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? Hmmmmm - let's check in on our Contestants and see how they're doing...
|Uhhhhhhh, yeah, that would be me perched on top of a 2x6 some twenty feet in the air, stapling down metal paneling for the arch of the barrel vault. Good thing I've lost a couple of pounds recently.Our task this week is to get the darn barrel vault framing finished up so we can get the roof wrapped up and get back to working on instead of over terra firma.|
|For DIY builders, concrete has some amazing advantages. Borrowing techniques from the pueblo builders, I often use my hands (still the best tool the human race has ever produced) to mold cement for particular applications like the cement that will hold the metal plates to secure these joists. This is also a much better approach when you're balanced on 2 inches of wood than trying to maneuver a whole bucket of cement. Are we finished with this thing yet?|
|Another spot where using a hand full of cement solved a problem. The bond beam (a reinforced concrete beam) that runs along the top front side of the house isn't supporting the parapet blocks that go on top. A relatively small amount of cement applied where the red arrows indicate builds up the bond beam to the level of the edge of the blocks that the parapet rests on. This will clean up one of my small problem spots along the edge of the roof, part of my chore list this week.|
|While we wait for the cement up top to cure, I decide to mix up a bag of the surface bonding cement we'll be using. I get a lot of questions via e-mail about this part of the dry stack block construction method and have been eager to get a start on it. This test section shows the area a 50 pound bag will cover. I've still got some learning to do on mixing and application techniques (this stuff has marked differences from the cement mixtures I've been using), so this area will be getting a second coat. Remember to water it for the curing process!|
|The senior member of the management team (a Shar Pei) supervising the work crew (that would be me). Yeah, I know, this isn't a construction photo, but any week that involves this much concrete work and heavy lifting means I've been taking a beating and could use a little comic relief - how about you?|
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