Above: our mural artist Maria, whom we met in Bali a year ago, came back from St. Petersburg, Russia especially to create murals on our walls.
We first started working on the interior in bits and pieces, in different rooms, and it seemed too random until I told Wayan (my builder) that we wanted to move in to the residential side of the structure by the end of February. After that the majority of the workers switched their focus.
The floor is a dark gray but you wouldn’t know it from the mud that has been tracked all over it. To the right are two walls: both will have the plant mural seen above.
As a side note, the temporary bamboo support is just one of dozens of McGyver techniques the Indonesian people use when faced with extemporaneous situations.
There is a critical transition point when constructing a building. It’s the moment when you go from completing the underlying structure, to beginning to finish off each and every room with everything from paint to power outlets.
With a limited crew you must complete the structure before beginning on the finishes. With a sizable crew, or even multiple crews, you can start on the finishes with one crew while the construction crew works on the roof, for example.
So that’s what we have here. The brick and plaster finishers are able to add shower tile to any completed, concrete-plastered wall while construction is still underway.
I didn’t expect this development as my previous experience has been with smaller crews. And with the materials I used in the USA, primarily a wood stud structure, it’s mandatory to get the roof on and protect the wood from the weather before you get going with finishes.
But here in Indonesia we can have large crews at very reasonable labor costs per worker. In addition, the floors are concrete, which means rain won’t impact certain kinds of finishing work going on under a covered floor.
So while many aspects of the construction process here are labor intensive, there are some efficiencies when the building gets to a certain state.
The bottom line is that when you start to see ceramic tile arriving at your building, you should know that you’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The light may be fuzzy or cloudy and even a bit unsettling, as a new set of decisions come into play. But it’s a light nevertheless. You are emerging from the mud and the darkness — and splattering, wet concrete falling off a freshly poured roof.
In the building trade the word finishes refers to aspects of the structure that remain visible once construction is completed.
For months and months everything that you see at a construction site: steel, pipes, wires, formwork, etc will become invisible as the structure “matures” and gets a cosmetic makeover.
As a client of a builder it’s very exciting to see the start of finishing elements such as plastered walls etc because then you know there’s light at the end of the $ tunnel.
One trend in finishing a building is to leave certain rough elements such as brick work uncovered. We are going to experiment a bit and have some painted brick in a stairway, for example. And our ceilings will not have gypsum board: just smooth concrete.
The brick and plastering team works as a unit, similar to the building crew.