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!

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