a sound floor, well and truly laid, effecting a saving of approximately £150 in your home, quite apart from the saving in time, and you and your family will be living in your home when most men are still dreaming of it in the remote future.

Constructing the Roof

Flat roof construction resembles floor construction, with the difference that a slope or fall must be provided for.

When the roof is to be covered with bituminous felt, this fall can be very slight—three inches is quite sufficient.

If a slight departure from level is permissible in the ceilings below, this can be obtained by sloping the joists through a one course drop in the outer brick walls.

UmL Piare

Fig. 32.—Simple construction for Flat, Sloping or Lean-to Roof.

Pitched roofs intended to be covered with tiles introduce a new factor—if the rafters are not securely tied, their thrust will push the supporting walls outward; the flatter the pitch the greater the thrust, assuming the weight of the roofs to be equal.

In home building the roof thrust is usually tied by ceiling joists either between the rafter-feet, or at some distance above, the latter arrangement being known as a “collar roof."

Rafters are supported intermediately by purlins, which are strutted by inclined timbers having a bearing on internal partitions or on beams. At the ridge, rafters are joined on a ridge-board, against which they are butted and nailed.

In small house construction it is not usually necessary to include roof trusses composed of principal rafters, tie-beams, posts and struts, all of which support purlins which carry the common rafters.

Simple roofs may be either gabled or hipped, the former being the easier to construct and cover. Figure 35 shows in outline these two forms, with the names of their several parts.

b ig. JJ.—Close Couple Roof. A beam tie connects the feet of every third or fourth pair of rafters, thus giving greater strength and rigidity to the roof. The lower end of the rafters should be notch-pointed over and nailed to the wall-plate.

In preparing roof timbers a level space of ground is required. The scantlings are laid out, measured and marked, pegs driven temporarily being a useful aid.

The bevels at head and feet can be determined and marked in this way, and subsequently cut to the marks made. Notches where the rafters are to fit over wall-plates are similarly marked and cut.

The tools required are simple—measuring rod, adjustable square by which angles can be read and marked, and ripsaw complete the equipment (see Figure 34).

A hip roof produces further complication; the rafters abutting on the hips (known as jack rafters) vary in length, and the cuts at their heads are not easy to determine without geometrical skill, as they have a double inclination.

Fig.    —How roof timbers are laid out on a piece of level ground

for marking and cutting, before the actual erection on the roof.

The ceiling material is nailed to 4in. x liin. hardwood or 4in. x 2in. cypress pine ceiling joists.

The ceiling joists are placed at 18in. centres. They rest on the wall plates and are nailed to the feet of rafters.

Following are the usual specifications for materials used in carrying the tiled roof of a dwelling house:

Wall plates to external wall ................................................ 3in. x 3in.

Rafters—hardwood..............................4in. x Uin. at 18in. centres

„ cypress pine........................4in. x 2in. at 18in. centres

Ridge, hips and valleys............................................................... 7in. x lin.

Purlins.............................................4in. x 3in., maximum spacing 7ft.

Battens................................................ llin. x lin., spaced to suit tiling

Collar ties .................. 3in. x 2in. at 36in. centres, up to 14ft.,

over 14ft., 4in. x 2in.

Gutter and valley boards ............................................................ lin. thick

Verandah plates....................................8in. x 21in. up to 9ft. span

Ceiling joists—hardwood 4in. x Bin. at 18in. centres

„    „ cypress pine............4in. x 2in. at 18in. centres

Don't forget to provide for the manhole. Trim joists for 24in. x 16in.

Where a roof-covering abuts against a vertical surface, such as the brickwork of a chimney or parapet, lead flashings are required to exclude water.

Fig. 35 illustrates the gable roof (left) and hip roof (right) 'with names of construction parts.

wall Plate

Cavit V


Fig. 36.—Showing junction of rafter and wall-plate, and how the eaves are finished off. The illustration also shows how a cavity wall can be built solid over the top courses.

Fig. 37 illustrates the junction of floor and ceiling joists with an outside wall.

How to Lay the Bathroom Floor

THE BATHROOM CONCRETE FLOOR (suspended). Before any concrete can be prepared, it is necessary to see that adequate support is provided to hold the wet mixture until it sets.

For the supports it is customary to make use of materials which will eventually be used in another part of the construction.

viz., valley boards, or timber that will be eventually covered. The under side of floor boards offer an excellent medium, for when the boarding is stripped the face is unmarred and they can be incorporated in with the rest of the flooring.

Another method is to use corrugated iron or fibro, which will be laid on the brick corbelling, which will carry the weight of the finished concrete.

The corrugated iron or fibro is supported by timber bearers. The disadvantage with this method is that the iron or fibro has to be left in position.

Any support to be removed must be fixed clear of the corbelling to facilitate easy removal.

When the decking is ready, we next lay the reinforcement which usually consists of 3/8" steel rods, laid to a 9" x 9" mesh. The bars are cut to a length to rest on the corbelling.

(See illustration on page 53).

The next step is to tie the rods where they cross with 18 gauge tie wire. Avoid placing rods where drainage outlets will occur.

The rods are now temporarily supported from the rough temporary decking with li" blocks.

To indicate the finished top of the concrete, and to ensure an adequate wall to outlet, a level is used and i to i of an inch fall should be adequate. This is indicated by chalk marks on the wall.

The top of the concrete will finish approx. 1" below the top of flooring or to the top of the floor joists.

Now for the concrete mixture: The dry materials necessary for 1 cubic yard of 4-2-1 mix would be approx. G bags cement, 12 cubic feet sand, and 24 cubic feet of blue metal or sandstone.

The place where the concrete is to be mixed should be clean and free from vegetation, or preferably a platform approx. 6' x 6' would be ideal to mix on.

The gauged materials are now mixed and turned with the shovel 3 times dry and when the water is applied, 3 times wet.

The concrete, when placed, must be lightly tamped into position to ensure that all voids are eliminated.

The final job is to screed the mixture off with a straight edge to the marks previously mentioned.


Step-by-Step Procedure for

Home Building Construction in

Brick, Fibro and Weatherboard etc.




STEP I: Assuming that your plan has been passed by the local municipal or shire council, the first step is to lay out the plan on the ground — showing the exact position of the rooms on the actual site. The above sketch shows how this is done with profiles and lines of string or strong twine (see pages 27 and 28).

Our sketch shows only one section of the house—the one we suggest you build first (two rooms and bathroom)—but it is better to lay out the entire plan.

It is absolutely essential that the profiles and lines are set down with perfect rectangularly. This is ensured by seeing that your saw cuts (or nails) on the cross batten of the profiles (p. 28), are all the same distance apart—22" for outside walls and 15" for inside walls The next thing to do is to check the corners with the large builder’s square (see page 28), and finally, to measure from corner to corner. The distance where the outside strings cross at A and D should be exactly the same as where the outside strings cross at B and C. Similarly, the small room—the bathroom—should be checked from corner to corner. Having satisfied yourself that the setting out of the plan is geometrically correct, the next procedure is to trench out along the parallel lines.



