The floor is disintegrating
So, we have a problem. The white cement floor is falling apart. It seems that the mix that our builder told the workers to use did not contain enough glue to remain solid, and that the layer of white cement was far too thin. In our main residence, it is cracking significantly, but it’s even worse in the studio and offices, where the floor is literally crumbling away. It’s turning into sand. Just the smallest touch and it breaks away.
Solving this problem will be expensive and time-consuming as the floors will need to be done again. However, this time we’ll have to do it in stages so that we can see that one area holds up and is still solid after 3+ months, before starting the next area.
Saving the retaining wall
A few weeks ago, I brought in a consultant, Edo, who gave the villa a thorough check-up. While there were many areas that needed to be finished off or modified, most of it was not too urgent. One of the exceptions was our back retaining wall. This is the wall that holds in our back garden and swimming pool.
Edo looked over it and saw my photos of how it had been built and said that it wasn’t done well enough. Some extra strengthening had been added but he was worried that it might collapse when the weight of the water from the many rainy season storms was added to it. Removing all the soil to reinforce the wall was not a practical option so we looked for a simple solution instead
As the problem was the weight of extra water, we needed to remove all that extra water when it rains. A simple solution was conceived. Water flows down, so we created a way for the water to run out of the soil. Short lengths of pipe were cut, with small holes drilled into the top of them so water could enter the pipe. They were wrapped int mesh so they couldn’t be filled and blocked by stones. They were then drilled into the back wall about half way up (we already had other ones at the base of the wall) to allow the water to flow out.
During the next storm, I went outside and hey presto, it worked!
We also called in a roofing contractor to check the tiles. It’d stuck my head up into the attic area and I’d seen little rays of light shining through. That could only mean that the tiles were not placed correctly, or had broken. They came in and replaced 11 broken tiles. They also painted those sections with waterproof paint.
Light = water can enter
Occupational Heath & Safety is not a big deal here
Making Umi’s room
Umi, our incredible nanny, has been with us for 5 years. She loves our kids just like her own, and is well and truly a part of our family. When we took this piece of land, the land owner would not give us a smaller 4-5 are (400-500square metre) plot, we had to take at least 8 are. We really liked this land, so decided to take the bigger plot of land.
That meant we had a lot more space to play with, and was one of the reasons we built a photographic studio for me to shoot in. It also meant we had more than enough space to create a mini-studio for Umi to live in. We asked her if she wanted to live on site with us and she was thrilled. Her family is all in Java and she lives in a small and not particularly nice kos (a very basic single room). We knew we could make a much bigger and nicer place for her, and she could design it herself.
We spoke with Umi and she wanted to divide the space into a smaller cooking/eating area, and then a larger living/sleeping area. So our team set to work to build a dividing wall.
Our rescue dog, Lucky, is an adorable-yet-bitey ball of energy. We had used a big piece of polycarbonate plastic to block off the side path so she couldn’t get out to the front section of the house, and then out the front gate. However, she’s far too ingenious to let that stop her so we needed a better solution.
Once again, it was our landscaper/gardener Diane extraordinaire who solved the problem. Her metal guy (who had done our grates last week came back and measured up the space. He returned a few days later with a perfect metal gate to keep intruders out, and Lucky in.
Lunch with the team
Having our workers living on-site has been a little invasive. Even though they do their best to be unobtrusive, the fact that they are always around 24-7 can make it hard to fully relax. On the flip side, having them around has allowed us to fix a myriad of problems (some small, some big) that have popped up. An unexpected benefit was getting to know our 3 workers very well. 1 is from Java, while the other two are from a remote part of Sumba.
We decided to have lunch together in a shady part of the garden. Such a lovely experience to share some food together and learn about their lives and families.