Volunteer building projects

Work on sustainable infrastructure projects.

You like to build things. Maybe you’re a passionate gardener or find painting therapeutic. You’re practical and logical – and want to develop these skills further. And use them to build a better world. Construction volunteering is a practical way to support social impact initiatives. These projects are community-led and designed to be completely sustainable: meaning they’ll continue long after you’ve laid down your paintbrush or hammer.

Overview

What is construction volunteering? 

Imagine being a nurse in a community clinic without a private room to treat patients. Or a teacher without a dedicated classroom or desks for your students to work at. Infrastructure and resources like this are the foundations of all communities because without them you can’t provide people with the space or structure they need to receive effective healthcare and education.

These needs are essential, and many communities remain under-resourced. This is where you come in. When you volunteer on construction programs, you’ll assist locally-led community organisations with building or updating key infrastructure and facilities. You might also help to facilitate access to more sustainable resources and building materials.

As a volunteer on a construction program, you will help communities develop and improve their primary infrastructure – things like schools, clinics, community gardens and community centres. Or upgrade secondary infrastructure like plumbing, rainwater harvesting systems, furniture, tools and equipment to improve access to clean water, sanitation, education, healthcare and meals.

So if you love getting your hands dirty, doing DIY projects and helping with physical work, GVI’s volunteer building projects are a great way to make a tangible difference and leave a lasting impact.

What will I do as a volunteer on a construction program abroad?

GVI’s construction volunteering programs include a variety of different types of construction work that volunteers can get involved in:

  • Infrastructure: Volunteers will work on developing community infrastructure such as schools, libraries, community centres, playgrounds or gardens.
  • Sustainability: Volunteers will help build or renovate sustainable infrastructure in the local community using resources such as ecobricks and other sustainable building materials. 
  • Water: Volunteers will work on water harvesting and capture projects, such as installing water pumps or irrigation systems. 
  • Disaster relief: Volunteers will assist with disaster relief efforts, such as rebuilding homes or infrastructure that has been damaged or destroyed.

 

More specific day-to-day tasks will vary depending on the stage of the project and the amount of time you commit, but could involve:

  • Help with basic repairs and renovation jobs at community projects.
  • Make ecobricks from recycled material to use in building structures.
  • Help builders construct and renovate classrooms and create school libraries.
  • Set up play areas and jungle gyms for children.
  • Enhance facilities by building resources such as shelving and furniture.
  • Help to install waste management and rainwater harvesting systems.
  • Painting buildings, walls or other equipment.
  • Help create and cultivate community gardens. 

 

What won’t I do as a volunteer on a building program?

GVI does not support orphanages or orphanage volunteering. You can read more about our ethical stance on orphanage volunteering here. 

This means that you will not be working on any construction or building projects related to orphanages. 

Our programs

Volunteering
Volunteer on Construction Projects in Nepal
Volunteering
Volunteer with Children in the Maldives
Volunteering
Volunteer with Children in Nepal
Volunteering
Community Development Expedition in Fiji
Volunteering
Rainwater Harvesting and Water Security in Fiji
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook Costa Rican food
Learn to cook Costa Rican food
Visit a botanical garden
Visit a botanical garden
Summit Irazu Volcano
Summit Irazu Volcano
Enjoy a Costa Rican breakfast
Enjoy a Costa Rican breakfast
Experience Costa Rican culture
Experience Costa Rican culture
Practise a yoga class
Practise a yoga class
Hike through a rainforest to a waterfall
Hike through a rainforest to a waterfall
White-water raft down the Pacuare River
White-water raft down the Pacuare River
Why construction volunteering?

Why should I volunteer in a building or construction project abroad?

Joining a construction volunteer project, you have the opportunity to make a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of others, and work towards providing safer, healthier living conditions.

Construction volunteering also gives you the chance to:

  • Travel the world and help build a better world.
  • Support local organisations to effectively implement sustainable social impact in their communities.
  • Immerse yourself in a new community and culture.
  • Build relationships that will last a lifetime with passionate people and organisations from different backgrounds. 
  • Build a more sustainable future by contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 4: Quality Education and Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.
  • See the tangible results of your hard work through physical improvements.
  • Lay foundations that will support community initiatives for years to come.

