The past couple weeks brought on-off rain that forced us to take breaks throughout the day. Blocklaying is physically demanding, especially on the back and wrists, so the rain delays were welcome to recover and spend time focusing on design considerations and material orders. Often times, though, the rain teetered on the brink of being mildly annoying (enough to dampen your hair) and pestering (enough to dampen your shirt and make the mortar mix in the wheelbarrow “slumpy”).
We utilize 4×4 posts at the corners of the house. The posts are placed perpendicular to each other using the 3:4:5 right triangle rule. Any triangle whose sides are in the ratio 3:4:5 is a right triangle. For example, we marked a 15 foot leg in one direction from the corner of the house, and where the other 20 foot leg and 25 foot hypotenuse intersect, a right angle is formed. We crossed-checked right angles by using a large folding square and by measuring diagonals.
The posts allow us to mark the elevation of each course of block using a transit level. A screw is placed on each elevation marking, allowing us to string a line from post to post. It is essential that the string is very taut, especially over longer distances, to prevent potential sagging. The string assists in laying a straight and level wall. Slight fluctuations come with the territory, and can be compensated when the sill plates are installed, but we strive to keep it to a minimum. Errors that occur now will create headaches in the many stages of construction to come. Since we are building everything ourselves, we aren’t inclined to write such errors off or to “let the framers deal with it.”