It will be back to the drawing board for the building codes and regulations on the books as hurricanes Irma and Maria exposed the many serious vulnerabilities in the Territory’s construction practices. In acknowledgement of this Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith said that the disaster has essentially expedited the plan revisit the building Code.
As we look around us we can see that roofs are being patched and eventually restored-rebuilt with the same old, problem-ridden carpentry, often-times using cheap and poorly qualified labour: it is time to understand that a solid, professionally structured roof is better than any insurance!
While speaking at the Town Hall meeting on 23 October Hon. Smith announced: “We were looking at building codes a year ago, now we have to take another look at building Code because of what has happened.”
The BVI Leader noted that although the decision to overhaul the Code was made prior to Irma, the hurricanes have brought added reasons for the Code to be revisited a third time. “As I mentioned we were looking at the building codes before in fact I have a draft on my desk for changes in those building codes but now since Irma we have to relook at it again.”
Flood Started Changes, Irma Pushed Further
In August following the unprecedented muddy flood Junior Minister for Tourism, Hon. Archibald Christian endorsed public suggestion for changes to be made to the Building Code as a means of preventing future damages.
Hon. Christian during an interview with The Island Sun newspaper said that he walked around the Territory following the 7 August heavy rain, and noted some of the destructions the flooding caused. “From what I saw based on some of the locations that I went to it’s obvious that some of the practices have to be changed. It may mean that we might have to tighten our legislations to ensure that proper practice are enforced,” Hon. Christian said.
Hon. Christian said: “We have to pay attention to the way we are excavating our roads up on the hillside, how we are constructing residential homes, how we are cutting foundations, and so on…We may have to consult with professionals in terms of engineers, and so on to have a better idea of how we should be building on the hillsides,” he disclosed.
However, the calamitous and unwelcome visit of hurricane Irma and the loss of many roofs and the destruction of various homes, offices and businesses – big and small – has reignited the discussion about hurricane resistant buildings and now creates other areas to be included in the amended legislation. We only need to look at our neighbouring USVI where the same problems repeat every time there is a serious hurricane: if we adopt that method, people will not invest in the BVI and important businesses will look elsewhere for safer shores. To begin with: the use of galvanized as a construction material has to be regulated and limited.