Here are a few of the things that we have learned so far in our process of trying to build an eco-friendly house in a Central American country.
1. It REALLY helps to be fluent in the language if you want to manage a building project. It’s not just recommended, I now consider it to be mandatory. If you don’t you will just end up very confused and frustrated and you will not feel in control of your project.
2. If you are buying wood be sure to visually inspect it before paying for it. Be sure you have the right to reject pieces of wood if they don’t meet your approval. Treat it properly before installing it.
3. To maintain good vibes with workers, lavish your appreciation on them liberally. Act even more grateful than you really may be. Not that they don’t deserve it…..our workers have been putting in 10 hours days in very hot temperatures and they definitely deserve praise and appreciation!
4. Despite your appreciation, know that it is often necessary to double check every thing, even if it doesn’t seem like you need to. While this can sometimes result in workers feeling like you don’t trust or appreciate them, you still need to be vigilant. We have found errors in things as simple as counting to 12.
5. Choose very carefully who your builders will be. Try to find someone who can communicate well (not always an easy task, we have found) and that you can give direction to. Try to see samples of their work beforehand. Ask around about their reputation. Understand that most carpenters and builders do not have much experience in alternative building techniques and you may have to look hard for people who are experienced in the type of building you want to do.
6. Have a ton of patience. Things take longer than you think they should and for some unknown reason, that is just how it is.
I’m sure we will have many things to add to this list by the time we are done, stay tuned for more helpful hints from our experience!