Daily Archives: May 26, 2012

One man takes on the cause: Most houses in Barbados unsafe construction

Government not looking after construction quality – so Grenville Phillips II will

For over a decade one man in Barbados has made it his life mission to cajole, lobby, educate and embarrass successive Bajan governments to pay attention to building standards. For all his efforts, in this mission our friend Grenville Phillips II has failed. Barbados governments simply don’t care about building standards. Lip service, making speeches: yes. Actually making the Building Code enforceable law and devoting the funds necessary to make building standards a reality in Barbados: no way.

So Grenville changed his plan: if the government won’t act, he will. Grenville intends to educate and certify building professionals and to educate the public to demand that their building professionals be qualified, certified and adhere to proper standards.

We need more folks like Grenville Phillips II running this place. People who actually get stuff done.

(Grenville… have you ever thought of running as an independent candidate for Parliament? Go ahead, put your name on the ballot. Don’t even bother with a traditional campaign. You might be very surprised by what happens.)

Here’s an article where Grenville lays out his excellent plan for Barbados…

A Building Solution for Homeowners

by Grenville Phillips II

The process of building a house for most people in Barbados follows these steps.

1.  The homeowner contacts a draughts-person or architect who prepares drawings and an application for Town Planning approval.

2.  The homeowner presents these drawings to a building contractor who provides them with a price, which if accepted, builds what is on the drawings.

3.  The homeowner occupies the house and is frustrated with the numerous and avoidable maintenance issues.

Most homeowners believe that the drawings approved by the Town Planning office contain sufficient information to allow their builder to build a safe and durable house.  This is not so. The drawings approved by Town Planning contain no guidance to the contractor to build safely.  Worse, most builders do not know how to build safely, and most if not all homeowners are oblivious to the fact that most of them occupy houses that will be unsafe during a major earthquake or hurricane.

I have often wondered what many of the 300,000 who died in Haiti thought as their houses, which they truly believed were well constructed, collapsed around them.  I have visited Haiti several times since the earthquake and have spoken with hundreds of survivors.  I understand that the dead have a different experience, but I can postulate that in addition to the fearful dread of impending harm, there was also a stunning shock and bewilderment about how their house, that cost them so much money to build, could be collapsing so dramatically.

Let me reiterate.  The drawings approved by Town Planning provide no guidance whatsoever to the contractor on how to build a safe house.  The homeowner is essentially placing hundreds of thousands of building materials into the hands of persons who generally do not know how to assemble them safely, despite their best efforts.  I have spent over a decade actively lobbying successive Governments to facilitate the safer building of houses, but there has been little change in the quality of residential construction practices.   So what is the homeowners’ solution when no-one is looking out for them?

… continue reading this excellent post at Grenville’s blog: A Building Solution for Homeowners


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Consumer Issues