Bricking It

The gap between the neighbour's wall and Savvy Steve's garage was annoyingly big. I reckon a little kid can squeeze though the gap, which may be a potential problem. A fat one may get stuck there, which is a ... well, bigger problem. The developer who included fencing in the land price refuse to do this portion for free, since it wasn't one of the conventional perimeter fencing. To put it explicitly, the contractor hired by the developer refused to do it, since it was a grey item and therefore a perfect income opportunity for them to profit on the private.

For months, I left that issue unresolved. It was minor, almost a non-issue to me. However for some reasons, the wife was particularly annoyed by the gap and nagged about it. I also noted the gap was actually holding back my landscaping plans around that corner because it was the rule to close any issues on the vertical side of a wall before moving on to the horizontal, to minimise double work. For example, painting the walls first before installing the flooring. Should that be done in the reverse sequence, the process will likely to be counter-productive and the outcome may very well turn out less desirable.

Installing a matching sheet of grayish 'colourbond' sheet, a flashing or whatever you prefer to call it, is stupid. Not only it'll cost me money, it doesn't look good as well. There are so many matching bricks lying all around the place instead. Why should I spite my own wallet when I can use bricks to seal the gap? The problem is, I am no bricklayer. I am bricking it.

Technically, that was the first time I did a brick job on my own. Trust me, it wasn't a very good task to start a bricklaying debut. The gap was really small and I needed to butter both sides of the brick. With my pathetic buttering skills, I had trouble getting the cement properly applied on both sides simultaneously, let alone laying the brick with the mud intact on both sides. What would take a skilled bricklayer a few minutes to complete took me the entire afternoon. I had to resort to using my hand to apply the mud, for my trowel handling in those limited space was simply not proficient enough to perform what was required. It wasn't time for self pity nor giving up. I wanted my job done. Regardless of the manner it was done, the end product must be satisfactory, if perfection was out of question. At the end of the day, I thought I had somehow nailed it.

After a clean up, my work was left to cure. By the next day, it had gained enough strength for me to give one of the brick a good punch. My masak masak had became a structure. That should be good enough to keep the big bad wolf around. I took stock and found I hardly used much cement for that job. I still hold a few bags of cement that Stephen dropped at my place some months back. So, it was yet another problem solved without spending my own money.

Yeah, I could have try selling my backside that afternoon and use the money to pay a bricklayer to do the job. Sadly, in Australia, the bricklayer will cost more than my butt per hour. Besides, I never believe in this warp logic. That is the reason why the other Singaporeans work extended hours and hire maids to enjoy their leather sofa and kids' company. Despite my serious struggles to complete the task, I learnt fast and furious, scaling that steep learning curve in double time being left alone to focus on my job, to learn and reflect.

One afternoon, Albany went to my brickwork and caressed it gently and said, "Daddy, I love you very much because you did a good job here." I wondered for a second if she would be as appreciative if I sold my backside to pay that bricklayer to do the job. She went on, ".... and also the floor in the house, the paint, the pavers outside, the stepping stones, everything. You are a great daddy, daddy."

If I were to bleed every ounce of weariness from my solo DIY projects again, I will still do it. 

Worth it.

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