Week #24 — Half the roof is done!

An exciting week here in good old Pererenan. We’ve been fortunate to stay ahead of the rainy season and cover half of the building with a roof. The other half is about two weeks away.

In the meantime we have a crew for building brick walls and then plastering them. When needed the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) crew come out and set wires into the brick walls:

They also run water pipes through the walls, as well as prepare the drainage system. Offsite, a windows and door crew are working with aluminum and glass.

Tomorrow we meet with a custom furniture maker and will see whether his prices are affordable.

In a few more days, a (partial) roof

A roof means many things, and with the rainy season approaching it simply means keeping the crew and the interior spaces dry. To be ready for a February opening we need to get ahead of the wet season.

This upcoming roof pouring (of concrete) will also be a ceiling for two guest bedrooms.

Because the building has a partial basement, the roof has two elevations: a lower one for the residential side and a higher one for the two upstairs guest apartments.

Photo: Our foreman Wayan and a worker doing a thumbs-up.

A rooftop bar is planned for guests only. By keeping the future poolside warung (cafe) and the rooftop bar private we don’t need business permits. They are facilities allowed as part of a Pondak Wisata license (a homestay with guest rentals and services).

The breezes that blow across the roof will be a welcome relief from the tropical heat. Having some shade, an ocean breeze, and a freshly made cocktail or beer will be a total delight!

Week #23 — More brick walls, plaster, and form work

There are now a total of four teams that are working daily on the project:

  • Construction crew
  • MEP crew (mechanical, electrical & plumbing)
  • Brick & plaster crew
  • Windows and doors

I am not even certain of the number of people altogether, since I haven’t visited the window and door manufacturer (as usual in Bali the products are custom made). My builder arranged for the quote.

In about five days the final pouring of the residential side of the building will take place, as well as the mezzanine level of the two upstairs guest units. Then a final pour for the guest roof and we will be in great shape!

Week #22 — Staircases, finishing concrete, and more

The structure is changing rapidly now and it’s exciting to see the development on a daily basis. There were months when the progress was like this: holes dug in the ground, mud, then more holes, more mud; concrete and steel going into the holes, then more concrete and steel (don’t forget the mud); and finally a slab of concrete that covered up the holes and… lo and behold — a future parking area/basement.

Now we see brick walls and ceilings being covered with a form of cement plaster that will either go untouched or painted. We see stairs connecting one level to another. We see beams and plywood forms going into place for a flat concrete roof. And an electrical pole going in for our very own electricity.

Things are happening dude.

Applying “plaster” cement

There’s a lot to learn when you are forced to switch what you know about building from the West, to Asia. Here in Indonesia there tends to be teams of workers who all support each other with a set of skills that define the group. For example, builders get the structure physically into place, but they don’t finish walls in order for them to be ready for paint. Another example: laying a concrete floor. In this case the builders get the columns, beams, steel rebar and wire mesh into place. They build wooden forms that will hold the wet concrete in place. Then the floor pouring team arrives and within five hours the floor is poured and most of the evidence of maybe a dozen or more crew members having been on your site is gone.

Currently there are two teams at our site: builders and cement finishers. The cement finishers are doing a good job of trying to get a feel for what kind of end result I want.

To understand the material involved, we need to separate concrete from cement. You use cement to make concrete, by mixing sand, crushed rock and water. Cement is a binder, usually using lime, and the hydrologic cement we use requires water to harden, with the addition of sand.

The “plaster” part of the process is the application of cement to a wall or ceiling in order to make it smooth. When concrete is poured during construction it sometimes adheres to the wooden forms that held it in place, and so small chunks tear away. In addition cement has a different appearance than concrete, as concrete has pebbles and cement has sand. Using a wet sponge on a fresh cement layer as a final “coat” makes the wall or ceiling feel smooth to the touch. Missing chunks can be filled and wall edges can be smoothed out. Depending on the style you’re after it can be appealing to:

  1. leave the surface alone
  2. add wax to shine it up
  3. add a clear coating to make the it stain resistant
  4. or paint / wallpaper the dry, smooth surface

Photo above: plumbing and electrical wiring is installed alongside “finished” cement walls. In this case the walls will enclose a basement room for the electrical panel and backup generator.