Good afternoon board. As always, this board is an invaluable source for all things living and or moving to the USVI.
I have bought a property in Christiansted, and finally able to come down and start working on it. I have been to St. Croix about a dozen times over the past 6 years or so, and have been a regular reader of this board for just as long (mostly as a lurker :)). I will be arriving on Tuesday, and plan to stay for a month, possibly longer.
The house is relatively small (about 700 sq ft), and located in downtown Christiansted, and in kinda poor condition. I can do alot of the work myself, but will require assistance on a few items. The immediate issues are the roof (flat roof, small leak, rooftop patio), plumbing (never seen it on, no idea of condition), and electric (outdated, needs attention,but is working at the moment). I will be staying in a hotel until the house is relatively habitable. I have a few questions that some of you may be able to help me with:
1. I am uncertain of the condition of the plumbing. When I turn the water on, I would like to have someone knowledgeable about plumbing to be on hand to identify and repair any problems immediately and/or the next day. Needs a hot water heater installed, and the bathroom fixtures replaced
2. I may be looking for a skilled laborer. Pay cash daily by the hour. Skills to include knowledge of plumbing and electric. A truck or large vehicle a major plus, to pick up various items around the island
3. The house is empty, so I will be looking for all household goods. Including: Bedroom and living room furniture, appliances, small wares.
4. Looking for places or events to meet locals. I am mostly interested in "forced interaction" type of things because I am a bit of an introvert (mild social anxiety thing), but enjoy being around people (I would have gone to the water clean up event today (6-17) if I was there). I am in the upper 30's and well acclimated and enjoy the bar scene,
5. Possibly interested in a motorcycle or scooter
I understand that this thread is a bit rambling, but any help will be appreciated.
Thank You for your time,
As far a meeting people, if Trivia is at all your thing, I suggest going to the Palms on Monday evening at about 6:45. Tell them you are there for Trivia. The Trivia host will hook you up with a team. This is a great opportunity meet people while doing something else, if you know what I mean.
Good Afternoon, Jeff, and it sounds like a really interesting project! I'm not on STX but will bet you're going to get a lot of good advice and offers of labor assistance. But I do have a couple of suggestions to offer.
I'm assuming your flat roof is concrete. As long as you're handy and fit, you can fix this yourself relatively inexpensively and it's probably one of the first things you need to do as a leaking roof is a real pain and something with which I've more experience than I could ever have wished for. You can go with the very expensive Vulkem elastometric roof coating but the last time I fixed the one I was dealing with I discovered a CrossCo product carried by Home Depot which worked wonderfully for way less money.
You need to detach your guttering, plug up any direct cistern inlet on the roof and then pressure wash and scrub the roof manually so it's squeaky clean. If you have any uneven areas where water collects you may have some mildew issues so before pressure washing just throw some bleach on any such areas and let sit for an hour. With a 700 sq ft area it'll be easy. Just roll on the product with a paint roller, let the first coat dry and then apply a second coat and even a third coat.
If the building is very old you may have copper plumbing which does deteriorate over time. Replace as much as you can with PVC as necessary.
Water heating - a simple solar panel on the roof is a pretty inexpensive investment and will reduce your dependency on WAPA. Water heaters aren't expensive but for such a small place get a small tank. Water heats up very quickly and there's no point keeping a 100 gallon tank hot when a small 10, 20 or 40 gallon will provide you all the hot water you need.
Household goods. You couldn't be doing this at a better time. In close to 30 years of living here I've furnished many places and have neither bought one new piece of furniture nor but a very few new appliances, and neither have most of my friends. In this transient society where shipping household furnishings and appliances back to the mainland isn't cost effective, yard sales abound. With the Hovensa closing on STX the pickings and choices are even greater. Check the classified section on this board, craigslistvi, the Island Trader and the Avis for house and yard sales. As far as appliances go, opt for energy efficient models. Older less efficient models may seem like a good cheap deal but they'll kill you on your WAPA bills. A gas stove of course goes without saying. Electric stoves are only used here in some condo units but they're not only hugely expensive to run because of our WAPA rates but when the power goes out (which it does with some frequency at times) there's nothing quite so bad as having something cooking and the current goes on the fritz.
Install ceiling fans if they're not already there. Even if they are there, replace them if they're old. Good energy efficient fans will save you a lot of money over a year compared to antediluvian fixtures which barely move any air. Both Home Depot and KMart are good sources for these.
Only you can determine whether you'll need A/C units. One interesting thing I've just recently discovered is that while many people are going for the split level units, the cost of actually installing (they generally require 220v) and maintaining them - and particularly in such small areas as yours - is very prohibitive. Energy efficient window units might be your best bet if you really need it.
If you're in a "tricky" area, have a welder install window bars for security at least on lower levels. These can also be adapted to accommodate window A/C units. Where security in general is concerned, don't leave any building materials where they can be t'iefed. Not meaning to scare you but being forewarned is being forearmed and even at the best of times I've seen lumber and suchlike being blatantly removed from a site and stashed for later pickup. Too bad that my property at the time was the pickup point when a couple of guys were stashing piles of lumber behind the garbage dumpster at my then restaurant. Surprise surprise!
OK, enough for now. Hope this has been of some help!
1. Call Norm Lozier Plumbing - he does great work & is knowledgeable- 340-514-2219
3. Besides where OT suggested you should go to the Animal Shelter Flea Market to look for items
4. Watch for various events advertised & attend them. There was a great event at Ziggy's today to benefit the Animal Shelter - lots of people & fun!
Best of luck!
If you want to enjoy riding on STX there are a few options. I belong to the "Rain Riders". We are a group that just likes to get together and ride. Good people and great fun. The best place to contact for more info is "Broken Toyz" bike shop. You can Talk to Pam or Clint. Good luck with the move! It sound like you have a project ahead of you.
Thank you all for the great responses and PMs. I have been so busy getting ready for the trip, that I haven't had time to properly respond. When I have more time, I will do so.
I know a good builder/roofer that might be able to help you out, give me a PM.