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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Progress Report

 The project is moving along and changes can be seen every day. Some progress can be seen from the outside but much of the daily progress is only noticed only from inside the building.

On the terrace we have been building the perimeter brick (parapet) walls. Once they were completed we poured a concrete cap on top of the bricks that was wider than the bricks (called coping). The next step was to plaster the inside of the terrace walls and then build a plaster baseboard. And finally they built a rain drip guard with plaster on the outside edge of the coping. Soon we will choose the paint colours for the baseboard and terrace walls. The plaster team has been on site for one week now and have almost completed the terrace plaster work.

Building the brick parapet walls around the perimeter of the terrace

Form and rebar work for the coping on top of the brick walls.

                                          Concreting the coping

Coping complete. Big metal frame is the water tank platform being painted at present.

Plaster work in progress

Finished look of plaster work on inside terrace walls

Plastering the face of the skirt roof and building the rain drip.


The metal workers have finally completed the staircase trusses which are now being primed and painted. They have also built the stand for the water tanks (seen in an earlier picture) that is also being primed and painted. A much bigger task for this crew is the construction of the wheel chair ramp. The structure is up and held together with tack welding and now they are working their way around full welding all the joints. In addition, we have some metal supports to build and install in one area that this crew has begun working on and will take about two weeks to complete. Their intention is to all the metal work except the wheel chair ramp cover trusses (seen to the left) by the time the Dashain festival starts which is just two weeks away. It will be a tight schedule for them but certainly doable.

 Basic tools used to cut and shape the metal components.

The President of SDSS payed another visit to the site and we took him, wheel chair and all, through the entire building and even up to the terrace. It is quite a nice view from up there and he was excited to see the landscape from up there.

Trying out the short ramp


I also had a few other visitors to site and have enjoyed giving them all a tour of the building. This visitor however was the best of them all. And to top it all off she took me out for lunch. All in all it made for a great day.

The brick masons are being kept very busy. Currently we have eight masons on site. Four are involved in the fair faced brick work, bricks that are the finished wall appearance, and the other four involved in the local brick work, bricks that will be covered with plaster or other materials. Both teams are working on outside walls as well as inside walls. In addition, the fair faced brick masons also cover exposed concrete columns with bricks.

Fair Faced brick work

Local brick work

The rebar & forming crew has been busy completing the skirt roof sections and forming and concreting the brick wall coping. That work is now complete and they have moved to laying the poly and rebar on the ground floor in preparation for concreting. We have now concreted two sections of the ground floor which then makes room for the brick masons to build more walls.


Final skirt room being formed and concreted.

Kitchen floors ready for concreting

 Ground floor bathroom floor being concreted


 Lobby floor being concreted.

Electricians  are kept busy with running conduit throughout the building. It may at times seem they are far ahead of schedule but in actual fact, in about one month everyone will be waiting for them as they do all the rough wiring in the cavity walls (walls not made of bricks).

The plumbers have been trying to complete a pressure test of the underground lines but have run into a little bit of trouble with their testing equipment. They should have that sorted in a few days. Their rough plumbing under the floors inside the building is complete but they are far from finished yet.

We test the compaction of the ground before concreting to insure there will be no shrinkage. We aim for 95% compaction.

Other notables are as follows;
Original grade is at the bottom of these brick columns and finished grade is at the top of the bricks, a difference of about 1 meter. So that means a good amount of back fill needs to be brought in and compacted before the courtyard can be completed.

This lovely grasshopper was found on site one day.

This shovel was new at the beginning of the project back in November 2011. Picture was taken at end of September 2012. Shovel is still being used daily.

We had a party one evening. It was called a topping out party which basically means the project has reached is maximum height. The party was for two sites; The SDSS site and The BMET site. The project manager there and myself collaborate on many things and work closely with each other. We also both use the same engineering firm. So a good time to have both groups with contractors come together to celebrate.