[Villa roof is bright white]
The guest villa roof is coated with bright white SureSeal.

Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page

Report #10:
December 9, 1997



Since our Nov 9, 1997 report about building on a Caribbean island, we have:

Hints: Click on any small picture below to see it larger and visit the Site Map for previous and future progress reports, house plans, bookstore and references.

New Woodworking Shop

[Fishy and some doors he made.
Fishy has opened a wood-working shop. Here are some doors they made.

There is a new wood-working shop in Island Harbour, directly across the street from the dock.

Fishy and his helpers make windows, doors, furniture, hurricane shutters, almost anything out of wood. He has a nice collection of professional tools such as heavy duty plainers. We haven't used him yet, but Bob went to see the louvered mahogony doors he made for Luke Thomas's new house.

You may recognize the resemblence to his sister Prudence of Cyril's Fish House.

Mulch from the Bush

[Pile of mulch for gardening]
We have created mulch from the brush produced while clearning building sites.

We bought our mulcher from Sears in San Juan last year. Sears said shipping would be no problem. They do it all the time. It would cost $40 cartage fee to the Pan American dock in San Juan. Then a small local freighter would bring it to Anguilla on Thursday.

However, "next Thursday" stretched into 6 weeks and 7 or 8 long distance phone calls at US$1.34 per minute, adding an extra $100 to the cost of our mulcher.

Once the goods arrive and you've paid the captain, you then have to have a customs broker clear the goods ("do an entry"). Customs brokers charge $30US per page to write down the item, insert the customs code number, price and amount of duty owed. This can only be completed after the boat arrives as it is necessary to put the "rotation number" (a number that customs assigns to this one entry of the boat) on the form and that number is not issued until after the boat arrives. Then customs will take from 3 days to a week to process the paperwork and you check with customs at the Treasury office every day until they say it is ready. Then if you use your broker for delivery, which we did, there is an additional cartage fee from the customs warehouse to your house!

You can see why building in the tropics can sometimes take a long time.

If you are importing something for personal use (not for a business) and it isn't too valuable (limit is up to the officer on duty) and you are at the dock when it is unloaded from the boat, you may be able to do a verbal declaration and pay the duty right then and take the goods with you.

Pouring the Guest House Roof

[Traditional wood framing.]
Concrete pours onto the guest villa roof.

Remember, this is a double roof: there are internal wood rafters and T-1-11 sheathing, then a shiny radiant barrier stapled to the upside of the sheathing (this will reflect the sun's radiant energy). 3D Panels with wire truss structure and foam insulation are applied above that - these panels are perfectly capable of holding their own weight, so they don't need the wooden rafters, which are just for looks. Then concrete is poured over the panels to seal them, and make a composite whole with the walls.
[Guiding the concrete over the panels]
The concrete is spread over the 3D panels.

The concrete arrives in a big concrete truck, plus a crane truck which pumps the concrete up a tube above the roof. As the concrete flows out of the tube onto the roof, the workers spread it evenly over the surface. For best results, the concrete should cure slowly over a long period of time. Ideally the concrete should not be poured if the temperature is over 80F. Since our temperature is always above 80F, they add a retardent to the concrete to make it cure more slowly.

The Verandah Roof is All Wood

[Traditional wood framing.]
The wooden verandah of the guest villa.
While the main roof is designed to protect the integrity of the building in even the worst hurricane, the verandah roof is designed to give way before destroying the building. The verandah is made of 6x6 posts and wooden rafters, connected with Simpson hurricane straps. The rafters are connected to a wooden header that is bolted to the outside walls using bolts that are cast into the concrete walls.

[Rod working on the verandah.]
Finishing the verandah woodwork.

This roof has T-1-11 with marine plywood on top of it. It is very strong and built to Dade County Standards, but a really strong storm could get under it and lever it up and away. For that reason, the main roof is not connected to this roof in any way, nor does it overlap it. Should it blow away, it hopefully will not break the ring beam that holds that main roof to the house.

The Built-in Gutters

[Built-in gutters]
The gutters in the guest villa are built into the roof.

Our rain gutters do not hang out from the edge of the fascia boards. Instead, they are built into the roof itself. The method is simple and was used a great deal in the past in the caribbean, often out of concrete. Ours are made from wood.

The verandah roof is wood, with a 2x8 fascia (face board) at the end of the rafters. A second fasci board sticks up above the roof by 4 inches. A slope is created using wood wedges to drain the water into the down spouts, which are connected to the cistern.

We also took the precaution of putting cut-off valves and a T-joint to prevent salt water from entering the cistern during a hurricane. In the event of a hurricane, all you have to do is close the valve to the cistern and open the valve that drains to the ground.

The Villa Roof is Sealed!

[Sealing the roof seams.]
Sealing the roof.
Here , the roof seams are being prepared before application of the sealer. All seams were covered with a layer of Topcoat flashing grade elastomeric sealer then a layer of fibreglass tape and another coat of sealer. At the joint between the concrete main roof and the wooden verandah roof the seams were covered with a layer of Snow Roof Systems Elastoseal, a layer of polyester tape, another coat of elastoseal, another polyester tape and finally a coat of elastoseal. The Topcoat sealer is the white stuff and Elastoseal is the black stuff shown in the picture below. The Topcoat is thicker than Elasotseal so it is better for application over the plywood seams. However, the Elastoseal runs better into the uneven joints between the concrete and wood as well as the gutter system described above.

After all seams and nail heads were covered a total of four coats of roof sealer were applied to the entire roof. Two coats of Harris Sure Seal, then two coats of Harris Stretch and Seal, a product which claims to have a 275% elongation ratio. The roof will remain white to help reflect the heat. Walls will be painted a blue-purple shade on the outside and a yellow shade on the inside. Like this:
Outside Colour Inside Colour

[guest villa roof gleaming white]
The guest villa roof gleams white after being painted with Sure Seal.

The Snow Roof Systems products were bought locally from Watkins Hodge. The Topcoat product came from Seachest Ace Hardware in St Thomas and Harris products were bought at K-Mart in St. Thomas. They were sent back on the MV Karma.

The Karma is a an inter-island freighter trading between, Anguilla, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Barts and Tortola. There are no agents! Deliveries are only accepted while the Karma is at the pier, not before or after. The schedule is very consistent, St. Thomas is Wednesday afternoon, Anguilla is Friday afternoon.

It is very important to meet the local boat at the dock to pay the shipping charges to the captain. If you fail to meet the boat and fail to get a release from the Captain, then you can't clear the goods from customs.

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Beach Shack Contact:

Mary Ann Green
Box 931, Shoal Bay, Anguilla, West Indies
Fax: 264-497-3295
[Home] [Mail] URL: www.beachshack.ai
Email: maryann@beachshack.ai