Posted by: nedpelger | January 27, 2010

Haiti: A Saga of Building Codes Ignored

I’ve worked in Haiti a couple of times and been broadened by the experience. The first time I saw children playing in the raw sewage stream running down the street, I was nauseated. After a while, I barely noticed. Yet the sights of the brightly colored culture and the roughly built structures stayed with me. Here are a few photos I took to provide a sense of place:

Haiti is poor, but functions. People work, figure ways to buy food for their families, build buildings and enjoy times of celebration. Of course, I have a particular interest in the build buildings part of the society.

It’s not that Haiti has no building code, but the code doesn’t get enforced. An earthquake won’t kill 150,000 to 200,000 people unless lots of buildings are falling down. It wasn’t just the shacks of the poor; the schools, hospitals, churches, hotels and government buildings collapsed like houses of cards. An ENR article explains the Haiti codes and lack of enforcement.

Let me make you a challenge. The next time you work with a Code Enforcement Officer. Take a moment to thank him or her for the job he or she does. Bring up Haiti and what happens when everyone just builds as they see fit.  We can become frustrated with building inspectors, but they protect the public, and us, when they do their jobs. So let the next inspectors you work with know that you are glad we aren’t in the free-for-all world of no inspections. Let them know you appreciate the work they do.



  1. I’ve been to Haiti before as well. I am in the heavy civil construction field. I would love to go back to Haiti to work in rebuilding and teaching the Haitian workers skilled trades that could be used to help rebuild their country.

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