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THE START of the annual Atlantic storm season is almost here. Come Tuesday, June 1, almost every one in the Caribbean Basin will look towards the skies and wonder what the next six months will bring and how will our various homes and other buildings stand up to the might of Mother Nature, whatever she sends our way. It has been more than 50 years since Barbados was seriously impacted by a hurricane, but that is not the only thing which worries many of us now. Until November 29, 2007, scarcely anyone in this country gave any considerations to the impact of seismic upheaval. As far as we were concerned, those things did not occur in this part of the region. Just how vulnerable this region is to earth tremors and earthquakes was underscored on January 12, this year when Haiti was thoroughly devastated by a 7.0 magnitude seismic event. It was the worst earthquake in 200 years, occurring less than ten miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds suffered major damage or collapsed outright – from shantytown homes to national landmarks.The cost of the event was estimated at several million dollars. By comparison what Barbadians experienced in 2007 was miniscule – no damage to speak of to our buildings but it could happen again with much more serious consequences. Hurricanes and earthquakes are real possibilities and for this reason, everyone in Barbados who is building or about to embark on a construction project should ensure that the construction meets an internationally recognised standard in the absence of the Barbados Building Code being mandatory. Taking seismic standards into account when building would be a sure way to reinforce the structural integrity of a building or home.


FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2010. WEEKEND NATION SPECIAL WHILE older buildings are likely to be the first casualties of natural disasters like earthquakes, building and seismic codes can ensure newer buildings perform better under such conditions. (FP)

Bringing buildings Bear in mind that codes will not be a remedy for all situations, but they can make structures safer than they otherwise would be. Incorporating new or additional seismic safety provisions in codes governing new buildings is an easier task than designing, enacting and implementing requirements to govern the retro-fitting of buildings already standing. Adoption of seismic building codes ensure the construction of earthquake-resistant structures but not earthquake-proof buildings.

Code for safety Seismic codes are intended to protect people living and working inside such buildings by making them less prone to collapse, thereby making evacuations easier to effect. Structures built in accordance with a recognised code, should resist a minor quake without any damage. They should withstand the onslaught of a moderate quake without and significant structural damage and if impacted by a severe earthquake, such buildings should not collapse. Even if a building survives an earthquake, people on the inside may still suffer serious injury or death. Buildings always contain numerous non-structural components including light fixtures, air conditioning ducts, windows and suspended ceilings. Many of these items can fall on occupants or block escape routes. Falling bricks and exterior glass facades can cause their fair share of problems as well. The contents and interiors of code-compliant buildings can be affected by an earthquake and may not be functional until clean up and repairs are completed. Damage may be

minimised by adopting comprehensive safety and loss reduction programmes, including the

proper bracing of nonstructural elements. Following a building code to mitigate the

impact of a disaster is not necessarily that expensive. According to some estimates, following the

recommendations adds one to two per cent to the overall cost depending on the design.

From COLONISATION left its mark on the Caribbean islands in many ways including our education, culture and architecture. Many islands including Barbados were influenced by the English, others like Trinidad bear the hallmarks of cultures like the Spanish. Martinique and Guadeloupe developed under the influence of the French and let us not forget the Dutch. Even though they did not have much say, let us not forget the African slaves and indentured servants from India. Exactly who came can be easily determined when one sees or hears the names of various roads and districts and also when we look at the architecture – designs

which were sometimes adapted to suit Caribbean conditions and available materials. From slave huts to chattel houses to plantation great houses and places like churches, every culture which came, contributed some aspect to Caribbean architecture and society. Three hundred years ago, a two or three-room rectangular structure with mud walls and a thatched roof could have been found as easily in rural England or in many parts of West Africa. Front porches might have

Insurance gives assurance in a BUILDING a home is a costly exercise and there are so many things which can go wrong. Construction site injuries could occur, or your valuable materials could be stolen or damaged under the cover of darkness when none of the construction crew is around. If something like that happens where would you be? How easy would it be for you replace stolen cement, windows, blocks or steel rods? These items are all fair game for thieves. The answer is insurance cover, and here in Barbados it is possible to have coverage kick in, the day work begins on the site and which could evolve into a typical homeowner’s policy when the structure is complete. More than that, the mortgage company or lending agency would certainly insist on insurance to mitigate any likely risks. If you are planning to build your home inquire about a policy which covers many of the perils which could occur. Fire could adversely impact a house, even one which is under construction. If the house is being built in a desolate area, theft of materials could be a real hazard. Once the property is complete, the preliminary coverage should evolve into a traditional homeowner’s policy which would cover perils including, fire, riot, hurricane, earthquake, flood damage and subsidence. Owners of wooden homes need to consider the value of insuring their products. General insurance companies generally have no hesitation about offering fire coverage to persons building wooden structures. To get hurricane coverage, these houses must be securely attached to a solid foundation rather than one comprised primarily of loose stones.

been influenced by the heat of the tropical climate. Although written descriptions of slave huts survive, helpful details of the way Caribbean residents lived may also be gleaned from old prints depicting slave villages on plantations. Slave quarters were typically located on rab land – lots just large enough to house a slave household. They were built of materials most easily available and varied considerably from place to place. Floors were usually tamped earth, with an occasional raised platform as a base for beds. We assume that wood and other tree products were the original materials for the walls. If timber was not available but local stone was, it would be used. The better off members of early Caribbean society were generally wellappointed two-storey residences, built primarily of stone and much of the architecture was European in origin. The parapet roofs of the plantation style houses were among the most reliable, especially during the annual hurricane season. Windows with shutters and hoods ensured that rain could be kept out, while cooling breezes continued to pass through. Chattel houses were a popular choice since a majority of the labouring class did not own the lands on which their houses stood and if they opted to work at another plantations, their homes had to go with them. Looking back at history can teach us a great deal about many aspects of our society including the origins of some of our architectural styles.



