LHJ Articles

Home > Plans > Ladies Home Journal

A Fireproof House for Less Than $4000

Designed By Charles E. White, Jr.: With Illustrations
by George A. Newman

Ladies Home Journal, February 15, 1911

1911 $4000 Fireproof House - Charles E. White

This view shows the Front of the house and the Big veranda at the Side.
The Green Trim Makes a Pleasing Contrast to the Gray-White Rough Coat Finish.

Strange as it may seem it is not the fireproof quality that first appeals to the builder of a fireproof house; rather it is the permanency of its construction. Lumber shrinks, twists, turns, swells and cracks, but hollow tile is ever-enduring. That means freedom from repairs and freedom from constant expense. Stone and brick are as enduring as hollow tile, but stone and brick walls have to be furred inside to keep out dampness. Hollow tile, with its interior air spaces, may be plastered on direct without furring strips or laths. This makes it one of the most scientific of modern construction materials.

1911 $4000 Fireproof House

In making your design for a fireproof house you must not merely take a plan for a frame house and try to adapt it to the requirements of a fireproof design. Lumber may be sawed any length, or planed or trimmed to fit. The materials for a fireproof house, however, are not so elastic. To build it economically one must know what the economical spans are for the hollow tile floor panels. This does not mean that hollow tile construction is not easy to use. On the contrary, it requires no more skill than frame construction. There is nothing new in the idea of building terra-cotta hollow tile houses. They are now to be found in almost every town.

1911 $4000 Fireproof House - Dining Room

In the construction of the house shown on this page deep scored terra-cotta hollow tile, grooved on all four sides, are used. The plaster for both the exterior and interior walls is applied directly on the tile. For the exterior rough-cast cement is used and adheres tightly by means of the grooves. Below the ground the foundation walls of concrete or stone are laid, and the regularly grooved 8" x 12" x 12" tiles start at the grade and continue up to the plate which supports the rafters.

The roof is of shingles for the reason that a house is considered sufficiently fireproof if the walls and floors are fireproof. Then too, sloping surfaces, like a roof surface, are expensive to build. However, for those who want a fireproof roof one covered with slate or roofing tile can be built.

In the interior the partitions are of four-inch tile, and the plaster is applied directly on them without laths or furring strips: the joy of having solid, sound proof vermin-proof partitions of hollow tile is certainly worth their slightly increased cost over wooden ones. The fireproof floors are laid on a temporary foundation which is removed when the floor is "set." The finished wood floor is then furred up above the masonry with two-inch strips.

1911 $4000 Fireproof House - BedroomAll the pipes and electric wires extend up through slots left in the tile partition exactly as in an ordinary brick house. The pipes which extend horizontally across the floors are laid directly on top of the floor tile, and are covered by the finished wood floor. For the window jambs special tiles, which are made by all tile manufacturers, are used. These are cast with a space to receive the window frame in order to secure a weatherproof joint at this point. Then, too, special tiles are used for the corners of the rooms, and where the fireproof floor comes on the wall.

So much for the construction details of this house; and now for a glimpse of the interior. Both the living-room and dining-room have broad openings into the hall. This permits one to look from one room across the hall into the other. A broad vista of this sort increases the apparent size of both rooms. In furnishing rooms so arranged care must be taken that the color schemes harmonize. Plenty of light and good ventilation were also desired, so each room is provided with windows on two sides — that a cross-draft may be secured. There is a good sized veranda at the side, and the living-room opens direct on it by glass doors. There is no pantry between the kitchen and the dining-room in this house, but the rear hall, which is closed off from the front hall by a door, serves the same purpose, and the door from the kitchen and the one into the dining-room provide the two doors necessary between these rooms. In this rear hall there is a large coat-closet under the stairs.

Careful thought was given to the planning of the kitchen. The sink, which is placed directly under a big window, is set in a long counter made of maple strips glued together. There is a cupboard at one end and chest of drawers at the other, and the spaces between these and the sink are left open. In one corner of the room a cold closet, which is ventilated from the outside by a small opening in the wall, has been built in. Flour, sugar, crackers, etc. and also canned goods may be stored here.

Upstairs in the bedrooms there are ample closets. These are long and narrow and open with doors like a wardrobe. The clothes are hung under the shelf on hangers and are readily accessible throughout the entire space.

1911 $4000 Fireproof House - Floor Plan

Estimate of Cost

The estimate below was furnished by a reputable contractor and was based upon the market price of labor and materials in the vicinity of Chicago, July 1, 1910. To build the house in some localities would probably cost more, while in others the cost would be less.

Carpentry, Lumber, and Millwork
Painting and Glazing





Tin Work
Electric Work

Contractor's Profit,
10 per cent
Final total $3943




SOURCE: White, Charles E. Jr. "A Fireproof House for Less Than $4000." Ladies Home Journal, February 15, 1911, 22.

© 2008–2015 — Antique Home Style

Books, ETC.