House brick base continues
Wooden house on brick base
Our brick base continues
Welcome to our article ((11-G2) (37)) House brick base continues
Dear readers, In our previous article Building a brick base, we said that we are going to explain step by step, how to build a brick base for a house, so that, anyone that would like to try D.I.Y. could build themselves their own brick base, because they would know what is involved. They could also use what they have learned to build anything else with bricks, if they want, and they should be able to make it right the first time around. So far in our last article we have started to describe how to build a brick base on a sloping building site, in this article we will continue to describe how to complete this house brick base.
Now in our last article we had reached the stage where the bricklayers had set-up and built the southern wall high enough to backfill the trench, lay some brick reinforcement and the damp course in this lower part of the house base. Now to keep our descriptions as simple as possible and as accurate as possible, we must assume that they are going to leave an opening for a door somewhere, and then continue to build these walls as high as the first brick on the concrete foundation at the highest corner to start with. They want and need to do that, so that, they can check and make sure that all the walls are level and there is no mistake in the level of the brickwork, and therefore, no pig in their brickwork, (we are going to describe what pig in brickwork means later). Anyhow, once the bricklayers have done that, it starts to be easier for everyone to work on this brick base, since the whole house dimensions have been set-up and everything is at the right level.
Now let me make it clear, to start a house base on a stepped foundation is not easy, and the bricklayers should be careful and make sure they make no mistakes, it is for this reason that the bricklayers continue to check and recheck everything before they lay more bricks, because this is when a mistake can be picked up easily, they are also checking that everything is at the right alignment and also that they have laid the brick walls level, so, they keep checking this from the lines that they have set above with their level and the gauge rod, or any other way that they usually use; this making sure that everything is set right is very important to do, especially on a sloping site and stepped foundations, since the foundations may not be exactly level, because of the extra difficulty that the concreter can encounter when laying the foundations on a sloping site, and also that an exact gauge rod has not been made yet for that particular job, therefore the concreters were guessing the possible gauge of the brickwork.
Now let me make it clear, when building every tradesman should rely only on themselves and their skills, they should always make sure that what they are doing is the right thing to do, they cannot blame somebody else for their own mistakes, therefore, when they find a mistake from the previous tradesman, whether they are concreters or other trades, whenever possible they should try to fix whatever there is to fix if they can fix it themselves, when that cannot be done, their foreman could recall the previous tradesman to fix their mistakes before they go ahead and make the first mistake bigger and more costly to fix later on.
That is why the bricklayer cannot trust blindly the concreters and they have to rely on themselves. Anyhow the bricklayers that are building this brick base are doing the right thing, so, they have succeeded in building the lower part of the brick base level and they have made the first full course of bricks all around the house base. Now they can relax a bit, as everything is in the right place at the right level and there is no pig in the brickwork, as the last course of bricks makes a full circle of the house and ends up level, so, there is no pig in the brickwork, now, let us explain what is meant by a pig in the brickwork and how it could happen.
Explaining a pig in the brickwork
Let me explain what a pig in the brickwork is and how it can happen.
In every trade there are words or phrases that are hard to understand if you are not familiar with them, like stretcher bond and many other bonds that we can make when laying bricks, gauge-rod, bricklayer-profiles and many other things, but one of the hardest phrases to understand is what is meant when we bricklayers say that there is a pig in the brickwork. So, let me explain what it means; a pig in the brickwork happens when the walls are not set level at the start, therefore you made that first mistake and then you tied the line on the wrong course of bricks, so, if you keep laying a course of bricks around the building it can never end, because you are using the wrong course of bricks.
