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The Built Environment

The built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity ranging in scale from personal shelters to neighborhoods to the large-scale civic surroundings.  Most of where we live is man-made – from the homes and apartments we live in, to the commercial buildings we work in, to the roads and bridges we traverse on daily.


People place a great amount of financial, physical and emotional investments in the maintenance of their heritage and improvement of infrastructure upon which they depend on for a civilized existence.  In order for us to protect and preserve our heritage and investments we must first pride in our local areas and environment.  We should focus on methods which embrace reduction in cost through efficient use of resources (energy, waste, water). We should provide environments that contribute to our physical and mental health and enhance creativity and productivity.  Our built environment also needs to be flexible and adaptable to future uses, and be resilient to cope with local effects of climate change.


Because of mounting economic pressures and changing environmental conditions over the years, practices within the built environment have evolved.  Now, great emphasis is placed on creating a sustainable built environment, through design, construction and management, which will enable all people to live well, within environmental limits.


Many institutions have been established to give the opportunity to not only construct feasible structures but also create surroundings that will preserve our environment and our way of life.  These organizations provide consulting services which is often free to the built environment market. They also assist in the design and implementation of programs, policies, and strategies to improve building and infrastructure performance for a broad range of clients including individuals, agencies, local governments, and corporate and institutional owners of real estate. They also help individuals and businesses deal with the risks inherent in the built environment activities.


We spend all of our lives within the built environment and some of us make no provisions for our generations to come.  Preserving the built environment started with persons before us and should continue with us.

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Simplicity: Smaller Spaces better living

When economies shrink and disposal income threatened, how do we meet our client’s reality? Rather than generous, personal projects, the need for small formed spaces is becoming an economic necessity, pushing us designers to test our creativity with less.

Nowadays, there are plenty of reasons to downsize to a smaller home. Perhaps you’re in the market for a simpler way of life, or lower rent, or mortgage payments.

With smaller spaces, owners can no longer dedicate an area solely for one function.

People would often buy larger homes for a number of reasons:

• They “outgrow” their smaller one.

• They can afford more.

• They need to keep up with their neighbours’.

• They believe a large home is the home of their dreams.

Another reason people keep buying bigger homes is because no one tells them they don’t need to.

So let’s explore reasons why people could be actually happier in a smaller house:

1. Easier to maintain. Smaller buildings are easier to maintain.

2. Less time spent cleaning. And that should be reason enough…
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Watch Your Step: 3 Ladder Safety Tips

Whether you are constructing a home or doing minor repair and maintenance work around the house you will more than likely need the assistance of a ladder. Ladders allow us to achieve tasks in high places and as with any tool you should be aware of the proper way to use it. Knowing proper ladder safety is essential in safeguarding yourself against accidents. Here are 3 safety tips to keep in mind when using a ladder:

1) Firstly, you would need to choose the right ladder for the job. Ladders are rated for different load capacities. Hence, the combined weight of the climber and any tools or materials being carried should be taken into consideration. The Duty Rating of the ladder must be greater than the total weight on the ladder. In addition, the ladder must be long enough that the climber does not have to stand on the top rung or step when performing a task.

2) When climbing up or down a ladder maintain three points of contact at all times. Either have two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand firmly planted. Any tools and materials that are being carried while you climb should be in a tool belt or pulled by rope once you are done climbing. Also, ensure that you wear non-slip shoes when working on ladders and that you use the ladder only for its intended use. Refrain from using it as a bridge or scaffolding.
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6 Tips For Preparing Your Business For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are unpredictable and the damage they cause can cripple any business. We can never be 100% prepared but the following are six things that can be done to speed up the recovery period after such disasters:

Have A Disaster Plan 
Every company should have a written disaster plan detailing the procedures to be followed by management and staff in time of disaster. These procedures should address cases when disasters occur during business operations as well as outside of business hours. These procedures should be widely circulated among staff, reviewed intermittently and updated if necessary.

