Thursday, October 4, 2012

Green Concrete

Pretty amazing video on how this "slab" will return water to the ground rather than create runoff headed for the ocean, lakes or low lying areas that can flood.

Mexico Ecological Concrete took first place in the contest Cleantech Challenge, their products are pavement and floors can capture rainwater for harvesting.

By: Viridiana Mendoza Escamilla

MEXICO CITY (CNNExpansión) - Mexico Ecological Concrete created a system for the recovery and use of rainwater through porous pavements and floors made ​​of concrete, a project that earned her the company's first Cleantech Challenge contest.

The prize for this company were 250,000 pesos, a 100% scholarship for graduate studies at the University of the Environment (UMA), and the possibility of going to Boston to present product benefits to a group of investors where there is potential for collect up to 30 million dollars in investment.

Contest article in Spanish

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cleaning a cistern

Every now and then you need to clean your cistern and I was totally unsure how much mud and sand was in mine. All I knew was that the intake valve was often plugged after non use of my pump and the first bit of water was always dirty. The first year the system had no filter for water from the street so I thought it might be serious but there turned out to be less than an inch of mud. My intake valve is 4-5 inches above the bottom so how it got plugged I don't know.

I drained most of the last 5 inches with a bucket and then we lowered a neighbor in and he finished the job with a sponge, rags and a little cloro. I imagine with double filters the cistern will be good for 3-4 years now.

Entrance under the palapa

Yony inside partially cleaned

I just liked this foto

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working on wooden houses for a change

My friend Ron who normally lives in San Miguel also has a small rental in Seattle and we somehow timed our trip north at almost the same time. His last renters didn't take the best care of the place so much needed to be done. Painting nearly the whole inside, redo the living room floor, repair kitchen floor tiles, scrape and paint funky windows, clean and caulk the bathroom, repaint the front porch and refasten all the back deck screws. It was really looking good when I left and he had another week to go.

My relatives decided to remove two large skylights rather than replace them and they would need to be tiled over. We took about 70 tiles off the back of the garage that would hopefully match the roof around the skylights ... and replaced them with new darker tiles. Too many delays and I wasn't able to see the final product. Maybe sis will send a foto or two

Ron's living room

Bedroom painted

The families house

Friday, August 3, 2012

Rainy day in August

Just realized I hadn't posted on these things now completed. The palapa is dry, no longer green and only leaks a little.  The awning (marquesina) and flower beds worked out perfectly.   No rain against the house and some greenery.  The car fits in the garage and it also works as a dry work or party space and laundry area.  Grass is still struggling to recover from construction traffic but I've fertilized it.

Palapa and marquesina

Garage and bodega

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kitchen cabinets

Gabinetes or alacenas in Spanish. A place to finally get everything off the counter tops. Workers were gone last week after all the outside stuff so I had time to finish these unfinished cabinets from Home Depot. What a relief!

I had 4 open cabinets made that would fit on either side of these but they don't have oak around here so they would have to be painted the same color as the walls. I decided it would be too 'busy' and I really don't need that much storage space. There's still all that room under the counters that will eventually get shelves.   My custom cabnets will probably end up in the bodega as more storage. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New larger bodega

The old narrow one that covered the well and wash area was not good protection and was badly made. Decided it was time to build a real one that can also work as a garage, cover for the trailer, keep the washing machine dry and be protection for the animals (sun and rain). Also stuccoed over the bricks on the back wall. Bodega will be 5x5 meters.

Beams are 4x4 palm and cross support pieces are 1x2 pine. They put up the cement pillar and beams a few weeks ago when doing more cement work. Thinking about putting a cement floor in but this is the last week so we'll see. I'm afraid I'll have to take out the bamboo as it is under one corner and will grow a lot with the rains. Sadly I have no place else to put it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New palapa ramada

I've been threatening to put a palapa or lamina ramada over the ugly cement box in my yard that covers my cistern and finally decided to do it last week. They finished Saturday. These were friends of one of my cement workers and the total charge was 8000 pesos ($700us) including the wood frame and the palapa install. My guys put up the cement posts a few weeks ago using Sonotubes.

The project pretty much took over the whole yard so my cement guys took a break and helped the 'palaperos' from time to time. All the palms are nailed on rather than tied.  The crown has a piece of black plastic (1x5 meters) and then covered by palm fronds and tied down with wire.

After they left we gathered under the palapa, had a few 'cubas' (coke and tequila) followed by tacos de carne asada. Very satisfying day.

Palapas arrive

Starting on the first course

Getting near the peak

Starting on the other side with dad below

The boss putting on the crown

All finished

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

House projects

I posted this on my main blog but also added two more fotos here. They delivered most of the wood for the palapa today and will bring more and start the wood finishing tomorrow. Also all the marquesina forms are down and the finish work underneath has started.

I consider these finishing touches to a house that began very simple and not all that well planned. The largest is the awning (marquesina) along the house that will help keep rain away from doors and windows. Oscar is up there now filling the joints between the awning and the house that they had to cut out to attach it.

The second is a palapa over the ugly block of cement that covers the cistern in the middle of the yard. The four posts (castillos) are up and the palapa builder will be here next week to build the wood structure that sits on top. Gonna use the long palapas rather than the royal palm that is very much more expensive. He says with the right pitch and placed close together it should be good for 5 years. We'll see.

The third project is to replace a jury-rigged lamina roof that was over the outside wash and pump area. It will extend out 5 meters rather than the 1.5 meters of the old one. Will be much better protection for the area, equipment and can act as a partial garage. One column of the same type used above and two cement cross supports (vegas) that they just poured this morning.

