Cover Image
close this bookThe Community Builders: A Practical Guide where People Matter (GTZ, 1989)
close this folderSection B
View the documentB1: Time for Reflection
View the documentB2: Who is in Control?
View the documentB3: Check and Examine
View the documentB4: Room Layouts
View the documentB5: Builders, Programming and Budgets

B5: Builders, Programming and Budgets

Before proceeding

with the preparation of the builder's information, we must check the viability of our project as it now stands. In the project proposal we submitted for funding, we set-out how we intended to build and made a funding budget. Now we must be much more specific about how we will organize the work and relate this to our budget Only then can be know just how to prepare the builder's information.


FIGURE Time for detail preparation.

We must now

review how we will carry out the work, considering supervision of the job, managing the work, labour and materials, and our and the local contribution, draft an outline programme, updating the budget, and recommend approval to the Executive. Any changes will be notified to the funding organization.

Our Story -They discuss how to carry out the work

While at the clinic, working on the room layouts, Ralihaha goes to see Fr Pierre. They talk about the building work and how it might be carried out. Fr Pierre tells Ralihaha how he built the mission, all of it with the local men. He was a carpenter by training but that was a long time ago. He had some good men who had picked up some skills from him. Most of these men had since moved on, only his foreman was of the original group when he first arrived.
So they began to talk about two possibilities. One was that the mission foreman Ralejoe run the site and they hire some extra men to assist. The other was to contract out the labour and the Father obtain the materials. They agreed that a conventional contractor would be too expensive, even if he were willing to work so far from town. It was clear to Ralihaha that, whichever option was adopted, he would have to provide extra assistance in organizing the site, much more than supervising the work.
Their first option, Ralihaha pointed out to Fr Pierre, would provide the best value for money, since he would be doing a lot of the work. They would, of course, credit the mission with the foreman's wages and those of any other men they used. However, Ralihaha emphasized, this would mean that the mission's work would suffer as the building work would take up a lot of time and effort. If, he said, the men also had to attend to their normal duties the work at the clinic would take longer. Fr Pierre agreed that they did not want that, for
the mission would obviously have to provide temporary accommodation, perhaps in the church hall. This might deter patients, he said, from attending the clinic during the work, causing a drop in income which they could ill afford.
An alternative Fr Pierre suggested, was to employ the builder working in the village at present. He was originally a local man, he hired all his own labour but we had to supply the materials. "That way," Ralihaha commented, "we would have none of the hassle of paying the men, or the problems of dismissing them. It would leave the mission men free to get on with their routine work. If the builder worked on the clinic," Ralihaha asked, "could your men undertake outside jobs, such as the fencing? Indeed," he added, "the village people might also do their part by building the house for the waiting mothers."
Then they talk about how to obtain the materials, for whichever way they organize the job, this still had to be done by them. "I have a small truck," says Fr Pierre, "that could move most of what we need. When I want sand or gravel I employ men from the village with their oxen and wagon to bring these from the river." Ralihaha asks him, "Are you prepared to buy and deliver the materials to the site?" "Yes," he says, "but can you work out the quantities?" "Yes, I'll do that," agrees Ralihaha. "Would you," he asks, "be prepared to keep the cash book, pay the wages and the bills and keep the petty cash?" "Oh yes," says the Father, "I have an excellent young woman, Malichelete, who does most of that for me. Let us ask her."

How we decide to build

It is a sound precaution at this stage to check the viability of our project by carefully examining how we intend to carry out the work. It is important, for it affects how we approach the preparation of the builder's information in the next section.
Supervision. The diagram shows the basic options available to us in relating the architect, the builder and the materials. Whichever we choose, the presence of an architect experienced in community building can greatly improve the outcome of the work. This is often underestimated, misunderstood or overlooked, to the detriment of the project. Good supervision requires knowledge of both design and construction and is helped by there being continuity from the discussion stage in section A3. Experience also contributes to site organization and control of expenditure, both essential if we are organizing the work ourselves. You have eight basic options, four of straightforward supervision and four which involve the architect in the running of the site.
Risk. Of course, it's cheaper to do the work yourself! The conventional contractor takes most of the risks for you and does all the
running around, which can be considerable. Any losses, price increases and delays have to be met from his profit. This is why it costs more than doing the job yourself. When we do the work we have to make allowance for all this as well as the risk of overspending on our budget. It is important to realize what is involved in making the cost saving, and, if necessary, to make some extra provision in the budget at this stage to cover unforseen expenditure.
Our contribution. Too often this is taken for granted as unskilled labour provided by the village people. The result is that it contributes relatively little to the budget and is of doubtful benefit to the future well-being of the project. It has, therefore, to include whatever you in the project can do for yourself, as well as making the village people responsible for their work, if this is to be effective. It is only if we organize the materials, hire the labour, keep the accounts, provide transport and equipment, run the site, etc., that a significant saving is possible. For us this is vastly time consuming and can seriously disrupt our normal work. A check list of 'Community Building Tasks' appears in section C2.


