|The Community Builders: A Practical Guide where People Matter (GTZ, 1989)|
The builder must have
drawings and descriptions setting out the work that are based on what we have agreed. Although the Community Builder must take the initiative, the contribution of the people is crucial to success. There are many details to decide. Everyone should know what the building will be like on completion, and if we are to organize the work, how this relates to available skills and materials.
We must now
prepare the construction drawings and Building Work Description.
Our Story - Ralihaha is again at the clinic
In due course Ralihaha receives a note from Fr Pierre at the
Mission to say that the Board has approved the details of the layout and budget.
He can now proceed with the preparation of the construction drawings. So he asks
Mapalesa to let Nurse Lerato know he would like to come and stay two or three
days while he works on-these. Ralihaha likes to continue working the same way as
before, involving people in what he is doing, so that they are well informed
about what is to be provided. Everything he needs is in his travelling bag and
he can work at any table in a reasonably quiet corner.
Ralihaha arrives at the clinic to find it rather crowded; there seem to be people all over the place. "Where may I work?" he asks Lerato. "Well," she says, "Fr John is offering you his study but I know you want to be in the clinic. There are no deliveries expected at the moment, so how about if we move the table over to the window?)' "Yes," he says, "that will be fine. Will you join me for your tea break? I will need your advice." She laughs. "I know by now that when you say that you really mean it!" she says.
By tea-time that afternoon, Ralihaha has two layout drawings for the clinic roughed out. He is working on squared paper, tracing the layout from the approved plan. The first shows the existing walls, doors, windows, fittings, etc. that must be taken out. The second shows the new walls and so on that must be built. When Lerato looks in she is surprised to find that she can follow the drawings. Ralihaha explains how, by making a drawing for each stage of the work, they are much easier to follow. "I want you to understand them," he says, "so that you can keep an eye on the building as it is changing. That will also help me because I will not be here all the time. If you understand the drawings and know where to look for information, you can also be a great help to the builder's men." Ralihaha can see she is a bit apprehensive, but he reassures her. "You know best where everything has to go and fit in. If you stand back and look at the work imagining it to be complete, it's not so difficult." So they agree she will look in and see how he is getting on whenever there is a chance.
The next person to look in is Fr Pierre. "I have a bed in the Mission where you can sleep" he says. "You can eat with us. " They look at what Ralihaha has been doing. Fr Pierre is interested to see how a 'professional' does the job, for he has always organized it himself, learning by his mistakes as he went along. Ralihaha explains that the drawings are very basic, just like the discussion drawings, so that everyone can understand them. The work, he points out, is described in the 'Building Work Description' that he will write next. This keeps the drawings free of confusing notes and pro. vices a practical guide as to how the work should be carried out. Fr Pierre is very impressed. He can see this will be most helpful.
Why understand the construction information?
People sometimes ask why the architect has to prepare construction
drawings. Why, they wonder, can't the builder do this, surely he has the
experience and knows best? "Oh," responds the architect? "if only it were as
simple as that. Building is far too complex. How would the builder know what he
was pricing, and how would you know what you were getting? You would not be able
to compare one builder's price with another. In fact, you would not even know if
you were getting value for money!"
Our first objective in preparing the construction information is to provide a basis on which the work can be priced. However, we plan to carry out the work this is equally important. The discussion drawings illustrate how the building will be when complete, the construction drawings, how to construct it. The architect has to interpret the information as instructions for the builder. He is familiar with the ideas behind our discussion and can make the standard of construction suit our budget. This continuity is crucial to the success of our project.
It is surprising how buildings vary in size, one house to another, for example, or clinics of similar purpose. This is clearly seen if the drawings are placed side by side, providing they are of the same scale (usually 1:50 as this suits a variety of building types). The nurse or doctor involved in a number of projects will benefit and even the architect may find this instructive. It is, however, the tradesmen builders of the Third World who benefit most, for many of them lack experience in reading drawings and interpreting them into reality. Thus, being able to compare a previous project with the new one, they are better equipped to grasp the work that is before them and participate in organizing the work.
Before starting on the construction information, we have to know
how the work will be carried out; by contractor, local builder or using
self-build techniques; and the skills and materials available to us. This makes
a considerable difference. A contractor may be too sophisticated to cope with
alternative construction, a local builder can be expected to make better use of
local labour and materials, and a person building his own house may lack skills.
Bricks, for example, may be locally made but rather inferior and smaller, or
have to be transported from outside. Such things can greatly influence our
approach to the construction and organization and the information we produce
must reflect this.
If we are truly successful there should be no surprises as the building grows. Everything possible should be decided at this stage (except the colours), so that the work may be priced. In practice, however, it rarely works out quite so well, for people may become far too trusting of their architect.
