It’s more than a month since I last wrote and I wish I could say there was a month’s worth of visible progress to see.  Sadly, that is not the case.  When anyone asks me how the building is progressing, I have only one response; ‘slowly’.

We definitely did not anticipate how long the site preparation would take and adding that to the  ponderous process of getting permission to demolish and then getting the plans approved and passed, more than a year has passed since buying the site and we have little more to show for it than a footprint.

Exacerbating the situation is the weather:  We’re now well into the summer storms and torrential rains.  More than 83 mm of rain fell on the site during one storm alone about 2 weeks ago.  We had anticipated this problem which was why 6 months ago we had naively hoped that the roof might be on before Christmas.  That particular storm delayed the compacting of the soil that had to be done before concrete could be poured and it was days before the engineer felt that the process could begin.

But under the surface of things – literally – quite a lot has happened.  The foundations for the house and garage are finished and a lot of   attention has been paid to waterproofing.  Our consulting engineer is proving to be a stickler for detail and although it can seem frustrating at times, I know in the end I’ll be grateful for the attention to detail he’s shown so far.  With so much excavating and backfilling we need to have confidence in our damp-proofing.

The electricians have been on site to make provision for conduits that will run under the concrete slab of the ground floor so we have had to give careful thought to the position of wall plugs in the downstairs area.

We also had a very welcome visit from our ‘Off Shore Consultant’; an engineer who now lives in Australia.  It was lovely to take someone onto the site who not only just ‘got’ exactly what we’re trying to achieve, but who also asked lots of searching questions, made practical suggestions and with whom we compiled a list of little things to check with Bernard.  Thank you Fred!  You’ll have to visit again when there is a house to see.

Fred; Friend and "Off Shore Consultant!"

Fred; Friend and “Off Shore Consultant!”

The site itself still looks chaotic to me and this is something I find irritating.  It is an awkward site in that it is long, narrow and on a slope.  There is very little storage space for building materials but I can’t help feeling that if they could get further ahead with the driveway and garage, they would create an easy and practical area for piles of sand and stacks of bricks.

There have been a few minor grumbles from ‘neighbour on the left’:  A truck clipped a piece of her electric fence and she objected -with reason – to building sand being dumped in the road.  We’ve managed to sort these issues out without drama.  Every complaint comes with a tagline threat of legal action. It’s not a line of approach to which we’re accustomed….

A few weeks ago I started to feel a little discouraged with the painfully slow process but following a good meeting with Bernard on Friday, my enthusiasm has been renewed and I’m sure that in the New Year we will start to get onto more interesting things.  Builders, contractors and all related services take a month-long break in this country, from mid-December to mid-January, and like many other professions, there is a strong sense of winding down from as early as the end of November.  So we’re putting the building process on a back burner for now and instead giving some thought to other aspects like bathroom and kitchen layout and finishes.

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Checking details

Checking details

At this stage, Mark – the contractor – hopes to get the concrete poured throughout the ground floor of the house and garage and the screeding done.  We have a new foreman on site now.  The original one fell out of a tree.  Fortunately that did not happen on our site.  He is recovering but it seems he will be put on another project once he returns to work.  Now we have Rupert and so far I have felt that he pays close attention to details raised at the site meetings and follows up on them.  He hopes to still be able to make a start on the brickwork of the garage over the next two weeks.  But we’re not holding our breath.