An Englishman In Isabela Blog #131 – Cross-stitch Construction

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I think the best way to describe the approach to house building here is cross-stitch construction. Whereas in Europe we are accustomed to finishing areas before we switch to new ones, here it seems more common for the workmen to move around. So you rarely see anything completed until many weeks after you would expect. We don’t have a problem with this approach other that it’s nigh on impossible to see what has been created until the very end, a little like the cross-stitch pictures Gina works on when she doesn’t have all the thread colours. So she does some areas of the picture but leaves gaps for when she has the correct colour thread. Nevertheless what is being created looks increasingly exciting.
Our kitchen is not a flat-pack but hand-built by carpenters over a period of several weeks. The granite worktops are now in place and we have checked that the double drainer sink in our kitchen and the single drainer in the dirty kitchen both fit.
Mangligot house awaits the delivery of steels from Manila to complete the full welding of trusses. This will include the completion of the truss structure in the eaves of the roof as well as the addition of diagonal elements to add to the existing vertical elements. However, this means a delay in installing the roofing materials. The height of two of the windows in Mangilgot is under review after we pointed out that when the boards out to the eaves are fitted they will be halfway down the current above-window molding so you won’t be able to see part of it. Yesterday we checked that the roofing structure was level with a spirit level and it was perfect so we know the problem is the positioning of the windows in two cases. The front entrance pillars of Mangligot have now been replaced with stronger concrete and further review of the upper structure of the entrance is underway to ensure it matches the strength of the main walls.
Hyner house roof is almost complete now. Some guttering, ridge capping and edge strips to add or tidy up and then it’s finished. The roofers’ foreman was inspecting their handywork yesterday evening. At least it’s been a little cooler for the past few days as it must be murder doing the roofwork when it’s very hot.

Wall & House Construction Update 24-27 March 2010

Inside the Hyner house tiling of floors is in full swing and the ceiling of the living/dining area is almost complete. Yesterday we chose various lighting components, colours for the base (skirting) boards and doors for the kitchen cupboards. We also inspected the water pumps, grease trap and other bits and pieces they have purchased for the two houses.  Roller garage door is on it’s way, us having decided that grey was the most neutral of the colours on offer.
In contrast, all the lanai and viewing deck steel railings, steel lanai doorframe and spiral staircase railings have now been removed in order to replace them with better materials supplied from Manila following an unsatisfactory inspection. Another architect and an engineer were inspecting the site yesterday again to ensure that the quality of the work was up to standard. They seemed very enthusiastic about our project and were keen to advise some minor changes to trim colours for the base and coving moldings.
The perimeter walls were going through beam and pillar concreting and the electrical works have also been installed for lighting. Driveway and pedestrian entrances are now visible and the wall on the remaining three sides is also moving up to first beam height. We have made the decisions on wall heights and railing span positions for the sides and back. I keep a record of all the materials we are buying for the wall and the advances we give the team for their labour so I can ensure we stay within range of the estimated budget for the work. We have options later when we can vary the balance of hollow block versus railing spans. In fact hollow block is a little misleading as these blocks are filled with concrete during construction. In addition there is a vast amount of steel running through the whole wall and the pillars. There will be two solid concrete beams on the three sides because of the height of the back fill above rice field level and one concrete beam at the front because the road is only slightly lower than the backfill level of our site.