A diverse set of stakeholders converge to facilitate reconstruction and recovery in post-disaster settings. Shared decision-making, implementation and evaluation are crucial to ensure reconstructed infrastructure delivers a high level of service that reflects local needs and capacities. Despite attempts by organizations to include local knowledge in post-disaster design and construction to enhance operation and maintenance of infrastructure, participation processes are failing consider local perspectives. In contrast to technocratic solutions, this research focuses on the communication processes that constitute participation to understand how local knowledge might be better incorporated in reconstruction efforts. Building on theory of participation archetypes, we analyzed twenty shelter reconstruction projects in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, examining how communication practice shaped membership. Findings show that stakeholder groups use different communicative strategies to participate in reconstruction. Non-governmental organization processes created a communication deficit in their favor through a reliance on textual sources and aggregation of local input, government agencies distanced themselves to limit uncertainty of losing infrastructure support and communities withheld knowledge to limit resource contributions. Based upon this analysis, we recommend that aid organizations ensure that communication moves beyond unidirectional approaches by starting design development earlier with communities and that alternatives to textual sources are provided for local partners.