Help!

Old Sep 10th 2021, 10:25 am
  #1  
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Default Help!

Hi,
I hope that someone here will be able to help by recommending or guiding me to a reliable builder/ contractor who can undertake a house modernisation. I live in the UK with my Bajan husband and we have a house in Barbados which needs updating. I'm happy for someone to send me an private message.

I look forward to your reply.
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Old Sep 10th 2021, 11:29 am
  #2  
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Default Re: Help!

Just a few general points -

1, Building in the caribbean is notoriously difficult for non locals. The possibility of being properly ripped off or scammed is far greater if you arent on site, and quite possible even if you are, so buyer definitely beware. Even if your builder is gold plated honest, he uses subcontractors, and you dont even know who they are. Locals working for the contractor or subcontractor may be a bit dumb. Their own place has tile grouting in 3 shades on one floor because they used leftovers so why shouldnt yours... Interior paint is cheaper than exterior, but comes in the same colours, so they needed an extra can to do that wall, it was cheaper... After the job, that 15% of extra tiles you bought in case you cracked a few on the floor - well thats their property, not yours. Being not onsite during work is a recipe for disaster fullstop. The water pipe comes in 2 grades, one for pressurised mains and one for waste water, the cheaper one will be fine - for a few years...

2, Government willl probably be involved if there is any actual construction or change to power water or sewer arrangements, but maybe sort of. If relevant you yourself should seek out the relevant department and ask them what the process and basic requirements are for approval, dont expect a builder to tell the truth necessarily, they work with planning all the time, have friends, pay bribes etc.

3, Standards may or not exist for power water etc. If they do probably most builders do what they were taught when they were noobs anyway.

4, Tiling is endless fun [not!] especially if its tiling over tiling. Theres a technically correct way and ive never seen it done properly in the caribbean, and as a result 5-10 years later they pop off [if anyone wants to know how to successfully reattach them without digging the floor/wall, happy to explain.]

5, Think continuity. If it fails, how do i fix it? If its been dug into concrete is it even possible? How can i remove new tiles without digging up the floor?

6, Materials for tiling/painting/decoration are often substandard, even those made locally, and importing your own can make a lot of sense - sometimes.

7, We of course have ants and termites, but we also have superb amazonian hardwoods. Furniture and constructional wood has to be made out of humidity and insect resistant materials, this is easy actually, but you have to be aware, and it may cost more. Builders of course can save money - they wont be there when it gets eaten through. Dont allow any woods anywhere that are ant food and dont import it either in the form of us or european furniture. NB you can buy teak purple heart and greenheart by the container in guyana for silly low prices and import it for a big project, but you have to go there to get/see it. Did you know ikea have SOME of this stuff too, they have stores in the tropics after all, but you have to know which is suitable unless you shop in their store in malaysia or similar.

8, Builders - even honest ones - rob peter to pay paul. They often run overly stretched economies, you pay usually in instalments as they progress, but often they will ask for early payment, and this is to pay someone else or buy something for another project, not for you. But heres the frustrating bit - they can actually be honest, which is exasperating but if you actually know whats going on you [this has happened to me twice but i know their accountants lol] might pay them without problem. BUT you wont know that and you cant trust them so you dont pay, and they lose interest in our project and disappear. Its a balance of risk.
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Old Sep 10th 2021, 8:52 pm
  #3  
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Default Re: Help!

Hi,

Despite the long list of doom and gloom of UK Grenada... it is definitely possible to get building work done here in Barbados... and by some reputable contractors...

You need to make a small number of posts in the group before you can PM someone (or receive PMs too I think).. so if you want I have a name of one or two contractors.. costs vary hugely depending on what sort of property you have to work on.. but I'd be happy to help you out if I can..

Ian
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Old Sep 10th 2021, 9:18 pm
  #4  
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Default Re: Help!

Its not doom and glom at all, i have had several houses and extensions built on small islands more or less successfully, but this isnt surrey/miami, dont get me wrong, i entirely agree its possible, just be prepared, realise some are more slippery than a slippery thing, and have more than the originally agreed sum available too when the original estimate proves flawed or your needs change or problems are unearthed.

The countryside is littered with the remnants of peoples building dreams unfortunately. Of course refurbishments are easier, depending on the complexity.

Here there are 2 contractors who will definitely get the job done - but unfortunately you will pay about twice the price with them. In effect, theres also the concept of right sizing, if your contractor builds hotels for a living, they may just not want to do your work, and if they do, their best guys are being paid top dollar working on a top dollar project. If you go with a one man band, he is subcontracting lots, and he/you are paying for 2 sets of profits and the rental of the big kit he doesnt own. So happy medium - is something like - he has a number of extensions and 2 houses on the go, has his own big plant, 50 employees, 50 part timers and uses subs on top of that. You want your project to be important to them, but not be their main work.

Of course you cannot beat real references you can talk to, from similar jobs he has done recently.
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Old Sep 10th 2021, 9:35 pm
  #5  
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Default Re: Help!

I'm sorry but your first reply was a list of doom and gloom. The OP talks of modernisation.. and you quickly go on to talk of bribing officials.... if thats not gloomy... I'd hate to talk to you on a bad day..lol...

Of course there are pitfalls... but many of those pitfalls occur back in the UK too..
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Old Sep 11th 2021, 5:43 pm
  #6  
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Default Re: Help!

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
Its not doom and glom at all, i have had several houses and extensions built on small islands more or less successfully, but this isnt surrey/miami, dont get me wrong, i entirely agree its possible, just be prepared, realise some are more slippery than a slippery thing, and have more than the originally agreed sum available too when the original estimate proves flawed or your needs change or problems are unearthed.

The countryside is littered with the remnants of peoples building dreams unfortunately. Of course refurbishments are easier, depending on the complexity.

Here there are 2 contractors who will definitely get the job done - but unfortunately you will pay about twice the price with them. In effect, theres also the concept of right sizing, if your contractor builds hotels for a living, they may just not want to do your work, and if they do, their best guys are being paid top dollar working on a top dollar project. If you go with a one man band, he is subcontracting lots, and he/you are paying for 2 sets of profits and the rental of the big kit he doesnt own. So happy medium - is something like - he has a number of extensions and 2 houses on the go, has his own big plant, 50 employees, 50 part timers and uses subs on top of that. You want your project to be important to them, but not be their main work.

Of course you cannot beat real references you can talk to, from similar jobs he has done recently.
uk_grenada thank you for your responding so quickly with your guidance and advice.

I understand from your comments that this is something not to be undertaken lightly due to the various problems. However, we already have the house and land but the property needs to be brought up to date. My husband is a Barbadian and I am Barbadian by descent and our intention is to retire in Barbados. Family in Barbados have suggested builders they have used but their experiences have not been the best and one builder seem to be more interested in buying the house due to where it is situated rather than renovating for us.

We know that whether it is building work in the UK, Barbados or anywhere else the same pitfalls occur relating to good and not so good builders. We would just like the contact details of builders who are reliable and come with references so that we can make an informed decision.
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Old Sep 11th 2021, 5:52 pm
  #7  
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satellite _ian

Thank you for your and you are correct in that we are trying to find a reliable builder to modernise a 4 bed house. I understand that I need to make at least three posts so that I can send a pm.

If you are able to make a couple of suggestions we would be grateful. We have family in Barbados and their experiences have not always been the best. So even living on the island does not make anyone immune to poor workmanship or lack of reliability. So any help would be very welcome.
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