Friday, March 27, 2015

Elbows and.......!

I'm hoping to have a number of videos on this post because the process of "pouring the concrete" for the second floor was amazing to watch.  This pouring will create the beams around the second story (shown in the photo above leaking concrete), the floor of the second story and the ceiling of the first.  However, the day the "pumper" (not quite what we are used to seeing in the U.S.) arrived, it was being pulled by a truck not too weak to get up our driveway.  The contractor then went to Plan "B", complete the job with men, buckets, wheel barrels and the one cement mixer on site.

In this video you can see the pile of the bags of concrete, all of which will be gone at the end of the day.   A pile of sand and a pile of pebbles will also disappar.

Once the sand, rock and concrete are thoroughly combined together with water in the mixer, a wheel barrel is filled and hauled to the men waiting with buckets.  The buckets are filled and hoisted up from one man to another and dumped.  Jose is watering while this process goes on.

Just behind the man on the ladder is a man holding a machine with long protruding section that is put into the concrete.  This machine is a vibrator and it eliminates any air pockets which would weaken the concrete structure.  We are very impressed with how fit the workers are and how well they work as a team.  It is truly amazing to watch!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Little by Little and Day by Day!

As work continues on the preparation of the second floor for the addition of concrete, we are still seeing lots of re-bar structures, foam cubes and the strips of re-bar & concrete beams that are laid between the foam for structure and support.

Much of the work being done at this point is a balancing act.  Whether on the re-bar & concrete beams or slabs of wood, the men are working second story high with no walls and very little that is wide enough for them to balance.

When finished, the 6" foam boards will completely cover what will be the downstairs ceiling and the second story floor.  Once these preparations are complete, the upstairs floor will be flooded with concrete, vibrated down between the foam boards, between the re-bar beams and into the perimeter re-bared wood forms to eliminate voids. When all the concrete is cured, we will have a very strong structure.

The house is still a maze of supports to maneuver through and, I assume, they will remain until after the poured concrete is hardened.

The amount of re-bar in the concrete is incredible.  This house is going no where!

 Now that the re-bar & concrete supports, and the foam are in place where, the entire area is covered with a mat of squared smaller gauge re-bar to hold it all together.

All the necessary conduit for wiring and electrical has also been extended or added, we hope, for the completion of the second floor.

These two photos show the completion of the prep work required before the second floor can be concreted.

Another view of the prep work!

Our stairs have also been created and we are now able to walk to the second floor to see the progress and the incredible views!

While some of the men are preparing for concreting the second floor, others are laying additional rows of block in areas where there will be no second floor.  These blocks will carry some of the weight of the future metal roof structure.

In the process of preparing for the second floor concreting, forms are also created around the outside edge of the second floor creating large concrete beams.  Forms, forms and more forms!

Our blog has had many sunsets but we also wanted to share a couple of the beautiful sunrises that we also get to experience.

Once again, we end with a spectacular sunset!  Pura Vida!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

A Sunday Walk With Don!

Berlin, Alajuela, San Ramon, Costa Rica

Sunday is the one day of the week Don doesn't have to get up to take Roberto to the finca or go pick him up at noon so we try to do something different.  Last Sunday we decided to take a walk toward Llano Brenes which is east and downhill from here.  Unfortunately, everything is downhill from here and uphill to return.  We have included a little map of our area that Don has created to give you an idea of where we live now, where we went and where we are building on the finca.  Other details have been added, as well, and we are happy to answer any questions.  The shaded area around our new house is our coffee and, as you can see, we are not the only coffee farmers!  Also, there are many more homes in the area but putting everything would only make the map more confusing!

Although parts were steep, it was beautiful and peaceful.  One unusual site along the way was this twisted tree.

Not sure if this was a natural occurrence or if it had some help.

Like most of our walks here, we have a beautiful view of the Pacific and Nicoya Bay.  In the foreground are the small towns that dot the hills around here. Although not easy to see because of the smoky haze from the sugar cane burning, the view is still a site to marvel.

Along the way we discovered that we can see our house that we are  building. If you look very close just above the beige soil, flat area where the grass stem points to a small puff of trees, you may be able to pick it out.  It is quite a distance away, but once the second floor is added, it will be quite visible from this vantage point.

Rolling hills, ever changing cloud formations and distant shores.  There is always something wonderful to see no matter which direction you choose to venture.

Another view of our house being built!

One more interesting tree as we made our way home.  Even though we have no photos, the walk was far from boring.  We met two bulls tied together at the horns being walked up the road by a couple of farmers. The bulls were not very cooperative!  After a bit of concern, they made their way past us and we came upon a cow that another farmer was walking from the other direction.  We stood and watched as everyone took the event in stride.  Just a normal day in Berlin!

PURA VIDA!  Pronounced "Pooda Bida" which means good life!

The Chaos of Creating the Second Floor!

Work has begun on the second floor with the installation of supports and the blocks of Styrofoam that were shown in the Art & Sewing Room in an earlier post.  The supports begin with purchased beams made with concrete and re-bar, some of which is visible above and connected to the concrete.  The Styrofoam is cut to fit and the workers make up similar re-bar beams to use cross-wise giving support to all sides of the foam.  On top of the foam and supportive beams is a thin, re-bar, 5" square mesh.

The rooms are starting to feel like the inside of a house as the ceiling blocks out the blue sky and sunshine.  Fortunately, we have lots of windows and plan skylights in the roof to keep the house bright and feeling like outside.

Each piece of Styrofoam is cut to fit perfectly between the beams.

As you can see here, the process of wood supports and forms continues.  These large supportive beams will be poured at the same time as the upstairs floor with a concrete pumper truck.

With so much support being required, it is becoming difficult to walk inside the house.  There are wood structures everywhere!

Getting through these close set wood supports is a challenge with my backpack on my back.


Don bravely climbed up to give us this view of the Styrofoam from above.  Here you can also see the re-bar that has been extended to help create the second floor.

Although Don wasn't thrilled to climb up for the photos, the workers not only climb up but spend a great deal of their time working at this level. I hope they take a minute to enjoy the incredible view!

Another view from the top looking from the front of the house to the back.

As we've mentioned before, the sunsets here are incredible!  Nothing compares with seeing the beauty in person, however, we keep trying! :)

 Since the sun sets about 6:00 p.m. every evening, invariably Don will drag me from my dinner preparations saying, "You have to see this one!"  I'm looking forward to being able to see the sunrise from my kitchen window and the sunset while eating outside!  

Just before the sun started sending rays through the clouds and showing beautiful colors, it shined on the ocean making it a bright and  glimmering site.

Quickly, the show is over with a final blast of color, and then it goes down!  Back to dinner for me!