Do’s and Don’ts

The do’s and don’ts of building your residential home in Barbados

The Do’s

  1. Do locate a lot of land and purchase the lot. You should search around the Island and look for a lot in an area that you can see yourself living for at least five (5) years. This website is preferably for the person building to live in their own home but can be used by the investor just the same.
  2. I do recommend saving at least $65,000 BBD. This is for the foundation and blockwork. Depending on the size of your home, this amount will get a lot done. If you decide on wood frame this amount will get you a long way.
  3. Do find a good draftsmen or architect to draw a set of plans detailing what your home should look like. You will need to provide a copy of the survey to them. Be sure this person is responsible, reliable and has knowledge of all the building requirements and codes on the Island. The person should be easily accessible and patient. The plans are very important. That is why there are called the blueprints. The plans tell the builder where everything should be located with measurements. They serve as guide. Reviewing the plans is a must because the draftsmen or the architect may include something you don’t like and you may have to tell him or her to edit their drawing. The process can become tedious but do remember this is your home that you will be living in that will cost over $100,000 BBD. You should have some say.
  4. Do negotiate the cost of the plans with the draftsmen or architect. Agree on how long it will take to complete.
  5. Do Make sure you have someone to assist with submitting the plans to Town and Country Planning. In America, these people are called Expeditors.
  6. Do review the website of the National Housing Corporation. this website has some very good information.
  7. Do continue to save as much more money as you can. The more upfront money you have the quicker the process will be.
  8. Do find a quantity surveyor or a person who can review your plans and give you a breakdown of the measurements of the house. (I can assist with this for a small fee that is negotiable, not the $1,200 BBD to $2,000 BBD you might be charged if you go elsewhere). You should know every aspect of the house, what is the footprint, square footage, cubic yards, feet and depth of the project. Again you can get someone to give you a breakdown for around $1,500 BBD. Another way is to forward your completed plans to the concrete, steel and lumber suppliers and they can give you breakdown of the material unit of measures and cost.
  9. Do find a contractor. In my mind the most important decision of them all. A good contractor is honest, reliable, knowledgeable and does not mind sharing information with you. You are not just choosing based on cost but also on the ability to be able to work with the person. Comfortability is important.
  10. Do create a contract or agreement with your contractors and make sure you include exactly what work is being done in the agreement.
  11. Do learn the construction language, and learn how to order materials from suppliers.


The Don’ts

  1. Don’t choose an area that you do not like, you and your family will have to live there. This choice should be done with caution. Barbados is a beautiful Island but crime and vagrancy still exists.
  2. Don’t underestimate the planning process. It will save you time and money in the long run.
  3. Don’t choose your draftsmen or architect before negotiating price and the amount of time it will take for the plans to be completed.
  4. Don’t obtain one (1) quote from a Contractor. Rule of thumb is to obtain at least three (3) estimates. I recommend up to six (6) estimates.
  5. Don’t forget about item number seven (7) above from the Do’s.
  6. Don’t do it all by yourself, ask as much questions as you can, go to the library, read online literature and utilize YouTube. These all can educate and empower you.