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Building guidelines and code to be implemented soon

Building guidelines and code to be  implemented soon

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As of October 2011, the building regulations legislated by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will take effect to “govern built development” in this country.{{more}}

Town Planner Anthony Bowman and Engineer Desmond Pompey spoke to SEARCHLIGHT about the impending enforcement of the law, which was enacted in 2008.

According to Bowman, the initiative to amend the Town and Country Planning Act to include the new building regulations began after the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan in Grenada in 2004.

“Funding was sought to harmonise an OECS code… we adapted it to meet our own unique environment,” he said.

The regulations comprise of two books (which are available form the government printery); namely the Building Code, and the Building Guidelines.

The Code is a set of requirements that the structural engineer must meet when developing buildings over 2,500 sq. feet and more than two stories high.

The Guidelines are a set of design provisions for residential buildings and small shops under 2,500 sq. feet and two stories or less.

The regulations provide for natural disasters and man-made hazards.

Bowman explained that the Physical Planning Unit within the Ministry of Housing etc. had to undergo some restructuring in order to prepare for the eforcement of these building regulations, but that they have been set in place for the good of the public.

He pointed out that buildings are now being built on a larger scale than before, so adhering to the newly-introduced regulations is of utmost importance.

“We are seeing now [that] persons are building outside of the 800 – 1,200 sq. foot houses,” said Bowman.

“They are getting much larger. The bigger you go in housing… without these checks and balances, the more susceptible that building can be to some of these natural hazards to which we are exposed.”

Bowman also explained that buildings will be inspected at various stages of construction, and in order to progress, each stage must be approved.

Pompey, who will head the team that inspects buildings, said that the code and guidelines are of much benefit to the public, because gaining a certificate of occupancy after passing all inspection stages will add to its value.

Pompey said that it is imperative that developers/applicants give seven days notice before commencing the varying stages of construction.

He warned that inspection stages should not be skipped, because it would hamper the progression of the building’s construction.

“If applicants do not notify us of the stages of development, when we get to the site to make those inspections, we have to ensure that the structure is safe,” said Pompey.

“To do that, especially when the work is covered, may be inconvenient to all persons involved.”

Bowman added that inspectors have the authority to ask developers to cut through concrete in order to check that the steel is in its correct positions.

Pompey continued: “We are just making sure that we assist developers… that when you invest in a development, that you would know that you have spent your money wisely, and you are getting a product which can be a sounder, safer building.”

He also said that he and his inspection team will be paying close attention to retaining walls that share boundaries with main roads.

All inspectors now carry photographic identification, and it is law that they cannot be refused entry into building sites.

Persistent breaches of the building codes and ignoring orders to cease construction can result in applicants/developers being fined and/or imprisoned.(JV)

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