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House Design - Land Clearing - Site Work - Excavation - Concrete - Septic - Electrics -Plumbing Contractor(s)

(@nickvitz)
Posts: 5
Active Member
Topic starter
 

Greetings. I'm in the initial stages of building a retirement house in the east. I've completed the topographic survey. I have a local engineering person in mind for design and permitting. I'm looking for recommendations for the afore mentioned, also the land clearing, site & soil work, excavation, concrete work, septic, electric, plumbing, and so on etc. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you kindly. 

 
Posted : March 15, 2023 12:13 pm
(@nickvitz)
Posts: 5
Active Member
Topic starter
 

St. Croix. I neglected to state that vital bit of information. Thanks.

 
Posted : March 15, 2023 12:27 pm
(@gators_mom)
Posts: 1300
Noble Member
 

Since you've identified an engineer to work with - I would start by talking to him/her first for recommendations. Also talk to your realtor.

There are many homes under construction right now - I have 7 within walking distance of my home.  You might drive around the area where you are building and look for workers/owners you might talk to for suggestions. 

Even if you plan to be your own contractor - I recommend hiring someone with significant island experience to work beside you.  

It will take you years and years to complete your build. The more money you have to throw at your project the better off you'll be - but it still will take years and years.

There are not that many subcontractors on the island - so you'll get in line when you're ready for them. This is not a plan far ahead kind of place. Much easier to have a contractor with a crew and connection to known subcontractors working beside you.

Service Providers - St. Croix Island Life Real Estate (stcroixislandlife.com)

 
Posted : March 15, 2023 2:52 pm
(@nickvitz)
Posts: 5
Active Member
Topic starter
 

Thanks very much for the insight about things, it's appreciated. I'm curious to know what estate there are 7 homes in the neighborhood/walking distance going up? 

 
Posted : March 15, 2023 3:36 pm
(@gators_mom)
Posts: 1300
Noble Member
 

Green Cay

 
Posted : March 15, 2023 3:41 pm
(@stjohnjulie)
Posts: 1054
Noble Member
 

I agree with the advice of starting with your designer/engineer.  They probably have preferred builders they work with and a good relationship between those teams can really help progress a lot.  Getting a reputable builder with experience also is going to help a lot.   Established firms know how to get things done.   They know where and how to get the materials.   They also work with preferred subcontractors. I also agree the more money you have to throw at the project up from the better it is.   Right up front you are going to have to decide which is your main priority.  Money or time. I know from experience that if you start a project off cash heavy that it saves a lot of time and money in the long run.  Nothing slows a job down faster than not having materials when you need them.  And buying those material locally can be really harsh to the bottom line.  

 
Posted : March 16, 2023 3:31 am
(@jaldeborgh)
Posts: 530
Honorable Member
 

Without wanting to stir up controversy or debate, I’m on the east end of STX not far from Cheeseburgers, and used Dave Follman to both build a garage and replace an aging blacktop driveway with concrete.  Dave’s a bit of a character and been on island a long time but he was easy to deal with and most importantly I’m very happy with the outcome, there were no surprises and I thought his prices were reasonable.  My only caution is he does a good deal of work at the Buccaneer and they get priority when it comes to the schedule.  There’s no question he knows concrete.

 
Posted : March 23, 2023 2:03 pm
vicanuck reacted
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2935
Famed Member
 
Posted by: @jaldeborgh

Without wanting to stir up controversy or debate, I’m on the east end of STX not far from Cheeseburgers, and used Dave Follman to both build a garage and replace an aging blacktop driveway with concrete.  There’s no question he knows concrete.

I second Dave Follman...a great character and trustworthy contractor.

 
Posted : March 24, 2023 8:26 am
jaldeborgh reacted
(@nickvitz)
Posts: 5
Active Member
Topic starter
 

Again, thanks very much to any and all STX community/residents for your input, it's appreciated. My building project is also not far from Cheeseburgers. 

 

 

 
Posted : March 25, 2023 3:21 pm
(@daveb722)
Posts: 798
Prominent Member
 

Mike Robbins does excellent work, has a large crew, professional and would probably get your job completed the quickest imo.  He may be a little more pricier than others you can find, but you honestly wouldn't need to be on island with him and he's built multiple houses among other projects.  I have a few houses in my neighborhood that are on year 2, 3 and 7 and don't see them being finished anytime soon.  I like Dave, but I don't know if he's big enough to build a house in a timely manner.  

