Roof Sheet Delivery October 2013
  Our roof sheeting was ready for delivery on Tuesday morning. The roof long side IBR sheeting was 5.7 meters long and there were 24 full length sheets. There were also 10 shorter sheets (for the polycarbonate sections) and 23 2.9 meter lengths for the short side of the roof. That was just too much for our little bakkie to handle even with multiple trips so we arranged for it to be delivered.

I went out to BSI Steel to check out the loading and guide the delivery truck out to the farm. We were the first delivery of four and they sent out one of their "small" trucks but it was again much too long to get through our gate system. So we offloaded the IBR at the gate and will have to drive it slowly through the forest road with the bakkie. By the way, the bakkie was going again. I managed to strip and clean the distributor on Sunday at the farm but it still wouldn't start up. But it fired up perfectly on Tuesday and got me home without missing a beat. I even went through to pick up the polycarbonate sheets at Henley On Kilp on the way home. I'm still a little puzzled as to what's wrong with it, but I won't be able to have another go at fixing it until it breaks again.


  Quick Hill Climb
  Martie arrived out to the farm after the roof sheets were delivered (just in case the bakkie gave us problems). I refilled the water tanker and on the way in we loaded all the smaller IBR sheets on the bakkie canopy and offloaded them at the building site. We then took some time off to take a walk up the hill with the dogs to take some photos.

And did I mention that wind on Sunday? One of the bigger suikerbos trees on the foot of the slope was blown over by Sunday's winds. On closer inspection the trunk had been damaged by fire over the years but it still must have taken some to break it like that.

We also came across a big patch of fragrant flowers in the rocks. Pretty sure it's some kind of wild jasmin.

And from the top of the hill our building activities were now very noticeable:


  House Foundations, continued
  I found the problem with the bakkie. It was the electronic ignition module breaking down when getting hot. I replaced the module during the week and it's like a different bakkie. No more breakdowns, motor running smoother, more power and hopefully better fuel consumption.
  After a very pleasant drive out to the farm early Saturday morning Leno put his helpers to work on finishing off digging the house foundations while I helped him move the remaining roof sheets from the driveway at the front gate to the building site.

On the left, where we left off the previous weekend. The wind had covered the top of the concrete we cast with a layer of sand. We still had to cast about 8 meters of the one trench and another 6 meters of the trench they were digging out to the basement wall.

  Big Roof Goes On
  The rest of Saturday was spent fixing the long section roof sheets on the garage and workshop structure.

I was a little worried about my roof planning working out, but everything worked out perfectly.

And as we layed the sheeting onto the purlins, the polycarbonate sheets fell in exactly the right places between the truss beams as planned.

Jada couldn't supply us with enough roofing screws so we screwed the sheets down onto the bottom purlin, the second purlin from the top and around the polycarbonate joints. We'll put the rest in next weekend when we can get some more.

We finished off the day painting the tops of the short side of the protruding roof beams with carbolineum in preparation for fitting the sheeting on Sunday.


  More Roofing
  Sunday morning we made an early start. Leno wanted to get the roof done before it got too hot. We picked the builders up in the township at 6:30 and were on site just after 7:00. The short side roof was all on before 10:00 and then we took a break for breakfast.

  More House Foundations
  Then it was back to the house foundations.

The existing trench had to be cleaned out (it took a while to clean out between the rebar that was already layed in there) and the new part of the trench straightened, levelled and compacted.

Then the first batch of concrete was mixed, poured, spread with Martie's trusty old garden rake (the garden rake has become an essential tool when working with concrete) and levelled with a long straight edge.

  More Carbolineum Painting
  Then we ran out of water and while Martie went off to refill the water tanker, we continued painting the truss overhangs

with carbolinium.
I've mentioned that carbolineum is horrible stuff and it's so bad I'll repeat. After working with it you smell of it for
  the whole of the next week. Leno showed me how to make handy minimum mess containers to work with it out of old plastic milk/juice bottles.

  House Foundations Completed
  When Martie got back with the water it was back to mixing concrete. More spreading and levelling and by the end of the day that was the house foundations completed.

While the helpers were cleaning up Leno and I sat down to discuss the next steps of the house construction. We needed to double check all dimensions and wall positions for sqareness and tie into the garage block and basement correctly. I expect to spend the whole of the next Saturday morning on just that.


  First House Brickwork
  Not that you will see any of it on the finished house. The second weekend of October and I estimate we will spend this and the next weekend building walls that will mostly be buried underground!

