Tag Archives: Barbados Building Code

Grenville Phillips II: Thousands of new Barbados houses vulnerable to collapse due to lack of building standards

barbados-substandard-housing

“It is a national disgrace that strains the limits of irresponsibility that the Government of Barbados, against all expert advice, allowed an entirely unregulated 14-year building boom with respect to building standards. Of the thousands of houses built, almost all of them are vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake. It is to Barbados’ tragic misfortune that it would not have cost any additional money to have constructed the life-saving shear walls that the Building Code specified.”

Grenville Phillips II

Every Bajan or foreigner living in Barbados should attend at Grenville’s Weighed in the Balance website and have a read of Put Your House in Order.

Do it now.

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Disaster

Remembering Campus Trendz and Arch Cot – years later Barbados still doesn’t have a building code

Passersby heard the screams from Campus Trendz store: no back door and bars on the windows.

“The criminals threw the firebombs, but it was an irresponsible government, building owner and shop owner that made the firebombs inescapable death.”

Barbados Free Press, September 5, 2012 Campus Trendz deaths: What criminals allowed bars on the windows, no fire exits?

by Cliverton

Almost five years after the Campus Trendz slaughter, sleep does not come easily for my friend. In her mind she still sees the weeping desperate men in the smoke at the rear of Campus Trendz – cursing and yelling as they used hand sledges to break through the brick wall all too slowly. She couldn’t watch any longer, she couldn’t listen to the screams any longer and there was nothing the girl could do so she walked away. That haunts her to this day.

Pearl Amanda Cornelius, 18, Kelly Ann Welch, 24, Shanna Griffith, 18, Nikita Belgrave, 23, Tiffany Harding, 23 and Kellisha Ovivierre, 24, burned to death because two evil men robbed the store and smashed flaming bottles of petrol. That is one of the causes of their deaths.

The other cause of their deaths is that Barbados has no enforceable building code. Folks just build as they want to, with no standards as to amount of steel or how rebar is connected. No standards as to fire exits or alternate fire exits through windows. Campus Trendz was a deathtrap from the moment it was constructed, and six young women died because Barbados had no building code to protect them.

Similarly an entire family died at ArchCot when a powerful family (BLP leader Mia Mottley’s family) invested in land over a known cave. How the prohibition against building over the known cave was lifted was never really explained to the public. Just another of those magical Bajan processes very similar to how a BLP Government Minister came to live in a house built on private land that had been expropriated for government purposes.

That Barbados has no building code makes it easier for the corruption and the corrupt to thrive and profit.

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Corruption, Crime & Law, Disaster, Politics & Corruption

United Nations says a moderate earthquake or hurricane would destroy 80% of Barbados schools, homes. St. Lucia would lose only 20%.

What makes you think Barbados would fare better than Haiti did in 2010?

What makes you think Barbados would fare better than Haiti did in 2010? 80% of Bajan houses, schools, hotels and public buildings are expected to collapse during a MODERATE hurricane or earthquake! (Source: UN)

Grenville Phillips II sounds the alarm…

… and offers a low cost retro-fit solution for home-owners and government

The Government has indicated that a significant amount of the planned $2.5B new debt is to be used to build new infrastructure. Before spending any of this money on new infrastructure, let me suggest that the Government meaningfully regulate the construction industry.

Having trained over 500 construction personnel around the Caribbean, I can confirm that much of our infrastructure is indeed substandard.  I have spent the past 15 years providing explicit evidence supporting the accurateness of this claim, and while some countries have heeded and improved, Barbados has gone backwards.

The United Nations recently assessed Barbados’ infrastructure and concluded in its Global Assessment Report (2013) that Barbados is expected to suffer probable maximum losses of over 80% of its gross fixed capital formation (buildings, equipment and infrastructure) if we are impacted by a moderate earthquake, or hurricane.  This is the UN’s worst possible assessment category.  For comparison, the UN predicts that neighbouring St Lucia is only expected to suffer probable maximum losses of 10% to 20%.

When will we wake up and realise that we are doing something terribly wrong?  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Consumer Issues, Disaster, Haiti

Campus Trendz deaths: What criminals allowed bars on the windows, no fire exits?

“The criminals threw the firebombs, but it was an irresponsible government, building owner and shop owner that made the firebombs inescapable death.”

Six died at Campus Trendz because there was no fire exit

by WSD

For the last few days the papers and the television focused upon the growing violence in our society as Barbados remembered the six young women burned to death two years ago at Campus Trendz store. That is natural because everybody knows somebody who lost a friend or a sister on that day.

The man who threw the firebomb is put away in jail for six life terms. No one knows what happened to his accomplice and speculation is that the court and government are waiting for the anniversary to pass before he is given a light sentence as part of the negotiated court deals that saw no trial.

The government authorities are happy with the press coverage because the focus is on the criminals who robbed and threw the firebomb, and not upon the other criminals who allowed our loved ones to work and shop in commercial buildings with bars on the windows and no fire exits.

The press does not discuss the fact that our six sisters died because our government, the building owner and the shop owner gambled these lives away. Nobody in government thought these women’s lives were important enough to pass a building code and laws that make fire exits mandatory. That is still true to this day.

