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Blog: Building abroad


Building abroad sounds like a boy’s dream, but there's a lot involved. What should you consider as an entrepreneur?

As an Export Manager at Remco Building Systems, I supervise building projects in different countries. and these are often countries that I wouldn’t easily choose as a holiday destination. Just think of Ethiopia, Congo Kinshasa or Haiti. The culture in those countries is completely different and that can lead to surprising, but sometimes difficult, situations. At international projects we always work together with local workers. At first it provides a source of income for the local stakeholders and finally they gain a lot of experience during the construction process that they can use during their further careers.

In this blog I have listed the most significant differences you encounter in building projects abroad:

1.   Local customs: the working week starts on ...Sunday?
In the Netherlands we are used to a working week from Monday to Friday, but that is not the case in every country. In Israel, for example, the working week starts on Sunday and ends on a Thursday.

2.   The language: not everyone speaks English
At the projects the main language is English because I often don’t know the local language, mostly this isn’t a problem. On the other hand, the local workers who do the final assembly often speak poor or no English. In that case it is useful to have someone on site who can make the translation, not only the language, but also the technique. You must be able to explain well what to do and how to do it safely.

3.   Mentality: Mañana, mañana...
In our country it’s normal to have a long-term planning, that isn’t custom in every country. In the Netherlands, we plan our construction projects from A to Z. Tomorrow the trusses will be delivered, the day after there will be a crane, etc. That can be done differently became clear to me on one of our projects. They ordered a crane which was needed for the roof only one day in advance and of course, no crane appears the next day. These aren’t all insurmountable problems, but you must know what you should and can do at such a time. Especially when you are building abroad for the first time, it can be quite inconvenient.

The cooperation with local workers and the local customer only works out if you have someone who manages the project on site. That’s why we always deploy experienced Remco Building Systems supervisors during the assembly period. Sometimes one and sometimes several. In Ethiopia we are building a brewery of such size that we scale up to five supervisors during the process.

Our eyes and ears on the spot
The supervisor is present on site and monitors the planning, quality and safety. He explains what the construction team must do and, if necessary, he shows the workers how to do it. For me, the supervisor is the connection between the customer, the local workers and Remco Building Systems. Building abroad is great, but make sure you keep it under control. A supervisor helps with this.

Want to know more?
Would you like to know what Remco Ruimtebouw can do for you? Don't hesitate to contact us.

Erik van den Hurk
Export Manager for Remco Building Systems

Telephone : +31 88 - 004 93 00
E-mail :

A group company of Janssen de Jong