Houseways: House Construction, part 2

(photos by Onaiza Shaikh)

This is the second of two posts which show the stages of house construction in Dhofar. I am very grateful to Onaiza Shaikh for taking such clear and helpful photos of several houses to show the basic steps.

[Steps 1 – 6 are explained here: Houseways: House construction, part 1 ]

1 – prepare the plot by smoothing the ground and outlining the shape in white chalk

2 – excavating the footprint

3 – building a series of cement block squares that are painted with water-proof paint, then a rebar metal frame in placed inside and the inside is filled with liquid cement, then the surrounding space is re-filled with dirt

4 – creating the sub-base (plinth) and foundation slab by packing earth over the filled-in cement squares, then building up a low cement exterior wall (the outline of the house) and low cement block walls (the interior load-bearing walls), each of these sections are filled in packed earth then covered with a layer of cement – rebar is set into this foundation and sticks up from the smoothed cement base – the result is a base about one meter off the ground with smooth cement walls and a surface which is marked by the tops of cement blocks (6″ or more high) which show the outline of the interior walls

5 – building walls of cement block reinforced with columns of steel and cement (created from liquid cement that is poured into wooden forms constructed around the rebar)

6 – the house begins to take shape

(in this posting)

7 – poles are set up to support wooden forms for the ceilings/ roof/ floors of upper stories

8 – the second story is constructed

9 – the roof is poured using a stretch pumper and the roof wall is built

10 – the major construction is now finished and the house can stay in this unfinished state for months

11 – exterior finishing is added: plaster/ paint, windows and doors

12 – the boundary wall is built

Steps 7 – 9

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Steps 10 – 12

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Construction equipment

A note on house photos: I hired Onaiza Shaikh to take photos of design elements (such as windows) and house construction. Given that those photos show only a small part of the house or an unfinished house, it is not possible to tell whose house it is or where it is. Ms. Shaikh or I removed all identifying markers such as signs stating the owner’s name and any people, including workers. Photos of a complete house are a different matter. On one hand, I do not want to post a photo of a house that someone might recognize without the owner’s permission. On the other hand, if I post photos for which I have permission, i.e. photos of friends’ and informants’ houses, then many people in Dhofar will know the houses, thus know who my informants are. I have not yet figured out the answer to this problem.