Construction Technique

Footer and start of foundation wall.
Footer and start of foundation wall. The top of the footer is just below the existing grade.

Concrete construction is not the norm for homes in the US but it is common place in commercial settings and most of the rest of the world. We build homes with wood because it’s what we have. It’s cheap and we know how to use it. Concrete in Mexico and South America is like wood in the US. It’s cheapest and all the builders know how to use it. Concrete block is durable and impervious to bugs but earthquakes can cause widespread tragedy since block comes down more easily in a tremor.

The typical home here is a post and beam style structure. The shape of the house is made with posts and beams of reinforced concrete. Cement block fill in the gaps. The block and reinforced concrete parts go up side by side. The block walls act as half the form for the posts. A word about words: I’m a civil engineer and civil engineers call posts columns. I once made the mistake of calling a column a post in my structures class. I was nearly laughed to the curb. Despite that I graduated and was offered a post-graduate slot studying structures. I declined. But post and beam is the style of construction and I work with a guy that builds wood homes and it’s easier to type post than column. So I have regressed back to my earlier usage.

Since our lot is sloped and the existing structures are at its peak we are building this site up to match the higher level of the existing bodega/rumpus room. That means our foundation is from four to five feet high and we have to add a lot of fill. We’ve reached a bottleneck in our construction. Fill is highly sought after and expensive. It’s been two days of waiting and it finally arrived today. Rather it started arriving today. It’s 2:48 PM and we have received only 3 of the estimated 8 loads we need. That’s about 40 yards of dirt. Our crew is staying busy building rebar forms for the beams to hold up the ceiling. Other than that we’re moving right along.

Any questions?

Filling the foundation blocks with concrete.
Filling the foundation blocks with concrete. The foundation comes up about 4′ above the existing grade. This is to make it level with the upper side of our lot and keep hurricane waters out of the house. You can see the post waiting to be formed on two sides with wood while two sides are block.
Forms for the cadena or chain. It is a beam that ties the foundation together.
Forms for the cadena or chain. It is a beam that ties the foundation together.
The hole and the foundation.
The hole and the foundation. Long view of the beam or cadena that tops the foundation.
Foundation and some wall. Rebar will be poured reinforced concrete columns.
Foundation and some wall. Rebar will be poured reinforced concrete columns. You can see rebar bent at 90 degrees from the foundation wall into the area where the slab will be located. That rebar will tie the slab to the foundation. The slab will be reinforced with wire mesh.
Filling the hole.
Filling the hole. The back wall shows the wooden forms in place around the posts.
Fill dirt
Fill dirt
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4 thoughts on “Construction Technique”

  1. Hi Susan, will you have a large window in faced to that beautiful landscape beyond which, if I’m not wrong, there is the sea ?

  2. We will have big windows facing the mountains but not the sea. The sea view is to the south and that’s too hot so only a couple small windows for light and ventilation. We can climb to the roof deck and see the sea anytime. Come visit!

  3. We would love to, one day for sure, this year again won’t be a travel
    year :( Lola’s illness, Mathilde’s mother, impossible to travel too far, it will be good to see you and Burt again

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