Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shipping Update

Our 20 foot container has arrived in Japan!
It still has to clear customs, but we're happy that it made the journey.

Also our wood flooring from China has arrived in the port and should also be coming soon.

The company sent some pictures of our wood after manufacturing, it looks really good.

We liked the grain of oak the best and wanted a light grey for the first floor.
The second floor will have white oak flooring.

Choosing Paint

Nearly all Japanese structures use wallpaper rather than paint.
The reasons being the high susceptibility of cracking and the easy coverage and cleaning of wallpaper.

We prefer to use paint, so were interested in what natural options are available in Japan. Yoko came across a company which distributes a German product called Kreidezeit. It comes as a powder which is mixed with water, the price is very reasonable. So we contacted the representative in Japan. She came to Okayama and showed us how to mix the paint and we tested it out.

Once mixed it should have the consistency of 'melted ice-cream'.
It can be applied with a regular roller.
We like that is is 100% natural and think it will be a good paint for our house.

I'm worried about doing all the plastering work and painting myself, and hope that no cracks will develop...Otherwise it will be wallpaper time!

Monday, October 29, 2012

House Raising

We were looking forward to the house raising which would include an introduction to our building crew and a shared drink of Sake, in Japanese, Muneage.
 Yoko and Motoki pour cups of Sake.
It was impressive to see our house being erected quickly and smoothly. All of the beams are numbered and packed, ready to be put into place. The crew was very organized and efficient.
There were eight workers including the crane operator. Our architect and assistant were onsite as well as our builder.
A few more pictures of the construction.
Front Door.
 Standing in the guest room, looking towards (what will be) the bathroom.
 Second Floor.
Full height of the house.
 One side is completed.
A complete album can be found here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scaffold and First Floor

Work has begun on the framing. The beams for the first floor and the wood for the subfloor have been installed. Progress is quite rapid as everything has been pre-cut and laid out according to an engineering plan.

The scaffold is very tall and sturdy.
 Motoki and I had a good time climbing on it, until Yoko told us to come down.
Yoko did enjoy going into the bathroom, though she's still not sure if it's big enough.
It was great to get a feel for the size of the garage. The ceiling while not overly high also doesn't feel low either.

The beams will be left exposed and finished with just the foam ceiling as is, which looks quite nice.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Foundation - Last Look

Hopefully this will be the last look at the foundation before the work begins on the wood framing. We're expecting some serious scaffolding to go up soon and the wood to start to arrive for the house.

Another layer of earth was brought in to level out the front of the house.
Also the frame for the bathroom wall was removed.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Clean Look at the Foundation

The foundation construction materials have all been cleaned up and removed from the site.

The dirt fill which was removed from the front of the house for the foundation work was put back.

The frame for the bathroom wall has yet to be removed.

A vapor barrier was used where the dirt rests against the concrete.
 Yoko does a bit of housework !
A view from the back looking towards the street.
Someday a deck will go here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Foundation Reveal

The concrete in the foundation finished hardening and curing.
The workers began taking off the wood frames.

The next day we were excited to be able to see the finished foundation.
The concrete looked gorgeous.

They also poured the floor and half wall for the shower room.

The concrete has a beautiful color and a shiny texture. Half of the foundation will be covered over with dirt, but the rest will be exposed, we're glad that we can show some of it.

It was fun to be able to go inside the basement and imagine the garage space, work space and storage rooms that we will have. Basements are rare in Japan, but we think it's very useful. The ceiling is a little low at 2 meters, but we hope it will be adequate without feeling claustrophobic.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Foundation Pour

We showed up early to check out the foundation being poured. There was already one concrete mixer and a pump truck in place to fill the frames with the mix. There were several workers; one working the pump, another following with a vibrator to get all of the air out of the mix, and a third worker keeping a close eye on the frames and tapping on the outside of the frames to dislodge any air bubbles.
Our builder Sugimoto-san was supervising as well. He told us that there would be 5-6 loads of concrete necessary to fill our enormous foundation! We had no idea! We hung around for 4 truck loads. It was quite a site to see the coordination of the trucks arriving and leaving and all of the workers doing their jobs.

Even Motoki was impressed.
 Anchor bolts.
 The pump rig in action.
 A view from across the pond.
 Here are a couple panoramic shots.

A little clip of the action.

The concrete will harden and cure for 3-4 days and then the frames will be removed. We're pretty excited. 

The foundation was one of the most expensive single things of the construction, so it has been satisfying to see the level of quality and work that went into it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Another Meeting

We had a four hour meeting with our builder, Sugimoto-San.

Despite the language barrier (for me anyways) we're impressed with his communication and willingness to discuss every detail with us. Among the items we covered today were window frames, door opening and more details about construction materials.
We covered a lot of items, but still have quite a few question marks. We still need to decide on a paint for the interior. Japan has a lot of great 'eco' options, Shikkui for example which is all natural, but it's applied with a trowel. We need to find something that is more DIY friendly. So there is some more research to be done.

Sugimoto-San showed us some samples of the construction materials, including the 40mm thick plywood for under the floor, the styrofoam which will be used in the rafters of the basement and the rather impressive plastic panels which are used between the foundation and the beams, which the house actually rests on and provides ventilation. See below.

and More Foundation Work

It's coming up on three weeks since the work on the foundation began. The steel work is about finished and the workers began erecting the wooden frames. We will try to be around on the day of the pour to enjoy the sight and smell of fresh concrete.