DIY Brickwork, 9

D I Y Brickwork

D I Y brickwork if you like ((article 1) My Yola website and blogger)

We all would like to own some Real Estate, preferably like the one shown here, but then we may have to be happy with what we can afford.  

My life in Australia as a bricklayer and what else I did to earn a living
For my entire life in Australia I have worked in house building or repair, but the best trade that I know is bricklaying as I have worked as a bricklayer most of my life, therefore, I would like to share my bricklaying knowledge with you, before I can share other knowledge that could be useful in life, since we all live in building accommodations, and therefore any knowledge of building a house, or maintaining the accommodation we live in could be helpful to most of us. So here and now, I am going to share this knowledge with you, in all aspect of building, repairing or owning a house; so let us start with building something with bricks, because as I have said I am a bricklayer.
But before we start that let me explain why I would like to do that; you see I believe that it is the duty of any human being to help humanity to improve their standard of living, (an article about this is written at this web address; , if it does not work from here try to Google it in Google search bar) therefore anything that one learns during one’s life should be passed to the future generations. I know that in the past some trade people tried to hold on their knowledge so that they would be employed if they were required to do certain jobs, but that is in the past and today that would not help much anyhow, so let me try to pass on some of my knowledge, starting with how a bricklayer would go about and build a brick base for a house.    

Building with bricks

Bricklayer working on a building site, there are many types of brickwork and building that can be used when building a house.

Welcome to our article, DIY brickwork, or Building a brick base for houses. Perhaps we need to say that in this article, we would like to interest you our readers to learn at least in theory how to lay bricks, just in case you would like to do some brickwork yourself in the future, because if you do then you already have an idea what knowledge is required; therefore in this article we will talk about; Getting ready to lay bricks; making sure that we start the brickwork level, and Laying bricks on a sloping site. Of course there is still a lot more to say about bricklaying, but this article might become too long to describe the many things that need to be said, so we are going to continue with DIY brickwork also in our next hub; Building a brick base and we will continue to write about brickwork until we complete the brick base at least, even if we have to write a few articles about it.  

The Art of Laying Brick - YouTube

Here again there are two links that would be very helpful if they work, because one shows a bricklayer laying brick and explaining how it is done step by step; the other link shows photos of many types of brick walls already built, many types of bonds and also brick walls while they are being built, let us hope that these links works for you, if they don’t try to copy them in Google search bar and use Google engine to find them.
Building a brick base for houses 

This is a typical stepped foundation where the bricklayer is going to lay bricks to form the house base, so let us describe to you how this is done. 

Okay, I know that some of you are going to say that this article is not exactly what it claims to be, because it cannot really teach you how to lay bricks from scratch for an entire house base, as this takes a long time if you want to do it properly. So it should have been called with a different name, perhaps its name should have been, Building a brick base for houses, or how a bricklayer would build a house brick base for houses; since this is what really we are talking about in this article, but while I was writing this article it became obvious that I was going to write so many details that it was like teaching somebody how to do it yourself, so I changed the hub name to DIY brickwork. At this point of time my intentions are that I am going to write a few or several hubs mainly about brickwork as I have been a bricklayer most of my life, then I might also write other articles with whatever I know about other building trades like concreting and other helpful hints that might help whoever has the intention of building something themselves, I hope this would help my readers that are willing to have a go at building something themselves.
So, now let me go back to what I was going to talk about in this article, you see, in our previous article called, House building in Brisbane, we were explaining what we were doing on the building sites, and we had reached the point where we were ready for the bricklayer to start laying bricks working on the brick base of a house.
Now what is going to follow here is how we lay these bricks so to speak; I am also telling you that here I am not speaking any more with the knowledge of the brickies labour that I was, when I was getting everything ready for the bricklayers to start work, in our last hub called, House building in Brisbane, but I am speaking with the knowledge that I acquired when I became a bricklayer and later on in life during the long time that I have worked as a bricklayer, and I may add that what I am writing here can also apply to other brickwork in general terms, as bricklaying is a repetitive job and once you have acquired the skills how to do one job, you may easily use this knowledge to do a different job, so, DIY brickwork, is a possible name that I could have given also to this hub.
So now that I have explained myself, let me just take you step by step how the bricklayers have to work, when building these brick bases for houses, so that any of you that have in mind to do some of this bricklaying work yourself have some ideas of what you need to know, and here I am talking about the basic know-how that is required to lay bricks the right way, you see you need this basic knowledge because once you have laid the bricks and the mortar becomes hard it is a very hard and costly job to fix it, if you have made any mistakes. I have to say also that it is very easy to make mistakes here, unless you are an expert and really know what you are doing. So, let us follow how a professional bricklayer would start the house base, because there are a lot of things that must be kept in mind before you even start laying the first brick.
The most important thing is that you start laying the first brick in the right spot at the right level, and this should be done at the lowest point of the foundation wherever is practicable when the site is not level, otherwise you could encounter real problems later on; so, how we bricklayers go about to achieve that you may ask? Therefore, let me explain here-under the procedure while we are getting ready to lay the first brick. 
Getting ready to lay bricks