STEP 2: Trench out the ground plan to a minimum depth of 15" and a width of 1 ft. 10" (for outside walls), and to a depth of 15" and a width of 15" for inside walls. Use the excavated earth for filling hollows or levelling.

Usually, the earth walls are sufficiently firm to enable a straight trench to be dug. In sandy soil, it will be necessary to timber up the sides of the trenches until filled with concrete. Pegs are used to mark the 10" depth of concrete foundation.

A straight length of 4" x 2" timber is laid on the pegs and checked with a level. Fill

with concrete to the top of the pegs.

(For full details of the concrete mixture required, and for methods of mixing, see pages 29 to 31.) Note that the trench is excavated to a depth of 1 ft. 3", so that the concrete and bottom course of bricks will be below ground level.

STEP 3: It is important to note that sound concrete foundations require four ^ inch steel rods under the inside (4I") walls. These rods should be wired together with cross-pieces of steel and put into the trench about half-way through the 10" thickness of foundation concrete.

STEP 4: This gives an approximate idea of how the first section of your plan will look after the reinforced concrete foundations are completed. The foundations under the outside walls will be 22" widex 10" deep and 15" widex 10" deep under the interior walls.

primarily depend upon the ground site. If it is a sloping site, the floor level may be no more than three feet above ground level at the highest part of the site and several feet at the lowest. Usual regulations require 1 ft. clearance under the floor bearers at the highest part of the site.

The above sketch shows the number of engaged brick piers required as 20, and the disengaged piers as 4. “A” shows the construction required for an engaged (sleeper) pier. It projects from the wall approximately 4^" and is 9" wide. The disengaged piers (“B ’) are 9 x 9" on two courses of I4"xi4" brick foundation. “C” indicates the ant capping required on all piers. These are placed in position before the bearers are laid. Ant caps are placed on all piers, whether engaged or disengaged. Usually 26-gauge galvanised iron is used.


CTCD Z. The type of brick-g,tr    work for the outer

and inner "skins” of a cavity wall is known as “stretcher bond.” (Illustrated in C.) Inner walls are of one “skin.” They are joined to the outer wall as shown in B. The top illustration (A) shows how the engaged piers are joined to the inner “skin.” It is important to allow for air bricks under the floor, as shown in the illustration dealt with in Step No. Eleven. D illustrates corner bonding of brick walls.

the floor bearers (4"x3" hardwood) are cut to the required length. The illustration at A shows bearers in position. B shows disengaged pier, and C an engaged pier.

For details of scarfing and dealing with bent bearers, see page 54. All scarfing of joints must be done over the centre of piers. All under floor timbers should be coated with creosote.

STEP 8: Floor joists (4"x2") are now cut and nailed on the bearers at at 18" centres. In the above illustration A indicates the bearers, and B the floor joists. Use 4" nails when nailing. Cut joists so that there is space between the end of the joist and the walls, as a white ant precaution. -

turned over (rough side up) until the roof is completed. Cut the floor boards so that they end at the centre of a joist. When the roof is completed, the floor boards should be packed tightly by the aid of a cramp, and nailed. It is an obvious advantage to lay your floor boards with the longest possible length, both from the points of view of economy and appearance.

STEP 10: The bathroom walls are of single brick thickness, as shown in the drawing. Note to insert 2 lb. lead dampcourse (“F”) at the first course above floor level when building the bathroom walls. This is to prevent dampness rising from the filling underneath the bathroom floor. “A” is ground level. The space between the ground and the floor should be filled with any kind of

suitable filling, such as earth, stones, brick bats, broken tiles, etc. On top of the filling put about two inches of ashes or sand (C) to get a level surface for the concrete.

Before the filling-in takes place under the bathroom floor, the necessary sewerage and drainage work for the bathroom should be done by a licensed plumber and drainer, and inspected by the local council or sewerage authority.

On top of the ashes a four inch thickness of concrete is required. No reinforcing is necessary when placed on filling. If the height from the ground level to the underside of the concrete slab is greater than 4 ft., the bathroom floor should be reinforced and suspended on a projected course of brickwork from the bedroom walls at the required level.

Tiles are later laid in cement mortar over the concrete (“D”). It is important that the floor be graded slightly, so that surplus water will find its way to the floor gulley. Note that 2 lb. lead dampcourse is inserted in the bathroom walls at “G”. ( See Step 13.)

STEP 11: Complete the house to floor level, cut the floor boards, and lay them, unnailed, with the rough side up. The temporary laying of the floor facilitates construction of the inside walls. Cypress pine floor boards will not warp if exposed to the weather. It is important that a layer of dampcourse should be inserted between the course of bricks, level with the tops of the engaged piers fsee Step No. 12). Details of dampcourse are given on Page 45.

“A” indicates the cavity below the bathroom floor to be filled. Vents are inserted in the outside brickwork one brick course below the dampcourse. A hole g"x6" is left in the inner skin opposite the outside air vent.

foundation. On the engaged pier “A” rests the floor bearer and joist. “C” shows the dampcourse below floor level, and “D” the wall ties. The latter are inserted at every fifth course of bricks and spaced every four feet. Alternate rows of wall ties are staggered. Note that E is an air vent, with a 2-brick hole in the inner wall ''ehind it.

STEP 13: Above is shown the

construction of a section of an internal bathroom wall.

Note the position of damp-course at “A,” the 4" thick slab of concrete under the bathroom floor (“B”), as referred to in Step 10, and the engaged brick pier, supporting floor bearer and joist.

STEP 14: Continue brick walls up to window sill level. Window and door frames are placed in the desired positions, according to the plan, plumbed with the spirit level, and temporarily held in position by struts nailed to flooring timbers. It is usual to give window and door frames a coat of priming before building the brick work around them.

It is important to note that above window and door openings a wrought iron lintel, thick, and brick width, supports the brickwork. These lintels are let into the brickwork for 4} inches at each end.

STEP 15: Shows detail of the window sill.

Vincbu; fi\umc-

Mocó Sill


PI our hi rv}

First step is to lay the 2 lb. lead flashing (in one length). This lead is laid in position before the wood sill is built in : it is turned up 1 !" at the back of the sill and tacked, continued underneath the wood sill, and carried down two courses to the outside wall. The lead has to be turned up behind wood sill at each end, and continued into the outside brickwork for 4!" each end.

The brick sill is composed of several bricks on edge to a height of two courses (one end broken off, as indicated in sketch) and sloped. The brick sill is held in position by mortar at the bottom and between bricks. The space between the wood sill and brick sill is filled with cement. To get a better idea of this construction, it is advisable to examine the detail of a window sill already built. It is quite simple.