3 HOUSE designs have changed a great deal over the years, clients often see features elsewhere which they get designers to incorporate into their project. (RC)




UNLESS you are a multi-millionaire or someone has left you a generous inheritance, most would-be home owners must borrow the money from a lending agency. To use the proper term they must enter into a mortgage arrangement. Contrary to popular belief, a mortgage is not a loan. It is actually a lien on the property which secures the loan although today, the terms mortgage and loan are used interchangeably. They are related but they are in fact, two different things. Lenders are well aware of this; it is best that you have this information as well. The word mortgage is believed to originate from the French words mort – meaning dead – and

Mortgage made simple

Avoiding foreclosure ALTHOUGH mortgage fees and other associated costs vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, certain aspects are identical. If a borrower fails to live up to the terms, the consequences could be as dire as the loss of his or her investment – known to the professionals as a foreclosure. A mortgage foreclosure is a legal process by which a mortgage holder or mortgagee regains possession of your home after a default. The most common type of default is non-payment but your mortgage default may be triggered by other things, including a failure to pay property taxes or maintain insurance. Should you default on your mortgage, expect the mortgagee or lender to notify you by mail. Make it a point to read all correspondence from your lender in order to make sure you don’t miss any important legal notices. Claiming that you did not read a legal notice will not help you to avoid foreclosure, If you do not rectify the highlighted situation, the mortgagee will foreclose in keeping with the signed agreement. After the mortgagee takes the necessary legal steps, an official will sell your property at an auction so read all of the correspondence you get from your lender. Borrowers who can’t make a scheduled payment should contact the lender as soon possible. Financial institutions have loss mitigation departments which will try to work out payment arrangements with borrowers who are down on their luck. Another key to avoiding foreclosure is to understand what your mortgage requires in a default situation. The details of your obligation are usually spelt out in writing in a promissory note and a mortgage or deed of trust. The note documents the borrower’s agreement to borrow money and repay it according to a schedule. The mortgage creates a lien against the property and gives the mortgagee the right to foreclose if the borrower defaults. Both documents may offer the borrower options if the lender declares a default, so it is important to read your mortgage documents and understand their requirements.

components, without which the loan would not be viable. Each component must have a value, or the loan cannot be computed. These three components are: • The size • The interest rate, and • The term The size of the loan simply refers to its face value – the amount of money that you wish to borrow. The interest rate is the regular and recurring fee that the lender charges for the borrowed funds. It’s usually expressed as a percentage of the loan, and is calculated on an annual basis. It has a direct bearing on the size of the monthly payment. The lower the interest rate, the lower the monthly payment will be. By contrast the higher the rate, the higher the payment. The loan’s term refers to how long it will take to be fully amortised, or paid off. It may be expressed in months or years.

gage – meaning pledge. If the borrower failed to pay what was owed, then the lender would receive the pledged property, thus making that property dead to the borrower. If the borrower paid the debt, then the pledge would be dead with regard to the lender. Perhaps you’re familiar with the terms mortgagor and mortgagee. The term mortgagor refers to the party borrowing the money. This party grants, pledges, or gives a lien on his or her property as security to the lender. The term mortgagee or lender refers to the party which receives the lien as security. WHEN ONE of these signs go up, someone’s investment has fallen A mortgage loan has three through the floor. (Internet picture)

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK, if a few months after getting the keys to your home, cracks started appearing in the walls? Could it be poor construction or insufficient steel reinforcement? If those two possibilities can be ruled out, chances are your property has been affected by subsidence. In basic terms, subsidence occurs when the ground under a building moves downwards and is a particular problem when the movement is uneven beneath the foundations. Take note that a number of factors can cause subsidence on their own or in combination with each other. If you have clay subsoil on your property it could be the source of problems. As water evaporates, clay shrinks and cracks and becomes weaker when it dries. Trees and shrubs take



moisture from soil which could cause it to contract and crack and this could be a real problem if the soil is clay. Droughts increase the likelihood of problems as vegetation extends roots to find moisture. Damaged drains or water pipes can wash soil beneath foundations away, leading to signs of subsidence. Building over or close to mine workings can be a factor in subsidence, but this is believed to be less common. Cracks in the walls of

your property are the first indication of subsidence – but not all cracks are due to it. Over time a house may move slightly as the foundations settle but small cracks are nothing to worry about and are common occurrences in many homes. Telltale signs of subsidence include diagonal cracks that appear in walls around doors and windows. If you notice these after a prolonged dry spell, it’s worth investigating further to

SUBSIDENCE occurs when the ground beneath a structure (in this case the road) moves downwards and is a particular problem when the movement is uneven beneath the foundations of a building. (Internet picture)

make sure your property has not been affected by subsidence. Subsidence cracks are distinguishable from settlement cracks because they are wider at the top – usually large

enough to slot a small coin in to. Sticking doors and windows are another indicator subsidence. To reduce the likelihood of subsidence affecting your investment, don’t plant trees and shrubs too close to your home. The roots can affect drains and remove moisture out of the soil supporting the foundations. If you have trees or shrubs near your house,


ensure they are pruned regularly and check you gutters and drains regularly to make sure leaves do not block them. If you think your property has been affected by subsidence talk to your insurance company. Damage to your home should be covered by your insurance policy, but damage to walls, gates, fences or driveways around your home may fall outside the cover.




