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Sustainable Building in SIDS

The construction industry plays a vital role in GDP all over the globe. As the demand for the construction of buildings and infrastructure is continuously increasing due to growth and development and changing needs, there is value to adopt sustainability principles in all aspects of project management such as site selection, design, construction, procurement, staffing, operation, and maintenance.

The challenge for sustainable construction and engineering is to adequately design, develop, and implement.

Law Insider defines – sustainable building as a building that is healthy and comfortable for its occupants and is economical to operate while conserving resources, including energy, water, and raw materials and land, and minimizing the generation and use of toxic materials and waste in its design, construction, landscaping, and operation.

In our region, the challenge we face in designing sustainable buildings, usually relates to: lack of innovation in sustainable and durable materials, and often professionals do not encourage the use of sustainable building systems that are durable and environmentally friendly (eg water capture systems, renewable energy systems, well-ventilated spaces, durable and low maintenance materials). In addition, building regulations, standards and specifications are not sufficiently enforced/managed to enable the evaluation of building systems from a sustainability point of view. That said our communities have made significant strides particularly with embracing new millennium development goals as well as strategic processes towards becoming more climate resilient and green conscious.

Many construction projects in small island developing states (SIDS) are unsustainable.

Projects are often unsustainable because the technical and social aspect of sustainability are not fully considered.

To that end, several experts in the industry recommend these technical and social sustainability processes to projects in the developing world, to name a few:

1.     Engage the community or related parties in the entire life cycle of the project

2.     Design with sensitivity to the local culture

3.     Design for maximum efficiency of limited water supplies

4.     Design locally sustainable systems for energy efficiency and comfort

5.     Design for the safety of the occupants by incorporating local codes while acknowledging international standards

6.     Design projects that can be safely constructed by the local trades (given training opportunities)

7.     Build using locally understood construction methods

8.     Build with locally sustainable and affordable materials

9.     Understand the micro-climates of areas we live in

10.  Respect buffer zones in coastal regions

11.  Understand the behavior of lands we wish to build on to mitigate negative risk

12.  Environmentally conscious water management systems

13.  Strategic use of native plants, trees, and grasses, for soil quality and water retention improvements

14.  Natural light utilization for energy efficiency

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SOLD: 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom high-end home in Woodford Hill

Dominica Real Estate: 4 bedroom home for sale in Woodford Hill

This beautiful, 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom high-end home in Woodford Hill, Dominica was recently sold.  The home contains 7,506 square feet and sits on a 9.438 acre tropical estate which is cultivated with various beautiful flowers and a variety of fruit trees such as mango, coconut, avocado, papaya, pineapple, custard apple, bananas and plantain bounded by a fresh water ravine.

The home has an airy, naturally lit and expansive kitchen.  It contains space for an oversized refrigerator and stove; a large island is well-positioned with sitting area; there is the convenience of two sinks – a double and a single – as well as ample storage.  The kitchen is open to a large dining area and there is a door leading to a patio from both the kitchen and the dining area for even more spacious dining.

The home provides space for both formal and relaxed indoor living. The high ceiling and split level design in the main living area are unique features among many others surrounding that space.  Access to a large balcony through French doors is available to further extend the space.  The other living area has an ample size.  Across from this area is a spacious room available for use as a study or closed off game room.

On the second floor of this high-end home in Woodford Hill, Dominica, with a towering view of the expansive manicured grounds, the master bedroom suite is intimately elegant.  It is overwhelmingly large with access to a quaint balcony which provides beautiful mountain/ridgetop views.  The sleeping area is large enough to accommodate a cozy lounge area or office/study nook.  It contains an ample-sized walk-in closet and cozy bar/coffee area. The master bath is a generous size. It is well appointed with double sinks, ample storage, large soaking tub and roomy standing glass shower stall with modern rain shower fixture.

There are three other bedrooms: two on the other wing of the second floor and a guest bedroom on the first floor.  They all are spacious with proper ventilation and abundant natural light.  The home contains 2 additional baths: a shared bath on the second floor and a guest bath on the first floor.  They feature adequate storage, sufficient natural and task lighting, and posh fixtures. The basement contains a storeroom/bedroom, bathroom, laundry, 3-car garage and patio.

The home has high-end quality finishes and conveniences such as ceramic tiles through-out, ceiling fans in majority of the rooms, beautiful light fixtures, sash windows with laminated glass, glazed and paneled doors, large bay windows, smoke detectors, 110/220 volts wiring, garage with automatic doors, security lights, standby generator with transfer switch, double panel solar water heating system and 400 gallon water storage tank.

Constructed in 2008, this high-end home in Woodford Hill, Dominica is a reinforced concrete framed structure with block-work walls.  The home offers much privacy being about half a mile from the main populated part of the Woodford Hill community. 

