Week 0 - Week 23: Construction Update
We started construction in late January 2011 and are projecting a construction timeline of 12-14 months which according to most is very optimistic considering that we are not building using standard structural design, materials and details.
After careful research and consideration, we have put a team in place:
Architect: Rajiv D’Silva
Contractor: Binod Arya & Ram Kishen, APBD Constructions
Site Supervisor: Manoj Shetgoankar
Along with these folks, we play the role of the Creative Director and Project Manager and being our own green consultants.
Most people would probably agree that there is no such thing as construction schedules in India. But being foreign-returned project managers, we have at countless occasions pushed for detailed schedules. But these quickly get thrown out of the window due to religious holidays, strikes, weather and/ or personal events in individual’s extended families.
April 2011: Soon after pouring the first floor concrete slab for the right side bedroom
Early May 2011: Beginning shuttering for the main living room roof slab
Late May: After pouring concrete for the main living room roof slab and beginning excavation for pavilion block
End of June 2011: Raw living room space without shuttering
End of June 2011: Pavilion Block masonry up to sill level in the foreground
The biggest deadline that we were chasing since the start of the year was the expected start of monsoons in June. Goa receives 3000mm of rainfall every year and most of that rain in concentrated in the months from June- August. In Goa, ‘when it rains it pours’. This makes it nearly impossible to carry out construction activity in the open. It specially makes it difficult to do concrete work as it would not set due to the rains. So our aim was to have all our concreting work done before June along with the other wood and tile roofs. Then while it was raining outside then contractors would work indoors on the internal walls, plastering, woodwork, flooring, kitchens and bathrooms.
It was an ambitious plan and we nearly made it. We were able to finish all the concrete work for roof slabs but hit unexpected delays and have not yet completed our wood and tile roofs (that go over two bedrooms). The pavilion block (a two-story structure with the staff quarters below and the pool pavilion above) has only reached sill level (maybe 4’ from the ground). The delays were caused by:
1) Restriction by the Goa Government on extraction of sand from its rivers in May. The ripple effect was a transportation strike. The people against the imposed restrictions were not allowing any trucks with construction material to pass through. They were vandalizing the trucks, busting their tyres and not allowing them to move forward. The result of this was that no material could reach our site for almost 3-4 weeks.
2) Early in May one of our contractors, Ram Kishen met with a terrible accident. He was hit by a car while he was on his way back from a suppliers office. He had to be rushed to the hospital and needed immediate surgery. He is recovering now but must stay in the hospital for a total of 2-3 months. At that time his partner, Binod Arya was in Kolkata attending the funeral for one of his relatives and could not return to Goa to personally take over the sitework where Ram Kishen had left off. As a result no new item of work (such as wood and tile roofs, steel structure for pavilion block) could be started on-site.
3) Meanwhile, there was more material shortage once the rain started. The laterite stone (main local building material in Goa) suppliers were claiming that the quarries are filled with water and they could not quarry any more stone. My question – don’t they deal with this every year? They should know that the quarries will get filled with water and that the suppliers should stock up before the rains start? Apparently they do know that and as best business practice, they sell their stored supply of stone in black for many times the regular market cost....sigh...
But all is not lost. Our entire team has agreed to pull up their socks and work efficiently through the rains (as much is possible) and avoid future delays. What lies ahead is challenging. Completion of the civil work for the pavilion block would have typically taken 20 days but is now scheduled to be completed in a month and a half (projected deadline end of July) and the wood and tile roofs would take at least 3 weeks (projected deadline mid-July).
Fingers crossed with a game plan in place, we march ahead.