Friday, September 21st, 2018

Isabela House (Construction Log 24) Wall Construction Begins!


A mechanical digger arrived on Thursday afternoon and by the end of the day had created a trench down most of the side of the Mangligot house. On Friday, however, the digger was working down the side of the back yard of the house when it hit some really hard material, almost like concrete except this was a natural deposit of some kind. Work then stopped while the contractor considered the options. On Saturday he called round at our rented house to suggest he could purchase an electric drill (a type that has been used to break concrete on the Water world project) but would need to travel down to Manila as this equipment is not available here. We would purchase it and afterwards we could either retain it for other digging in the lot or sell it and recover much of our initial investment. This could be a cheaper option than hiring equipment although it would mean a lot more manual work to create the trench. And it would take a great deal longer.

Out of curiosity on Friday afternoon I tried to hit the hard material with a pickax but quickly realized that it was a waste of time. However, on Saturday afternoon the solution had changed to hiring a more powerful, larger digger (excavator) and driver for 2000 pesos an hour (up from 850 an hour for the smaller digger). So we shall see how this works out. Otherwise acquiring a powerful electric drill may be the most sensible way around the problem.

As it turned out this was a very good decision. The larger excavator had much more power and cut through the hard deposits very easily. It also created a wider trench. All in all the best solution. In two days (by Tuesday lunchtime) the new digger had completed the rest of the perimeter trench and the local contractor and his team were able to start concreting the footings for the posts and install the prefabricated steel framework. They have already made the cylindrical formers that will be drop down the steelwork and then concrete will be poured into the molds.

Given the drought we have had for many weeks it was amazing to witness how quickly the trench filled with underground water. As a result it was necessary to create little dams with hollow blocks and gravel around each concreted footing to prevent the water entering.

By this afternoon (Wednesday) they had installed the steelwork for wall section posts down the side of Mangligot house and across the back of the garden, so two sides already have steelwork. I counted 17 sections down the side and 15 across the back. Once we have a section fully constructed we can work out the proportions of steel railing versus hollow block wall. Ideally we want railing sections in front of windows and at the back opposite the lanai with solid wall elsewhere.

The team building our wall led by Apong was still working hard when we visited yesterday. By the end of the day they had completed the footings and inserted the pillar steelwork for three sides of the perimeter wall with only the front section remaining. The front wall will have more steel railing elements than the side walls together with driveway and pedestrian gates, the former being slightly inset to make the front more interesting. The pedestrian entrance will have a little roof over it as well.

The underground water gathering in the trenches was being pumped out with the Honda water pump we purchased to overcome the lack of water for our rice fields from the irrigation company. The 15,000 pesos it cost us has proved to be money well spent and constantly comes to our rescue.

The piles of gravil from the trench and deliveries of material for making the concrete make the whole site look like a moonscape but we know that once each component is completed we can quickly complete the backfill and landscape.

Northcon’s senior engineer was visiting the site yesterday morning (waving at us from the viewing deck above the lanai when we first saw him) and showed us various finishing materials for our approval including floor tiles, door and cupboard handles, locks, door stops, and wire baskets. Guttering was starting to appear around the parking/garage and wiring to hold the roof insulation was also being installed prior to fiting the 0.6mm steel roofing panets supplied by Puyat Steel.

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