It may be a homeowner’s worst nightmare but it became a reality for one Guyanese woman whose house, still under construction, started to fall apart last week.
Althea Thegg’s house began to fall apart last Wednesday and so did her soon-realised dreams. By Saturday, another section fell to the ground.
Unfortunately for Thegg, building experts have recommended that the entire structure be demolished due to poor construction. The distraught woman explained to another section of the media that she had already spent approximately $9 million for the construction, which was financed through a bank loan. A quick look at the photograph shows a wooden floor in a raised concrete structure, without any steel reinforcements in the wall. This house was being constructed in a new development scheme.
The untimely demolition of Thegg’s incomplete structure leaves several lessons that can be learnt. In the absence of a National building code or modern regulations, homeowners in the Caribbean will have to do some self-policing to ensure that they are getting the best quality home for their money.
Here are some tips that may save you Althea Thegg’s construction headache:
1. Due diligence up front
Research your contractor. Although it may seem nice to give a new kid on the block an opportunity to start, it makes sense to make sure that person who will build your home has enough experience and can meet your specific requests and do the job at a high standard. Otherwise, you will be throwing your money away. A structural building engineer or architectural engineer can also help you decide the type of reinforcement your house structure may need to strengthen it against heavy winds, storm surges, rapidly moving water, and flooding.
2. Don’t cut corners
This is your home that we are talking about, not a random shed. Some reinforcement methods are easier to implement when you are building or remodeling a house. Before reinforcing a housing structure, contact your local building inspectors and code officials to get up to date requirements. If you can, surpass them but don’t cheat yourself. The costs over time are not worth it.
3. Make connections
Wall and foundation connections should include stud-to-top plate, stud-to-stud, header, joint-to-beam, wall-to-foundation, continuous rod, and pile connectors.
4. Ensure that support is adequate
Make sure all supports are very secure and the underneath portions of the home are free from debris and storage items if the foundation is intended to allow water to flow through it.
5. Drain water away
The ground or lot should drain away from the house. Soil should slope away from the foundation at a 5 to 10 percent slope for at least 10 feet and then continue sloping away.
6. Consider casted reinforcement
For new homes and remodeling, consider cast-in-place concrete wall systems with an interior metal reinforcement structure rather than concrete masonry block construction. Preconco, with its head office in Barbados, offers excellent pre-cast alternatives.
7. Keep checking
Do not feel as though you are bothering the Contractor by turning up on your work site. It is yours. While you may have put the contractor in charge of the project, feel free to know that they are the Manager and you are the CEO.