The Root Cause of the Decline in Residential Construction Quality in the Caribbean

For hundreds of years, proper building methods were passed from masters to their apprentices. The last building boom in the Caribbean started around 1996. It appears to have been started and sustained by banks and other mortgage institutions offering 95% to 100% mortgages to build houses. This created a high demand for artisans in the … Continue reading

We Do Not Have a Mandate to Change Haiti’s Cultural Building Aspirations

Haiti has a rich legacy of beautiful sloping reinforced concrete roofs with diverse shapes, including: hyperbolic parabolid, hyperbolic parabolid groin, folded plate, ribbed, hipped, and curved.  Haitians normally complete the final storey of their houses by installing sloping concrete roofs, many of which survived the 2010 earthquake.  I estimate that there are more sloping concrete … Continue reading

An Open Letter to Homeowners in the Caribbean

Congratulations your decision to become a new homeowner in the Caribbean.  We do not want to cause you unnecessary distress, but we are appalled at the substandard structural quality of houses built in the Caribbean over the past 2 decades.  Evidence to support our concerns is provided below.  To arrest this worsening trend, we strongly recommend that … Continue reading

Persistent Construction Myths

Common Construction Myths 1.  Why is the training that artisans receive from trade school not enough? Apprentice masons, carpenters, steel benders, and other artisans learn their trades from teachers at school, and from more experienced persons (mentors) on a building construction site.  The apprentice will tend to adopt the methods of their mentor, whether those … Continue reading

Proven Solutions To Substandard Building Construction

The problems associated with sub-standard construction are well known in the Caribbean, and various initiatives have been tried to address them, including the following. Published building standards. Building inspectors. Educational books and pamphlets. Educational video and audio programs. Educational public seminars. Vocational training of artisans. Educational seminars for building contractors. Television and radio educational programs. … Continue reading

The Caribbean is one of the most hazard prone regions in the world

The Caribbean is one of the most hazard prone regions in the world for four principal reasons. 1. The islands of the Caribbean are exposed to a diverse set of natural hazards including: earthquakes, hurricanes, torrential rainfall, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes, and now the predicted negative effects of climate change. 2. The built structures are exposed … Continue reading