house

6-IV-2017 17:36

A typical house is built of bricks or hollow brick blocks, joined by lime mortar, or sometimes extended mortar (i.e. 1:3:9 of cement, lime, sand). It is then plastered with the same mortar, as smooth as possible, optionally covered with some insulation, then painted. Good practices call for reinforced concrete poles poured into the spaces left at the corners, and around each floor. In most areas, local building code requires the foundation to be reinforced concrete at least 25cm wide, 40 cm below ground and 60cm above. The purpose of all this concrete is to provide stability required in the case of an earthquake (not too frequent and not too strong in the area, but once in a dozen years a good one hits a neighboring country, or locally, so it's not without reason); the height is to serve as last line of defence in case of a flood, even though most of the rivers have good levees on their banks - the last big flood came across the border. (retracting this - see floods)

The less common materials are cinder blocks, concrete foam blocks, and wood. Wood is mostly considered for temporary objects, or somewhere high in the mountains, where it's at hand and hauling all the bricks would be too expensive. In the cities, if it's made of wood, it's not considered real estate, it's a shed. Actual houses made of wood are rare, apart from the assembled, prefabricated ones, which were popular in the eighties. The reason wood is not used so much is that the brick is far cheaper - the clay being abundant in most of the country. So it's bricks and tiles.

Roofs are usually at 42o angle in the flatlands and hills, steeper in the mountains. Mostly covered with ceramic tiles; sometimes with sheet metal (specially factories, warehouses, supermarkets). Recently, the tar paper shingle is making its way. For a while, horizontal roofs were popular among architects, but life has proven them wrong - they inevitably develop cracks, specially if covered with tar and tar paper, which is then protected with gravel. Even though most of the gravel is from the rivers, therefore lacking sharp edges, the tenants occasionally manage to drill a hole in the tar by simply walking on the gravel. Or there's another technical fault, or simply put there's no material cheap enough which can stand down to -25oC in the winter, up to 42oC in the summer, and not crack anywhere.

Recently, the assortment of roof tiles has diversified, so there are more profiles and more finishes. Glazed tiles are a new fad - and they may actually last longer. The trouble with the formats is that they change, and when your roof finally develops cracks in tiles after 20 or 30 years, you discover that you can't find that format anymore. Or as it happens, you nominally can - same manufacturer, same model - but it's not the same. In one case, the new ones, marked and profiled identically, were now laid at a 340 mm step instead of 330. Makes a difference of exactly half a row on a standard roof, and the beams were cut to measure according to the old format...