The Importance of Using a Construction Manager When Custom Building a Single Family Residence in the Caribbean
By Neil Purton, Director for BCQS International
Building a custom home in the Caribbean may sound exotic and romantic, however, in reality, it can prove to be a difficult and frustrating process with many unique challenges. Whether you have built a residential home before or this is your first time, you must keep in mind that building practices and regulations differ from country to country.
There are many pitfalls that can cost the inexperienced house builder both time and money in the design and construction process. Fortunately, many of these problems can be alleviated by the appointment of a construction manager early on as they can be an invaluable source of local knowledge relating to the pros and cons of your choice of home site; the capabilities of island design consultants; the availability of local skilled labour; the sourcing and importation of building materials; compliance with local planning and building regulations; as well as the selection and management of contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers.
A construction manager's services at the very start of a project may best be utilised by providing advice and assistance on the selection of your home site. The importance of this will vary depending on the island and the proposed site location. Home sites in the Caribbean vary significantly from rocky mountain terrain to reclaimed swamp lands, with access to and from the site, the availability of local services, the type and cost of the building and even the delivery of materials in more remote areas, all affecting the construction process.
Once a site has been purchased a construction manager can provide independent advice on the appointment of a competent local design team. Throughout the Caribbean there are architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, interior designers and land surveyors, that provide varying levels of service and an experienced construction manager should be able to advise on which ones are capable of providing the quality and style of design information that meets their clients' needs.
The cost of construction varies greatly from island to island and therefore it is essential that the construction manager is involved in the design process to ensure that the house is designed to a realistic budget that meets the clients expectations. Aside from providing cost advice the construction manager can also identify different methods of building that may save money or be more in keeping with locally available construction methods and materials.
Once the design team has completed the house plans and submitted them for local planning and building regulation approval, the construction manager is well placed to advise and implement the method of procurement that best suits the project.
As most homes in the Caribbean are unique and custom built, a construction management type contract is often the best choice. A construction manager who is appointed on a fixed fee to build your house will be able to recommend the selection and appointment of suitable sub-contractors to work on your house, this is essential as the quality of workmanship and performance of workers can vary greatly in the region. The placement of local contracts with subcontractors and suppliers requires local knowledge and expertise with the administration and management of such contracts being essential to the success of your project.
The construction manager can also deal with the timely purchase, importation and delivery of materials to the project site, this is an important process when many of the materials in a Caribbean project are imported from overseas. Most construction management contracts involve the placement of sub-contracts and the purchase of materials at cost so that the client can benefit from trade prices with no hidden mark ups.
With varying levels of building competence and construction quality throughout the region the daily onsite management of sub-contractors and overseeing their adherence to the design and specification is all part of a construction manager's service. The implementation of quality control procedures such as the independent testing of concrete or structural inspections to ensure compliance with hurricane and earthquake codes are an important aspect of building in the Caribbean that may be easily overlooked.
Local knowledge and a time earned appreciation of how things get done are fundamental to the success of any project in the Caribbean, and hiring a construction manager who has the expertise and experience can be an invaluable aspect to achieving your dream home.
For more information, please visit: www.bcqs.com
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