Building A House: The Walls

In America, we take for granted that we have solid walls in our homes that protect us from the sun, wind, rain, snow, and other elements along with intruders.  We all have windows and doors in our homes that lock and keep us safe.

In Xenacoj, Guatemala, many of the homes are built with walls that are made of cornstalks woven together.  There are no windows or closing/locking doors on homes with this wall type.  If you are more wealthy, your home might be built with cinder blocks.

The home we built was built with wood framed walls and was covered with wood tongue and groove siding.  This was definitely a rare form of construction for this neighborhood, but it will make all the difference for the family who received this house.  Along with wooden walls to protect them from the elements, the house had three windows and a front door that closed and locked.

I had the pleasure of working with a couple of teams that installed the wooden siding on the houses.  This was a fun project as we could rapidly see the house coming together through the efforts of our labor.

All the kids did a tremendous job throughout the entire project, so the story I’m about to share isn’t meant to slam their efforts or craftmanship.  I simply share the story to help me remember a valuable truth that we learned while working on one side of the house.

The back wall of the house was twenty feet long which meant we needed to install a minimum of two pieces of siding for each row of siding that made its way up the side of the house.  Before we started, a chalk line was used to mark the top of the first row of siding.  I’m not sure if the chalk line wasn’t quite correct or if we just had trouble the first row.  At any rate, a small unevenness in the first two pieces of siding made it a real challenge to complete the rest of the side of the house.  As the team continued to install pieces of siding, it was obvious with each row that something wasn’t quite right.  By the time we finished the side, we were able to make the necessary corrections to finish the side, but we learned some great lessons along the way.

First, we learned to measure twice and cut once.  I don’t think we wasted many pieces, but there were a few times where we needed to make slight adjustments to cuts because a measurement wasn’t quite right.

Second, we learned that teamwork can have an amazing impact.  Working together, I saw teams perform a task that they had never dreamed of completing before.  As I stated before, these walls went up pretty quickly – especially when everything went right.

Third, it’s important to get started on the right foot.  This is my best advice to anyone who is starting something new – like college, a new hobby, a home improvement project, a new job, and even a new year of school.  Getting started well makes things a lot easier down the road.  But we also shouldn’t lose hope if we got off on the wrong foot.  It may take a lot more work and even some rework, but things can be fixed.  It just isn’t the most efficient or effective way to get things done.

I’m so thankful for the lessons learned while building walls for the house!

What do you have coming up in your life that could benefit from a good start?  What kind of walls do you have on your house?