In order to get the levels correct on the sloping ground and a level foundation over the 18 meters that the house will occupy, we have had to dig the foundations for the front of the house into the ground over a meter deep on the top corner. And we will have to build the wall up over a meter from the foundation before we get to ground level. The only other option was to step the foundation which would have meant a lot more concrete and structurally not a good thing to do. So there will again be a lot of effort and expense going in under the ground.

From the basement ...
... from the top ...
... and from the garage block
  Saturday morning was predicatably spent meticulously measuring out the house perimeter walls and getting them straight and square with the garage block. The basement outline problems presented themselves more clearly and to fix any problems we would have above the ground we had to kink the kitchen wall in by 400mm to get the wall into the middle of the foundation concrete. This means the kitchen would be reduced in size by that amount.

By the end of the day Leno layed the first three courses along the long front and kitchen side of the house. While he was doing the boring stuff I cleaned up the brickwork around the garage windows in preparation for fitting them on Sunday.

  Sunday Activities
  Sunday Leno spent the whole day laying bricks to get the house from foundation to floor level. So we had some time to take walks, clean up the forest edge a bit and make a start on fitting the garage windows.

Sand blocking the driveway being used first for building. Driveway should be open again soon
30 meters of clear plastic pipe filled with water that we used
for gettings levels correct across the long foundation

Martie cleaning up forest edge

  New Eland
  During the afternoon a big herd of eland passed by. And we have some new additions - four very cute mini plant muchers.

We have very mixed feelings about the eland at the moment. They hopped the fence during the week and munched the tops off our little acacia trees that were doing so well and one of them managed to get their head over the wires in the driveway garden and rip out one of Martie's new shrubs.

  Fitting Garage Windows
  After lunch Martie and I fitted the three smaller windows to the garage block. I had cleaned up the brickwork surrounds the day before and all that was needed was to drill and attach the mounting brackets, position them in the frames and drill and fix the brackets into the walls.

Once they were fitted I got hold of a wheelbarrow of mortar, a few stock bricks and built the inside window sill area ready for plastering and fitting of the inside cement board window sills.

Next step there is to fit the outside window sills and for Leno to fix up the roller course above the middle window (remember, that's the one that fell down when we removed the supports too early). Fix-ups just take so much time - got to get things right first time.

And I think we'll live with the blue plastic coverings on all the windows until all the plastering and painting is done.

  House Front Wall Brickwork Progress
  Second weekend and halfway through October: Continual work on garage block and now one side of the house brickwork halfway up to floor level. Now getting difficult to build down in the trench with not much space to move around between the new wall and trench edges. When I commented on it, Leno said "We just have to make a plan".
Working in the trenches
Kitchen corner to basement
From the garage block

  First Real Summer Rains
  During the week we had a good thunderstorm which produced 20mm of rain out on the farm. I was a bit worried as we didn't have any of the flashing sheets on our roof yet. A bit of woodwork did get wet at the peak of the roof and the edges of the building but no water damage worth mentioning. In the picture below left, the water that came in through the roof peak gap made a neat little "path" in the dust on the garage floor. We'll only be doing the next garage cleanup when all the plastering is done and we're ready to screed the floor.

But it was so great to have all the dust settled. And good to see the veld grass immediately responding and showing some new green shoots.

Saturday morning Leno started by fixing the roller course on the middle garage window. He made a support from scrap purlin and fitted the bricks in over the window. It took a while but now it's fixed.

  We'll leave the support in until at least next weekend - we're not expecting to get to finishing off the plastering in the garage until we've build the house foundation brickwork to floor level.

  Annual MTB Cycle Race


Every year a mountain bike cycle race passes through Che's farm. The cyclists start at the Golf Club, head through Rensburg out past Hannah's Dairy, then over Spookbrug and up over the hill, then criss-crossing the tarred road on all the little farm sand roads into the valley where they do a round trip over both dam walls on Che's farm and then all the way back to the Golf Club.

Every year they change the course slightly but always use our gate to enter Che's farm.

I remember last year they passed through we hadn't even started with any building on the farm. Hopefully next year we will be ready for them to use our forest roads and maybe even have a refreshment stop in our driveway.

  House Front Wall Brickwork to Floor Level
  The rest of Saturday Leno spent building on the front house wall and completed building it up it up to floor level.

There are two level splits across the 18 meter length of the house and we worked it out that each step was four brick courses high, which allows for one comfortable step from one level to the other.

