Monday, September 05, 2005

Working as a builder

I've been a little busier than usual, too, as I've been working part-time for the last four months building a studio/cottage for a friend, with him and another chap. It was very convenient, as I was able to work school hours, and if there was a school activity, a sick child or something else that I needed to attend to, it was no problem for me to take time off. I found the work enjoyable and interesting, and not too strenuous or difficult, although I did whinge a little when we were putting up the ceilings (my upper arm strength has deteriorated from minimal to almost non-existent). We were also pretty lucky with the weather - as you can see from the photo below - during the period before we had the roof on, with very little rain, and lots of beautiful sunny days.

It was also very satisfying to have been involved with the project more or less from the start. I didn't actually dig the holes for the foundations, but we concreted in the posts for the piles on my first day, and I did a bit of everything right up to the final touches of paint work a few weeks ago. Peter & Moana - the owners of the building, and parents of C+L's friend Anya, shown in the photo in a pevious posting - told me this weekend that the carpet is due in this week, and a roof-wetting party is planned for next weekend. A few weeks ago we attended the baptism of their third daughter Freya at a very pretty old RC church in Te Puna, the other side of Tauranga. I was interested to discover that the outdoor "font" used was an old Maori grinding stone ("huyu", or is it "guyu") brought from the original church which was built, I think, some time in the 1880s.

Anyway, back to the building work ... the trickiest part of the job was erecting the roof trusses, which had to manhandled into place by the three of us (with the aid of some ladders and a tractor with a bucket on the front). I wasn't too happy on working up at that height at first - even though it's now 18 yrs since my accident, I'm still not to keen on heights - but the time the photo below (Jerry, Peter & myself, securing roof trusses) was taken by Moana, I was familiar enough not to be holding on for dear life with one hand while hammering with the other.

I wouldn't mind doing some more work in that field, but unless I find more part-time or piece work in the area, it's not likely to happen, as I'm always restricted to school hours during the school term, and am completely unavailable during the holidays. Besides, part of the attraction was the continually changing nature of the work - one day it was cutting and hammering timber together, the next it was doing plastering, nailing on roofing sheets, or painting the insides of cupboards. In real life, I believe that houses here are generally built by a series of contractorrs, each of whom is very skilled in a fairly narrow field, and I think it might get repetitive and tiresome before too long. A friend who lives down the road used to have a small business as a plasterer, but had to give it up not long ago because of RSI (repetitive strain injury) in his wrists. Anyway, it was an interesting change for me, and I think I got a vague inkling of what it was like for ggfather Charles Vincent and Uncle Hallam to work on the construction of the dome of the Horticultural Building at the Worlds Fair in Chicago a hundred and twelve years ago in 1892 - see image below!

Oh, and I forgot to mention the rather nonplussed look I got from my co-workers when I asked for "sando ne spikiri".

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