The final concrete pour for the roof above the guest units was completed today. It was an amazing feeling to be standing 11 meters (33 feet) above the ground, where a year earlier I hired a drone photographer to show me what I saw today with my own eyes.
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.
Construction crews have now built all of the columns for the final ceiling / flat roof. Once the columns are up then the workers start to connect beams from column to column. From there they place bamboo sticks every foot or so to support a plywood base for the concrete pour (in approx. 12 days).
In the meantime the electrical and plumbing crew are hard at work wiring the place up. There have been a few hiccups on the placement of plugs, switches, and even air conditioning units. I will take the responsibility for these problems, as I didn’t force my builder to review the MEP (mechanical, electrical & plumbing) team’s plans. We used plans from my architect, but then I made changes with my builder, and those changes were not properly reviewed. Part of the problem rests with language barriers as well.
Photo: Standing at the future pool and guest walkway, straight ahead. The building shows a large terrace above the bamboo sticks. That will become the landing for entry into the upper two guest apartments. Below that are two apartments as well (each with a loft)
Making changes at this stage is the most economical, as most of the time it involves material that has not been finished. In other words, moving an electrical outlet for example involves ripping some brick and moving the wire, but the finishing coat of plaster and paint has not been applied yet so it’s generally a quick fix.
Each time I arrive on the building site I get a hello and a wave from at least one of the many workers. Usually from quite a few. And when I raise my camera phone I tend to get a thumbs-up reaction, as a friendly imitation of my daily thumbs-up to the workers.
Today one of the workers signaled that he wanted me to photograph him. He had a few friends watching him and so he made an effort to overcome his shyness when appearing in front of a foreigner. I really appreciated his efforts and the photos tell the story:
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.