Our Story - Hacking off the plaster
The next day Ralihaha is setting out the third drawing. This shows the fittings, cupboards, kitchen worktops, shelves and so on, as well as fixtures provided by the clinic and fixed by the builder. As he proceeds, he is making a list of details that will be required, such as the registry counter. He is also making notes of things that must be covered by the Building Work Description. In the existing registry, for example, the plaster is loose (addled) on the wall and must all be hacked off. The stripping-out drawing shows that the ceiling must be taken down, the plaster removed, and the floor tiles taken up. If the toilet were to be kept, he would mark that as being protected. To each door and window, existing and new, he gives a number, 'D1', 'W1' and so on. Each is the same on all the drawings and in the written description for easy cross-reference. When work starts on the clinic he will go round with chalk and mark them all up on the walls.
Just then Fr Pierre looks in. "How are you getting on?" he asks. "You see the drawings are progressing," says Ralihaha. "Next I shall be writing the Building Work Description. There I will estimate how much plaster has to be hacked off and replaced." "Oh," says the Father, "can't we leave that to the builder?" "Yes, we could, but he needs a guide and when pricing the work he would otherwise have to cover himself. If we are doing the job ourselves, we also need to know how much material to buy. Any extra then is paid for out of the contingencies. See, here is a model description I use from a previous job. You see it explains to the builder the mix of concrete, for I find they always use too much cement by guessing it. These numbers on the doors and windows are scheduled in each section. In 'walls' the lintels are listed; and the frames in 'El' here. The door itself is scheduled in 'R', Fittings." "That's handy," says Fr Pierre. "Every item just as it is needed on the site!" "Yes," replies Ralihaha, "and it tells the builder what he needs at each stage of the work and he can order the materials in good time. That way the men do not stand around waiting, losing time. "
Preparing the Construction Drawings
It is good practice for the architect to prepare the construction
information in a place where he is accessible to the people and can continue to
involve them in the work. However, it is not like the discussion stage of active
participation, rather he needs a more quiet place to work, for interruption,
just when he has a number of thoughts in his head, can lead to things being
overlooked or forgotten. Only when the job is being built will these come to
light. On the other hand, there are many details that will benefit from his
consulting the people with the alternatives as they arise. Therefore, seek a
quiet space where people can look in as they come together for coffee. The
architect continues working out of his travelling bag, and so- does not need
much more than a table. This is a useful opportunity to let people learn how the
construction information is assembled and is especially valuable if they are to
organize the job themselves, or the architect is not resident on the job. So the
success of the job lies in its careful preparation.
In altering and renovating existing buildings, working on the site is a great help in picking up details. For example, in deciding whether to re-use a door, or how much plaster to renew on the wall. Buildings in the Third World are scarce and often overcrowded, and so it is rarely possible to strip them out and see their condition before preparing the details. This can be the only way, with an old building, to be sure of the extent of the work. It is rather more likely that the work is going on around the architect, making it sometimes very difficult to see its true condition.
The drawings should be divided up to relate to the stages of the work, so that they form a clear set of instructions, one step at a time. Too many notes complicate them and make understanding difficult. A door or window, for example, should be denoted by no more than a 'D1' or 'W5' on the drawing, and described in a written description of the work . People should not be given half a piece of information by way of a note on the drawing, but should be encouraged to question what they are doing and seek information as it relates to the stage the work is then at. Thus, the aim is to produce construction drawings that in their clarity and simplicity are easily understood.
The broad division of the drawings:
la. for existing buildings strip out, demolition, existing services;
1b. new buildings foundations, setting out, drainage;
2. build walls, frames, services;
4. fittings and finishes.
As with the discussion drawings, the construction drawings are made on squared paper (Section A4). Our wholehearted committment to this approach makes the conventional drawing board unnecessary and the continued involvement of the people a reality. If we are limited to A4 size by the paper of the photocopier, drawings can be folded in 2 or 3 sections and stuck together, for when work has started we may need extra copies at short notice. If, however, we have sheets of squared tracing paper (and access to a large photocopy machine), our work will be very much easier, for we can trace the layout for the construction drawings directly from the survey and detail layout.
Our Story - Building work description
First stage (set-up)
B -site organization
C - delivery
Second stage (setting out)
D - site clearance
E - excavation
Third stage (walls)
H - frames
Fourth stage (roof)
J - drainage
Fifth stage (fitting out)
K - electrical (fix A)
L - plumbing (fix A)
M - plaster
N - dry lining
O - doors and windows
Sixth stage (finishes)
P - plumbing (fix B)
Q - electrical (fix B)
R - fittings
T - painting
U - floor finishes
Seventh stage (completion)
W - external works
X - landscaping
Y -to complete
-This description is written in the approximate order of the work.
-The building stages divide the work into convenient groups for costing and programming.
-You must satisfy yourself that every item of work is included.
-to be read with this description.
demolition, stripping out new work roof finishes site layout
Mission Clinic: Ralihaha - Commnuity Builder, Khotso Hospital, Lesotho - June '87.
