Building our House – Week 11

So, what’s really handy to have in a 2-story house?  Stairs, of course, and now we have them.  Yeah!  Both stairways were completed, as were the stairs into the pool.

IMG_0330eIMG_0331e comboIMG_0351e

As the guys were working on the steps into the pool, I thought to myself… why not incorporate a bench seat so there’s a nice place to sit in the pool while sipping your favorite libation?  So, after a quick conversation with the mason, a few hand signals and a couple of measurements, the above photo shows what resulted just a short time later.  That is just one small example of the benefit of being there on site – everyday.  It’s the only way to be sure that what gets built is done the way you want it.  Sometimes it may be a detail that’s not on the plans and so needs to be clarified.  Other times, as with the bench in the pool, being there gives you the opportunity to make changes (hopefully small ones) that increase your overall satisfaction and enjoyment of the end product.  Seeing things for real often adds perspective that you just don’t have when looking at a plan on paper.

Work continued on the walls of the second floor…putting in the Panacor panels and cutting in the windows.

IMG_3492eIMG_3504e

The process of going from a roughed in concrete block wall or Panacor panel to a finished wall surface involves several steps… applying (by spray) and smoothing out several layers of concrete (aka shotcrete or plaster).  On the block walls of the first floor, several of the guys were working to apply finishing guides to the walls.  These guides represent the correct thickness of concrete needed to insure that after the initial layer is applied, the walls are straight and plumb.  First small squares are affixed to multiple points on the wall using a plumb line.  Then these points are connected with a raised line of mortar to form a vertical line.  When the concrete is sprayed on, the guides will make is easy for them to finish the entire wall surface so it is flat and plumb.

IMG_3495e IMG_3494eIMG_3493e

Much time was spent on the framing of the lower roof which covers the front entry, the carport and the terrace by the pool.  After some head scratching and working with the roof plan on the computer to determine some key measurements, the framing was mostly completed and is looking very nice.

IMG_3490eIMG_3503eIMG_3491e

The electricians were on site for most of the week working to complete the network of conduit lines running all around the house.  The photograph below shows the main electrical panel.

IMG_3498e

Here you can see the conduit for the electric lines to be located in some of the cabinetry of the kitchen

Here you can see the conduit for the electric lines to be located in some of the cabinetry of the kitchen

Also, the concrete floor of the carport was poured as seen in the overhead shot below.

IMG_0362e

Overall view of the house at the end of week 11.

Overall view of the house at the end of week 11.

Building our House – Week 10

It amazes me how much progress has been made on the house in just 10 weeks!  Marvin and his crew are working very hard and last week was no exception.  The concrete floor on the other (kitchen) side of the house was completed.

Pouring the balance of the second floor

Pouring the balance of the second floor

Back on the other side of the house, some of the Panacor panels were put into place within the steel frames of the walls.  The panels are placed over and attached to the re-bar anchors sticking up out of the concrete floor.  Then the panels are stitched to each other with wire and also fastened to the top structural member.

The Panacor foam panels are starting to go in the walls of the second floor guest suite.

IMG_0318e

Here you can also see a portion of the stairway being formed.

Once the concrete floor on the kitchen side of the house had set up sufficiently, work began to frame the walls.

IMG_0313e

The steel framing is being welded together.

IMG_0314eIMG_0317e

IMG_0320e

In the photos above, you can also see that the remaining crown beam that runs along the top of the block walls has been formed and poured.  The other addition this week was the fabrication and installation of most of the steel beams that will support the roof over the terrace around the swimming pool.  You can see them in the photographs above and a closer view is shown below.

IMG_0305e

IMG_0309e

This is looking down on the entryway to the front door.

IMG_0307e

This is where the other stairway will go (to the guest bedroom and study above the kitchen and bodega). Underneath this stairway will be a small pantry off the kitchen.

IMG_0303e

Here the guys are working on the stairway to the guest suite.

IMG_0323e

Hasta la proxima semana….Until next week!

Building our House – Week 9

Onward and upward…work has started on the structure of the second floor.  Rather than using concrete block as for the first floor, the second floor walls will be constructed using a steel frame and Styrofoam panels, which are subsequently sprayed with a concrete layer.  The final result will look the same as the concrete block, but is quite a bit lighter weight and does provide some insulating qualities.  The photographs below shows the steel framing being erected on the left side of the house.

IMG_3451e IMG_3452eIMG_3462e

Below is a photograph of the Styrofoam panels known as Panacor.  As you can imagine, building with these panels is much quicker than with traditional concrete block.  Installing electrical and plumbing lines inside these walls is simply a matter of cutting a channel in the foam and fishing the conduit or tubing behind the wire mesh before the concrete is sprayed on.

IMG_3454e

The pool equipment room walls were built with concrete block and a concrete roof was poured.  I think the pool pump and filter could withstand a nuclear holocaust in there.