Our Story -The local people become involved

Nurse Lerato was very happy with the idea to involve local people in the work one way or another. She had been rather worried that, by bringing in an outside building contractor, the people might get the idea they no longer needed to help her, since the mission had money to pay for whatever needed to be done. So she asked the Father to meet the village health workers' committee and discuss what they could do. There was already the suggestion that the local people be asked if they would build the house for the waiting mothers, just as they did for themselves in the village. The committee had never really been active, even though Nurse Lerato had been trying to encourage them to support her work in health education, with spring protection and so on. Lerato could see that, by involving them in the building project, this created a real opportunity to gain their participation in the work of the clinic.
The local chief agreed to hold a public meeting in the village. There was a good turnout, for people loved to debate matters of common concern. Although it was mostly the women who came, it was the men who did most of the talking. They said everyone had to help and that people should know it was their responsibility to support the work of the clinic. They had not, however, had a real opportunity to demonstrate their support before. The local schoolmaster was against this, saying that to make people work for nothing was little better than slave labour. "We are a developing people," he said. "Working for nothing is something of the past." The
people, however, did not respond to this. The women were more concerned with practical matters. The rains were expected soon and they would have to weed the fields. Only after that would they be free to help organize the work. "That's fine," thought Lerato to herself. "We need to talk about this carefully and not rush into it."
Lerato's next move was to organize a meeting of the village health workers. There she and the Father explained how they were proposing to improve the clinic. Would the women of the committee, they asked, assume responsibility for the construction of the new house? What about the cost of doors and windows and other things that had to be bought, they wanted to know? "Well," suggested Lerato, "I think if you pro" vided the stone, the grass for thatching and so on' and did all the work just as if you were building your own house, then the clinic would make a contribution towards the materials you have to buy." The women felt this should be alright as not everyone would be willing to work.
Nurse Lerato also took this opportunity to ask them about how they felt the cooking should be organized for the waiting mothers. The women said they did not like to rely on the nurse and her assistant they could see they were too busy. It would be better if they had a shelter to cook their own food. So the building work became an opportunity to discuss many aspects of the way the clinic was run and how the women could be more involved.
The women agreed to report all this to the other village health workers and get their opinions before they had another meeting.

Provoking comment -our priorities

In handing over responsibility for working out the proposal to the Building Committee, we place them firmly in charge of the builders work. This effectively draws in the enthusiasm and interest of everyone, and shares round the work, rather than overburdening one individual. The skills and experience thus gained will show as people accept greater responsibility in their lives and work. Here are the topics that have to be covered:

1. Our attitude:
Do we employ a conventional contractor?
Is there an alternative, a building co-op or brigade?
Can we use this to hand over skills to local people?
What can we do for ourselves?
How can local people become more involved? Are we encouraging the local economy?
Is there a suitable builder available?
Will he bring his own men from outside? Is there someone using local labour?
Could. this provide further training for our maintenance team?
2. Who will organize the materials?
(important for all self-build projects)
Will we need a list of what to buy? (see section C 3)
How do we organize orders and delivery? Do we have transport available to us?
Where can the materials be stored?
How will we control their issue on site?
3. Who will organize the labour?
A conventional contractor brings his own men;
A 'labour contractor' supplies only the labour;
A village builder relies on local skills;
Self-build may require instructors and skills teachers;
Do you have continuity of work to promote a building team?
If you do the job, who will hire the labour? Can you use your own men?
What skills do you have?
Who will organize your labour?
4. Are we able to manage the work?
If we have a will there is a way. An architect experienced in community building is able to provide most of the builder's back-up. However, the best job is usually achieved by a combination of two people working closely together. The architect provides supervision to ensure that the work is in accordance with the information, liaises, smooths the way, and sorts out problems. The builder organizes the construction, obtains the materials, hires the men, runs the site, and so on. If one man has to work on his own, some things may be pushed to one side.
Do you know of a builder to work with the architect?
Can you provide equipment?
Is there someone with experience to control expenditure?
5. How long will the work take?
The Building Committee must make a programme to find out.
What is involved before starting the work? How long will it take?
Does it rely on community participation? Is traditional village building involved?
Must the rural building seasons be taken into account?
Does the work involve complex renovation? Will people have to be moved out?
Is there appropriate technology involving outside people?

Our story -The outline programme


Drafted at a meeting of the Building Committee to estimate when the work could start on-site and when the clinic should be reoccupied.

FIGURE Dr John is surprised. Will it really take so long?

