Dec 28, 2008

Steps Ahead and Back...

Many of the workers put in some hours on the 24th and were back to work on the 26th.
Yesterday though, the 27th, seemed to be a day of setbacks and restarts. Our palapa building collective, Bob, Dale and I were feeling frustrated.

First, what do we know about palapa building? Certainly the skills these guys put to use raising the poles, and thatching the roofs, is a marvel to me.
However, when it comes to the finer details of the inner structure, chaos creeps in. We have talked to many other people in the park who have been through getting their palapa built and they all have cautionary stories. I have come to accept that there will be communication breakdowns. I even allow for a margin for error in the results. Yet there are hopes and expectations that the builders will be able to satisfy our wishes, but...
We do know what a straight line is, be it vertical or horizontal. We know what arrangement of steps make for comfortable ascension and descent. We know that doors and windows have a requirement for square corners.
So when problems arise, we have to access the circumstances and decide whether it is a valid compromise or a no-go.

Maybe it is the distractions of the Season, but their have been a bunch of problems these last few days.
At a Dale's site, one whole side of a foundation had to be removed and rebuilt. As I have some spanish language, I am brought in as translator. He was also having problems with his stairs. Because I was able to get a dandy set of stairs built with my calculations and directions, my stairs are seen as a standard.
Dot’s kitchen is coming together with a lovely tile design but the sink install cracked a few, plus they had water lines being blocked, etc.
At my place, my patience with our mason finally came to an end. Besides going very slow, our guy seems to have reached his limit of skills in getting measurements level and square. The location of the water, gas and electric lines seemed a puzzle to him.
The designs for our two rooms are not just plain rectangles, and my windows have some offset details, but it does not seem that difficult to me.
I enjoy drawing detailed floor plans and elevations too, so I have an idea what it should look like. Then for each window, I drew large bold sketches on cardboard, with each measurement in detail. I saw how much difficulty our guy was having, as I repeatedly went over the plans. As he were still floundering, I would mark the placement of the each course of blocks on the preceding layer.
In critical areas, I started measuring and cutting the blocks myself, setting them in place with numbers marked on them. For long periods, I was not willing to leave the site for more that a few minutes.
This morning, when I went to mark the height for the bodega door, I discovered that one side of the door veered wildly inside the vertical, losing 2 centimeters in just a meter. It will now need hours of noisy, dusty grinding to get it straight. Same for some edges of the windows.
You can see in the pics, I am not too happy.
When David, the contractor came round, we had a reckoning, and I am promised a new crew on Monday. Big relief, I hope.

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