Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pool Project: Week Six

The crew spent most of last week rendering the remaining columns, exterior walls, and the hallway. They also poured the floor for the pump house and added more block. It's well on its way to completion.

We also received an unexpected perk when the guys poured a new slab for our butane tank and water heater.

In the meantime, we placed Amazon orders for patio furniture. We will have a daybed to curl up on (the canopy is removable), plus two matching recliners.

These should be arriving later next month. In the meantime, we will just use some of the chairs we currently have on the porch.

But the real excitement happened on Friday and Saturday. First, they poured the pool deck and applied a tinted, non-skid surface.

Next came the moment we've been waiting for: hoisting the main beam for the structure. Now here's the thing about this beam -- it is constructed of 2" x 8" pressure treated pine. The boards are bolted together to form a 44 foot beam. It's long and it's heavy. And believe it or not, the crew put in place by sheer manpower.

They started by positioning three of the crew on top of the upper cement chain, then the remaining guys lifted the beam up to some other crew members.

Then balanced on the cement cross beams, the guys carried the main beam to its resting place.

Our friends, Colleen and Bruce were at our place while this whole operation was underway. I think all of us held our breath watching this delicate balancing act. Goodness knows I was feeling a bit tense.

When the beam was secured with clamps, we all let out a big cheer and applauded. It was a fine way to end the week.

Much to our surprise, the crew showed up this morning. Normally we all have off on Sundays, but they want to get a jump start on installing the rafters.  

During the rest of this week, we expect the zinc roof to be installed, primer applied to the walls and columns, plus positioning the pool pump in its new house. 

The fun just doesn't end ;)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pool Project: Week Five

Most of the activity this week can be summed up in one word: rendering. This is the process of putting a smooth, final coat of cement on the walls, beams, and columns.

This process is slow going and requires a deft hand to make the cement as smooth as possible. In a way, it's almost an art form. Fortunately for us, the three or four guys on the crew that are doing this work are masters.

In this shot, you can see the final coat on the column and the rough coat on the wall that still needs to be smoothed.

This is the north facing wall of our new hallway. Rendering is done on the exterior; the interior awaits. After that, the glass block will be installed in the opening you see.

Here is the east facing wall of the pool seating area. If you're wondering what those pipes are for, we opted to have two floor drains installed on either side of the seating area. When it rains, and if it blows into the seating area, we can just squegee the water to the drains and out it goes to the pipes, then to a drain field. Once the construction is over, we will put dirt over the pipes and put in some plants. Landscaping is the least of our concerns at the moment.

At this point, I would guess the remaining areas that need to be rendered will be finished up during the coming week.

In addition to all of this cement work, a few other milestones were reached.

The plumbing for the pool was installed and the pump house can now be completed.

We also took delivery of the standing seam metal roof panels and parts. Just as an FYI, this type of roof is called "zinc" in these parts. These panels are 24 gauge, which is the heaviest they come. 

Twenty-three bags of Diamond Brite, which will coat the interior of the pool is ordered. We purchased it through Island Marine in San Pedro. Due to the fact that each bag weighs 80 pounds, the shipment is on a barge making its way to Belize City versus shipping it by the Thunderbolt water taxi. Our contractor will pick it up and deliver it next week.

The 22" x 22" floor tile for the seating area has also been purchased and will be picked up in the coming days.

All in all, another productive, but exhausting week. I've made mention in previous posts about this project with regards to the mental toll something like this endeavor takes. And I would like to take this opportunity to better explain what I mean.

Imagine, if you will, that you live on a quiet, secluded lane. The only sounds that generally reach your ears are the chirping of birds. It's peaceful and relaxing. You and your significant other have your routines and go about your days in rhythm.

Then you get the brilliant idea to do a construction project. No matter how many big DIY projects you've tackled before, no matter how many people share their experience with their respective projects, you may not be fully prepared for the amount of disruption that will happen.

Let's start with the noise. Now intellectually, I knew there would be a lot of banging and the sounds of power tools on a regular basis. What I wasn't prepared for was the volume of the noise and that on some days it is non-stop from about 8 a.m. until at least 5 p.m., six days a week. Trying to do simple tasks inside the house become a challenge, because your brain can't stay focused. I've lost track of the number of nights that I was face planted on my pillow by 7 p.m. That is until some ungodly hour of the morning when my brain jolts awake with some oddball question or concern about where the project is heading.

Then there is the almost constant vigilance with keeping on top of what the crew is doing. Yes, there is a foreman on our site, most of the time. However, no matter how detailed a plan you have, you can't presume that all the members of the crew are literate and understand what needs to be done. I don't mean this in a disparaging way; it's just the reality of the situation. So if one of the guys encounters a new or different element in the building process, they may not ask for more information. Instead, they will do it the way they think it should be done. Now that being said, we have had only a few instances of this happening. But that is mainly due to the fact that David checks on what the crew is doing multiple times a day. If he sees something that looks like it might not be going in the direction we wanted, he will ask about it. Sometimes the guys have a better solution; sometimes our plan is the way to go. So it is a learning experience for both parties, but sometimes more time consuming than one would think.