The government, the building owner and the shop owner bet that no spark, no short circuit, no forgotten cooker would set an accidental fire. They bet others’ lives and the women lost.

Memories of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire – New York 1911

On March 25, 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught on fire in New York City. One hundred forty six workers lost their lives when they could not escape because the managers had locked the stairwells and fire exit doors to prevent thefts. The building owners were charged with manslaughter, but were not convicted because the prosecution could not prove they knew the fire exits were locked.

In the case of the Barbados Government, the building owner and shop owner of Campus Trendz, the case is clear because there was no fire exit at all. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Disaster, History, Human Rights

Revised Barbados Building Code leaves structural engineer “shocked, saddened”

In my opinion, the proposed ‘Revised’ code cannot be understood by most builders and homeowners – it appears to be designed to be understood only by designers.”

Revised Building Code likely to increase homeowner costs by 15%

by Grenville Phillips II
June 8, 2012

Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by the BNSI and BCSI titled “The Revised National Building Code”. I left the seminar feeling shocked and saddened. The current building code is designed to be understood by building contractors to allow them to build a fairly stable house. Many homeowners should also be able to understand it in order to check that their builder is following this national standard.

In my opinion, the proposed ‘Revised’ code cannot be understood by most builders and homeowners – it appears to be designed to be understood only by designers. Certainly, only structural engineers can understand the Structural section of the “Revised” code, while most builders should be able to understand the structural section in the current code.

In addition, the homeowner will have to provide detailed construction drawings for Government approval. This is likely to increase the cost to the homeowner by approximately 15%. This additional cost is not due to additional construction materials, but the cost of paying designers to prepare the detailed designs.

The current building code contains most of the technical information normally provided by designers (Engineers and Architects). What is so disheartening is that all of this useful information that can be understood by building contractors and many homeowners has been removed.

For the past 2 decades, designers have endured the entirely false charge that the enforcement of national building standards will financially benefit them. What is certain is that if the proposed ‘Revised’ building code is enforced, then the designers will be the principal financial beneficiaries. I am unaware of any designer who has lobbied for this ‘Revised’ code.

Grenville Phillips II is a son, brother, husband, father, friend, employer, teacher, musician, singer, composer, author, and publisher. He holds a diploma in Engineering, Bachelor of Science (Mathematics), Bachelor of Engineering (Structural), Master of Applied Science (Environmental Engineering), Master of Urban and Rural Planning. Chartered Structural Engineer (Fellow), Chartered Highway and Transportation Engineer (Fellow), Environmental Engineer, Project Manager, Planner, and President of Walbrent College.

In his spare time he writes the respected blog Weighed in the Balance

Further Reading

Meanwhile, Jonathan Platt of the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), has issued a press release telling all how wonderful the new building code is – but lamenting that it is “voluntary” because the DLP and BLP governments haven’t bothered to pass legislation making adherence to the code mandatory. I think we’ve all heard that song before…

Barbados: Building Code on its Way to Being Published

Bridgetown – June 8, 2012 – Tragedies such as the collapse at Arch Cot in 2007 and the Campus Trendz fire in 2010, were offered as examples of calamities which need not recur, should the Revised National Building Code be put into practice. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse

Is your daughter working in a Bridgetown firetrap?

Updated: September 3, 2012

The end result for the Campus Trendz fire deaths turned out pretty much as we predicted two years ago: murder charge, guilty plea to manslaughter – but no real changes at all and certainly no public inquest into the deficiencies that contributed to the deaths of six good daughters of Barbados.

Bajan daughters and sons still work in downtown death traps with no way out. We still don’t have a Building Code as law.

The same equipment deficiencies at the Fire Service mean that if Campus Trendz happened again today, the same brave, crying, raging men who had to use manual sledge hammers to beat through the brick behind Campus Trendz would still be using manual sledge hammers – because it’s all they have.

Original article published August 18, 2011…

One year after the Campus Trendz fire, nothing has changed

Stores still have window bars to keep fire victims in the human oven

by BFP reader “K”

One year after the Campus Trendz slaughter, sleep does not come easily for my friend. In her mind she still sees the weeping desperate men in the smoke at the rear of Campus Trendz – cursing and yelling as they used hand sledges to break through the brick wall all too slowly. She couldn’t watch any longer, she couldn’t listen any longer and there was nothing the girl could do so she walked away. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Politics

Making progress in Trinidad and Tobago – How are we doing in Barbados?

Today our friend Afra Raymond takes a look at some positive developments in Trinidad and Tobago. The T&T Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is successfully collecting some of the $240 million in back rent owed by tenants. The new Building Code is about to come into force and the government has actually fired a state corporation executive for corruption. Oh My!

Good for Trinidad & Tobago. Let’s hope it’s real. Here in Barbados we often read good news, but when we check back months later it was all smoke in the wind. We’ll look forward to Afra following up on these good news stories in a few months…

Property Matters – Taking Stock

by Afra Raymond

As part of this pre-budget series, I am going to ‘take stock’ of some recent, significant happenings in relevant areas.

Given the unstable situation in relation to the State and its operations, many examples of which have been set out in previous ‘Property Matters’ columns, it is very important that a critical stance be maintained.  That said, it is also important that any progress be properly recorded and acknowledged.

The notable items were – Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago