How important is the finishing work?


We are now getting to the point that the difference is becoming clear between building in a Western country and Kenya. As noted before, the building is well-done – it has a solid foundation, sturdy walls with heavy concrete pillars, and a good concrete upper floor.

The differences are clear in the finishing. I have spent a lot of time correcting on the plaster work and straight lines along the balcony, roof, stairway and the entrance steps and edges. The tiles didn’t go that easily and several were replaced, due to bad cutting, rough edges, and just not being placed correctly. In the end, it all worked out quite well.

Still, every time I looked around, there was a tile line from the floor sticking out of the door, the drain was too deep (due to not being planned, and the tiles were an extra thickness), the tiles were done such that there was an edge visible, instead of the upper tile overlapping to cover that edge, etc., etc.

There were jokes made regularly about my demands, and you could see them looking around sometimes to see if I was watching – usually with a knowing smile. Joking seems to be a universal custom to keep things cordial when they might get more difficult.

A well-built building with sloppy finishing (“This is good enough; what’s the problem?”) gives the impression the building was not done well. Just as with people, it’s the outside we see and judge first, often incorrectly. As we’ll be looking at this for quite some time, it seems like a good idea to do it right.

It should be clear that I’m happy I went when I did! That also means that the last few weeks I have been constantly at the site, because of the fear of something going wrong.

And still I’m satisfied that most everything seemed to work out well. The tile setters even learned how to glue the tiles, instead of the usual cement, something that probably has to do with the tiles letting loose in the often not-so-distant future.


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