The Building Work Description
This is written to complement the drawings and so must be read
with them to gain a detailed picture of the work. It has to be understood by
most people, especially those at the project involved with the job. It must take
into account the skills and materials that are available or where they are to
come from. It has, therefore, to be written for the individual job and not be
standardized. It may at first seem a tiresome task, but, with a little practice,
it can be prepared suprisingly quickly.
The description is written set out within the A to Z headings. There is no need to say that the walls must be upright or the joints straight, for no one will think us unreasonable for insisting on this. If, however, we describe what people working on the job really need to know, it is more likely to be read. A skilled man should not be told what his trade should have taught him, rather we should guide him on the features of this particular job. Foundations, for example, although more usually of concrete, may be more appropriate in rough stone. On the other hand, we may need to provide rather more basic advice for semi- or unskilled people doing the work themselves. Most builders will know that building water is best if it is clean. However, there may be some practices which, from experience, we cannot accept. The gauging of mortar in a wheelbarrow may be one, for this can be grossly inaccurate, making the mix too strong (or too weak) and therefore wasteful, so that your quantities are under-measured. Cement is usually a costly item!
The result of a carefully prepared job is that the construction is better suited to local skills and available materials. In this way the building work description becomes a guide with which people will be able to grasp what the work is about. It and the construction drawings then form the basis for measuring the material quantities.
The A to Z construction headings
The headings that follow on the next page form a practical
framework around which the job is organized and budgeted. Materials are measured
and bought for delivery to site, the work is programmed and it provides the
basis for cost control (see section D2). Thus everything is co-ordinated. The
headings follow in the approximate order of the work and are broadly divided
into groups to simplify their application. Because this is of direct use to the
builder, it is unlike any conventional method of describing the work. People on
site appreciate this and are quick to respond by making use of an architect who
can assist in the smooth and orderly running of the work.
The headings are universal to all jobs, so that 'T' for example, is always painting. It is the content that varies, according to whether we are working with a contractor or using self-build. Headings A, B. C and Z are described in the next section C2 and Y is in Section D3. The sub-headings were developed for Lesotho and will therefore vary according to your location.
Sample page from the Building Work Description of Mission Clinic
1. Concrete blocks for new walls are measured 114 mm and 225 mm thick, laid fair face externally for bag rubbing and plastering internally.
2. Brick-up existing openings D6, D9, D10, and W3.
3. Build new openings in existing walls D4, D8, D11, and W4.
4. Mortar for blockwork to be 1:1:5 cement/lime/sand measured by box or bucket (not wheelbarrow).
5. Damp proof course (DPC) to be 114 mm and 225 mm wide, 'Brand Name', obtained from . . .
6. Concrete lintels to be provided over all new openings.
7. Roof ties shall be metal strips cut from the corrugated steel roof sheets. They are to be fixed 1.2 m down into the walls at the places shown on the drawings. "
Ralihaha writes the Building Work Description on completion of the drawing. He allows two days of concentrated effort for this. By taking the headings one by one, it is much easier to see what is involved. He has a check list built up over many jobs, to ensure that nothing is missed out. There are also the notes he has made while doing the drawings. He finds it helps to walk round and look at each item, comparing it with his drawings and the Building Work Description he is drafting.
He writes the description for a contractor supplying only the labour. It would have to be a bit more explanatory for unskilled people. As Fr Pierre will be ordering the materials, Ralihaha will measure separately the quantities that are required. He will make a point of discussing the work beforehand with the foreman and tradesman. Therefore, the description is brief and to the point. For example, for item 7 concerning the roof ties, they will make a sample together, each contributing their experience, before the work proceeds.
The A to Z headings (construction, organization and budget)
1st stage (set-up)
A -Conditions phasing/dates, supervision, community/project involvement, insurance, etc.
B -Site Organization site hut, latrine, water, electricity, watchman, access, accommodations self-help provision, equipment.
C -Delivery transport of materials.
2nd stage (setting-out)
D -Site Clearance Demolition, stripping out, remove rubbish, protect trees and gardens.
E -Excavation setting out, method, fill,
3nd stage (walls)
F -Concreting footings, floors, steps, finish, reinforcement, dpm.
G -Walls block/brick/soil etc., dpc, lintels, reinforcement.
schedule doors/windows/hatches, burglar bars (welded).
4th stage (roof)
I -Roof structure, covering, flashing, fascia, water tank platform.
J -Drainage pipes, fittings, manholes, septic tank, backfill
5th stage (fitting out)
K -Electrical (fix A) conduits, supply connection, distribution board.
L -Plumbing (fix A) supply connection, pipes, fittings, tank/drip tray.
inside/outside, reveals, ceilings, screeds, sills, bagrub.
N -Dry Lining
ceilings, partitions, framing, boards, cornice, insulation.
O -Doors and Windows
hang doors/windows/fanlights etc., iron mongery, glazing.
