An Englishman In Isabela Blog #127 – Concrete Progress

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

……..We made the 2nd progress payment to Northcon today and also made the drive over to Quirino province to visit Gina’s aunt to find out what the situation was with the front doors we ordered before Christmas.
Later in the day we met up with Gina’s brother, Resty, at the construction site to view progress. There seemed to be an army of men working all over the site, probably around 40 including the team that are building our perimeter wall. In the UK that would cost a small fortune but here in the Philippines, where a typical weekly wage is little more than the equivalent of £15, labour is the cheapest part of construction. And this includes skilled labour such as carpenters, roofers, electricians, welders, plumbers, plasterers etc. None of these is expensive to employ here and they are generally grateful for the work.
The Puyat Steel team were pulling more sheets of metal roofing up onto the top of the Hyner house so that just over half is now covered. Northcon have requested more fitters in order to speed up the roof completion so they can move on rapidly with finishing the interior.
Interestingly, though the sun was pointing directly at the side wall of the master bedroom, inside, thanks to the styrofoam insulation panels sandwiched between the concrete, the wall was quite cool. The double glazed windows were warm but not baking hot so again we hope this will mean we do not have to run our air conditioning overmuch but it will be there is we need it.
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of Justin sitting next to his Uncle Resty in the ricefield at the back of our house.

The wall at the front is rising steadlily and we can begin to see the shape and dimensions of our perimeter. As the backfill on which the houses stand will be matched soon by backfill of the remaining area within the perimeter wall, the structure of the wall must allow for both the weight of backfill pushing against it, where it is 1.6 meters above the base ricefield level, as well as drainage runoff for rainwater. So it has to be strong, hence the quantity of concrete and steelwork being used in its construction. There will also be supports at regular intervals to ensure the wall is robust. Externally it will present a barrier which, subject to our final appraisal of the first section completed, will be up to 3 metres in height. The variable of course will be how much steel railing we decide to use to provide viewing points around the house and across the front.

Puyat Steel roof fitters were hard at work halling up more panels of metal roofing tiles. We are using 0.6mm guage which is one of the thickest they do. A signficant proportion of the roof is now covered with the metal roofing on top of insulation sheets.
Only a few windows remain to be installed now, the majority now fitted and awaiting various items of finishing.

Leaning against the wall in our living room was a completely welded security grille, just waiting for painting before being installed. This is for the large windows. It’s a sad reflection on the Philippines that this measure is necessary but better safe than sorry.

In the master bedroom the ceiling panels were now up and they were installing the wooden coving. Floor raising and tiling will follow.

The second security grille was receiving its initial welds.

Standing at the back of the house on the lanai we could see for the first time the window of the movie/playroom. In the initial design this was on the side but we felt that the view from the back would be a great improvement so moved it to that wall.

Today Resty climbed the spiral staircase to experience the view from the viewing deck. The climb is well worth it and I must take some photographs next time to prove it. The viewing deck is identical in size to the lanai below and has railings on all sides.

At the back of the houses the rear perimeter wall was receiving its next stage of construction. Later this week electrical work will start so that we can have lights on some of the pillars as well as corner floodlights for added security, much as we do here in the subdivision where we are renting.

House & Wall Construction 16 March 2010

In Quirino, Gina’s aunt took us over to meet the carpenter/carver who is creating our front doors from narra wood. To say they were quite beautiful would be an understatement. 25,000 pesos (£300) and some of the finest carving we have seen here based on a design we provided. Intially I thought they were much narrower than they should be but I had overlooked the fact that the frame will be added to create a conventional size door. A particularly nice feature in the carving is the top of each door which itself is a flowing set of curves rather than a straight edge. Very attractive. They have promised to deliver the completed doors and door jam on Saturday.
In the Philippines families are large and if you include close friends, very large. Gina has vast numbers of cousins, uncles, aunts, even grandparents thanks to the definition applicable here, not to mention many friends, past classmates etc. So having a house big enough for those many special occasions when everyone gets together is very important to us. Our house will serve not only this purpose but is also practical as our agribusiness centre. It is also important to have space so we can leave certain things up permanently instead of having to take things down again every time we have visitors. So it is really a shared space which we will use to the full just as we did with our house in the UK.
I think myspace must have a problem as every blog I post at the moment is preceded by dots.