Latest update May 27th, 2023 12:27 AM
Aug 07, 2011 News
By Leonard Gildarie
The rains did not deter the crowds that came last weekend to the National Stadium for the International Building Expo.
According to government, some 50,000 persons visited the event, the second in as many years.
For me, the show which saw several overseas companies promoting their products, continued to prove that it was badly needed.
The growing popularity of the trowel-tex material which many companies are now selling as an alternative to traditional paint was evident. One company has even announced that it has found a way to produce it using sawdust and epoxy. It won the President’s Award for new innovation.
Another significant entry to the market was the introduction of the pre-fabricated wooden homes to the Guyana market by one local company.
But perhaps what I loved most of all were the pavers. I always thought it was a sad affair that Guyana stopped producing claybricks. Many homes, driveways and fences have been constructed by these fire-baked bricks. Although it came in that one reddish/brownish finish, it was highly resistant to the elements. The claybrick company located in Canal # 2 ceased its production years ago, leaving the local market without this beautiful alternative to concrete blocks.
Now, at least two companies have introduced the paver bricks into the Guyana market, one of them producing it right here.
There was also a heavy presence by Chinese companies, including New Thriving and China Trading, advertising from bathtubs to metal doors and bar stools. I even saw a small ice-cream machine on display.
Next year, I am hoping that in a big way, some company can tell us that they have found a way, using local materials, to introduce a really affordable home. Not sure if anywhere in the world there is such a thing as a “cheap” home, but it is on my wish-list.
Although Bulkan Timberworks had taken the media on a tour to unveil their pre-fab homes for the Guyana market, I wish that Guyana could have been afforded an opportunity to see their shingle roof, decking, wooden windows and doors. I hope next year that the company takes a booth at the show.
But enough of that.
This week, I want to discuss an issue that members of the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) are complaining about. NDCs are independent government bodies overseeing infrastructural works, and the collection of garbage and taxes in communities.
Part of its duties also includes the approval of plans for new homes and extensions. Before you could be approved for grocery shop, you will be required to submit the application to the local NDC, which in turn forwards it to the Central Housing and Planning Authority, a section of the Ministry of Housing.
The NDCs are saying that many of the plans for new homes sent in have one problem or the other.
Among the most common are bedrooms located incorrectly on the plan or the home situated too close to the boundaries.
Bedrooms, by regulations, are to be placed on the windside.
So how are these mistakes being made? In most cases new land owners would go to an environmental officer and tell them what they have in mind. Not a good idea.
You should as a rule of thumb ask the environmental officer (known more popularly as the Sanitary) to visit the land in question. The officer will be in a better position to advise.
Windside, boundaries and the location of the road are all key factors in determine how to place bedrooms and kitchens. The NDCs would not pass the plan if these details are incorrect.
Some NDCs meet monthly. So if you are working on a tight schedule and waiting on the approved plan to take to the bank for financing, getting it right the first time around is critical.
Secondly, a common problem is getting too close to the boundaries.
The regulations say that the home must leave 10 feet from the fence area. This includes from the front fence, side fences and back fence.
The reason for this is mainly to provide protection to the home against fire and allow for privacy. Nobody wants to hear their neighbour’s bedroom business. Well, maybe…!!!
I recalled a fire in Grove last year which started at a Chinese restaurant and left four homes and businesses in rubble. The roofs were like about two feet apart. You could have walked from one to the other.
Another problem is that persons would build their fences too high. Fences are not supposed to be more than six feet in height. There are some clever home owners. They would for example build an eight-foot fence and then raise the level of the yard by two feet. This compensates for the difference. NDCs are unable to act because the home owner would have been within the law.
To apply at the NDC, you need to have three copies of the plan, an application form and copies of the title or transport for the land.
Building in the city is a little more complicated, with the regulations more stringent.
Next week, we will examine the requirements.
In the meantime, you can write us at [email protected] or call us at Kaieteur News at 225-8491.
Enjoy the week!
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This following two sentences are not wholly accurate “the regulations say that the home must leave 10 feet from the fence area. This includes from the front fence, side fences and back fence“. The 10 feet rule only applies when the width of the lot is 50 feet and greater; if it falls below that number then 1/6 the width is applied, Also, if 1/6 is less than four feet, then it has to be 4 feet. Set backs cannot prevent fire on buildings but rather, provide safety nets from spontaneous combustion (chained fire hazard) in neighbouring buildings, in event one is on fire. Fire prevention is being address in the area of hard mitigation. There is no law (as far as I know) that indicates, that bedrooms must be on the windward side of a building. However, it is a good practice as it is essential to capture the prevailing winds particularly when the occupants are asleep. However, there are laws that deal with the number and size of windows on the external walls of bedroom as well as sanitary facilities. The Central Housing & Planning Authority had circulated a guidance document, that specify the minimum size of bedrooms and the height of solid fences. As for instance, each dwelling house must have at least one bedroom that should not be less than 100 square feet and any additional bedroom cannot be less that 80 square feet. These references are based on an old public health rule (hypothesis) in which each adult is required to have 40 square feet of floor space within a bedroom and a child (10 years and younger) 20 square feet. With respect to a fence, a person can build a fence higher that 6 feet if it is made of chain-link. Also, a concrete fence can be higher than six feet providing that there is an adequate number of spaces in it, so it does not affect external ventilation. Finally set backs have nothing to do with eavesdropping on your neighbours but rather, to aid external ventilation, control human density, act as safety nets in fire containment etc.