On a building site the first thing the builder has to do is to set up a profile, so that the right position of the house and its measurement are marked and all the trades people are able to get the right measurement from it.  

As we have already said in our previous articles, the first thing that is necessary to do on a building site is to set up a profile, in order to make sure that the house is set where the house plan says it should be, therefore a profile should already be there and if it is not, then one should be erected prior to commencing to lay bricks. Now just to make things a bit easier let us assume that the profile are in place, and also that there are no other previous works done on the house, therefore there is no set fix height of the finished brickwork take or leave one brick thickness.
So now let me explain the procedure when we start working on this brick base of the house; first of all, we bricklayers go to the profiles and tie the end of the brickies line where it says it should be, and this is the outside alignment of the house, then walk to the opposite side while unrolling the line and tie it again where it should be on the marked profile; here I need to point out to the DIY for the first time that the line must be stretched very tight, so that it stays in a straight line even if there is a wind blowing. Now that we have set the first line, we are going to set another line right across the first line and where these two lines meet is the very first corner of the brick wall of the house.
Now with a plump bob or a spirit level mark on to the foundation where the outside corner of the first brick is going to be laid, and you are ready to lay the first brick. Of course it is necessary to repeat this procedure for every corner of the house. It is also necessary or perhaps helpful when the foundation of the house is not level to mark all the steps, so that you know that the wall is being built exactly in the right place; you see to start laying bricks in the foundation is a very hard and demanding job for the bricklayers, let us just imagine that you have to lay bricks below where you are standing, and where you are standing is uneven ground and if you are unlucky it might even be wet. So if you can make everything easier by marking all the critical points it would help. This of course is only step one and step two is about levels, so let us see how that can be done.
Making sure that we start the brickwork level 

 This is a surveyor's level that can be used to set the house boundary in the right place, as well as mark all sorts of levels for the bricklayers and other trades people to follow. 


Now that we have marked all the corners and everywhere else, so that we can start building this brick base on the right alignment we need to start also thinking about the levels; you see 99% of the bricks must be laid level and plumb, unless there is a specific reason for the walls to be leaning and this reason must be well understood, before we start laying bricks for this special sort of job and we have to say that this does not happen when we build houses.
Anyhow, in order to start the brickwork level, we need to know if the two opposite corner are exactly level, and if not what is the difference between them, so that we will be able to start the brick walls at the right level. With short walls it is enough to use the spirit level to do everything, but with longer walls we need to use other sophisticated levels. Therefore it is necessary to mark the levels on every corner, so that the difference is known to the bricklayers before he starts laying bricks, because most of the difference must be rectified well below ground level and if possible on the first course of bricks that we lay on the foundation.
Today there are a few types of level that we can use, some of these levels are very expansive like surveyors level and other types, they also need an expert to use them and a helper at the other end to mark when instructed to do so, therefore it is very helpful if one of these levels is being used on the site to mark all the levels around the house base for all the trades that are working on the house, but there are times when the bricklayers are left to their own devises, and they have to work out their own levels.
Now the bricklayers have already so many tools to carry around including the mixer and wheelbarrows, therefore they try to avoid carrying expansive levels with themselves even when they know how to use them. So, some bricklayers use even today the water level, because it is most simple and cheep level, as it is only a clear hose filled up with water and it is very easy to use, all you have to do is to fill up this hose with clean water and at the same time make sure that there are no air bubbles in it and you have a very accurate level ready to use. Let me explain how it works, if there are no air bubbles in the hose filled up with water, the water in the two ends of the hose are always level, whether they are beside each other (and this is the way to check it out if it is working properly) or when they are far apart. So if you mark the top of a brick on a corner that you have already built you can mark this same level on the other corner, and therefore you know that this two marked points are level; then, you should stretch a brickies line between these two points making sure that the line sits exactly on the mark that you have made; now all the level below this line can be worked out easily from the bricklayer, using a type measure or a gauge rod.
The bricklayer can work out what to do if there is any difference on the foundation, and also make sure that it is the same course of bricks by running a full course of bricks between these two marked points, at this stage the bricklayer not only has to take care of the levels, but he also needs to make sure about the bond, therefore he needs to start from the lowest corner and lay a full course of bricks until he reaches the other corner, this will make sure that the brickwork is started level and with the right bond. This procedure should now be repeated also on the other walls until all the walls are set up, if everything is done properly we should end up with the last wall being the easiest to start, since we have already set both corner to build the other walls, but be careful here that there is not a pig in it, which sometimes can even happen when we are not careful enough and the line is set on the wrong course of the bricks.
Explaining what is meant that there is a pig in the brickwork and how to make sure that everything is set right from the very beginning. To make 100% sure that everything is level and that there is no pig in the brickwork, it is necessary that you run a full course of bricks all around the building at the same level, if that can be done and there is no brick sticking out it is okay. I hope that I have explained it clear enough. Now let us see how this can be avoided when we are working on a sloping site and the foundations have several steps in it, because this is the most likely place that this mistake can be made.
Laying bricks on a sloping site
Whenever we start to lay bricks, we would always start with a brick corner laid in stretcher bond, just like the one you see here, and we will always start from the lowest corner, so that the entire brickwork would be set in stretcher bond following the first brick we have laid.