STEP 16: Shows the doorstep or threshold—I ¥' thick terrazzo—which projects over the outside wall and lines up with the back of the door frame. The length of the terrazzo is 9" longer than the door opening, and which allows it to be built into the brickwork 4!" at each end. A drilling is made at each end of the terrazzo to take a metal dowell, w'hich is fitted into a drilled hole in the door frame. This is to prevent the door frame warping because of exposure to weather. The terrazzo sill is bedded in cement mortar. Rough planking is temporarily built over the terrazzo to prevent damage during construction.

STEP 17: As the walls rise

it is necessary to erect scaffolding to complete the brick work. The scaffolding illustrated is simple and movable. It consists of odd pieces of timber nailed or bolted together, supporting two g" wide planks, or 4 x 2 planks can be nailed together.

The scaffolding can also be used for ceiling construction, plastering and painting.

STEP 18: When the brick walls are completed, the next step is to lay the top wall plates on the inside skin of bricks. The wall plates consist of 4"x2" timber. The 4x2 wall plates to be in long lengths, halved together at all corners, and where joined to be properly scarfed. (See illustration in timber frame construction.) The wall plates have to be built into the brickwork with hoop iron straps every 6 feet, and taken down on the cavity side of the brickwork at least four courses, and cemented in between courses of bricks. This is to secure the roof against movement. At centres of 1 ft. 6 ins. the ceiling joists <4"x2") are placed on the wall plates and nailed with 4" nails.

STEP 19: Rooting is the most difficult part of house construction, and the amateur buildei is advised to call in expert help. The roofing timbers are usually cut on the ground, and whilst there is nothing difficult about this, the varying length of rafters and the joining of hips to ridge, leave the amateur open to error and waste of material.

Our sketch shows the ridge of the roof (A), hips (D), and rafters (B). Rafters are “birdsmouthed” (see G in Step No. 26 for timber frame construction), over the wall plates (E), and ceiling joists (C). In addition to the above construction, collar ties (3"x2'') are nailed to every alternate rafter, as illustrated in Step 20.

Ridge and hip timbers are 7" x i£". Ratters and wall plates are 4" x 2".

STEP 20: Shows a section

taken through the roofing timbers—“A” the ridge, “B” the roof rafter, “C” the collar tie, “D” the ceiling joist, “E” the hanging beam, “F” the ceiling or wall plate. The hanging beam (7"xii") ¡s only necessary where the ceiling joists exceed approximately 10 feet. Hanging beams are fixed to ceiling joists with hoop iron straps tightly lapped and nailed.

Alternatively, they can be fixed with ‘‘iron dogs.” The “birds-mouth” cut for rafters (at the point they touch the top wall plates) is illustrated in Step 26 for Timber Framed Construction.

STEP 21: Shows the usual finish for roofing eaves. The battening of the rafters to take a tile roof is done by the tiler when the tiles are delivered to the job. Like electrical fittings, plumbing and drainage, tiling is a close preserve of the tiler, who is supplied by the tile manufacturing firms. The fascia board, on which the guttering is nailed, usually consists of 5" x 1" soft wood, grooved to take asbestos eaves lining.

Tiles should not be used on a roof with a lower pitch than 27I degrees, otherwise they are not weatherproof. The eaves are framed up as suggested in the sketch with 3" x 1" sprocket pieces fixed to each rafter at one end, and to a 3" x 1" strut at the other end. The ends of the rafters are cut as indicated. The under-sides of the

eaves are lined with fibro or asbestos cement sheets, cut to an exact width. One end is pushed into the groove in the fascia and fixed at the other end (at junction between brickwork and sprocket piece) with an inch wooden quadrant. Fibro or asbestos sheets should be long lengths, the joints (at right angles to the wall) to be covered with fibro cover mould.

The gutter (26 gauge galvanised iron quadrant) is fixed before tiles are laid, complete with straps. It is advisable to have this work done by a plumber.

1/2 ' P)cnaef


3«i' Architrave

I'y^" Jasnb j- Llninc}


Shows door jambs, and how the metal dowel is let into the terrazo threshold. (See Step 16.)

STEP 22: Shows plan of door jamb for internal doors.

The width of the brick opening is for a 2 ft. 8 in. door, plus the thickness of the jamb linings, plus a clearance each side between the back of the jamb lining and the brickwork, to allow the work generally to be plumb.

STEP 23: As soon as the roof is completed, the next step is to turn over the floor boards, with the dressed side up, cramp and double nail each board to every joist, using 2" nails.    •

STEP 24: e lectrical and plumbing fittings should be completed before the walls are plastered.

STEP 25: Next step is to fix window and door jambs.    ^

STEP 26: Ceiling and plastering should now be proceeded with. Ceiling with fibrous plaster sheets and plastering are jobs for an expert, unless the owner is content with a rough wall finish or fibro, panelled ceiling.    —

STEP 27: Whilst the ceiling and wall plastering are proceeding, the amateur builder should complete window sashes, hang doors, build kitchen cabinets, etc., and finally, when the plastering is finished, fix architraves, skirtings and picture rails, and all cupboard work.

STEP 28: After the bathroom plumbing is completed, and walls plastered, the floor and walls should be tiled and the bath enclosed with 3" brick work (bricks on edge) and tiled. Be sure and build in two air bricks in this work.    ^

STEP 29: Paint outside and inside woodwork.

The best way to treat outside brickwork is to “iron” the joints, as the brick-laying proceeds, with a bricklayer’s ironing tool. This may be purchased.

Where common bricks are used for outside brickwork, a pleasing effect is obtained by washing over with cream waterpaint with an oil base.

Brickwork should be four courses to every 13^" in height.

Cement mortar (3 parts sand, 1 part cement) must be used in all brickwork up to the dampcourse level, in all brick piers and three courses above all window and door openings. The remainder of the brickwork may be constructed with lime mortar or with ready mixed mortar.

What Thoreau Said

Back in i860, Thoreau built himself a home on the edge of the beautiful Maine woods, and there wrote his classic, Walden, or Life in the Woods, which made him famous.

And this is what Thoreau wrote on building one’s own house:

“There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged?

“But alas! We do like cow-birds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes.

“Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter? What does architecture amount to in the experience of the mass of men? I never in all my walks came across a man engaged in so simple and natural an occupation as building his house.”—Thoreau.




(Fibro & Weatherboard)

STEP 7: Mark out

ground plan. Follow the same procedure as for brick construction.

§TEP 2' Build the brick piers. Piers are shown at their maximum spacing of 6 ft.

centres: (A) 9" x 9" brick piers; (B) 4A" brick walls (for bathroom floor) on two courses of 9" footings. Engaged brick piers (9"x4i") are shown at the end of each wall (C).

All brickwork to be laid in cement mortar, i.e., 3 parts of sand to one part cement, with just sufficient lime to allow easy working.

