Wednesday, August 31, 2011

House Foundation–a Continuation


After what was to me a  l o n g  hiatus of three weeks, Demetrio and Ruben were back Monday morning to do the next phase of the foundation. As an aside, I’d like to point out that not only are houses built to last generations here, they are fire proof. It would indeed be quite hard to set fire to cement walls built on this kind of foundation. We have a Fire Department here in Tequisquiapan. They are usually called upon to extinguish bush fires. Or at times, to provide First Aid. Although there are no known earthquakes in this area, if there were, I’m ready to bet that no damages would be reported, so solid are houses and buildings in general.

Back to foundation details. Over the mamposteo (see previous post) the cadena is erected. First a metal armature is anchored to the existing castillos with metal wire.

Here’s what it looks like-

Building cadena under walls 004

The castillo is the upright metal column, the cadena is the horizontal armature. Later on, the cadena will be first encased in concrete, then later, so will the castillos after the walls have been erected. It will not only connect them together, but will set them up for eons. 

On the next photo, Ruben is tying the lower armature to the castillos with a tool made especially for the purpose.

Building cadena under walls 019-1



This tool is made of a half-inch rebar fashioned as a handle on one end and a pointed end at the other, which is slipped in a wire loop to tighten one armature to the other.

Together with a large wire cutter to cut the armature to the desired size and shape so as to make it possible to insert within the castillo base, these are the relatively simple tools that are used to prepare the armature. Here are the tools of the trade-

Building cadena under walls 022-1

the cutter

and over it,

the tightener.




Next, some planks that have been covered with used motor oil to prevent the concrete from sticking to it are assembled to make the form. Here, Demetrio is covering a plank with the black stuff-

Building cadena under walls 018-1

To ensure that the form will be both level and properly aligned, twine is used to provide a visual aid as shown on the first photo. Click on it for a larger view.

Cadena and tools 001


Here Demetrio is checking that the 10 cm depth is respected once concrete has been poured.

It’s quite interesting how masons manufacture tools to make checks on their measurements as they go along.

Demetrio cut a piece of the metal used to make the armature seen on the left of the photo above to his specifications. One end measures 10 cm. from the transversal part cut short on each side, the other a bit longer to serve as a handle. Voilà !

Here’s the finished tool-

Cadena and tools 003

Short pieces of wood all cut to identical length serve to keep the desired distance between the planks, which are held tightly together with wire.

Cadena and tools 002

Building cadena under walls 009

The next photo illustrates how my error in forgetting to get the PVC tube installation that will serve to evacuate the waste water from the kitchen sink was not fatal, after all. The tubes that will serve from the toilet to the septic tank, and those from the bath and bathroom lavabo were correctly inserted in the mamposteo. The one for the kitchen was destined to be forgotten throughout by yours truly, it seems. A bit sheepish today, I asked Demetrio whether we (the royal ‘we’, I suppose…) would have a problem installing it later. No problem! he said. The concrete is still soft enough to figure out where the proper opening in the armature is and we’ll dig out the concrete, put the tube through, then seal it with mortar. It was done, to my blessed relief.

Tubo de la cocina 006-1





Here below is a bunch of pieces cut from wood that up North, we’d consider as of little to zero value, but here are put to serviceable use.

If ever one was exposed to the wastefulness of our ways in our world of plenty up North, it would be me. I’m experiencing a lesson in humility that I had not met since my childhood days of listening to tales of my ancestors braving the challenges of building a life in the woods and wilderness of the Great North, new to them, but not to the early inhabitants of this continent. But that’s a tale that will have to wait.

Building cadena under walls 007

Finally, here are my esteemed workers. Demetrio on the left is a very experienced albanil (mason), lower down to the right is Ruben, his ayudante (helper).

At last, I have found reliable workers who not only show up but remain on the job, even if only 2 weeks out of the month, without being swayed by outside influences. To my great relief.

I cannot here ignore the wonderful help from Yvonne. She’s having her house (muy grande) built and when my former workers defected, she generously offered two of her 8 or 9 workers for the time that I could afford per month (2 weeks). I can honestly state that without that providential assistance, my casita would require much longer to be built.

Demetrio would be the gentlest of souls I’ve ever encountered in my life, if it weren’t for Ruben who could serve as the embodiment of gentleness.

Building cadena under walls 023-1

Building cadena under walls 016-1

I am so blessed having such great friends far away from ‘home’ in what I now consider to be my final ‘home’.

May they reap twice in life’s richness what they all so generously and smilingly provide.

As usual, readers’ comment will be most welcome.


Anonymous said...

Gigi, glad you are doing well. What happened to Mindy? So sad. How is Queenie, Tasha and Tina? It's good to see you are still getting your foundation done. Sure miss you here. Call sometime. Or do you have a mailing address? Love and miss you, Becky, Monty and of course, Princess

Anonymous said...

I am glad things are on track for your home and that you have such good people helping you.

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