20 December, 2011

The Patio Project Moves Along

It's been some time since I showed what's happening with the patio/BBQ/Palapa project - whatever it's called. Anyway, here's some views of what's been happening.

Stepping into the 'way-back machine' (anyone remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman?) This first shot is from September. It shows Carlos hard at work building a column  that will eventually support a concrete table or counter - depending on how we use it at any given time.
Carlos Building a Column
This next photo shows the start (more or less) of actual construction of the palapa in the patio area. Carlos and the boys are carrying the first vertical post for the palapa to be placed in holes that Carlos has already dug. Don't let anyone kid you, this lumber weighs a ton. It took the three of them to lift that log and run to the patio are where they dropped it and rested before placing it upright.
Kane, Carlos and Eddy Bringing The Posts In
Carrying a slightly lighter log, here they come at a fast trot into the patio area.
Carrying In A Post
After catching their breath, then they still must yard each log up into a vertical stance and ensure it goes into the hole.
Hoisting A Post Up
Of course, each post must be oriented vertically - even if the logs themselves are somewhat crooked.
Making Sure They're Vertical
They also need to be centered in each hole. No easy task if the post has to be adjusted.
Centering In The Hole
 Then supports are nailed to each post to ensure they stay vertical, so that the next step, the concrete pour can take place.
Adding Supports
Then the concrete is poured and that's pretty much it for that day as the concrete needs time to set properly. Below you can see all the posts right after the concrete pour.
Posts Concreted In Place
About midway through the pour, I had a flash of an idea. I still had a couple of garden hose hangers waiting to be put to use in our yard. These were made a couple of years ago by our Godson, Isaiel Pech. He's an artistic welder who, given the opportunity, can do some creative things with metal. Anyway I grabbed one and had our caretaker, Cody, dig a hole for it near the patio area.