STEP 3: Sketch of g" x g"

STEP 4: Diagram of a pier which is required when height from the ground to the bearers exceeds 6 ft.

brick piers with two courses of 14" x 14" footings. (A) Ant cap (26-gauge galvanised iron).

STEP 5: Cut floor bearers (4" x 3") and lay on piers as indicated in the diagram. (B) indicates floor of bathroom, to be concreted.

It is to be noted that the bearers do not pass the concrete floor on the external wall. The bearers and floor boards run in the same direction. (C) shows the brick piers, (A) the bearers, and (B) the site of the bathroom.

If floor bearers are not long enough to span the piers, shorter bearers may be used and overlapped over the inside piers, and diagonally cut over the internal piers and nailed together.

STEP 6: Cut floor joists and nail to bearers at 18" centres. The diagram shows plan of floor joists (B) laid on bearers (shown in Step Five). (A) indicates double joisting, which is necessary to support the wall plates at each end.    The internal joists

are spaced at 18" centres maximum (or the joists to be spaced equally, according to the span of the room). (C) refers to the concrete floor of bathroom. All floor joists are 4" x 2", and are doubled nailed to bearers with 4" nails.

STEP 7: Lay out of wall plates (4"x2"). Openings indicate door ways. Top and bottom plates of each wall are laid together and marked for the f" cuts to house the wall studs. (C) refers to the corners of the plates, which are halved together and nailed.

STEP 8: Cut Hoor boards (B) to lengths and lay upside down, but do not nail. This facilitates interior building operations.

Later, when the roof covering is completed, the floor boards, which by then will be air seasoned, can be turned over, with the dressed side up, fitted, cramped and nailed with one row of nails to each joist and two nails to each board.


STEP 9; The top diagram (A) shows the §" cut in the bottom and top wall plates to house the wall studs. The top and bottom plates of each wall should be laid together, and a 2marking made at 18" centres. That is to say, the distance from the centre of each stud when erected should be exactly 18" to the centre of the next stud. By marking the top and bottom plates together, you ensure that cuts will be opposite and the studs vertical when the framing in finally plumbed. The 2j" cuts are made with a saw to a depth of §" and chiselled out. When all studs are in position, they are nailed top and bottom.

(B) shows how a scarf join is made, and (C) shows how the wall plates (top and bottom) are halved at the corners and nailed.



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STEP JO: The above diagram shows the details of floor construction where double joisting appears. This refers only to the two sides which are parallel to the run of the floor joists. As indicated in the diagram, 3" x 2" nogging is necessary between the bearers, so that the bottom sides of the fibro sheets can be nailed to it.

STEP 11:

The above drawing shows the detail of

floor construction of the sides of

the building parallel to the bearers.

STEP 12: Detail of double

joisting to take internal floor plate. This occurs when the supported wall is


wall to brick wall. Across these rods there are three or four §" diameter rods wired to the rods so as to form a matt which can be held in position when concrete is poured. The wired reinforcing can be placed in position on top of the temporary flooring and raised i" by means of a few inch blocks. The concrete is composed of four parts of J" blue metal, two parts sand and one of cement, and poured to a thickness of four inches.

Form a haunch, ii" high, as indicated in sketch, all round the bathroom slab (except the doorway). Build in i" bolts, 9" long at 3 ft. intervals. Push bolts in the concrete before it sets at the centre of the haunch, projecting out of concrete 3". The. purpose of the haunch, with protruding bolts, is to bolt down the floor-plates of the bathroom to carry the wall studs. (See detailed diagram in Step 14.)

running parallel to the joists. Apart from supporting the wall, the projection of each joist past the plate affords space for the nailing of the floor boards.

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STEP 14: More detailed diagram of the haunched side of the concrete slab in bathroom. At the top of the haunch is the wall plate, and 9" bolt embedded in the concrete.

STEP 13: The diagram shows a section taken through the internal wall of the bathroom, showing the 4!" brick wall to support the concrete floor, and also the engaged pier supporting the bearer of the floor of the adjoining room.

A rough floor is now constructed (for the bathroom) of odd boards and pailings on 3" x 2" framing. The width of the temporary flooring should fit in neatly between the two brick walls. This can be vertically supported by 3" x 2" struts from the ground, at approximately 2 ft. centres.

The floor of the bathroom is what is termed a suspended reinforced concrete slab, reinforced with half-inch diameter hook steel rods, spaced at approximately 8" centres. These rods are hooked at each end, and spanned from brick

STEP 16: Shows how wall plates are halved before joining, and how top wall plates are halved for joining over corner posts.

bracing, as shown in the diagram (A). The next step is the placing in position of the ceiling plates. These are cut at the ends, as shown in Step 9 (C), and nailed on to the corner posts. You now proceed with the housing and nailing of the wall studs.

The above diagram shows the morticed floor plate (C), the double joisting at each end (D), and the housing for the corner posts (B).

STEP 17: The next step is to check your corner posts with a vertical spirit level * and plumb bob to see that they are vertically correct. If not, a few blows with a hammer is sufficient to correct the error. Once they are correct, nail on temporary 3"xi" bracing, diagonally from the top wall plates, across the studs to the floor plates. You then mark with a pencil where the 3"x 1" bracing timber crosses the studs. Next you mortice the plates and studs so that the bracing timber can be housed flush with the surface. Then nail. Before nailing, however, again make certain that your corner posts are vertically correct, because they cannot be easily corrected once the diagonal bracing (see diagram) is nailed in position. Each wall requires two 3"xi" braces. Bracing should be done to all internal and external walls and to all parts of walls as indicated in diagram t8.

STEP 18: The next job is the nogging between wall studs. Houses walled by “fibro” or asbestos sheeting need two rows of nogging to all walls. The nogging is required to enable the fibro sheets to be nailed horizontally. Timber required for nogging between studs on outside walls can be 4"x2" or 4''xij", and to the inside walls 3" x 2" or 3" x i£". The top nogging is nailed between studs in line with the window and door heads and the bottom nogging is lined with the window sills generally. The distance between top and bottom nogging, for economy, should be arranged to all walls for the fixing of a 4 ft. deep fibro sheet. The nogging should be neatly cut so that it can be hammered firmly into position between studs.

The above diagram shows the window openings (with two smaller windows for the bathroom). It also shows the nogging required between studs and the 3" x 1" wall bracing. Note that the window framing is let into the wall studs half-an-inch.

STEP 79: The diagram shows the

horizontal mould which is fixed to the nogging. The mould indicated is a special deep stock mould supplied by fibro manufacturers to emphasise horizon-ality of the wall sheeting and ensure a water-proof join. The fixing of this mould requires drilling before nailing. Vertical joints are covered with fibro moulds. Stock flashing, as indicated, must be used if the horizontal treatment of the fibro sheets is followed. The flashing must be lapped 9" at all joins.


