Digging deep for structural support

Because the building is approximately twelve meters tall (over 39 feet), we had to dig down to really hard ground in order to set the support columns. At four key locations we’ll have four rebar-enforced concrete columns right next to each other (see below):

At other locations the columns will be grouped into sets of two columns per support.

This is muddy and difficult work. And because these are old rice fields, the soil is soft for a depth of at least three meters. Water rises up out of the holes being dug, the digging blade needs to be cleaned of hardened mud regularly, the hose gets clogged with mud and needs to be whacked with a stick, the machine itself gets pushed from location to location on bamboo shafts…

This is specialized work for a hardened few.


Week #03 – Boundary walls rising high, workers settled in

This week the property began to have vertical dimensions, as some of the walls were constructed to their full height.

It might be hard to visualize in the following video, but the entire property will require at least four feet of fill (perhaps a combination of dirt and limestone). So while the walls currently look ridiculously high, they will seem normal once the fill is in place.

I could have made the walls about 1.5 feet shorter but I want to avoid as much road noise as possible from entering the property, and concrete block walls do a pretty good job at reflecting unwanted sounds.

It’s been interesting to work with the on-site crew. I mostly do hand-waiving in the form of thumbs-up etc due to the language barrier, but Shelly & I did provide them with some home cooked food, an extension cord and a mosquito repellent device. So far everyone seems happy:


Week #02 – Some boundary wall foundations nearly completed

Even with some rain this week the crew accomplished a significant amount of work building foundations for the boundary walls. There’s a total of twelve workers that work seven days a week. I wish I could speak to them more directly, even for something trivial like discussing the weather, but alas there’s a major language barrier between us.

However, it’s so enjoyable to go visit the property each day and see more progress.

We’re getting closer and closer to starting on the building’s foundation. Yeah baby!


Here’s mud in your eye (and everywhere else)

The crew has been busy digging, hauling rocks and building the boundary walls. The weather has been quite nice, that is until yesterday, when the sky opened up and buckets of rain fell.

Of course the concrete will harden regardless of the rain. It’s more that the workers will have to work in fields of mud:

I hope that when you view a photo like the one above you will come to appreciate all of the crazy amount of physical labor that’s involved in building a vacation retreat, or any structure.

And that the beginning of the project is unforgiving when it comes to the creation of mud. Even the thickest of grasses would give way to the constant foot traffic, wheel barrels of heavy rock, etc.

I’ve never been to a work site that didn’t have tons of mud at the earliest stages. Of course I haven’t built in the desert, and so I’m sure there are exceptions.

As you visit a hotel or a retreat and you are flush with clean towels and a sparklingly clean room, surrounded by a manicured landscape and a crystal-clear swimming pool, keep in mind:

the laborers had to slog through the mud for days on end… just for you.


Week #01 – Digging ditches

We are off and running! A small team is on the job, digging out the path for the boundary walls.

Some of the crew is involved in the Ramadan monthly fast in honor of the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad: