Saturday, December 17, 2011

And the project site gets busy and messy

Work on the project site began on November 28th. After three weeks of work we have a site that is filled with activity, lots of big holes, and a big pile of dirt. Working at the site is a team of 25 labourers working at squaring and leveling the foundation holes in preparation for putting down a solid base upon which the foundation pads will be built. Also being worked on is the cutting and bending of all the rebar required for the foundation concrete.

On the bottom of the picture you see the pile of dirt that stands about 2 - 15 feet tall. Most of this was dug and piled there by an excavator. The labourers use pick and shovel to trim the sides of the foundation holes until they are at the correct size and square. Then they level the bottom of the holes and bring them to the correct depth - with +/- 10mm.The holes are then connected by the labourers digging the trenches for the strap beams and tie beams that will bind all the foundation pads together. In the top left corner is a pile of rock dust and a pile of crushed rock used to line the bottom of the holes and provide a solid foundation base. No use working on a sandy foundation. Such a structure just would not stand up very well, especially in a very active earthquake zone.
On the top of the one dirt pile can be seen a slab of concrete that has been cut into 2" squares with tie wire imbedded in square. These will be used to hold the rebar in place until the concrete has been poured and set.
In the top right corner labourers are busy at cutting and bending the rebar to prescribed length and shape for the foundation pads and columns. There are hundred and hundreds of pieces to be bent before pouring concrete can begin. A bit of a closeup can be seen in the pictures below.

Our office is rapidly taking shape. Furniture has arrive, window frames have been installed, and glass has been installed in the window frames as of Dec 16th. That means the breeze will no longer blow through the office and it won't be quite so cold in there. The warmest place still will be the top of the dirt pile when the sun shines. That seems to be the place we sit to have most of our discussions regarding the project progress and technical issues.

 A difficult situation we encountered was mud in the holes. The holes have broken into the top of the water table resulting in water pouring into them. The bottom of most holes is in gravel with some clay mixed in. However, the water coming up is also carrying considerable amounts of silt with it filling the bottoms with a mud slurry, in some places as much as 18" deep. Not at all a good base for the foundation.

Maybe laying down some crushed rock and rock dust will help squeeze the mud to one end of the hole and then out.
Plan 'B' - maybe tamping the base will force the water to the top, seal the water table, dry up the holes and provide a solid foundation.
Well if all else fails go to plan 'C'. Nothing seemed to provide a really good solution. the first project site meeting was held on Friday, and plan 'C' is to place rock on the bottom that will settle on the solid gravel base. The space between the rock will be sealed with rock dust. This will bring the base above the water table preventing any further mud from coming to the surface while at the same time providing a solid base for the foundation.
We have access to the roof of our four story office building from which we have an absolutely wonderful view as can be seen in the following pictures. The first picture of this post showing the project site is also taken from this vantage point providing an excellent birds eye view of all the activity below. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Construction Begins

The formal construction documents were delivered on Wednesday, November 23, 2011. It was a good day and everyone was quite happy. The initial cheque was written out to secure the mobilization on the construction site.
The director of the general contracting company received the cheque after presenting all required documents. The General contractor will be on site around midday of Thursday, November 24/11 to begin site preparations.

 The property was quite wet and overgrown at the early part of September. The rainy season was to have come to an end at the end of August but held on towards the end of October. It did stop raining in time to allow the site to dry up for the November 1 ground breaking ceremony.

Visible on the far side of the property is bush line, as is the overgrown and wet state of the site. The abundance of grass on the site brought numerous cows to the property for grazing
The site was also being well used by others. Piles of gravel, sand and bricks were stored on the site for use on neighbouring construction projects over the past year.

By the end of October the site had been cleared of all materials not belonging to the property, and the site had been cleared in preparation for the ground breaking ceremony.
On the far side is a rock retaining wall that forms the west boundary. The north boundary is defined by the access road for this property. In the NE corner is a steel post. The east boundary goes from this post to the bottom right hand corner of the picture. The south boundary is just north of the gravel pile seen on the left side of the picture.

As mentioned already, the general contractor will be on site as of November 24 to begin site preparations for the construction. The site will become messier and more unfriendly to begin with, and each day will bring changes to the view. Keep posted to see the construction progress.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Final Preparations for Start-up

November 1, 2011 was the day we held the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new building. It was a most wonderful day filled with stories, laughter, encouragement, and many emotions, especially for those who have been involved in pursuing this dream from its earliest beginnings. There were around 300 people in attendance.

The people on the shovel were three patients that represent the various patient groups served by the patient service ministry.

 Later that evening we gathered with the ministry staff for supper. The time was filled with much laughter, a good opportunity to unwind.

