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Enjoy the Convenience of a Half Bathroom

A half bathroom is a bathroom which has a sink and a toilet, but no shower or tub. Such rooms are sometimes known colloquially as “half baths” or “powder rooms.” Many larger homes include a built in half bath, typically in a public area of the home so that it is readily accessible to guests. Especially in a house with multiple residents, a half bathroom can be an extremely useful thing, as it reduces pileups at the main bathroom in the morning, allowing people to use the toilet while leaving the shower free.

The design of a half bathroom can be quite varied. Some are extremely minimalistic, with just a toilet and a pedestal sink, while others include storage cabinets and other features. A mirror is also a common feature, allowing people to check on their physical appearance before emerging from the bathroom. Generally half bathrooms are relatively small, since people presumably do not need a great deal of space to do their business there.

If you happen to be building or remodeling a home and considering bathroom layouts, you may want to think about a half bathroom. One of the major conveniences of a half bathroom is that it ensures that you have a space for guests to use while keeping your own bathroom private. Since many people like to store medications and personal care items in their bathrooms, having a simple half bathroom can ensure peace of mind by ensuring that nosy guests will not be able to delve into a host’s personal life.

A half bathroom can also be useful in a master bedroom or as a shared bathroom used by children. In some cases in a house with multiple occupants, installing multiple full bathrooms might feel a bit silly, but having several toilets and sinks available can be handy; half bathrooms can meet this need quite nicely. People can keep various personal items like toothbrushes and so forth in the half bathroom, ensuring that they have access to them when a main bathroom is occupied by someone bathing or showering.

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Choose the Right Building Materials to Withstand Natural Disasters

The building materials used when building affects the extent of damage sustained by infrastructure during and after natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.



Reinforced concrete is one of the most practical and preferred building material in the world. Why? Because it has the ability to regulate the strength required at specific points within a structure, and it can be used at a relatively low cost.  Properly designed concrete structures will resist hurricane force winds and can be made to resist earthquakes. Compared to wooden construction, it provides superior fire resistance, and can gain strength over time.  Concrete structures can also stand against sea swells and intense waves along shore lines and floods. It is one of the most durable building materials.



Under proper conditions, wood provides excellent, lasting performance.  However, it also faces several potential threats to service life, including fungal activity due to increased levels of moisture. It is also buoyant and this makes timber structures get swept away at high water levels as in floods and sea swells. Albeit timber structures can withstand earthquakes and hurricane force winds once they are well built.


In earthquakes, timber structures have the ability to permit high levels of displacement in the structure due to its flexible joints.  These joints dampen the horizontal forces generated, while sustaining only minimal damage.  Also, since the forces acting on the structure in an earthquake are directly related to its self-weight, lighter materials like wood would be best.


Steel Frame

The steel framed structure is widely used in the construction industry due to steel’s physical properties such as strength, malleability and its ability to be prefabricated. In terms of the ease of erection and overall durability of such structure, these properties make it one of the best materials for construction, but also one of the most expensive materials and methods in the industry.  Like reinforced concrete, it can be designed to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.


These materials can be utilized on their own or in combination to address the weakness of one, to fit within the budgetary allowance, or to make the structure’s design more interesting.


The prevalence and impact of natural hazards means that special attention should be made in building designs and materials and in employing the right technical professional to lessen tragic loss to property and life.

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Designing to Withstand Natural Disasters in Dominica

It is not economically viable to design an earthquake, hurricane or flood proof building which is guaranteed to resist all possible scenarios.  However, it is possible during your design and construction process to select the appropriate materials (to be discussed in next week’s article) and to incorporate a number of disaster resistant features by applying engineering techniques, which would increase enormously the chances of survival of both buildings and their occupants.


Let us start with the geometry (shape of configuration) of a building as it is of equal importance as the maintenance of the integrity of the building envelope which we will discuss a little later in this article.  The geometry of a building is a crucial issue that should be addressed at the conceptual stages of a building project since it affects how well the building can resist natural disasters. Of particular concern are hurricanes and earthquakes; earthquakes to a lesser extent.


We therefore make the following recommendations for light weight structures of two stories or less:


  • A symmetrical building shape and arrangement of openings would result in a more balanced distribution of forces in the structure.


  • To withstand higher wind forces lightweight roofs should be gently sloping, no less than 20 degrees steep, a hipped shape (sloping in four directions) rather than a gable (sloping in two directions) or a single pitch shape.


