I’ll try not to make this blog a commercial for Omar Guerrero Construction, but I have to say again, we’re impressed. Omar added a few more to the crew in week 3. Fernando (Perro or “doggie”), Eric, Rigo and his brother Pablo. We are up to 10 on the crew and they’re working HARD!
By the end of week 3, the crew had sunk all 15 pilings to rock and formed up and poured 2 piling caps. It starts out with the crew moving the pilings to the holes – all done manually – no machines used at all.
Next, sea water is pumped into the hole through a high-pressure pipe that loosens the sand under the piling. The shear weight of the piling takes it the rest of the way down – but at the bottom, the crew has to lift the piling using a steel pipe and thump it down to make sure it’s sitting on bedrock and not a hundreds-of-years-old conch shell or a limestone crust. Truly, this is back breaking work!
At the end of these days, the guys would come up covered in mud and with pockets full of sand. They’d head to the sea to rinse off and wash up. Amazingly, these guys would still have energy left to make fun of each other (and probably me!), laughing and proud of what they had accomplished for the day. Finally all pilings are set!!!
There are always 2-3 guys measuring, cutting and bending steel for the pilings, caps or beams – mostly 5/8″ heavy steel that would cause Superman trouble. And on most days, doing it ALL DAY LONG!. There’s one guy painting each piece of steel with Osfoh – a rust remover that preps the re-bar for concrete (you never want to bury steel in concrete that has even surface rust on it).
There’s also 2 men (Rigo is the lead carpenter) building forms for the piling caps, and the rest of the men are digging holes for the piling cap forms. Once the caps are formed up, they are placed in the hole and leveled. Then a steel basket (shown on left) is set inside and tied in to the starter steel from the pilings. Then a steel column is set and tied into the bottom of the baskets, which will be the starting steel for the columns that will eventually sit on top of the caps. Finally, concrete is poured – making sure the column starters are perfectly aligned.
Everyone has their role but everyone jumps in when thumping pilings or mixing and pouring concrete. Each guy seems to be able to do every job so far.
Each day of week 3 and week 4 ends with an hour of “all hands on deck” to mix and pour the piling caps that were set up that day-usually 3 or 4 per day. Ten bags of cement go into each cap along with 50 – 60 five-gallon buckets of sand and gravel mix and 5 gallons of water. It’s literally a TON of concrete.
By the middle of week 4, the steel crew began to cut, bend and tie the ground beams that will rest on top of the piling caps under the cistern. These end up being about 53′ by 25′ and the lengths between will be cut to size and bent in the hole, after the perimeter of the ground beams is lowered into the hole. Week 4 ends with all the piling caps under the cistern being completed (a giant sigh of relief). The ground beam structure is done also and went into the hole late Friday afternoon. It is suspended for the moment so that the remaining steel can be tied in at waist height. By Saturday of week 4, the forms were being set to encase the ground beams in concrete and a final alignment check done to make sure things are square.
Week 5 starts out with a great surprise! Victor, (Gray shirt in picture on the left) who is in charge of bending and tying the re-bar structures had worked the rest of Saturday and Sunday and had completed and lowered the ground beam structure. Now we’re ahead of schedule and can finish the concrete forms for the ground beams and floor to pour concrete as early as Wednesday (instead of Friday!!)
By Thursday morning, the forms are set and back-filled with earth. Black plastic is laid down and the re-bar steel for the cistern floor is set in place and will tie in the floor with the walls of the cistern. We bring in an extra 5-man crew and pour the floor – starting around 6:30 am to avoid the heat of the day.
Other accomplishments for these weeks include paying the square foot tax on the property. This was the last step in getting the building permit sign – the official permission to begin erecting a structure!
Another note on the quality of people working on this job: “The hole” that was dug for the cistern became a muddy, sweltering hot pit. It was hotter than hot and since it was below grade, the sea breeze just couldn’t make it down there. To say it was sweltering in the hole is an understatement. Never once did I hear a single guy complain about the heat, working in mud or having to go swimming to set the pilings. Never a negative word was said. Not a single gripe. When we finished with the last cap and set the ground beam into the “hole”, the foreman Patch finally said, “I’m so happy to be done with the mud”. Never a complaint from anyone – just thankful that one of the toughest challenges the crew will face is complete. (left to right in the picture is Rigo, Patch, Pablo and Doggie)
Stay tuned for further updates – things are moving right along!!! Please subscribe, like and share this blog if you enjoy the updates. You’ll then get an email when new updates are posted. Keep the thoughts, prayers and comments coming!!!