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Adventures in Timberland


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Great stuff and truly an adventure! Building a house to your own specs can be a good experience if you are able to resist ongoing upgrades, lol. Good luck with the local workers. Hope you are able to put together a crew that will build to your requirements, not their own.

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Interesting. Does the house sit on footings, or on a floating slab? About those "brick ties"; do they have some sort of seismic rating?

Footings and a stepped foundation. The timber framing will be fixed to steel plates that are firmly anchored to the inner foundation which will be about 2 or 3 brick courses higher than the outer foundation step onto which we will place the bricks.

 

The brick ties are coming from America and are, I believe, made of galvanised steel. Timber-built houses generally fare better than those built from concrete block or concrete alone - such houses are normal in rural Japan (there are many in urban areas too), a country that gets more than its fair share of earthquakes. Were we to have an earthquake and depending on its severity, I would expect the mortar to crack long before any of the brick ties sheer. The timber house is a much more elastic structure than its protective brick facing wall and I need to strike a good balance between maintaining that elasticity and providing integral support for the bricks. Too many ties between the two will provide a very rigid structure, possibly too rigid.

 

Mark

It appears to me that you are building what us Yanks call a brick veneer house (wood-framed structure with a brick (non-loadbearing) exterior. You should know that in the US, it is prohibitively expensine to insure such a structure against earthquake. During a trembler where there is sideways movement, the structure (wood frame) tends to move with the ground (provided you have a proper foundation tied solidly to the ground) while the brick tends to remain stationary. The result is that the heavy brick veneer goes smashing through the structural wood framing, collapsing the house. The higher the brick goes on the structure, the more devastating the effect. Just a thought...since this IS a high seismic zone, and major earthquakes are very possible here.

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Well, well, well ...

A reliable and constant supply of potable water can be a challenge in rural locations and mine is no exception. I could tap into the city supply but for the fact that the supply point - where my meter would be - is around 500 metres from my lot. That's rather a lot of half-inch polythene hose that would needed and plenty of potential for leaks - intentional or otherwise. So I resolved to have a well - or more accurately - a bore hole drilled and to have my own independent water supply. To that end I set off to find a well driller and since I am new to Davao, let my fingers do the walking through Yellow Pages.

 

There is only one company listed and they shall remain nameless. Mae telephoned them at the end of last week and tried to speak to someone who could actually give answers - which proved impossible: the girl who answered the phone said she was "the one". Mae told her we wanted well bored on her land to supply a house we are building. The girl then asked her "Do you want hot and cold water?" to which Mae replied "Yes" and then immediately the girl asked Mae for her email address and said she would get a proposal sent. Mae said that someone from her company would need to visit the site and check the local conditions, a suggestion the girl seemingly ignored and ended the conversation by hanging-up.

 

The girl obviously forgot because we received no email from her company. Mae again contacted them on Tuesday and the same girl assured her an email would be sent. This time she remembered and a PDF file containing their quotation soon appeared in my email inbox.

 

Time for a factoid. There's an agricultural community of around 50 houses about a kilometre or so further up the hillside - and that distance further from the main highway. Last year the Government provided this community with its own deep well and according to a resident of that village, the drillers found a good supply of potable water at 60 feet below ground level. Imagine, then, my surprise when our potential well driller stated, in his proposal, his company would drill a minimum of 90 metres (292.5 feet) and this would take 60 days, at least, to accomplish. Not only that but the pipe diameter would be six inches! Ummm, excuse me, but I'm not building a resort, hotel or sub-division, just a two bedroomed house, why on earth would I need a six inch main - never mind the fact the cost of installing a sufficiently capable pump! Which, incidentally, was not included in the proposal even though Mae did ask for one.

 

I won't tell you the estimated cost. Suffice it to say that, translated into 500 Peso bank notes, there'd be enough to fill a medium-sized suitcase. I will tell you that this company wanted 30 thousand Pesos just to show-up with their equipment and another 30 thousand to take it all away.