  • Further improvements in wind resistance to lightweight roofs can be achieved with reduced overhangs at the eaves. The total elimination of overhangs to introduce a parapet wall would improve the roofs performance.


  • Shading of doors and windows from the elements may be achieved by the use of canopies separate from the main roof.


  • Where existing buildings are of unfavorable shape, making them invulnerable to hurricanes would include protecting windows and external doors. Significant attention should also be given to strengthen the building envelope as a result of the higher wind forces generated by the unfavorable building geometry.


When planning renovation projects, designers should consider opportunities to upgrade both the roof structure and its covering to at least the minimum building regulation standard for safe buildings.


As mentioned above, maintaining the integrity of the building’s envelope, including roofs and windows is very important and can be regarded as the key strategy to protecting a building from high winds caused by hurricanes.  It is imperative that we design structures to withstand the expected lateral and uplift forces. For example,


  • Roof trusses and gables must be braced;


  • Hurricane straps must be used to strengthen the connection between the roof and walls;


  • Doors and windows must be protected by covering and/or bracing.


Further, building designs can be influenced by the level of seismic resistance desired.  This ranges from the prevention of non-structural damage in frequent minor ground shaking to the prevention of structural damage and even avoidance of collapse or serious damage in rare major ground shaking.  These performance objectives can be accomplished through the introduction of structural components such as shear walls, braced frames, movement resisting frames, diaphragms, base isolation and bracing of non-structural components.


Though these suggestions seem to imply limiting creative architectural expressions, advances in technique, equipment and material do permit straying from them safely. This does require the conscious involvement of architects and engineers to achieve beautiful and safe construction which is essential in Dominica.


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Advantages and Disadvantages of Building on Sloped Land

Are you currently searching for a piece of property to build a home for you and your family? We receive many inquiries from individuals searching for flat land because the fact is that flat land is a bit easier and less costly to build on (depending on the location and design of the home to be built). However, on a mountainous island such as Dominica perfectly flat land is not easy to come by and when they do go on the market they do not usually remain there for very long. And while flat land may be what most individual’s desire, hillside properties are usually excellent real estate for homes for a number of reasons. In this article we are going to look at both the advantages and disadvantages of building on sloped land.


Here are four (4) advantages of building on sloped land:

  • Building on sloped land along the side of the hill can enhance the natural ventilation that your home receives. This natural ventilation, while a source of fresh air, also aids in decreasing the energy bills of your home by becoming less reliant on artificial cooling.
  • When compared to homes built on flat land surrounded by several other buildings homes constructed on hillsides are relatively more energy efficient. This is because of the natural ventilation (as mentioned above) and because they have better access to natural light.
  • Hillside properties often boast magnificent views. Being at a higher elevation allows panoramic views of your environment, whether it’s of the majestic mountains or the tranquil ocean. Having an amazing view from the comfort of your home is something that money cannot buy.
  • Building on sloped land forces the addition additional floor levels to maximize space and extend vertically rather than horizontally. Because horizontal extension would require huge excavation or reinforcement costs. Once the additional floor levels are added they can character to the home and variety to the space distribution.


Now that we have looked at the advantages, here are two (2) disadvantages of building on sloped land:
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Get the Best Cost, Quality, Time and Scope for your Construction Project

The traditional approach by home owners to building a home is to develop an idea or plan of what they want their home to look like, then hire a contractor to execute the plan.


Building a home calls for a lot more than just that.  A significant amount of time, financial and material resources go into a construction project.  Considering the scarcity of these resources, their proper management is crucial.


The effective management of resources when constructing a home can be a full time, demanding and stressful job, especially with the hectic schedule that governs the lives of homeowners.


A common component of building a home is selecting the right contractors.  Some contractors will provide excellent service and will need little or no supervision while others will need constant supervision and guidance.  How do you know which contractor you can entrust with your project, with minimal stress and little hassle?  Are you familiar with construction terms, documents, processes and materials necessary to   successfully complete a construction project?


The Project/Construction Manager offers a homeowner considerable relief from the stress and hassle of managing their home construction.  Project/Construction Managers, as well as many homeowners today, understand that building a home isn’t just a huge financial investment, it’s also a great investment emotionally and because of that the practice of project management has become very important and indispensible.


The key responsibility of a Project/ Construction Manager is to accomplish the objectives of the project.  He/she understands that no two customer’s expectations are the same but their common concerns are Cost, Time, Quality and Scope.


Project Cost – Expenses incurred for labour, material, equipment, services, utilities etc.


