Building a house in Grenada

Like discussions of so many things, 'it's a small island' tends to precede any consideration of the building industry in Grenada and how it works. In some respects the small island syndrome simplifies matters wonderfully but in others it generates near insurmountable obstacles. The fact remains that a large number of beautiful homes have been created here. It just needs a little care and a little attention to the things that can be taken for granted in the big cities. After all, you don't need to build the views, the warm sunshine and the gentle breeze. They are just here.

Building Legislation

Building control is dealt with by the Physical Planning Unit and consents are required for all new building and most extensions and alterations. This Government department deals with both Town Planning matters and details of construction in one single application. They need a set of detailed drawings showing, among other things, all the structural details, drainage, electrical layout and hurricane resistance. It's worth agreeing the general principles before embarking on the provision of that level of detail.

Building Professionals

The major professions are all here - architects, structural engineers, quantity surveyors. Unlike larger countries where such titles are protected by law there is a tendency for some people to claim an expertise that they simply don't have. Formal qualifications are rare as is mainstream experience. It is often the case that a small apparent saving on professional fees results in a substantial loss in both the costs and the quality of the finished building.

Building Contractors

As with the professionals there are building contractors and there are building contractors. The better ones do tend to charge a little more but produce a better result and are more reliable. In the long term they generally work out cheaper.

Building cost

The cost of some of the key building materials is controlled by Government. We all resent taxation but it is a fact of life and Governments have to collect it somewhere. That and another fact of life - everything is imported - means that the cost of building materials is relatively high. On the other hand high unemployment means that labour costs are low. Depressingly, this can lead to using muscle power when a better result would be provided by machines. To put the build costs in terms of hard cash the following indicative figures for good quality residential work should give some guidance.

Internal enclosed space EC$ 400 per sq ft
External space, roofed EC$ 200 per sq ft
Decking/paving EC$ 100 per sq ft

Extra needs to be allowed for external works, roads etc. and the whole is subject to variations depending on site conditions. Currently VAT on residential work is zero rated but is levied at 15% on commercial work.