New Building Code for SVG
August 4, 2006
New Building Code for SVG

The Ministry of Housing, Informal Settlements, Land Surveys and Physical Planning has embarked on a programme intended to sensitize the public about the new National Building Codes and Guidelines.

Building codes have been around for a very long time, but it seems that many people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines don’t use them or they had their own standard that they work to. The government hopes that by 2007 it will be able to have the codes in place. This it is hoped will benefit the public greatly.{{more}}

Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Tuesday, July 25, Minister Julian Francis said that the codes are in the final legislative stages and will be published shortly, for the last thing he wants to do is to enforce something that people do not know about. The Ministry will embark on an education campaign ranging from jingles on the radio, articles in the print media, staff training and radio programs.

During the workshop the plan is to assess the level of preparedness for the implementation of the codes and to bridge the gap to where we are and where we want to be, so said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Kenrick Glynn. Glynn is confident that with trained professionals, the technology available and the corporation of the private and public sectors, we can get to where we need to be.

Minister Francis is responsible for implementing the codes. He said that this is the beginning of a process aimed at improving our quality of life. The SVG Building Codes and guidelines are concerned with structural integrity, durability, air quality and access ways for the disabled among others.

The codes are intended to minimize losses in the region from natural and man-made disasters. Hence the need to make sure that our structures are well built and able to endure floods, hurricanes etc.

The Minister gave the example of what happened at Gibson Corner to further emphasize the need for having the codes in place, and he pointed out that we need to know the foundation and bearing capacity of soil before we put any structure down.

Howie Prince of NEMO made the point that people who are building, need to think about the location, and research its history so as to know if the area is prone to flooding or landslides.

New buildings will require certification of occupancy. Old buildings can have renovations done once they are compliant with the new codes and guidelines. The guidelines mainly pertain to buildings of up to 2500 sq ft, and the codes deal with tbuildings above that specification.

Michael Gibson, President of the Construction Association, explained that it is actually more expensive to repair damage to a house or replace a roof than to spend an extra $20,000 during construction to ensure that you have a safe structure. Physical Planning’s Colin Campbell urged the public to be vigilant and to work along with the organisations and take heed of the building codes. He went on to say that, “Ultimately Vincentians will be the beneficiaries”.

The Ministry of Housing, Informal Settlements, Land Surveys and Physical Planning hopes to have the Building Codes and Guidelines ready for use by 2007.