A reader's General Construction question: Bricklaying question?

O. E   from   Malacca Malaysia   had this bricklayin question.

Hello Bill
I am writing to you from Malaysia and I am in process of buying a house right in this city.

It needs renovation and probably rebuilding as it is abandoned for many years. If buying materialized (certainly within 8 weeks from now) that house will be mine and I plan to turn it into BED AND BREAKFAST.

Unfortunately, I am not thinking to find a professional contractor, because I cannot afford. As I am not a builder, it will not be an easy job to be self-contractor which is the only option I have.

Mr Bill, can you help? Do you know bricklaying? I am considering, to add new part to existing building within the land of the house.

There is a big land which I can turn into more rooms. If you know bricklaying, please advice me if I can save money building brick walls without the need of plastering all exterior walls. The existing part of the house has plastered walls for all its masonry.

More information will be sent to you as soon as I get the house. In the mean, I will be grateful to you for your early reply.
best regards

Bill's answer

Hello O, (not sure of your first name :-)
Good to hear from you.
I was in your beautiful city for a few days last year and enjoyed myself very much.
As a tourist. I did not see much of the building industry though.
It seems to me that all the modern building materials are available in Malaysia, but of course cost is a large factor.

  • I have only done very small amounts of bricklaying, we always used bricklayers.
  • When you start building you will find that there is always a lot to do, and sometimes you just can't do it all yourself.
  • With brickwork, or masonry in general, one of the main things is how to keep the rain water from soaking into the inside. You can do this a few different ways.
  • Build a cavity wall, that is two single walls together with a 50mm gap between. This keeps the water in the outside layer of brickwork, the gap stops it from getting inside. The bricks can be left unplastered, but it needs a good bricklayer to build cavity walls.
  • Build solid walls and plaster them with plaster that has a waterproofing chemical added. This can cover up poor brickwork.
  • In Darwin we use hollow concrete block walls, for low cost but also strength. They are sealed on the outside with,
    • 1. clear silicon sealer (looks like water),
    • 2. Acrylic paint, (3 coats),
    • 3. We plaster it with ordinary plaster, to make the blockwork look good and then paint it.
    • 4. There are special plasters that are made with additives in them, that allow a very thin coat to be troweled onto the blockwork, these are easy to apply but are expensive.
  • As you can see even a little bit of building work is very complicated.
  • You need to take a lot of advice from your local builders, but I will help if I can.
Best of luck with your project.
Regards Bill

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