Monday, May 21, 2012

First Floor Structure Complete

Three quarters the way through May and the weather here has turned quite hot; 30'C and higher most days. Many days are visited by sever thunder storms that usually bring some rain although not always. The rain can be just a short and light shower or a severe down pour accompanied by hail or anything in between. This always creates interesting situations on any construction site anywhere in the world, and it is not different here. Progress continues regardless of the weather though, and that is a good thing.

  With the waffle slab rebar complete, part of the rebar/forming crew moved to building forms for the south half of the first floor west side slab. The remainder of this crew worked on the completion of the waffle slab form work.

This has been a lengthy process with a great deal of rebar and a whole lot of plywood for the forms. Once all the forms are constructed and the rebar is in place, the entire floor is leveled to with 1-2mm.

 As the pictures indicate, safety is looked upon very differently here than in Canada. To date there have been no serious injuries; just the minor cuts and bruises. The workers are very aware of where they are and what they are doing and extremely careful and watchful to insure no accidents happen.

The septic tank has also been completed. The inflow and outflow boxes still need to be constructed but this likely will not happen until the sanitary crew is on site and is ready to install the accompanying pipes. Everyone wants to be sure that elevations of pipes and holes will line up in the end. 
 Form work is complete and now to the rebar. The extensions on the sides are not an extension to the room floor area but rather the base of the pitched roof.
 Here the rebar and form work for the entire west side slab is complete and checked, and now ready for concreting. At the bottom of the picture you can see some of the labourers. It is a daily routine to wash up, actually this is their shower time. They dip the water out of the tanks to wet down and rinse off. Others are doing laundry by hand. And no, the water is not warm. They wait until their lunch time, around 1:00 to 1:30 to do this because the sun is out, the air is hot, and to cool off can be somewhat pleasant. I have probably mentioned this in an earlier blog, but I will state it again; the labourers that work on this project live right on site. It is the contractors responsibility to provide housing for them. So the sleep, eat, clean and work on the site.

One final stage of preparation was required. The floor is concreted at two different levels. The two boxes created by the forms on top of the rebar define the floor areas that are trowel finished. These will be the rooms for the residents. The trowel finish floor is the finished floor that will always be visible.
The other area will be the hallway and terrace. This floor area will be covered by Tera tiles. Once the tiles are installed, the two floors will be the same elevation.

 Thursday, May 17 was not to be a very busy day. The day was set aside for last minute cleaning of the forms, final checks of forms and rebar and any other final preparations for the concreting.

It was a day when the top contractor bosses were on site to see how things progressed. This was not going to be a typical concreting process so curiosity was extremely high, and everyone was a little unsure of how it would actually go. You see, here almost all concrete is mixed on site by large mixers. The ingredients, aggregates, cement, water, are all placed into the mixer by manual labour. The mix is then delivered to the concreting area and distributed with more manual labour. This pour was going to be done with ready mix concrete delivered to site per-mixed by ready mix trucks. The mix would be dumped into a pumper that would deliver the mix to the concreting area. This system has been around for a few years here but is still mostly unheard of.

 The concreting was scheduled to begin at 9:00pm and actually began by 9:30pm. The night time concreting was to aid in avoiding traffic on the ring road in particular which is quite heavy and can cause considerable delays with concrete delivery. Secondly, the country is experiencing numerous country wide strikes as the deadline for the promulgation of the constitution draws near - May 28. These strikes are usually on from 10:00am to 5:00pm. These days they seem to be running from 5:00am to 5:00pm.
 Also, the night air is somewhat cooler allowing for more time to work with the concrete as it will set somewhat slower.

And the temperature will be nicer to work in as well. No one was getting cold as they all stayed in their t-shits.
 Another change was the tools introduce to the concreting crews. Tools like power vibrating screeds that level the concrete and bull floats for finishing the concrete.

Curiosity remained high all night with lots of people observing. Some were observing to insure things were done correctly while other observed for curiosity only. It was a good night.
 Concreting was completed by 2:30am. The rest of the night was spent cleaning up and waiting for the concrete to set enough to allow for power trowel work. This is another tool that is not that familiar yet here but is growing in popularity. Trowel work was completed by 12:30 noon on Friday.

We went all went home at that time to get some sleep.
 The site is always busy with work proceeding in numerous areas. The east side second floor slab was being formed at the same time as final preparations were being made for concreting the west side first floor slab. The form work here is about 80% complete. Next is the rebar work on this slab.

Below is what the building looked like Friday at noon just before I went home. The next step will be to form up the columns for the west side second floor and to install the rebar on the east side second floor slab.

This is what the site looks like today, Monday morning, May 21. The concrete slab poured on Thursday night has been covered with burlap and wet down to keep it wet and cool for slow curing.
 The rebar for the columns on this west side are already being extended in preparation for installing the forms. We will likely concrete these columns by the end of this week.

At present we are waiting for some more rebar so we can do the rebar work on this slab. The rebar was set to arrive on Thursday last week but we have been under strike conditions since Thursday morning and delivery of rebar will need to wait at least until Wednesday this week when the strikes are to come to a brief end before the next one(s) begin.

We should be able to concrete this second floor slab sometime next week if all goes well.