Building our House – Week 15

OK, so I know you are all wondering what happened to week 14.  Well, it just was not very newsworthy as weeks go, so I didn’t want to bore you with a bunch of filler material.  But now we have just finished week 15 and there are things to show you and talk about…

The lower roof was completely covered with zinc and made ready for the plastic tile.

This is the lower roof section over the entryway and carport.

This is the lower roof section over the entryway and carport.

Here is the roof over the terrace.

Here is the roof over the terrace.

The terrace roof from below.

The terrace roof from below.

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You will also notice that the walls on the second floor have been filled in with the white Styrofoam Panacor panels.

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The upper roof framing was completed and the zinc panels were started to be put down.

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This is the roof area above the living room. This area of the roof has a convection vent which will help keep the house cool by drawing air up through the house and out the roof.

This is the roof area above the living room. This area of the roof has a convection vent which will help keep the house cool by drawing air up through the house and out the roof.

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Soon the crew will start the process of putting the concrete layer (Repello, in Spanish) on the walls to create the finished look.  They use a pumping machine, called a Putzmeister, to spray the mixture onto the walls, making the process much faster than doing it by hand.  The concrete is then smoothed out over the wall.

The Putzmeister - a very fitting name given the noise it makes.

The Putzmeister – a very fitting name given the noise it makes.

Here is a portion of the sacks of Repello that will be needed to finish all the walls of the house.  The product we are using is called Repemax.

Here is a portion of the sacks of Repello that will be needed to finish all the walls of the house. The product we are using is called Repemax.

To make sure the Putzmeister was working as it should, the guys fired it up and did a small area in the master bathroom.

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Building our House – Week 13

This week, since the house has really taken shape, I thought you might enjoy a walk around video to give you a better sense of how the house is going to look.

One of the most important elements of a house in Costa Rica is the roof.  With the large rainfall and strong sun here in the tropics, you can have major problems if your roof is not done correctly.  The priority of this last week was to work on the roof…starting the framing of the upper roof and getting the lower roof framing almost completed.

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The roof will consist of zinc sheets (the wavy sheets of metal) on top of the purlins (the roof framing) and then a plastic roof tile, which are made to look like the Spanish clay tile.  The upper roof will also have a layer of reflective insulation.

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Here you see a portion of the carport roof with the zinc in place.

Here you see a portion of the carport roof with the zinc in place.

Another view of the carport roof.

Another view of the carport roof.

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A propane lines was installed to feed the stove in the kitchen and also the BBQ grill on the terrace.

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Building our House – Week 12

This week was an exciting one because it was time to install the PEX plumbing.  What is PEX, you ask.  PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene and is a plastic tubing used predominantly for domestic water supply piping and radiant heating systems in floors.  The traditional piping used for drinking water in Costa Rica is PVC.  The problem with PVC, especially in concrete construction, is that it is prone to leaks since it is brittle and does not withstand movement within the concrete, especially at the fittings (think earthquakes or even settling).  So, I knew from the beginning that I did not want to use PVC in our house.  PEX is the perfect solution since it’s flexible and uses very few fittings.  Each point of use (sink, shower, toilet, etc) is supplied by dedicated lines from a central manifold, so there are no connections or fittings – other than at each end.  PEX has been used for quite a few years in the US, Canada and Europe, but is definitely uncommon in Costa Rica.  I could not find anyone selling it in the country.  I did find a Canadian plumber in our area who offers PEX installations (he imports all of his materials from Canada), but his quote to do our house was outrageous.  So, I realized that if I was going to use PEX, my only alternative was to import it myself, study up on how to work with it and assist my builder with the installation.

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Routing the hot and cold PEX lines to the manifold location.

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This is where the manifold will be mounted. We’ll cover it with a nice wooden enclosure.

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PEX lines for the second floor are routed below and will be covered when the ceiling is installed.

PEX lines for the second floor are routed below and will be covered when the ceiling is installed.

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Everything went very well.  We installed all the PEX lines throughout the house in one day.  The manifold will be installed once the wall it is to be mounted on gets its finish coat of concrete.  Once the PEX lines were run and buried, the concrete for the floors could be poured.  By the end of this week all of the interior floors and part of the outside terrace had been finished.

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The laundry room with newly poured floor.

The laundry room with newly poured floor.

Work continued on framing the roof…finishing up the lower roof and starting on the upper roof.

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Here you can see the framing of the upper roof being started

Here you can see the framing of the upper roof being started. The steel beams laying across the walls above the living area are there temporarily to provide a work area while constructing the upper walls and roof.

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Upstairs guest suite bathroom.

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Here are drain lines for rain water from the roof.

Here are drain lines for rain water from the roof.

On a side note, today we had a crew come to give some of the trees around the building site a haircut.  As you can see from the photograph below, this really made a tremendous difference in the view to the north.

Tree Trim - before & after