IMG_3455e

Over on the right side of the house, the crown beam and floor have been formed and is just about ready for concrete.  A ramp was built for the guys to bring concrete up in wheel barrows.

IMG_3477e

This is the temporary support framing under the second floor above the kitchen area.

This is the temporary support framing under the second floor above the kitchen area.

This coming week should be interesting as the second floor walls start to take shape with the Panelcor panels being installed.

 

Building our House – Week 8

Activity over this last week was concentrated mostly on getting one half of the second floor concrete poured, as well as building the walls of the pool.

Upper section of the pool walls are formed and ready for concrete.  In the background the forming of the crown beam be seen on the house.

Upper section of the pool walls are formed and ready for concrete. In the background the forming of the crown beam be seen on the house.

The left section of the house is formed and ready to pour the concrete floor and crown beams

The left section of the house is formed and ready to pour the concrete floor and crown beams

IMG_3442e

Routing of the supply and suction lines from the pool to the pool equipment room

Routing of the supply and suction lines from the pool to the pool equipment room

This is the beginning of the pool equipment room which is dug into the front of the plantel

This is the beginning of the pool equipment room which is dug into the front of the plantel

The pool walls have been poured.

The pool walls have been poured.

IMG_3445e

Check out this short video of the workers moving concrete up to the second floor.

The second floor concrete is poured and forms have been removed.

The second floor concrete is poured and forms have been removed.

Here are a couple of our wildlife friends that visited us this week at our rental house.

A fiery-billed aracari

A fiery-billed aracari

A green iguana in the tree - to keep away from the dogs!

A green iguana in the tree – to keep away from the dogs!

Building our House – Week 7

Wow, things are really moving along quickly!  Week 7 was a busy and productive one, so there are many things to show you.  The last of the concrete columns within the first floor walls was completed and the remaining re-bar of the crown beam was put into place.  Then work started on installing the steel beams that support the concrete floor of the second level.

(As a reminder, you may click on any of the photos in the blog to see an enlarged version)

Steel beams going in to support the second floor.

Steel beams being installed for support of the second floor.

Steel support structure for the floor of the second level

Steel support structure for the floor of the second level

All of the re-bar for the crown beams has been put in place

All of the re-bar for the crown beams has been put in place

On top of the steel beams, a zinc sheeting is put down upon which the concrete floor will be poured.

Second floor decking being put in place

Second floor decking being put in place

The second floor decking above the kitchen area

The second floor decking above the kitchen area

IMG_3408e

Before pouring the concrete for the crown beams and the second floor, the plumbing and electrical conduit is run up through the floor as shown in the photograph above and below.

A view under the deck of the second floor guest suite bathroom of the plumbing lines.

A view under the deck of the second floor guest suite bathroom of the plumbing lines.

Framing of a master bath window

Framing of a master bath window

Marvin Montoya and his team of guys are doing a great job.  Everyone seems to enjoy what they are doing – always having fun, joking around or singing.  They know how to build a quality home and are really working hard to make it happen.  Costa Rican men are generally not the biggest guys, but they sure are strong.  For instance, the other day when the delivery truck came with a load of materials, including 70 110-pound sacks of cement, they unloaded it like it was nothing.  During the week, some of the crew lives on site – in very modest accommodations.  They have a small “house” with some bunk-beds built in and a small kitchen with a sink, gas cook top and a refrigerator.  Outside there is a shower and an outhouse.

Here is the kitchen sink and shower for the workers next to their quarters

Here is the kitchen sink and shower for the workers next to their quarters

El Baño

El Baño nestled in a private, shady location among the trees

Much progress has also been made on one of my favorite things… the pool!  The concrete floor was poured and the walls started.  Of course one needs a sheltered place that is out of the way to locate the pool equipment, mainly the pump and filter.  We decided to put it at the front of the plantel (building site) dug down into the earth, so it will be hidden.

The pool is taking shape

The pool is taking shape

The pool equipment room is dug

The pool equipment room is being dug here at the front edge of the plantel.

A view across the pool looking at the first floor master suite

A view across the pool looking at the first floor master suite

We have also started to look at some finishes, such as floor tile.  There are a massive number to choose from, but we managed to find one that we really like for use in the majority of the house.  It’s a porcelain tile with a nice natural stone pattern and texture, so it will not be slippery or show the dirt much.  For the bathrooms, we plan to select something different.

This is the primary floor tile we are using through most of the house.

This is the primary floor tile we are using through most of the house.

A view into the carport

A view into the carport

In the carport, above is the floor structure of the guest bathroom on the second floor.

In the carport, above is the floor structure of the guest bathroom on the second floor.

Construction of a circular column...re-bar reinforcement inside the white plastic form.

Construction of a circular column…looking down at the re-bar reinforcement inside the white plastic form. Ready for concrete.

View of the house at the end of week 7.

View of the house at the end of week 7.

On this beautiful day as I sit at the computer putting this blog post together, this is the view I have to look at out my window….not bad, huh!!!

IMG_3430e