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Building a new home

andee515
March 22, 2018 10:01AM

Registered: 2 months ago
Posts: 1

I am eligible for retirement in 4 years, so within 4-8 years we will be relocating down to St John. I know it is a bit of a ways off, but we have to start making some decisions, so we know how to make a realistic money plan. I am planning on buying land in next 1-2 years and am looking at building options. I was wondering if anyone had feedback on Force 10 homes and Topsider homes. In particular, how they held up to the last set of hurricanes, cost estimates and overall building experience. Any other info would be greatly appreciated!

Re: Building a new home

speee1dy
March 22, 2018 12:15PM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 8,400

there was a post on this forum about force 10. do a search and expand it for more than a year

Re: Building a new home

Jerry Barth
March 22, 2018 12:26PM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 13

I'm building a Deltec house on Water Island. I have a friend who built a Topsider there also. The Topsider company was a nightmare to work with. I can't say enough about how good Deltec has been so far. Check out Rolando Asencios website, he's the distributor for Deltec in the Caribbean. You can also check out my blog at www.windsheimusvi.com for how the process works.
Jerry Barth

Re: Building a new home

stjohnjulie
March 23, 2018 03:45AM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 679

My inlaws have a Force 10 home. They lost doors and windows, had some roof damage, but did pretty well. In the recent back to back storms, flying debris caused a lot of damage. I know people who had 2x6 's puncture their roof like missiles, crashing all the way through the tin, ply, cypress and hit the floor inside.

The building process here is much more lengthy than it is in the states from start to finish. There are a lot of blogs out there about the home building process in the islands. Do your research and contract a reputable, established, builder.

Right now lots of people are dealing with insurance problems. Make sure you do your diligence there as well. A lot of people were pretty severely underinsured. So much so that I had an adjuster from Great Brittan tell me that in his country, it would be considered fraud.

**disclaimer, I work for a construction company on STJ.

Re: Building a new home

singlefin
March 23, 2018 01:07PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 619

Two choices here.

1. Pay the exorbitant prices for windstorm insurance (around 3% of replacement value per year). And then wait months or years to get a claim paid after a storm.
Or
2. Overbuild your home and make it capable of handling a cat 4/5, and wave the windstorm insurance all together.

I went with option #2 and rode out both storms inside my home on the east end of St. Croix. The morning after Maria, I walked around it and was blessed to find that not even a gutter had been torn off. Two houses over, the poor guy lost half his roof. Build with cement, full bond-beam to tie in the roof, and avoid overhangs. Only buy windows and doors that are hurricane rated, and permanently affix storm shutters around everything. Spend the extra money during construction, build it right, and you'll thank yourself later.

Re: Building a new home

Matt T
March 23, 2018 02:55PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 260

Singlefin,

I'm sure you built your house strong and did everything you could to prepare for the worst, but we need to clarify something here. East end STX did not get hit nearly as hard as west end and none of STX experienced what STJ, Tortola, SXM, and Barbuda did.

I am building a house as well and doing as you suggest with the bond beam. However, as stjohnjulie mentions, without a concrete roof you are still susceptible to projectiles coming through your roof. I couldn't justify a concrete roof for a number of reasons. But I did make a design modification and added a second story so the whole first story becomes a concrete bunker including the roof/ceiling.

This is a very sobering article about hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma Destroyed My Childhood Paradise

If hurricane Maria had gone over STX instead of passing off the south shore, we would have had much more damage...on par with the above mentioned islands. F'sted is about the only place on STX that can claim that they were brushed by a Cat 5 storm. The rest of the island saw winds in the Cat 3 to Cat 4 range.

Re: Building a new home

islandjoan
March 23, 2018 03:35PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 1,453

Matt T and Singlefin, thanks for the great info.

I totally agree with Matt T, and to add to what he said, only a concrete bunker will protect you from a direct hit from an embedded tornado. Which is what probably caused most of the extreme damage that so many suffered. Those projectiles take out roofs and windows and then the pressure causes the structure to fail.

Matt that is so very smart of you to build with the first story as a concrete bunker including roof and ceiling!!! ALL new builds should be done that way going forward, for those who have the $$ to do so.

Re: Building a new home

islandjoan
March 23, 2018 03:48PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 1,453

Thanks for that link.

Re: Building a new home

singlefin
March 23, 2018 04:52PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 619

Didn't mean to enter into another "My hurricane was stronger than yours" argument. There are many factors to consider as far as damage potential on every plot on every island. I'm sure a home surrounded by hills in Tortola took less stress upon it than a ridge top on the east end of St. Croix.
My point was to emphasise the importance of construction methods. I've got a neighbor, who even after "Irmaria" still wants to build a new home out of wood on a piece of property they own.
All I'm saying, is that after living through it myself, I personally would never build in wood, or purchase a home built prior to the new codes put in place after Hugo.
Nothing's guaranteed, but you can seriously reduce your odds of taking a sever hit if you build accordingly.

