Birth of a Social Enterprise Part 4 – Will it work – the moment of truth?

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So after a couple of weeks the panels were ready for us to start building. Up to this point we had only constructed a corner of 4 panels. Now we had 150, if it does not work……..! We made enough panels for a 10ft x 10ft prototype (59 Panels) and, gambling that it would work, we had also made enough for a show house so we could get that built quickly in the community once we are happy. We also made another 20 to test a toilet enclosure.

You will know from blog BOSE 2 that we made the floor slab in October last year before we decided to make our own wall panels rather than buy some from a toilet manufacturer. So we were now all set to build the walls. Symon, Erastus and Charles were on hand to build with support from Winnie and I.

Charles

Firstly we set out the outer dimensions with string then mixed the mortar for bedding the first layer of panels. Being the first time we had done this, progress was slow and there was a lot of “faffing” making sure things were in line, jointed well etc etc. It seems we were concentrating on getting the joints right and making progress and less on the straight lines – ooops. When we came to the second layer and reflecting on the mornings work, we made the hard decision to take it down and start again. It was not bad but, any issues at level one would be magnified as we went up. Back to square one but useful lessons learnt. We also inadvertently proved the theory that the houses could be dismantled and relocated if necessary. Always looking for a positive…….

Base

Winnie

Having set level one we left that overnight. The target is to build a house in 3 days in the end. Setting level 1 is the day 1 work allocation. Day 2 should be the next 3 levels of wall. This time it took around a day and half but we know with a couple more houses of experience 1 day for 3 levels is achievable.

Charles and Erastus

We also started to fit the door and window on day 2 and finished it on day 3. The roof was also planned for 1 days work which was achieved on the first attempt.

Winnie Door 1

Winnie Door 2

Winnie Door 3

All in all, a good first full scale prototype. Lots of lessons learnt and lots of reassurance that the design concept of the rods, the tongue and groove solution was strong etc. The perception that we can build a house from the top of a floor slab up in 3 days was definitely proven. What was most comforting was that the structure is even stronger and more stable than we anticipated. To be sure, we commissioned a structural engineer to inspect the building. He gave us an emphatic approval and was very complimentary.

Now all we need to do is sell one!! The next installment of “Birth of a Social Enterprise – 5” will be “What did the customers think?”

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