February 1, 2011
The second month of 2011 has started and with the grace and blessings of Allah, construction activity has reached its peak. Electrical, plumbing, plaster work in progress simultaneously. Steel net for top roof is complete and after electrical fixtures tomorrow it will be ready for lanter on Thursday, Insha-Allah.
Doors frames were also delivered today. Ordered gravel, sand, cement for roof and 1,000 bricks for use in stairs construction.
February 3, 2011
Today top roof slab (lanter) was done smoothly. Everything went well. It was mostly cloudy with a few rain drops. Rain in the late evening and on Friday would be just great. The view from top is just amazing. There is a forest in the rear side of my house and fresh breeze from the forest passes through the entire house.
I was much comfortable and confident as compared to lanter of ground floor. I think its experience. The bank's computer was down today morning as well so had to borrow money as cash has to be paid to the contractor who has to pay it to the laborers. For building material supplier it is good that he accepts crossed cheques.
Now plaster, water and gas line work will continue. We have to make stair room (mumty) and overhead water tank after about a week or 10 days.
February 6, 2011
Plasters of ground floor ceiling continued today. Most of the living room ceiling and drawing room were done. Then walls. Climbed up the roof and the things seems better on first floor than on the ground. Lanter or the roof top concrete was settling well and there were light drizzle which is good for curing the concrete.
I have been receiving the reports from my contractor that the activities of security guard were become suspicious. I had warned him last week, but today I received report that he loaded some steel bars pieces onto a taxi just after dawn. I asked him and he admitted that he sold some four to five kilogram of steel waste. But I wonder then why he needed a cab for that. He could have sold it to the scrap vendor who comes on bi-cycle. Going to sack him tomorrow morning. Wanted to give him to police, but it would be useless.
February 7, 2011
Today I fired my security guard for stealing iron bars. Thought about handing him over to police, but let him go. He confessed his crime and asked for forgiveness, I told him that he can walk free instead of going to a police station and he was no more reliable to be entrusted with costly material at the site. His replacement is being arranged in a day or two. Called electrician and plumber who have dumped expensive pipes and fittings at the site to check if anything was not missing. Thanks Allah everything was there because the idiot did not get much opportunity to load more stuff in the cab.
Plaster work continued. Lots of cement is being used in the ceiling because the surface did not come leveled as the mud floor was not hard enough to sustain weight because the two days of rain after four months of dry spell had become soft.
It was pleasant and refreshing to climb up the roof and views around were breathtaking.
February 14, 2011
Today hired a new security guard (chowkidar) from a trusted reference. The guy is a senior but looks fine. He is from Mansehra and uncle of the gardener of a friend building his house nearby.
Today ordered bricks, sand and cement. Water supply was too little. Meanwhile plaster continued and now TV lounge and one bedroom plaster remains. Sewerage pile was also being laid. A lot of work requiring tons of money still remains, like outside plaster. I am leaving first floor unfinished from inside.
Overhead concrete water tank and staircase canopy or mumty also have yet to start, then is boundary wall, gate, floors, doors, windows, bathrooms tiles, sanitary fittings, kitchen cabinets. Electrical switchboards, wires, fans, paint and there is lot of other small stuff which is enough to blow ones mind when funds are low and loans are swelling. But there is silver lining and that is the peace of mind of living under ones own roof, which keeps one going.
Fatigue, frustration has started boggling me. I move one step forward while construction material moves two steps further far away. I was shocked to hear that just electric wires cost 124,000 PKR for a two-story house of same size as my house. But I am determined to go as far as I can have my own shelter as soon as possible, against all odds.
February 18, 2011
Plaster of the last room on ground floor started. While on the roof top work for mumty or roof room, overhead water tank and para-pit wall also started. The construction works seems too long and too expensive and requires a lot of quick decision-making.
Mumty is a tricky subject. It is useful to access the roof top as well as to serve as a store and a servant room with a toilet. I plan to leave the first floor inside unfinished and go for outer plaster throughout. Funds are drying up swiftly and the work ahead requires a lot of it. Here is a quick round up of the main expensive so far.
The status of construction is that two stories structure has been built and inside plaster of ground floor is about to complete, while work on mumty and overhead water tank started today. Pipes of one bathroom and gas pipes yet to be laid. Sewerage pipe is just buried not connected at joints.
Cement: 926 bags, 293,395 rupees (1USD=85PKR) (plaster done only in ground floor inside, except one room, more cement will be required)
Sand: around nine trucks, 53,450 rs (would require now Ghazi one which is more expensive)
Gravel: 8 trucks, 100,100 rs (may be some more will be required)
Bricks: 81,000 for 360,000 rs (I hope no more, but may be some more)
Steel: 10,908 kg for 673,620 rs, binding wire 57 Kg for 7,765 (I think no more to be bought)
Payments to contractor: 483,000 rs
Total expenses so far: 22,77,107 + 145,000 (paid plot installments) = 2,422,107 (28, 495 dollars)
I am in process of documenting expenses on electrical and plumbing material and labour.
February 24, 2011
Plaster is complete from the ground floor inside and the outer sidewall also completed. Now work is in progress on the remaining three sides, the front, side and rear of the building. Shuttering was removed from the first floor and started for the roof top room.