.headPRIOR TO constructing a house or other building in Barbados permission must first be sought from the Town & Country Development Planning office (TCDPO). It has responsibility for ensuring the orderly and progressive development of land in urban and rural Barbados. The agency operates in accordance with the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act, Cap. 240, (TCPA) and the Town and Country Planning Development Order, 1972 (TCDPO). The primary functions of TCDPO include: Preparation and monitoring of physical development plans for the island. Controlling the development of land having regard to proper planning standards and environmental management practices. Monitoring of development activities and enforcement of planning control. The organisation comprises of a development control section which processes applications for planning permission. It also assesses and evaluates applications based on appropriate policy and development standards as well as make recommendations or decisions on applications. The forward planning section looks after preparation of physical development plans, coordination of policy studies and direct participation in special planning projects. It also handles studies and development and management of information systems. The policy division provides planning and property advice to Government; develops standards and policy guidelines and prepares development briefs. Other functions include participation on committees, the collection and compilation of information on TCDPO activities and preparation of performance reports. The planning inspectorate monitors development and enforces planning control. The prime functions of this division include investigation of complaints, inspection of buildings under construction and issuance of certificates of compliance. Administration and General Services take care of personnel management,

• •

SECURE THE RELEVANT approvals before you start to build.

Start with the law on your side administrative, clerical, stenographic and accounting functions. To facilitate the work of the organisation and its development control function, the island is divided into five geographical areas – A, B, C D, E. Each area has a defined organisational structure. While each development control area operates as a distinct unit, the system of management and the development control application process are similar.

(Internet picture)




Water storage plan a must when building IT IS almost impossible now to build a house of a certain size in Barbados without making provision for a water storage system. The initiative was introduced in the wake of the island being declared a water scarce country. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a country is deemed to be water scarce if its resources fall below 1 000 cubic metres of water per capita, per year – a cubic metre is approximately 220 gallons of water. According to one estimate Barbados’ water resources have been estimated at 390 cubic metres per person. It is now mandatory requirement that new houses with a floor area of 1 500 to 1 999 square feet must have a water tank of 3 000 gallons capacity and those over 2 000 square feet require 6 000 gallons storage capacity. Barbadians are still getting used to the concept of domestic water conservation, but it has been a way of life for other Caribbean nationals for years. Conserving water goes a long way to take some of the pressure off the public

A PROPER guttering system is vital to the creation of a domestic rainwater collection system. (RC) water system managed by Barbados Water Authority. Stored rain water may be used in a variety of ways – to flush toilets, for laundry, to water gardens, washing of cars and cleaning of driveways. An effective rainwater storage system should include: a collection area, a conveyance system, and storage facilities. The collection area in most cases is the roof of a house or a building. The effective roof area and the material used in constructing the roof influence the efficiency of

collection and the water quality. A conveyance system usually consists of gutters or pipes which deliver rainwater from the rooftop to cisterns or other storage vessels. Both drainpipes and roof surfaces should be constructed of chemically inert materials such as wood, plastic, aluminum, or fibreglass, in order to avoid adverse effects on water quality. The water ultimately is stored in a storage tank or cistern, which too should be constructed of an inert material.

Outfit home to save WHEN sourcing plumbing fittings for your new home, ask about the availability of water saving units and devices. Many commonly used appliances can be modified to conserve water or bought specifically for their water conserving qualities. Consider spray taps and faucet aerators as an alternative to steady flow taps, thereby enabling a smaller volume of water to achieve the same results. Low flow shower heads can be fitted to maximise water coverage and minimise volume. Save water in the

bathroom by placing a plastic bottle filled with water inside your toilet cistern. Alternatively, adjust your ballcock, so the amount of water used per flush can be reduced to a minimum. Investigate the economics of a dual flush toilet system which discharges a small volume of water for liquid waste and a larger volume for solid waste. Efficient flushing depends upon the velocity of the water, rather than the volume which tends to be grossly out of proportion with the waste that the

water flushes down the drain. When washing clothing wait for full loads before using your washing machine, or if purchasing a new one, look for economy features such as half load capability or reduced water consumption. For personal hygiene, use the shower instead of the bathtub. When washing the family car, resist the urge to use the garden hose wherever possible and water your plants in the evening. This will cut down on water loss due to evaporation.




EXTERIOR DOORS are one of the most important features of any home and business premises. They are the first element of your premises that visitors will encounter and they should add to the aesthetics of the building while not compromising the security aspect. Most people like to create a good first impression and they opt for exterior doors which would be elegant and stylish, even under the worst weather conditions. A well maintained, modern exterior door speaks highly to your professionalism,if it is the entrance to a business and pride, if it’s the doorway of a home. Aesthetic appearance is just one aspect of the equation – security awareness and budget are equally important. Exterior doors must be able to withstand the best efforts of determined criminals, while protecting premises, possessions and family from intruders. Exterior doors are manufactured from a variety of materials with myriad styles and colours from which to choose – all with their own inherent advantages and disadvantages. Wooden exterior doors are still one of the most popular types, providing a good blend of strength and elegance. Prices are generally within the reach of most pockets but there are some wooden doors whose value is significantly influenced by the type and quality of wood used. Wood is certainly a most aesthetically pleasing option but there are some disadvantages in choosing this material. It must be treated regularly, with preservative, paint or varnish, to protect it from the ravages of wind and rain so think about the location of the doorway before you finally decide. Neglecting the maintenance can lead to rotting and replacement of the door after just a few short years. Wooden doors tend to be reasonably priced, but going for the cheapest option is false economy, because low quality wood can expand depending on the temperature. Good quality wooden exterior doors are made from pressure treated timber, containing preservative to make