6th stage (finishes)
P -Plumbing (fix A)
fittings, wastes, overflows, boilers.
Q -Electrical (fix B)
wiring, fittings, earthing, geysers, telephone, intercom, door bell, loudspeakers, lightning
shelves, kitchen units, cupboards, wall tiles, curtain track, mirrors, flyscreens, name plates, coat hooks, etc.
heaters, ventilators, gas.
enamel, PVA, clear, exterior, roof, gutters, etc.
U -Floor Finishes
tiles, sheet, epoxy, boards, skirtings.
7th stage (completion)
V -spare -allocate as need be.
W -External Works
leveling, ditches, roads, paths, fences, signs, pit latrines, soak-a-ways, paving.
trees, planting, gardens.
Y -To complete
bits and pieces of material, unfinished work, rod drains, cleaning, clear rubbish, tidy site.
maintenance period (if any), record drawings.
Our Story - Building-up the information
Nurse Lerato arrives to see how Ralihaha is getting on and brings
him a cup of coffee. She finds him working with a mass of details, for he is now
at the stage of correlating and building up the information on the drawings. "I
am just specifying the doors," he says. "Ordinary doors are thin and lightweight
and I wonder if here, between the registry and consulting room, it would be
better to have something more substantial to reduce the sound?" Lerato agrees.
"Yes," she says, "that has not been thought about." "And this door here," says
Ralihaha, "how about if it had a fanlight overhead, to improve the cross
ventilation?" So it is that Lerato becomes involved in the construction drawings
and begins to understand what it is all about. Just then there is a knock at the
door and Lerato is called to see a patient. Ralihaha continues with the
Soon Lerato is back. There is a patient here about to deliver. "I am sorry, we will need to disturb you and use the delivery room. Can you use the consulting room for a while?" The woman comes in and seeing Ralihaha, thinks he is the doctor. (All white men coming here are doctors, but Lerato comes to his rescue.) "I'll take some measurements outside while you are here," he says. Ralihaha is thinking about how he can use this opportunity to set out the construction drawing showing the new pit latrines, the gate in the fence that must be moved, the tree planting, and whatever else has to be done. By the time he returns to pick up where he left off on the doors, Lerato's observation about the sound proofing is forgotten. (It is only later, when the door is fitted, that she comments that it is not the right one. They have both forgotten, of course, that that was just when they were interrupted.)
The Building Work Description takes Ralihaha two days concentrated
effort. He stands back and looks at the drawings. There are quite a few details
that must be put right. It is very important that the information is not
duplicated, but that each piece of information is given in just the right place.
It's no good being in a hurry, for that, he knows, will just lead to there being
inadequate information. If it is done well, the job will be off to a good start.
However, lie feels satisfied that the nurse, the Father and so on have been
involved in discussing what should be provided and, therefore, the construction
drawings really do reflect what is required.
Now that Ralihaha has completed the construction drawings and written the Building Work Description, he must consult the people who will be affected by the work. Then he can set out the basis on which the job is to be carried out (section C2).
Open design -no need of suspicion The architect who becomes isolated at this, stage, for whatever reason, risks that in due course he will be blamed for whatever is wrong.
People at the project
Who was involved with the drawings? Were the schedules of doors, shelves, cupboards, paint, etc., discussed? Are there any departures from the approved layout that may affect the cost? Are there any changes that need approval by the Building Committee?
Can you honestly say to yourself there should be no surprises for the people as the building takes shape?
"The Ministry of Construction and National Housing is looking at
means of providing materials to building teams contracting on a labour-only
basis. It is therefore possible for the small contractor, supplied with
materials by the client or a governement agency, to tender, (very competitively)
on much larger contracts than previously. The client and the architect assume
greater responsibilities. The architect must design what an unsophisticated
builder is able to build to an acceptable technological standard and finish.
Standards of finish have to be considered in their particular context, and
decoration of buildings -with colour and render -to highlight good and
camouflage poor workmanship. Supervision becomes more intense and
time-consuming. Although clients take on the role and responsibilities of a
contractor, they seldom possess the detailed knowledge to supervise construction
and assess quality of materials and finishes. For the
extra architectural supervision, the client must expect to pay more, the extra fees must be set against overall reduced project costs. The architect is not a foreman, but on these projects often has to assume the role. When the materials are not the responsibility of the contractor, there is often increased wastage. Direct labour projects tend to take longer. Invariably there is some lack of coordination and experience, even on the best run job. The logistics of transport are increasingly intricate with the remoteness of the project. Yet the system does enable small contractors to operate, and costs can be cut by 30-50% of conventional contract paces. Local employment is engaged. This benefits poorer communal areas where restricted resources must be stretched to the full, while local participation gives the project more significance within the community."
Peter Jackson, architect in Zimbabwe, writing in ZED. C. 1985.
Three parts to our story and guide
Here the job is divided into three parts to illustrate the different ways of working.
