17 April, 2008

It's A Freakin' Three- or Four-Ring Circus

There's times when it seems to be exactly that.

Yesterday was a prime example. We had the palapa being built... We had the "basement" walls being put up... We had the electrician stop by to see what his tasks were going to be for this whole project... We had tile work going on in the kitchen... We had Cody digging and filling soak-aways for rain water... We had house painting going on... We had Abraham with his broken arm giving him a lot of pain, so he eased that by watching Master and Commander... We had a well-pump pressure switch that decided to go south, gunny-bag, TU, on the fritz, break... We had several trips into town for additional tile, nails, screws, bolts, sheetrock, studs, and other stuff that I've forgotten... We had Florencio going to see Dr. Garcia for his badly injured big toe... We had Dianna going to Chetumal, Mexico with Jim and Craig - part shopping trip and part medical. They were all going to see the doctor to have skin problems looked at; all three concerned about skin cancers. Let's see... What else? Oh, I'm sure there were probably at least a half-dozen things I've completely forgotten about.

I guess that's enough for one day.

Here's some photos of the palapa construction going on. They pretty much finished building the structure yesterday. Today should start the spraying of Selignum (wood preservative stuff), followed by the "leaf" or thatch being applied. I've had several folks ask for some detailed information on that, so I'll see if I can get a few shots of just how thatch is tied onto the sticks.
Roof Taking Shape
Almost There
Over-All View of the Structure
So Far, So Good
Looking Like A Roof
Roof is Beginning to Take Final Shape
Virtually everything in it is either screwed into place, lag-bolted, or has threaded rod, washers, and nuts holding it together. No tying wire has been used at all. It's extremely well built. I'm very impressed with the skill, speed and care Florencio and his crew have taken in putting it together.
The Ends Are Complicated
Applying Curved End Sticks
Thin Horizontal Sticks Are Where the Thatch Attaches
Getting the Thatch Sticks Applied
At this stage, the palapa has become a very sturdy structure. There's even torsion-bar-like assemblies in it to prevent rotation and shifting in strong (hurricane) winds. Pretty amazing engineering in a "simple, folk-built" structure.

Now to the basement. Metal studs went up in flash. They were anchored to the concrete beams and colums using Abraham's nail gun. It fires .22 cal. blanks to drive nails into the concrete.

The sheetrock we're using downstairs is "green board" - the same stuff you use in bathrooms and kitchens to prevent water damage to the sheetrock. It's more expensive (quite a bit more) than regular sheetrock, but it should be resistant to any water we might get in the downstairs.
Abraham Oiling the Nail Gun
And Fitting A Piece for the Jamb
One of the other bits going on upstairs is the tiling of the kitchen, bar and bathroom. Here you can see some of the tile work happening in the kitchen. It will be so nice to have actual counter-tops that we can use. The underlayment, called "Plycem" is problematic stuff to have around. It contains asbestos, which was a surprise to everyone, including the folks down at National Hardware. Sometimes it pays to be an inveterate label and documentation reader. It did make me nervous having that stuff exposed though.

To quote the Plycem, Inc. CEO - "We operate under higher standards in the areas of social and environmental responsibility and have created policies and systems of corporate management and handling of risks found in the most advanced companies." (

Uh Huh. I'll be willing to bet that the Plycem used in the States doesn't have asbestos in it. So, asbestos is apparently OK for the third world. Hey, good old capitalism at work. Dump the crap we can't sell at home on the unsuspecting natives. They'll think they're getting good quality stuff man.

Anyway, enough of that soapbox. On with the projects.
Tiling the Kitchen Countertops
All That's Left is Grout in the Morning
Now to the outside. We're getting a nice coat of a terracotta color applied. The same guys as were doing the sheetrock are doing the painting. They can't do more sheetrock till Ozman, the electrician does his thing - and he won't be here till Monday. The columns and beams will get a coat of a sand color for contrast and the decorative blocks will become blue. Magical how that all works, isn't it?
Oh, This is the Way We Paint the House, Paint the House, Paint the House...
This little bugger... The well pump pressure switch, has been driving me crazy for the past two days. It's the little thing that has the curved white tubes going to it. They contain electrical wires. It's supposed to automatically tell the pump when to turn on and off, determined by pressure.

It has all of a sudden, decided it will only work in half-hour increments. Then I have to go out and physically flip the switch to get it to start the pump. I suppose there could be a problem with the air bladder in the tank (the blue thing), but I think the switch is the culprit. I may have to buy a new one.
Pressure Switch Problems

No comments: