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BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

Been looking for land to buy and found lots of different regions,

East -dryer

West -seems wetter

North Mid-island -resorts

The list goes on.  The question I have is what are the plus side and downside of each.  Why does it say the the east is the more sought place to live?

Does the Northwest have more storms hit it or does the storms landfall in the southwest of the island...houses for sale that has storm damage seem to be just east of F'sted.  Does the North have less storm landfall, would it be ok to have a house right by the ocean without worrying about storms?

In the lusher western part of the island does it have more rainfall that people do not like it, or is it because it has more critters that cause more problems?

A oversight of all the (+) and the (-) of the regions would be a great help.

No need to say any thing about the region around the airport area.... no thank you, got that one checked off.

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Topic starter Posted : May 12, 2021 1:55 am
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

I live out east, we get less rain but have only filled my cistern about once per year. I've watched many rain storms pass over Buck Island and head over mid island to the west and they get so much rain and it's totally sunny still at my house.   Winds are better out east and keep you cooler, less bugs in my opinion than what I hear about the west due to the amount of rain they get.   The storm damage your seeing is based on how the hurricane Maria tracked and hit the island, I did have damage here in the east as well.  Some love the east, some love the west and some love the north.  My best advice is to rent a few air bnb's in each area and stay for a month to see how each area is, of course if you can afford it and able to stay that long.  

As for why the east is more preferential is really opinion. Everyone says the rich people live out this way and that could be true based on house prices, but I am no means rich and my house wasn't very expensive imo, but I have a great view and happy with it.  Both ends of the island are less populated and that's a plus for us.  Even though that is the case, we have a pretty close knit community and everyone is one person away from knowing you.  Not sure about the west.  Crime seems less prevalent here, but it still happens.  Especially on the south side of the east end.  If you have any questions, feel free to PM me, i'd be willing to help in anyway possible.

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Posted : May 13, 2021 10:16 am
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

Thank you for the reply.  I have been looking @ the island for about a year now and been on this site for that long also reading about the life there and it seems to be a great fit for my wife and I.

Being from the wet state of Oregon, where we do not "tan" but "rust", rain is not a problem and we do get some storms here.  The real downer is the "big" storms and worry that things will fall on us when we a sleeping...Damn those movies! That is the reason why I am asking about landfall for those big storms.

What part of the Island seems to get hit the most?  Wind does not give me any pause but having our house act like two of the three little pigs' houses must give me pause.

We are leaning towards the west part of the island, more into the rainforest than the dryer east side and this might be our last house I will build or fix up, but one never knows what tomorrow will bring.

As for bugs in the west, what do you mean more...are they the same bugs but the amount is more or they are different ones.

I have read some of your other post and love your honest replies , not like a sales pitch as when I talked to a realtor from the island, lol.  I am trying not to go into this with a blind eye or thinking everything will be perfect.  I have taken the "It is what it Is" mind-set for years and looking forward to the move.

 

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Topic starter Posted : May 13, 2021 1:13 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

The prevailing winds blow from east to west so tropical storms and hurricanes almost always move in that direction. When living in the VI, its not "if" a hurricane comes, its "when" a hurricane comes. However, our home has been through countless hurricanes including two cat 5's (Hugo & Maria) and come out in reasonably good shape.

East vs west is a personal decision. We didn't want to live west because we own a business in the Christiansted area. I didn't want to have to drive into the sun both ways. As for bugs, its a jungle out here. Bugs are big and plentiful. But, we never worry about them anymore.

If you're buying a lot, building will be a challenge but can be done with patience.

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Posted : May 13, 2021 1:59 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

@vicanuck Lots of patience...LOL  I have two homes near me that are going on 2 years and almost 4 years and are just starting to put the floors in before they put up the walls. Supplies are limited, concrete goes for about 195-200 cu yd.  

