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Welcome to Frank Menchise website DIY Brickwork and gets the job done right! This page is the continuation of our brickwork in the home page. Here we are also going to tell you issues that we are going to publish in the pages of this website, which will be about, building houses, maintaining house and buying your house, we are also supplying a navigation bar so that you could navigate all our sites. 



I am an old bricklayer and because I believe that we old people should do our duty, as we have written in our article, the duty of any man, I am going to try to pass my life knowledge to our readers, so that what we have learned during our life is not lost, and it could help our readers.


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 Building houses from scratch, house brick base continued

DIY brickwork and concrete work explained, starting from using the most basic materials that should be available everywhere.

House brick base continues

  House brick base continues

DIY brickwork if you like (hub 3)

In our previous hub we have promised our readers that we are going to explain step by step how to build a brick base, so that any D I Y people that would like to try and build themselves their own brick base, or anything built with bricks can have an idea what they should do to make it right the first time around. So far in our last hub we have started to describe how to build a brick base on a sloping building site, in this hub we will continue to describe how to complete this house brick base.

Now in our last hub we had reached the stage where the bricklayers had set and built the southern wall high enough to lay some brick reinforcement and the damp course in this lower part of the house base, now just to keep our descriptions as simple as possible and as accurate as possible, we have to assume that they are going to leave an opening for a door, and then continue to build this wall as high as the first brick on the concrete foundation at the highest corner to start with, they want to do that, so that they can check and make sure that all the walls are level and there is no mistake, and therefore no pig in their brickwork, once that has been done it starts to be a bit easier for everyone to work on this brick base, since the whole house dimensions have been set and everything is level.

For this reason 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, specially 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, and also that an exact gauge rod has not been made yet for that particular job, therefore the concreter are guessing the possible gauge.

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 concreter 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 concreter and they have to rely on themselves. Anyhow the bricklayer that are building this base are doing the right thing, so they has succeeded in building for a start 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, so let us explain what is meant by a pig in the brickwork.

Pig in the brickwork

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

Okay we have been talking about a pig in the brick work; now, let me try to explain how it can happen sometimes, and how you can create a pig in the brickwork easily, if the bricklayers are not very careful when starting the walls. This can happen easily on a sloping site like the sloping site we are supposedly be working on now, you see, it could happen when the brick-walls are not exactly level.

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 concreter made a 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 are higher than 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 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, 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. In order 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 building and make sure everything ends up level, this is the only way, so it is better to spend extra time at the start and get it perfectly level the first time around. I hope I have explained it properly and clearly. And now let us go back to talk about how to complete the brick base 


 Let us build 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 we believe. 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, so what would be the best way to proceed now?

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 the bricklayer profiles. 


 Bricklayer’s profiles

Now that all the corners have been started, the bricklayers may choose to use bricklayer's 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 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, in order 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 for the time being, 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 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 seems willing to do it as there is no set rule and usually not much money for doing it, therefore everybody would like 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. But here I would like 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 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. 

What we have written in this hub is approximately what happens when we bricklayers build a brick base on a sopping peace 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 would feel that it has been worth the time we spent in 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 hub about brickwork, perhaps we will be talking about a brick veneer on the house base that we have just built.


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