Making a programme

The drafting of the programme presents another opportunity to promote discussion, which is better for everyone's contribution. We have to plan our work because we must think ahead and know how we fit in with what other people ate doing. For example, the nurse in a clinic has a monthly programme showing when the doctor is expected, and people know when to come for under-fives' clinic, ante-natal, and so on. We must do the same with our building project, for we need to know how long it will take to organize and when the work might be finished. All this is best done by everyone sitting together round the table, and so it is the right task for our committee. It cannot work if someone presents something worked out beforehand, for then people will not feel any responsibility for it and they may let it slip to one side. But if people are involved in its preparation, then it is more likely to be understood and implemented.
On the opposite page is the programme prepared by the committee in our story. It starts at a clearly defined point - the approval by the Executive of the details we are now preparing. The committee made a list of items that had to appear on the programme. The order did not matter for that becomes clear in the discussion. On squared paper they set out the weeks. Then they asked themselves, what had to be done first? What followed on from that and what could go on at the same time? It is surprising how everyone contributes, becomes involved and understands when taken one item at a time. The advantage is that everyone leaves the meeting knowing just what is required of them!
The architect (or building surveyor) will advise how long the site works may be expected to take. This is estimated by dividing the value of the building work by the expected monthly cash expenditure of the builder. Add a little on to start the job, and at the end for finishing the bits and pieces. Renovation work is slower than new and so takes a little longer for equal value. If the work has to be phased, this should be shown and may further extend the work.
This programme can also be used as an indication of the cash flow, when payments are expected to be made and funding should be received.
The programme should be displayed on the pin board alongside the drawings. It will have to be updated from time to time as things change. It is not a fixed thing, but a tool used by the committee in organizing the work as it proceeds.


Our Story - Discussing programmes and budgets

At the next meeting of the Building Committee, they heard how the room layouts were progressing and of Lerato's negotiations with the village health workers. Now they had to discuss their programme and update the budget, for they had to know when to expect the work to start and to check that their approach to carrying it out was viable. Ralihaha said he needed to know whether the work would be done by Fr Pierre's men or a labour contractor, for this would affect the cost as well as the time it took. He pointed out how it would be possible to start the work sooner if the Father's men did the job, since they would be working to the budget and the details could be prepared as they went along. A contractor' to fix his price, had to have everything in advance. It was doubtful, noted Ralihaha, if the job could be done any quicker by a contractor.
The preparation of the new budget had to be a co-operative effort, that was clear. Mapalesa agreed to schedule all the furniture the clinic must provide, from the room layouts, and cost what must be bought and repaired. Ralihaha must detail the building cost, his supervision and role in the building works. Lerato should reach agreement with the village women on the clinic's contribution to the waiting mothers' house. And Fr Pierre must clarify what his men could do and what this would cost the mission. Dr John would then take all this and make a detailed budget, itemizing income and expenditure. This would then become a tool in running the job.
The building cost in the funding budget had been based on using a contractor. It now had to be broken up to reflect the way the work was to be organized. There were no significant changes in the layout of the building from the project proposal, and so the overall cost should not have altered. Ralihaha would approach this by taking the square metre cost of a job he had done in a similar way, and allowing a little for inflation. He then had to carefully consider what was involved in his organizing the site. It had been proving fairly accurate, he found, if he allocated half the professignal fee to the present stage of the job, and half to the stage starting with the preparation of the builder's information. For looking after the site, he added half the total fee to this. Rough and ready, but it worked. Travelling costs for the supervision would be more than so far, and he added a little extra.
There was one matter that had not been discussed, what to do about the removal of the clinic while the builders did their work? Fr Pierre had already put forward the idea of using the church hall, but Ralihaha could see it would need some temporary screens and so on. On consulting Lerato, she thought this would be fine; all they needed were some hospital sheets to pin-up for privacy during examination and consultation. Delivery was a bit of a problem, but they could manage. She and Ralihaha made a sketch of how everything could fit in. There had to be a sign telling people where to go during the work. The committee decided that the move could be made by using all the mission men.

The budget as a working tool (Budget B)