 

It also gives you the opportunity to gain international experience in the sustainable development sector, mastering crucial employability, intercultural and interpersonal skills like: 

  • Communication: Working with others on a construction project can improve communication skills, including active listening and clear expression of ideas.
  • Adaptability: You will be exposed to different construction methods, tools and equipment, requiring you to be flexible and adaptable to new situations.
  • Empathy: Through interacting with diverse volunteers and community members, you will develop empathy and gain a deeper understanding of different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Project management: Volunteers will gain experience in project planning, organisation and coordination, which can be useful in a variety of fields.
  • Teamwork: Working on a construction project requires cooperation and communication with other volunteers, allowing you to develop teamwork skills.
  • Problem-solving: The construction process is often full of unforeseen challenges, which can help you improve your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
  • Time management: Construction projects are often on a tight schedule, so you will learn how to prioritise tasks and manage your time efficiently.

 

Locations

The opportunity to see the world while also helping build a better one is a unique and rewarding experience that will leave you with new skills, new friendships and memories that last a lifetime. 

There are several amazing places where you can volunteer on a construction project with GVI: 

Nepal

Stay in the beautiful Himalayan town of Pokhara with a group of changemakers from all over the world, all sharing the same mission – to make an ethical impact.

Get up early, enjoy a cup of Nepali tea and head off with the building team to the local school to improve their educational facilities. 

Depending on the partners’ and teachers’ needs at the time, you’ll be assisting with building and renovating their infrastructure and equipment, to have a direct impact on the educational outcomes of the students and to improve the health and safety standards of their buildings.

The area is an outdoor-lover’s dream, so in your free time you can hit the mountain trails and get the chance to take epic photos of the beautiful vantage points overlooking lakes, snow-capped peaks and forests. If you’re interested in getting immersed in the local culture, you have an abundance of opportunities – from attending Nepali festivals and celebrations to visiting Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries, and learning how to cook local dishes.

Fiji

Our hub in the Dawasamu region offers a variety of community development initiatives to support the local government organisations and ministries. The area often has water scarcity problems which can lead to health and nutrition challenges, so our construction projects are mostly focused on water, sanitation and hygiene to support the community’s needs.

The building volunteer programs in Fiji could include a range of practical activities – from installing rainwater harvesting equipment, creating waste management systems and erecting handwashing stations.

At the end of a long hard day of working, you can return to our base which is set in a serene tropical fishing village – take long walks on outstretched white beaches, or listen to the waves crashing as you lie in your hammock.

If you’re not entirely sure whether you’d like to do a construction volunteering program in Nepal or Fiii yet, why not browse our general community development programs in locations like South Africa, Costa Rica and Thailand.

FAQs

Do I need building experience or qualifications to volunteer?

You don’t need any previous experience or qualifications to join one of our building or construction volunteer programs. You’ll receive all the training you need from our permanent on-the-ground team and local construction experts. 

You’ll also be working with a local construction coordinator who will lead the projects, and guide you along every step of the way.

Who will enjoy volunteering on a building program?

If you have any specific construction-related experience and talents that could benefit our partners, we would love to hear about it. Please let us know when you sign up, so we can assign you to a project where you would enjoy putting your skills into practice.

Construction volunteering is also a great option for group expeditions because you’ll work together towards a common, tangible goal. Whether you’re a school group, university group or corporate team, contributing to a building project creates great team spirit. You’ll return to your daily lives with a shared sense of unity and purpose, knowing that you’ve made a lasting impact through your volunteering.

I want to volunteer on a GVI construction project! What next? 

Get in touch with our team of program experts, who’ll be keen to answer any questions you might have or just talk you through the different options. If you’re wondering about how you’re going to fund your volunteer program, they’ll be able to help you with that too.

It’s always great to hear from someone who’s actually been on a volunteer construction or building program. Get first-hand information from one of our alumni to get a sense of what it’s really like.