Backup, Backup, Backup
Utilities are almost always affected by natural disasters. Having back-up systems in place is a smart way to prepare for the event of a natural disaster. Investing in a back-up generator can ensure that your business resumes operations sooner in cases of power loss. A back-up water system will also add to smoother operations of your business after a disaster. Further, this system could allow your business to spend less on its water bill if it is utilized during regular business operations.

Have An Alternative Location
It is a good idea, when approaching the disaster season, to find out what properties that are available for rent that could possibly house an alternative location for the conducting of your company’s business operations. Needless to say, this will avoid you from scrambling in the event that such a location is needed after a disaster which will allow your business to lose less revenue from being closed after suffering damage.
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Rebuilding Dominica Together

The ‘Nature Isle of The Caribbean’, Wai’tukubuli: ‘Tall is her body, these are some of the names used to describe this beautiful land we live in, this ‘gem beyond compare’ that I am proud to call my home. With our many rivers, dark sand beaches, rich and fertile soil, cascading waterfalls, hills and valleys, our friendly people and our rich cultural heritage, Dominica is truly a land blessed by God.

As we celebrate our 37th Anniversary of Independence from Britain we not only look back at the journey thus far, but more importantly we also look towards the road ahead. The past is in the past, but the future is only beginning. Although we have faced circumstances and situations throughout the past years, most recently with the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, together as one nation, one people, under God we have survived and will continue to survive.

It was the August 27th Storm that inspired this year’s Independence theme “Rebuilding Dominica Together.” As a result of Erika many beloved and anticipated annual events sadly were be cancelled. These include: the World Creole Music Festival, Creole in the park, the 2015 Independence Athletics Meets, the President’s Independence Reception, Heritage day and the various cultural pageants. This however has not broken our spirits and hindered Dominicans from giving thanks for what we do have: life, strength and each other.

Let us therefore continue to celebrate and embrace our heritage, partaking in what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Dressing in our national wear and dining on our local cuisine. Singing those Kweyol songs, while dancing (Bele, Quadrille, Heel and toe), to the beating of the tambou drums. It is only when we put aside our differences; put aside all that divides us, and bury the hatchet, moving forward in unity, can we as a people persevere. Let us not forget the last line of our National Anthem “All for each and each for all.”

Happy 37th Anniversary of Independence Dominica; let us continue rebuilding our nation together.

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Maintaining Health and Wellness after Erika

Since the passage of Tropical Storm Erika on August 27, 2015 there has been a greater need to safeguard ourselves from the vulnerability to illness and disease. As of September 16th there have been a total of 153 known cases of Gastroenteritis (commonly known as stomach flu), within certain areas of Dominica. In addition health officials fear that diseases such as Chikungunya and Dengue Fever, which are carried by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, may resurface due to improper storage of water, as well as fears of the reoccurrence of Leptospirosis on the island. Due to the mere fact that we living in Dominica are still recovering from the effects of the storm, we are more susceptible to such diseases than ever before. Here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe on our road to rebuilding and recovery:

Ensure the water you drink is safe

The lack of pipe borne water in some communities could give rise to diseases like gastroenteritis due to the use of water that may be contaminated. For safety precautions it is wise to treat sources of water (including pipe borne water) by boiling, use of bleach, purification tablet etc.


Protect yourself from mosquitoes by:

  • Using mosquito repellents, even while indoors.
  • When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks to cover skin from mosquito bite.
  • When indoors, use air conditioning if it is available.
  • Ensure that windows and door screens are secure and free of holes. If sleeping areas are not screened or air conditioned, use mosquito nets.
  • To reduce the mosquito population, get rid of mosquitoes breeding areas. These include old tires, cans, or flower pots that collect rain. Cover all items used to collect water; barrels, pails, large containers, etc.


Leptospirosis, like gastroenteritis, can be caused by contact with contaminated water.  Reduce chances of infection by:

  • Not swimming in water that might be contaminated with animal urine, or eliminating contact with potentially infected animals.
  • Wearing protective clothing or footwear if you are exposed to contaminated water or soil because of your job or recreational activities.