As for the bugs, the winds east help keep the bugs away (no-see-ums, mosquitos, flys, etc.) The wind also keeps us pretty cool and in the evening it makes it very comfortable to sit out on the porch.  I know the west is less windy and I always read about them getting bit up pretty bad in the evening.  All the same bugs, just less of an annoyance due to the wind.  In july/august when the winds die down, the flying critters can be a bit of a pain.  

If you want to see a good video about hurricanes, go on youtube, see chris hanley's Hugo video.  Pretty much what you can expect.  Again just depends on the track, I was watching Maria from the states and it looked like it was going to go south and just barely touched and all of a sudden it turned up north and the eye went over the west end.  They say the winds are strongest in the bottom right of the storm and thats right where the east end ended up.  I lost my solar panels, object poked through the roof, vegetation damage, fence damage and odds and ends, but over all the house stood tall.  

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Posted : May 13, 2021 2:33 pm
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

@daveb722

Yes, I've seen it all in 16 years of living on St. Croix! Chris Hanley is a friend and I've seen that Youtube video. We didn't lose any solar panels (a Mike Bruno installation) and I credit them with saving my roof.

After duking it out with the insurance company via our public adjuster (Phoenix Claims), we finally settled for a very respectable six figure sum. Now, we're still working on renovations but duking it out with the bank to get funds released. Apparently, they dislike the fact that I'm doing most of the repairs myself or using a Florida based contractor who is a friend of mine. However, once I set my lawyer (Scott McChain) on them, they started to cough up the money.

No 'tings easy here! 

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Posted : May 13, 2021 3:35 pm
daveb722 liked
Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
Trusted Member

Personally I choose to live upwind from the refinery and the dump. I also would avoid living in or near a gut that will wash out in a storm. You can check this on topographical maps.

As previously stated the prevailing wind blows from the east/NE. 

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Posted : May 13, 2021 4:34 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

@vicanuck  Mike is great, he did my replacement panels and just added to my system.  Best solar installer on island by far.

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Posted : May 13, 2021 6:49 pm
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

Well this what I was expecting in the replies!  You guys are great.

The cost of 195-200 cu yd is what it is here, what about blocks and rebar? Seen a lot of homes built with them, and yes those treated rebars are the ones I want.

I am so glad you talked about how slow it is to build, is it because of supplies (not enough of them) and/or just the workers. I have heard stories about not being on site when the work was being "done" and coming to the site 8 hrs later and seems like the workers did nothing... been building and remodel homes from my early years  (16 years old) ..now just turned 60 so I can do almost everything so it is the supplies that I worry about. Seems if you have a Home Depot there you can get most of what you need from them, or do you have to have them ship it?

How far away do I have to be from the refinery "smell" or is it anywhere to the west of it?  Looking at the greener Northwest area, Mahogany Rd on up.

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Topic starter Posted : May 13, 2021 7:18 pm
rewired
(@rewired)
Advanced Member

We live on a hilltop northeast of Frederiksted (off Mahogany Road). We normally have 8-10 mph breezes and gusts up to 25 mph.

Being on a hilltop gives us better views and keeps the house comfortable without air conditioning. We also only had a few days (less than a week) last year when the no see ums came out.

Despite limited rainfall so far this year, our cistern is over half full (11k of 18k gallons capacity).

We had a condo near Judith's Fancy for over six years before we moved west. One reason for the move was that we often found ourselves driving west to do the things we wanted to do (diving, beaches, restaurants, etc).

Let me echo @daveb722's advice - try different areas of the island if you can. 

Over the past year, we've smelled a couple of fire at the dump (one for about 2 days), and we could smell the April smell issue from the refinery in areas near the house 

The west end of Mahogany Road is arguably the worst road in the territory - it's a deterrent for people looking at the west end. In some of the potholes, you can see the last couple layers of asphalt.

No politicians live out here, so they forget about us (sometimes, it feels like they do it a lot...).

If you have the skills, building will be easier for you, especially getting the house out of the ground. 

