Volunteer Builder Information Packet

Below is pertinent information for our upcoming build. Please read through it at your leisure and refer to it while preparing for this wonderful trip. If at any point you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. craig (at) onesmallhouse.org or via phone (two six zero) 615.5756*

*It’s written like this to reduce bot calls from programs that peruse the internet for phone numbers. Not something I knew prior to putting my number on the internets.

What To Pack


The ranch where we stay provides beds, hot(ish) showers, kitchens and communal areas. We will also have a few Internet access. It is up to each volunteer’s discretion as to whether personal electronics (i.e. laptop, camera, iPod, etc.) are brought. I have brought my laptop every year without a problem. But I’m brazen.

    • Passport (It is recommended you leave a photocopy at home and bring an additional photocopy with you)
    • Medication (in original prescription bottles)
    • Toiletries
    • Towel
    • Shower supplies (flip-flops recommended)
    • Ear plugs (some people snore)
    • Sleeping bag or blankets*
    • Pillow*
    • Flashlight or headlamp
    • Water bottle
    • Coffee thermos (if applicable…I’ll be bringing three, as coffee has become a triple necessity in my life)

*Bedding is provided, which includes blankets and pillows. If you are keen on a certain blanket or pillow, feel free to bring your own.


Summer builds are warm (obviously). Mornings are often cooler (also, obviously). Rain is possible, but unlikely. Wearing light clothing, bringing plenty of sunscreen, perhaps sleeves and pants to protect from sun and sturdy shoes are a solid starting point.

January weather in Tijuana has an average high of 65 and an average low of 49. Rain is always possible. The mornings and evenings can get cold with variable weather during the daytime. As a result, clothing that is worn in layers is typically preferred. In addition, it may rain and conditions can get muddy.

    • Hat (for sun and rain)
    • Rain gear / poncho (less important in the summer)
    • Boots or shoes with sturdy sole
    • Old jeans/pants
    • Sweatshirts
    • Warm sleeping clothes (more relevant in the winter)
    • Work gloves

Where We Stay

Our group will lodge at Rancho Solo in Flamingos outside of Tijuana. Just 20 minutes from the U.S. border. The rustic facility includes a great view of Tijuana, bunk beds and good bathroom facilities with hot showers. There is a large dining room where we will have our meals and evening hangout. Here is where we’ll stay and the location of a recent build..

Contact Information While In Mexico:

Most U.S. cell phones will work from Mexico, but check your service provide for rates.

Trip leaders’ phone numbers/contact information:

Craig Torres-Ness (two six zero) 615.5756

Daily Itinerary

We’ll rendezvous in the early afternoon in San Diego and cross the border together. We’ll get a little building in the first day. Below is a typical itinerary for the build. Truth be told, that wake up time gets later and later each day…but we leave it on here to stay ambitious.

7:00 a.m. Rise and shine. Continental breakfast will be provided at Rancho Solo.
7:30 a.m. Vans depart for worksite: 10 minute ride. During the trip, we’ll be constructing two homes, which are very close to one another.
12 p.m.
Lunch on site provided by a local family who has volunteered to cook us delicious local fare. Typically rice, beans and a separate meat dish are provided, along with a dessert. If you have any special dietary needs, make certain to let us know so we can ensure you’re well fed!
5:30 p.m. Clean up work-site and depart back to Rancho Solo

6:00 p.m. Dinner (Either out at local restaurant/taco stand or catered back at Rancho Solo)

Evening After dinner, we’ll have a little time to wind down, enjoy one another’s company and discuss the successful day. We’ll provide snacks, board games and movies. In addition, we’ll ask for volunteers to assist in our donor appreciation process, which consists of emailing our supporters with updates from the day’s work.

Team Building

During our builds, volunteers will be broken into teams and given specific tasks. Teams will be broken up based on personal choice and skill. Regardless of experience, this project relies on the participation of all volunteers and even the faint of heart will become hammering experts. The tasks will include wall fabrication, truss fabrication, furniture factory, insulation, electrical wiring, painting, etc.

Donor Appreciation

One Small House prides itself on the fact that each person who donates will be personally thanked and shown the impact of their generosity. As a result, while we’re in Mexico, we’ll be taking hundreds of photos and writing hundreds of emails to each person who makes the work we do possible. This will also include photos of you hard at work so your families and friends can be proud. The process, while tedious, is imperative to our model. As a result, you may be asked to pose for a few photos and say a few words for camera. Don’t be shy!


Safety on the worksite is an important issue. We’ll spend time each morning briefing the teams of what to expect for the day and remind them of proper safety precautions. In addition, each house will be assigned a Safety Coordinator that is in charge of eradicating any precarious items or potential hazards.


We obtain supplemental medical insurance for volunteers during the time we are in Mexico. We suggest you also check with your primary medical insurance carrier, if any, and familiarize yourself with their travel rules and be sure to carry your insurance card.

What’s Next?

Sign Up

In order to join our official roster, please complete the volunteer form. This gives us all your information so we can purchase travel insurance, give us your emergency contact and also has the Volunteer Waiver, which needs to be acknowledged by each person. Here’s the link to that form:

Click Here for Volunteer Form

Make Payment

Once you arrive in Tijuana, we take care of everything. Lodging, meals, snacks, van rental, gas, supplies, travel insurance, miscellaneous expenses. These payments can be made via check or below.

$ 1,000.00
Personal Info

Billing Details

Donate quickly and securely with Stripe

How it works: A Stripe window will open after you click the Donate Now button where you can securely make your donation. You will then be brought back to this page to view your receipt.

One Small House

Volunteer Fee – November 2023

Donation Total: $1,000.00

Spread the Word

All of these projects are funded by grass root efforts. Each home costs approximately $8000-$9000. And as we have done for over a decade, every dollar we get goes straight into the build. By telling your friends and family about the build, the family and your role in helping build a new home, they’ll often ask how to help. Have them donate directly on our website or via mail. It’s tax deductible and will have a huge impact on these families.

Ask Me Anything

As you prepare for the build, send me a text, call or email whatever question you may have. Also, if you’re not coming down for the entire build, make sure you contact me directly to discuss travel logistics. Typically, we ask that you walk across the border and take a taxi to Costco, where we’ll pick you up. But this is flexible. If you’re comfortable in Mexico or with Uber, you can also navigate directly to the job site.