Building in Honduras vs. U.S.A. - the same or different?
I recently took 5 days off for a mission trip to Honduras. 2 days for travel and 3 days to build a house. That’s right, just 3 days to build a one-room home for a family in need. Honduras remains one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the Western Hemisphere (according to WorldBank.org), so there are some extreme differences between life there and life in the U.S. But when it comes to construction, I found some interesting similarities…
The #1 most important thing about the construction project is THE CLIENT. No matter what the project scope is, big or small, commercial or residential, what really matter is that we make the client happy. And trust me, when we finished this one-room house with a roof, one door, two windows, and three light bulbs, Berta and her family couldn’t have been happier. And that is the best part of building.
Things will not always go as planned, but we can get creative and SOLVE ANY PROBLEM. For example, the slab for Berta’s home was poured before we arrived and was 4’ too large in both directions. The problem with that is the anchor bolts would no be in line with the walls. But just like we’ve done on large commercial projects in the past, we executed a Plan B to fix it in the field.
LACK OF INFORMATION leads to inefficient use of resources. On most jobsites, if you stand back and watch, you will eventually notice that workers spend a lot of time asking questions and waiting for answers. Maybe only the foreman has the documents. Or worse, maybe only the lead superintendent has all the documents. Or maybe the documents don’t even have the answers. Whatever caused the lack of information, we are wasting precious time and money. Our human resources, now more than ever, are extremely valuable and need to be used as efficiently as possible. General Contractors should do everything possible to provide clear direction before there are workers standing around waiting. In Honduras, my team and I were sometimes those resources not being fully utilized. There were no construction documents, just one phenomenal foreman/missionary leading the team, so we all relied on him for direction. This problem too, can be solved.
Our trip was absolutely eye-opening and reminded me just how blessed we are to have all that we do. I hope you find an opportunity to use your experience in the industry to give back in some way, locally or globally.