Starting a construction business on St Croix
I am considering a move to St Thomas or St Croix in the next 4-5 years and as a current general contractor skilled in new construction and renovation, I am trying to get a feel for the environment. I am very particular about my work and do a majority of it myself, I do however currently have a 2-3 man crew. I understand that the methods of building in the Islands differs from that in Kentucky but projects like renovations shouldn't be that much different. As a contractor that is somewhat ocd about his work and his product....... I am looking for as much input and advice to help me evaluate my success of operating this type of business there.
Current construction climate due to most recent hurricane.
Availability of skilled labor ( with hustle )
Availability of high-end projects
Accessibility of tools, equipment, and material
Thank You for helping me make a more informed decision.
STJ. You'll make buckets of cash. Any of the islands could use a OCD contractor IMO but you will get VERY frustrated at the way things work and the previous work done by others. Getting supplies here is extremely difficult. Im not a contractor but I have dozens of projects waiting for supplies.
*** The views and opinions expressed in my posts are soley those of A&A2VI and other like minded islanders. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the majority or any/all contributors to this site. Have a GREAT DAY!
Getting supplies here is extremely difficult.
On STX it's not difficult, just challenging, time consuming, added cost, and requires pre-planning, weeks or months. If you don't have what you need when you need it you may wait a few weeks to get it. Freight forwarders deliver in a week from Miami and will ship just about anything any size. Some material is available locally but you may need to bring in a lot from off-shore. Even from PR in some cases.
Lot's of construction going on now after hurricanes but there is opportunity in better times.
You'll probably need to work for a local GC for a while to learn the local ropes before forging out on your own. Skilled labor may be a little challenging depending on what you're looking for. Lot's of skilled folks have moved off island over the past few years when economy went south. Specialty contractors are in great demand as we typically had very few and many moved off-island leaving none. Which specialties? Well I don't have a list. The company that did our rubber pool deck for one.
I work for a construction company on St John. I agree that it would be your best bet to work with an established construction firm here for a year or two before trying to go out on your own. It is the very best way for you to learn about local code, permitting and licensing procedures, supply issues and work around, and our work force. We have many documented (and in documented) laborers that make up a big portion of the construction trade. Lanuage barriers can be difficult. If you can speak English, Spanish, and patious you would have a huge advantage there.
The DLCA website has some info for licensing procedure. You will have to sit for a test.
We have a lot of concrete construction. That is something that is probably pretty different than in KY. The company that I work for is mainly that, new residential masonry homes. I do the bookkeeping and logistics among other administrative tasks.
I just reread my post and saw that I spelled Patios wrong.... English, Spanish, Patios are the main languages spoken in our construction workforce... heavy on the Spanish and Patios. Fluency all three is a HUGE bonus. Time management is huge as well. We have constant unforeseen delays that can't be avoided and having a plan A, B, C, D, E, F every single day is a must if you want to keep your crew from standing around and your jobs progressing.
STJ. You'll make buckets of cash.
We have more than enough stateside people trying to do exactly this already on STJ. It usually doesn't end well for either the stateside guy or his client (usually an off-island homeowner who doesn't know better), because of unfamiliarity with all of the challenges of building here. Also, there isn't enough housing on STJ for the skilled labor we already have.
Julie posted a lot of really sound advice; it's best to work with someone already established locally to learn the ropes before diving into Caribbean construction. Even our local builders are completely changing some of their approaches now after going through Irma's 200+mph winds.
GC’s that are dependable, honest & have integrity will have no problem making a nice living in the VI. Too many contractors are less than ethical or honest.
In 2004-2005 our GC on STX who had his own company turned into a dishonest schmuck, committing wire fraud with our $$ sent to him. He left our home unfinished, declared bankruptcy, boogied over to STJ & started anew with another construction company which I think is no longer in business.
Well... at least someone knew what I was trying to say! My auto correct wouldn't allow any of it.
Jumbie, that sucks. And I wish it was the first time I heard of something like this happening. And right now construction trade is probably going to be the worst. Anybody with a tool bag and a truck is all the sudden a contractor and lots of people are getting screwed. Lots of work to be had, but if you haven't worked here in the business, you need to put the time in before you venture out on your own. $hit happens, and it happens frequently here.
I just reread my post and saw that I spelled Patios wrong.... English, Spanish, Patios are the main languages spoken in our construction workforce... heavy on the Spanish and Patios.
Do you mean Patois?