As we have already said before, the most important thing in bricklaying is that the bricks must be laid at the right alignment, straight, plumb and level and when building a face brick wall the bricklayer should pay particular attention to these details, we will be coming back to discuss this issue soon, as for the time being we want to start building a brick base for houses, beginning from the first course of bricks that we lay on the foundations, therefore it would be better to concentrate on this single issue, as it is very important to start the brickwork right from the beginning.
Now, to lay bricks on a level site it is easy, as you can see from this picture beside here; also to lay bricks on a level foundation is also easy, you see you can build another corner as the one shown here at the other end, and by using a brickies line on line blocks you can stretch a tight line and lay bricks in a straight line easily. Of course here we have assumed that the foundations have been laid level, but on a stepped foundations it is not that easy, because even the concreters may not have been able to lay the foundations level, because the concrete moves until it sets, therefore the bricklayers need to check and recheck the levels when they start bricklaying on a sloping site. One of the easiest ways to do that is to mark  levels on the profiles all around the building site; then you can stretch a bricklayer tight line between these levels and measure from the line down to check your levels, ether with a type measure or a gauge rod.
I know now that you are saying, what is a gauge rod? Okay, a gauge rod is usually made from a long marked peace of timber that the bricklayer marks himself, once he knows what sort of bricks he is going to lay and how thick these bricks are and also what would be the best thickness of the joints for this sort of brickwork. I know that the gauge rod sounds like a strange devise for those that are not used to work for bricklayers, but really it is only a straightedge that has been marked with the space of each brick, so that you can quickly know how many course of bricks have to be laid in the space that you are measuring. Now in order to decide the spaces on the gauge the bricklayer Forman measures the thickness of four bricks that have been laid with an average and attractive joint, and from these measurements he makes his gauge rod for this particular job; here it follows that when the gauge rod is not handy we bricklayer talk about this space as the gauge that is supposed to be kept on this building site, which is four course of bricks. As you can see there are many jargon words in this trade, and there are also many other strange devises or tools that help the bricklayers do his job, which I would like to talk about some of them, as we go on building this house brick base, or other brickwork in general.       
 Anyhow, I believe that this bricklaying article is becoming too long and perhaps a bit difficult to understand and remember for DIY for the first time, as there are too many things to keep in mind all at the same time, and since there is a lot more that can be said about bricklaying, I think that it would be better to write another article about it; which we are going to call, Building a brick base, or Bricklaying on a sloping site.
Dear readers at this point of time I see the need to go back to the times when I started to work on the building sites, we need to do this because there are a lot of things that need to be explained and it can only be done if we take it step by step; in other words let me take you in the long journey of my life in the building trade; now, what I have in mind here is that if I tell you my life story in the building, then it would be easier to describe what happens on building sites and how many jobs are done, this would help to know how other things are done and many of those things are those things that one needs to know before one can start laying bricks.
So we may have to write a few articles about my building story, until we reach that stage where we have to lay bricks for this house base; once we reach that stage we will go back to build our house base and everything else. So building a brick base remains to be written later on. See you soon in our next article. Australian houses in Brisbane


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