QUALITY EXTERIOR DOORS should always be backed by dependable locks. (RC) the wood weather resistant for many years. The other downside of wooden doors is the security aspect: Whilst they are strong enough to deter most criminals, determined individuals can force their way in, by damaging the door or the frame. Where security is the overriding concern, steel exterior doors are an excellent option, traditionally consisting of a steel skin covering the outside of a sturdy wooden frame. Steel exterior doors are expensive, and the extra weight requires an exceptionally strong door frame, which requires a specialist contractor to fit. Modern variants of the steel

door now use stainless steel to create a beautiful door inlaid with glass and intricate details. Steel exterior doors are extremely resistant to adverse conditions and rough treatment, making them a good option for industrial premises. If there is a downside, aside from the high price, steel doors are not particularly attractive and are very difficult to modify. If you want to fit door knobs, door knockers or locks, drilling and cutting the toughened steel may prove challenging. What about a uPVC door for your home or business? The material is durable and strong, and some uPVC exterior doors can accommodate an intricate internal locking mechanism, which engage bolts at the top and bottom of the door. These security bolts ensure that the door is virtually unbreakable when the locks are engaged. UPVC exterior doors tend to be reasonably priced, and are the best choice for energy efficient homes. The main disadvantage of uPVC exterior doors is that they can be somewhat unattractive, especially if the uPVC discolours with time. The material can break down in strong, direct sunlight, and the door can become brittle and subject to cracking if it is not protected. Aluminium exterior doors are an excellent compromise. They combine the advantages of other types whilst exhibiting fewer disadvantages. Aluminium is lightweight and functional whilst combining elegance and practicality. These doors are painted or powder coated, giving an attractive finish and aluminium is immune to extremes of weather. They may lack the natural elegance of wooden doors, but this is far outweighed by the benefits.

High-tech alarm systems worth it

QUALITY EXTERIOR DOORS should always be backed by dependable locks. (RC) HAVING spent so much to build a comfortable home, the purchase of quality locks to secure it against intruders should be par for the course. When security matters, opt for deadbolt locks with bolts long enough to extend into the walls at least one half inch. The bolt needs to be long enough to make it impossible for burglars to gain entry by kicking in or pulling out. When installing locks on exterior doors, ensure that the metal piece opposite the bolt – the strike plate – is securely positioned using at least three inch screws. If the screws go through the jamb of the door and into the wall they should be extremely difficult to pull out. Choose only double cylinder-double keyed locks. The versions with a turn button on the inside aren’t necessarily all that safe. If these locks are installed on a door with several glass panes, it would only take a few seconds to break one or more panes of glass in the door and reach in to open the lock. Never leave keys in entrance door locks but keep them handy in the event of an emergency. Once installed, check your doors for safety.

IF YOUR home construction budget permits, consider the installation of an electronic security system for added peace of mind. Home security systems are broadly divided into indoor systems and outdoor ones. Most standard indoor home security systems focus on the doors and windows. They work by sensing two things: opening of doors and windows, or movement inside the house. The system detects the latter with the help of motion sensors. To use this type of system, you would

All entrance doors should fit snugly in their frames . If you notice gaps, some remedial work would be necessary. If the gap is even from top to bottom, you might be able to get a carpenter to adjust the fit but if there’s significant space between the door and the frame, a small saw like a hacksaw might fit in the crack. If that is the case, any determined individual with the right blade can saw the bolt through. If the door isn't flush at the location of the hinges, they, too, might be sawn through. One thing most people will agree on is that

technology never stands still, there is always something new coming onto the market. How would you feel about installing an electronic lock capable of recognising fingerprints? Such locks can only be activated when the system recognises any of the fingerprints scanned in thus a door will only open for a select number of persons. Fingerprint door locks are a great option because there is no fear of losing your keys and having to buy new locks to prevent problems. These locks work on the premise that no two people have the same fingerprints.



need to enter a special code into your control set, which allows you to set your alarm as needed and also to turn it off before you enter the house. An outdoor home security system monitors your grounds as well. Most outdoor systems can be programmed to turn on flood lights at the slightest hint of movement outside the house. In earlier models, there was the possibility of a cat setting off the alarm as she took a stroll around the compound, but newer models are programmed to check the size and weight of the intruder before setting off

9 the alarm, and consequently, false alarms are fewer. Outdoor alarms may also include driveway alarms to ensure the safety of your vehicle. Some of the more expensive and sophisticated systems offer close-circuit television (CCTV) and wireless video surveillance (VSS). These generally consist of several transmitters and a receiver connected to a monitor and recorder. The advantage of such a wireless system is that the only cable used is the one that connects the receiver to monitor.






Roofs built to protect ... and impress replace it. strong, extremely durable and today’s versions come NO MATTER what it is If you have really deep and have the potential to in many shapes and styles made of, the roof of a house is supposed to pockets you may consider last a lifetime. including flat, roman, protect the occupants from a roof of clay tiles. Using tiles as a roof pantile, barrel, tower, and the elements for years. Not only would it give covering is not new. Roof tegula. If it is defective, the the house an attractive tiles were used since the All roof tile shapes allow integrity of the entire look, but clay tiles are times of the ancient Greeks for overlapping and/or structure would be compromised, leaving the contents open to damage or total loss. Ask any homeowner how critical a good roofing job is. Imagine a deluge coming down outside and your family running from room to room positioning buckets to catch the water leaking in. Many of us may take the roof over our heads for granted but when a storm comes, then we appreciate its ability keep us sheltered. If your roof isn't performing that basic job NO MATTER what it is made of, the roof of your home should protect the occupants and the contents of the buildings from all extremes of weather. (RC) anymore you need to


WHEN days are hot and stifling, a ceiling fan could be just the thing for your home. (RC)

