Friday, December 21, 2012

December Review and Update

It is now late December and Christmas is just around the corner. The crews will work straight through the Christmas season as they do not celebrate this. I will take one day off, December 25, and spend time with Linda and some friends here. We will actually have a Canadian Christmas here with a few other Canadian expats.

Progress has been steady since our return from home leave. Most of the work has been on the inside of the building and we have moved to the outside beginning work on the back filling and grading of the courtyard and boundary walls around the property. In Canada we use fences to define our property and provide us with some level of privacy. Here brick boundary walls are used for this purpose as they also provide a certain level of security. The building is coming together and looking much more like the artist's conception pictures on the original brochures.

Progress since the festival break has been significant. The wheel chair ramp decking is installed, the glass on the two top skylights has been installed, the brick wall that is both the east boundary wall and the outside wall of the wheel chair ramp on the east has been completed.

Also the south retaining wall that forms the boundary between the courtyard and the children's playground has also been constructed to the finished grade level of the courtyard.

The exterior office walls are finished with stone cladding. This section, the north face, is now complete and the east face was completed within three days of the north face completion.

Most inside walls will be framed with steel studs, similar to what is used in North America, just a thinner metal, then insulated with Styrofoam and clad with Shera board, a concrete fiber based board.

All brick finishes are to be finished with Surkhi Pointing and then painted with a clear silicone paint. these workers are cleaning and preparing the bricks for the surkhi pointing application. (Surkhi pointing is similar to grouting tiles but different.)

Choosing the various paint colours for the different areas. Sixteen different colour samples were chosen and painted on the stairwell wall from which the desired colours were chosen. This will be the last wall painted as this is now our approved template.

Work continues to progress on the wheel chair ramp. The outside wall of the ramp is constructed of steel framing and sheeting. (We wouldn't want people running off the edge.) Here you can see the posts, and then with the metal sheeting on the outside. The inside of the posts will also be clad in steel sheeting, and then both sides get painted to match the window frames.

The stair treads and risers are covered in marble and as of this week, all marble on the stairs has been laid. Next is the marble baseboard on the stairs.

This is the north boundary wall which creates a barrier between the road and the building. The width of this road has been disputed from the beginning and still with no final resolution to this point. We are constructing the wall in accordance with the agreed upon maximum width the road shall become so we do not need to relocate the wall in the future. We expect resolution on the matter before the end of the project which means some people along the road will need to deconstruct parts of buildings and boundary walls.

Blessings to all as you enter the Christmas season. We will end up taking just one day for Christmas here. The government does recognize Christmas as it also recognizes significant days for other faiths, for it wishes to be accommodating to all faiths. This is part of being a country that has chosen to be known as a secular based country and government.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you all have significant time with family as you remember and celebrate.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Return to Nepal

We had a wonderful trip home to Canada for three weeks and arrived back in much warmer Kathmandu on November 13. It was good to see family and friends, but most special to see my mother and celebrate her 89th birthday. We went to Calgary to check in with the tenants in our condo and to see the Samaritan's Purse Canada office. One step out of the airport door was enough to tell us that we were much happier with the climate in Kathmandu.

 Just as a recap, these two pictures show the progress on the project up to October 19th, my last day on site before heading back to Canada.

As I mentioned, we arrived back in Kathmandu on November 13, and on the 14th I went to the project site to see what progress had been made. It was to be three weeks of minimal work as the country was in their main festival season, so all the workers wanted to go home to their families.
Progress was made though as a good number of the workers returned to work for the days between the two festivals. Below is a picture from November 14.
The brick work on the outside walls of the first floor has been completed.
50% of the roof tiles have been placed.
90% of the interior brick walls have been completed.
75% of the steel studs have been installed.
The steel work on the wheel chair ramp is complete.
Great progress has been made on the plumbing, electrical, putty work, and other steel fabrication work.

Steel stud work and brick work forming the plumbing chase between floors.

Steel stud work in the kitchen area

Finished roof tile work in this area and some glass has been installed on one of the sky lights.

Continuing progress on roofing tiles and plaster work on the terrace parapet wall coping.
Overall, the progress during the three weeks I was away from site has been good. The contractor believes they are on track to finish on schedule.

It is good to be back in Kathmandu. The weather is cooling off somewhat and even though the sun shines hot during the day and the temperatures are still in the mid 20's, I find it necessary to wear a vest for most of the day.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dashain Festival Break

We have been in Nepal for over one year now and the big festival season has started again. Festivals happen throughout the year but the two major festivals, Dashain and Tihar, take place in October/November. It was decided that we would take a break during this year's festival season and return to Canada for a short home leave. So we leave the mystical city of Kathmandu on October 20 for a three week break, returning to Kathmandu on November 13.

We have made very significant progress on the project since my last post, but first a little recap.

 This is what the site looked like on November 28, 2011, just 11 months back.We had our daily visit by cows and goats coming to graze on the grass. They have not forgotten the place but no longer have any grass to find.
 And this is what the site looked like on October 19, 2012. This was the last day on site for me before leaving Nepal for our home leave. A few things will change while I am away. Upon my return we will have a hard push to the finish line. Scheduled completion is January 28 and we have to add to that extra days due to bandhas (national strikes) that have been called for various reasons; mostly political. So that puts us into February for an expected completion.

West side 1st floor rooms

Terrace level -outside wall of stair well.
The outside walls will all be insulated with Styrofoam.

Brickwork on the terrace level is 85% complete and on the west side brick work is completed. The stairwell brick work is 75% complete and on the east side ground floor it is 90% complete. Brick work on the 1st floor east side has now begun.

 Stairwell brick work and roofing work

Stairwell roof truss work

 Roof Plywood work. Plywood is primed with water resistant primer.

 It is then painted with tow  coats of black japan paint for water sealing. It is then covered with poly, strips or wood applied for hanging the roof tiles which are then also painted with black japan paint.

 Finally the roofing tiles are place and secured.

 Skylight bases were constructed and plastered with fine punning, and at the end of the week two of the skylight frames were installed.

Plaster work on the wall coping continues with a smooth finish coat at the end.

At the same time the crew plastered the west facing wall of the multipurpose hall and large client rooms and terrace.

This is the finished look. Up close you can see a grid pattern to help break up the wall a bit. The white will slowly disappear as the plaster dries. It will remain as a light grey colour.

This is the building as the neighbours will see it.

 The wheel chair ramp construction is progressing well with the metal decking now being applied. This metal is all wrestled into place by manual labour. No machines were used in the execution of this work.

 Metal studs are being installed in the walls which will later be covered by a fibrous concrete board.

Some walls will be clad with stone work and that process has also begun. This room will receive stone cladding on three sides.

Ground floor flooring was concreted this past week. The multipurpose hall was completed in three sections with what is promising to be a very fine trowel finish.

 We also concreted the physio room floor and one client room floor. That completes 95% of the concrete flooring.

I leave you with this picture taken on the morning of October 19, my last day on site before home leave. It is taken from the south view.