Tag: construction


Wooden laders destined to become kindling, Uruguay

For over a month now, I’ve been supervising repairs on a house whose American owners haven’t been here in six years. The caretaker died of cancer a couple years ago. Leaving a house unmaintained is bad anywhere, but with the humidity, really bad in Uruguay.

Today I brought home two ladders (one on the ground cut in two pieces to fit in the car). The vertical one is completely ruined by bugs — notice the bottom rung, broken from just a little weight.

The one on the ground is equally scary. All that wire desperately wound to hold the thing together. That could be ten years old. More likely 15 or 20. Or more: the house was built in the 1960s.

Astillas? Kindling. My next fun-with-dangerous-power-tools project!



My “ghetto” gutter

Several years ago, a departing northerner gave me a short length of plastic gutter, hangers, and a couple other pieces which I installed on our barbacoa. Recently I’ve been inspired — mostly by the unexpected gift of an extra 3-meter gutter section by apparently incompetent employees in a local business that I’m told is a front — to expand it to the full length of the barbacoa. With rain coming yesterday evening, I was eager to get it put together.

Then I discovered that the existing elbow was not in fact 45°, but more like 60°.  This is not my first 45° angle problem in Uruguay.

But hey —

— it worked.

This is a little better, but I’m still not finished. Despite finally learning how to drill holes in walls correctly, I must have hit iron inside the concrete column on one side, so the bracket is more decorative than functional at this point. And maybe I need to splurge on another hanger for the downspout end. Oopa!

Why does the downspout end at knee level, instead of ground level? Well, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, — no, I really don’t want paraphrase that hideous creature who unleashed the neurotoxin aspartame on the world — let’s just say “I worked with what I had.”



Fast house construction

I have often commented on how long construction takes in Uruguay. Simple houses can take the better part of a year.

By contrast, using new technology, here’s the house Syd and Gundy are building as a rental.

super fast house construction with Isopanel

This is in fact a bit misleading because, being Easter week, the workers have only put in a few hours of work the last three days.




Taco wisdom

When we installed an “inverter” split (DC, variable, no motor noise) in our bedroom, we moved the noisy split (AC/heater/dehumidifier) unit to our dining room. Finally, today, I mounted its remote control to the wall, removing two pieces of clutter from the counter top.

Took me ten years to figure this out.

But that’s not the story. In north North America, hanging something on a wall is pretty simple, dealing with drywall and (usually) wood studs. In south North America, and South America, our home for ten years, you deal with a different situation: plaster and brick walls. In Uruguay the requisite plastic expanding anchors are called Tacos Fisher, and I’ve often found myself sticking wood slivers or broken toothpicks alongside them because the hole ends up too big.

Until I figured it out.

To install a wall anchor, do not drill a hole.

This will be obvious to a machinist, or someone who has worked a lot with metal, but I am neither. You don’t drill a hole: you drill a hole twice, the first time with a smaller drill bit. You then use the proper-size drill as a reamer.


I can’t believe it took me over nine years to figure that out :0




Feliz año nuevo

You’ll recall that Christmas Day 2016 was dreary as could be.

January 1, 2017, Uruguay: rain

So was New Year’s Day. I’m starting to wonder if this forecast “hot and dry” summer might end up looking like 2014.

Typical Uruguay quality?

I “repaired” the incompetent window installer’s botched fix (see first link above). Turns out when he smeared everything with silicon, he covered up the drain hole. Someone else advised me to drill holes on the outside channel every 20 cm or so, and I drilled through the aluminum — but forgot to cut away the silicon on the outside. Anyway, in the yesterday’s bad storm, it (finally) didn’t leak.

Sunset, Atlántida, Uruguay

The rain cleared and we had a lovely sunset at 8:30,

moon, Atlántida, Uruguay

and a clear view of the waxing moon.

The second of January didn’t bode well. I got bitten by a dog.

Alas, it was my own dog. Accosted by an obnoxious and too-often-loose dog, Benji and Syd’s five predictably went crazy. Apparently when I pulled Benji back quickly he assumed my leg was the enemy. No harm done.

Sunset, Atlántida, Uruguay

And another lovely sunset.

fake soccer ball in ditch

Yesterday brought the unusual sight of a fake soccer ball in a ditch, not far from where I once saw two real soccer balls in the ditch.

Beach house complete after two years

And I noticed for the first time that the townhouses are finally rented after two-plus years of construction.

house, Atlántida, Uruguay

Today I noticed that one started ten months ago is finally finished.

Meanwhile at the beach, the saga of the buried boardwalk seems almost over.

Rotting boardwalk, Atlántida Uruguay

The exposed part is getting a little dangerous to walk on (but could be worse),

Dune breach, Atlántida, Uruguay

and while the dune has regained its height on the left, burying the elevated boardwalk, the path of least resistance has once again become the breach in the dune, which is now larger than ever. For a fun comparison of its early days, see this from October 2013.

stick on beach

And a much-traveled beach throwing stick that now — after ten or more trips up and down the beach — probably deserves to be retired.

Finally, more rain is forecast. I’m ready!

No, these are not in progress. They are finished. They are above the stairs, where no one sees them, and even though I have repeated sealed them, after water pouring down the wall inside during yesterday’s rain/wind storm I said enough! The goop I happened to have on hand is white.

They don’t even open. I intend to replace them with glass blocks eventually.