Project Time –The time frame analyzed and developed for the completion of a project or deliverable.


Project Quality – The totality of features and characteristics of the project at completion that satisfies stated or implied client need and is fit for the purpose for which the project was implemented.


Project Scope – What the project is supposed to accomplish and the budget of both time and money that has been created to achieve these objectives.


As a representative of the owner’s interest Project Managers bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring that key components of the project are efficiently handled.


Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from early development to completion.  Although many construction managers work from a main office, they spend a lot of time on the field at the construction site where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities.


They work in support of the homeowner to reduce total cost and ensure the best quality of work.  If nothing else, they can provide the homeowner with much needed peace of mind.

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The Attic

In our previous articles: Basement Conversion Ideas Part 1 and 2 we took a look at some uses for basement space that are uncommon in Dominica. Today we look at the benefits of a space that is not found in the average Dominican home, the attic.


The attic is the space found directly below the pitched roof of a home or building and just like the basement or any other room they offer a number of uses and benefits:


1. Attics help control the temperature in the home by providing a large mass of slowly moving air. When the hot air rises from the lower levels of the home it is often retained in the attic which is why generally attics are not primarily used for living space. However, ensuring that the space is well insulated will rectify this problem.


2. Attics are generally used for the purpose of storage. Rather than having all your family’s belongings scattered in various rooms all over the house causing the home to feel cluttered you can simply place the less needed items in the attic for safe keeping. The attic can be used to store items from seasonal decorations to unused pieces of furniture.


3. Homes with attics, especially completed attics that are well insulated, are of greater value than homes that do not have attic space. If you ever decide to put your home up for sale in the future you will not regret having an attic included in your home design. 
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Advantages of a Multi-Storey Home

Deciding between building a one, two or three storey home can be a difficult choice. In a previous article “7 Advantages of a Single Storey Home” we discussed a few benefits that building a single storey home can offer homeowners. Today, we look at the advantages of building with additional floors.

One of the greatest benefits of building a multi-storey home is that the living space is almost doubled, even tripled (depending on the number of floors) when compared to a single storey home built on the same plot of land. In addition, with the decision to build upwards you can maximize on your yard space by not having to build a wider home to get a decent amount of living space.

Maximized Living Area:
Multi-storey homes offer a better division of living space. For one, in most cases there is a separation between sleeping areas and other living areas as most bedroom tend to be upstairs while areas such as the kitchen, dining room, and living room remain downstairs. Therefore you are less likely to be disturbed when you’re sleeping. Also, multi-storey homes often provide more options in terms of layout and design.

Taking Advantage of Views:
If your property has the potential to offer spectacular ocean and mountain views, you would more than likely want to build higher to maximize on those views. As a matter of fact, the traditional layout is being flipped around with more people deciding to have their living spaces (kitchen, dining room, living room) on the upper floors.

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7 Advantages of a Single Storey Home

Torn between constructing a single storey and multi-storey home? Today we offer you with seven (7) advantages of remaining at ground level rather than moving up.

1. It is cheaper to build flat. Fewer materials are used when building a single storey home compared to one with additional floors. Labor costs and professional fees are also cheaper when building a single storey home.

2. Single storey homes are more efficient in regards to space and time. Stairs take up valuable space from the total area of the home. In addition a shorter timeframe is taken when constructing a single storey home compared to a multi-storey home, because less work has to be put into the project.

3. If you plan on expanding your home later on in life the best decision to make is to build flat (if you have adequate land). It is also cheaper to expand at ground level rather than adding an additional floor. When expanding upwards be sure to get engineering input to ensure its safe and built to code.

4. Maintenance is easier accomplished with a single storey home. Plumbing pipes, electrical installation and the entire building on a whole is easier to maintain. Pipes can be removed at ease or replaced if needed, unlike a multi-storey home where they may be embedded into the concrete.

5. Single storey homes are more accommodating towards children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Stairs poses safety concerns for individuals who may have difficulty moving up and down as they can easily trip and fall. Disabled persons, especially those wheelchair bound will need constant maneuvering to be taken around the home.

6. In case of emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, etc. a single storey home is more beneficial in that it allows for evacuations to occur at ease, seeing that you are already on the ground floor. In a single storey home you are closer to the main entrance/exit of the home and you can easily jump through a window.

7. A single storey home is also easier to move in. It is easy to just place furniture, appliances and décor in their designated room when they carried inside without having to worry about how you are going to get them up the stairs.