Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Floor Progress

It is now the middle of April. The temperatures are hot enough by 10:00 am that I am looking for shade, somewhere in the mid 20's. The sky is clear, the dust is relentless, the heat is high and wonderful, and the consumption of liquids is massive. What a wonderful season.

The project began in November with the excavation of the footing holes. The fill from these holes was piled at the south end of the project site. Most of this work was done by a backhoe. By the middle of March most of this fill had been removed from this pile and used as back-fill throughout the site. This work was all done by manual labour. You can see the woven baskets the men are using to ferry this earth from the pile to the back-fill area. More earth will be brought in as the excavated earth is not sufficient to complete the back-fill.

The slab contains a great deal of rebar. Most areas have two layers of rebar that is woven together to form a strong slab. The man in the yellow hat is tying the rebar for the stairs which will be concreted at the same time as the floor slab. The other men are working on a sunken slab. This is the area of the washrooms. This is the space for the water and sewer pipes which will be laid after the concreting of the slab. Once laid, the pipes will be covered with sand and an additional cover slab will be poured bringing this area to the same level as the rest of the floor slab.

 The rebar and form work is complete, and the concreting is well underway. I could show pictures of how the mixer and hoist used to mix the concrete and bring it up to this level were assembled, but I won't. I would consider it as being a process without any consideration for personal safety so it is best I not show this practice. Suffice it to say it is daring, and no one was hurt in the process of assembling the machine.
The site looks very messy here. It does not stay this way for too long.
Two sections of the floor were to have a troweled finish. This is a new concept for those on site this day, including the sub-contractor that did the contracting. There was plenty of curiosity throughout the day. However only two people operated the power trowel. The concreting was completed by around 5:00 pm but the troweling continued well into the late evening.

 Concreting of  the first half of the first floor complete, the site was cleaned. As usual jute cloth is placed over the entire slab and kept wet to enable slow curing of the concrete.

Meanwhile work continues on the first floor columns on the west half of the building.

The rebar has been moved to aid in keeping it clean and to get it out of the way, all aiding in cleaning up the site and making it safer to walk around.

The mixer needed to be moved to allow for the digging of the septic tank. It took about 15 men to move the machine, a difficult and challenging task.

Excavating the septic tank was a fully manual labour task. The excavated earth was used for back-fill elsewhere on the site.

The hole, once complete will be roughly 5500mm by 4000mm and 1850mm deep. At least that is the plan at the start of excavation.

But things don't always go as planned. The hole excavation was completed in two days, and a firm base of aggregate and rock dust was laid and tamped by the end of the second day.
That night we experienced a tremendous thunder storm with lots of rain causing the sides of the hole to cave in.
Two days later the hole was again ready for a PCC concrete base, but again that night we had another heavy rainfall causing the walls to cave in again. Now they agreed to shore up the walls before cleaning out the hole and proceeding with the rebar and forms.

 The rebar and forms were installed and the base was concreted. Now the wall forms will be built and concreted.

Meanwhile, with the west side first floor columns complete, work progressed to the form work and rebar work on the first floor slab for that side. The underside of the slab, which will be the ceiling for the meeting hall, will have a honeycomb appearance. Almost like upside down open and empty boxes. This takes time and care to do right. The rebar is extensive, and this pattern allows us to have a clear span room with no pillars in the middle. I have always found it annoying to sit in a conference hall with pillars as they usually block some view for everyone. This will not be the case in this meeting hall.

On a personal note, Linda and I were able to take a short break for Easter, and we traveled to the city of Pokhara. It is west of Kathmandu and a huge tourist centre focusing primarily on trekking around the Annapurna mountains. We saw some fantastic scenery, lots of tourists, and had us an absolutely wonderful time.

These falls are known as the Devis Falls and total drop is over 100 meters, most of which cannot be seen as the drop has been carved out of the limestone rock

That is all for this post. Enjoy.