Thursday, July 11, 2013

Progress Update

Hurricane Chantal made landfall on the southern coast of Hispaniola yesterday and fortunately diminished in strength and quickly became a tropical depression.  While there was still heavy rain and flooding across the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the impact was not as tragic as feared.

Meanwhile, at the project the crew has finished the exterior of House #1, a three bedroom unit.  The beautiful cedar siding and trim have turned an unfinished shell into a beautiful and unique home.  Cedar railings will be installed around the upper level balconies after the tile surfaces are finished on the floors.  At the ground level there are still some areas to receive concrete slabs, and there will be extensive landscaping to be completed.

Meanwhile, the plumbing / electrical crew is working on the utility rough-in.  When that is completed we will install Tongue and Groove ceilings over the living room and dining area; cedar siding on the inside face of the perimeter walls; and sheetrock in the kitchen and bathrooms.  All of the floors will have a tiled surface.

Now we move on to House #3 to finish the roof decking and shingles, and then we will install the Tyvek Housewrap and all windows and doors.

As always, all of the Pan Abode materials have been selected for excellent quality, the expert design work has proven to be perfectly functional, and the quantities of materials supplied exactly correct for the job.

Cedar Siding on House #1

Cedar Siding at Living Room Bow Window

Roof Beams in place on House #3
Ready for decking and shingles

Here's what was on the site where House #1 now stands
The Earthquake in 2010 devastated much of the Bourdon area.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Progress has been steady in spite of 90+ degree days and 100% humidity.  We arrive at the site at 6:30 am and are soaked with sweat by 7 am.  Tomorrow we'll complete the second story walls on the second house after which we'll start setting the large roof beams on both houses.  The masonry crew is just finishing the concrete foundation for house #3, but we won't start framing that until I return from Colorado on May 5 after a brief but highly anticipated break.

Apparently we are entering into the "rainy season" so it will be interesting to see how much effect that will have on the project.  I was here last year in the late spring and was told that the rainy season was coming, but it never really materialized, so we'll see what this year brings.  Generally Haiti is also being affected by drought conditions even though there are frequent hard rains in the evenings.

Here are some pictures from last Friday.  I'll post some current photos tomorrow.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My good intentions of posting daily have gone by the wayside.  Ten hour days in oppressive heat and humidity have reminded me of my limitations.  Heat notwithstanding, we have nearly completed the second story of the first house and have the floor framing in place for the second house.  We've had problems with no power;  our "general contractor" has another project underway so we have to share a very insubstantial generator.  There is, of course, no electricity at the site, or even in the neighborhood so as is the norm in Haiti, one has to make do.

We get inquiries daily from people who have heard about our project and are curious to see what a wood house looks like.  I'm sure we'll end up selling some more as people realize what a great system we have to offer.  Our only drawback is the 27% import tax which is charged on each container, but all in all, we still end up being less expensive than if a person tries to build with local (often very inferior) materials.

Here's a picture of the crew relaxing on a Saturday afternoon after a long 50 hour week.  Good guys all, and very under-appreciated by many Haitians.

Friday, March 8, 2013

We made good progress Friday, with all of the lower level walls framed and sheathed, and the beams in place to start the second floor framing.  We had a tropical downpour nearly all night Wednesday, so the humidity has been overwhelming (for me at least) but the daily sauna treatment is all part of the Haiti diet plan!  Today the skies have cleared and we're supposed to have several days of lower humidity and no chance of rain.  Tomorrow we should start the second floor and I hope to have that finished by Monday evening.  Our next container load of materials is supposed to clear customs on Monday, so we'll have more materials on site.  Container #3 just arrived in port from Freeport, Bahamas where it's been languishing for the past couple of weeks waiting for a boat to Port au Prince.

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's cloudy and cool in Bourdon today which is wonderful!  No rain, though, so we managed a full day.  Stripped foundation forms from house #1and reset them for house #2.  Concrete will be poured there tomorrow morning and we'll start the floor system on the first house.  It's not too exciting to look at right now, but very soon things will start to blossom.  Here's a picture of the beautiful straight, square  and level foundation which is a rare sight here!  Also some pictures of the house we just completed before Christmas for Mr. Guy Riviere.

