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Buckeyes build houses in Honduras

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An Ohio State student team traveled to Honduras in January to participate in the Honduras Sustainable Housing Project. Credit: Courtesy of Kelsey Rumburg

An Ohio State student team traveled to Honduras in January to participate in the Honduras Sustainable Housing Project. Credit: Courtesy of Kelsey Rumburg

Coming together to create the Honduras Sustainable Housing Project, eight Ohio State students from four different areas of study are using the skills they learned in the classroom to do philanthropic work in Honduras.

Three business students, three civil engineering students, one architecture student and one construction systems management student make up the team traveling to Honduras in May to build a house.

The students have had a hand in every detail of the planning process, from choosing the materials to the layout of the house to selecting who will buy the finished product. Also, this project has the potential to bring money into Honduras’ economy and create a line of credit for the homeowner, said Kelsey Rumburg, a fourth-year in business.

“It’s one step, there’s many, many things that have to be done differently,” she said about the possibility of the project to boost the economy in Honduras.

Rumburg said the group’s goal is to create a sustainable solution to the current Honduras housing problem. By working with a local credit union and setting up a seed fund, Rumburg said she hopes this project will have the longevity to continue helping the citizens of Honduras buy and build their own homes eventually.

“Having a hot shower is such a privilege, and having running water, and clean water and a floor that isn’t dirt, things like that just completely changed my perspective on what I have and what the rest of the world has,” Rumburg said.

The project will be partially funded by a grant from Battelle and by money raised on the new crowdsourcing website, buckeyefunder.com. The Business of Good Foundation in Cleveland also agreed to match the money raised on the website, Rumburg said.

Rumberg was involved in a group that built a home in the area last summer, but this is the first year they are involving the credit union and having someone buy the home.

This year the team is building the house out of cement blocks instead of steel studs and Plyrock that last year’s team used, said Patrick Sours, a fifth-year in civil engineering. While the materials both have the same strength, the people of Honduras think cement blocks are stronger, Sours said.

“We have a lot of vision of what we think is best, but they have different visions,” Sours said.

Sabine Loos and Chris Colley, both fourth-years in civil engineering, said that communication and cultural differences have posed the biggest challenges.

Colley said that creating the floor plan was the hardest part. The team had to consider that culturally it would be taboo to have windows facing a neighbor’s house or having a stove on the porch, Loos said.

“We didn’t want to build anything that would be considered unsafe by American standards because a lot of times down there, they kind of build the houses with whatever materials they have, but we wanted to make sure that we were going to design and build something that was safe for the families,” Sours said.

The team is working on making drawings and plans, so that a small business owner in Honduras can use them to make more houses in the future, Loos said.

As May approaches, the team will prepare for the two-week project by building a smaller prototype on West Campus.

“It’s been a really good learning experience because we get to pull from (each other’s) strengths,” Loos said.

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