Japan, Okinawa, Uncategorized
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Reforming a house in Japan

On April 3rd 2015, I moved into the new house. I was well aware that it would need some renovation work. Inside was mainly cosmetic and could wait, but the outside needed immediate work.

Some of the drains at the house had been detached by previous typhoons. Leaks had occurred where water pooled up on the balcony and flowed in through air vents. Other water leaks had been caused by air vents missing hoods.

In Okinawa rainy season is May to early June. It’s wet but the rain is falling vertically. However in  July, August and September there are typhoons. If you have an ocean view,  you are going to get hit by the full force of the wind and horizontal rain.

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The white pipe on the ground was a downpipe that had been removed during a previous typhoon.

The first job was to buy a power washer and clean the dirt off everything within reach. This enabled me to reveal any cracks in the concrete and assess the problems.

Most homes in Okinawa are built out of reinforced concrete with a core of steel rebar. They are strong and able to withstand typhoons, but if the concrete cracks and saltwater reaches the steel you can have serious structural problems.

I decided I could paint the balcony and garage walls by myself, but the actual house would need scaffolding and professional help. I looked for a contractor who could fix the cracks, paint the house, and replace broken downpipes and vent hoods.

As often happens in Okinawa I went with the recommendations of a friend. Higa-san of Higa Paint Co. in Nakagusku ( 098-895-2200) would provide the paint and his friend’s company Shinzato Toso Kogyo (098-930-4116) would do the actual repairs and reform.

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Scaffolding up on the house, note the vents on the wall missing the hoods.

At the end of May the scaffolding went up around the house.

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About 10 days later the scaffolding came down, revealing a sparkly white house.

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I painted the outside of the garage myself, then went to Higa-san to get paint for the balcony. He recomended a five layer system to make sure the flat balcony (the roof above my office) would be waterproof and reflect the heat.

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After cleaning the concrete, you place a primer, then two layers of rubber, then two layers of topcoat. The result is a strong waterproof surface. It took about a week for me to do.

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I used some leftover primer, rubber and paint to seal the flat roof of the garage.

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We were hit by a few typhoons over the summer, and happily there were no leaks.

The house that looked rundown and a little unloved is now a sparkly home and office. Stop by for a cup of tea!

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Drone shot by Pete Leong

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