Cool savings with tint WHEN the sun beats down and there is no wind to mitigate the heat, most of us do one of two things: If there is an air conditioning unit in the house, we reach for the remote, while those of us on tighter budgets settle for either a ceiling or a standing fan. Both options help but at the end of the day our power consumption costs go up and in these times of increased electricity costs that hurts in the pocket. CLAY TILES give you style, strength and beauty in one package.

interlocking, and they are hung in parallel rows from the framework of a roof. The advantages of a tiled roof include features such as fire safety, noncombustibility, and durability. Traditionally roof tiles were made from slate or clay but all that has changed. Today’s tiles are manufactured using other materials including concrete and plastic. When it comes to durability, it is hard to beat cement or concrete roof tiles. Made from sand, cement, and pigment, cement roof tiles do not rot, curl, burn nor rust, and have a high solar reflectance. Concrete roof tiles can

withstand pressures of up to 400 pounds without reinforcement, while clay roof tiles offer authenticity and architectural character to a building or home. They can be adapted to both modern and historical facades. Clay roof tiles can also withstand extremes of climate and their durability improves with exposure. The combination of performance and aesthetic enhancement make clay roof tiles a popular choice. Here in Barbados corrugated sheeting continues to be a popular choice and it is a lot cheaper than roof tiles. Functional and strong, the term is used to describe both galvanised iron, and galvanised mild


steel – even though galvanised iron sheets are seldom seen anymore. The strengthening effects of corrugating and crimping metal sheets have been known for a very long time and since the 1840s have been developed with many galvanising techniques to produce a durable roofing material. Although used primarily for industrial factories, barns, and similar applications, advanced techniques have allowed many to see the aesthetic potential of corrugated metal roofing in residential and commercial applications. Corrugated roofing often has a rippling effect due to wavelike patterns that allow for ultimate strength.

ALTHOUGH not seen any much anymore, the shingled roof still has a certain elegance. (RC)

The design of corrugated roofing sheets also makes them quite lightweight and easy to transport and work with. Corrugated metal roofing provides the same level of strength and durability as a double layer of metal roofing, without the additional cost. The installation techniques used to secure corrugated metal roofing ensures that it can withstand even the most extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes. With regular maintenance, it can remain in service for years.

SASH WINDOWS are a very popular choice among Barbadians, give yours an extra special look by applying a window tint and limit the damage which the sun’s rays can do to your furniture. (RC)

Summer time is almost here and when the children are out of school and at home most days, electricity consumption will most definitely increase. Fortunately, there is something you can look at to try and keep cooling costs down – tinted window film. We use it on the windows of our vehicles so why not our homes, too? Window film is a microthin layer of polyester or vinyl film applied directly to the glass, providing an economical way to reduce glare, minimise energy costs, enhance privacy, while adding a decorative look to your windows. Professional installation is an option but installing window film is a project within the scope of an enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer. Installation can be a simple task, with the right tools. The potential benefits of window film are numerous. Most older or inexpensive windows aren’t very efficient when it comes to blocking heat or UV rays. That is why some furniture fades prematurely, making your living room look drab and your air conditioning costs keeps skyrocketing. Window film can help with these issues. One of the benefits of window film is its ability to block radiant heat – keeping hot air out in the summer thereby easing the load on the air conditioner.


COLOUR choices are as individualistic as we are and we sometimes select to highlight the design of the structure or to make it stand out from surrounding designs which are similar. There is also the choice between traditional wall paint and textured coatings. (RC)


HAVE YOU EVER travelled overseas and saw house designs which really caught your eye? Styles which looked nothing like anything you had ever seen in the Caribbean and you felt that any of them would really stand out from you neighbours if you could get something similar. Just because a design or building style works elsewhere, it does not automatically mean that it would transplant well. One of the surest ways to get what you want based on the impression in your mind, would be to speak with an architect and let him or her create something for you and make it suited to our kind of climate. An architect can plan your house to take full advantage of the prevailing winds. Laying out the house so that the bedrooms and living area receive the maximum impact of the breezes is always a good idea since it could save you from incurring air conditioning costs both day and night. A house designed for the

tropics should always make the most of cross ventilation. A lot of people are into greening these days and they tend to be extremely energy conscious, so an architect might recommend a more open floor plan which would allow air to circulate better throughout the structure. There is nothing worse than a house which seems unbearably hot during the daylight hours. Heat rises, so high ceilings would make a big difference and ceiling fans in most or all of your rooms would help the occupants to feel much cooler. If you create high ceilings, you would need extensions to drop the fan down so that the blades are at a height of about eight feet for the best effect. Best of all, ceiling fans don’t use much more electricity than a light bulb. Install the biggest windows you can afford to permit the movement of hot air as well as cooling breezes as effectively as

possible. Larger windows let in more light reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day. Admittedly, larger windows will add to the overall cost of building, especially if you plan to put burglar bars up, but weigh

the expense against the extra comfort over time. If you can, plan at least one covered outdoor terraza (facing the direction of the prevailing breeze if possible) and make it bigger than you think you need. Consider a ceiling fan for your terraza, too.

would help to block the sun from the windows and prevent water from entering when it rains. Opt for few windows which could remain open during rainstorms, to maintain the cooled interior as much as possible. Leave as much green space around your house as possible. Concrete absorbs heat from the sun and retains it for a very long time. If you have space for trees on the west side of your house, they will serve to keep your house cooler in the early to mid-afternoon which is often the hottest part of the day. Tropical conditions and Some Caribbean days can summer rainstorms go hand be so hot that you would in hand so be prepared. want to remain outside in Plan your construction the shade for as long as to allow for runoff after possible. One or two heavy rains. electrical outlets in a It would be a good idea protected area of the terraza to elevate your home one to would be handy to power a two feet or even more above radio or floor fan. ground level. A wide roof overhang