Organizing the job ourselves
(Fr Pierre and his men carry out the work).
Using a contractor
(Mr Pitso of Mountain Contractors provides the labour and Fr Pierre buys the materials).
Building with our own hands
(the village women build the shelter house).
C2: Preparation and Organization
This section will assist us
in asking questions that clearly establish the basis for
organizing the job. Here lies its success.
Self-help builders must know what they have to do; contractors must see what will be required; and we must know just what we have to provide.
Avoid duplication, of effort, equipment, etc. Do not ask for the unnecessary, or what you can freely provide. Describe just what is needed for pricing and running the job.
Discuss all these in the Building Committee and relate them to the Building Work Description.
We must now
draft the conditions we place on the work, decide on the site organization and how to deliver materials. How to deal with defects and maintenance, list the tasks we can do for ourselves, and approve the whole package in the Building Committee.
Conditions we place on the work
('A' in the A to Z of construction headings)
Phasing/dates. If we need to start or finish the work between
fixed points in our calendar, or for phased handover, state them here. If we
want the architect to report on progress, then we should inform the builder that
he must assist. State also any requirements to maintain public access during the
work or of our project.
Supervision. Only one person should give instructions to the builder to avoid confusion. If we have an architect he will do this. The builder should be told that he may discuss the work with anyone, but know who is the one supervising the job.
Community and project as builders. If any part of the work is to be carried out by ourselves, for example, fetching water or sand, this must be made clear to the builder. If he has to provide drums or whatever for this, this too must be stated.
Insurance. Check first what policies the project has (if any), for fire, theft, public liability, workmen's compensation, and so on. This may be a good opportunity to review them. It may be possible to extend some to cover the work; on others we may need advice. For existing buildings, it is usually the owner who has to insure the work, and with new ones, it is the builder. Whatever, we must make clear the builder's obligations. In addition, if we are organizing the work ourselves, we may be well advised to seek a contractor's all risks policy that covers storm damage, accident, etc. We should also check if there are legal obligations to insure our labour force for workmen's compensation. The cost of insurance may be high; now is the time to check on this.
Payment. Specify when payment will be made. With a local builder or contractor, this can be related to progress with the construction in the A to Z headings (section C1). This will provide some incentive to encourage progress. Payment should only be made when the architect certifies the work is done and the amount that is due. This will avoid overpayment.
Our Story - Our organization
In this, the first version of our story, Ralihaha must support Fr
Pierre by assisting with the organization for the job. So they sit down together
to discuss just what this involves.
"I have here," says Ralihaha, "a list of cost saving tasks. It is actually intended for people helping themselves, but it also serves as a useful check list for us in setting up the job. It covers everything, from hiring labour to providing materials and equipment, office back-up and completing the job. Before we can price the work, we must know what we need and just where it is coming from."
Fr Pierre runs his eye down the list. "Water and electricity are no problem," he says. "The mission has a good supply and adequate storage. The generator can be turned on whenever we need power during the day. There will be no charge to the work for these. The mission truck is a different matter. It can be used to collect all the materials, except the sand from the river, but we will have to charge something to the job."
"How about equipment?" Ralihaha asks. "There is very little concrete required actually. Do you have a mixer?" "No, we can mix it by hand," says the Father. "Picks and shovels?" "Oh," says the Father, "I bought all my men their own, it was such a trouble before. Now they look after these as they pay for replace" meets."
"Now, with regard to completion of the work and maintenance, I suggest that I come three months after the building is in use and check everything. I'll give you a list and then you can tick off the
items as they are done. I'm sure you know what a problem it can be to finish a job you have done yourself, for other more pressing tasks soon divert one's energies elsewhere. Three months will allow the building to settle-in and then it will have had a very good start in a new life. There are always small things, such as doors that stick, windows that need easing and rain water that ponds on the paving outside. We can follow a similar procedure with the bits and pieces at the end of the job, before the building is occupied."
Ralihaha questions next how they will control the expenditure. "We talked previously about the cashbook," he says "and agreed Malichelete take care of this." "Yes," Fr Pierre responds, "there is a separate cashbook for the clinic, perhaps the money could be recorded in that?" "Well," says Ralihaha, "in that case, the expenditure on the building work would need a separate column. It would, however, be much easier to control if we had a separate account with its own cashbook. Reporting to the funding organization would then be more straightforward, for we might simply be able to photocopy the accounts straight from the cash book and bank reconciliation." "Well," says Fr Pierre, "I'll be guided by you on this."
"What about extending the insurance to cover the work?" Ralihaha asks. "Yes, I must check on that," agrees Fr Pierre. "I heard about that fire last year when someone was smoking while laying floor tiles and the whole building was destroyed!" And so they go on, item by item.
('B'in the A to Z of construction headings).
Site hut. The builder needs a place to store tools and materials.
Do we have a secure place that can be used, if so it may help to reduce the cost
of the work. On self-build projects its provision is essential.
