Progress on our new house here continues. Due to the high US dollar, we made a decision to revise the floor plan and remove the second floor. We now will end up with a single level bungalow with a large closed in storage area that can become a future suite, if desired, below the main level deck on the front of the house. The living room and kitchen remain facing our view of Panama City and we juggled the bedrooms to all fit into the main floor. We think it will be a good solution.
Major changes in floor plans during the build are common here, we have been told. The secret is to make the changes without impacting the construction that has already been completed, which we were able to do.
The construction progresses and it often seems like a long time between significant events. We have averted a couple of small problems by being there each day but overall, the work continues smoothly. We have moved back to the first house we were in so are really enjoying the views and sunshine. At our rental house we have had a visit by a rather large stick bug who hung out for the evening but moved on during the night. We get continuously beautiful sunsets here. Here is one that I call “Last Call” because the hummingbirds are busy at the feeders just at sunset. There are many orange trees growing up here and we have found the fruit deliciously sweet and juicy. There are also mandarin orange trees that are now bearing fruit. They are much better than the ones you get in the store at Christmas time. We have two mature mandarin trees on our lot but the workers have taken a liking to the fruit and keeping the tree stripped. We went to a neighbour’s house the other day and managed to get a few mandarins for ourselves. Very nice!
Carnival, a weeklong party that encompasses the country here, starts this weekend and goes through next week. Our workers are off all week to celebrate. Our builder has told them that if they get the whole of the main floor slab poured before Carnival, they can have all week off but if not, they must return to work on Thursday. This is motivation for them as they have stepped up the work hours to make sure they meet the deadline. In addition, there is normally a party for the workers once they have the main floor slab completed and they are working toward this goal as a great kickoff to a week of partying at Carnival.
The first thing to do is to pour the main floor deck. This will be done in two parts because the deck is unsupported below so there must be supports erected to hold the concrete up while it cures. Once the support system is in place, plywood with a black finish on it (special for concrete work) is placed on top of the supports to complete the forms for the deck. While the supports are being rigged, the balance of the foundation is laid. The foundation for the house is then brought up to the main floor level using concrete blocks.
The assembly line for making the concrete involves up to seven workers mixing the concrete on the ground. Once it is mixed, three wheelbarrows are loaded and shuttle to the slab, dump their load and return for the next load. With this kind of production line, concrete can be made all day.
Completion of the deck slab is great progress. Here is a little preview of our distant view of Panama City even though it is a bit hazy.