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Green products becoming big business GOING GREEN is a phrase that is being used more and more as people do their best to reduce the size of their carbon footprint on the earth. Everyone wants to reduce the harmful impact which the activities associated with daily living are having on the planet. From cleaner cars to more environmentally friendly cleaning products – an increasing number of individuals and companies are getting on board to preserve the world in which we live for future generations. Just a few years ago, environmentally sensitive home products were hard to find and expensive to afford, but as energy prices have risen the green movement has become more mainstream. Innovative materials, systems and practices have become big business and a lot of new products and materials are finding their way into the homes we build. New materials for floors and countertops are getting lots of attention because they truly mimic the look of other solid-surface countertops although made from more eco-friendly materials. They might not yet be available locally but Paperstone, Squak Mountain Stone and Richelite are getting a lot of

attention in North America. These countertops are made of composite materials like post-consumer recycled paper or plastic resins. The idea was to develop products which do not release harmful levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are formaldehyde-free yet look like regular, high-end solid surface countertops. Other materials, like reclaimed wood, butcher block countertops or glass tile surfaces, have shown an increase in popularity.



For carpets, wool and other natural materials are good choices. Mainstream manufacturers are getting on board with the movement and producing eco-friendly products – carpets made from recycled products like old plastic bottles and organic materials like corn. New options in wood flooring are gaining in popularity too. Renewable forests materials are more popular than ever. Bamboo and palm look beautiful, wear

COUNTERTOPS made of composite materials like post-consumer recycled paper or plastic resins are becoming increasingly popular in overseas markets. (Internet picture)


well and grow back much faster than old-growth forest trees. Even the paints we use to colour our surroundings are getting environmentally friendly makeovers too. Many conventional paints and finishes can create hazardous conditions for those using them, emitting VOCs into the atmosphere of the home, as well as creating problems when it’s time to responsibly dispose of them. It has also been stated that in addition to emitting damaging VOCs regular paints are not good for walls either because they suffocate walls. The so-called earth-based paints are a better option because they let the walls breathe, they repel dust and pollen and are much better for an individual’s health There was a time when low-VOC and non-VOC paints were deemed to be inferior in quality and colour selection but all that has changed. They come in attractive hues, they wear well and can be easily cleaned. How quickly the world embraces new green technologies will be determined by prices at the cash register. The experts agree, however, that as green continues to sell, prices will continue to drop and the availability will increase.

FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2010. WEEKEND NATION SPECIAL DESPITE the overwhelming popularity of concrete in construction, some items look naturally better in wood. (RC)



Wood or wall ... more than a matter of preference they desire, using material which they like. building, the more likely it would be that concrete would IF WE could turn the hands of the clock back a few Whatever material you opt for, employ a reputable decades and look at the Barbadian landscape of the be selected. Another path taken, and by the more affluent in society, builder to construct your home. 1950s we would see a lot fewer houses. An experienced builder is certain to know all the pitfalls is taste. Most of the structures would be wood rather than and how to avoid them. People who can afford it will build the kind of house concrete and the chattel house style would predominate. Fast foward to the 1970s and the scene would reveal more and more Barbadians opting for concrete homes. Concrete remains the overwhelming choice today and designs have become larger and more elaborate. This raises the question, price aside, which is the better option wood or concrete? There has always been a discourse as to whether a house built of concrete is better than one built of wood, and vice versa. Here are some things that determine why a house is built of either material. For many people personal finances can significantly influence whether wood or concrete wins out. Depending on where you live it could also come down to availability of building material. Height and size could also be determining factors, and let us not rule out personal tastes. In developing countries, what is readily available or most affordable would definitely be a deciding factor. Take Belize as an example. It is a country with abundant forestry resources and in the rural areas, there is as a result, a proliferation of wooden houses. The more fortunate people in society, who have more disposable income to spend on a house can make choices which persons lower down the income ladder cannot. They would take into consideration, the climate, soil type, seismic activity and everything related to safe building practices in opting for the most suitable materials or combination thereof to ensure a solid home. The height of the structure can influence final options as well. There’s nothing like home ownership. You can finally make your move Yes, you can go up several stories with wood, but it will and put an end to paying rent, PLUS WIN $5,000! meet its limitations long before concrete would. That’s why none of the skyscrapers in the world’s major cities are Enjoy these GREAT BENEFITS with our Blockbuster Mortgage Special: made of timber. > Quick and Easy application process The amount of ground space taken up by a building is > Competitive Interest Rate also taken into consideration when building. The larger the > Up to 30 years to repay > No commitment fees > 50% reduction in negotiation fee > Great money saving repayment options > Financing available for first year’s property insurance and legal fees > RBC VISA credit card with minimum BBD $2,000 limit* > Pre-approved loan up to $10,000* to purchase furniture, appliances, etc

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THE PROPOSED HEIGHT and size of the building will usually determine the material of which it is built. (FP)




Keep a sharp eye for defects EVEN THOUGH reputable contractors try their best to give clients value for money, there is always a chance that some defects will show up in the first few weeks or months following the handover of the home or building. Defects can show up as cracks, leaks, around windows and doors – the possibilities are myriad. Windows can be defective. Problems associated with windows most often tend to be leaks, which could be due to poor installation. This could mean the windows were not flashed properly, or the manufacturing process was not up to expected standards. In some homes windows have proven to be difficult to operate and this could have been due to soil settlement, structural deficiencies or just a bad product. The most common defects associated with roofs generally have to do with the installation of the component parts and not the roofing material itself. Tiles may have been overextended

or the underlay, was short, torn, or just plain missing all of which cause leaks. Improper slope or a flat roof can cause problems as well. Anytime you have water intrusion, there is a chance of mold developing. Most experts say that mold can be present in a very short space of time after the initial water intrusion. Experience has shown that the very young and the elderly are usually worst most affected and usually symptoms manifest as a respiratory problem. Once discovered, mold infestation should be remedied immediately to minimise the possibility of health issues. Moisture seeping up through the floor can occur if the plastic sheeting beneath the floor which acts as a barrier is incomplete, pierced or improperly laid. Sliding glass door defects are very similar to window defects. They either leak because they were installed improperly or the door itself was poorly manufactured.




