Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CHABUDUO: The human element in failed construction or pretty well anything else.

Chabuduo:  a Chinese phrase I was introduced to recently that means, in rough translation: It'll do, close enough, or close enough  for government work. It is the general expression of malaise that overcomes people when there is a disconnect between what they are making and the person they are making it for.

The Austin Lounger Lizards, my favorite blue grass band have a line in their song Industrial Strength Tranquilizers  "If we're good and work real hard, we save our pay until we are able to afford the kind of crap they make us build" 

You can hear the song here:

The point being, in Central America, the Caribbean and a lot of other places, buildings are constructed with a Chabuduo attitude toward construction, either because the $35.00 bze a day labourer knows he will never be able to afford one, or because developers are too busy selling granite countertops than  solid and well designed structures. A lot of the dilapidated buildings we see, and a lot of the things that fall over in Hurricanes are classic Chabuduo.

Look at the following failed Haitian structures: These are aftermath pictures from Hurricane Matthew:

What we see here is the complete failure of buildings that probably weren't any good to begin with, slapped together with what was at hand, unfit from day one for human habitation.

The Chabudou attitude caused as much damage as did the storm itself.  When you employ either of these ladies for a day labour job in your nice home, you need to think that this is what they go home to. Your house because it has a gable roof and is well constructed, survives.

The choice is very simple, build to the Dade County building code in hurricane prone locations, or build to and live with the Chabudou style of building and watch it fall down.

Now I am not suggesting that everyone gets the gable roof house in Dade County, we already know that isn't possible, however if you build in a hurricane prone  place like Belize or anywhere on the islands ask yourself if you know enough about building to be able to spot Chabuduo at work in your home. 

We import so much stuff from China that is broken when it gets here, or shortly there after that it's no wonder they have a word for it. I always think about some Chinese worker assembling LED Christmas lights and think, "how safe are these really?" Do workers in China really care about your Coach purse or Nike runners? I doubt it. 

We have a company in Canada that specializes in selling a real cheap house brand of tools made in China, they offer a great return policy because on some items 60% fail.  Which is the same as if I built ten really cheap condos in Belize and only six fell down.

What does Chabudou look like on the job site?

It looks messy, piles of crap, tools lying around soon to be lost of stolen. Scaffolding that you would not climb yourself and lots of people standing around not doing very much.

My favourite place to find Chabuduo class workmanship is either the electrical or plumbing systems, site built waste traps that you can't clean, one outlet per room with every outlet in the house on one circuit and often by the time you spot it, fixing it is virtually impossible, or at least very expensive.

People make expensive assumptions about construction quality and since knowledge of such things is generally not widely held there is a lot of room for Chabuduo to set up housekeeping. 

What to do?

1) go back and look at the pictures and decide which you want after the next hurricane.
2) manage your construction project, or if you can't hire a reputable third party to do it for you.
3) Inspect new construction more than at take over.
4) Read your contract: know what the builder has promised and make sure your guy knows what's in it. 

CHABUDUO: It's everywhere, you have to do your diligence to prevent it!!

Doug Elniski

No comments: