Sunday, August 7, 2011

Elaborating and Latest on Construction


In the post Glitches, I mentioned that I would elaborate further. So here it is. I was pretty happy with Marcelino and Jorge. I had booked them for two weeks a month until December end, the previous site owner who had employed them announcing vociferously that he’d employ other workers rather than give these two the small raise they wanted. In the circumstances, I fully expected that Marcelino and Jorge would respect our agreement as it did appear to me that they would no longer work for the previous employer. However, on the Monday of August 1st, after finishing one week only, they showed up saying that they were going to the other site. The previous owners whose house was already finished had insisted that they had priority as far as urgency was concerned. The workers, not wanting to displease them, agreed to drop the work at my place, thinking that I would welcome them back later. Not so. And I told them why.

I had already ordered the materials for the week’s work and felt pretty incensed at being treated in what I considered a very disrespectful, if not devious, way. Furthermore, if they could be swayed in not keeping to our agreement, I figured that they’d probably do it again. So, regretfully, I let them go and called it quits with them.

Thanks to Yvonne, I got two new workers on Wednesday, Demetrio and Ruben. In three days, they achieved what I had expected Marcelino and Jorge to do in one week. Not a bad decision, after all.

Back to construction.

Holes in the mamposteo were left strategically placed where castillos  (meaning castles or fortresses) would serve to arm the concrete to be poured into them. Here, I’m taking my time in explaining because it is all quite strange to me and I want to convey how different construction is to that of up North. The most obvious ones were the ones at each corner of each room. Others are where windows and doors are to be. Since the roof to come would be a boveda (brick dome ceiling) in each room but the bathroom, the weight of the bricks could upset the vertical integrity of the walls. This in turn may cause cracks in the walls. Not a happy outcome.

Here is a photo that gives an idea of the placement of castillos. You will also notice how the mamposteo is based on the floor plan and will support each and every wall, inside and out. The walls of bricks and cement blocks will be first erected vertically, then tied at both the top and bottom to the castillos, thus solidly anchored horizontally. Vertically then, a form will be built around the open parts of the castillos and concrete will be poured into the forms. I wouldn’t be surprised if my casita lasted as long as the pyramids… And we don’t even get earthquakes or other natural disasters here in the wonderful and safe state of Querétaro!

Castillos 005-1

The next photos show two different types of castillos : this one is prefabricated and referred to as Armex:

Castillos 004-1The next one is made of 4 re-bars (3/8 inch) cut to desired height and around which annillos or rings (which happen to be rectangular…one word fits all) are affixed by the mason with metal wire. Here’s what it looks like. They are sturdier than regular Armex. I’m told that the corners are crucial for integrity of both the walls and the ceiling.

Castillos 020-1








In the case of the holes in the mamposteo, they went pretty deep. The soil had to be excavated until the solid layer of tepetate (calcium carbonate many meters deep) could be encountered. So I had to ask the mason to elevate the bottom of the base to leave about 70 cm. height for anchoring the castillos. Solid planks or whatever could serve to complete a form in which concrete was poured with larger stones added to make a more solid base for the castillos. These forms are removed when the concrete is sufficiently matured. Afterwards, the trench in which the mason works will be filled with soil or tepetate or… whatever material is available and cheap. The photo on the right shows how deep the trench was made to arrive at the solid level of tepetate.

Castillos 014-1Castillos 018-1

Much earlier than I had thought, I ran out of materials. The mortar mix for the stone build-up is 4 parts lime to one part cement. The mix for concrete besides gravel is pure cement and sand. At that rate I ran out of cement pretty quickly.

Here were my costs:

20 bags of cement at $110 each               2200 pesos

25 bags of lime at $35 each                       875 “

1 load of sand                                          650 “

11 varillas (re-bars) at $87 each                 957 “

4 varillas at $89 each (price increase)          356 “

65 kg annillos at $15.96/kg                         958 “

5 kg metal wire at $112/kg                           80 “

9 Armex castillos at $112 each                   1008 “

Manpower 1 week                                    2600 “

Manpower week 2 less 2 days                    1530 “


                                            Total     $11,214 pesos

For ease of reading, I have rounded the amounts.

Since I will return to construction only at the end of August, this should leave me time to make a table that will make the reading of the costs easier to read. 

I also intend to work (I may have said this earlier?) on my other blog, which has been seriously neglected.

1 comment:

RunNRose said...

Hi. I'm glad to know that your house construction is moving right along! Please convert the money to U.S. dollars. You used the dollar sign, but then you talked about pesos. My brain only functions with dollars!
Hope you get the house done before winter sets in! Rose

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