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

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Rebuilding Faith and Relationships

This week we thought it would be very useful to share the following tips with you that could help bring some order and calmness back into our lives as we go through each day on the journey to recovery from the chaos and confusion that Tropical Storm Erika has left behind:

1) Reconnect and build relationships.
Since we all were impacted differently, it is vitally important to talk about the stress and pressures you have experienced with the people closest to you. Reach out to friends and family as soon as is possible. Call a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Just checking in to see if they are OK will only take a few minutes, and will do a world of good to you both.

Simply talk about your experience and how you got through the storm. Tremendous connection can occur through crisis, so this is an especially good time to reach out to friends or family who may have drifted away from your closest circle of relationships. Offer a word of encouragement and show support to individuals who suffered severely in the storm. Go out into your community and lend a helping hand to your neighbors, this in itself will not only reestablish relationships among family and friends but help form new ones in the community.

2) Rebuild your routines.
To regain strength quickly, identify what your normal routines were before the storm and then get back to them as soon as possible, get your life back on track because we all draw strength and security from a structured daily routine. Bed time, dinner time, getting up to go to school, or work, or church or the gym to work out. Even if you are staying in a hotel, shelter, or with family members for a while, stick as much as you can, with the rituals that you have typically followed that make up your daily lifestyle, this way you will feel the comfort of your stable and predictable routines, regardless of the stress of the many changes happening around you.

3) Reach out for faith.
Plugging back into your faith after the storm will allow you to release anxiety over the things that you know are too big for you, because you can trust God to handle them. In times of crisis, everyone believes in the power of prayer and the importance of their faith. There is tremendous strength in knowing what you believe and living in harmony with those beliefs and values. Dedicate a few minutes or perhaps even an hour per day to quiet mediation and reflection on what matters most if you want to continue to grow strong in spite of the storm. This is especially important when you or your children may feel lost, alone or afraid. God cares and taking time to pray and release those burdens will help you make it through the rest of your day.

Helping others in need is one of the greatest ways people of faith model what they believe, so avoid the tendency of being “too nice” to ask for help if you need it. Having a committed personal faith combined with the connection of a local house of worship will give you a tremendous sense of community to get through this storm as well as the ones to come.

4) Tell your story.
Telling your story now will give you additional strength as well as connect you to the neighbors and friends as they share their story with you. Young and old alike will benefit from hearing about how others survived this natural disaster. There is tremendous power in telling your story; healing power for you and helpful power for others who will gain insight and strength by hearing how creative people can become through a crisis. As you speak up about what happened, it will make it easier for other family members or coworkers to talk about their feelings of loss as well. Things will never be the same as before, but life will go on and we can rebuild and get through it better together.

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Maintaining a Safe Environment after a Disaster

It has been almost 2 weeks since the passing of Tropical Storm Erika which poured down 15 inches of rain on our nature isle in the early hours of August 27th 2015. Tropical Storm Erika has left serious damage to the island in several communities, with individuals having to be evacuated from their homes. Natural disasters can cause morbidity and mortality rates to increase long after a disaster has passed. Hence effective management of environmental health after a natural disaster is of primary importance. By taking suitable measures to maintain a healthy environment, we can help reduce the risks of disease and death. The environmental health measures that must be considered after a natural disaster include:-

  • Distribution of safe and accessible water both for drinking and domestic uses. Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated for domestic purposes such as washing dishes, preparing food, and drinking. Water often can be made safe by boiling, adding disinfectants, or filtering. When properly taken care of, water can then be used for the above mentioned as well as personal hygiene for example washing of hands etc.
  • Distribution and protection of safe food products. Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water, perishable foods, and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. It is recommended that wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples, pacifiers etc. be discarded if they made contact with flood water. These items cannot be properly sanitized.
  • Sanitary disposal of solid and biological waste. Solid waste products should be properly disposed of. Especially with the increase in the use of bottled water on the island. Instead of being thrown in with regular trash any items that can be recycled should be. Biological waste should be carefully disposed of in order to prevent contamination from airborne diseases.
  • Ensuring that you breathe in proper air. As we may have noticed by driving or walking through certain parts of the island, there is a rise in dirt and dust particles in the air. Breathing in dust and dirt can have many negative effects on the body. In addition the odor of dead and decomposing tissue in the environment can attribute to many diseases and infections. When in such areas it is best to wear a mask or any item to properly cover your face.