Light your home with style

THE LIGHT FITTINGS you choose for your new home can say a great deal about your personal style. Even though style says a lot, practicality can sometimes override individual tastes and preferences. For years, when oil prices were relatively low, most of the illumination around was based on incandescent lighting. In simplest terms, an electric current was passed through a tungsten filament surrounded by an inert gas- argon-in a sealed glass envelope. Tungsten was ideal because it could be heated to a very high temperature until it glowed white hot. A major drawback was that a significant portion of the energy was lost as heat. On average incandescent lights were only capable of delivering 10-17 Lumens per Watt of electrical energy. Compare this to 60 Lumens per Watt for Light Emitting Diode options. The inefficiency of tungsten filaments was compounded by the fact that over time, the colour of the light changed from white to yellow and the filament would thin until one day the electricity passing through it triggered a rupture. In recent years, compact fluorescent light bulbs have been promoted as a more efficient option for home lighting. There’s no denying that they give a brighter light and the technology behind them is far different. A compact fluorescent lamp replacement, increases the incoming domestic supply voltage by using a transformer and a small amount of electronic components. The output is connected to a number of electrodes and electrons shoot electrodes into the white coloured

fluorescent tube. Inside this tube is mercury vapour or gas, so that when the electrons collide with mercury atoms, it causes the mercury electrons to increase their own energy level. This makes the mercury unstable and when the electrons become stable, they emit light in the ultra violet spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye. This is where the white coloured internal phosphor coating comes into its own, converting the ultra violet photons into visible white light. It is similar, in some respects, as to how cathode ray television tubes convert beams of electrons into the visible picture we see on the screen. The claimed efficiency of fluorescent light bulbs is often stated to be five times better than incandescent light bulbs.

HOW YOU ILLUMINATE the various areas of your home is often influenced by the intended activity. (RC)




NOTHING BEATS the warmth and softness of a carpet underfoot. (Internet picture)

WHEN BUILDING a home, many people give serious thoughts to what type of floor covering to select. Gone are the days when vinyl tiles were the overwhelming choice of many in Barbados. This type of floor covering has been totally overwhelmed by the demand for ceramic tiles or clay tiles. Even so, international surveys have indicated that carpet still enjoys significant appeal despite concerns about its ability to trap dust and the risk to persons living with respiratory ailments, carpeting is more than holding its own. According Floor Coverings market-UK 2009-2013, to a document produced by AMA Research, at 2008 prices, the floor coverings market in that country was worth £2.1billion at 2008. It said carpet still dominates the floor coverings market but has again experienced some share loss within the overall product mix. The manufacture of carpets goes back

Carpet still holding own to ancient times, when cultures passed hand-tying and knotting skills from generation to generation. During the 16th century, merchant adventurers and explorers heading home to Europe brought with them the awareness of and desire for rich textiles and rugs from the East. Carpet is still the primary flooring choice for many, it does not have to be expensive

and is generally easier to install and replace than other floor coverings. It also offers more fashion options, colours and textures than any other floor covering on the market. Carpet offers a high degree of warmth, comforting softness and is much quieter to traverse than any other option. Today’s styles, colours and textures also blend well with almost every home decor

and with a variety of other flooring products. From traditional to country, from casual to formal, you can find a carpet to complement any interior setting and give years of service. Carpet adds warmth and is soft under feet and easier on children’s knees. Carpet is much quieter than hard surfaces floors. Carpet comes in a wide variety of colours, tones and hues. Carpet is easy to decorate with and offers many styles and colours allowing it to be the focus of the room or the perfect foundation for your furniture and accessories. Carpet can hide many sub-floor irregularities that would not be permitted with hard surfaces floors. Carpet can go over a variety of substrates and on all grade levels, even concrete slabs in basements. Carpet is economical and the installation costs are generally less than some of the hard surface products.

• • • • • • •


Furture of architecture


Change the constant for housing IN VIEW of concerns about diminishing natural resources, we can be sure that life on the planet will change. How we live, where we live – the odds are that innovation would impact these aspects of our lives in years to come. Concepts for tomorrow’s homes are on the drawing board and when constructed, they may be nothing like the structures you would have known as a child growing up. New materials and new technologies are reshaping the way we build. Floor plans could change to accommodate the evolving patterns of our lives and yet, many architects and designers are said to be relying on ancient materials and building techniques to develop tomorrow’s living spaces. So, what will the homes of the future look like? Perhaps the most exciting and most important trend in home design would be an increased sensitivity to the environment.

Architects and engineers are said to be taking a fresh look at ancient building techniques which relied on simple, bio-degradable materials. Far from primitive, modern versions of ‘earth houses’ would be comfortable, economical with a rustic beauty. In time for tomorrow, factorymade prefabricated homes have come a long way as well. Trend-setting architects and builders have adopted modular materials to create bold new designs with lots of glass and steel.