As we are not cutting in below ground level on the top corner like we did for the garage block (although we will have to cut in a little for the veranda) we will need to do a fair amount of filling. Hopefully the sand we dug out of the basement will allow enough filling and still provide enough building sand.

Kitchen corner to basement
From the garage block
  And with all the below-ground building we were using up stock bricks at a rapid rate. Realising we would need more stock bricks for Sunday we placed a rather late "closing time" order for another truck load from Jada's. As usual, Shahid and his team pulled out all the stops and by three o'clock we had our bricks delivered. Thanks again, Shahid.

  Setting House Back Wall Levels
  The last hour of the day Leno and I spent setting up the levels for the house back walls and ensuring all the room corners would be square. This was a bit tricky as the brick course levels will need to tie in to the basement walls and be level across the house to the front walls.

We set all the profiles in place and will double check on Sunday morning before Leno starts laying the first bricks on the house back wall and getting everything up to floor level.

  Rainy Sunday Morning
  We left home Sunday morning in the rain. Surprisingly the helpers were waiting outside Leno's house but had to get him out of bed for work. I'm sure he thought we were a bit crazy but we now had a roof and could work in the rain! If the rain continued all day I planned to get the rest of the garage windows fitted and clean up all the facebrick work around the garage door openings.

Very wet outside ...
... quite cozy inside

  After a leisurely breakfast we sat around for a while hoping the rain would stop as we had some mortar left over from Saturday and Leno wanted to make a start on building the house back walls.

But the rain kept coming down and only stopped late in the morning. We got another 20mm. While it was raining the builders got going on cleaning up the garage door brickwork. Waste of time. The helpers are just not capable of fine work and messed up more than they fixed. Leno started fixing their mess-ups but the rain stopped and they were keen to get out to build.

  Muddy Feet

  As soon as the rain stopped, the dogs were out. They first raced around the field a bit, wrestled and rolled around in the wet grass and then after a quick dash through the building site, this is what Charlie looked like!

Luckily we're not too concerend about dirty feet in the garages and workshop at the moment.

  First Brickwork on House Back Wall
  Back outside the helpers mixed the leftovers of the previous day's mortar with more cement and after Leno and I spent a bit of time checking squares and levels, he got going on the back wall brickwork.

The back wall foundation was not as deep into the ground as the front wall as it didn't need to go all the way to the end of the house - just to the basement wall. But due to the ground slope the bottom corner floor level was still well over half a meter above the ground.

  Facebrick Jointing
  It was great to be building with face bricks again. They make the wall look so cool. Below left is the tool we use to "joint" the bricks. The jointer has two wheels and a steel nail set at a predetermined depth that gouges out the mortar from between the bricks when it is rolled over the joints. We bought this little tool when we first started building and I'm amazed those little wheels are still working perfectly. They have rolled across every face brick on the pumphouse, garage and workshop block so far and I've only had to replace the steel nail once. On the right, spotted laying around in the garage - one of the helper's "good" pair of shoes. Fashionably colourful.


  Building House Back Wall

The rest of the pictures here show building the house back wall through the afternoon. There was intermittent light drissle all afternoon but the builders took in their stride. The mud did present a bit of a problem when pushing the wheelbarrows.

  In the picture bottom right, the basement has taken in some water from the rain. And if it holds the water out as well as it is presently holding it in, all will be ok.

  Driveway Alert
  Spreading some of the subsoil dug out from the basement over the driveway area to level it out a bit was proven to not be the best idea.

Subsoil doesn't have the vegetation material to bind it together that the topsoil has and when it gets wet it just turns to soft, slippery mud.

We'll have to think very carefully about our driveway. Once the builders have finished we will level it, lay on a layer of river sand and then pave it with cement pavers. Not sure how we're going to secure the edge along the forest though - don't want it all slipping away down into the forest!

And we'll have to find some stone surface or something on the paving edges to prevent the mud from the forest road being driven onto the pavers. I don't think we'll be able to pave the whole driveway from the gate - it's about three hundred meters.

  House Back Wall Brickwork to Floor Level
  The last weekend for October and Leno spent the Saturday laying bricks to get the house back wall up to the bottom level floor level.

Floor level on the bottom corner looks a little high but that's just how things worked out with the ground slope and the split level steps. The top corner is at ground level and looking back at photos of the garage block it was about the same. Once the building is up it will all look fine.


