How to Build a House

by Rachel

We wanted to give everyone an update on how the houses are progressing!  Initially we had been told that if the funding was all present, our houses would all be completed and ready for move in within three months.  Good thing we all have experience with African time frames and didn’t REALLY believe we’d be in our homes by Christmas!  With that said, things really are moving along.  And to be fair, I think we counted 11 building or improvement projects going on at the same time here at Kibuye.  Some have been completed (such as Carlan’s newly renovated ER) some are almost done (John’s eye ward) and some are just beginning (the Faders’ house).  Other projects include a dorm for the students, the water pump/pipes/collecting tank for the hospital, and “container plex”, a building with 2 shipping containers for walls that will serve as a storage area and workshop for the guys.

Currently, the McLaughlin house is the farthest along, with a potential move in date maybe in the next month or two.  It has been fascinating to watch everything take shape in a land with no heavy machinery, no power tools, and not much electricity.  We are living less than 50 yards away from four home constructions, which start around 7am and continue on Saturdays, and yet there have been only one or two days with enough noise to cause an inconvenience (the days they found a chainsaw somewhere to cut up fallen trees).  

Here’s how it all began.  Step one: level the ground.  Equipment needed: lots of hoes.

Step two: pour the foundations  Equipment needed: shovels/hoes, plastic buckets to carry concrete, large plastic tub for mixing concrete.

(the concrete mixing station, with Cropsey house in the background)

 (concrete footings with rebar, the current state of the Fader house)
(concrete foundations of the McLaughlin house, back in November)

Step three:  lay the bricks.  Equipment needed: bricks, little shovel thingies to smooth cement, levels.  Fascinating to watch the rapid progress.  Normally there would be about a dozen guys all laying bricks together working in teams of two.  All the walls went up on the McLaughlin house in about 2 weeks max.  It was fun to check on the house daily for those weeks!

Step four: concrete ring beam and support pillars.  You can see spaces in between the brick walls above.  These are filled in with concrete pillars.  Below, you can see Alyssa's house last week, ready for the top "ring beam" of rebar and concrete.  More bricks will go above this up to the roof level.  Equipment needed: guys bending rebar by hand.  Concrete.

Step five: cement the interior walls and floors.  Step six: decide where to put electrical outlets and such.  Equipment: one piece of of chalk and two inexperienced home owners who have no idea what they're doing.
 (Rachel and Toby in the kitchen, marking where we want light switches.  It was over a month later, after the spaces had been made for wires, that we realized we should have included an outlet here for our fridge.  Doh!  We have made many such mistakes, not being home builders or architects ourselves).

Step six: window frames/door frames.  Equipment: one welder and a bunch of metal.  Step seven: Roof!  Equipment: roofing sheets, nails, scaffolding made of wooden branches.

You can see another view of the scaffolding here in the Cropsey living room, more or less as it currently stands today.

 Step eight: interiors.  This is where the McLaughlin house is right now.  The plumbing is being put in. A carpenter will come to put in cabinets and cupboards, then floor tile will be laid.  Glass for the windows, and interior doors.  We've had to purchase a lot of what we want, and Eric has spent a light of time drawing designs for everything from the security gates on the windows to the bathroom layout to the cupboard design.  Steep learning curve.  Hopefully it will all turn out ok in the end!

("ladders" used to paint in the McLaughlin living and dining room)

(McLaughlin kitchen)

Thanks to everyone who has generously contributed to our home construction.  We are so excited to have a real home of our own after many years of sojourning!


Uttz Family said...

Excited for you guys

Anonymous said...

Although there may be mistakes, I would think someone like Eric would do a fantastic job of designing!

Kristen said...

Fascinating watching your house being built--Burundi style!

Faders said...

What a lot of progress! Thank you Lord!

Nikita Seth said...

Very useful information, thanks for sharing such a informative post.
build your own house

Sayali Kamat said...

This is such a touching post. The amount of effort and hard work put it blows my mind. Thanks for sharing this with us. You can read the post of build your own house on The Happy Homes Blog.