The home is about 5 minutes’ drive from a white sand beach and about 25 minutes to the island’s main Douglas-Charles Airport.   The community of Woodford Hill is located on the North-Eastern side of the island.  Woodford Hill is situated 19 miles from the main city Roseau in a northerly direction and 8.5 miles from the large town of Portsmouth. Social services and public amenities such as church, health centre, supermarket, local shops and school are available nearby either locally or in the neighboring villages of Wesley and Marigot.

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Durability in Design

According to the Resilient Design Institute, resilient design is defined as “the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to vulnerabilities to disaster and disruption of normal life”.

In general, building in conformity to code is good but sometimes not enough, so understanding micro climates and environments of communities in which we live is key and in fact the challenge facing contractors today is constructing buildings, and communities that are resilient in the face of hurricanes, floods and earthquakes plus other natural disasters which we face.

A surmountable task, for sure. For example, building resilience in our Nature Isle needs to mitigate impacts from hurricanes, floods, landslides and earthquakes. On the other hand, along parts of the Canadian coast, storm surge considerations are much more of a concern.

After the devastation that swept over Dominica following hurricane Maria (2017), the Government declared building initiatives for resilient building practices.

The Government tackled projects considering a few main programs:

·       Housing Recovery

·       Community Reconstruction

·       Infrastructure

This helped strategically to focus effort on the rebuilding process. A leading resilient authority, The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), breaks resilience into Four Rs: Robustness, Resourcefulness, Rapid Recovery and Redundancy. This we have used as guide for our resilience design approach as a local consultant aiming to link our methodologies with the greater public efforts for a robust resilient rebuilding program.

In particular, here are a few specific areas of design we have stressed in our resilient approach.

1. Impact of Wind

When designing to withstand hurricane winds, we have looked closely at building shape, roof shape and type of windows as these we have found seriously impacted resistant to strong winds. Our analysis and choice of elements have stemmed from our study following hurricane Maria where we performed some 550 damage assessment exercises on various building types.

2. Roof Parameters

A roof is one of the most vulnerable parts of the building in a hurricane. For example, hip roofs perform better than flat (shed) or gable roofs, because of their enclosed envelope surfaces. Steeper pitches are also more resistant than shallow-pitched roofs. Flat, sloped concrete roofs are good options for resistant approaches but have other maintenance issues. Even roofing materials is a key choice as different materials offer varying performance values. Standing seam galvanize form showed better resistance than the more popular wave form galvanize option used in the islands.

Long eave overhangs also tend to give strong winds a place to grab on to. This is unfortunate since overhangs are an excellent way of protection from rainfall.

However, inspite of shape we have found that integrity of your roof can be maintained with sound construction practices, in particular, use of conservative spacing with adequate anchorage and connectors. Hurricane metal straps are recommended (by code) for achieving a proper connection and adding more resilience.

3. Windows And Doors

Windows and doors are also vulnerable points in a building. These can be shuttered for additional protection or use of standalone impact windows.

4. Flood Impact

Protecting your building from flooding is very important.

Our SIDS (Small Island Developing States) are exposed to heavy rainfall each year, which often cause flash floods and landslides. Storm surges can also affect coastal areas and can have devastating effects on property.

Building code and authorities have often warned against building in flood-prone or coastal areas. However, this is not always avoidable due to our scarcity of lands.

Elevating floor heights is one sensible building resilience strategy that will protect the house and its contents from floodwaters. Choosing the right height can be as simply measured from hind cast data or from more rigorous empirical data if available.

5. Safe or Strong Room

During design and construction process, it may be a good idea to designate a room that can serve as a safe / strong room. This room would have an additional level of structural integrity and would be for extreme weather events to ensure your family is safe. This has become a popular concept for many homes now being built after hurricane Maria.

This may include usual reinforced concrete block walls for both interior and exterior added with da reinforced concrete slab and limited openings.

Increasingly, severe weather is placing greater demands on buildings, creating the need for better resiliency and durability in both buildings and the products that they’re built from.

“Durability in design” means trusted designs offering better performance from the products used and from the structures themselves, relieving any stresses placed on societies and governments.

Building better means, more resilient buildings that will contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle and environment.

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Which Real Estate Option Is Right For You?

With a new year come new opportunities, new possibilities and new decisions to be made. One very important decision you’re probably either facing, or will face in the near future is what real estate option is best for you. Whether you buy an existing home, have your home built or rent a property is a huge decision and the answer is not always simple as you might think. Here are the main benefits and drawbacks attached to the three main options mentioned above.


Buying a Home:

The two main advantages to buying a home are cost and convenience. Contacting a real estate agent or agency to assist with finding relevant properties, dealing with the paper work and assisting with negotiations can fast track the process allowing you to find the ideal home sooner rather than later. Another important advantage is that the cost of buying a home, in many cases (not in all), is cheaper than starting from scratch.