Posts for palapa, house awning and lamina supports

New lamina supports for utility area

Soon to be covered with a palapa

Another view of the house awning

Palapa wood (madera)

Cement finishing

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pouring the marquesina

They poured it on Saturday starting about 9 and finished at 1pm. Rented a mixer and hired two neighbors to help. They dumped the cement on the ground and shoveled it in buckets because there were not enough guys to form a bucket brigade. The machine cost 250 pesos for 4 hours (they gave us no gas) and each of the workers paid 200 pesos each.

It will sit there with supports in place for almost 2 weeks. They will put a leveling finish on it soon. I've been watering it down a few times a day and I removed the cardboard tubes this morning.

Waiting for the cement to cure they are now working on four columns around my ugly cistern top that is over a foot above ground level because my last workers didn't measure the depth of the tank correctly. Hopefully there will be a palapa over it and a tile floor made from the extra house tiles. Just trying to make the outside more livable in our outdoor weather.

Actually finished but can't see from this angle

The first pour

Mixing the cement

Finished product

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coladores and marquesina supports

The guys that put up the wooden supports for a cement roof are called coladores even tho colador mean a strainer. Guess that will remain a mystery for awhile. In the foto below they are only half finished but had it completed in one afternoon. 5 guys working and they only wanted 1000 pesos. We keep the wood in place for about two weeks while the cement dries.

My workers are starting on the rebar network that will sit on top of the wood to hold the cement together. We needed another load of sand for the cement mix and his price was only 180 pesos

Coladores at work

Sand delivery

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cutting up my house

After two days of digging this trench in the side of my house they are finished and the wood support guys are ready to build the forms in the afternoon tomorrow. Only a half day job they say so my guys are going to knock down the lower one foot "awning" in the morning. We waited for over 3 hours for the wood support guy to show up and just sat, talked and thought about future projects.  I had no problem with them taking it easy after a day and a half of operating that jackhammer.   Not nice work!

We cleaned up the mess from all the falling concrete but will have another pile tomorrow including a bunch of wire mesh Styrofoam .... not easy to get rid of. In the afternoon my guys will start on two more columns for another ramada over the very ugly cistern that sticks up out of my yard.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Circular columns in place

The columns are up still in the cardboard tubes. They say it doesn't matter when you remove the tubes because the cement shrinks as it ages making it easier. I had them cut off almost a foot and a half from the tops today as the outside edge was just too high and would give less rain protection. Also thinking it would look better lower. For something this heavy (20 sq meters of cement) it has to attach to the re-bar in the roof so height adjustment is not totally flexible. The old marquesina is only a foot wide and made of Styrofoam panel. This will be over 4' wide

With the new angle we're talking about using curved tiles instead of flat over the cement. I really like the look of curved tiles but you can't walk on them if you need to paint or work above. Only the bottom edge of curved tiles are cemented down so maybe the uppers can be moved for access. Next week is renting a machince to cut into the roof and it's rebar and rent some staging so they can work safely 3 meters up.

Foundation footing

Columns in place

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Slinky in a Tube

The guys that worked for me last year have been busy with other projects over the winter and I told them when other work runs out I would have a project or two. This project is to build an awning (marquesina) along the whole side of the house. We built one but lower and it's only about a foot wide. I wanted more shade and rain protection. This will also be above the air vents which leaked in the past.

The circular support columns will be four with a diameter of 25cms which should give good scale to the house and the awning will be at least a meter and a half wide. I was surprised the footings will be the size of house footings -- a meter deep and filled with rock and cement. I was also surprised to find the Sonotubes were not that expensive. These were only $145 pesos and 3 meters long.

The most interesting thing is that they can't use the normal rectangular rebar design in a round tube so we bought a bunch (40 kilos) of wire that's about a 1/4 inch thick. They form it by wrapping it around a 6" drainage pipe until they have a slinky that stretches to 3 meters. Then they wire wrap 4 pieces of rebar inside. I imagine this will take the better part of a month.

Filling up the yard with sand, gravel, cement and next - rocks

Three of the column supports made - and holes where they will go in the grass

Wrapping rebar inside the slinky

Form the slinky on a tube

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just a house foto

Someone asked for a picture of the house so here it is. Pretty soon to be made a mess again with a new awning/roof along the side of the house. The new awning will be for shade and rain protection. The existing one is not wide enough. Still not sure if I want solid cement or wood that supports tiles or lamina. Will have to talk about cost and amount of disruption.

Lately I've been painting the kitchen and bought some cabinets from Home Depot. Gonna be a few weeks before they go up

Friday, March 2, 2012

Water Filters

I forgot about the new water filters we put in last week. Our street water gets dirt/sand in it on a regular basis. Enough to clog shower heads and faucet screens, build up on the bottom of the cistern and stops one-way valves from working.

I've also decided we got too fancy with the valve system that automatically switches from street pressure to tinaco pressure so am going to try to remove them all and run direct lines. Too fancy because sometimes I have no water or my water is draining back to the street.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New gate and garden

Well almost no construction going on lately so no posts. One of the neighbors is a welder of sorts and he has some new equipment so I thought I'd give him a try on a new front gate. I have a few more projects but not sure I'll use him as he's not very careful in his work. I picked the design because I thought it would be simple but he had to come back to fix some easy to notice mistakes. I like it and it's better than the cyclone fence material that was there before.

Meanwhile I've been working on the garden, starting a compost and buying and planting trees ... Coastal Avocado, Star Fruit, Chico Zapote, Almond, 2 Limes and a Banana

My workers are busy this season so when work slows for them I have a few more projects, like; extending an awning, larger shed roof in the laundry/utility area and a small outdoor open room over the systern

New gate


Lime trees and garden
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