The Building Committee has to control the budget, otherwise they risk control of the project passing out of their hands. The danger is that, if this happens, the people no longer have a voice in what is done. It is likewise vital that the architect is involved, for, if not, his broader role in community building is curtailed and his actions unrelated to the money available. This may seem obvious. However, some managers still find it hard to accept that, in practice, the finances should be open to people's participation.
The committee needs good advice in setting-up the budget and accounts. They should now seek someone with the necessary skills and experience. It is easier to control expenditure with a conventional contractor, rather than jobs where we buy the materials, pay the labour, and reimburse the project for transport, etc. Skills within the project, that control expenditure, may lack wider experience and be inadequate for our purpose. This may, therefore, be the opportunity to provide instruction or further training in accounting and bookkeeping. In writing the project proposal this may have been foreseen and included in the funding request. The committee must now follow this up and decide just what to do and how it will control the finances in the budget. We are now at the stage of spelling out in greater detail, the budget presented in the project proposal. We must relate this to the job as we have developed it, at the same time checking that it remains viable. This then provides us with a tool in checking prices, is something against which expenditure-is measured, and on which the financial reports will be based.
The budget now takes into account the scale and scope of the work, which may have changed, and complications that were unforeseen in the funding budget. The architect's fee (or salary) must be itemized according to what he has to do. If he is involved in running the site, this should be separated from the actual building cost. In section C3 we examine the costing of this . [Fittings and furnishings must be costed from the room layout, rather than by inspiration, as previously. Budgeted expenditure has to balance actual funding, for this may differ from that which we requested. The committee then has to advise the Executive of the likely risk of overspending, especially if we intend doing the work ourselves, or there are special problems.
Financial reports have to provide the committee with the information they need to control the project. Reporting procedures should be encouraged which are a tool in managing the finances of the project and give an insight into progress. If these are in a format acceptable to the funding organization and Executive, this will save much effort and ensure that reports are submitted on time.
All this provides members of the committee and project staff with invaluable experience, equipping them for greater responsibility in the project and its long term development. The delegation of financial control is not, therefore, something that can be ignored or left to chance.

Our Story -Approving all the details

The Building Committee now meet to consider all these details and make their recommendation to the Board. Ralihaha has cut out all the room layouts and stuck them together on the wall. These make a big plan of the clinic, as it will be when the work is done.


By now everyone is experienced in understanding the different drawing scales. This is their last chance to comment before Ralihaha prepares the details on which the builder's pricing must be based. Dr John, having closely followed the progress all the way through, says to Ralihaha, he does not think he need attend. "Go ahead without me," he says. "But," says Ralihaha, "this is a crucial meeting. Everyone has to be there to record their support. Otherwise there may be further changes, as people do not feel committed. Besides, if the committee change something, are you prepared to accept their decision?" Reluctantly, Dr John agrees to come.
It is a good thing Dr John attends the meeting' for he is the first to question what has been proposed. He wants to know whether the local people will be able to manage the building of the house and complete it? It is Lerato who answers. "Yes," she says, "I believe they can do it, for it has been discussed at some length and they have much support locally." So it is that they close their meeting with a pat on the back for themselves for the hard work they have put into the proposal. At last, they feel, things should begin to move and there will be something to see.

The Building Committee decides

How our architect is paid
You may be concerned by the amount of time Ralihaha appears to be putting into the job. It would certainly be prohibitive at commercial rates. His salary is, in fact, paid from the job he is running at Khotso Hospital. This is now at the stage where a builder is at work and although he needs to be there almost every day, he is no longer required fulltime, for everything has been thoroughly prepared. Khotso Hospital are, therefore' making use of his skills in community building by having him assist in the village clinics. He is also helping with the backlog of hospital maintenance. The fee from Mission Clinic will go into the budget for the job at the hospital, making it possible for him to stay longer. They pay only the normal fee for the job, and in this way the architect is available to assist in community building wherever there is a need.

The Building Committee recommend approval

This is a very important decision to come before the committee, for they must be sure that everything is well thought out. They will then ask the Executive to approve the details of the proposal, and for authority to proceed with obtaining prices for the work. This, in effect, confirms the control over the job that has been delegated to them. It also marks the point after which any further change will cause delay and frustration.
The details to be approved are
1. the detail layout;
2. the room layouts;
3. the programme;
4. proposals for carrying out the work (including supervision);
5. the building budget;
6. proposals for financial control and recommend to Executive, procedures for placing orders and paying accounts.
7. Review the running costs as first established in section A5.
It is then good practice to send the funding organization copies, poiting out any changes from the project proposal and seeking their acceptance.

Check box

Of the builder
Who decided how to carry out the work?
What choices did you have?
is the 'local contribution' adequate?
Or could more be done?
Has the committee looked at the work of local builders?
What building skills are not available locally?
What building materials cannot be produced locally?
The programme Who set it up? Did the committee participate? What is your part to be in it?
The budget
Were the committee involved in its preparation?
Was it discussed as a straight issue, or were the alternatives discussed?
Was the committee informed of the risks?
Professional advice
Does the architect have access to the decision making? How much do you rely on your professional? Did they decide for you? Or did you listen to their advice?


"Today, the new (post) independence towns of Gaborone . . . have town planners and building contractors swarming all over them. Their construction does not involve their population who simply move into tedious arrangements of government housing schemes. But the construction of Serowe intimately involved its population. They always seem to be building Serowe with their bare hands and little tools -a hoe, and axe and mud - that's all. This intimate knowledge of construction covers every aspect of village life."
Bessie Head' Village of the Rain Wind (Further Reading 22)

FIGURE A traditional Lesotho village house.