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...
|I often get questions about the pace of work. This week's installment of our DIY drama will document today's workload. I'll working by myself while the members of the management team here will be doing whatever it is that management does while work is going on. We'll be continuing our work applying our reinforced stucco layer for the dry stack block walls beginning where the ladder stands and continuing around the northwest corner.|
|Next to questions about the pace of work or whether I've lost my sanity, I get the most questions about our use of nylon mesh fabric as a reinforcement for cement. Here is a bolt of this week's fashion-conscious color, a bilious shade we're calling Soylent Green. Available at fabric departments and shops, this fabric is draped on the walls and then covered with hand-troweled cement to produce a crack-resistant and amazingly strong material we call "meshcrete."|
|This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road as we hand-trowel handfuls of a cement-rich Portland mix onto the walls over the nylon mesh. This layer helps waterproof the walls, provides structural support for the blocks and smooths out the walls very nicely. Note the heavy rubber gloves to guard against lime burns - a constant risk and annoyance when doing this kind of work.|
|This is a "Before" photo of the house just prior to starting work around 11 a.m. after stopping to buy sand and cement.|
|This is the "After" photo taken about 4:30. We've mixed up and applied roughly 600 pounds of cement to the exterior of the house, lugging it up ladders and getting pretty crusty in the process. We are, at this point, halfway around the outside of the house and ready to declare ourselves ready for a bath and cocktail hour. Management agrees so we adjourn for the day.|
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|Next installment: Leaps and Boundaries Click HERE|
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