                                                   The front terrace and entry shown below.

                                                          The custom kitchen below.

                                                         The master bedroom below.

                                                              The side view below.

 The central courtyard in the middle of the house with a SkyVue skylight overhead and very impressive             curved trim work by Voltaire and crew.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday night, March 3
Satigny Inn, 36 Thomassin, Haiti

Up here at 3500 feet it's quite cool and raining hard.  It was so cloudy / foggy all day I couldn't see the city below which is unusual.  Typically the view from here is quite impressive, and from this distance one can almost imagine a normal city without all of the problems of Port au Prince.  After spending many months here now, I can say that one sees hopeful signs in the smallest things though; a section of road repaved, a whole day without a blackout, one more building repaired and open for business.  There's a long road ahead, but there's a bit of promise.  Hopefully our little project will represent one of those steps for at least a few people.  My crew just had their first payday Saturday and that's a great thing for them.

We've poured the top layer of the foundation for the first three bedroom unit, square and level and complete with adequate rebar and steel anchor bolts to tie in the wood framing.  Tomorrow we do the same thing for the second unit, a two bedroom building on the exact site where the previous home collapsed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

First day back in Haiti after a most uncomfortable flight from Denver yesterday.  We were lucky to get out with the snow storm raging, but because of de-icing and waiting we were very late leaving, and thus late arriving in Miami where I had about 10 minutes to make the next flight.  American Airlines, being devoted to our comfort as they are, gave away my reserved seat and stuck me in the middle of the back row and were most rude when I asked why my reserved seat was not available.  "You were late," I was told, and I asked if they wondered why I was late since I was on a connecting flight within their system, in response to which I was told in veiled terms to take it or leave it.  I'm sure their service will improve greatly once they complete their merger with US Airways!

The new terminal in Port au Prince is now open and is a gigantic improvement.  In fact in my short time here I see quite a bit of improvement; the area around the airport has been cleaned up somewhat, Blvd. Toussaint Louverature had working stoplights, and the new Royal Oasis Hotel in Petionville is open and looking quite impressive.  Here's hoping it's all a sign of things to come.

Here's a picture of the Satigny Inn where I'm staying...a little oasis of comfort!  And a picture of our building site before it was cleared of earthquake destruction.  Tomorrow we go early and start checking foundations in preparation to commence the building.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just a few more days until I'm back in Haiti.  I'm busy trying to get everything organized here and hopefully get everything packed that I will need for a couple of months.  I've been reading about some of the progress there; a new hotel in Petionville and a Marriott complex underway near the airport, so it will be interesting to see if there's any noticeable difference.

Starting next week I'm hoping to post something every day to give an idea of what life is like in Haiti. It can be many things depending on how one chooses to see it: beautiful, overwhelming; enlightening, intimidating; exhilarating, exhausting; stimulating, frightening; hopeful, depressing; absolute reality, surrealistic dream.  Haiti is nothing if not a microcosm of all that is the best and the worst of humanity.  I try to stand with those who represent the best, and speak against those others.

Here's a taste of what's best:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I've just added the blog site to my website so hopefully it's now easier to find.  Our new project is on the Rte. Bourdon between Port au Prince and Petionville.  The site is a family compound where unfortunately the main house was destroyed in the earthquake.  We'll be building two townhomes on the upper level of the site, and one on a bench area below.  Here's a picture of the site as it appears today. First is the remains of the house, and below is the bench where a three bedroom unit will be built.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We have completed all of the designs for the upcoming project in Haiti.  We'll be building three townhouse apartments on a site which was devastated by the earthquake.  The foundations are in place and the first container load of materials is on the ship and due to arrive in Haiti next week.

I'll be headed down in mid-February and the crew and I will get to work.

This is my crew, from left:  Robenson, Voltaire, and Peterson.  A good group of guys.  I'll post more when I get down there.