A small branch of Zwick Construction, Zwick International, occasionally gives employees the opportunity to temporarily move abroad to work on a temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just under one year ago, our team returned from Asunción, Paraguay after completing an extensive two year remodel project.
Life for these individuals and their families was quite different in many regards. They all lived in the church-owned hostel close to the temple grounds, which is a gated, guarded community. One employee's children attended a private, U.S. school while they were there. While some of the members of the team spoke Spanish, others did not, which required extra coordination.
Not only were their personal lives different, but construction procedures were different too. Since team members were unfamiliar with the subcontractors in the country, Zwick hired an in-country company to find subcontractors. Some subs were brought in from the United States for certain stages of the project.
Construction standards in the United States are much different than Paraguay’s standards. Moreover, the project owner also holds extremely high standards for their temples. The Zwick team had to work closely with both the government of Paraguay and the owner’s team to ensure that the standards of both entities were met.
"It was amazing working on a temple. It is a different atmosphere [than other types of projects.] It brought another level of involvement, which helped with the flow of the work." (Netza Salinas, Project Engineer)
Even with those changes, each team member expressed that living in Paraguay was a valuable experience.
One employee said of his time, “It was a great experience. Their culture is very welcoming. I was impressed by their working culture, too. They are hard workers.”
The purpose of the remodel was three-fold: 1.) Replace the HVAC system, including a new chiller and replacing central utilities. 2.) Redo the roofing. 3.) Replace the windows, which required removing the bottom four feet of stone on the exterior of the building. After over 20 years, the waterproofing of the structure was starting to fail, which is why the team was hired to complete the renovation.
The entire project lasted around 1½ years with an added 6 months of additionally-contracted work, including remodeling the gold leafing, decorative paints, and stone in the waterfall.