Government’s plan to introduce mandatory building codes, in light of the increasing power of storms passing through the region, has gained the full support of Solutions Barbados.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of a national consultation on building for disaster resilience at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, party leader Grenville Phillips II, himself a structural engineer, said such a move was too long in coming and applauded Prime Minister Mia Mottley for taking the lead on the issue.
He said: “This is very much needed and regardless of what has happened in the past, I am happy that this is not just a conversation but an effort to actually do something about it.
“The last prime minister, Freundel Stuart, expressed shocked at the fragility of the housing stock when he was looking at the damage from tropical storm Tomas in 2010.
“So, we know that housing accommodation is fragile, we know that we are extremely vulnerable to significant hurricane.
“So, the Prime Minister is doing an excellent job in focusing on this issue.
“This is especially important now after the passage of [category five hurricane] Dorian, which flattened Bahamas, after passing here first as a weak system.
“It should have been done years ago but I am just happy that it is happening now.”
The building expert argued that contrary to popular belief, building properly is quite affordable and he hopes that the Prime Minister’s determination to find affordable disaster-resistant housing solutions would erase any misconceptions about adherence to building standards.
Phillips said: “There is a misconception that it is not affordable to build strong and to build properly. This is not true. It cost the same to take a set of building materials and assemble them properly or to assemble them badly.”
Earlier this month, Mottley revealed that Government is planning to upgrade a number of protocols and policies, including a mandatory building code.
She explained at the time that it was imperative that Barbadians get back to the tried and tested building methods suited to adverse weather conditions, such as gabled roofs.
Apart from legislation, the Government is planning to make the technical know-how readily available, while negotiating with lending institutions to fast-track funds for this initiative.
Mottley said: “We are moving in that direction certainly with respect to the roofs and the stability etcetera.
“Part of the problem is that the last government would have put in place the building code, but the legislation was never put in place to make it mandatory.”
Phillips suggested Government may have to look at rewriting the current, non-binding code, as the one put in place in 2013 was couched in such technical language that regular draftsmen and contractors would find it difficult to follow.
He said: “Right now, we don’t have a useful building code for homeowners or for contractors to follow.
“In 1993, we had the Barbados National Building Code and that was a very user-friendly document, it could have been understood by contractors and homeowners.
“This was replaced in 2013 and that cannot be understood by any homeowner or contractor.
“The structural section could only be understood by an experienced structural engineer. So that does not help what we are trying to do here.”