PM me if you'd like, and I'll be happy to share my thoughts in more detail (possibly over a beer).

 

 

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Posted : May 13, 2021 8:30 pm
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

I do not think we will be able to stay and look at the regions at this time, I do not want to spend my days looking out the windows of anyplace we stay at ... heard someone went there and for 7 days and only had 4hrs to look around after their covid lock down was over, real waste of money and if you seen one hotel room you have seen them all.

Thank you rewired for your reply, that is what I was asking from some-one that lives in that region.  

I know that there are junkers sitting around in yards and was wondering if there are any RV's not in use... thinking as a temp place to hang my hat as I build.  Anybody used a Yurt?

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Topic starter Posted : May 13, 2021 9:00 pm
jaldeborgh
(@jaldeborgh)
Advanced Member
Posted by: @daveb722

@vicanuck  Mike is great, he did my replacement panels and just added to my system.  Best solar installer on island by far.

I second that on Mike Bruno, we put in a 36 panel system (with battery) last May and it’s been great, no complaints.   Our neighbor did the same a few months later and is also very pleased. 

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Posted : May 14, 2021 3:16 am
Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
Trusted Member
Posted by: @boomerpapa

Been looking for land to buy and found lots of different regions,

East -dryer

West -seems wetter

North Mid-island -resorts

The list goes on.  The question I have is what are the plus side and downside of each.  Why does it say the the east is the more sought place to live?

Does the Northwest have more storms hit it or does the storms landfall in the southwest of the island...houses for sale that has storm damage seem to be just east of F'sted.  Does the North have less storm landfall, would it be ok to have a house right by the ocean without worrying about storms? 

In the lusher western part of the island does it have more rainfall that people do not like it, or is it because it has more critters that cause more problems?

A oversight of all the (+) and the (-) of the regions would be a great help.

No need to say any thing about the region around the airport area.... no thank you, got that one checked off.

Atlantic hurricanes originate off the coast of Africa between Lat 10 and 20 N. They generally travel to the west/NW and each takes its own path depending on atmospheric conditions. No location on STX is safer than any other. Where storm damaged homes still occur on the island may have more to do with owners having resources to make repairs rather than the track of Maria in 2017.

Check DPNRs web resources to see if a property is in the tsunami evac zone and/or if you will be required to purchase FEMA flood insurance if you're thinking about building near sea level with a mortgage. Also DPNR manages building permits and how they work with Fed Coastal Zone Management requirements. Aside from this, seaside locales anywhere on the island will have rust and deterioration far quicker because of salt related corrosion.

i am a sailor. Closer to the wind is better for me. On the east end, the air is fresh ocean air that has not blown over land since Africa. No matter whether a smell is present, on the west side the air may have  moved over industry and the dump. When it rains, what's in the air ends up on your roof and in your cistern that provides your household's water. This obviously doesn't bother many - and the properties west in the island can be extraodinarily beautiful.

Areas in and near both towns tend to have more social issues - homelessness, apparent poverty and crime. There is a racial divide with the east end being inhabited by "transplanted" white people - many living their retirement dreams until the lack of adequate health care on the island catches up and they retreat back to wherever they came from.

Building on the island is possible but may not be adviseable depending on what you like to do. We're nearing the end of our 3 year Maria re-construction project. Yes slow. Mostly due to the availablity of qualified workers - electricians, plumbers, masons, AC guys, etc.- that you will use to at least sign off on permitted work even if you do the work yourself. There is ALOT of new building happening in my neighborhood and elsewhere so you'll be in line for these guys. I watch concrete trucks pass my house quite often. Tile installers and painters - get in line too. Oh and properly installed windows are a big topic. 

BTW - plan to use a local architect to design your house. You really have no choice if you want your plan permitted and approved.

As far as an old RV - you might do better to think about an old boat. I've recently seen a couple of cheap old beater sailboats available as live aboards. There also was a construction trailer with plumbing for sale.

