Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Forever House #13: We Have Floors!

...our journey to rent free living, all the entertainment minus the headaches.

We hope to move-in sometime within the next month, so there will probably be a couple forever house posts here close to together. We are finishing 2/3s of our house and then we will save the other 1/3rd to do a little bit at a time over the next year. It will just be nice not to have to drive back and forth anymore since our church and the pastors' institute are in that town. 

We have this awesome friend Amy who on top of writing all kinds of drama scripts for us and coming down on missions trips to head up different outreaches, works for a plumbing company! Jimmy really wanted PEX tubing for our house, but we were going to have to pay to have it all shipped down here. Well Amy found a distributer for us here in Guatemala! Jimmy even went to Guatemala city with our plumber to take a class on how to install it. 

Here is the manifold that Jimmy installed: 
The white box is our hot water heater. It is going to be so crazy having HOT water in our shower and not a luke warm trickle from a widow maker. I really figured I'd be using a widow maker for the rest of my life. This is just a special blessing. The shower will be the best part of this house!

Beyond that, I will have HOT water in my laundry room... we are talking crazy talk now! I am just so excited! 
{Laundry Room}
There is even a drain in the floor in there!
{Master Bath}
Jimmy also put hot water at our bathroom vanity. He is looking forward to having hot water to shave by. We are going to be so spoiled now. 

We are going for rustic, but even with rustic you have to be precise about certain things. We like the look of concrete floors. Polished gray concrete is kind of classic. It won't go out of style and it's a neutral that will go with anything.

To help stabilize the floors, above the rock layer is a layer of steel mesh. Jimmy has done a lot to prevent moisture from coming up through our floors, one of them being that underneath all the floors below the mesh are tarps. They hadn't done it in this photo, so they had to lift all the metal up and put them down. I think we are the only ones here that do it this way because our mason was pretty reluctant to do it.  
Then the floors are poured on top of that. They use strings as a guide to keep it level. 

 Our masons poured our back patio first. They used a hand trowel to smooth it out. I like to see the trowel marks, but they did them in straight lines... awk! That makes it looks like something you didn't do right rather than quaint rustic. I haven't taken a photo yet, but you can kind of see the lines in the photo below:
They poured a couple more little rooms, like our master bath and closet before they got the technique down just how I wanted. Random... as in random trowel marks are hard to do apparently! The trowel marks are nice though because when the floor is wet there is still enough traction to keep you from falling. That is a big problem we have had with kids living on tile. 

The hard room to pour was going to be our great room. Again, it is our living room, kitchen, and dining room all in one. There was no way that our masons would be able mix enough concrete by hand to pour the whole room in one day, which meant there were going to be lots of large seams. Plus the ratio of each batch is a little different, so there would be lots of variation over the room. 

We have two friends who were a big help with this problem. Arlen has been letting us use his cement mixer for a while and then our other friend Stephen offered to lest us borrow his cement mixer and power trowel along with the chance to hire his experienced group of masons for the day. Stephen and one of his boys came with his guys bright and early one morning to pour our great room floor. 
Here are the two concrete mixers going at once!
{Stephen is in the white hat}
They had the entire room poured before noon!
It takes a lot of work!
Here is the power trowel:
Lico stayed till midnight. That is the amount of drying time needed before you can use this machine. It vibrates the floor to get out all the uneven parts and makes it incredible smooth! 
We are so thankful for Stephen coming that day. With his experience, men and machines we ended up with a pretty spectacular floor!

The rest of the floors in the part that we are moving into have been poured as well.  My shower has a nice little step down to keep all the water in, but even more importantly... the drain is the LOWEST part of the shower floor. We tested it... several times... we just like watching all the water actually go down the drain. That is unheard of here. No more puddles and slimy shower floors... woot woot!
 There is sand all over the poured floor because that is how they keep it from getting scratched while they are still working in there. The walls still needed a smooth coat. We went back and forth at which to do first, the floors or the walls. Is it easier to get walls off of floors? or floors off of walls?, because concrete gets slung everywhere. After doing one room walls then floors we decided it is better reversed. 
Jimmy had them put down a tarp so there is as little clean up afterwards as possible. Still you have to go around all the walls and clean the stucco off our pretty floors, but with some paint thinner it comes off just fine.

The stucco on the outside of our house we will finish over time as well. It has a texture to it. It took several attempts at getting it just right too. I don't think any of the masons here in Petén have done work like this before. It took some patience on all of our parts. Here is what it looks like:
Don't look at my windows yet... that is for the next post! The stucco where the windows go had to be completed before they could be installed though because we do not want concrete chunks all in our screens and on our pretty metal windows. 

There was another issue. 99% of the outlets in Guatemala look like this:
The hole is too big for the outlet... drives me nuts! Well this is the first and last time it happened in our house.

Here is one finished right:
It is the finishing of things that will kill you. Detail and presicion isn't of much concern here in Petén. Maybe because everything is made of concrete... I don't know. But Jimmy fought for anything in our house that was finished precisely... fought hard. Jimmy chose his battles. You win some and you lose some. We won't mind when this whole construction process is over. But who enjoys building a house anywhere in the world?!? It will make you nuts. 

One last thing, here is our cistern, water softener, water purifier, and pump that Jimmy installed. 
It is working very nicely! Clean water right out of the tap... yay!


  1. Ahhh, the joys of building a house. Our bedroom floor is concrete and we bought tint to make it a sort of burgundy. Well, the guy used it in the first batch and had none left for the other half of the room, so our floor is two different colors and has major seams. Not to mention, it slopes to the back corner so drastically that if you sit in a rolling chair you actually roll away from any desk not in that corner! Fun.

    Glad you're nearly done!

    1. Funny to me, probably not as much to you=) Our back porch was poured unfortunately sloping towards our house. When it rains hard all the water runs into our living room. Jimmy is debating on wether to tear it up and pour it again... so frustrating and expensive!

  2. Hot water and clean water from the tap - I am jealous!

  3. I am so excited for all of you. Can't wait till move in day comes!

  4. WOW! That's extraordinary! Jimmy is so talented!


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