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...
|We continue to clad the walls this week. Used as a verb, one "clads" a wall by putting "cladding", or an exterior layer or treatment, on it. In this case, we continue to drape sheets of nylon mesh fabric down the walls and hand-trowel a cement-rich mud into the mesh. The left side of this photo shows our meshcrete cladding, the right is our wall before treatment. After cladding, we will coat the walls with an elastomeric sealing paint to waterproof them. The paint also contains reflectants to bounce sunlight and heat away from the house.|
|The mesh fabric is draped over the parapet on the top of the wall and down to the foundation. The fabric over the windows will be cut away when we build the window headers and the remaining threads burned away with a torch. The nylon mesh provides the structural support and resistance to cracking that loose nylon fibers do for bagged surface bonding cement mixes, albeit with more uniform distribution of the nylon.|
|This week I have alternated between working on the north and the east walls, depending on which one was out of the wind. The work goes fairly quickly but can be tiring due to the need to work the wet cement into the porous surface of the blocks so it will "key" (adhere) well to the walls. I've probably added an inch to my biceps since starting this job...|
|The east wing of the house contains a small arch which echoes the larger barrel vault arch in the west wing. In this photo taken from the roof of the west wing's barrel vault arch, you can see the smaller arch across the central courtyard which is located over my recording studio. We used the construction of this smaller arch to learn the building techniques we would use in the larger west wing arch.|
|At risk of making an "ash" of myself, I am including this photo of my trash burning area, tucked against one of the house walls to keep it out of the prevailing wind. The point I am unsubtly trying to make is that I can leave a fire burning unattended against my house without worrying about it. If you're building your own house or thinking about it, this is one of the strongest arguments *for* using concrete. Would you feel secure enough to do this with whatever you're building with?|
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