Improvements could increase housing costs by 30-40%
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A former president of the Bahamas Contractors Association (BCA) says that while he believes in this country’s building codes, the “firm implementation” of reinforced concrete for home construction should be introduced.
Leonard Sands said Eyewitness News Onlinethe use of reinforced concrete could increase costs by up to 40%, but stressed that the country should take all necessary measures to reduce the loss of life.
Sands said: “Meteorologists, climate change researchers and people who follow are right when they say this won’t be the last time we experience a storm like this (Hurricane Dorian) and we should all be very aware that there are things we can do to ensure the protection of our property and our buildings. I hope that we will take all possible measures to minimize our losses and, of course, above all to reduce the loss of human life.
He continued: “I would suggest that the Government of the Bahamas consider the firm implementation of a reinforced concrete structure for all homes. I understand that this will have a significant impact on the cost of building houses. You could be talking about a 30-40% increase in the cost of your home today; however, the end result is a home impervious to the forces of mother nature.
Sands said there are structures on Abaco and Grand Bahama that withstood the impact of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which suffered winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph.
“There are structures still standing in Grand Bahama and Abaco,” Sands said.
“I believe the ones standing had a significant amount of concrete reinforcement in the structure in some places. Our building code, even though it needs to be discussed like this, I still believe in it. J I reiterated however that on some islands where the impact of hurricanes on infrastructure will be just as strong as Dorian or even greater, we may need to adopt building code practices that suggest we are moving to reinforced concrete.
Sands also suggested the government consider placing power cables underground.
“Perhaps we should examine the underground power lines. I think the conversation needs to happen to look at our infrastructure and make the necessary changes. I know in some circles the conversation is going on with design professionals,” Sands said.
The former BCA chairman called for the Planning Department to be ‘strengthened’ to provide potential owners with information about properties they might be interested in buying.
Sands said: ‘We need to strengthen our planning department to give the client advanced information. If you don’t know that you are building your home in a high water area and someone tells you that this area has a high water impact, the client should be able to determine whether they want to buy the property or nope.
He added: “I suggest we give homeowners more statistical data about where their homes are located so they can make smart investment decisions.”