Earlier this week they started putting the pieces in place to create the reinforced concrete slab that acts essentially as the ceiling of the ground floor and the floor of the top floor. This slab, which is 25cm (10in) thick, is supported at the edges and around the stairway cavity by 40cm (16in) thick beams, giving us confidence that the house can survive the earthquakes which will inevitably happen.
A key component in the construction of this slab are the Poroton blocks. These are sort of like cinder blocks, but made of clay: strong, with an internal cross structure, like a honeycomb but with mostly rectangular rather than hexagonal cells. Here’s a picture with the block enlarged:
Another thing I like in this photo: it shows our driveway with the olive trees on the side.
In the picture below, they have nearly completed putting the Poroton blocks in place. Soon, the whole layer of rebar and Poroton will be ready to be encased in concrete.
Finally, this picture highlights the stairway cavity and shows how the structural columns are closer together, so this opening doesn’t create an earthquake risk.
(It also shows the olive trees that are to line the path to the front door.)
There has been a lot of progress during the past two days and we have the photos to prove it.
The first step was to start adding the composite panels that form the underlay of the ceiling. They also provide thermal and acoustical insulation. The lower surface is a bit rough, giving some texture to the ceiling. (I thought the ceiling would be plastered, but apparently the paint goes right on this surface.)
Here are pictures of the panels in place, from above and below.
The next step was to start installing the horizontal rebar cages that will tie together the structural columns. In these two pictures, you can see the cages being placed, and the tied into the column rebar and to the beams which are lagged into the connection. These will all be encased in concrete.
Final step for today was to begin installation of Poroton blocks. These are a special type of clay blocks that are insulating and very strong. They are part of the anti seismic structure and will be linked with the rest of the structure in the coming days.
We only received one picture today, but it’s a nice one, showing the addition of the smaller cross-beams on top of the main beams. Once the plaster is added during internal finishing, these will give the ground floor a traditional look.
They are continuing to build the support structure for the top floor. This involves building a framework of steel cages that will be encased in concrete.
These cages are also linked to the interior chestnut beams, even though these beams are not integral to the structure. You want them linked so if the house moves because of an earthquake, the whole structure moves together. Plus, you don’t want the beams falling, which might happen if they were not part of the structure.
Here’s an overall view of the cage-and-beam framework being built:
In this shot, Anne’s favorite, you can see the snow-capped Sibillinis in the distance on the right side of the photo.
The full series of photos shows the size of the chestnut beams and how they are anchored to the concrete columns and the cages. You can also see that they’ve connected the water line, which Kevin considers to be a big of a miracle since we only made the payment to the utility 2 months ago.
Kevin asked the Director of Works, the geometra Jimmy, to make a report at the end of each month.
Here’s why this report is important:
To make sure the director of works is frequently on site
To ensure he is FORMALLY reporting back on a monthly basis that all works are proceeding as per contract and as per applicable building codes to ensure certification at end of project
To make sure end-of-project certifications are a “formality” and not a point of confusion as the director of works will need only revert to his/her monthlies and other notes
To keep the builder on his toes knowing that every month there will be a document that reviews his prior month’s work
Progress on the project has been steady once they were able to resume work after the bad weather. I’d say we’re 2-3 weeks behind the original schedule, but they say they can make up the time. (See update below the report.)
Here’s the February report.
Today we received the Giorni Persi per Maltempo report. This “Days Lost due to Bad Weather” report says that they have lost 2 days to snow and 5 to rain. (These days would be added to the end of the contract term, if need be.) So we’re a little closer to on schedule than I estimated above.