I’m an average statistic

Mostly when people talk about building a house there are some general trends in their stories you can be sure of. It took longer than expected, it cost more than expected and stuff went wrong. But it will not happen to me. Yeah right! I had prepared myself for this in some way, that is why I keep saying we don’t know how long it will take. You expect things to be done by a certain time, and when it is not, stress sets in. But it really is taking long now. Our walls were done nearly three weeks ago. I arrived on site and there was some excitement – soon we will plaster. That was untill I climbed up to second level and saw that the walls had gone skew. For real.

I thought you might not believe me. So the picture is proof. I took some photos and climbed down to notice that the lintels are buckling. For real.

And then I look up at the floor. I have been levelling the floor every day for at least 4 to 5 days now. Everyday the level goes out. The floor was laid straight onto the bags, and the bags compact. This was not going to happen, I was told, from our consultant.  I remembered the phone conversation so clearly.


I go and sit down at the back of the house. A car stops. The same conversation starts. Are you building with sand? Yes I say, smiling. And then he tells me of his building experience. He built a house, then the foundations sagged by 30 cm and the house walls sheared right through. It cost a lot of money to repair. I can see that his story is perfectly timed. My troubles are really minor.

 Funny, this morning, I read some knowledge and it said, that things are perfect, it always is, it is just your vision that is not. My mind is digesting the fact that my house is a mess, and still resisting accepting that everything is perfect?

My sister arrives. A well of emotion bubbles up and start escaping as tears. I ask her to go cause I really, really do not want to talk about it. My poor sister leaves totally confused. I pick up the phone and phone 4 of my best friends. No one answers. Funny that. When you want to complain, I have noticed, sometimes it is not allowed cause everything is perfect. How can it be perfect? Right, I did wonder if the site will ever absorb a tear from me. Now I don’t have to wonder about that anymore. Time to move on.

I instruct breaking down the wall and start the process of gathering a lot of advice. I’m standing in the hardware store when my new boyfriend appears. He heard the news. I phoned my mom to tell her, I’m sorry, the wall is coming down. She phones my sister. My sister tells Mike and here he is. Without thinking popped in his car. Yes he has been on site. Climbed up the wall. And he has a plan. Something about a string. I feel dubious.

String tied from the middle of the wall on each side. So you can see which way to pull the wall. Wall is pulled tying wire to the top and guys pulling at the bottom. My new boyfriend, Mike, is afraid of heights. That is him at the top of my house in the picture there. In a few hours the walls are straight again. What a nice man. And he keeps delivering chocolates. I mean, hello!

That night, I tell a friend of all the drama. She cheers me up by painting my toenails and directing me to some builders. Between them and the engineer i design a new floor, which will also help keep the walls straight. The floor is done. It is much better. Luckily the walls pulled skew otherwise we would have had a flimsy floor.

The walls are a few bags from done. Building a house is relentless. It feels like everyday there is another challenge. I am wondering when I can sit back just for one day, and do something that I did the day before, without having to think. Some days I really do not want to go to the site. But quite the opposite, I race there every morning, just observing that it is a feeling. Except for this morning. I really, really just wanted to go surfing the whole day. Someone today said, I should not lose hope. I replied, do I have a choice?

Jakkie has been so amazing throughout this. If I ever think of building again, she will remind me what a process it is. Unlike me, who will happily forget the intensity, and jump back into a new project like this…… she will spell it out, day by day. Good person to have around.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christian winkelmann on March 4, 2011 at 4:58 am

    Hi , is it not butifull , there is always a way , make a plan , all the best chris


  2. Posted by Nelia Coetzee on April 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I watch yr house ‘grow'(I visit every week) & i LOVE it! you have inspired me to build my own sandbag house on the farm in the lovely Gamtoos Rivermouth district as soon as I have sold my house in PE. Ladies..I am so proud of you !
    Nelia Coetzee
    FNB Fountains Mall


  3. Posted by Emily Seddon on May 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Stunning place and great blog – been following it for a while now because we also intend on trying this building method – we noticed your blog has slowed down recently – keep checking to see if youve made a new entry – please please continue with this blog ..so inspirational and interesting ..would love to see the progress so far. All the best


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