Some gifts had been brought from Canada and were handed out. The cross will be placed within the walls during construction. The patient servers were given compasses and torches as they are called here (flashlights to those in North America). It is important that the servers not get lost and can clearly see their way as the patients really have no idea how to find their way around.

The contract document consisted of 72 pages with four copies of the contract for a total of 288 pages. Each page needed to be stamped by the patient service ministry and the contractor, each stamp needed to be initialed, and three pages required signatures.

Both representatives had tired hands when all the stamping and signing was completed.

Four packages of construction drawings, the contract and technical specifications were handed out after the sighing.
 The signing came to a close with the shaking hands. Then it was time for lunch.

The architect and engineering firm for the project has a wonderful cook and she makes the most delicious Dahl Bhat, and she always has a smile.

All in all it was a good day.

The contractor will take possession of the property on November 28/11 with construction to begin by Dec 12 at the latest. This is a very exciting time here as this day has been waited upon for quite some time now - about six years.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Getting Familiar

We have been spending our time here getting familiar with our surroundings and with living in Kathmandu. The rainy season seems to have finally ended, about one month later than usual. It is still quite warm most days although most locals have begun to wear jackets and sweaters as they are feeling cooler than a month ago. Temperatures still get to the low 30's most days but the evenings and nights do seem to be cooling off a bit more.

There are still lots of flowers blooming here. I have been following a beautiful flowering plant and taking daily pictures for the past 4 days. It is changing every day and will likely flower out in the next few days. So no pictures of that to share today but it is a beautiful plant to observe and admire.

 Just some of the flowers in our neighbourhood. We were walking down a lane that led to the various governmental ministry offices and came across some old abandoned relics. The vines have come to make something beautiful out of things that man has discarded.

Today we had a medical team from the Mayo Clinic arrive for a one week tour. They will be providing training for local medical staff. They attended the church service in the morning, enjoyed lunch at the Red Dingo and were then taken to the site of the new facility. Following is a picture of the team at the new property.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A day of exploring

Today was a good do to explore our neighbourhood a bit more. The rain has let up, the clouds have parted and that means the sun was shining. It was really great to feel the warmth (heat) of the sun. The morning was given to a pre-bid site meeting with all bidders, and that went really quite well. The afternoon was set aside for some exploring of shops and coffee shops.

We spotted this young girl waiting with her dad for her sister to come home. She was quite patient, and finally her sister came around the corner and this little girl just lit up with joy.

As we turned the corner towards home we came across these men doing road repairs; all very manual labour but done with great care and precision. These two are doing the final stage of leveling, measuring and packing.

The guys further back are filling the pot holes with rock and brick, pouring liquid tar over them, and then filling the holes with hot asphalt.
All quite the process.

Further down the road, actually rite across the street from us they are constructing a new multilevel building. Today they poured the second floor. Now floors are counted differently here. Ground level is termed as ground level, the first floor above ground level is termed the First Floor, the second above is termed the Second Floor and so on. I had watched over the past days put all the forming and supporting timber in place, and yesterday they tied in the rebar. Today was the day to pour the concrete. Again, it is very intensive manual labour, and men and women work equally here as you will see in the pictures. They worked at this from about 8:00am and finished right about 4:00pm. Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Left on our own

We had our last meal with Bruce, who provided us with a great orientation to life in Kathmandu. He has now gone home.
Last meal with Bruce before he left for home.

The meal was great and the fellowship even better. No earthquake during this meal though.

Linda and I have continued to explore our new neighbourhood and  feeling more comfortable and confident with each outing. I decided to take a walk to the building site from our home to see how far it was and how long it would take to get there, if I could even find it. Well, I did find the site, had to stop a few times just to orientate myself and insure I was heading in the right direction. I walk pretty fast and at my pace it took about half an hour. I made it home in about 25 minutes as I was now sure of the way. I will be able to reduce that time a bit as I stopped numerous times to take pictures.

Road to site 1

Road to site 2

Road to site 3
Road to site 4
As you can tell by the appearance of the road, it was quite wet everywhere. It had rained most of the morning and the sky was just beginning to break up. The site itself was quite wet as well. I did venture to walk through the site and am now so thankful I purchased some sandals that could withstand wet environments.
The boundaries of the property are not totally clear but the east side goes from about the pole in the foreground to just to the left of the gravel piles in the back.

Property from NE corner

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The first days

The City

The People

The Faith
The Traffic


The Recycling Garbage

The weather has been wonderfully warm with bouts of refreshing rain. Four days in we experienced a 6.8 earthquake that had everyone running for safety. We are safe but there was some damage and loss of life in Kathmandu.  These pictures are just a sample of the things that we have been experiencing in the past six days.