STEP 20: Lead flashing to window

sills is indicated with 2 lb. lead. This should be very carefully installed, turned up at the back of the sill 1 and tacked. The flashing is crimped or folded at corners, well turned up at each side of window opening and fitted into a saw cut to the stud, as shown on sketch. This saw cut should be sloping down. This is most important to prevent leaks.

STEP 21: The diagram shows the detail of window sashes and window linings. Other types of windows may be used. The outside lining should be tightly fixed for weather purposes. The space shown between the stud and the window lining is essential for fixing purposes, and to allow the window to be levelled up. All window frames should be primed before fixing.

STEP 22: Refers to window sill. This should be of hardwood, preferably tallow wood. Note position of flashing. Also see Sketch No. 20.

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STEP 23: Refers to window head and

the fixing of the galvanised iron flashing. The head moulding is grooved to take the outside edge of the flashing, which should be trimmed neatly and fixed with galvanised clouts at 4" spacing so as to get a neat finish.

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STEP 24: Detail of door linings, which shows ’ the rebated jamb lining and the architraves. Similarly to the window, space is left between the stud and jamb so as the jamb lining may be packed level.

STEP 26: Birds


cut in rafter to enable it to be checked over the wall plate to prevent movement. All rafters should be skew nailed to the plates.

STEP 25: The next step is to cut, lay and nail the ceiling joists (4"x2") at 18" centres. These are the same as illustrated in Step . . . for brick construction. While the rafters for a roof to be covered with corrugated iron or fibro, are at 2 ft. centres, the ceiling joists must be fixed at 18" centres maximum.

STEP 27" The r0°f construction of a timber framed house is the same as for a brick ’ house if a tiled roof is to be used. If the roof is to consist of corrugated iron or fibro, the rafters are placed at 2 ft. centres. The above sketch does not claim to give a factual representation of the wall studding or bracing.

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STEP 29: The construction of the eaves of a timber-framed house are practically the same as for a brick house. (See letterpress for Step 19 for brick construction.)

STEP 28: If a tiled roof is used, the tiling battens will be cut and nailed by the tiler supplied by the firm supplying the tiles.

If    the roofing    material    is corrugated fibro or iron, the sheets    should be fixed by galvanised    screws and    washers,    and are not to    be driven in. Screws for a fibro roof should be

pointed up with roofing mastic—that is to say, the space around the washer should be sealed with the bituminous substance.

Delays in the arrival of roofing material need not hold up the completion of external and internal walls, floor, and fittings, etc. To-day’s practice is to cover the roofing timbers with a    water-proof    fabric, such as malthoid,    ormondoid, sisalcraft,    and batten it on with

2" x j"    or i"x 1"    battens.    This will keep    out all weather except    heavy hail, and while it

adds approximately £10 to the construction cost, it is quite a good investment.

STEP 30: The next step is to nail the fibro sheets on to the studding and nogging. It is important when ordering the fibro for the outside walls that the sizes of the sheets conform to the size of the house, together with the studding and nogging. Fibro sheets should be nailed with ij‘ galvanised iron clouts, specially made for the purpose. Nail at 12" intervals.

Note that the fibro should be nailed on to the outside bearers, thus covering the space between joists.

If weatherboards are used instead of fibro, these are tongued and grooved by the mills to ensure a weather-proof overlapping. There are two points to note in the erection of a weatherboard wall: (1) That a horizontal line is ensured, and, (2) That the corners are mitred.

Note: Electrical and plumbing work should be done before the walls are covered.

A pleasing effect is obtained by weatherboarding up the windows, and using fibro for the rest of the walling.

In all fibro work, see that you are equipped with a fibro cutter.

STEP 31:

STEP 32: STEP 33:


STEP 34: STEP 35:

Once the roof is on, the floor boards can be turned over, dressed side up, cramped, and nailed.

Fix the window and door jambs.

The ceiling (fibrous plaster or fibro sheets) can now be proceeded with. A fibrous plaster ceiling is work for an expert, supplied by the fibrous plaster

The next steps are the lining of interior walls, skirting boards, picture rails, window fittings, architraves, and doors.

Build a wooden frame work round the bath—as illustrated—and cover with a water-resistant board, such as Temprlite, Lustrtile, or Factotile. Tilux (a cement baseboard) is coming back again shortly and the C.S.R. will also be putting a suitable board on the market. Be sure to build in two air vents below the bath and two in the outside bathroom wall. These vents, made of fibro, can be purchased. It is necessary' to construct nogging and studding to fit them.

The lower half of the bathroom walls should be lined with the same splash-proof lining as is used to build in the bath.

All the wall boards mentioned are excellent for kitchen walls above the sink, etc.

STEP 36: Paint all woodwork.

How to Build a Fire-place

In your natural anxiety to complete your home, you may decide to dispense with the traditional fireplace and chimney. In view of the fact that you may regret this later, it is wise to at least lay the foundation of the chimney and build it up to underside of the floor joists. You can then build the chimney at any time to suit yourself, without interfering with the floor structure.

The construction of a fireplace and chimney is not, of course, the easiest type of brickwork, and the amateur may decide to construct it only up to hearth level, calling in expert help to build the rest. Alternatively, he may call in an expert bricklayer and work with him, under his instructions.

The first essential for a good fireplace and chimney is a sound foundation. This means that the excavation must be carried down to a good bearing soil and filled with rocks as large as can be handled, laid close and well bedded. The use of cement mortar to slush into all joints and crevices is recommended.

On top of this a reinforced slab of concrete one foot thick should be laid, and solid brickwork continued to one course above floor level.

A satisfactory size for a fireplace for an average house is 2 ft. 6 ins. wide (A) x 2 ft. 6 ins. high (from the bed of the fireplace to the iron lintel across the front (B), and 18" in depth (i.e., from the front of the fire bed to the lower brickwork at the back of the chimney (C). The hearth in front of the fireplace should be a 3" concrete slab, the width of the fireplace, and built out 15" from the fireplace. When tiled, the hearth should be level with the floor boards.

The efficiency of a fireplace depends upon three things: the fireplace itself, the smoke chamber (which is never seen, but which is more important than the fireplace), and the chimney flue.

If the fireplace is to throw out the maximum heat, the back should slope forward about 9" from a point about one foot from the floor of the fireplace. (See

diagram.) This projecting slope of bricks and mortar (or fireclay bricks) should project forward about >9", and thus form a throat of 3" to 4" wide the full width of the fireplace opening. The throat should be set from 4" to 8" above the wrought iron lintel which forms the top of the fireplace opening.

Proper throat construction is vital to an efficient fireplace. The slope forward of the back of the fireplace will also form a smoke shelf.

The next step is the construction of the smoke chamber, that important unseen partner. The smoke chamber is the space from the top of the throat to the flue itself. The side walls start at the top of the smoke shelf and gradually narrow down to the width of the chimney flue. The surface of the smoke chamber should be smoothed with cement mortar to a depth of half an inch.

