St. Kitts/Nevis PM urges better construction practices

St. Kitts/Nevis PM urges better construction practices

Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, said the passage of the two category 5 hurricanes should serve as an awakening call for citizens and residents to adopt better construction practices that can lead to a more resilient St. Kitts and Nevis.

Invest in more modern home designs

Homeowners applying for duty concessions on the purchase and/or importation of building materials to repair damages experienced during the passage of the recent hurricanes are being encouraged to invest in more modern home designs that can improve resilience to natural disasters.

The six-month duty-free concession initiative was introduced by the Team Unity Administration on Saturday, September 28, as part of the Government’s efforts to help to restore normalcy in the quickest time possible after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Build to last for longer periods 

Following an assessment of the damages after Hurricane Maria on Wednesday, September 20, Prime Minister Harris said, “I think the kind of damages we are seeing – the frequency – must bring to the attention of the national community that we have to build to last for a longer period of time. This idea of people building shacks has to become outdated; this idea of the large quantities of galvanize that are used for fencing, we have to find much more resilient approaches because in the end, these galvanize, these thatch houses about the place can become missiles that can create damage to life and to property.”

The Building Inspector at the Department of Physical Planning, Orrin Hughes, said residents should consider construction utilizing concrete and galvalume roofing in lieu of the traditional wooden structures.

Hughes said, “Galvalume is a viable option, however, the application is what it comes down to in determining whether or not the roof stays on. You would find if it’s not done properly with the right amount of screws and spacing that is required, you can find yourself in a bad situation. Concrete roofs might be the better option design right now with respect to hurricanes.”

Architectural designs are crucial

However, Mr. Hughes noted that the architectural designs play a crucial role in determining if the construction of those roofs will withstand or succumb to the type of winds St. Kitts and Nevis experienced as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria – irrespective of the style of roof chosen.

“If the roof is flat, it has a wider surface area in which to pull against. Steeper roofs would channel the wind shears upwards which takes away that suction capability. So, one of the things the designers or architects need to look at is the pitch of the roof and stay away from designs of what we call “lean-to-roofs” or plat-pitched roofs,” Mr. Hughes explained.

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