500 More Sub-standard Houses.


One solution to reduce the vulnerability of your house is to have your foreman properly trained.  I now offer a training course that will lead to participants receiving the Diploma of Walbrent College.  See article on  Walbrent College for further details.

Regards, Grenville


Whenever I am driving through a new housing development, I habitually stop and inspect the building construction work.  Sometimes I photograph what I observe.  I have yet to observe a house being constructed to the minimum structural standards of the Barbados National Building Code.

It is less expensive to build a house to the standards of the Building Code than how builders are currently build houses in Barbados.  Therefore, cost is not a valid excuse for non-compliance.  Why then do builders build substandard houses?

Builders build sub-standard houses because they are generally unaware of how easy it is for them to actually build them properly.  The reason why they are unaware is that most of them have never read the national building standards, which were published approximately 15 years ago, and is still sold by the Barbados National Standards Institute for $100.  The reason why they have not read the building standards is because the Government does not require that houses in Barbados be built properly.

The new DLP administration has promised, in their manifesto, to build 500 houses in 500 days.  Will they be as sub-standard as the ones built by the last administration?  I have inspected houses being built for the Government last week and can confirm that so far, nothing has changed.

The photos that follow show the national misery that we are currently preparing Barbados for.  This is what approximately 75% of houses in Barbados are expected to look like.  They are photos taken in Grenada following Hurricane Ivan in 2004 were approximately 85% of houses were severely damaged or destroyed.  Be prepared.


Grenville Phillips II – Chartered Structural Engineer

Photographs – Copyright 2004 by Grenville Phillips II.  All Rights Reserved.Concrete Block Wall House

Almost total roof loss and loss of contents.


Loss of walls and contents.


Loss of roof and contents.


Total property loss


Only the foundations can be salvaged.


Neighbouring propereties can offer limited assistance.


The Governor General’s residence – loss of walls, roof, and contents.


Main Church – total roof loss and contents damaged.

8 responses to “500 More Sub-standard Houses.

  1. Grenville, you mean to say that all these big mansions are being built below the right standard, or do you mean the the ones which are cropping up in backyards? I wondering.

  2. Hi Syl:

    I was dealing principally with the houses that have been and continue to be built for the Ministry of Housing. However, I am also concerned about private-sector residential developments.

    I estimate that 75% of houses in private-sector developments are sub-standard, and 100% of houses built for the Government’s housing program are sub-standard.


  3. I have no reason to doubt you but I really hope you are wrong. I believe that everything gov’t is responsible for turns out that way. Not because of a lack of money but because gov’t is such a faceless entity that everyone treats “it” as they like. I have seen repairs and renovations done in my dept. The shoddy work, the leaking roofs and the list could go on about the problems that remain or are even exacerbated after renovations and thousands of dollars spent.

  4. Hi Syl:

    I really hope that I am wrong also. However, I know what I have seen. I will take a few photos this weekend of some typical substandard building practises. I sincerely regret to state that it will be extremely easy to do so, because substandard residential construction is ubiquitous in Barbados.

    What is so frustrating is that building properly does not cost any more money, and the Town Planning Department can start solving this problem tomorrow. All the Chief Town Planner has to do is to wake up tomorrow and specify a new condition of approval: all new construction must comply with the Structural Requirements of the Barbados National Building Code.

    The Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 240) already has provision for this specification. Clause 16 (1) (a) states that the Chief Town Planner can grant planning permission subject to such conditions that he thinks fit. One condition specified in Clause 56 (1) (d) is the design or structure of a building.

    This year, the Barbados National Building Code will have been published for 15 years, and during that time we have had an unprecedented building boom. Regrettably we have squandered the opportunity to ensure that buildings were built properly for no apparent reason. We should not squander another day!


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