 

I haven't bothered to reply to this company rejecting their proposal: the polite sarcasm would be lost on them!

 

Mae and I met her uncle, who's a retired Davao City Police Officer, that evening and he told us that one of his friends has a small well drilling business, would we like to meet him. We did meet him and he came to the site yesterday to see what would be involved. The long and the short of it is that he will be drilling our well and for a mere fraction of the price. Unlike the "other" company, he said he will guarantee us a good supply of drinking water.

 

Time for another factoid. Davao gets its water supply from underground springs; this accounts for the fact that, according to the World Health Organisation, its water supply is one of the purest and best in the world. The aquifers are protected by a layer of volcanic ash (lava) that covers the whole of Davao Basin and lava forms an impermeable layer. This means that man-made and natural containments such as fertilisers, industrial effluent and faecal matter don't seep into the aquifers. There is such a lava layer five feet below ground level at our location. Our well driller believes that this layer is around three to four feet thick in our area, based on his years of experience drilling throughout the Davao area. Below the lava there is likely to be several feet of hard clay before reaching the bedrock. He estimates completing drilling inside four weeks.

 

He's having his equipment delivered to the site tomorrow and will commence work immediately. Fortuitously for us, he's asked our permission for his workers to live on site - so that they can drill continuously from sunrise to sunset. This has an additional benefit for us in that we will have site security.which was the next problem we would have had to tackle.

 

 

 

 

 

Mark

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Davaoeno

Mark- we just had 2 wells drilled in Toril in the last few months. I forget the exact details but I can get them if needed. The problem wasnt potable water- because that was not too far down, but they had to go down over 120 ft [ if i remember correctly] to get enough water pressure.

Each well cost about 30,000 php. I cant remember the pipe size [ it was actually my partner who took care of the well drilling thats why I cant remember exactly ]

 

By the way I see there is a wooden house [ 2nd floor anyway] between Toril and Davao City on the east side of the road

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That's more or less what our well-driller has told us - there is water quite close to the surface but he too will drill deeper to get a good steady supply, Did you get your water tested for purity - if so, by whom? We've been told that Davao Water will undertake such a test but that the samples will fail their tests in an attempt to persuade you to buy from them. Quite how true that is, I don't know, but it does seem plausible to me, given where we are.

 

 

 

Mark

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During a trembler where there is sideways movement, the structure (wood frame) tends to move with the ground (provided you have a proper foundation tied solidly to the ground) while the brick tends to remain stationary. The result is that the heavy brick veneer goes smashing through the structural wood framing, collapsing the house.

I mentioned this to Mike our builder today since he is giving us a warranty. The brick veneer is built on the same foundation as the timber framing so will move with it. He doesn't believe the bricks will cause an implosion, if anything they will collapse away from the structure. Being very hard - therefore difficult to break - it's entirely possible that we can scrape off the old mortar and re-use them to repair any earthquake damage. We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

 

However, I will say this: I would prefer to be in a timber house than one quickly thrown together using CHB with cement render hiding all the "nasties" should we have an earthquake!

 

 

 

 

Mark

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Davaoeno

Mark- i dont know who did the testing [ it was tested and passed] but I can find out. There is water at the street but the local water authorities arent doing any more hook ups for the next few months so that is why we had to drill. Each well supplies about 5 houses. [ we are doing a 400 house subdivision]

 

That's more or less what our well-driller has told us - there is water quite close to the surface but he too will drill deeper to get a good steady supply, Did you get your water tested for purity - if so, by whom? We've been told that Davao Water will undertake such a test but that the samples will fail their tests in an attempt to persuade you to buy from them. Quite how true that is, I don't know, but it does seem plausible to me, given where we are.

 

 

 

Mark

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I love wood homes too!

I would double plate the top floor and pour a 1 1/2" in light weight concrete over the plywood,so I have a sound proof layer from the foot steps heard from below.

also this would give me a sound base to lay floor tiles on.

