The General In His Labyrinth Music

April 2010 Update stucco mortar sprayer

Surface bonded concrete block construction is an efficient method for DIY owner/builders. This Stucco sprayer tool from is a great saving of time and labor while applying surface bonding cement and stucco finishes to masonry, straw bale and other alternative construction projects. This stucco sprayer applies stucco, lime plaster and surface bonded cement mix.

I will be testing this stucco tool to apply a new exterior coating to the house this year and will be posting photos on this website during the coming months.

Gimme Shelter!

An Experiment in "Do It Yourself" Home Design and Construction

The Project: A 2,163 square foot house utilizing dry stack concrete block construction with a central courtyard and based on the Spanish colonial-era missions in San Antonio.

The Challenge: Can a forty-something married couple design and build an attractive, efficient and mostly paid-for house while remaining sane, solvent and married? With no actual prior construction experience?

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Newest Photo Page Posted On 4/9/07

About The House: We decided on this particular style after touring some of the missions in San Antonio. These 450 year old buildings are still standing, still functional and exceptionally cool and liveable during the hot summer months in Texas. Thick walls, high ceilings and adequate ventilation all contribute towards this indigenous style of architecture which is heavily influenced by Greek, Italian and Spanish housing in the Mediterranean.

There will be a fountain in the central courtyard, which should keep the core of the house cool. Windows are sited to take advantage of prevailing breezes, which will enter the house, flow across the courtyard where they will be cooled by the fountain, and then on through the house. Thermal chimneys will be sited on the roof, which release the hot air trapped near the high ceilings. The exiting hot air will create a vacuum which will draw heated air in towards the thermal chimneys, thereby allowing the house to breathe and release heat simultaneously. We have so little cold weather here, that we decided to forego the radiant heat in the concrete floors.

We will be staining and etching the concrete flooring instead of using tile. We've seen many examples of stained concrete flooring and are convinced we can achieve the look we want.

The roof is supported by 2x6 joists spaced 16 inches on center. On top of that is a heavy welded wire decking made from cattle fencing panels. On top of that is a substrate of 3/4 inch insulating foam board. Finally, the substrate is topped by two thin shell layers of ferrocement and two layers of an original innovation of ours, meshcrete. The roof will then be sealed with an elastomeric, reflective, waterproof coating.

About Us: We have some remodeling experience with previous homes, but no actual construction experience. We decided at the beginning of this project what our limitations were, and designed the house and the construction method to work within those limits. Basically, if we can do this, almost anyone can who isn't afraid of a few risks and a lot of hard work.

About This Website: This website is tracking the construction of our house in "real time" more or less. New photos are usually published weekly with the highest-numbered page showing what we're working on during the week of publication. We want DIY builders who roughly match our profile to be able to follow our progress to get an approximate answer to their questions about what to expect for the time and labor involved.

Legal Disclaimer Stuff: This website and owner operate under Texas Rules, which means that each individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions. This website is only intended to document our construction, not provide a blueprint for yours. You alone are responsible for your own luck, success and circumstances. Your viewing of Gimme Shelter means you're adult enough to be responsible for your own self. Understood?
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E.M. Kliman, Proprietor.