Re: Building a new home

islandjoan
March 23, 2018 06:33PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 1,453

Post-Hugo codes--weren't they less stringent than the newer ones after Andrew in 1993? Hugo was 1989.

Re: Building a new home

Scubadoo
March 23, 2018 08:09PM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 1,913

Our condo buildings on STX didn't have paint on them yet when Hugo hit but all built with steel and concrete like a bunker. We have concrete roof tiles on top of wood trusses. We had several projectiles hit the roof during Maria resulting in some broken tiles that we had to replace but nothing penetrated through the tiles into structure.

Re: Building a new home

quirion
March 24, 2018 12:31AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 428

Hmmm I didn't wait months or years for my insurance pay out.


Quote
singlefin
Two choices here.

1. Pay the exorbitant prices for windstorm insurance (around 3% of replacement value per year). And then wait months or years to get a claim paid after a storm.
Or
2. Overbuild your home and make it capable of handling a cat 4/5, and wave the windstorm insurance all together.

I went with option #2 and rode out both storms inside my home on the east end of St. Croix. The morning after Maria, I walked around it and was blessed to find that not even a gutter had been torn off. Two houses over, the poor guy lost half his roof. Build with cement, full bond-beam to tie in the roof, and avoid overhangs. Only buy windows and doors that are hurricane rated, and permanently affix storm shutters around everything. Spend the extra money during construction, build it right, and you'll thank yourself later.

Re: Building a new home

stjohnjulie
March 24, 2018 06:29AM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 679

A lot of what we are seeing here while doing assessments for property damage insurance is that there were a lot of problems with fasteners. They weren't the right kind, or if they were, they weren't maintained over the years to ensure their integrity. We've also come across some really bad construction (like no steel in the ring beam). I have seen several people taking the 'bunker' approach to some level in their rebuild. Opting for a concrete cistern and concrete room next to the cistern even if they still intend to build the rest in wood because of cost. Concrete is about $325 a yard on STJ... so that gets expensive real fast.

Re: Building a new home

Jim Dandy
March 24, 2018 09:43AM

Registered: 13 years ago
Posts: 1,057

There are many small things you can do that will help you survive and minimize damage.

If you have storm shutters inspect and replace if necessary the fasteners attaching them to the structure. Regular tapcons rust and even stainless steel fasteners don't last forever in the VI particularly if your home is near the ocean.

If you have a two level home install exterior rated doors and frames on some or all the rooms on the lower level so if you are riding out the storm in a downstairs room and the structure is breached the doors on the lower level are capable of with standing the full force of the winds.

Re: Building a new home

gigahound
March 26, 2018 09:47PM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 49

andee: Check out the GigaCrete building system. The immensely strong and durable houses are simple to build on a prepared slab using low-skill labor and ordinary tools. Unique coatings. All green; no Portland cement. Meets all building codes. Waterproof homes resist hurricanes (200+mph), earthquakes (zone 4), and fire. Sizes range from tiny to capacious. Their structures in the Caribbean region (St. Thomas, Bahamas, Haiti) endure severe hurricanes (Cat 4 & Cat 5) with no structural damage.

GigaCrete information on hurricane and flood resistance
[www.pdf-archive.com]

GigaCrete flyer
[www.pdf-archive.com]

GigaCrete Caribbean has an office/demo across from Cost U Less on Weymouth Rhymer Hwy. Phil Smith is project manager there. Good fellow, extremely knowledgeable. He was formerly with USVI DPNR as director of permits.

Phil can be reached @ 1-340-690-3316 STT

Business Insider ran a piece on GigaCrete in October 2017.
[www.businessinsider.com]

GigaCrete Caribbean facebook
[www.facebook.com]

GigaCrete, Inc. facebook
[www.facebook.com]

There's a thread on this subject.
[www.vimovingcenter.com]

Good luck!

Re: Building a new home

islandjoan
March 27, 2018 10:36AM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 1,453

Some good info in this article.

building for disaster

Also has anyone here used compressed earth blocks? Was looking that up recently and it is supposed to be more durable than concrete block even.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2018 10:38AM by islandjoan.

Re: Building a new home

stjohnjulie
March 28, 2018 03:27AM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 679

I've never seen any of the compressed earth blocks here. I just read a tiny bit about them and the one thing that popped is they have a strength of 700-1500 psi. The concrete mixes here usually are 3000-4000 psi. Doesn't seem like earth blocks would be a good fit here. You see block construction, but it has a poured concrete core with steel making it much stronger.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/28/2018 03:30AM by stjohnjulie.

Re: Building a new home

islandjoan
March 29, 2018 02:18PM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 1,453

Yeah stjohnjulie, I read too quickly about the compressed earth blocks and didn't notice the psi ratings were lower than those for concrete blocks.

