Transcription Suggestions CEB Microhouse Build in Belize

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After the CEB Microhouse Build in Belize, all participants took some time to write down general feedback. These feedback forms have been transcribed and consolidated in Consolidation Suggestions CEB Microhouse Build in Belize. This document contains the transcription of the feedback forms.

Feedback form 1

  • Defined plans which can be followed
  • consideration of the equipment inventory

Use checklist manifesto for maximizing build People who are building their 1st house need a full list it equipment and materials and tools

Prepare people of what is expected of them Provide resources so those w/o required skills can get them

Allow more time with rest periods

tool and equipment inventory

Feedback form 2

CEB Construction Improvements

  • Site Cleanliness, clear site of trip hazards, loose rocks, branches, stack material in organized piles near enough to job site for easy retrieval but not too close as to be in the way. (We had to move piles of bricks sometimes just to make space). Clear debris away that could hide snakes, spiders, scorpions.
  • Have a designated tool location everyone knows where to get tools and return them. Should be at waist height to avoid bending and under a shaded area we waisted a lot of time tucking down tools, also show people/everyone how to use them! People came here to learn, tool belts would be nice.
  • same thing for safety equipment, helmets, ear plugs, glasses, masks, gloves, sunscreen, bug repellent and require their use.

Before every job task have a demonstration to show everyone, not just a few people how to do it. You're not learning how to build a house if you are only familiar with a few of the tasks.

Brick laying

String lines and plumb bobs are really required to get straight lines, square corners and level brings. If enough time is spent explaining to people their importance and how to work around them it will result in a much beter product. Have the teams of workers layout their job process and walking paths to avoid the string lines and crossing the path of others.

Installing roof rafters and other work at heights

Proper scaffolding with safety guards is key. Workers on ground must wear helmets and must be taught to be aware and avoid crossing under elevated work areas.

General Build

There should be designated supervisors, preferably who have previous experience with building and CEBs, to lead the build and keep quality up. This will increase productivity, learning and quality. Eliminating the bottlenecks of everyone trying to find one person to ask questions of, supervisors might pay for room and board only to encourage their participation.

There should be at least 2 sets of job drawings on site at all times for review.

The daily schedule advertised online must be followed no matter what people came based on this schedule and require more time for learning, conversation, and recovery, not following the schedule is false advertising.

Feedback form 3


Upfront, everybody should have studied the plans. Or at least, there should be good access to the plans. The plans could be extended with a "reasoning" section that explains why certain decisions were made. The plans should highlight critical decisions, such as how the J-hooks are placed, possibly again with reasoning: It is not an Ikea build where we trust the plan to be perfect. The plans we have, need to be adjusted often. Having a section witg the reasoning helps. For example 8 trusses for holding the metal sheets without purlins or going with purlins, we can go with less: 5 trusses. The rigid 5-day timeline does not really prove a point and it should either be longer or we should aim for less.

Build site

The build site should be cleaner and safer. There were four safety incidents and especially with a community build, this should be prevented as much as possible.

Laying bricks

The wall is imprecise so we could just as well use a better pattern. A line with instruction is probably a better idea than the boards behind. Otherwise, a laser perhaps?


Much time was lost in discussion. This could have been prevented with everybody knowing the plan and the reasoning. I propose to assign teams (small) working on something and make one the leader in a round-robin fashion. The leader has a final say in the decision and for each new task, a new leader is appointed.

Feedback form 4



  • work flow



  • during post
  1. safety

A work book

A living collaborative work book As a signifier to respective project or aspect of and time allocation to collaborate while we are there

1) documentation centralized to a tangible workable degree printed off as [yogi's choice] ad-hoc event leaders version and time allocation throughout the day to work with groups to understand + learn the perspective and "methods behind the madness" of the + their respect over positions + contexts congnively, culturally psychologically

beings also have come together to make their best book and how the

This is important to me because his is wat I believe to be functional transparency.

Living collaborative work book as a signifier + also Aspect

Feedback form 4


  1. Place bolts for top plate attachment closer to center of bond beam so trusses don't need to be trimmed
  2. Takes screws into stucco to make it closer to wall
  3. No 1-finger rule - set mesh closer to wall
  4. Note on truss, drawing of truss
  5. Scree entire wall to get it even (Not done)
  6. Put door in first
  7. Cut each end of the floor boards prior to putting them in loft
  8. The thing that worked the best was the Sade board
  9. The thing that the wort was lifting the backboard up
  10. worked great: pressure sprayer
  11. Make sure we get J-bolts in so ends are caught on both ends
  12. Make hawk for stucco - easy and fast to spread if you have 1 person feeding 2 stuccoers
  13. Super dry concrete worked great
  14. Chaining for laying block by carrying from to wall was effective. But this should have been solved with proper pallet placement
  15. Learning: Using 1" thick lumber instead of 2x would have worked.
  16. Impact drivers work to get screws into wood.
  17. Concrete nails, 1.5", work great for firm plates
  18. Stucco and concrete proportions are generally great at 1:5, with 1:3 for stucco, 1:55 for concrete.
  19. Every step needs QC - proper or improper method must be decided up front
  20. 4 days instead of 5 days is advisable. People peter out after 3 days
  21. Getting instructions over without good content is impractical. Cutoff for printouts must happen before workshop if printer is not available.
  22. Teach people how to install hurricane ties: wrong [picture], right [picture]
  23. Volunteers aren't incentivized properly and that is design for failure.
  24. Magic happens with relationships
  25. Watch out for bullshitters who like to talk too much

Feedback form 5

  • Participants could take more ownership of project by studying/reviewing plans online in advance
  • Ensure minimal tools and materials are available because important building phases couldn't have been completed had it not for some folks bringing tools
  • Even though this is a collaborative and sharing concept, perhaps we should embrace some project management tools to organize established workflow.
  • Chicken wire stabilization is very challenging to insert in corners and be able to stucco over without cutting them.
  • Wire inserts between block would be better if inserted every other row and no more than 1 foot apart.
  • Some brick laying efforts forgot/skipped properly inserting wire inserts.
  • Collaborative/individual decision-making on site may undermine important seismic and structural aspects by having participant with little technical background modifying and cutting plans on the spot. Should there be a flow to consult more with others?