Latrines. The builders are better using their own. Can we provide this, or does the builder) There must also be water for washing, from a stand pipe or whatever.
Building water. Required for the work. It should be clean. Where is it to come from? Is there a charge to the works? Must there also be some storage?
Site electricity. Required for hand tools, etc. Is there a supply? Is it free of charge? Must the builder supply his own generator?
Watchman. Do we have a watchman who can cover the works? Or is the builder to be responsible for his own arrangements?
Site access Are there any difficulties, such as flooding? Is the builder to provide his own stone for a temporary road, or repair that which exists?
Storm water. Is the builder to take precautions, such as a ditch on sloping ground, to keep the excavations clear?
Accommodation for the workmen. Is the builder to be responsible for his own arrangements? Or can we provide beds, cooking, washing, heating and cleaning?
Equipment. Who will provide wheelbarrows, concrete mixer, scaffolding, electric drills, and so on? Do the men provide their own picks, shovels, buckets, etc.? Will they be given assistance to buy these? This is of great importance if we are hiring our own labour.
Hand tools. If the men lack essential hand tools who will provide them? Could instruction be given in making some of these?
Could there be a subsidy to help them buy others?
Office back-up. Who will pay the wages? Who will order the materials? Who will keep the cashbook (Section B5)? If we are organizing the work ourselves, the man running the site will not have time for all these things. Some office assistance is essential.
Delivery -men and materials ('C' in the A to Z of construction headings).
How the materials are delivered to the site may be a considerable problem for some projects. Most items are sold at the point of supply, the railhead, factory or warehouse. If we are organizing the job ourselves we have to arrange to transport these to our site. Only a few items include delivery in the price, for example stone and sand, but not cement.
If our project already has means of delivering bulk items, such as coal and food, we may be able to make use of this. It will save duplication and may even be cheaper, by filling surplus capacity with building materials.
As well as the bulk delivery of materials, there will also be constant need for extra bits and pieces as the work progresses. You or the architect will have to obtain these.
There may also be need to transport the men to and from the site, as they will want to go home for breaks from time to time. They may be able to use the bus, or we can provide a vehicle. Whichever way, it has to be paid for.
This heading does not normally include the cost of the architect's or builder's vehicle, as this is more readily charged to the 'Overheads' on -the job (see section C3). Even so it can double as transport for men and materials.
Our Story - They talk to a builder
In this version of our story, Ralihaha is seeking to coordinate
the contractor who provides the labour and the Father who must obtain all the
materials. The contractor has not yet, of course, been selected, but Ralihaha
will meet those who are interested in the job and find out what they have to
So Ralihaha finds himself talking with Father Pierre again. "You recall," he says, "that we talked previously about finding a local builder who would contract to provide all the labour for the job". "Yes," says Fr Pierre, "I have been watching how the man building the school in the village has been getting on. He seems to be managing OK. People speak well of him I hear. His men have lodgings around the village, which would help if he did the job for us. Shall we go down there together and meet him?" "I should be interested to know how he goes about pricing the work," says Ralihaha.
The builder is called Mr Pitso, he is the boss of Mountain
Contractors. He tells them that he has built up his business by working for
people who employ him to build their houses. This is his first government job.
He says he knows all the men working with him and can ret cruit others as he
needs them. They work as a team, by which Ralihaha infers that he pays them only
when he gets paid. "Are you able to supply the materials?" asks Mr Pitso. "Yes,"
says Ralihaha, "we can do that all right. Can you give us a fixed price for the
work?" "That's OK?" says Mr Pitso, "if you let me see the drawings, and it helps
if I know the material quantities. I can tell you then if the job is suitable
"Do you have your own store?" asks Ralihaha. "Well," says Mr Pitso," I bring along my own shed, that you see here, for the men to keep their tools in, but the material store is your problem." "What is your contract with regard to maintenance on this school?" Ralihaha asks. "Oh," says Mr Pitso, "I have to provide the labour to put right any defects for six months after completion."
Ralihaha and Fr Pierre are well pleased by this visit. Mr Pitso seems a straight man to deal with and they have a good impression of how he organizes his work.
Maintenance and defects
('Z' in the A to Z of construction headings).
As a building settles in during its first few months of use, there
are inevitably some things that need attention. These are known as defects.
Making provision for this provides an excellent opportunity for members of the
Building Committee to become involved in the future well-being of the building.
It can start with ensuring that the trees we shall plant are watered, include
the cleaning arrangements for the building, and continue to the replacement of
broken window glass and redecoration.
The defects are usually no more than a door that is catching on its frame or a latch that needs adjusting. Rarely is there anything more major, but if they are not done very quickly the door may be off its hinges and broken. Putting right these defects can be expensive if our project is far from the builder's base. We may do well, therefore, to look at alternative arrangements, using someone who is local, our own men, or even doing these things ourselves, and hold the builder liable only in the event of anything we cannot handle ourselves. It is essential if we are organizing the work ourselves, that we consider now how this work will be done.
