0

Building To Resist Category Five 'Too Expensive'

The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
(AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

MOST Bahamians would be priced out of the real estate market if the building code were changed so residential homes and businesses could withstand a Category Five hurricane, former Bahamas Contractor’s Association President Leonard Sands said yesterday.

“If you make it mandatory that houses now have to be built to deal with that category of strength, you’re talking about absolutely wiping out the construction centre because no one would be able to qualify for their homes,” he said. “The cost of the houses is going up already in places where you see the home building market is depressed because a lot of people can’t qualify anymore.

“The typical house that you could probably build in Marsh Harbour can probably be built at $130,000. To build for Category Five storms, people in the islands would be building three-bedroom, two bathrooms houses for a quarter million.”

The cost increase is because of the amount of steel and concrete needed for reinforcement.

Some Bahamians have long taken pride in the strength of the country’s building code, but with 90 percent of the buildings in Marsh Harbour destroyed, for instance, some have questioned whether the standards are outdated in the era of climate change.

George Cornish, 51, Abaco’s chief councillor, said evacuating entire islands before a storm is preferable to changing the building code.

“From my point of view, we’ve never seen a hurricane like this in our life,” he said from the United States where he went after the storm. “I went through Hurricane Floyd that damaged docks and buildings and stuff and the damage wasn’t this. This was Category Five, maybe even a six. I don’t think the building codes needs to change. I think we have a proper building code that has stood the test of time of other hurricanes. I think they are strong but it’s just this hurricane is something we’ve never seen in our lives before. If you change the code, poor people and those in the middle class wouldn’t be able to afford to build.”

Instead, Mr Cornish said massive hurricane shelters should be built in communities on all inhabited islands. Some designated shelters, like the Central Abaco Primary School, initially housed hundreds of residents before the storm but became so severely compromised that people scrambled to leave in the midst of Dorian’s passage.

“We need to build something up to code that can stand 180mph winds and more,” he said, noting the only shelter built specifically to withstand major hurricanes is located in Sandy Point, a settlement that did not get directly hit by Dorian.

The existing building code is designed to protect buildings when facing winds of up to 150mph. Dorian was a monster storm that had wind gusts exceeding 200mph when it made landfall on Abaco on September 1.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Absolute rubbish! To build today on any of our major islands a completely duty-free 3-bed, 2-bath home that might withstand a category 5+ hurricane would cost well upwards of a half-a-million dollars ($500,000), excluding the cost of the high ground (minimum 25+ feet above high tide level) upon which it would have to be built.

0

joeblow 5 months, 2 weeks ago

...but with 90 percent of the buildings in Marsh Harbour destroyed, for instance, some have questioned whether the standards are outdated in the era of climate change.

He assumes that the homes were built up to standard in the first place, we know this is not so. No squatter builds a house to code, none! Many pictures show homes with roofs and walls still intact!

The bigger issue is that unless a person has knowledge of construction they cannot know that the contractor is giving them what they paid for. So a person could pay for the concrete and steel and still not have it included during construction. There is too much dishonesty and shoddy workmanship in the construction industry; they need greater regulation.

1

ThisIsOurs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

well Minnis made Omar Archer the Construction Czar. How's that for forward thinking and progressive

0

Godson 5 months, 2 weeks ago

No, it is not too expensive to advance and be progressive. It is too expensive to have you, Leonard Sands, contracted to build the house.

0

Economist 5 months, 2 weeks ago

We could learn from the Florida Keys which has a building code that has taken into account both wind and surge. Their code is much more stringent than ours. It also looks at, foundations, walls, doors, including garage doors, windows and roofing systems.

They also make contractors pass exams on the type of construction they will be doing. This includes roofing systems. There is many a Bahamian contractor who does roofs but miss matches materials with the result that the roof fails.

This is not rocket science. Many of the solutions are easily available to us.

0

Sign in to comment