Why are Caribbean people not taking building codes seriously?

St Lucia houses

by Delia Louis

The OECS islands are adorned with picturesque homes and buildings on low-lying areas and hillsides. Caribbean people on a whole take pride in owning beautiful homes, both the interior and exterior.

In recent years, we have seen the erection of energy conservation technologies like consumer solar panels, wind turbines, as well as mechanisms to trap rainwater for the dry spells. Homeowners and businesses alike are quickly realising that preparing their families and businesses for the effects of climate change is of top priority. However, many building owners (homes and business) fail to recognise the critical importance of protecting their families and businesses by also adhering to the OECS Building Code.

To this day, and even after major climatic events like the 2017 hurricane season, which destroyed homes in Dominica and wiped out Barbuda, many people still do not know what Building Codes are, and why it vital to comply with them.

Consultant Engineer for the OECS iLAND Resilience Project, responsible for the development of “best practice” recommendations for implementing the revised OECS Building Codes, Alison King-Joseph, is of the firm belief that the average person simply does not know about the building code.

A number of people do not understand that a building, is probably the biggest investment in his or her life; it should be designed and built by people who have the knowledge and capacity to comply with the requirements of the Code, in order to protect the owners’ interests and investment. Therefore, persons need to ensure that it is being applied in the design and construction of his or her building,” explained Joseph.

According to the iLAND Resilience official, if the building code is adhered to, the building is expected to be able to withstand the loads (wind, fire, earthquake, etc) it is designed against. This is achieved in a cost-effective and efficient manner. This means that the building will remain standing and functional after such an event, whereas the building that does not comply with the code may not. The repair costs to the owner of the code compliant building will be much lower than those incurred by the owner whose building did not comply.

Risks of injury and loss of life are also reduced. In the final analysis, the total costs to the owner over the life of the code-compliant building, are expected to be lower.

Ignorance of the OECS Building Code is no excuse, seeing that earthquakes, landslides, flooding and other climate events do not exclude building owners who are unaware of the code.

Protect your family and property, ensure that your building is “designed and built by people who have the knowledge and capacity to comply with the requirements of the code.”

For more information on the OECS Building Code visit ilandresilience.org

Please forward all question and queries to gccaproject@oecs.org

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