EPISODE 11: PARTIAL COMPLETION OF THE TIMBER FLOOR SLAB, WALLING AND START OF ROOFING
In episode 1, Samson Kaloosi and his wife Delilah decide to sell their good bungalow and build a fabulous maisonette for their dream home. They seek out advice from professionals at a friendly charge. In episode 2, the architect and engineer provide plans and drawings. In episode 3, Samson gets approved plans, BoQs, the schedule of materials and labour. The dream home is estimated at Shs100 million. In episode 4, workmen are recruited and construction starts with the preliminaries. In episode 5, more preliminaries before setting out the building are done. In episode 6, the main house is set out. In episode 7, excavations and the foundation are set. After the excavations and foundation, the walling of the ground floor up to ring beam level is done. In episode 9, the ring beam is constructed. In episode 10, construction of the first floor slab using timber is done.
The characters in the story so far are:
Samson Kaloosi and Delilah Matama Kaloosi, the dream-home owners
Patrick Barugahe the lawyer
Erifaz Nyanzi, Abdul Kizito and Cathy Ankunda, the quantity surveyor, the engineer, and the architect, respectively
George Nsimbi, the foreman and full-time supervisor.
“There are things that are complicated” Abdul Kizito told Samson. “What?” replied Samson, sarcastically voicing that he hardly took anything to be complicated. The engineer told Samson and those who cared to hear that once one squeezes toothpaste out of the paste-tube, it is near-impossible to squeeze it back. “Why are you saying that?” asked Delilah. “Because, madam, now that we used timber for the floor slab and it may rain anytime, we dare not slow the construction process. We must, as soon as possible, construct the walls for the upper floor and the roof to keep away the rains off the timber floor!”
“You should have said that in simpler terms!” laughed off Samson.
Indeed, now that the ground floor slab was in place, it was time to put up walls. Samson and Delilah had long anticipated this from Eridad’s briefing. They had used the schedule of materials Eridad had compiled to purchase all timbers and store them in a covered shade. Here, ‘seasoning’ took place, whereby the unwanted moisture oozed out of the already cut timber in the desired shapes. Cathy, Eridad and Abdul had used several words and phrases to describe the processes, which vocabulary Samson and Delilah found too difficult to grasp: eaves, gable walls and ends, valley (in a house?), rafters, ties, struts, purlins, joists, wall plates and many others. Samson and Delilah, commonly called S&D by the workers, understood then the wisdom of dealing with the professionals, since at least, they were sure of getting what they wanted, even if in ignorance of mere words.
On a Monday morning at the beginning of the month, partial completion of the floor slab was started. In order to avoid costs, it was decided that only the master bedroom would receive another more exquisite finish of a timber floor, referred to by Cathy the architect as parquetry. Since this was to be done during the finishes’ stage, the room was covered with a plastic sheet and a 50mm thin weak concrete mortar was poured. This would be removed at the opportune time. A 50mm-strong concrete mortar was poured on the floors of the three children’s rooms, the corridor and a family room. Cathy explained that at the opportune moment, these floors would receive plastic tiles. “Why not ceramic tiles?” Delilah had asked. “I thought this is the trend” she quietly mused. “No”, replied Cathy emphatically, “We place ceramic tiles in ‘wet areas’ and in places where heavy traffic is expected. They are more costly than the plastic tiles and not necessarily more beautiful!” Indeed, a 400mm concrete screen was poured in the bathroom and over the staircase slab with the intention of completing the flooring with ceramic tiles of Delilah’s and the children’s choice.
Partial completion of the timber floors done, four days later, the construction of external and partition walls to separate the bedrooms, bathrooms and the balcony started.
George Nsimbi the foreman once again strictly used the architectural and structural design drawings at the same time to set out the spaces. He made sue that where the drawings were not coordinated, he had to ask the architect and civil engineer to make the final clarifications. Once again the 230mm load-bearing 230mm walls were erected on the external side while the 150mm and 100mm thick partition walls separated some bedrooms and bathrooms. An internal 230mm-thick load-bearing wall cut along the middle of the house, “to carry most part of the roof,” Cathy explained.
Once again, burnt-clay bricks in size and shape were used. They were similar to those used on the ground floor.
George and his team of builders used sand-cement mortar to join the bricks together, using a mix of 1:3. Once again, the builders used flush joints, whereby the mortar was levelled with the bricks since the walls were to be plastered on either side. The same masons and bricklayers did a better job this time, having acquired more training, care and guidance from the Delilah team.
Openings and corners
Soon, just like was done for the lower floor, the builders had to stop the brickwork at door and window openings, or to change direction at the corners. They used lintels to place above the door openings before continuing with brickwalling. Lintels over the window openings were not needed as the stretched to the ring beam.
Last but not least, the 300 by 200mm concrete ring beam was done, following the same procedure as with the one between the ground and first floors.
In all this walling and ring-beaming, Samson and Delilah again availed workers with tools and equipment. They repeated the good gesture by selling to the workers the tools at a slightly cheaper rate. Both parties agreed, that the builder would buy another one out of his money, if he lost the tool. These were: shovels for mixing the mortar, pointing trowels, mortar boards, spirit levels, metal pegs and lines, mixing boards, hand brushes and bowls of water. Samson had availed all the cement in bags, sands, bags of hydrated lime and clean water. In addition, he had to arrange for enough timbers and eucalyptus poles which were used for scaffolding (erection of temporary stands) to use for climbing and safety as workers build higher.
On the tenth day of the month, four months after starting the foundation, roofing started! Being another day for rejoicing, a goat lost its life and muchomo meat with byenda offals of soup and lots of boiled potatoes, cassava and banana were served, to the joy of everyone.