The flue, or chimney, is the third partner in the efficient fireplace, and on its height, size and lining much depends. The flue should never be less than 8" x 12". The flue should be cement rendered to a depth of 1" and the chimney carried up above the height of all roof surfaces and ridges.

The diagrams show (bottom left) the ground plan of the fireplace; at right we see the fireplace and chimney construction side on; top left illustrates an attractive brick finish.

How to Build Steps

The illustration (left) shows how simple wooden steps can be built with odd pieces of 4" x 2" and two lengths-of 10" x 2". For safety, steps should be 12" deep at the tread, and each step should be no more than 6 to 7 inches high. '

At right we see the framework required for concrete steps. Be sure that the tread of the steps and the rise are right for safety and comfort. Stout timbering should be used for the forms and well-braced before filling with concrete. Alternatively, brick or stone may be used.

First of all, make sure from your local building authority, what specifications your garage has to conform to. There is a great deal of difference in various parts of Australia.

And make sure, too, the local building authority’s requirements as to the position of the garage in relation to the house or road.

Having done that, your next step is to submit a simple drawing of the size and style of garage you propose to    build, together with specifications of    the material    to

be used, to the local Shire or    Municipal Council.

It is required, also, to show the proposed position of the garage in relation to the house, road, and neighbours.

In planning your garage,    do not make the error of    making it    too small.    A

garage should be big enough    to house an average-sized    car, with    room to walk

round it, space for a work bench, storage cupboards for paints, suit cases, and all the odds and ends that a family needs from time to time, and for which there is not sufficient room in the modern house. The size we suggest is 16 ft. to 18 ft. x 9 ft., with 7 ft. walls.

After the preliminaries have been approved by the Council, you can proceed.

1 lie finished appearance we give in this book is merely suggestive. The barge boards can be straight, the door windows dispersed with, and the doors made of tongue grooved floor boards, braced as shown in the illustration in the right-bottom corner (page 103).

The first step is to put out your profile (as in Step 1 for Home Building), check the rectangularity of the proposed building,    and    the concrete    footing on    which

the wood framework will rest on the selected site.    This should be    about 9 ins. wide

by 6 ins. deep, levelled up by driving pegs with the aid of a spirit-level. The lower 3 ins. should be filled with clinker, well rammed down, the concrete being laid above. If temporary boards with straight edges could be placed on each side of the trench, the top could be smoothed flat. Fixing bolts, say    two    at each end,    and three    at the

sides, should be bedded in the concrete for fixing    the    framework.

It is a matter of choice whether you concrete the entire floor at the same time (to a depth of 4 ins.), or leave it till the garage is completed.

The framing should consist of 4" x 2" timber for wall plates, studs and rafters, ai'd 4" x 4" timber for the corner posts—just as in Timber Frame Construction. With a garage, however, wall studs can be at two feet centres.

Top and bottom wall plates should be laid together, marked at 2 ft. centres, and morticed to a depth of to take the wall studs.

The corner posts should next be placed in position, nailed, and temporarily

maintained in position by struts. Next step is to nail the top wall plates to the corner posts. 1 hen the wall studs are inserted into their morticed cuts and nailed top and bottom.

Check the corner posts with a vertical spirit-level to see that they are plumb, and then proceed to cut and nail the bracing boards. For a garage, 2 x i arc heavy enough. If the garage is not to be lined on the inside, the bracing need not be cut in flush with the wall studs and plates.

Nogging pieces between the wall studs will not be required if the outside wall covering consists of vertical fibro sheets. A better finish, of course, consists of horizontal fibro sheets, with the usual horizontal mouldings, in which case nogging will be required.

Ceiling joists every 4 ft. will be sufficient to strengthen the framework.

A simple pitched roof, of 3 ft. from ceiling to ridge board, is all that is required. The ridge board is 6" x 1" and extends to 6" beyond the front and back of the garage.

Rafters, every 3 feet, are fitted and nailed to the ridge board, and “birds-mouthed” over the top wall plates. The rafters should project 6" out from the walls.

Three 2" x 2" purlins are nailed over the rafters on each side, extending from one end of the garage to the other (the same length as the ridge board). The top purlins are nailed about 2" from the ridge board. The corrugated roofing material (iron or fibro) is screwed to the purlins. If the roof is to carry tiles, the construction will require rafters at 2 ft. centres and l" battens. These will be fixed by the tiler.

The roof is supported with uprights and braced, as shown in the diagrams.

The garage should have sufficient window space for good daylight. The most easily made doors are the cross-battened and braced type (as shown in the diagram on page 103), with £" tongued and grooved floor boards, and hinged to open outwards.

How to Build a Pise (Rammed Earth) House

Pise de Terre is French for rammed earth. Pise, or rammed earth, houses are as old as man himself. Properly constructed, they will outlast even brick houses.

Most of the houses of the old world, the East, and Middle East, are either pise or adobe. Adobe is the term for houses made of mud bricks, strengthened with straw.

Most of the houses of Southern Europe and South and Central America are either pise or adobe. But it is not only in dry climates that earth houses have withstood the ravages of time. Thousands of such houses are to be seen in Northern Europe, Northern America, and in Great Britain. In Australia, especially in Victoria, and the Corowa district of New South Wales, many examples of pise construction are to be seen, some of a very great age.

In the country districts of Australia, where ordinary building materials are not readily available, the rammed earth house is the best and cheapest answer to the housing problem, most of the work being within the capacity of the unskilled worker.

On this point we quote the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers’ Bulletin No. 1500:

“The services of skilled artisans are not required, because pise work presents so little difficulty that it can be done bv anyone without previous experience who will exercise care in a few particulars.”

Incidentally, it should be emphasised that houses of earth, properly constructed, are just as attractive in appearance as are houses of cream washed bricks. Indeed, so satisfying is the finished rendering of inside and outside walls of these houses, that only an expert could tell that the walls consisted of rammed earth.

And, in addition to its attractive appearance, the pise house is cooler in summer and . warmer in winter than other houses.

The following notes in regard to the construction of a pise house are taken from a

bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, from P. B. Aird’s work on pise, and from the bulletin issued by the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station, at Ryde, New South Wales.

The builder contemplating a pise or adobe house should send to the station for all available data on the subject.

Most sub-soils are suitable for a pise house, or can be made so by the addition of sand or clay. If too clayey, sand should be added. If too sandy, a clay sub-soil should be mixed with it.

A satisfactory mixture is: 3 parts sand, 2 parts clay, and 1 part coarse aggregate or gravel, and a certain amount of water. All organic matter should be removed.

A test for the suitability of the proposed mixture can be made by making a box 12 ins. high x 2 ft. x 1 ft., with collapsible sides, filling it with the mixture, slightly damp, and ramming it down tightly.

Layers of earth 4" thick, should be put in and rammed, and so on, until the box is full. Then remove the sides and allow the block of earth to cure in the sun (protected from rain) for a week.

