Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, April 22, 2011

building our house - part 4b - raising the walls

its been a month since we completed the foundation and the stem wall and we prepared to raise the walls.

now enter the experts.
a team of 3 masons(kothanar in tamil), 2 mixers (periyal - the senior man) and 2 lifters (siththal - the assistant) took over the work.

the walls were done in 2 installments of 3 days each separated by our brick making frenzy (where we used up 3 weeks), 39 persons days.
the team was a well oiled machine and it was a delight to watch them at work. a high level of skill combined with an equally good work ethic added with dollops of fun and humour. each day lasted around 8.5 hours with 90 mins for lunch and tea breaks.

at the outset, we undertook this construction on a daily wage basis instead of a building contract. this could have been a risky strategy, as the workmen could ease up the pace and extend the duration of work to maximise their wages.
and we hardly had to push them to get going and one couple of occassions, they worked till 630PM so that they could complete a wall.
our friends nisha and ragu have written about their experiences here.
a couple of reasons for our strategy was:
1. we could not estimate (neither could the mason) the duration of the work given that this was a non-standard house and they were using adobe bricks and mud mortar for the first time.
2. DV has worked earlier with the lead mason and was confident in his abilities and ethics.

there is an added element of ease which mud construction offers as compared to working with cement in terms of dust levels, cleaning up and wastage of mortar.

the actual laying is pretty simple. the skill is maintaining verticality and horizontality of the wall.
always, the corners of the walls would be marked and raised first, then a twine would be drawn across these corners to mark the entire wall edge and then bricks would be laid tangential to this twine.

the mud bricks laid over the stem wall looking neat and precise...

the 3 windows in line (for cross ventilation). the farthest is a second hand wooden window, the center one is  just a simple opening in the wall and the front one is a concrete, ready-made grill window.

adding the large side wall window... an old reused window from DV's shed.

eastside view of the central wall (9feet tall) under construction...

westside view of the same wall post completion...

front views of the house at various stages of completion. the doors are also second-hand.
the net fall from the center to the sides is 2 feet.


Ananthoo said...

hey guys..its coming out jealous..really feel bad Iam not there when all this is happening..its really coming out happy the mason and co are efficient..will hope to come for the 'house warming'..

kpt said...

thanks sir. we too miss you and sumathi. hoping the next house here will be yours to build ;-)

Surio said...

Agree with the others. Feels like I was part of the building myself.

Thank you for keeping us updated in the midst of such hectic activity.....

Hello Karpagam,
Rare to see you posting comments... So, they are even more welcome (and your comments also, Sriram - so don't feel jealous) and keep them coming.

SurveySan said...


nisha said...

The house looks beautiful. So do the trees around the house. Hearty Congratulations to the whole team!