Last work day 15 March 2006

Today was our last day, and I will …sort of… miss it! 🙂 It has been hard work, and it has been really great to be able to switch work sites, though I *did* get tired and sore from painting. Today I was at the experimental house site most of the day, but it was quite hot and I am coming down with a cold and I found myself losing steam so I bugged out the last couple hours and went back to painting – out of the sun.

This is for Irena – such as it is! The experimental house, which is being built for Tutu and Luis who are from the Cook Islands, is not really so experimental by international standards, maybe. I asked Gavin (alias “The View”, who really is *quite* pleasant to look at, at about 6’3″, curly brown hair, a big smile, and a very easy manner) about it and he said that actually this design has not been used in NZ yet, but is used elsewhere in the world. The house is being built out of morterless cement block with a steel tension rod down through the blocks, which will be filled with concrete, and the rods will be tightened when the walls are all up. The reason it has not been used in NZ is because popular belief was that it was not stable enough for earthquake zones, and NZ has a lot of earthquakes, though most are small. But Gavin’s doctoral research has shown that it is quite stable.

Yesterday the crew finished leveling the gravel foundation. So today we rolled out a heavy black plastic on top, cut around several pipes and rods sticking up, taped it all together, and then began placing huge polystyrene blocks (about 1.5 meters on a side and about 8″ thick, with a waffle form on the bottom, and closed on top) down as filler. We then separated each block by 4″ using plastic spacers that look rather like plant pots which will hold steel rods running in both directions. Then we had to cut some of the blocks using a saw (I got very good at it!) to accomodate the plumbing, and maintain the spacing – it was very interesting, and a very fast way to fill the space. The blocks will then be covered by about 3 inches of concrete. The house foundation looked like a big white raft grid. There is no sun cover at that site, so it gets pretty intense.

We basically finished all the painting and the front and back deck/steps in Juanita’s house – woohoo! (BTW, Juanita is a Maori.) All they will have left to do (the local staff and volunteers) is the bathroom and kitchen fixtures, the tile, and the carpet. It really has been fun and exactly what I wanted to do. I believe I will do this again 🙂 – anyone want to join me??

I called around trying to find another camera like mine today during the breaks, thanks to the Habitat construction manager, and was successful, but the price is considerably more than it will be in the US, so I will just wait. I bought a little single-use camera, and one of our team also gave me a disposable digital camera to use – so I now have about 50 shots left… not what I had hoped for Rotorua, Taupo, and Tongariro, but it will do. (You guys will probably be glad – not so many to wade through!!)

Tomorrow we are going black water rafting in a glow worm cave… hmmm. I’ll let you know how that goes, IF I go! 🙂