We want all our citizens to be healthy for the rebuilding task ahead.  Do you have any further additional suggestions for keeping healthy as we cope with the aftermath of this storm?  Share with us in the comments below.

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Vote Diligently If You Love Our Country

Fortunate for us we live in a country where we have the privilege to choose people we believe have the ability to make this nation prosperous; people who work for the benefit of society and wellbeing of all by providing a system where all basic needs like food, shelter, education and health care are readily and affordably available.


As we are approaching Election Day we would like to remind our fellow Dominicans that it’s our right to vote – a right that many people made great sacrifices and fought for. Allow me to express a few other simple reasons why we should vote and vote wisely:


  1. To ensure that important issues like social security are dealt with in the most appropriate manner and principles like honesty are exercised. Voting allows you to eliminate the less desirable candidates and replace them with those who share your views.


  1. Your children. You probably aren’t in a situation where you can provide jobs for your children on your own and continue to protect them from the cruelty of life but you know their needs and wants, you have plans for their future. The government you choose will greatly affect your children’s life.


Although the importance of voting has been emphasized worldwide there are still those who may give reasons why they shouldn’t vote. Amongst those reasons are; “all politicians are the same” and “my vote will not count” but each and every vote in fact counts. Here I quote American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good. ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.”


Election Day is only 2 days away. Exercise your right to vote but remember it’s not a matter of which politicians you like or prefer it’s a matter of placing the nation (family, friends, neighbours, education, health care, national security, employment, infrastructure etc.) into capable and responsible hands.


For the love of country VOTE conscientiously!

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Independent in Dominica

This year our island celebrated its 36th anniversary of independence.  This season draws much excitement for our people; the thrills of dressing in our national wear, eating creole dishes, listening to creole songs and cadence music.  Some were very excited about the events like   Creole in the Park and World Creole Music Festival.  Because of all these activities many Dominicans returned home.  Some made arrangements for rental property while others made arrangements to stay with family members, and the rest returned to the home they built for times when they choose to visit for short periods and when they eventually return home upon retirement.


Speaking to a client last week who recently returned to Dominica, she expressed her satisfaction of having invested in a piece of land in the country side in Dominica where she built a small house.  Although distant from the town, she was happy that she was home, in her own home.  While away, she had a friend maintain the land for her and he was thoughtful enough to cultivate the land with food crops.  She spoke about being here at the right season which allowed her to walk just a few feet from her home to pick fruits like tangerine and orange.  Eager to eat ‘fig and codfish’ she’s looking forward to picking the ‘fig’ from her own land.  The conversation concluded by her saying “had I known the feeling that having my own home in my beloved country brings, I would have made that investment many years ago.”


In August we received an email from a gentleman who had recently visited Dominica and was planning a return trip.  Still excited about his experience, he was adamant of his intention to purchase a piece of land; owning a part of Dominica had become one of his goals.  La Plaine, I remember, was one of the places that impressed him.  On the subsequent visit he scheduled showings with Millenia Realty and a few other real estate companies and although the land he eventually bought was from another real estate agent, we were happy that he left satisfied.


To Dominicans living abroad, owning land in Dominica is a sanctuary; a place of safety, a place to rejuvenate.  To foreigners who continue to live outside of Dominica it is a place of escape, a home away from home.  To retirees, it’s like the saying goes “once a man twice a child” – you leave home, go out of state to work and return home to be in a worry free environment just as you did as a child!