Stucco / Earthquake Basket Method

  • 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 CEB wall, 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.

Feedback form 6

  • Personnel Screener
  • Human resources

for congeniality, skills, bullshit quotient, + PATIENCE

printer, paper whiteboard +/or flipcharts "masters" tradesmen hobbyists newbies

documentarian-tech historian/videographer

locals contributing

tool + supply librarian

Feedback form 7


share existing plans, experiences in advance with others (share also the mistakes that did happen)


the pattern with real overlaps [picture] no [picture] yes I'm not sure chicken wire will be still intact in few years, I'll opt for fiber textiles instead.


I'd expect bit sturdier leadership which could enable better effectivity of time and skills.


I really enjoyed talks in the night about research a CEBs with prctical demo of stress test.

Feedback form 8

What have we learned

  • We need written plans on job site for clarification and for dcoumenting changes we made
  • We need a captain/leader -- A foreman to guide the build and assign tasks.
  • We need to give the "experience" more weight over the "build" -- accommodation, team building and social time play an important role in the moral of the participants. This ideas that are discussed after workday are huge and meaningful.

Feedback form 9


  • architectural plans
  • either dimensional lumber or high quality tables saw, planer + tools
  • identify people with expertise in advance of the build and make them each "team leads" over the different aspects of the build.
  • Have each participant pick their top 5 aspects of the build + then determine which teams they will be assigned.
  • Share plans with every "team lead" and each participant
  • Divide up the job into categories like "Brick laying crew", "building trusses", etc.
  • Tap local talent, building skills in advance + make sure each participant understands to styles of ways of doing things

Feedback form 10


  • Have prework for participants to do (video, e-books, etc.) Printed out, architectural plans, complete with elevation details.

Brick laying

  • Interlocking corners
  • String lines and plumb lines (+/- 3" of variation isn't acceptable for a viable product).

Material choice

  • Design for local material (framing was overkill and unwieldy)
  • Have designated crew leads/project managers beforehand

Feedback form 11

1. More fun and social experience to enhance the experience from hard work to a fun learning experience. Maybe evening entertainment with libations and music dancing, merriment

2. Task Delegation:

Delegate each task so participants have a clear idea of what they are doing and expected from each.

- Everyone has a natural propensity to do on thing or another -- It's a matter of knapping these strengths. Maybe a series of questions with multiple choice to pick from of to hone into which is the propensity skill.

Feedback form 12

What to do next time

  1. Spec's and drawings
  2. Schedule and time lines
  3. Theory and lab the pro finish
  4. social
  5. task delegation

1. Specifications and drawings: A clear design that each participant understands before starting. Blueprint with measurements and dimensions. Specifications on how to perform task at hand.

2. Schedules and time lines: A clear awareness of how long each scope/task take. The breakdown of the task in theory with appropriate tools and hardware on hand and adequate supply.

3. Theory and lab, then pro finish: Many participants are unskilled builders. It's my recommendation there could be more time dedicated to understanding the task in theory/class. Then each task in practice application show to students by skilled craftsperson for 3 hr, 3hr class, 3 hr. practice lab Then class is over and professional builder finish. It's hard to expect so much work from paying volunteers.

4. Social element: Starting at 6am pick-up to 9pm, a total of 13 hr day intensive is hard for the student to grasp all that is taught and experienced in a day. I sense there could be no more than 6 hrs including travel to hotel.

Feedback form 13



In general, pre-arrival, it would be ideal if there could be pre-designated areas or "stations" for the various tasks.

Pre-build + actual build differentiation

Ideally, I would like to see options for build "shifts" for example, first shift might be 5 days long whch includes creating bricks, prep work, laying foundation etc. Second shift might be 5 days long which includes slurry and brick laying etc. This way, there would be fresh teams for each phase, less rushing, more focus, a weekend between (during which time people could recharge) and people could choose what portion of the learning most applies to them, or remain on site through the duration, participating in the entire build.

Create visuals or increase time frame

Ultimately, I think 5 days is far too short a time to do a quality swarm build of this style. *Unless* there is more organization before hand, and clarity in terms of distillated, essential information, including a diagram of the build blueprints so there is a visual beforehand.

First Aid

A First-aid station/location (easily identified) is a must fro such an uncoordinated untrained team. As is safety gear.

Feedback form 14

Morning learning vs. evening learning

After-dinner training *may* be a bad idea, everyone is exhausted, over-saturated, and less able to retain learning. I'd suggest teaching and training involve white boards, chalk boards, hand outs, print outs or slide shows in the morning after breakfast or pre-breakfast so learning is at a prime level. Ideally, evenings would be spent socializing, team bonding, etc.

More hands on demonstration

I think there was often too much talking, and not enough demonstration /diagrams - for non-verbal learners, this presents an information gap. The demo that Aydan did on day 4 was ideal for day 1 to set the context for the strength of the build.

Also, the brick laying style was not as strong as the locally suggested style. I would prefer the interlocking bricks for structural integrity. [ picture].