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Experience of building with Red Bricks in Nigeria

Updated: May 23, 2021

Lessons learnt from projects.

● Ensure to verify detailed qualifications of workmen to be engaged on sight, Engineers, Architect, Quantity Surveyor, brick layers, casual workers

● Sit down to interpret the building plan with workmen that are supposed to work on site

● Use appropriate building method for the brick products in use rather than trying to dogmatically follow unproven method of brick laying designed for other brick type’

● Try to firm up arrangements for building work with the same set of workers that has been proven with the use of similar products elsewhere.

● The re-bar steel to be used for the reinforcement of the wall should be evenly spaced out bearing in mind likely window spaces which could well be reinforced with the aim of binding that section of the wall with the rest of the structure,

Rebar steel are better installed before the German flooring to avoid tampering negatively with (cracking) the concrete German floor.

● The re-bar steel if bent or out of alignment with the bricklaying thereby causing unnecessary alteration or disturbance to proper placement of the brick(s) to be laid; such rebar steel can be cut, replaced or realigned in such a way as to facilitate the intended use of it without compromising the alignment or integrity of built walls.

● The necessary horizontal link of the vertical rebar steel rods should be placed at regular intervals to weave the wall bricks together

● The triangular rebar steel rods at every corner are expected to be connected horizontally and tied together for reinforcement and holding the three rods together as a single entity,

● When and where necessary to cut bricks for use in the building process, ensure accurate and neat cut with use of appropriate power tools.

● All brick sizes must be the same for the building to ensure accuracy of measurements and expected aesthetic symmetry of the building.

● The width of all the brick to be used in construction MUST be HALF the length to ensure that bricks locks appropriately around edges/corners. Such inaccuracy can also create problem during bricklaying as they won’t stack well and there will be need for too many cuts that could impact on the overall aesthetic quality of the house walls.

● Whenever any equipment or part of used equipment is dismantled, such must be screwed back ASAP otherwise; such practice could lead to loss with the potential to slow down the work.

● Harvest all you can from the site before building commence (top soil, stone, logs, part of the landscape flora that could be left to beautify or positively impact on the finished home.

● Lateritic soil can be harvested on site while digging the suck away or the basement (where applicable). Usually after the removal of sub-soil layer.

● Ensure the building floor/ground plan is followed accurately to avoid deviation from the design and measurements

● Direct labour to pour the concrete for the foundation is better but use of wheelbarrow is faster for pouring the concrete for the German flooring of the foundation.

● Ensure accurate measurement of every part of the building plan is followed when laying the bricks on the concrete foundation blinding.

● Inspect and ensure quality uniform work is done by work men on site

Not compromising building standard
Professional Supervision necessary for Quality Assurance of work done

● Sand-filling of the foundation after completion of the set-out bricks before German flooring can be done with earth moving machine (Backhoe) but extreme care need be taken to avoid unintended damage to the laid foundation. If such damage did occur, ALL affected part(s) must be removed and corrected to avoid compromising the alignment of the wall and the integrity of the house structure.

● The sand-filled foundation can be flooded with water to facilitate soil particulate settlement and further compaction can be done with a rammer or the use of a vibrating plate or the backhoe of an excavator.

● Sand filling should be done to the level of the base of the last brick of the set-out foundation, German Flooring is expected to fill the 4 inches height of the last set-out brick thus living the outline of the measured floor plan of the house for onward building of the house walls above the foundation,

● German flooring after sand filling the set-out foundation should not cover the set outline of the foundation floor measurement of the house as shown

This German flooring method though great for holding the base of the house together as one unit has the demerit of erasing the initial floor plan measurements of the house with added trouble of re-measuring and possibility of laying some of the house walls on places out of alignment with the buried set-out bricks thus compromising the integrity of the walls/house. Another solution to ease tracing the outline of the setout bricks is to install the rebar steel into the set-outline before pouring the concrete as above so that the rebar will spell out the complete outline of the floor plan after the German flooring is finished and the aerial wall will automatically lie on top of the buried bricks below. This mean that the re-bar steel must be installed in all external and internal walls of the house.

The plumbing and wiring work must be well planned and integrated into the building at the appropriate time being careful to facilitate joined up thinking and effort by involved professionals.

● The Architect and engineer who designed building plans should ideally be contracted to supervise and build the project to ensure proper implementation of the plan.

● It is extremely useful to snap digital photographs of every stage of the project for record purpose, this makes it very easy to review all the steps in hindsight.

● Organize team meetings to discuss ahead of every stage to clarify ideas and rehearsal of necessary steps before the implementation of every stage of the projects.

● Have all materials and full complement of personnel ready for every stage before commencement of work

● Traditional mode of laying brick with use of mortar on all 4 sides would have been the best approach to the use of this brick from the foundation. This is necessary for the integrity of the walls and especially when bricks do not adequately lock as expected.

● Locking of the bricks meant significant cost savings in amount of mortar necessary with added strength and brick density for the building.

● Long wall columns without supports in form of pillars and corners should be limited in building design if using the bricks.

● Where walls forms a T, all the bricks must be laid in such a way as to facilitate locking of all layers of bricks i.e the bricks at the junction should overlap by at least half their sizes and NOT OVERLAPPING LESS THAN HALF OF TWO BRICKS TO ONE HALF OF THE OTHER

● Direct stacking of bricks on top of each other is not advisable to avoid compromising wall strength unless it is deliberately intended for aesthetic purposes

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1 Comment

Tayo Oyeleye
Tayo Oyeleye
May 11, 2021

Question: Why have the bricklayers used mortar to lay interlocking hydraform bricks. I have not seen this done anywhere. It kind of defeats to whole concept of interlocking. Please educate me with the reason this method has been used. Thanks in advance

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