The main disadvantage with buying a home is that you won’t get exactly what you want. The layout may not be to your liking, or certain rooms may either be too small or larger than you would like it to be. However, the convenience of being able to move in right away is compelling enough for many individuals to choose an existing home over the building process.


Building a Home:

By building a new home you could use an architect or designer to create your dream home instead of settling for features that you find less than desirable. In addition. building a new home is more efficient and healthier for you. Building and energy codes change allowing homes to be more energy efficient which is better for the environment and can save you more on your utility bills. A new home is also less likely to bring about health concerns such as mold, lead paint, etc.

The biggest drawback to building is that it is a huge project to undertake, and it takes a lot of time. Hence it does not provide the same convenience as buying a home. However, building a home provides a level of satisfaction that you can’t get through buying a home.


Renting a Home or Apartment:

With renting you have a much greater degree of flexibility that you don’t get when you’re tied into a mortgage arrangement. For individuals who are constantly on the move a benefit of renting is the mere fact that you can move on at any time and don’t have to worry about the stress of selling your existing property and buying another.

The main downside with spending your entire life renting is that you have no fixed asset, which is a big disadvantage for many individuals.


If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at

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Skills and Qualities of a Successful Real Estate Agent

Are you planning on placing your property on the market for sale or rent? Are you considering seeking the assistance of a real estate agent or agency to get your property sold or rented but don’t know who to turn to? Then this article is for you. Today we share with you 7 of the most important characteristics that a real estate agent should possess.


  • A successful real estate agent is honest:One of the most important characteristics that a real estate agent should have is honesty. In any business clients want to work with someone whom they can trust, therefore agents should strive to be upfront and transparent in their transactions.


  • A successful real estate agent is passionate:Find an agent who is excited about the job. A real estate agent should have a passion for finding the right property for someone who is interested in buying or renting, as well as making their clients happy. Yes, the commission is great but that feeling of making your clients happy!…. the picture below explains

Photo credit: Lighter side of real estate


  • A successful real estate agent knows how to negotiate:Whether a client is buying, selling or renting, strong negotiation skills help the process go smoother. In the mind of the buyer or tenant the property can always be offered at a price lower than what it’s listed at, au contraire this is not always the case, and quite often the seller or landlord is of opposite views.  The agent therefore has to pull out their negotiation skills and tactics to achieve a win-win solution as quickly as possible.


  • A successful real estate agent has good work ethics:Successfully selling a property takes a lot of time and effort. They must be aggressive towards marketing the properties in order to get them off the market while remaining ethical. The agent should provide clients with the necessary attention required, engage prospects and conduct showings proficiently.


  • A successful real estate agent is well-organized:Having efficient organization skills such as keeping track of appointments, arranging meetings, being on time, returning client calls and emails promptly…


  • A successful real estate agent knows the local market:Information on the local market is essential knowledge that an agent must have, especially if they are working with foreign clients. They will be able to properly advice on accommodations, amenities, culture, history etc. of the location which will influence the decision of the person(s) whom they are assisting.


  • A successful real estate agent is knowledgeable about the sale process:The agent must know as much information as possible about the process so that they will be better equipped to guide their clients through the process. For instance, they should know the necessary documents required to transfer real estate from the seller to the buyer as well as the applicable government fees.


With a good real estate agent everybody wins in the end.

What other qualities do you look for in a real estate agent?  We would love to hear from you.


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Cost Effective Exterior Improvements

In our previous article we discussed a few low budget improvements that can be implemented to add greater appeal to your property while it is on the real estate market. Today, we head outdoors as we take a look at some exterior improvements.


As expressed in our previous article the home in general should be kept speak-and-span, similarly so should the yard. Ensure the environment is void of any unnecessary clutter.  Remove all broken appliances, and old pieces of furniture that may be lying around. If there is a pet(s) ensure that are cleaned up after regularly. Trees and shrubs should be well pruned, outdoor vegetable and flower gardens should be well weeded, and the lawn should be well manicured.

Outdoor living spaces such as porches, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions of the home such as stairs should be uncluttered, cleaned and repaired. Pieces of furniture within your outdoor living space should also be kept clean. Ensure that shades and awnings are in good repair and the colors have not faded away.

Both the house and garage doors should be in optimal condition, working properly and painted; nothing looks worse than a peeling door. Ensure that accessories such as door knobs are cleaned and polished. Also, keep in mind that gates, fences, walls and any other buildings on the property need to be taken care of as well.

When it comes to real estate first impressions do matter. The initial feeling that a prospect gets when they see a property for the first time in person will remain with them throughout the entire showing, and perhaps even through to subsequent showings as well.

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Hummingbird house plan

$3,810.30 with Drawings Only

$5,764.30 with Drawings and Cost Estimate

Floor Area 1,954 sqft

Stories 2 | Bedrooms 4 | Bathrooms 3 1/2

Exterior Dimensions 36′-4″ x 34′


Entering this design accentuates magnificent windows and glass doors which grace the interior walls with an instant and irrevocable synergy that connects the interior and exterior spaces.

