Consolidation Suggestions CEB Microhouse Build in Belize

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  • Prepare with a personnel screening
    • divide people in
      • masters
      • hobbyiests
      • newbies
    • identify expertise of people in advance
    • identify clear tasks beforehand, divide in teams
  • Assign people tasks such as
    • documentarian
    • historian/videographer
    • tool/supply librarian
  • Prepare people with
    • what is expected from them
    • various resources that explain skills
    • tools to use
    • safety equipment to use
    • the build plans
  • have available before the build
    • build plans with reasoning
      • reason:
        • plans may need to be modified, having the reasoning available helps
    • equipment inventory
    • checklists
    • material lists
    • printer


  • Add more rest periods
  • Everybody should study the plans
  • Plans should have a reasoning section
    • goal:
      • explain why decisions were made to prevent discussion
  • Use project management software
  • Identify the length of each task beforehand to give people an idea
    • identify the necessary tools/protection

Build site

  • organization of the build site
    • cleanliness
    • clear of
      • trap hazards
      • loose rocks
      • branches
      • debris (hiding snakes, spiders, scorpions)
    • stack material organized piles
      • near enough for easy retrieval
      • not too close to be in the way
    • designated tool location
      • waist height to avoid bending
      • shaded area
    • safety equipment
      • helmets
      • ear plugs
      • glasses
      • masks
      • gloves
      • sunscreen
      • bug repellant
    • use "stations" for specific tasks, such as
      • tools
      • first-aid
      • safety gear
  • layout the job process and walking paths
    • goal:
      • avoid string lines
      • crossing the path of others


  • Have demonstration for each task
  • Teach importance of string lines and plumb lines
  • Do the learning in the morning when everybody is fresh

Build specifics


  • each step requires quality control
  • dimensional lumber or high quality table saw or planer

Brick laying

  • better pattern
    • reason
      • the wall as it is, is imprecise anyway
  • string lines
  • plumb lines
  • perhaps a laser as alternative?

Bond beams

  • place bolts for top plate attachment closer to center of bond beam
    • reason:
      • trusses don't need to be trimmed
  • super dry concrete worked best


  • use screws into stucco to make it closer to wall
  • no 1*finger rule, set mesh closer to wall
  • use pressure washer to keep wall clean
  • 1 person feeding 2 stuccoers
  • chicken wire stabilization is very challenging to insert in corners such that you can stucco without cutting them


  • scree entire wall to get it even

doors and windows

  • put the door in first


  • cut each end of the floor boards prior to putting them in loft

wire mesh

  • wire inserts should be used every other row and no more than 1 foot apart
  • We tried to keep the chicken wire about 1cm ("a finger's width") away from the CEBs but it proved very difficult to keep the wire plane flat, instead, it would bubble and wave, varying between 0cm and 10cm from the CEB wall
    • We recommend stapling the mesh to the CEBwall, using about 0.5" (1 cm) to 0.75" (1.5cm) staples.
    • Because of the inconsistency, stapling directly to the wall meant that the chicken wire varied from 0cm to 1.5 cm from the wall, but, on average, about 1 cm. This is ideal for the first layer of stucco.
    • Once stapled it was easy to add stucco with a hawk and trowel.
  • Adding moisture to the dry CEB wall before adding stucco was important for bonding stucco to wall. We poured or splashed water from buckets on to the wall before stuccoing since the CEBs had dried in the sun.
  • suggestion:
    • use fiber textiles instead of chicken wire
      • reason
        • will it hold after a few years



  • There should be more attention for safety for an inexperienced group of people
  • Have a first*aid station

Working at height

  • proper scaffolding with safety guards
  • workers on ground must
    • wear helmets
    • avoid crossing elevated areas


  • designated supervisors
    • goal:
      • keep quality up
      • increase productivity
      • have one point for questions
    • suggestion:
      • let them pay only room and board
  • create teams with a designated leader in a round*robin fashion
    • explanation:
      • the leader has the final say
    • goal:
      • minimize discussions

Workshop organization

  • daily schedule advertised online must be followed
  • 5*day schedule is rigid and does not prove a point
  • 4*days may be better
    • reason:
      • people peter out after 3 days
  • perhaps we should aim for less or use more days
  • more time for team building and social time
  • ideas discussed after each day were very useful
  • expectation management for workshop
    • what is the (main) goal:
      • learning to build a house
      • building a house
  • use shifts of several days focusing on different topics such as
    • 5 days for creating bricks
    • 4 days for foundation