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Building on STX... experience with Thermasteel or Force10?

 
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

I have a job! A really good one! On St. Croix! I won't start for a few months, but it's a giant step toward living on STX. I wanted to say thank you to someone who pointed me in the right direction, but I've lost my old PMs from her. But you know who you are... thank you... don't know how I would have gotten started without you.

So now figuring out the logistics begins, and I am so grateful for this board. I have a feeling I will be doing quite a few searches for moving-related topics in the near future.

I would love to hear from any of you who have bought land and lived on it during the building process. That's what I hope to do, and while my boyfriend and I are quite low-maintenance, and he's quite handy, I'm sure it will be an eye-opening experience! I'd also love to hear from anyone with experience with Force10 or Thermasteel... we're thinking of using one of those.

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Topic starter Posted : October 26, 2009 2:15 am
pt
 pt
(@pt)
Advanced Member

Hi, Roadrunner,

We tried to go with one of the businesses you mentioned but found they were unable to guarantee a set cost for construction. Too many variables, especially price of concrete. Other people on the Board will probably say the same. You need deep pockets to build from scratch here!

PT

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Posted : October 26, 2009 9:36 am
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

Congratulations on the job!

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Posted : October 26, 2009 11:36 am
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

Building is expensive in the VI-$130 per square ft and up. Concrete is the traditional material and has withstood the test of time. It is easily fashioned in the West Indian style and is pretty much forever. I have seen what the salt air can do to steel and decieded against it.

There are so many variables, the slope of the lot for one. Excavation and rock can add significantly to the costs.

You could probably whip up a small shack if you had a water supply and a sewarge system but putting the $ into the hose would be a better long term value.

When you get here and start looking there are some unfinished houses and some in need of extestive repair. It all depends on what part of the island you fall in love with.

good luck with the job and the move and welcome to paradise.

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Posted : October 26, 2009 12:06 pm
Cory
 Cory
(@Cory)
Advanced Member

Call Steve @ All Rounder systems for Thermasteel information. They built a green house out east on St Croix using the product! Force 10 is alot more expensive...Steve can give you all the information you need.

Steve's cell 412-848-1878

Cory K.

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Posted : October 26, 2009 2:08 pm
specialk
(@specialk)
Trusted Member

I know someone who built a Force 10 home 3 years ago and he loves it. He especially loves the lower insurance premiums due to the life time factory warranty against hurricane and earthquake damage.

I've seen one other Force 10 home - a 2 family model - and the quality was outstanding.

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Posted : October 26, 2009 7:00 pm
roadrunner
(@roadrunner)
Trusted Member

Thanks for your advice. I clearly have a lot more research to do, but this is a good start!

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Topic starter Posted : October 28, 2009 2:00 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

i would think that if you build you would want to go with time and material instead of contract price. i have heard of people with contract prices continually getting change ordered to death. ( money over contract price ) also better for the construction firm as prices are ever changing here and they could put a bid in and two months later prices were jacked due to higher shipping/ others costs. call some construction companies from the phone book to get ideas about what they charge. i also think that there are some energy savers you are required to use ( 60 or 70% of something. heard it on the roger morgan program earlier in the month when they were talking about energy rebates and such.)

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Posted : October 28, 2009 8:56 pm
terry
(@terry)
Expert

The way I have seen some of the workmen it would drive me nuts knowing I was paying four guys watching a fifth guy dig a hole. They sometimes look like government workers.
If you get a contract plus time and material or quotes on any change orders, I think would be best.

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Posted : October 28, 2009 10:49 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

or be the GC

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Posted : October 29, 2009 11:26 am
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

my bf has seen some of those type of construction workers on other jobs sitting around and it really pisses him off to see that.

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Posted : October 29, 2009 7:48 pm
Cobaltdiver
(@Cobaltdiver)
Active Member

Good morning Road runner, Let me shed some light on the construction situation in St. Croix. I am a project manager for M&M Construction, the Force 10 contractor on island. I have been with the company for almost a year and a half and have worked on two of our Force 10's. One residence and one commercial property. I think they are an excellent product. They are one of the strongest prefabricated structures
I have ever seen.