 

 

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Posted : May 14, 2021 1:55 pm
daveb722 liked
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

You might spend some time researching hurricanes. They have a counter-clock rotation in the northern hemisphere. The most powerful winds are in the right forward quadrant. Also, they don't hit just a point of land; they are much broader than that. Irma wiped out most of the BVI and St Thomas, but we (on St Thomas) were getting supplies and evacuation help from St Croix and Puerto Rico...until Maria hit...

If you are thinking you can avoid hurricanes in certain areas, no. You need a strong house with lots of tie-downs and such, but you still could get hit.

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Posted : May 14, 2021 2:00 pm
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

Permits?

What is needed if I do the work myself?  Do they have inspectors?  I come from a state that requires you to get a permit saying you do not need a permit to build a type of build... crazy.

Can I build a pond if I waited to?  Are there year-around streams on some land?

What are the requirement for cisterns?  Septic tanks?  Solar Panels and/or power hook-ups?

If you need a road put in what does that take?  There is some land I am looking at that seems there are no roads to them.

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Topic starter Posted : May 14, 2021 4:49 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

I know a couple that lives out west in an old RV until they build there home.  Not sure if they brought it with them or found it here.  I was wrong about the Hurricane strongest winds, I thought Right rear, but east ender is correct, right front, my bad. LOL.  Are you sure your concrete is that price?  I put in a partial driveway, a few walkways, steps, and a concrete pad, some stamped for less than 10k.  Oh and 2 25' footers in that price. The driveway I'm doing now is going to be around 15k only because I know someone who is allowing me to buy supplies at cost and just paying for the labor.  It's about 1/2 the size of my the project in NY.  Just saying...  #6 rebar (non coated) is 900 for 1 bundle.  Seperately 100 for 10 pcs.  I'm not sure how much #5 is.  Your gonna spend 250-350 per sq foot to build and that's for just basic guts.  If you want nicer cabinets, fixtures, probably 450 is a good ballpark.  I could be off a bit, but bet I'm close.  As for the east end, gator's mom is right.  Although most people I met are not snobby at all and we all get along great with both the transplants and crucian community.  I asked my driveway guy about getting stone from the quarry out west, he told me if I went there and told them where I lived, they would stick it to me...they don't like us I guess on this end and think we have a lot more money.  But it is what it is, just got back from the beach, hanging with my dogs and gonna relax.  Have a great weekend. 

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Posted : May 14, 2021 4:56 pm
rewired
(@rewired)
Advanced Member

@boomerpapa

Came across this interesting paper regarding the island. It may be TMI, but it has a lot of information on rainfall, temperature, topography, etc.

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MANUSCRIPTS/puerto_rico/PR690/0/VI.pdf

I haven't seen much in the way of RVs on the island, but there do seem to be a number of step vans (think UPS or FedEx) around that might be able to be converted... I've stayed in a hurry and they're pretty cool, but I'm not sure if you'd run into any coffee issues. They definitely wouldn't hold up to a strong storm.

Block and rebar seen to be pretty available, although I haven't seen any coated rebar.

Lumber prices (like everywhere) are high right now, but should return to more reasonable pricing as the supply chain gets back online.

If you do wind up considering further east, make sure you plan enough roof area (keep the overhangs short) to provide enough water. On the west end, the roof size minimums in code are probably sufficient, but as you go further east, they may not provide enough water to avoid having to buy it.

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Posted : May 14, 2021 4:58 pm
jaldeborgh
(@jaldeborgh)
Advanced Member

Building cost are very high at the moment and materials availability is becoming a major issue all over the country so expect it to get worse over the next 6 to 12 months before it gets better.  We’re just finishing up a major remodel of our home in the northeast and are about to build a 3 car garage and replace 450ft of very old asphalt driveway with concrete so I’m fairly current with some building cost and materials availability issues. My builder (today) was quoted 30 - 40 week lead-times on regular 36” doors and single hung windows (nothing special) so we basing some component selections on availability alone.

