Former BCA chief: Introduce reinforced concrete for home construction

Former BCA chief: Introduce reinforced concrete for home construction

Improvements could increase housing costs 30-40 per cent

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A former Bahamas Contractors Association (BCA) president says that while he believes in this nation’s building codes, the ‘firm implementation’ of reinforced concrete for home construction should be introduced.

Leonard Sands told Eyewitness News Onlinethe use of reinforced concrete could increase costs by as much as 40 percent, but stressed the country should take all steps necessary to reduce the loss of human life.

Sands said: “Meteorologists, climate change researchers and persons who follow are accurate when they say this will not be the last time we experience a storm like this (Hurricane Dorian) and we should all be very mindful that there are things that we can do to ensure the protection of our property and our buildings. Hopefully we take whatever steps we can to minimize our losses and of course most importantly reduce the loss of human life.”

He continued: “I would suggest that the government of The Bahamas consider the firm implementation of reinforced concrete structure for all homes. I understand that will significantly impact the cost of home building. You could be talking about 30 to 40 per cent increase in the cost of your home today; however, the end result is a home that is impervious to mother nature’s forces.”

Sands said there are structures on Abaco and Grand Bahama that withstood the impact of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which had sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph.

“There are structures still standing on Grand Bahama and Abaco,” Sands said.

“I believe the ones that are standing had a significant amount of concrete reinforcement in the structure at certain points. Our building code, while it is up for such discussion I still believe in it. I reiterated however that on certain islands where the impact of hurricanes to the infrastructure will be just as strong as Dorian or even greater we may need to adopt the building code practices which suggests that we go to reinforced concrete.”

Sands also suggested that government consider placing electrical cables underground.

“Maybe we need to look at underground power lines. I think the conversation needs to happen about looking at our infrastructure and making the change necessary. I know in some quarters the conversation is being had with design professionals,” Sands said.

The former BCA president called for the Department of Town Planning to be ‘beefed up’ to provide potential homeowners with information regarding properties they may be interested in purchasing.

Sands said: “We need to beef up our Department of Town Planning to give the customer advanced information. If you do not know that you are building your house in a high-water zone and someone tells you this area has high water impact, the customer should be in a position to determine whether they want to buy the property or not.

He added: “I’m suggesting we give homeowners more statistical data about where their homes are so that they can make intelligent investment decisions.”