Now, let me explain how it can happen, and how you can create a pig in the brickwork easily, if the bricklayers are not very careful when they start building the walls. This mistake could happen easily on a sloping site, like the sloping site of our imaginary house brick base that we are working on, so, let us go back to build our brick base, to explain how it happens: now, let us assume that the bricklayer that is setting the wall on the eastern side is having some difficulty in setting the wall exactly level, because the concreter made a small mistake and the concrete foundation is not level, so, the bricklayer believe that he can get it level soon enough by making the bed joint thicker before the walls become as high as the ground; therefore he lets his northern corner be a couple of centimetre lower than his southern corner on the same course of bricks, you see this is a long wall and if you only use the spirit level, you can hardly see that it is not level, but with the proper level or water level it soon shows the difference.
At the same time the bricklayer that is setting the western wall is having some difficulties too and for the same reason is starting his wall and letting his northern corner be a couple of centimetres higher than his southern corner on the same course of bricks, he also believes that he can set everything right by making very small joint before ground level is reached.
Now, I suppose that you have already worked out that there is a difference of four centimetres at the northern wall, this will give anyone a headache to say the least, and also the problem of what to do to set it right again; you see four centimetres is more than half a brick, and therefore one can easily tie the line on the wrong course; this is how a pig in the brickwork is created easily, if you tie the line on the wrong course of bricks a pig in the brickwork is created. To make one hundred per cent sure that there is no pig in it, the bricklayer needs to make sure that the walls are started level from the start, and then run a full course all around the entire building. The brick course should be like a closed even ring, and make sure that all walls are level, this is the only way to make sure, so, it is better to spend extra time at the start and get it perfectly level the first time around, because I pig in the brickwork is very hard to fix, once your brickwork is above ground level. I hope I have explained it properly and clearly, how a pig in the brickwork could be created and must be avoided. And now let us go back to talk about how to complete the house brick base.
Low set house base in progress
Building the rest of the brick-base
Let us assume that everything has been set properly and there is no pig in the brickwork, so, all the brickwork around is level and at the right alignment. But anyhow just to make sure, we double check everything again by running a type measure and seeing that it agrees with the plans measurement, this now is a very simple job, because everything is set in hard cement and everything is level, so, if there is any mistake in the measurements it will show up easily.
Having checked everything and found that everything is right, we can now proceed to complete the brick base. But let us go over once again how far we have built the base and what else we have done, so that our readers can keep the whole brick base picture in their minds; we have built the lower part of the base one brick higher than the highest corner of the concrete foundations; in this case because it is sloping site the lower part is about half way the finished height, of the brick base.
Since the whole base has been set, perhaps the best way is to build the northern wall, which at the moment is the lowest wall, we want to build it at least to above ground level, so that the trances can be back filled and then it would become easier for everybody to walk around the building site, this is an easier job now since everything is in the right place at the right level. So, from now on everything is going to move a bit faster, and soon this wall is built above ground level. Having built the northern wall above ground level, now we have to choose which wall to build next. But at the same time let us see what the bricklayer can use to speed up the brickwork, like the bricklayer’s profiles, these are devises that can be attached to the brick walls that is being built and they help the bricklayers, because they can speed up the job. So, what are these bricklayer’s profiles?
Bricklayer external corner profile
Talking about bricklayer's profiles
Now that all the corners have been started, the bricklayers may choose to use brickies profiles, since this method is a bit quicker and also accurate, and then as we all know time is money, so, anything that can be done fast is an advantage. You see by using the profiles, it almost eliminate the slow process of building the corners by using the spirit level many times, it also helps to keep the gauge easily, since the gauge would be marked on the profile. I have always had a profile with me when I was laying bricks. Some of these profiles can be bought, but if there are not readily available on the market, and there is a lot of brickwork that needs to be done, by using your own creativeness or imagination you can make one yourself, all that is needed is a straight edge marked with the gauge that you can fasten to the walls.
There are at least two types of profile that the bricklayers can use to help speed up his work, the main one is used for external corners. This external corner profile needs to be supported both ways to be effective, so, if you haven’t got one and you cannot buy one, you need to configure a device that can be tighten both ways, when you are making your own profile. You have to plan it in such a way that you can grab a brick from the joint on one side and two bricks on the other side, so that a sort of triangle is made and balance can be kept.
