Sunday, August 2, 2009

What about construction in China?

Pictures (in reverse order): 1-2-3 Removing windows to be replaced. 4-5-6 show some of the remodel process of adding a bathroom. Notice the scafolding in picture 5!

We had the opportunity to observe China construction techniques up close and personal. It gives new meaning to the term "custom built". Everything is done from scratch - they bring in a load of 16' pipe and create whatever they want in the size they need. They cut it, thread it, weld it and paint it...or whatever else needs to be done for the project.

This would be the work order for replacing windows:

Tools needed: hammer, blowtorch, electric saw (with the tiniest blade I've ever seen, about 3"), electric drill, bicycle cart, broom, newspapers

Manpower: at least 8-10

Task order:

1. Inform residents at noon by placing a sticky on the door that windows will be replaced at 3:30pm.
2. At 3:30, move aside remaining possessions and furniture before covering floor with newspaper.
3. Begin breaking glass of old windows.
4. When all glass is broken, begin tearing apart aluminum frames with hammer and bare hands.
5. Cut phone line which has been threaded through a hole in the aluminum frame.
6. Use blow torch to cut iron frames, pushing aside curtains to reach corners. Use power saw if that is handier.
7. Squat on ledge and use broom to sweep up glass and crud.
8. Replace window with a beautiful vinyl framed dual-paned window & caulk frames.
9. Remove newspaper from floors and pile frame pieces onto a bicycle cart.
10. Move on to the next window.

A week or so after we were finished with our quarantine, we had to move out of all of the rooms on the 1st floor -- except the four apartments the "older folks" called home. That meant we were in the midst of the work for our remaining time there. They were renovating 16 ancient dorm rooms into suites for the TIP staff that will be living there year round. The work needed to be done by August 6th, so they used China's most abundant resource -- workers -- to get the job done. They began jack hammering cement floors promptly at 6:30 each morning and they worked until about 7:30 each night with a two hour break each afternoon. The TIP office and our meeting room was directly above this chaos so we quickly learned to schedule meetings between noon and 2pm! I certainly hope the year-round staff appreciate their beautiful new rooms.

The living situation was a bit of a challenge, but we've lived through remodeling in our own home and realize that it is only temporary. However, it certainly is wonderful to sleep in our own bed in a nice quiet room!

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