On the first floor, the right of the loggia features a private guest bedroom with bathroom.  The living room commands open-floor planning, adjacent to the airy kitchen & dining room.

An internal stair leads to the second-story which consists of a master suite with a walk-in closet & master bathroom with the comfort of a built-in Jacuzzi. There are three other bedrooms, one of which can serve as a study room or home office, if desired.

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Cost Effective Interior Improvements

After you’ve decided to place your home on the market it is wise and extremely beneficial that it looks as presentable as possible so that is appears more attractive to prospects.  After all, a clean home is a happy home, and that results in a happy buyer!


Today, we share a few cost effective ways to improve a home’s interior for a productive showing.


Interior Improvements:


Use curtains and drapes that are both fresh and attractive, and ensure both the inside and outside of all windows are properly cleaned. Well washed windows accentuate the views of outside thus improving the appeal of the home to the buyer.  When facilitating showings, allow the outside light to engulf the room by keeping all drapes opened and shades pulled.


In addition to using natural light to brighten up the home, having new light fixtures installed can be an added asset. Consider putting in higher watt bulbs in all fixtures to improve the lighting. Have all the lights on while the showing is being done, especially in areas that do not get a lot of natural light.


Bathrooms are considered a sacred part of the home; hence it should always be as clean and sanitized as possible. Have it well organized and ensure that everything is where it should be.  Mop the floors, clean up the shower or bathtub, and ensure that the toilet is cleaned.  Get rid of the torn or stained shower curtain and have it replaced with a new one.


Have pets? From the moment you decide to place your property on the market for sale, consider making arrangements for pets that live or are frequently inside the home. You could either restrict their access into the house or have them stay at another property. This is because, not only do pets leave behind odors that may upset a prospective buyer, the buyer may also be allergic to pets.  Remember, you want the showing to go as smooth as possible.


Having clean walls is an important feature of a home on the market for sale.  If the walls are stained, firstly, try cleaning it with soap and water or other appropriate chemicals.  If that doesn’t remove the stains add a fresh coat of paint. Normally, where colors such as chartreuse, tangerine, purple, orange or any dark colors are over used, it causes a negative perception of the area; add at least two coats of white paint to turn the room into a blank canvas. This will allow the prospect to focus on more important features of the home.


Other important rooms that need attention prior to a showing are the bedroom and kitchen. Beds should be properly made and the bedroom clutter free; get clothing out of sight and have them stored neatly in your closet, wardrobe, or drawer.  In the kitchen, keep both the countertops and sinks clean and clear, be sure to have your stove and fridge cleaned, and ensure that the garbage is taken out in advance.


Dusting, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping up the floors, dusting out the rugs a little more than usual and replacing broken tiles are a few other cost effective ways to improve the interior of your home and increase your chances of securing a buyer.


Use these tips to improve, and look out for our next article where we focus on affordable ways we can improve the outside of the home.

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Keep Your Kitchen Clean

You can probably create a very long list of all the reasons why you should always keep your home clean and sanitized, particularly for the kitchen which is essentially the heart of the home. Today we share a few simple tips used to ensure that three of the most important areas of the kitchen are well taken care of.


The Stove: When cleaning the kitchen it is recommended that you begin on the right side of the stove and move around the room clockwise. Typically the stove is the dirtiest part of the kitchen as it tends to be the most used area and the area where most messes occur. Hence when cleaning, ending with the stove keeps dirt and grease from spreading. Ensure that the oven is kept clean by lining the bottom with a nonstick oven liner or aluminum foil in order to catch spills.


The Sink: It is a little known fact that a dirty kitchen sink is more contaminated with bacteria than the average toilet seat. Clean your sink with soap and water before spraying a mist of vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide, then allow it to air-dry. Keep in mind that the vinegar and hydrogen-peroxide should not be mixed together. If you have a stainless steel sink, adding a few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and buffing can provide an added shine.


The Fridge: Firstly, remove all items from the refrigerator and throw away all food items that have no use. Wipe down the entire surface of the refrigerator using a clean sponge or cloth, and a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart water. After you have scrubbed all the drawers and shelves wipe dry using a clean cloth. When cleaning the freezer combine one cup of water, one teaspoon of dish washing liquid, and one teaspoon white vinegar (in a spray bottle if possible). Shake the solution well and spray the whole freezer. If you don’t have a spray bottle, simply dip a clean cloth or sponge in the mixture and wipe then dry.


Bear in mind that there are various methods and numerous solutions used to clean around the home and more specifically the kitchen. It’s wise to try a few and find the ones that you are comfortable with. If you have any other tips to keep these areas of the kitchen clean feel free to share them below.