Why a building code?
November 24, 2006

Why a building code?


Building Code Series – No.1

When the country’s first building code is implemented in 2007 the aim will be the protection of life and property as well as reducing the economic impact of natural and man-made hazards.

St Vincent and the Grenadines has been operating without a code to regulate the structural integrity of its buildings

– both commercial and residential – even though planning permission must be sought from the Physical Planning Department; however that planning refers to zoning only. That is, can the land in question be used for the purpose for which the owner requests? One would not wish a smelter plant to be constructed in the midst of a residential neighbourhood.{{more}}

The building code provides directions to the architect, engineer, and contractor how the building must be constructed so as to withstand the hazards which affect this country such as fire, high winds, torrential rain and flooding, earthquake, landslide, tsunami, coastal flooding, and volcano eruption.

It specifies the types of building materials that should be used, how they are to be used as well as the type plumbing, sewer, electrical, and mechanical connections that must go into making the building as safe and secure as it is humanly possible. It also looks at the geographic location of the proposed property.

Commercial buildings in St Vincent and the Grenadines require the services of architects and engineers before design and construction. These professionals are trained to design and construct buildings to withstand natural and man-made hazards. Even though there is no local building code, the engineers and architects would have borrowed from existing standards such as the OECS Building Code and various codes developed by the British Standards Institute.

While it can therefore be assumed that commercial buildings and other facilities for the public, such as pavilions and the spectator stands at the Arnos Vale playing field being readied for Cricket World Cup 2007 are built with public safety in mind, the strength and durability of homes are unknown.

It can only be a guess that many homes in St Vincent and the Grenadines may not be of the minimum acceptable quality. The only sure way of knowing is by putting it to the test. When or if that day should ever come, the answer will be clear.

The building code will apply to all new buildings as well as renovations.

In an effort to familiarise the public with the regulations of the building code, important aspects of it will be explained on this page in the coming weeks.