If the block crumbles it is not sufficiently stable and requires more clay in the mixture. If it cracks badly it requires more sand. The right amount of moisture is present if the earth does not stick to the rammer, and if the ramming at one place does not cause the earth to rise in another. When thoroughly dry and hardened, the earth should not crumble away in the hand.

The first steps in the construction of a pise house is to (1) mark out the ground with profiles, as in Step 1 for ordinary building construction; (2) trench out to a depth of 12" and a width of 2 ft. for the external walls and to a width of 1 ft. 6 ins. for the internal walls. All soil excavated should be used, if suitable, for the walls.

(3) Next step is the reinforced concrete footings, as illustrated in the diagram. (If there is any suitable stone near the site, use it instead of concrete, but make doubly sure that the foundation is absolutely stable, as this is a basic essential for sound pise construction.

Note that the concrete footings are built one foot above the surface of the ground, so as to protect the earth walls from heavy rain or slight flooding. On top of the concrete footings, a plastic type of damp course should be laid. Don’t forget to allow two below-floor air vents on each side of the building.

(4)    Next step is the making of strong, but serviceable, frames to contain the earth while it is rammed. The illustration shows the specifications required.

(5)    Now begins the task of shovelling and ramming, and raising the frame work upwards after an 18 ins. or 3ft. wall is built.    (Plumb    the wall    as you    go    up.)    The    external

earth walls should be 12", and the internal    walls 9"    thick.

The prepared earth is shovelled into    the mould to a depth of    4"    and    rammed    hard.

Great progress is made where two men shovel earth    and two    others    ram it.

But even two men, working at an average pace, can erect a 20 ft. length of wall, 3 ft. high, in about 8 hours, which means that two men could erect the earth walls of an averagesized cottage in about 21 working days. This assumes that the mixture is ready.

I11 moving the form upward or along for the next section, see that it overlaps about 2" over the work just completed. Note that each lift is completed around the entire building before the next lift is commenced. That is to say, the correct procedure is to build the entire walls to a height of 18 ins. or 3 ft. before going higher.

We quote from the bulletin of the Commonwealth Building Experimental Station:

"Pise walls should have some form of horizontal tie continuously around the building. P. B. Aird, of Natal, in his work on Pise, recommends the use of three strands of barbed wire laid on the wall at approximately every 20" in the height of the wall and carried right round the building. Short ends may be attached to these reinforcements and carried into the partition walls.

"In Corowa, N.S.W., and surrounding district, builders have adopted a method of keeping window and door heads at the same level and constructing a continuous reinforced concrete lintel completely round the building. This system is recommended.”

Pise-work is continued above the lintel to the wall plate which, in turn, is tied to the wall by short lengths of hoop iron or No. 8 gauge wire.

Jambs for window and door openings may be square-sided or rebated, and placed in the forms. Alternatively, door and window frames may be set in the walls before the earth is rammed around them.

In building the roof in the traditional way, eaves of 3 ft. should be allowed for for greater protection. Boxed eaves are recommended.

Chimneys should be built of brick, stone or concrete, and tied to the earth walls by means of hoop iron ties built into the earth wall when rammed and cemented into the masoni’y.

The best and most durable finish for the internal and external walls of a pise house is to cement render them. To quote the Commonwealth Bulletin:

“The method used for keying by the Pise builders in Corowa and surrounding district, is as follows: with a pointed instrument vertical and horizontal lines are scored at 6" centres over the exterior surface of the Pise walls; at the intersection of these lines, with a brace and reamer bit, cone-shaped indentations are bored about 1" to 1J" deep, in the centres of the indentations spring-head roofing nails are driven until the heads are flush with the wall surface; when rendering, care should be taken to ensure that the plaster is forced behind the nail head. This system is used, but at 12" centres, for internal plastering.

“The second, but cheaper, method is to paint the walls, both external and internal, or to paint either one and to plaster the other. . . .

“For farm buildings, hot tar or one of the asphaltic-based solutions, applied hot, might be used for economy of cost. For the interiors of such structures whitewash would be quite suitable.”

For floor and roof construction, and other joinery, follow the building routine laid down for Brick or Fibre Construction.

Disposal of Kitchen Drainage in Unsewered Areas

The satisfactory disposal of sullage water frequently presents a problem.

There are several methods of disposal, all of which are dependent on the topography of the land, the nature and depth of the soil, the probability of contaminating underground water supplies and the likelihood of the sullage water finding its way on to adjacent premises, streets, or into watercourses.

Each case must be judged on its merits, consequently it is advisable that information respecting the method of disposal to be adopted be obtained from the local council.

Provided conditions are favourable, a simple method of disposal is by means of absorption trenches, a type of which is illustrated in the accompanying sketch and described hereunder.

To ensure the efficiency of the scheme, care must be taken to exclude roof water and so far as possible surface drainage.

The house drainage system should be laid, trapped and ventilated, as it would be in the case of drainage being connected to a sewer.

The provision of an efficient grease trap near the kitchen and its satisfactory maintenance are two important factors, otherwise the greasy water will cause chokage in the drain pipes and in the trench.

The absorption trench should be 2 feet in width and 2 ft. 6 in. in depth, and its lay-out should be across the fall of the land.

The length of the trench is dependent on the absorbing quality of the soil together with the daily maximum quantity of sullage water to be disposed of, but should be not less than 20 feet.

The trench should be packed with 3-inch broken hard stone to a height of t ft. 6 in., over which a line of agricultural pipes should be laid along the centre of the trench as shown








.    . . / ^ S'


on accompanying sketch, commencing about 12 inches from the beginning of the trench and thereafter running the full length of the trench. The drain pipe conveying the sullage water to the trench should extend into the trench and butt against the first agricultural pipe.

The joints of the pipes in the trench must not be sealed.

The pipes should then be surrounded and covered with 3-inch broken hard stone to within a few inches from the top of the trench, over which should be placed a protective covering of old iron, bags, bark or the like, before covering the trench with soil or turf.

In certain cases, it may be found necessary to provide a shallow sump at the far end of the trench for the purpose of collecting the overflow or seepage and to dispose of it on to broken up and cultivated land, such as a garden plot.

The planting of moisture-absorbing trees, shrubs, or other vegetation in the vicinity of the trench will assist in the absorption of the sullage water, but care should be taken that the roots of the trees, etc., are not likely to interfere with the efficiency of the trench.

It has been found advisable to provide a permanent mark at both ends and change of direction of the trench, in order that the lay-out of the trench may quickly be located in the event of its being necessary to uncover or to extend the trench.

Building a Septic Tank

Before a septic tank can be legally installed certain formalities required by Local Government law must be observed.

Advice thereon can be obtained from the local building authority.

The design shown is of a septic tank capable of liquefying and clarifying sewage, and the dimensions provide a capacity, below water level, equal to 130 gallons of sewage per day.