Many Third World buildings have a poor start in life because they are not properly finished. The architect's supervision is, therefore, crucial at that stage. He will prepare a list of defects and liaise with the builder on getting them done. The people working in the building will also know what needs doing. The builder is not the best person to do this because, inevitably, he is already thinking about moving his men to the next job. Never pay off the builder until everything has been done, nor close the books until the architect has certified that every
thing is complete. Funding organizations should insist on the architect's certification in the final report.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Decide on a three or six month period, or twelve only if the building has to pass through a heating session.
2. When drawing up the tender list consult the builder and see what he says about this. Would he reduce his price significantly if this were omitted for all but major defects? Would he prefer to quote a fixed sum as an extra, or would it be better covered by a provisional sum?
Finishing skills require a wide range of experience that is hard to find in the Third World. Therefore, our best advice may be to opt for a provisional sum, and do some or all of the work ourselves. If we can do it at no cost to the project, then a worthwhile saving may be achieved and result in a building with everything working.
3. Alternatively, if we have a maintenance team who can do all the work, we need only require the contractor to leave a selection of materials and colours of paint.
4. With self-building it is sometimes difficult to get everything done. So decide now how we will put some materials to one side and make a bit of a push when the time comes to finish the job.
Our Story - Something wrong amongst the local people
Nurse Lerato has been discussing with Mapalesa, the health care
motivator, how best to encourage the village health workers to build the new
shelter house. Since the last meeting there has been no progress. It is now time
to find out how local people reacted to the idea.
Nurse Lerato had, of course, been chatting to the village health workers as she came across them in the course of her day. She sensed that something was not quite right, for they seemed reluctant to talk much about the building of the shelter house. The village health workers were all women, except for one. There was, of course, no real reason why there should not be men, except that the men tended to leave this kind of initiative to the women. There was, however, much the men could do to help with health education, and so Lerato saw the building work as a way of drawing them in.
So she organized another meeting with the village health worker's
committee, asking Mapalesa to assist her. No, the women said, they had not found
much support amongst the village people. Clearly. something was wrong. Lerato
was well aware that there were one or two rather difficult women who were,
perhaps, having a bad influence and ret presented no more than their own views.
So the meeting adjourned and Lerato let the matter lie a while.
Mapalesa suggested that Lerato let it be known that the committee was to be completely reorganized as a result of the building work. A new committee would, therefore, be formed to liaise during this period. It would be known as the Village Health Workers' Building Committee and they would invite the local chief to attend. Lerato picked out the women she felt she could rely on and consulted them about who else might be co-opted to join them. A fresh start was now possible, to draw the village health workers into the work of the clinic.
At the new meeting, Ralihaha was there to explain the changes that would be taking place in the clinic building.
Cost saving tasks
The local contribution should be much more than that of providing
free labour. Here is a list of some of the things we and the local people might
consider undertaking to reduce the cost of the building. It is a useful list for
discussion whether we are supporting a builder or doing all the work ourselves.
It has been developed in Lesotho and so may need modification. Take care that
the programme relates to the agricultural seasons and employment so that there
is adequate time to fulfil the obligations when men are ploughing or women
weeding. Bear in mind that the more we can do for ourselves, the greater will be
the cost saving, but the more we leave to the builder the less we will save. We
must ask ourselves, can we:
1. Casual labour: Recruit, employ and pay the wages?
2. Accommodation: Provide for the builder's men, beds, cooking, and equipment, buy food, washing, heating?
3. Latrine: Provide for the workmen?
4. Building water: Is there a supply, or must it be brought in drums? Who supplies the drums?
5. Electricity: Is there mains or a generator?
6. Clear the site: Of old buildings, rubbish, soil plants, trees, etc.?
7. Broken stone: Will you collect and lay the fill under the floors?
8. Cut stone: Locate a quarry?
9. Cement: Arrange transport and provide a dry store?
10. Concrete blocks/bricks: Organize the making?
11. Sand: Locate, load and transport?
12. Materials: Do we have anything we can use, for example windows and doors?
13. Orders: Organize the supply?
14. Transport: Can we provide, or is there someone local who can do this?
15. Site store: Provide a secure store for materials, tools and
16. Tools: Who provides wheelbarrows, picks, shovels, spades, drums for water, scaffolding, trestles and boards, buckets, and sieves, etc.?
17. Equipment: Loan, beg or borrow ea. block mould, electric drill, etc.?
18. Trade skills: Do we have a bricklayer, carpenter, stone mason or thatcher for example?
19. Local crafts: Is there weaving or pottery that might be useful (ea. mud stoves)? Is there traditional smearing of dung and soil for floors and walls which can be used for decoration?
