Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction

~~ Part 2 of 2 ~~

This post is part 2 of a two part series talking about construction in Belize and other Countries. If you haven’t yet, read part 1 of 2.

HARDWOOD HOUSE COATING AND MAINTENANCE ~ Coating the wood will help preserve its colors and beauty. Outside walls in the sun, if not coated with a UV protectant stain, will quickly turn grey. Before coating, clean off dust and debris and make sure that all pencil marks are removed. This may sound stupid, but a friend of ours was not there when they coated his house and now he has permanent measurement on his balcony walls, right at eye level too! Since the inside of our house has 16’ ceilings and is quite large, we opted for coating using a spray gun. We were lucky with the guy we hired as he did an excellent job. The first coat was applied in the morning and the second coat a couple of hours later in the afternoon. If we had done this by hand, it would have taken several days. Being in the jungle and having a wood house, fighting bugs is part of the routine. So before coating I also recommend spraying all wood surfaces (inside and out) with an anti bug (termites, worms etc.) chemical such as Dursban, which is easily available and comes in many types for different applications. Once your house is completed, regular spraying is recommended (monthly or less depending on the season) to prevent any bugs from moving in. These chemicals also help keep out other bugs such as scorpions and spiders.

GUTTERS & DRAIN PIPES ~ As stated in part 1 of 2 ~ Plumbing topic, inclination/grade is a concept many guys do not grasp. So check the grade throughout with a level. Also the joints/connections must be sealed with silicone, which if you don’t tell them, there are good chances will not bother do. Due to the high volume of water when you get a good tropical downpour, ensure that the gutters’ drains are large enough to handle that volume.

TOOLS & EQUIPMENT ~ Carelessness is big and can get costly. Check the oil in your generator yourself as it is not unusual that they let that go dry. Also, using the wrong fuel (regular or diesel) in engines, or the correct mix of fuel/oil as for the weed trimmer is another thing to keep your eyes on. A bad habit most have is to leave things lying around, and often in the rain. And last but not least, breaking things. Be ready to fix a lot of stuff or ensure you have a good repair man in your area to help with those!

DAILY INSPECTION ~ Inspect daily, or as often as possible so that problems can be rectified in time, without having to undo too much to fix the mistake. You must also ‘see for yourself’ and not take their word as lying is second nature for many!

PAYING THE WORKERS & CONTRACTORS ~ If you are planning on building, I am sure you have done research and have heard a few stories, some not too good. When it comes down to money transactions with financially struggling people, it is always risky. But when dealing with a reputable company, it is quite safe. When hiring and paying workers by yourself it is another story. As you probably read somewhere, it is advised not to pay your workers until the job is completed and that makes sense. Here‘s one that happen to me. I had a guy on a contract that would take about 8 days and we agreed on $70 per day. I gave him one day pay in advance and paid for the supplies. At the end of his fourth day he asked to be paid for the days he worked so far. So I replied that we agreed that he would get paid at the end of the job. Then he started whining about how the rich gringos don’t care, that he has a wife and kids and needs to buy food and so on. So I gave in and paid him for 3 days. Once the money was in his hand, he then announced to me that for him to complete the job his daily rate would now be $100! So I just told him to get the %*^&# out of here and to never set foot on my property again! You will run into these types of situations and they are not fun to deal with. Unfortunately, many of them do not understand the concept of long term employment, possible references to other people who plan on building, being true to their word, and respecting their employers. Also, when hiring workers directly, not through a contractor or company, make sure Social Security gets paid. It’s the law, as it should be, and it is very important for the future of the country. For more information on Social Security in Belize, visit the Social Security Board website. It is a very well built website that includes all information you need, procedures, forms, and more.

In closing, a big struggle with workers is communication. Even though Belize is an English speaking country, many workers (from Guatemala and Honduras for example) do not speak English (or some do when convenient!), and Spanish is almost as widespread. But even without a language barrier, establishing a rapport with your worker is still hard to achieve sometimes. Mix a bunch of masculine gender Gringos and Latinos, egos are high! Those I have seen succeeding in developing a good relationship are the ones who can listen as well as talk. It has to be 2 way communications in order to exchange ideas and knowledge. The Gringo has the technological knowledge, and many ideas. The Latino has knowledge of the country and its custom and probably has many ideas that you ought to listen to! Listen to your workers’ suggestions as it might just be the answer you were looking for. Then it’s easy for you to build upon his idea, while inquiring for more suggestions. And when you are of different countries and cultures, you learn even more. It’s a great combination, but not necessarily an easy one! With mutual respect, you can learn so much from each other.

I am sure there are hundreds of other things to look out for and that anyone who’s ever built in Belize (or in any similar country) have a few good stories of their own! Please share them in the ‘comments’ section.


Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
16 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
17 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2