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Posts Tagged House

5. Build Own House – Roof/Upper Beam

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So, my project almost reach the upper level, the roof/upper beam.

Preparing the rebar cages, same procedure like ground beam, just reduce the size to 1 feet only.

Bringing up!

Using back 1.5 feet ground beam plywood formwork, some, I build the new one, this time I used the ‘bolt on’ technique. We’re just need 1 feet only, other 0.5 feet will be clamping force. Level it using spirit level, so, the beam will be even and have same height.

Inside the box.

In the meanwhile, we’re already have guest. The flying one.

The result.

Repeated. Using wooden stick to reserve the space for electrical conduit (Optional, you could hack the beam later on, but it will involve an extra job). Why not using electrical conduit itself? I like the flexibility thing. At this stage, it is essential to plan/know your house electrical wiring circuit diagram, the location for every points.

I think 0.5 inch is good enough…but I’m insufficient source…

Others guest…

Can you spot my second guest?

Close up. This is second resident, same nest, this remind me how long this project will goes…

 Looking and checking around…

I spare the extent of rebar for the porch construction (hold for now), I think we should step to another step?

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! 

3. Build Own House – Foundation

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This is the most important part (at least for me). The foundation.

“A foundation (or, more commonly, foundations) is the element of an architectural structure which connects it to the ground, and transfers loads from the structure to the ground. Foundations are generally considered either shallow or deep.[1] Foundation engineering is the application of soil mechanics and rock mechanics (Geotechnical engineering) in the design of foundation elements of structures.” Source :

There are many method/type for foundation, it depend on various of aspect, soil type, equipment, cost etc;, I’m not claim my foundation is perfect, it’s just work for me. If your study further more, even the soil investigation will  make your head spinning, all about time and money, in my case, I’m not do the mega-structure, so, experience playing the rule here and all within the spec.

Level the Ground

This is the important part, mostly because the uneven soil surface or has hills. This process will tell how different the ground level from stake to stake and how deep we need to dig every pad footing locations. From the previous post, I marked the pad footing with the wooden stakes.

Randomly mark the highest ground level wooden stake, for example in picture below, I mark stake B (I named the mark with the ‘black line’), so, stake B will be reference for all other stakes.

I used the traditional way, Bernoulli’s principle,  fluid dynamics. Using water (or any fluid that minimize/terminate the air bubbles), clear PVC tube flexible hose pipe (length = The longest distance of the building+a few meters spare) and need at least two peoples to do this job done. Filled the tube with the fluid, reserve about 1 feet, make sure there is  no air bubbles.

Person B will hold the end of the fluid at stake B, While the Person A will hold the end of the fluid at stake A. Person B will make sure the end of the fluid precisely parallel with the ‘black line’ at the B stake (I know that is not a wooden stick, just for demo only).

After that, person B will telling at the person A. Then person A will mark the stake A exactly at the end of the fluid. repeat this process for all the stakes, make stake B as reference.

Pad Footing

At this point, this is your decision, how much your desired height from ground to your building floor? From the lowest or the highest ground level? In my case, I measure from the lowest ground level, from the lowest level ground I want to build 1.5 feet ground beam (between length 1), from the ground to underground I need to dig about 3’x3’x0.5′ for pad footing (length 2).

So, how deep you need to dig every pads footing? Length 1 + length 2.

Before start the project, there are two basic elements that we need, 1st, water,

2nd, electricity, powered by Honda! To power the dream into the reality…

Yes, I dig it by hand. 

This is the trials after raining days.

The advantage of excavation by hand is you didn’t need to make the pad footing formwork, since the ground itself will be the permanent formwork.

This procedure below for ready-made-pillar only. No need for stump procedure.

Prepare the rebar (short for reinforcing bar), 3’x3′. Using Y10 BS 1.02 reinforced steel.

Prepare the concrete. Ratio for the foundations and footings that I used is, 1 part of cement with 3 parts of sand and 6 parts of aggregate (1:3:6). This concrete mixer is more than help, worth to buy. A slump test is a method used to determine the consistency of concrete.

Once again, powered by Honda! 

Pour concrete half of the pad footing then put the rebar then fully cover it with the concrete, so, no need for spacer, rebar will be permanently embedded in center of poured concrete to create a reinforced concrete pad footing structure to support the ready-made-pillar.

Ground Beam

Ground level beam foundation is common type of foundation to support the building and the loads that are within or on the building, and this is the type of foundation that I will apply, T-shaped foundation.

The general rule of thumb: 

  1. The depth of a strip foundation must be equal to or greater than the overall width of the wall.
  2. The width of the foundation must be three times (or greater, depend on others factor, such type of soil, lab analysis, etc. ) the width of the supported wall to allow for enough concrete to get a good bearing.

I Dig a trench between pad footing (about 2 ft. width ((4 inch brick width x3)+ 1′ reserve for formwork)), level the depth parallel with the each pad footings.

Stand the pillars at the pad footing locations.

Repeat the last post procedure, just change from the stakes to the pillars. Measure the length between pillars, level it with the spirit level then use 1″x2″ woods to make sure it steady at the placed.

My father check for the accuracy.

Prepare the rebar using Y10 BS 1.02 reinforced steel. R6 steel as rebar ligatures to provide shear reinforcement in concrete beams.

The picture will tell better.

My brother using the traditional way to consolidate the concrete, to reduce the amount of air pockets inside the concrete mass. Use the brick to make sure the rebar in the center position, then remove before the concrete reach the brick.

Prepare the rebar cages for the ground beam. Using Y10 BS 1.02 reinforced steel as well and R6 steel as rings.

In case if you wonder how to tie down the ring into the reinforced steel, here step by step,

Prepare the ground beam plywood formwork.

I apply used engine oil at the formwork surface as release agents.

Enclose rebar cages in formwork. Make sure the formwork is strong enough, as though as you didn’t want to remove it anymore. Level it using spirit level. If you notice, in-front of level spirit, there are small wooden stick, I used that to hang the rebar cages, tied with string, remove that after pouring the concrete.

Pouring the concrete and consolidate it.

Make sure to leave an in-and-out internal access for the last part.

 I think this is the hardest job to be done, need a lot of effort, money and time, and I glad it done well! 

2. Build Own House – Setting Out

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To make it simple, setting out is to transferred the actual scale (100%) of floor plan to the site using string lines and wooden stakes. The purpose is to know the boundaries and to know where is the location of pad footing and this gives us the location of the house for inspection by local authority building inspector, for approval. I found this video is very informative for beginner,

This is the time we need to use what we learn from our secondary school, Theorem Pythagoras! 3-4-5 trick, if A = 3, B = 4, the C will absolutely be 5.

Apply for every corner, then measure the blue and red point length for accuracy, they should be equal.

Then, repeat this process on all sides of your home…sound simple right? The orange box is our pad footing location.

I used wooden stakes to mark the pad footing location.

Helped by my father.

1. Build Own House – Location and Planning

Posted in My House Construction | No Comments » section! This is the first page for my new category, just to sharing building my own house experience. Any Advise and question are warm welcome .

First, of course, location, I’ve the land that suitable to my vision, and first step is to really clear up my vision.

Proper planning is essential! With my limited budget, I need to carefully with the planning, failed to planning is planning to failed. After calculation, I come out with the floor, foundation and roof plan, maybe will modify it time by time…