Given that sick building syndrome is a major concern for some people health issues have not been swept under the carpets. Problems with ventilation in certain buildings can literally make you sick. Home designers have taken note of the ways our health is affected by synthetic materials and the chemical additives used in paints and other household items. Thus, the most innovative homes might not necessarily be the most unusual. The title could well go to the homes constructed without relying on plastics, laminates, and fumeReusing buildings producing glues. In an ideal world, every shelter Sometimes, what seems to be a new building isn’t always entirely would be built to withstand the elements, and engineers are new. A desire to protect the environment and preserve historic seriously tackling the issue in the quest to develop storm-ready architecture has inspired home designs. architects to re-use older In areas where hurricanes are structures. prevalent, more and more builders Trend-setting homes of the are relying on insulated wall future may be constructed from panels made of sturdy concrete. the shell of an outdated factory, Changing lifestyles could see an empty warehouse, or an changing living spaces as well. abandoned church.

Tomorrow’s homes could feature sliding doors, pocket doors, and movable partitions to allow flexibility in living arrangements. Dedicated living and dining rooms would be replaced by large multi-purpose family areas and many houses could include private rooms which may be used for office space or be adapted to a variety of specialised needs.

facility. An increased interest in ecofriendly architecture has encouraging builders to incorporate outdoor spaces into overall home design. The yard and garden can become a part of the floor plan when sliding glass doors lead to patios or decks. These outdoor rooms may even be kitchens with sophisticated sinks and grilles. Open concepts Closets did not feature prominently in house designs of Forget the spiral staircases, the Victorian era but over the past sunken living rooms, and high century, homeowners have cabinets. demanded more storage space. Houses of tomorrow would be Newer homes with enormous easy to move around in, even if walk-in closets, spacious dressing you or members of your family rooms, and plenty of easy-to-reach have physical limitations. Architects often use the phrase built-in cabinets were not uncommon. ‘universal design’ to categorise Cathedral ceilings are these homes because they are comfortable for people of all ages becoming passé because families prefer usable space below the and abilities. Special features such as wide roof. Garages are also becoming hallways would blend seamlessly into the design so that the home bigger to accommodate the everdoes not have the appearance nor popular SUVs and other large domestics vehicles. feel of a hospital or nursing


IMAGINE yourself enjoying a relaxing soak in this tub – which could, in the near future, feature sensors that control water temperature and the angle at which jets shoot out water to massage your tired soul. (RC)







FOR YEARS the bathroom was regarded by many as an inner sanctum – the place to read the newspaper in peace or to enjoy a relaxing smoke – a refuge from the pace of life. Now it seems that all that has changed. Remember when hotel and conference centre rest rooms were the only places you would likely see faucets activated by an infrared sensor? You can have them for your homes now. They might cost more than conventional faucets but their manufacturers say they are excellent for WHAT would plumbing fittings like these do for your controlling the spread of bathroom? A lot, if they’re the kind that are activated germs and conserving by an infrared sensor – gives new meaning to hands water. free. (RC) The battery-powered Ever had one of those moments when sensors detect the presence of outstretched hands and turn the water on you settle into the bath tub for a long relaxing soak and the telephone rings for a measured period. If you ever visit Japan chances are you causing you to get out? Well there are showers and massage may encounter intelligent toilets which tubs available with an unbelievable range record medical data and come with of extras. optional MP3 players. Would you believe LCD television, FM A toilet which does not require the use radio and hands-free telephone right of toilet paper? where you need it. Apparently they are out there. During the 1960s Walt Disney pictures These modern marvels of technology produced a feature called tomorrow land even come with a deodoriser system to – based on today’s technological freshen the air when you are done. developments, tomorrow land is here They are not the cheapest on the now. market but if your pockets are deep Looks are important too and even if enough, why not? you are not big on technology, you can By the way, these modern marvels still knock your friends’ socks off with require at least 120 electrical eye catching gold-plated faucets. connections.



Technology the new buzzword for bathrooms


Bathroom innovations



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Computerised houses


IT IS ONLY a matter of time before it becomes more affordable for home owners and builders to tap into the potential provided by technolgy to control various functions in the home.

IF WE ALL ACCEPT that the only true constant in this world is change, then it would not seem ridiculous to envisage the day when our homes would be able to communicate directly with us. Computerisation has advanced so much that what would have been ranked as impossible a few years ago, now seems very possible. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is said to own one of the few smart houses in existence, but someday, many of us might all live like that. A smart house is a fully networked structure with functions that may be controlled from a central computer, making it an ideal technology for homeowners who travel frequently or for homeowners who simply want it. Builders in North America and Europe are beginning to offer home network options to clients ranging from the primitive – the installation of Ethernet cables in walls – to really cutting-edge options – management of the ambient temperature from a laptop hundreds of miles away. In one trial experiment, a group of companies including computer and appliance manufacturers showed what tomorrow could be like. They demonstrated the power of interfacing home appliances. The experiment linked a washing machine and clothes dryer to a television, personal computer and cellphone. The effort let homeowners know when laundry loads


Homes take a byte out of technology were finished washing or drying by sending alerts to their television screens, instant messaging systems and cellphones. Research and development also continues for systems capable of performing a wide variety of functions. Data and voice recognition might change the way we enter, exit and secure our homes, while service appliances could prepare food, control indoor temperatures and keep our homes clean.

The technology sounds promising, but still has some distance to go before it hits the market. As it stands, the average consumer would not be able to afford a smart house and if he or she could, the sophisticated systems might take a lot of understanding. There is also the matter of security. Given that computerisation would be involved, developers would need to find a way to secure the networks.

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Building & Construction  

Bear in mind that codes will not be a remedy for all situations, but they can make structures safer than they otherwise would be. Incorporat...