As for Cory's comment on the cost. I have been through the property that Thremosteel built on island. The construction time is very similar at about four months. I can not speak to the strength of the product, but I can state that the house is a stilt built structure with wood framed floors. This is not a common installation in the islands due to moisture and insect infestation. The wood used was pressure treated, but that does not insure termite protection. I have seen them eat aged pressure treated.

I can speak to the cost of the Thermasteel verse a Force 10. By my math, the finished product is being sold for about fifteen to twenty percent more then a force 10 of comparable size. Construction is not cheap on the island. The cost of $130 sf is a farce. I have never seen a project that was under $225 sf. A large portion if the cost is the cistern and as stated earlier, the site conditions can have a great impact on cost. The usual instrument for the contracting of a construction project is a cost plus a fee contract. The method of this varies by builder. We provide a copy of every invoice that is being billed to the project and then a mark-up is placed on top of that amount. We work against a realistic budget and do our best to assist our clients in staying with in the cost of the budget. It is rare on the island that a contractor uses a traditional fixed fee contract. This took some getting used to when I moved on island. The secret to hiring a contractor on St. Croix is to interview several and visit there past projects, get references and call them, and ask lots of questions. In the end pick the one that you trust.

I hope this is helpful. I tried not to make it a marketing post, but a little of it is.

Best of luck.

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Posted : October 30, 2009 2:38 pm
terry
(@terry)
Expert

Cobaltdiver,
What are your looong term projections on how the metal framework will hold up in the salty environment? I know it is Galvanized, but even Galvanized rusts here. I have seen Galvanized fences that have fallen down, rusted away. Of course this was very close to the ocean.
Plus whenever you run a screw into the galvanized surface you break the galvanized seal of the base metal.

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Posted : October 30, 2009 3:01 pm
Cobaltdiver
(@Cobaltdiver)
Active Member

I have been to every Force 10 on island. Many of them within have a mile of the ocean and none of them show any signs of rust or corrosion. I agree, it was one of my first questions as well. They have been used in Australia in coast conditions for a very long time. With the way the system installs, with proper care, the galvanized surfaces are not directly exposed to the environment.

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Posted : October 30, 2009 3:46 pm
divinggirl
(@divinggirl)
Trusted Member

I researched Force 10 quite extensively about 6 years ago and was very impressed (unfortunately, my husband found an existing house he couldn't resist so we did not build). It is an incredible product and is used on many Caribbean islands as well as Hawaii. I would think if rusting was a problem it would be well known by now and I have never heard/read about it at all.
I toured the Thermasteel house by Green Cay and was not impressed. In my opinion, Force 10 is a superior product in structure and appearance. I know there are several Force 10 homes/villas on St. John and have read many hurricane stories from the owners. All of them were very happy with the performance of their homes during a hurricane.
Roadrunner - whatever you do, research, research, research and then do some research! It will serve you well.

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Posted : October 30, 2009 5:04 pm
terry
(@terry)
Expert

We were looking at the Deltech "round house". There are several on STX and STT. They are wood construction and are supposed to be hurricane proof.
What worried me about those and the other non-concrete prefab homes is the tornado's that are sometimes in a hurricane. I don't know if they would stand up to that.

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Posted : October 30, 2009 6:04 pm
li2stx
(@li2stx)
Advanced Member

roadrunner
we just finished building on the east end and after talking with both Force 10 & Thermasteel we opted to go with classic concrete construction. our feeling was that by the time we actually finished the house we did not save enough to go with a type of building that is not readily accepted on the island. I work for an engineering company and had some of the guys look at the spec's for both Force 10 & Thermasteel and liked both products, but in the long run concrete is the material of choice and we felt that it was a wiser investment. we used a local contractor who, ( i know some of you won't believe this ) came in on time(9 months) and slightly under budget ! if you want any more info pm me.
li2stx

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Posted : October 30, 2009 7:02 pm
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