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During a trembler where there is sideways movement, the structure (wood frame) tends to move with the ground (provided you have a proper foundation tied solidly to the ground) while the brick tends to remain stationary. The result is that the heavy brick veneer goes smashing through the structural wood framing, collapsing the house.

I mentioned this to Mike our builder today since he is giving us a warranty. The brick veneer is built on the same foundation as the timber framing so will move with it. He doesn't believe the bricks will cause an implosion, if anything they will collapse away from the structure. Being very hard - therefore difficult to break - it's entirely possible that we can scrape off the old mortar and re-use them to repair any earthquake damage. We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

 

However, I will say this: I would prefer to be in a timber house than one quickly thrown together using CHB with cement render hiding all the "nasties" should we have an earthquake!

 

 

 

 

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

Something I read about a while ago. Just use extra brick ties (closer spaced) towards the top of your wall and you should be okay. The top of the wall is most vulnerable in an earthquake, so make sure there is only a couple of courses of bricks above your top row of ties (I can't remember if it was no more than one or two courses is recommended).

 

Andrew

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Mark- i dont know who did the testing [ it was tested and passed] but I can find out. There is water at the street but the local water authorities arent doing any more hook ups for the next few months so that is why we had to drill. Each well supplies about 5 houses. [ we are doing a 400 house subdivision]

I would be grateful if you could find out the name of the lab that did your water test, thanks!

 

I love wood homes too!

I would double plate the top floor and pour a 1 1/2" in light weight concrete over the plywood,so I have a sound proof layer from the foot steps heard from below.

also this would give me a sound base to lay floor tiles on.

I haven't yet decided on floor coverings for the upstairs. It may be carpet or varnished hardwood planks and scatter rugs. The bathrooms will, of course, have tile floors laid onto cement board on top of the marine-ply flooring.

 

Something I read about a while ago. Just use extra brick ties (closer spaced) towards the top of your wall and you should be okay. The top of the wall is most vulnerable in an earthquake, so make sure there is only a couple of courses of bricks above your top row of ties (I can't remember if it was no more than one or two courses is recommended).

That's more or less exactly what our builder recommends. For the top few courses, every second brick will have a tie, with the ties offset by one brick on alternate courses. We will also have extra ties for the bricks surrounding windows.

 

 

 

Mark

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here is my input

 

make cloak room and wc one room

delete storage room and replace by office. use office/living room wall as cupboard for storage

put any exra storage space in garage

extend living room (its too small) out to kitchen door , this will make your hall a lot less corridorish

use under stairs for storage/hanging clothes

find way to get more natural light in hall eg window on stairs

move both doors to utility room to corners of the room

your living room is to small to have hallway door hinged that way, reverse it around

move office door to corner

increase width of entrance door, suppress one window, and put in over door window

 

upstairs

your corridor is very long, no natural light will be dark and dingy and confined

suppress play room to give live natural light on landing and give decent sized "feature" landing

put entrance to bathroom in walk in closet - this will help keep smells and unwanted dump noises away from bedroom

extend walk in closet to bedroom 3 cupboard space, and b3 cupbaord on other side. use extra space to increase size of master bathroom

reverse round doorway of bedroom 3 - always keep bed on blind side of door

 

dont feel bad about not using tiles of roof - u will have much better chance of surviving earthquake

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Davaoeno

will do .

Mark- i dont know who did the testing [ it was tested and passed] but I can find out. There is water at the street but the local water authorities arent doing any more hook ups for the next few months so that is why we had to drill. Each well supplies about 5 houses. [ we are doing a 400 house subdivision]

I would be grateful if you could find out the name of the lab that did your water test, thanks!

 

I love wood homes too!

I would double plate the top floor and pour a 1 1/2" in light weight concrete over the plywood,so I have a sound proof layer from the foot steps heard from below.

also this would give me a sound base to lay floor tiles on.