Work on overhead water tank has also started. Parapet wall on the top and terraces and shades below started. Water supply was ample during the past few days so no headaches. Thanks God. The new security guard is good and taking care of things well. The outer temporary store room was raised a couple of days ago and guard and labourers have shifted inside. Work on boundary wall also started today. Bought some water-proofing stuff for the boundary. Keeping it six-feet high and later on put razor wire on it.
An inspector from architect visited and checked if we had made some changes in the design. I told him about the porch roof which we built at the roof level, previously it was lower terrace, mumty or staircase-cum-servant-cum-store was built on roof top and it was not in the drawings despite my repeated reminders. Then he checked the front, side and rear open spaces and found them according to rules. We have to leave 10 feet in front, five feet on the side and seven feet in the backyard.
February 28, 2011
The cost of project, excluding the cost of land, has crossed 2.4 million PKR. Work on outer plaster and boundary wall is in progress. Electrician visited for lights and fans points in the staircase room or mumty. Tomorrow the contractor has planned pouring concrete in the staircase roof slab and then he will pour concrete in the overhead water tank.
I have started the process of selling my car so that I can start work on floor, kitchen, wardrobes, windows, wiring, doors. Though the loans were available from family, I preferred not to. Cars can be bought later. Now I also realize that are so many emotional stresses related to house construction when you are doing it alone and in limited resources. But it is a good learning process and has made me brave to take challenges head on when the heat is on.
Now I am facing dilemma whether to go for inside plaster at the upper floor or not. If I go for it then I will have to buy door frames and put all the electric, gas, water pipes and the cost is going to be just not for the plaster alone. I want to make the ground floor first, move and then think about first floor which is not a priority now. I plan to finish it when it is feasible for renting out. Currently the space in one story is enough for my requirements. The idea of going for two stories was that later it will be difficult and very expensive to build it plus one is not left with enough energy and single roof house becomes too hot and too cold in summer and winter. I think that I will require nearly one million more to finish the ground floor.
March 6, 2011
Boundary wall has been completed and today went for ordering the main gate. Had to chose between a sliding and traditional one. But the design that I have finalised is suited in sliding one and the gate.
Outer plaster is continuing as the structure is almost finished. Plumber is not showing up as he to do holes in the overhead tank. He promised that it would be done today. This is a typical problem, nobody fulfills commitments.
March 10, 2011
I was off today from office, had throat infection and very tired and wanted to sleep late, but my inner-self got me up and I was on the site at 10.00am, had meeting with contractor, oversaw some work, went to supplier to order material, then went to Rawat and visited a huge showroom of tiles and baths on GT Road, then went to a stone factory and surveyed marble stone and later checked doors at Wood Solutions. Also visited Minhas Corporation to check sanitary ware. Came home after 6.00pm, checked the doctor on the way and after having third gen antibiotics hit the bed and had a really good three-hour sleep.
March 20, 2011
The contractor is becoming a pain. Most of his time is spent in another house he has contracted to build in G-14 sector where owner is giving a tough time with bad language for his follies.
He is also too slow and dull to anticipate things. The inside plaster work was over for a month now and despite my gentle nudges to start clearing the floors so that plumber and electricians could lay pipes, he kept on saying that after this and this thing we will do it, but he did not do it. Then one day he said he was going to Bahawalpur for two days, he returned after eight days. When outer plasters were being done, he could have cleared the floors and today I would have been finished with electrical and plumbing work and done with floors as well.
Lot of work still remains. Wall of a bathroom under stairs is also awaiting Ghafoor's attention and I have told him thousands of time. Now a lot of hammer and wedge work is being done to break walls and plinth beam to make way for pipes. I do not know what is the rocket science involved, first they make and then break. Why can't these dumb contractors plan ahead and leave out ducts, holes for the wires and pipes to cross under thresholds?
Then this electrician is also a funny character. On Saturday evening I told him that I had dropped the meter box at the site, but he did not tell me anything. Early Sunday morning he called and told me to buy pipes, cables, joints and deliver them as early as possible. Had he informed me an evening before, I could have done it right then and could enjoy a relaxed Sunday morning to give some rest to my aching bones. Another problem with these people is that it is hard to get them to work so I did not take any chance and told them to reach the site and I was coming after buying the stuff. Electric cables have really become too expensive, beyond imagination, so is the plumbing and sanitary pipes and fittings.
March 24, 2011
Today woke up early and went to bank as payments for plaster are due. Had a meeting with contractor and plumber and finalised the levels. Then surveyed two marble stone outlets. It is very difficult to chose and buy stone for floors. So far have shortlisted sunny grey for outdoor floors and porch, while for interior the choice is narrowing down to boticina marble to keep the costs low.
Next important task is the roof of underground water tank after which outer floors will be done. Concrete has been laid in indoors floor and bath rooms. More than half of leftover steel was bought by a friend. The contractor again made wrong calculations and I ended up buying one ton more steel. So friends intending to buy steel should have second opinion and then buy less steel as the shortfalls can be bought later locally.
Insane escalation in the cost of materials has really disrupted my financial planning and overstretched the borrowing. It is so far at a level that I can quickly repay by January. But beyond that may be a problem, but not so big. So I pray that things get better on this side.
About the energy level I feel that the fatigue is setting in. I was more energetic in late September when I started, but now I need more rest than before. Plus the early summer heat during the day drains out one faster.