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Ceverine School

Fri, 2011-03-18 12:48

Date: October 20, 2010

To: Save the Children

Re: Ceverine project, Lessons Learned Report

The project has encountered significant delays against what was understood from the beginning to be a highly aggressive schedule in a difficult environment. It behooves all to reflect and categorize the origin of these delays, even in advance of project completion, as a learning tool for future work and collaboration. Delays can be broken down into several major categories.

  • Weather
  • Supervision/Quality of local labor
  • Quality of existing construction
  • ommunication
  • Remoteness of Site/Transportation/Logistics
  • They are addressed as follows:


    The project has lost [X] many days to rain delays. Because of the geographic location of the project, rain affects the work in two ways. First, in the commonly understood way of preventing certain activities while rain is actually occurring. No concrete can be mixed or poured, and rain can interfere with block and carpentry and other activities. Second, because a large river separates the project from the office/guesthouse, work must be put on hold because the site becomes inaccessible as the river rises.


    There is regrettably no way to prevent the weather from affecting the project, especially in Haiti, other than building expected rain delays into the project schedule. It is our recommendation that on any future work, rain delays be factored into the schedule on the basis of historically predicted rainfalls in Haiti, plus some margin of safety such as 10 or 20%. Additionally, geography should be investigated and extra rain days should be provided for if access to site will be restricted in a rain event.

    Supervision/Quality of local labor:

    the Project team overestimated the workmanship quality of local labor and did not initially provide enough on-site supervision to manage the local crew. Several mistakes in construction were not caught in time and resulted in the work having to be ripped out and redone. Local labor poured foundations at a slant, ignored drawings and generally used the construction methods that they were used to using, most of which are considered substandard by international standards.


    It is our recommendation that on any future project in a remote site, a contractually protected period of 1 to 2 weeks be built into the schedule at project onset to provide training in applicable construction methods. No work should progress in this time. This time should be fully dedicated to making sure that local crews can perform at required level. One to two experienced supervisors cannot adequately survey 30 laborers if each laborer is acting independently. This training must be hands on and culturally sensitive.

    Quality of existing Construction:

    the existing building at Maissade was found to not have a foundation and to have been built on a slope, effectively turning the building into a giant sled. This was not observable prior to excavation. Additionally, the building was found to not have lintels above the doors and windows.


    On any existing structure, destructive demolition should be provided for by separate contract prior to beginning serious design work or construction documentation. Haitian construction has several specific qualities that make it difficult to diagnose poor construction without such destructive demolition: frequently, substandard construction is concealed with concrete parge, grout and paint. Save and its partners should block out time and expense prior to committing to any school repairs or upgrades.


    several errors were caused by miscommunication or delayed communication. While project communication is always essential, it becomes more so on remote sites. At times, several parties were directing messages across non-typical channels which resulted in crossed signals. Additional difficulties were created because of cellphone and data connectivity issues.


    A prebid meeting should document flows of communication not just between Save and its partners, but between all field personnel. Additionally, Save and its partners should separately provide their field personnel with wireless devices with data and photo capabilities. The ability to rapidly and conveniently send pictures and documents back and forth allows field personnel to verify construction problems with home-office supervisors, architects, engineers and other technical personnel.

    Remoteness of the Site/Transportation/Logistics:

    At project inception, it was agreed that because the site was so remote, it would make sense to move all materials out to the site at project inception so that the project would not be hampered by material delays and shortages. This rapidly became untenable because of the inability to find secure storage space on site. The contractor erected a temporary shed to house materials, but it is not large enough to house all project materials. To have built a structure adequate in size, much more capital and space would have had to have been provided. Additionally, the site would have had to have been secured with armed guards to avoid theft. At some point, the cost of providing temporary warehouse space exceeds the value gained by convenience. Another unforeseen problem involved the unwillingness of some private trucking companies to move materials to the site, at any price. Truckers were unwilling to risk damaging or disabling their fleet on rugged country roads, or lose trucks in the river.


    A cost benefit analysis should be undertaken at project inception to weigh the costs of onsite storage versus multiple-trip transportation. In certain cases, it may indeed make sense to build temporary facilities necessary to house all project materials at project inception, as well as provide necessary security and staff. However, in other cases, it may be more cost-effective to conduct multiple trips. As part of the cost-benefit analysis, consideration should be given to the cost of probable delays associated with multiple material deliveries.

    End of Report
    Eric Cesal, Program Manager
    Architecture for Humanity, Haiti