I haven't yet decided on floor coverings for the upstairs. It may be carpet or varnished hardwood planks and scatter rugs. The bathrooms will, of course, have tile floors laid onto cement board on top of the marine-ply flooring.

 

Something I read about a while ago. Just use extra brick ties (closer spaced) towards the top of your wall and you should be okay. The top of the wall is most vulnerable in an earthquake, so make sure there is only a couple of courses of bricks above your top row of ties (I can't remember if it was no more than one or two courses is recommended).

That's more or less exactly what our builder recommends. For the top few courses, every second brick will have a tie, with the ties offset by one brick on alternate courses. We will also have extra ties for the bricks surrounding windows.

 

 

 

Mark

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here is my input

 

make cloak room and wc one room

delete storage room and replace by office. use office/living room wall as cupboard for storage

put any exra storage space in garage

extend living room (its too small) out to kitchen door , this will make your hall a lot less corridorish

use under stairs for storage/hanging clothes

find way to get more natural light in hall eg window on stairs

move both doors to utility room to corners of the room

your living room is to small to have hallway door hinged that way, reverse it around

move office door to corner

increase width of entrance door, suppress one window, and put in over door window

 

upstairs

your corridor is very long, no natural light will be dark and dingy and confined

suppress play room to give live natural light on landing and give decent sized "feature" landing

put entrance to bathroom in walk in closet - this will help keep smells and unwanted dump noises away from bedroom

extend walk in closet to bedroom 3 cupboard space, and b3 cupbaord on other side. use extra space to increase size of master bathroom

reverse round doorway of bedroom 3 - always keep bed on blind side of door

 

dont feel bad about not using tiles of roof - u will have much better chance of surviving earthquake

Your ideas are very good and I have considered them. However, the two corridor walls, on both floors, are load-bearing and, as this house is being constructed using timber, I have to take account of what dimensional timber is available here. In addition to the perimeter foundation, we are adding two rows of 8 raised reinforced concrete pads to support each of the two 'corridor' walls on both levels. As it is, we may have a problem with the master bedroom.

 

 

 

 

Mark

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Well, well, well. Part Deux.

In case you've not seen how deep wells are bored, here is a typical rig:

It's essentially a tripod with a pulley at the apex, a length of rope - one end of which is tied around the drilling pipe and the other around a capstan attached to a small diesel engine. One man raises and lowers the drilling pipe and a second man twists the pipe once its lowered. At the end of the drilling pipe is a "bit" that resembles a multi-barbed arrow-head. Each pipe section is around 12' in length and the top end is threaded so that an additional section, the bottom of which has a threaded 'socket' - can be screwed onto it. There are companies that use trailer-mounted motorised rotary drills but their charges are eye-wateringly humongous so most wells are drilled using this low-tech method.

Progress is somewhat slow and not helped by the fact that for four days last week they did no work as their diesel engine had packed-up after two hours. However they obtained a replacement on Friday and they've worked solid twelve hour days since then. So far they have gone down about 20' and about 12' into the volcanic ash layer which is of an unknown depth. Once through the ash layer, they'll encounter the original topsoil, by now heavily compacted, before reaching the rock layer that forms the aquifer 'lid'.

Our well is costing 1,000 Pesos per day to drill but that doesn't include "consumables" (eg: the eventual 2-inch water delivery pipe or pump).

Elsewhere on the site, all the rebar for the footings is now in situ ready for the concrete; Mike had all the rebar painted with red oxide primer before use. We need just over five cubic metres of concrete for this which, conveniently, is the capacity of a ready-mix truck. We've been quoted 3,250 per cubic metre for 2500 psi concrete which is pretty close to the materials cost + labour charge to mix it and has the benefit that it will be a single pour. (One cubic metre of concrete of that strength requires a little over six 94 pound sacks of cement - that's a lot of concrete to mix in a one-bagger!)

Mark

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I'm enjoying following this thread, but would just like to see more pictures ! thumbs_up.gif

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