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Old 10-10-2018, 02:57 PM   #1
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Building a house in Haiti

We've all followed the building of Robert's beautiful house using skilled tradesmen and built to a high level of building codes.

Well, building a house in Haiti has a few differences. I'm involved in building the house because I am a volunteer with a Canadian group that drills wells to provide fresh and safe drinking water to the majority of Hatians that often are drinking unsafe and polluted water.

We train Haitian crews to drill wells and install pumps but Canadian volunteers are still required to travel to Haiti and oversee such things as administration and the overhaul and repair of equipment.

We have leased an old rat infested farmhouse but have to be out by the end of March. Fortunately it withstood Saturday night's 5.9 earthquake without falling down. We have constructed a house of our own on several acres that we own. It is a walled compound, a bit of an understatement, at places it's 15' high. This is an all in one compound and also houses our stores and maintenance shop.

The building permit process in Haiti is remarkably simple and hassle free. You just start building, no need to submit plans etc. At some point the Mayor will come out to give his blessings for the project. That is after he looks at what's being built, decides on a value, in our case a nice round US$10,000 per floor and he has his the cash in hand. Hey, the bright side is that there aren't any property taxes. I said the process was simple, I didn't say cheap.

The house has two levels and is, in fact, a two level duplex with each level having two bathrooms and two bedrooms, a kitchen and living area as well as covered decks on two sides.

It was built with Haitian labor but to Canadian specs for concrete and rebar etc. My job was to wire it to Canadian standards. All wiring is surface run conduit and with 10' ceilings and one rickety ladder a bit of extra work. The high heat and humidity add another dimension.

A few photos of the old farm house and the new place.

Ron
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:11 PM   #2
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Sounds like it might be overbuilt for Haiti, Ron. Looking good. Is concrete used because of the potential for failure from natural disaster, or is it just cheaper?

I am having a coffee break working on my own addition. Just below freezing with lots of snow here. Warming up nice soon though.
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:28 PM   #3
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Looks good Ron! I have always wondered why the exposed rebar is left at the top of walls and columns on buildings like this one. Do you know if that is done that way to allow future construction of additional levels to the structure, or is there some other reason?
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:36 PM   #4
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Rebar

I don't know if it's true, but was told that in Mexico a house is not taxed until it is finished (never), so the rebar is part of the unfinished home.
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dkirk View Post
I don't know if it's true, but was told that in Mexico a house is not taxed until it is finished (never), so the rebar is part of the unfinished home.
True in many parts of the Caribbean.... taxes don't begin until the house is topped out. I've seen an awful lot of really nice homes with a bunch of rusty rebar garnish sprouting from the top.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:42 PM   #6
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Ron, thanks for all you're doing in Haiti! It is definitely an area in need.

Building "codes" are interesting, to say the least, in other parts of the world. I don't think we could get away with this type of electrical wiring in the US or Canada. Photos taken in Baguio City, Philippines in 2015.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:43 PM   #7
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I don't know if it's true, but was told that in Mexico a house is not taxed until it is finished (never), so the rebar is part of the unfinished home.
If that is the case, you wonder why that particular loophole is not rapidly closed?
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:46 PM   #8
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Wow, good for you Ron. Says alot about you that you're helping such a tragedy stricken and dysfunctional country. God bless.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:24 PM   #9
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From Wiki:


The external debt of Haiti is one of the main factors that has caused the country's persistent poverty. After the slaves declared themselves free and the country independent in 1804, France, with the complicity of its allies, demanded that the newly formed country pay the French government and French slaveholders the modern equivalent of US $21 billion dollars for the "theft" of the slaves' own lives and the land that they had turned into profitable sugar and coffee-producing plantations. This independence debt was financed by French banks and the American Citibank, and finally paid off 143 years later, in 1947.
Later, the corrupt Duvalier dynasty added to the country's debts, and is believed to have used the money to expand their power and for their personal benefits.
In the early 21st century, and especially after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the World Bank and some other governments forgave the remaining parts of Haiti's debts. France forgave a more recent loan with a balance of US $77 million, but has refused to consider repaying the independence debt.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Sounds like it might be overbuilt for Haiti, Ron. Looking good. Is concrete used because of the potential for failure from natural disaster, or is it just cheaper?
We were 25 miles from the epicenter of the 5.9 earthquake on Saturday night. I'd have much rather been in the new place, built to Canadian earthquake standards then the old wood and concrete place. The tropical climate is hard on wood structures and the wood would have to be all shipped in, so yes, concrete is even probably cheaper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Walter View Post
Looks good Ron! I have always wondered why the exposed rebar is left at the top of walls and columns on buildings like this one. Do you know if that is done that way to allow future construction of additional levels to the structure, or is there some other reason?
It's a common situation the world over where structures and built of concrete and with block infill. Yes, there are claims that the house is still "unfinished" and doesn't pay any taxes but I really don't think that's the case. In our case we're contemplating adding a partial 3rd floor. Someone even thinks that just putting up a screen tent and cots, with the breeze off the ocean, would make it into a great place to sleep

Ron
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