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4. Build Own House – Brick Laying & Floor Concrete

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This is the exciting part, brick laying, like you play with the LEGO®, brick by brick. First, preparing the mortar, the ratio for mortar that I used  is, 1 part of the cement with 4 parts of the sand (1 : 4 ). Sometime, because of the poor sand quality, I need to mix the sand with the wall plastering sand (with very small particles) to make the sand not too rough and have a smooth texture. Make sure the mortar are not too wet and not too dry, too wet : you make the sand soup and not sticky, too dry : unworkable and very difficult to use. It’s easy to laying the brick when you have a pillar as guideline, this is an advantage for standing the pillars first.

Using a string (need to tight enough) as guide to make sure the height and the straightness of the next row of brick, you can tight the string at the brick at the both side or…

you can nails it using metal nails. It is good rules of thumb to make sure the first row is in the right position using the spirit level. wipe up any excess mortar and use it to start the next row. I used Brick Reinforcement Coil/mesh for every 3-5 course as anti-cracking . Repeat this method for every course of bricks and make sure to follow the correct brick pattern.

Meanwhile not laying the bricks, I have the job that need to be done too, fill the foundation with the soil.

Do it bit by bit by hand, why not directly throw from the lorry? The soil also come with big stone, I scare it will hurt the foundation and also there are limited space for lorry. Backhoe? Cost…

It is good if you have a soil compactor machine, but it will involve an extra money, either you buy or rental. So, I just let’s the time, weather and foot as natural compactor.

Continue for brick laying, this time, I need to setting out the door frame. It is more faster if you have at least another two hand. 2′ from the pillar is good enough.

I using metal frame, so, it will flexing and need to support it with the brick and wood, make sure it stand correctly using spirit level.

Need to check it time by time until you fully cover it with the bricks.

Repeating the process.

Same principle for the windows (depend on what type of the window that you choose). For the first window, from the beam to the window base, I laying the brick about 3′ height, then, using technique from the last post repeat for the others window, so, all the windows base will have same height. Using wooden frame as temporary window frame (will replace it with the aluminum frame later) and to support the beam over window. Make sure it in center position.

My father brick laying the temporary window frame.

Make the formwork for the above window beam, use two Y10 BS 1.02  rebars as reinforcement bar.

Wait at least 24 hours before remove the formwork and frame.

Repeating the process.

And for the kitchen space I decide to put just a small frame to give the space for future planning (hanging cabinet maybe?)

Actually I planning to put something above the main door, so it will have equal height with the windows.

Then I decide the new planning later on, what it is? Wait…hehe.

After the soil is compacted enough (indicator? Experience, period, haha), time to laying floor concrete (rough surface), first by covered the soil with the aggregate rocks (some prefer sand + damp-proof membrane, to prevent moisture from passing into the interior spaces),

then laying the steel mesh (I used A8 size, I think A6 is good enough for resident interior floor) to prevent surface cracks in mass concrete, hmm, the term of BRC for steel mesh is quite popular here in Malaysia, what I can find is BRC refer to British Reinforcement Company Ltd., in here, every steel mesh they will called BRC even not from BRC, maybe this is impact from the British Colonization, even today we’re stay used many of British Standard.

My father leveling the floor, the thickness of slab is about 3 inch.

In the meanwhile, start to build the access door between kitchen and living room,

Need to put a little classical touch. The main material : 1 piece of 4′ ready made intrados and 2 piece of cyma recta type cornice (here, people called tupai(old-school term) direct translate is squirrel?)

Using back temporary window frame and the same technique.

Recycle back small peace of brick, at the edge of frame, tight-up the cornice and at the upper surface put some pure cement concentration as glue.

Glue together with the intrados, balance it with the spirit level and string.


Then working for sliding door frame, same technique with windows just with the big scale.

Ready for the next chapter!