Hello. My name is Markus Jahn. I have worked for ten years as a product engineer for sprayed concrete, first with Sika Switzerland and now with Sika Services. Four years ago, my partner Susanne and I bought an old log-built house in Flums Hochwiese. The property included an outbuilding and some grounds. In earlier times it used to house a wine press for Gräplang Castle, which is situated on the opposite side of the valley.
A house that moved hundreds of meters downhill
When we bought the property, the outbuilding was effectively as good as new, but the house itself was certainly not. It is not easy to establish its age, although we know from accounts given by some long-time local Flums residents that about 60 years ago the house was actually moved several hundred meters down the hill.
Apparently, this used to happen quite frequently with these types of property for a number of reasons and the original log construction method is tailor-made to accommodate this, because the horizontal beams of the outer walls can be dismantled relatively easily and then equally easily joined back together in a new location.
Renovation of the house and conversion of the outbuilding
Our plan was to achieve a sympathetic renovation of the house and to convert the outbuilding to use as a barn for a few animals. We set ourselves two conditions: firstly, to do as much of the work as possible ourselves, and secondly, to use as many Sika products as possible, whenever feasible.
With regard to the first condition, I should mention that some 20 years ago I completed a masonry apprenticeship and later studied construction engineering, as did Susanne. The second condition came from my present job - Sika has very good products and as an employee I am at the source and can contact colleagues if I have any questions relating to products and areas outside of my own areas of expertise.
Most of the renovation work we could do ourselves
Early in April 2013 we began excavating for groundworks beneath the house and continued to manage all the building works and most of the joinery for the project ourselves. I must say that we could never have coped with everything on our own, but we were very fortunate to have had helpers who have actively supported and assisted us again and again with good advice throughout the building works.
Learning by doing
We used more than 20 different Sika products when building the house, including various admixtures and synthetic fibers in the concrete and mortars, together with pre-bagged Sika repair, grouting and sprayed mortars, plus several kinds of waterproofing products. Naturally we also needed Sika products for the concrete curing, strengthening and bonding. In retrospect I can say that this was also probably the most intensive product training I have ever had: ‘learning by doing’.
Moving into the self-rebuilt house
On April 1, 2014 we finally moved into our self-rebuilt home and I cannot say enough how very satisfied and happy we feel here. After moving into the house, we turned our attention to the outbuilding. With its conversion to a small animal barn now also complete, this February we brought in two pregnant goats about to give birth to their young kids. And from the spring onward, the goats can enjoy the company of a number of rabbits.
Next project will be a dry stone wall
Another project we will be tackling this year is to build a dry stone wall behind the house, which has me busy now reading technical and historic literature to learn more about this ancient craft. Since a dry stone wall only needs stones and not mortar, we probably won’t be able to use any Sika products, but then again… but let’s see what else we can build in the future.
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