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The waters Edge

Standard Builders? – The water into which you are about to jump looks just so inviting, invigorating and splendidly refreshing. The blues, the hues, the view and the temperature are just right. Perhaps this is your image of paradise. These beautiful islands, the friendly people, the laid-back atmosphere give you the opportunity to actually relax. Life in the Caribbean may seem slow paced and one cannot help but sense a hint of the Spanish mañana way of life. Perhaps inhabitants of these islands have been lucky enough to have found the right combination of joie de vivre and being serious about what we do.

Take, for instance, the building industry. The Caribbean, because of its diverse nature and relatively small communities, has relied strongly on the abilities and ethics of its people to ensure high-quality construction; after all, as a builder you would build something for a client that may well be your neighbour or at least reside in the same village.

Since the late nineteenth century, foreigners have “discovered” the Caribbean as a great destination to build a second (or third) home, and they have come to treasure the special personal relationships that developed between the people the islands, sometimes for generations to follow.
With the Caribbean becoming a very popular destination, larger and commercial enterprises started building resorts for mass tourism as opposed to the rather quiet personal developments that integrated nicely into the existing communities of yesteryear.

Both foreign corporations and savvy local entrepreneurs have seen an opportunity to capitalize on the need to bring in more investments and build more properties. Whether or not this is good thing I will leave to you, the reader, to judge. What is paramount, however, is that the personal guarantee that was so strongly ingrained within the previous generation has been replaced by a new set of standards that were brought in.

Fortunately, most governments, builders and architects are very aware of the need for training and education of all individuals involved in the construction industry. The carbon copy approach of injecting foreign rules into a different environment has been met with measured resistance, even while the more experienced builders are being partially replaced by a younger generation of contract builders. On larger projects we cannot avoid having a plethora of managers dictating the pace of construction; however, on your personal piece of paradise, where you want to create the be-all and end-all, it’s wise to forge a personal relationship with your architect and builder.

Where perhaps in the USA it may take a year to convince the city building inspector that you really want to have a pool that has an shallow lounging area* of only 9 inches of water depth, you’ll find that here in the Caribbean we are a little more creative, while looking out for your best interests. We do not have a choice here; we must build strong. Natural phenomena dictate it: we have more seismic activity than the state of California. We must also comply with international plumbing and electrical codes. Now, whether or not that is done to your exacting standards, may just depend on the relationships you shape.

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