 
Posted : April 2, 2023 7:55 am
(@nickvitz)
Posts: 5
Active Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @daveb722

Mike Robbins does excellent work, has a large crew, professional and would probably get your job completed the quickest imo.  He may be a little more pricier than others you can find, but you honestly wouldn't need to be on island with him and he's built multiple houses among other projects.  I have a few houses in my neighborhood that are on year 2, 3 and 7 and don't see them being finished anytime soon.  I like Dave, but I don't know if he's big enough to build a house in a timely manner.  

Thank you very much for the feedback Dave. So, I'm not unfamiliar with the concept of "island time". Seems like the general theme for completing a building project is patience and "time". I also hear that throwing more money at a project can affect the timeline of a project. I'm interested in opinions for the inherent longevity for completing projects? Is it "island time"? A lack of available contractors? Is it that contractors feel impunity and freedom to get the job done if and when they decide? Is it a problem getting people to show up for work? Supply chain issues? The project owner runs out of money? 2 years I can see, but 7 years? Though I have seen various unfinished building projects all over the island. Barring any understandable delays, if a client is adamant in managing, and on top about getting their GC and contractors to get the job done in a timely manner, why so long to get a project done? Thanks again. 

 
Posted : April 2, 2023 2:34 pm
(@jaldeborgh)
Posts: 530
Honorable Member
 

I would agree Mike Robbins is an excellent option, he’s currently doing a major renovation for a good friend of mine who won’t be on island for most of the timeline.  As for Dave Follman being able to take on an entire house, I know he’s built several homes, I have another close friend who lives in one of the houses he built, the construction quality is excellent.  The 3 car garage he recently built for me, as I said in an earlier post is also of excellent quality.  Dave is very direct and simply wouldn’t take on a job he wasn’t able to complete, he’s been on island a long time.  Anyone who does good construction work at a fair price on this island will have all the work they can handle.

 
Posted : April 3, 2023 12:02 am
vicanuck reacted
(@stjohnjulie)
Posts: 1054
Noble Member
 

There are a number of things that could slow a project down.   You have to have a contractor who is efficient, that works well with other subcontractors, and knows how to get supplies for starters.   Clients need to keep the projects fully funded.  Staying ahead of the materials is a big thing.  Ordering what you need and having it shipped in full racks/containers is the most cost savings but it is also cash heavy especially in the beginning.  And when there is a supply issue it’s almost always better to pay the premium to get it rather than slow or stop the project.  Willingness to pay overtime can speed up a project as well (which generally applies to the companies that have actual employees not just 1099 subcontractors).  

 
Posted : April 3, 2023 2:46 am
(@jaldeborgh)
Posts: 530
Honorable Member
 
Posted by: @stjohnjulie

There are a number of things that could slow a project down.   You have to have a contractor who is efficient, that works well with other subcontractors, and knows how to get supplies for starters.   Clients need to keep the projects fully funded.  Staying ahead of the materials is a big thing.  Ordering what you need and having it shipped in full racks/containers is the most cost savings but it is also cash heavy especially in the beginning.  And when there is a supply issue it’s almost always better to pay the premium to get it rather than slow or stop the project.  Willingness to pay overtime can speed up a project as well (which generally applies to the companies that have actual employees not just 1099 subcontractors).  

This is great advice and insight.  Unfortunately trying to do things on a very tight budget is problematic, the best way to save money as well as manage the timeline is to have the materials on site early, get ahead of the power curve.  The best way to do this is to have much of items shipped in from off-island early, this way you can best manage their availability.  This takes free cash flow, sometimes construction loans can make this difficult. St. Croix is not the mainland and the rules are a little more challenging for folks new to the island.  Best of luck in your project. 

 
Posted : April 4, 2023 8:53 pm
(@stjohnjulie)
Posts: 1054
Noble Member
 

@jaldeborgh You are so right.   You can usually have one or the other.  Speed or budget.  But I’m still of the camp that if you can go cash heavy at first and also have a contractor that stays well ahead of material needs that speed is the way to go.  Just like kids that go to school and then have the summer off, there is ‘learning loss’.  Having crews off the project for periods of time makes them really inefficient. It takes them time to get back into the groove of things.  It also makes scheduling really tough for a contractor that has other projects running.  For instance, if we have an owner that wants to complete certain parts of the project on their own.   Those people may have to wait for us to come back when they have completed those tasks.   We have to keep our crew working or it would be a full time job just managing all of the unemployment paperwork coming in for down times.  

 
Posted : April 5, 2023 3:15 am
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