The dimensions of the aerating chamber should be such as to allow 1 square yard of surface of aerating medium for every 200 gallons or part thereof of sewage per day with a depth of not less than 4 ft. 6 in. of medium consisting of 3-1’nch gauge hard stone or other similar material.

The design comprises a liquefying chamber, screening chamber, aerating chamber, vertical air cavity and an air chamber situated between perforated slab under aerating medium and floor of aerating chamber.

Space between underside of tank roof and top of square junction inlet should be not less than six inches and the top of partition between liquefying and screening chambers should be on a level with the top of square junction inlet.

Perforated area of above partition commences three inches above floor of the liquefying chamber and should not extend in height beyond half the liquid depth of that chamber.



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Outside walls of the tank are 9-inches thick brickwork, or reinforced concrete, rendered on the inside with cement mortar, preferably waterproofed. The floors of the chambers are of concrete, and a reinforced concrete slab covers the tank. Three manholes are provided in the covering slab.

The screening chamber is made of the same width as the liquefying chamber, with, as a rule, a length of 9 inches. The minimum depth is 2 feet 9 inches below the invert of the pipe line.

The filter bed must have at least one square yard of surface area for every 200 gallons of sewage to be treated, and the depth of the filtering media must not be less than 4 feet 6 inches. The filter bed is ventilated by at least two 6-inch vents projecting above the top of the tank, or by terra-cotta air bricks built into the outer skin of the end wall when the fall in the ground is sufficient. Troughs, fixed perfectly level, provide even distribution over the filter bed. Blue metal is the usual filtering media.

—From “Australian Methods of Building Construction”, by W. Watson Sharp.

Floor of screening chamber is so formed and graded as to prevent sludge remaining thereon.

Contents of screening chamber flow over an impervious sill into a collecting trough and from there into distributing troughs so laid out as to secure even distribution of the effluent over the surface of aerating medium.

The troughs are constructed of impervious material, are of shallow deptji, and have an internal width of four inches.    .

The 9-inch mosquito proof induct vent should be so fitted as to make its internal surface a continuation of the internal surface of the vertical air cavity.

Adequate and suitable means of access for inspection and cleansing of the respective chambers should be provided in roof of the installation as shown on design sketch.

As the final effluent from the septic tank must at all times he considered a potential danger to health, its disposal is of very great importance.

Under no circumstances should it be disposed of in such manner as to create or be likely to create a nuisance or be likely to contaminate any water course, water supply or water supply source.

It should not be employed to irrigate salad vegetables, tomatoes, strawberries, and the like, nor should it be disposed of in such manner as would enable it ultimately to find its way into the street gutter or watertable.

Where the site and    soil are suitable it can be disposed of in suitably constructed absorption    trenches of adequate    length and effective layout or over well    broken up and cultivated

ground, in which case frequent attention should be given to the disposal area.

The planting of moisture absorbing trees, shrubs, or plants near disposal area will greatly assist in the disposal process.

The installation of    a septic tank to deal with closet wastes    only is not recommended.

At    least one other class    of waste, such as the bath waste, should    be included.

If it is desired to connect the other wastes, e.g., kitchen or laundry, it is necessary that the kitchen wastes first pass through an efficient grease trap before being discharged into the gully trap of the drain. It is necessary that the grease trap be regularly cleansed of grease.

It should be noted that it is inadvisable to instal a septic tank unless an adequate water supply be provided to the premises.

The household septic tank should not be installed at a distance less than 15 feet from an occupied building.

Provided the amateur builder is competent in brick and concrete construction, he can build a septic tank, but he should adhere closely to the instructions, and call in an expert when in doubt.

Published by

The Home Builders' Advisory Box 4397, G.P.O., Sydney

A .simple, two-bedroom plan by the famous American architect,

Royal Barry Wills.

The above plan could be further simplified by substituting straight window space for the two bay windows. Plan by Paul JJ ilhams,


An attractive minimum home plan by Leonard A. Bullen, in the “Australian Home Beautiful.” The lounge and dining alcove give a sense of abundant space to an otherwise small home. In some circumstances the verandah might be dispensed with, or added later.


BUild your



Unusual and attractive design by Norman Reed, of Sydney,

"Hornes and Plans,”

First prize design by Clarence A. Allen, in a competition arranged by the Asbestos Cement Manufacturers of Australia. The competition was for a holiday type of house costing no more than £600

pre-war (nearly £l£00 to-day.)

A small home in the modern manner by that brilliant Australian architect, W. Watson Sharp, in “Your Post-War Home.”

An American architect's plan for a minimum home.


Another simple plan for the minimum home


Brilliant plan by Walter Bunning, the well-known Sydney architect, published in the Sunday “Sun.” The living space of the house has been almost doubled by extending the floor area out on to the terraces. All the main rooms face the north for day-long sunshine. Escape from sultry summer interiors is provided in the living room extension and the south-facing courtyard.

Another plan by W. Watson Sharp, A.R.A.I.A., in “Your PostWar Home.” An attractive plan for an irregular shaped building


First-prize winning design by Harold II. Smith in “Tomorrow’s Asbestos C e rn e n t Ho m e s Competition” (Class 2—Section 5).

An attractive plan by Mr. Edward Stewart, published in the “S.AI. HeraldThe combination of living and dining rooms gives a sense of spaciousness in an otherwise small house. The position of the laundry, however, might be changed for the bathroom.

A small house, but brimful of light, enriched by sheltered outdoor living spaces, front and back. Plan by Albert Hanson inAust.

Home Beautiful."


Another simple plan that lends itself to being built in sections.

Final Word

It is not practicable, of course, to build a house by text book. All that we can hope to do is to set out the general principles, the fundamental procedure, the step-by-step details, and the standard requirements of the housing authorities.

But not even all of this, no matter how clearly set down in black and white, nor how fully illustrated, will build a house. It will require the WILL to build it, the ENERGY to build it, and the INTELLIGENCE to apply principles and acquire sound skill as you proceed.

The important point is to realise that what you don't know you can learn. The skill you lack you can acquire. It's simply a matter of applying energy directed by intelligence.

Given the WILL, the ENERGY, and the INTELLIGENCE, there is no reason on earth why you, who have probably never laid a brick in your life, cannot proceed to acquire the skill to do so now.

There is scarcely any problem in building a house that the intelligent and resourceful amateur cannot overcome. He can observe how professional builders do it. If that isn't sufficient, he can ask a practical man to help him, and pay him for it. And most practical men will only be too pleased to help an amateur builder help himself.

If this book inspires a few thousand men in this country to take their courage in both hands and set out on the venturesome task of building their own homes, we will be handsomely rewarded.

But no more than the amateur builder himself.

Get cracking!

Published by

The Home Builders’ Advisory Box 4397, G.P.O., Sydney

Wholly set up and printed in Australia by The Commercial Printing Company, 81 Campbell Street, Sydney, and published by “Home Builders Advisory,” Box 4397, G.P.O., Sydney.