Re: Building a new home

AandA2VI
March 29, 2018 11:25PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 2,121

Lol good luck with that. A coupe friends who built ended up paying a LOT more than anticipated and took a year over schedule to get it done. I’d never build here. Just buy and fix up. My .02

Re: Building a new home

stjohnjulie
March 30, 2018 03:35AM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 679

I'd say most new construction goes over budget and over time. How much more depends on a lot of things. The contractor has a hand in it, and so does the client. I would say that there is rarely a home built here that is built like the initial plans state. Making changes mid build cause serious delays and costs. And the things that are out of anyone's control, like a couple of Cat5 hurricanes. It has been estimated that costs are now 20-40% higher post storms. From what I am seeing, 20% is about right. That is for the cost of subcontractors/labor/shipping. Lots of delays with shipping too. People in this industry are so incredibly busy right now.

Re: Building a new home

gardeningbug
March 31, 2018 01:51PM

Registered: 7 weeks ago
Posts: 1

a lot of good information! much appreciated!

I'm a FL east coaster and been through Andrew and many more hurricanes. Truly believe in solid concrete after flying over south FL after Andrew when the only things left standing were peoples safe rooms.

Who does concrete roofs in the VI's (ST Croix)? Would like to have a small home built on property I own there. I've seen a couple of ICF builders that have the foam forms for pouring concrete roofs - are they viable for STX?

Re: Building a new home

gigahound
April 01, 2018 06:38PM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 49

Hi gardeningbug:

Would highly recommend you talk with the DeVanes who built a marvelous GigaCrete hurricane-proof house on Great Exuma Island (Bahamas). The home was built in 2014. Employs GigaCrete's next-gen superinsulated steel-frame and lightweight incredibly strong non-Portland green coatings. In its time, home has weathered Cat-4 and Cat-5 huricances with NO resulting damage. None. This despite sustained 135-150mph wind w/ higher gusts. In some cases, peak sustained winds lasted a day or more.

DeVanes call the home Aqua Dreams, and guests remark how quiet it is inside. Extremely energy-efficient. Owners Ralph and Marna are wonderfully gracious people, and surely would be delighted to share their knowledge and experience in re the house. ralphdevane at msn.com

[www.homeaway.com]

Mass does not always denote strength. At 1/6th the density of steel, spider silk is stronger than steel on a weight for weight basis. Portland-based concrete is very heavy. Absorbs water, prone to cracking, readlly attacked by salt-spray. GigaCrete has none of these vulnerabiiities. A 1.5" thickness of lightweight non-Portland GigaCrete (16,000psi), applied to any substrate, flattens armor-piercing bullets and Desert Eagle 0.50 caliber rounds -- fired from 25 feet. A 1.5" thickness of concrete performs like a few sheets of cardboard in that test.

Re: Building a new home

Matt T
April 02, 2018 10:04AM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 260

Quote
gigahound
andee: Check out the GigaCrete building system. The immensely strong and durable houses are simple to build on a prepared slab using low-skill labor and ordinary tools. Unique coatings. All green; no Portland cement. Meets all building codes. Waterproof homes resist hurricanes (200+mph), earthquakes (zone 4), and fire. Sizes range from tiny to capacious. Their structures in the Caribbean region (St. Thomas, Bahamas, Haiti) endure severe hurricanes (Cat 4 & Cat 5) with no structural damage.

GigaCrete information on hurricane and flood resistance
[www.pdf-archive.com]

GigaCrete flyer
[www.pdf-archive.com]

GigaCrete Caribbean has an office/demo across from Cost U Less on Weymouth Rhymer Hwy. Phil Smith is project manager there. Good fellow, extremely knowledgeable. He was formerly with USVI DPNR as director of permits.

Phil can be reached @ 1-340-690-3316 STT

Business Insider ran a piece on GigaCrete in October 2017.
[www.businessinsider.com]

GigaCrete Caribbean facebook
[www.facebook.com]

GigaCrete, Inc. facebook
[www.facebook.com]

There's a thread on this subject.
[www.vimovingcenter.com]

Good luck!

I was very interested in the Gigacrete homes. I contacted Phil over the phone and sent him my plans for a quote. I never heard back after a few follow ups.

I am still very interested but put off by a company that can't follow up with folks who are genuinely interested and have their site to a point where they are ready to go which is where I'm at.

Re: Building a new home

gigahound
April 03, 2018 04:19PM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 49

Matt T,

Presuming for the moment that GigaCrete Caribbean may read this board, did the company contact you and address your issue?

Re: Building a new home

gigahound
April 03, 2018 05:39PM

Registered: 2 years ago
Posts: 49

Matt, did you contact GigaCrete Caribbean before or after you built a poured concrete house?

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