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Posted : May 14, 2021 7:25 pm
daveb722
(@daveb722)
Trusted Member

@jaldeborgh Definitely, I just ordered windows from Castle Glassworks, they are hurricane windows and the lead time is 6 months, but I got the rebate (40%), so I save 5k on them.  Guess I can wait.  Covid has messed up all production.

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Posted : May 14, 2021 8:00 pm
jaldeborgh
(@jaldeborgh)
Advanced Member
Posted by: @daveb722

@jaldeborgh Definitely, I just ordered windows from Castle Glassworks, they are hurricane windows and the lead time is 6 months, but I got the rebate (40%), so I save 5k on them.  Guess I can wait.  Covid has messed up all production.

Everything for our garage will be built to withstand hurricanes, cement construction except for the roof that will match the other buildings on our property.  Funny story, I was ordering so call W-8 hurricane Clopay garage doors....buy them from a Miami dealer, ship them to Paradise Freight to get them here....the sales person quotes me 12 to 15 week lead times, as soon as I give him the 50% down payment he say he can ship them next week.  Problem is I have no place to store them as I haven’t started construction yet.  Fortunately they will hold the doors until needed. 

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Posted : May 14, 2021 8:59 pm
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

  rewired love the report and it helped a lot, thx.  Love about the farm land part, saying if you have enough water to irrigate the land, where do you think you could get the water from...lol hey guys there are no rivers or lakes, just rainfall.

As for permits or inspections?  Once you have your plans done and the Gov. say yes, you are good to go?

What about putting in roads?

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Topic starter Posted : May 14, 2021 10:57 pm
Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
Trusted Member

here’s the website for the VIs department of planning and natural resources. 

https://dpnr.vi.gov/

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Posted : May 15, 2021 6:46 am
rewired
(@rewired)
Advanced Member

@boomerpapa

In many places in the States, there are less permitting and inspection requirements than in the VI.

@gators_mom's advice on using a local architect is dead on. You have to get your plans approved before you can get an earth change permit and a local architect's signature will go a long way to getting approved quickly, even if you're building a 'stock plan' and have the architect review it to make sure it's appropriate for the area and make any needed adjustments (some people have waited months for this without it).

Once your plans are approved, you have to get an earth change permit to grade for construction and building permit before you start. If you're in a neighborhood, you may also need sign off from an architectural review board. Every concrete pour for the structure will need the forms and rebar inspected before being filled. Plumbing and electric also get inspected and delays in the inspections translate into blown up construction schedules.

In the end, you will have many inspections to get to your certificate of occupancy, and several homes have gotten derailed because someone missed an inspection along the line.

My neighbor is building his own house (the third he's built for himself) and plans his own 'packs' of materials that he has shipped in containers from the States for things that take forever here. He usually does his windows and shutters in one pack and his roof in another. He'll also do his interior finish (tile, cabinets, sinks, appliances, etc.) in a third once the house is dried in. By doing this, he saves more than enough to cover shipping and knows what he needs will arrive together and will be protected from weather and theft once it arrives.

He'll also build November or December to June or July (depending on how hurricane season is looking) and lay off until hurricane season trails off until the building is dried in and secure against storms.

Depending on what level of finish your looking for on your road, there are several equipment operators that can do grading and help with drainage cuts and gravel. Getting from that point to a finished road (asphalt or concrete) can get very expensive. If the road travels asking the side of a hill, make sure to install concrete culverts and pipes as you build the road along the uphill side or heavy rains will wash it away in a couple years.

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Posted : May 16, 2021 10:14 am
Darkmuse liked
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

@rewired This is spot on to what I thought , thank-you.  You have been a big help!

 

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Topic starter Posted : May 18, 2021 3:19 am
BoomerPapa
(@boomerpapa)
Active Member

@gators_mom thank you for the site to look

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Topic starter Posted : May 18, 2021 3:20 am
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