Lessons from Construction Standards in Indonesia.

TopInstallers is back :)  A couple weeks in Bali was a perfect break from life (my wife kept calling it a honeymoon) but I also got to witness how our industry functions outside of North America.  The trip presented many examples of construction work that adhere to non-existent codes and standards. New construction (and repairs) were often not finished (patched but not painted, repaired but still leaking, missing pieces, misaligned etc) and products installed were often below our usual quality control standards.

More than ever before, North American Consumers have access to an extremely high quality manufactured building supplies combined with installers working to tight specifications with modern tools and technology.  I’ve traveled in a few areas that are transitioning between undeveloped toward higher investment in tourism and commercial / residential development and the bar for “good enough” always falls way below what we are used to.  I’m keeping the limited resources and traditional tools and skills behind some of the areas we visited in mind but had a couple thoughts:

  • In some cases, the ability to create spaces with recycled and reclaimed wood products was impressive.
  • In some villages the woodwork  (molding, decoration, cabinetry, and flooring and stone work) was amazing by any North American standards…so there is definitely a range in skill and execution.
  • We are talking about a culture where mastery and skills evolve over generations of lifetimes dedicated to their work but different villages produce different levels of quality work.

Safety is the other issue that was on my mind frequently – both when walking by the job sites (there is no shortage of development going on in Indonesia these days) and when looking at completed work.  Welding safety, climbing, standardized scaffolds, eye protection, protective shoes, hard hats and masks seemed to be an afterthought all too often.

Yet somehow it works and I was told a few times that accidents were rare.  I was told the same thing about car accidents in Bali so I’m a little skeptical (if you have driven there, you’ll understand where I’m coming from) :)   Regardless, it was interesting to return to a company so focused on quality and a strong customer experience after seeing such a wide range for the past couple weeks.

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