This has been a great week to see some parts of our construction project coming together. First, the mold that was poured on the front of the house was uncovered and finished. Second, the back wall of the house got blocked up and readied for the finish work. The cistern was completely cleaned out, power washed and the wooden flooring was built. On top of that, rebar was wired together and the floor has been poured. I love when we are in a part of the process where changes are readily visible.
As with any construction, there are weeks that feel fast – meaning you can see lots of changes – and weeks that feel slow – meaning lots of infrastructure work is completed but nothing looks different. This last week was a fast week and was very encouraging.
The workers had constructed a mold to finish off the top of the peaked walls. They were trying to match a design that was part of the original house and they were very ingenious in getting the curves the same by using long pieces of PVC pipe attached to the wooden frame.
The mold came off and the basic structure of curves and lines was there, but it was pretty rough. They then mixed a cement with very fine beach sand and when they finished “plastering”, the mold it looked lovely. What a difference finish work makes.
The back wall of the house has been blocked up – not too big a job since we still have a 16 by 10 foot opening that will end up having an iron grate. By completing that step, they are getting ready to put on the wooden ceiling layer of the roof. (We’re still waiting for the aluminum roof covering to arrive and get processed through customs.)
We’ve had no appreciable rain since the beginning of January. Just like gardeners or farmers have a whole different relationship with rain, right now we do too – watching the sky, checking the clouds, counting the minutes when it does rain, judging the intensity of the downpour or listening at night for how hard the rain is hitting the roof and for how long. We haven’t had more than 20 minutes of rain at any one time, usually much less, and little ferocity, thank goodness. This is good also because it means that during the day, the work is moving forward pretty much unabated. Grenadians do not like rain and they stop work to seek shelter as soon as it begins to sprinkle. Lucky for us these have been infrequent, very short breaks.
The cistern, which was full of rubble, has been completely emptied and cleaned (Walking the Plank ~ to Dinner) . This job took two full days of hauling up buckets of rubble and wheel barrowing everything out to the driveway so it can be trucked away. These guys definitely do not need to exercise when they get home!
After the cistern was emptied, they power washed the interior until it was sparkling clean and then began to build the wooden structure that would hold up the cistern roof and would become the new patio floor. After the frame was completed, they created an intricate mesh of rebar which got wired together and then they poured the new floor.
This is the first time a cement mixer was used. Usually they mix all the concrete by hand, using shovels. The only problem was that the cement mixer could not get up the driveway which means the workers had to wheelbarrow each load up our steep driveway. Granted, it’s not as steep as some roads on the island but it’s a fairly step climb that you notice as you walk up empty handed, never mind pushing a heavy wheelbarrow filled with concrete. UGH! I’m sure I wouldn’t make it more than a few feet even with a “running” start on flat land. But these great guys did it time and time again until the floor was completed.
Tomorrow the plank bridge will be removed and we no longer need to “walk the plank” to get out to the patio where we spend the bulk of our time when the workers are not jack hammering, pounding or pouring.
Next week, the first layer of roofing goes up.