Construction Week 14
A lot has been happening around here at the new site. I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I last posted about it. Then again, computer problems…
I’m SO excited about things right now. We don’t typically have anyone working on Saturdays, but we’re pushing to a goal so the guys are out there today. We decided to drive them all out to the site as a family this morning so Chris could make sure stuff was on track for the day and I could get pictures. The kids just love being out there and were pretty good at entertaining themselves…
In case you’re wondering what that is, it’s a frond off a Royal Palm branch. We have one in the corner of the land and when they drop a frond we get these giant boat like things. Our kids are pretty good at entertaining themselves.
Alex looked like a pea in a pod.
Now, onto the construction! If you’ve been tracking along with us for the last little while, this is where we left off with the house:
That was the very first dig day on the foundation. The following week this is how things were looking:
Aren’t those nice foundation trenches??? But, it doesn’t end there…
There’s rebar in those trenches! I just want to stop for a second and share some construction-in-Haiti side info with you. All of those trenches were hand dug. As in a couple of guys with a pick axe to break up the ground, and shovels. Levels, string and sticks were used to mark the trench lines out, and then they just started digging. Not a machine in sight. The guys that we hired to do the digging are two younger guys named Akins and Toto (no Dorthy, we’re not in Kansas). We hired them to dig the first septic tank. The hole was 6′ wide by 12′ long by 12′ deep. They did it all by hand. In about three days. And you know what the amazing part is? When we would got out there this is what we would get from Akins:
It doesn’t matter whether he’s digging a twelve foot deep hole or a two foot deep trench or helping to lay block, he always has a smile on his face. He’s just one of the great workers we have on the project. We’re so thankful for all of them.
So, digging holes… The guys spent about a week tying rebar. Every piece was tied by hand. “Tied” meaning that all the pieces of rebar that cross over each other are secured together with a piece of wire so they don’t slide and move around when the concrete gets poured. After the foundation rebar was all in place the guys went through and tied in a vertical bar wherever the structural drawings called for it.
That’s Boss Adner in the background. It’s a bit hard to see in the picture, but on either side of him are two rebar columns. We’re going to visit those bad boys in a little bit.
So that’s what rebar looks like. Now friends, I have a little confession to make. Those last two pictures were taken on Monday. And Monday, it was a big day for us.
You see, it wasn’t rebar tying day. There was a ton going on around those photos. If we were to pan backwards to the gate, you would have seen this…
And you would have seen these guys with their wheel barrows waiting…
Waiting for this beast to do it’s duty…
Buckets of materials and sacks of cement keeping it fed all day…
You would have seen all of this because Monday was the day we poured the foundation!
Our two friends I introduced you to before…
Those boys are the support columns that will be embedded in the walls of the large doorway opening to the living room. See, when you’re building in concrete you have to factor in every ounce of weight, including the kind of floor tile you’re going to use, how much mortar will be under it, etc. Haiti is now considered an earthquake zone because of a bunch of fault lines running under us, so we’re building this place to seismic code. Thus, super columns. I feel like I should name them.
Pour day was super exciting for me. Chris was happy to be making progress. Me? I was so excited to see things actually becoming something, ahem, concrete. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. But more about that in a minute.
Do you want to know want to know what I saw this morning when I got out to the site?
Do you see that?!?! Those are walls going up! What you can’t see is that there are two rows of block below ground level.
Thony, on the right, just dipped that block in water (in the wheel barrow) and is getting ready to slide it over top the rebar. Boss Adner will then mortar it in place. Each block hole with rebar running up it will be filled with mortar, creating a support pillar that will go up the entire wall of the house, right up through the second floor, and connect with the roof. That goal I mentioned before? It’s to finish the 4th row of block all the way around by the end of the day. The reason? So Evens can take over.
Who’s Evens you ask? He’s that guy in the brown shirt. He’s one of our long term staff who put himself through plumbing and electrician school on weekends years ago. He’s also our best welder, our best driver, our best… I could go on.
Two days ago Chris filled me in on “the goal” and why we were pushing for Saturday to have the 4th row done. Once the fourth row is done the block layers are going to go do some other things for a bit and Evens is going to start laying the plumbing and electrical lines!!! The 4th level of blocks is actually the level that the floors will get poured at. When you build in wood you do all the framing first, then the plumbers and electricians and other contractors come in and drill holes through the studs to run everything. When you build with concrete you can do things the hard way, or you can do them the easy way.
The hard way is to lay any plumbing lines in the floor that you need to, but then build your building and afterwards go back and jack hammer troughs in the walls to run your conduit. It’s a pain. We know this because that’s what we did last time. We have more experience and this time we’re doing it the easy way. The easy way is to know where you need to run everything ahead of time and then do that – run it ahead of time.
I was thinking we would be doing block for months, and then we would be talking about plumbing and where every light switch and socket box was going to go. I didn’t think we would be talking details for a long time. Nope.
Evens and I sat down yesterday and marked everything out for the first floor, and this morning we did the same thing for the second floor. Last night we made decisions about things like how many ceiling fans in each room. Some of the rooms are big and will need more than one. And then my husband surprised me. Usually we try to do things as cost effectively as possible, which sometimes means going with bare minimum stuff. Basic ceiling fans. Bare lightbulbs. When we talked about fans and stuff before we knew for sure we wanted short blade fans with lights in the bathrooms for keeping the humidity down. Last night we decided that we were going to go with fans that had lights in them in each room because if we’re doing it, we’re going to do it right. Have I mentioned how much I love this guy??? I love it when he surprises me with stuff like this. This morning Evens and I quickly adjusted the plans and we were good to go.
This week has been so exciting. Chris just wants to get the job done, but for me every stage is a big deal. I know he knows that this is our house, but for me it’s more about seeing something that I’ve created come to life. I was the one that drew up the plans. I’ve been working on this for almost two years. Every inch of it is personal and something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. I have Pinterest boards with ideas for so many things. I know exactly what we’re aiming for and it’s actually becoming something. I’m so excited to share things as they happen.
There’s been a lot more going on out there besides just the work on the house too. For example…
The septic tank for the main house is done.
We’ve also dug, built and finished the septic tank/lines for the staff bathrooms:
The last time I shared a picture the main workshop looked like this:
Now it looks like this:
They’re getting the form work done to pour the roof. We’ll probably do that in the next two weeks.
The staff bathrooms actually look like little rooms! From left to right there will be 3 showers and a toilet stall. Exciting, I know.
To close I’ll leave you with a picture of a very cute little girl I know, who got to see the construction site for the first time in a couple of weeks…