I had a hunch the guys were going to have some concrete left over that would be just perfect to fill that hole and provide a home for the hose hanger. I think it looks quite nice right there.
Hose Hanger Finally In Place
I also realized that I haven't shown any shots of the completed BBQ area. So, here it is. Carlos got creative and created this free-flowing cover for it. Looks pretty cool.
BBQ Area Almost Finished
I had mentioned Cody. He happened to be working right where the hose hanger was going to be placed. He was moving some black dirt into that area, so it was easy for him to be able to dig the small hole for the hanger. This shot is of him bringing a barrow-full of black dirt into the area.
Cody Bringing In Black Dirt
And, then dumping it in place.
Where The Black Dirt Is Going
Next on the agenda is putting up all the support wood and braces for the palapa. But first, a quick glimpse of a black orchid, which is the national flower of Belize. We have one growing on a tree in our patio area. It's doing amazingly well.
Black Orchid - The National Flower
First up is placing the primary supports that run between each vertical post. The guys placed some scaffolding in the middle of the palapa to help with the work. Here's a shot of Kane up on that while Carlos and his brother, Eddy trim some of the supports.
Kane Up On The Scaffolding
The post is notched out and the end of the support is set in place. Then it's drilled through and a threaded rod with nuts and washers is fitted and tightened to make everything bombproof.
Mounting Primary Supports
As I mentioned, each piece is custom-fitted and trimmed. Here's Carlos and Eddy doing just that. Carlos is very proud of his chain saw. It's noise almost made me homesick for the Northwest.
Carlos Trimming Posts
And, almost as soon as you think it, the rest of the framing goes up. They're fitting the final angled supports to a central round piece of lumber as a focal point for the roof and to provide a nice anchor point after the fact for a lighting fixture under the center of the palapa when it's done.
Adding Top Supports
They work their way around the palapa, mounting more of the supports. Each one is bored and fastened with threaded rod making for a very sturdy structure.
Adding Last Support Poles
Just before they start applying thatch, Carlos went around and trimmed excess wood from each of the supports, making a nice uniform structure.
Carlos Trimming Supports
The final step before thatching is to place the 'tiny sticks' that go horizontally around the palapa. These are what the thatch is actually anchored to. These also are nailed into place and secured with wire around each support.
Adding Horizontal Support Sticks
First, the thatch has to be delivered. This batch came just in the nick of time and took about five minutes to be off-loaded. Thatch is becoming more and more expensive as they have to go further into the bush to get quality thatch. The thatch for this project cost about $500 BZD. This is a relatively small palapa.
Off-Loading Thatch
And, finally, they're ready to begin the thatch operation. Here Carlos is getting a bundle of thatch ready for Kane to hoist into the overhead of the palapa.
Getting Ready to Hoist the First Bundle
Then, once it's hoisted, Kane has to secure it so that he can pull off thatch one at a time and braid them into the structure of the palapa.
Securing The First Bundle
This photo shows Kane working on the first row of thatch. This goes completely around the palapa. It's anchored with wire tied around the thatch and anchored to the supports, making for a very sturdy structure.
Kane Braiding the First Row of Thatch
About two-thirds of the way through the project, we had to go get more thatch. The truck wasn't available so my trusty Isuzu substituted. Here it's being loaded with thatch.
Partially Loaded
Kane is busily tying the fronds of thatch into handy bundles, using lengths of vine as a rope.
Kane Tying A Bundle of Tatch
I think we can cram some more in there. At least Carlos is trying to shove more in. It all fit, so looks are deceiving.
I Think We Can Squeeze In a Few More
Back at the ranch, Kane is once again applying the thatch. Here, he's almost done, working on the very top of the palapa.
Kane Working On the Top Again
Here's a long view of the project showing its relative size compared to the patio area.
The Long View
Kane is all but done in this shot, squeezing a few more bundles into the top area of the palapa.
Kane Finishing the Top
At long last, it's finished. Here Kane is descending the ladder after a hard day's work.
Finished At Last!
Here's a gorgeous view looking up toward the center of the palapa. It's really too bad the thatch doesn't stay this color forever. It's quite nice like this. You can also see the round piece of wood the light will be mounted to.
From the Inside, Looking Up
Just a bit more touching up to do from the inside, to make sure everything is uniform.
Kane Adding Some Finishing Touches
Here's a view from the palapa toward our swimming pool. the floor of the palapa and patio area will be covered either in pavers, flag-stone of some sort, or perhaps concrete. The idea is to allow a seamless transition from the pool deck to the patio and vice versa without needing to put flip-flops or other footwear on.
Inside Looking To the Poo
The next phase of this project will be Carlos casting a concrete pillar and round table in the middle of the palapa, so folks can comfortably sit in chairs around the table and still be sheltered by the palapa. Of course, I'll include a few shots of that piece of the project as well.


JRinSC said...

Wow, that is a great addition to the estate!! I would really, really enjoy having a nice cold drink under that little palapa some day. I hope you enjoy it in the hot days to come.

Thanks for the update...


ps rainy and in the 50's today. Yesterday walked the neighborhood in a t-shirt. Not bad for here the week before Christmas.

Unknown said...

Looks great guys, cant wait to see it in person. Love the interior roof shot. So uniform, neat. See ya Friday.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian and Colleen,

Thanks for the comments. Not only is the palapa cool (in both senses of the word), but it's warmed up enough over the past couple of days that we were in the pool for several hours this afternoon with Denis and Vivien. First time we've gotten in the pool in over a month. Woohoo!


nrogers said...

A truly great blog Dave. I enjoyed the construction of the Palapa as though I was right there watching.

BTW. Merry Christmas

Dave Rider said...

Hi Norm,

Thanks for the nice comment. This has been a fun project for us as well. It's getting close to being finished - the table, electrical, and pavers of some sort - bingo! It's done.

You have a Merry Christmas as well


JRinSC said...


to you and yours...

From the Foster's in S.C.

Dave Rider said...

Merry Christmas Julian and let's hope for a great new year as well!