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House Building Diary: Week One

October 22, 2017

The plan was to build a house in 3 weeks time. Naturally, nothing went according to plan.



This house build has been a long time coming. 


I had first met with Epic Home to discuss the possibility of doing this little project in early 2016, and more than a year later, I still didn’t have anything to show for it.


Much of the delay was caused by the pesky fact that I actually needed a land to put the house on (who would’ve thought?). That took me close to half-a-year to accomplish.


Then there was the design and planning stage, delayed further by my disappearing out of the country every few months...


Me after successfully purchasing land in July 2016: “Let’s build this in September!”

Me in September 2016: “Ok, no, scratch that, am going to be in India for a month.”

Me again: “Hey, November might work.”

Me in November 2016: “Ok, no, am going to Mecca for umrah. Let’s schedule for early 2017 then.”


Me in January 2017: “Sorry, will be in Japan in January. Can we do it in March?”

Also me in March 2017: “Crap, will be in London for March. How about May?”

Me again in May 2017: “Ok, no, am going to be in Kenya for May, and June is fasting month. I can do July, I promise!”

Guess who in July 2017: “Ummm, so am going to be in Ethiopia for the next 9 months…”


“At this rate,” a friend commented dryly, “you’ll never get that house built.”


So, of course, I had to prove her wrong. Yes, I was going to be away from the country for an extended period of time, but surely I can squeeze in the build during my holidays? 





The answer is yes, I can squeeze in the build during my holidays. All I need is 3 weeks, right?


I landed back in Kuala Lumpur a week later than planned. The pre-fabricated steel beams that would form the structure of the house were delayed, and we couldn’t really start without them. 


Instead of 3 weeks, we now had 2 weeks to build this thing before I had to fly back to Ethiopia. The universe then decided it would contribute by making it rain almost every day. But no matter, we will still plough through. 




Day 1: Visit to see piling work


The piling work had started a few days before, and I arrived to the site to see funky steel pipes poking out of the dirt.


An interesting sculpture, at the very least



These have been hammered into the ground in the shape of a cone, and would serve to anchor the house to the ground. 


The materials for the house would arrive later that evening. 


On my way out, I met the two local dogs that would become a regular part of the build in the next few weeks - they would insist on escorting the car up the hill, and would stick around watching us toil away, with their tongues lolling, before escorting us back down the hill at the end of the day. 


The two furry besties




Day 2: Moving stuff


This was my first full day of ‘work’ on site with the rest of the crew, as well as one volunteer who wanted to see the process from start to finish and had time to spare to join in during the weekdays.


The site was at the top of the hill, and the dirt road leading up to it had gotten muddy and slippery due to the incessant rains. We needed a 4-wheel-drive lorry to carry the materials up from where they had been deposited at the bottom of the hill the day before.


The arrival of the materials  



We spent most of the day just moving stuff from one place to another - and by ‘we’, I meant the strong, muscular building crew, while I watched. (I did carry what little I could of the heavy wood, steel and assorted materials, but mostly, I just watched.) 


My biggest contribution on this day was moving and organising the messy lump of wood into a slightly-less-messy lump of wood.


Slightly-less-messy lump of wood



It then started to rain and we baile