20. Painting: Can we do this?
21. On completion: Remove rubbish, clean windows, floors, etc.
22. Landscaping: Digging, leveling, plant trees, etc.?
23. Watchman: Will we provide?
24. Supervision: Is there someone who can assist in the absence of the architect?
25. Communication: A means of conveying messages, radio, driver, etc.?
26. Bits and pieces: Obtain locally minor items of material as they are needed for the work?
27. Petty cash: Keep the cash and pay, for example, wages, local purchases, etc. and record the expenditure?
28. Maintenance: Can we ease doors, fill cracks, touch-up paintwork, etc. after completion?
Our Story - New interest, new ideas
Ralihaha outlines the proposals. Using a chalkboard he sketches
the layout, drawing in and rubbing out the existing walls that are to be
removed, until everyone understands. The chalkboard proves a good way to work as
the village health workers are learning at this stage what is the work of
Ralihaha. They take a keen interest in what is proposed for their clinic. The
women ask if they can use the chalkboard outside on the next clinic day, and
they will explain to the people what is being done. Nurse Lerato is pleased, for
she can see there is progress already with this new committee.
At the next meeting the women come back with many questions, and it is obvious that a lot of talking has been going on. The village people are much more practical and down to earth. It is just as Mapalesa has been saying to Ralihaha, that it is all very well consulting the clinic staff, but what he must really do is get the point of view of the patients. They are, she says, all too often overlooked. So the village women see things from their side. as expectant mothers. "There has never been any satisfactory means for us to do our own cooking," they say. '´And how about a shelter for patients waiting in the hot sun?" "Yes, we like the idea of having our own shelter house for overnight stays. Some people are suggesting we should build this ourselves as a contribution to the work." Lerato has done her work well with this opportunity.
It then transpires that the Chief, who is a woman, has said that
every family must contribute. Some can provide labour, others must bring
materials or make a cash contribution. In this way everyone could be involved.
"Please make us a sketch of the shelter house, just as you have done with the
clinic building'" they ask. "Let's do it now," he says, and taking up chalk he
begins to sketch on the blackboard. There is a question. He does not understand.
Lerato takes the chalk and explains. "Oh," says one of the women, "like this,"
and they all laugh for Ralihaha is no longer at the centre of what is being
Their discussion continues, about how to organize the work, materials that have to be bought, how to get the sand from the river, who has reeds and grass for the roof, and so on. It is then Lerato wants to know if the committee would be responsible for organizing all this? "Yes," they say, "we think we can do that. But first we must consult with the Chief and request a village meeting to discuss these matters and make people aware of what has to be done. We will need the blackboard again."
We must enquire what approval is necessary for our plans, and so
find out what regulations are in force. This can include: town planning,
building, fire, public health, historic buildings, licensing (of alcohol etc.),
professional institutions (ea. nursing councils), service regulations for the
connection of electricity, water, sewage, and so on, all of which we ignore at
It is sometimes helpful if we meet the official concerned before making a submission and discuss the application with him. Their training, however, is too often largely of European origin and so unconventional drawings like ours may not be readily understood. However, once they are explained there should not be further problems.
Unfortunately, the regulations frequently promote inappropriate sophisticated construction which bears little resemblance to the needs of ordinary people. Applied without thought, these can prove to be a great frustration. Sometimes their purpose is far from clear, as building control becomes confused with planning and development and there are insufficient staff to implement them. Only in a few countries is any real attempt being made to promote building control as a means of fostering more appropriate design that takes into account the use of local materials.
Meanwhile we have no option but to seek approval for our plans and do our best to promote change. Now is the time to submit.
Have all the matters concerning how the work shall be carried out
been discussed by the Building Committee? Or did they simply rubber stamp
Have we made a list of just what we are to do and provide ourselves?
What provision is there for the maintenance when the building is complete?
Did we talk with the project administrator about matters of common concern?
Is there need for building approval?
Our Story - It's ages since they last met
They are all surprised when they look in the minute book to find
that the Building Committee last met when they were approving the details of the
design . "Oh," says Dr John, "it has been a very peaceful and quiet time for
me." "Not so with me," Nurse Lerato says. "Ralihaha has been keeping me far too
busy!" "And me," Fr Pierre adds, "I'm having all kinds of responsibilites loaded
on my shoulders." They all laugh, for each of them can see their influence on
the appearance of the job.
"Right," says Ralihaha. "We are here to look through the construction details before the work is priced. I am now preparing the documents for pricing and need your comments and approval. I think we are all familiar with the construction drawings and the Building Work Description. There are no changes of any substance from what we have already approved. It is important that you know what these look like and something of what they contain.
"We must now check through the preparation and organization of the job. This is important for it concerns the way the builder will be working and the conditions we place upon him." (What they discussed follows on the next page.)
"We have three alternatives before us. In the first, the proposal is that the work be done by the building men of the Mission. Fr Pierre and I will share the organization and supervision between us. In the second, the work will be done by a contractor who supplies the labour. Fr Pierre will obtain the materials and I will provide supervision.