And let's just chat about the on-the-fly, last minute critical decisions that need to be made. Again, I knew these situations would come up, but they mostly seem to occur late in the day when we barely have two brain cells left. By the time the conversations are held and decisions are made, our heads feel full of dust.

And this brings me to another major adjustment I have had to make. Those of you that have followed this blog for some time know how much I love to cook. I naively thought I would still be able to pull off any number of complicated recipes during this project. Ummm, not so much. Without knowing from one day to the next when the crew will wrap things up, it is almost impossible to make anything that requires exact timing. Now someone smarter than me would probably say, "You idiot! Why not just fire up your slow cooker and be done with it?" And my answer is that I should, but spending time in my kitchen, doing the prep work, stirring, simmering, and meeting the challenges of complicated recipes is a balm for me. But I am learning to adjust to simpler meals for now and we also go out for dinner about once a week. And don't even get me started on trying to keep the house clean.

I would guess that for those of you who have gone through having construction work done, it won't come as a surprise that there will be days when you wonder why the hell you decided to do it. There will be days when you or your partner will get snippy. And you may even entertain the idea of booking the first flight to someplace else and asking to be called when it's all over. 

But you know what? You get through it. We have no regrets. We are fortunate to have a crew that is hard working and takes pride in their craftsmanship. We are farther along than we thought we would be and we know the final result will be superb. 

Onward Ho!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pool Project: Week 4

Well, we are at the halfway point of our estimated finish time and things were hopping last week.

The crew started off the week by nailing together the wood frames for the columns. When the frames were finished, each of the columns were filled with cement.

Some of the crew worked on building the side walls for the hallway, which will be accessed from the back wall of our spare bedroom.

This is a shot of just some of the work area in our yard. Clearly these spaces will need some TLC once the project is over.

More cement work got underway when the foreman cast and poured a slab, which runs from our back door in the kitchen to the edge of the septic tank. And the reason for the slab?

For steps that lead up to an eventual screen door.

And if you look at the back right of this shot, you see one of the hallway walls. The cut out at the top is where glass block will be installed.

With the columns done, it was time to do the framing for the beams (a.k.a. chains) that go around the top of the columns.

 At this stage, my heart was in my throat watching the guys balance on the 10-inch beams, while carrying five gallon buckets of cement. But all of them are so sure-footed, I really didn't need to be concerned.

David wasn't idle while all this work was going on. In addition to consulting/directing some elements of the cement pour and pool plumbing lines, he was hard at work making the first of four stained glass sconces for our seating area.

The week wrapped up yesterday by the crew removing the wood side frames from the beams and casting the upper sections of the three remaining columns, which will eventually support a 40-foot wood beam.

All in all, the construction is way farther along than we expected at this point. The columns and beams will need about a week to 10 days to set, then the rafters and roof can be installed.

In the meantime, there's still the pump house to be built, final polish coats of cement to be applied on walls, steps, and the pool, and the deck area needs to be poured. Oh, and there is also the glass block to be installed in the hallway and wood frames to be constructed for the screens. The guys will not be at a loss for things to do, come tomorrow.

As for us, we are using today to get caught up on household chores, baking bread, and basking in the quietude. Because by this time tomorrow, the cement mixer will be going full force for most of the day.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pool Project: Week Three

Feeling refreshed and relaxed after the three-day Easter break, work commenced bright and early last Monday. The crew quickly hit their stride in doing the block work for the pool.

This was a fairly tedious effort, as each block needs to be placed, filled with cement, and steel placed between the tiers.

After a couple of days, this was the result of their efforts.

It really started to look like an honest to goodness pool!

While all of that work was going on, a couple of the guys placed the block for the back wall of the seating area.

When the block work for the pool was done, the next step was to cast the curved seat and the steps.

We also worked out the arc for the steps leading to the pool from the seating area.

And because there wasn't enough going on, some of the crew began applying the initial skim coat to the outside walls and digging out the area for the pump house.

Just as an FYI, the final cement coat on the walls will not be rough as it appears now. The guys will "polish" it to give it a smooth surface.

By the time the crew wrapped up yesterday evening, this is where things stand with the pool. The seat and stair casting is done and looking mighty fine.

The columns on the back wall of the seating area started to be cast. 

This was a very productive week and it is so cool to see how everything is taking shape right before our eyes. Again, I can not get over how hard the crew works, especially in this heat and humidity. Can you imagine hauling five gallon buckets of cement on your head or shoulder and running to a spot to dump it? Nope, me neither. 

This being Sunday, the crew has the day off. To treat ourselves, there is a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge and a pint of chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer. Tomorrow the craziness begins again. If all goes well, we may have rafters and a roof by this time next week!