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House brick base continues

Updated on August 8, 2019

Wooden house on brick base

This is a typical average affordable house on brick-base. These houses seem to be build for just normal working families.  This base here is not like the base in the text, because in the text we are building on a sloping site.
This is a typical average affordable house on brick-base. These houses seem to be build for just normal working families. This base here is not like the base in the text, because in the text we are building on a sloping site. | Source

Our brick base continues

Welcome to our article (38), house brick base continues

Dear readers, this article is the continuation of Building a brick base, where we said that we are going to explain step by step how to build a brick base for a house, so that, anyone that wants to try D.I.Y. in theory they know what is involved. They can also use what they have learned to build something else. And if they pay attention to what we say, they have a good chance to make it right the first time around.

Anyhow, 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 lay some brick reinforcement and the damp course. Now, to keep our descriptions simple and accurate, we must assume that they are leaving an opening for a door, then continue to build this wall as high as the first brick on the concrete foundation at the highest corner. They need to do that, so, 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. 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 level.

Now let me make it clear, to start a house base on a stepped foundation is not easy, and the bricklayers must be careful and make no mistakes, it is for this reason, that the bricklayers will 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 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 can 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 level, because of the extra difficulty that the concreter encounter when laying the foundations on a sloping site.

Now let me make it clear, when building every tradesman must rely on their skills, they must 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 themselves, when that cannot be done, their foreman can recall the previous tradesman to fix their mistakes, before they go ahead and make the mistake bigger and more costly to fix later.

That is why the bricklayer cannot trust blindly the concreters. Anyhow, the bricklayers that are building this brick base are doing the right thing. They have built 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 a pig in the brickwork and how it can happen.


Explaining a pig in the brickwork

Let me explain how a pig in the brickwork can happen.

Here I need to say that this saying, can be a local saying that explains; the brickwork is set in a way like a spring coil, so it never ends.

Now let me explain how it can happen, and how the bricklayer can create a pig in the brickwork. This mistake can happen on a sloping site, like the sloping site we are working on now. It can happen when the brick-walls are not exactly level, and the bricklayer ties the line on the wrong course of bricks.

Therefore, let us go back to build our brick base, and 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 foundation is not level, so, the bricklayer believe that he can make the walls level, by making the bed joint thicker before he reaches ground level; 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 will show 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 centimetre higher that 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, there is a difference of four centimetres at the northern wall, this is a problem, you see, four centimetres is more than half a brick, therefore, the bricklayer can easily tie the line on the wrong course; this is how a pig in the brickwork is created.

To make 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 the walls are level, this is the only way to avoid mistakes. So, it is better to spend extra time at the start and get it perfectly level. I hope I have explained it properly and clearly, how a pig in the brickwork can be created.


Low set house base in progress

This is a low-set house on concrete floor, the drainage has been done, next it will be back-filled and the soil compacted 50 mm below the concrete floor, then there will be 50 mm of coarse river sand followed by damp course, steel mash and concrete.
This is a low-set house on concrete floor, the drainage has been done, next it will be back-filled and the soil compacted 50 mm below the concrete floor, then there will be 50 mm of coarse river sand followed by damp course, steel mash and concrete. | Source

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 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 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, so, what is the best way to proceed now?

Since the whole base has been set, 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 is 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, we build this wall 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 to help the bricklayers. So what are these bricklayer’s profiles?


Bricklayer external corner profile

This is one of the good profile that can help the bricklayers with their job. The one I like is the external corner profile in the front, The other two I am not impressed.
This is one of the good profile that can help the bricklayers with their job. The one I like is the external corner profile in the front, The other two I am not impressed.

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 quicker and accurate. Then you know, time is money so anything that can be done faster is an advantage. You see, by using the profiles, it eliminates the process of building the corners by using the spirit level many times, it also helps to keep the gauge easily, since the gauge is 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 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 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 the length of the house, and then dug a foundation to support a retaining wall and pillars to support the house above, the rest of ground under the house will be left the way it is for the time being, as it is too costly to dig it out.

Anyhow, let us 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, they 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 out that placing the windows on the walls at the right height and at the right place, it’s one of those jobs that in this part of the world there is no rule who has to do it, say if the bricklayer is paid 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 is willing to do it, but there is no set rule and not much money for doing it, therefore, everybody wants to pass the buck to the builder or other trade people.

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. But here I want to point out that we have not talked about the lower part of the brick base that is being built on the higher part of the land, so, what needs to be done there?

The lower part of the brick base is built together with the rest of the base, but because it is lower it can be just one single brick thick with engaged piers under the house. These engaged piers may have a double purpose, one is 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.

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. I hope that these descriptions can help somebody that wants to do some brickwork.

Now that we have built our imaginary house brick base, we believe that we have said enough in this article. So, see you soon in our next article, building a veneer house.

See you soon.


© 2012 F-Menchise


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