The internal corner profile can be a lot easier to make, and here I wonder why people don’t seem to use it much since it is easier to make. All what is needed is again a straight edge with a hole or a few holes drilled in it and a special made up bolt or two that are thinner than the brick’s joint; these special bolts need to be modified and instead of their normal bolt head they should have a short cross say 30 to 40 mm welded at one end, and at the other end treaded with a butterfly nut. All the bricklayer needs to do now is to leave a hole in the bed joint near the corner, or clear the joint with a plugging chisel, then he puts one of his bolts in the hole of his straight edge; now he can push the bolt in the joint until the modified bolt head reaches the other side of the brick, then he turns the whole bolt 90 degrees, so that the modified bolt head is now vertical, and then he can tighten the bolt with his butterfly nut and at the same time make sure that the profile is plumb and he can use this profile instead of building the corner with his spirit level.
Perhaps the only thing that needs to be added to this special modified bolt is a way to tell how the T head at the other side is standing, vertical or horizontal etc. If that is done then you have a very cheap and easy brick profile that you can use. I wonder if I need to say here that to remove the profile you loosed the butterfly nut and turn the bolt around until the T head is horizontal and can be pulled out easily.
To complete this brick base
What else needs to be done to complete the brick base?
Let us now assume that because the ground is sloping the base of this house has been divided in such a way that the lower end can be used for garage laundry and utility room; to achieve that they have dug up the ground level about half way the length of the house, and then dug a foundation to support a retaining wall and also pillars to support the house above, the rest of ground under the house will be left the way it is, as it would become too costly to dig it out.
Anyhow let us try to complete this brick base, as we have said above the lower side is now about a certain height perhaps the windows openings should be started. The windows are going to be tied to the brickwork, so, the windows, or the windows frame need to be put in the right place and braced while the walls are being built. The bricklayers need to be careful that the windows remain plumb and in the right place while he attaches the window ties to the window and builds the tie into the brickwork.
Here I may have to point some problems in the building industry; placing the windows on the walls at the right height and at the right place, is one of those jobs that in this part of the world there is no set rule who must do it. So, say if the bricklayer is paid only a fixed price for the amount of bricks he has laid, when he is placing and fixing the window on the wall he might not be paid, therefore, nobody seems willing to do it as there is no set rule and usually not much money for doing it, therefore, everybody wants to pass the buck to the builder or other trade people if possible. Having said that, now let us assume that everything has been done according to trading practice and the windows have been built into the brickwork accordingly. So, we have finished the brick base at the right height.
Now, I want to point out that above we were talking about that part of the house base, where the door and windows are set, but we have not talked about the lower part of the brick base that is being built on the higher part of the land, and has no windows or doors, so, what needs to be done there, since it is different?
The lower part of the brick base that stands on the higher ground because the land is sloping, is built together with the rest of the base, but because it is lower it might be just one single brick thick with engaged piers under the house. These engaged piers may have a double purpose, one is just to strengthen the walls and second they may be used to carry the weight of the house if this part of the house is going to be a brick veneer. In this part of the house because there are no windows the bricklayer needs to leave some air vents, so that a minimum of ventilation is achieved. All this is going to be done according to specifications, as there must be some local rules and they may not be the same everywhere. But ventilation is needed in one way or another.
What we have written in this article is approximately what happens when we bricklayers build a brick base on a sopping piece of ground, so, I hope that I have not left behind any important description that would have helped the readers. And at the same time I hope that these descriptions may help somebody that is looking for something like this to give him just that extra knowledge to start his own bricklaying, whether it is just a simple bricklaying job or a brick base it does not matter, as long as we have been able to help you with our bricklaying description, we are going to feel that it has been worth the time we have spent writing it.
Now that we have built our imaginary house brick base, we believe that we have said enough in this article. So, see you soon with another article about brickwork, perhaps we will be talking about a brick veneer on the house base that we have just built.
See you soon.
Some building and other useful links
- DIY brickwork
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