And at long last our road past the basement was open again. Without too much rain during the week the mud hardened up nicely and we were able to use it. While it was closed we had to drive around the front of the house to get to the bottom of the garage block. That was the old road where we were trying to get the grass to grow again and using it continually was making the situation there worse.

  Pulling the Big Tree Stump

While Leno was busy with the wall I got down to a job I had been putting off for a while. It was now neccessary to get that big tree stump out as the next step on the house was to dig the trenches for the foundations for the inner walls - and the stump was right on the first split level wall line.

I spent about two hours on and off hacking away at the "surface" roots with the chopper over half a meter down around the stump until I could push the shovel in without hitting any more of them. Thankfully the ground was soft from the rains the previous week.

Then I fired up the tractor (started first time after not being used for nearly two months!), attached the chain and gave it a tug. This was the biggest tree we had ever tackled - visible on Google Earth! A bit of rocking with the tractor loosened the stump but I just could not snap the tap root. So we pulled the stump over to one side, held it there with the tractor and chain and I had to get down there and cut the tap root with the chainsaw.

It took four of us to get the loose stump out of the hole.
  Once out on the ground I was able to cut it up into more manageable pieces so it could be removed from inside the house area.

That little tractor is the most amazing machine. It is hard to believe the power of that diesel engine and combined with the weight, nothing stops it. The rear wheels dug into the ground about 20cm while rocking the stump. If only we could get traction we would have ripped it out without a problem. Those dents on the front grill still intrigue me. But I can guarantee that whatever made them, provided it wasn't a very big tree or a rock, they came off second best. While researching tractors I read some horror stories of guys having to rebuild their garages after their foot slipped off those bare metal clutch pedals. Have to be careful.

  No More Sleeping Outside
  Early Sunday morning I grabbed a spare shovel and levelled off a bit of the driveway fill (old building rubble) and was able to drive the tractor into the garage.

Hopefully never again will it have to sleep outside. Although we tried to park it in the shade of the trees whenever possible, the coat of rich red Massey Ferguson paint that the previous owner gave it while refurbishing before selling it to us was noticeable dulled by the 2 years of being outside in the rain and sun.

Leno started the day building the house back wall second level up another four courses (the stock bricks now showing above the face bricks in the picture on the right).

We then headed up to work on the pumphouse for the rest of the day.

  Back to the Pumphouse

The pumphouse was almost complete (complete being that we would not need the builders in there again) and ready for finishings (we would do all the tiling, bath/basin/shower, woodwork and electrical ourselves).

All that really needed to still be done there was to screed the floors. So it was everything out again and Leno and his team spent the rest of the day putting down the screed mix, compacting it, cutting it level and then floating it with water and bit of extra cement powder.

  Working in the pumphouse was hot. Those polycarbonate sheets let in beautiful light, they say they also keep UV out but the heat does get through, although I'm sure much of the heat was also coming from the IBR sheeting with no ceilings.

But anyway, it was hot with three guys working in there so I decided to cut the protective plastic on the double window so we could open the windows and get some air through. We were trying to keep the protective plastic on the windows until all the big building and dust was finished, so this was the first window that we removed the plastic. Hopefully there won't be much more builders dust in the pumphouse.

We left the white protective tape around the frame on until we finish painting and tiling, but it was great to see out through clear windows from inside the pumphouse.

  When the floor screeding inside was finished we had quite a bit of screed mix left over so we "quickly" built the pumphouse step and used the screed to fill it.

After cleanup and packing back everything that needed to go back into the pumphouse, we left just as it was getting dark. Another productive weekend with the pumphouse now completed bar a big cleanup.

  Friends or Foes

With the regular rains this month the grass on the farm is green again. And everything is eating everything else.

Sunday late afternoon the flying ants came out. The birds had a feast, the ants had a feast and it was interesting to watch the ant lions having their feast. The moment there is movement in their little sand funnels they stick their massive pincers out, grab it and pull it down into their burrows. Those flying ants must have been real juicy meals instead of the normal little sour ants.

Che has split her cow herd and spread them out over her farm for more even grazing, so we only have a small herd coming out our way from time to time. As they came by we took the opportunity to expose Charlie to cow herding. She kept well back but obviously watched how Dakota was doing it and within a few minutes had the hang of it, although still well back from the back line.

And the moles are extremely active. The picture on the left is from our front gate. I don't know where this one's going, but I hope he finds direction soon. Preferably away from us!