[Guest villa from above]
Guest villa seen from new upper office floor.

Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page

Report #14:
April 9, 1998



Since our March 9 report about building on a Caribbean island, we have been working on the following:

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.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

[Click to enlarge guest villa.]
Guest villa has traditional hip roof and verandah on 3 sides.

The Guest Villa certainly looks complete, but looks can be deceiving.

The finish details take the longest in any consruction project, and ours is no exception. Here are some things still to be done:

One of the louvers in our custom teak doors was damaged during shipping. Alan, D'Doorman, came from Trinidad to inspect the damage. We also gave him feedback on the design of the louvers, which were his first. He decided to redo the louvers for us at no cost to fix the damage and make them better.

[Click to enlarge villa landscaping.]
Guest villa gardening.

From below the guest villa you can see the rock planter built around the foundation. This is now planted with palms, bougainvillea and banana plants, which are doing very nicely.

Gardening Tip: Water is lifeblood for your plants. In Anguilla the rain falls in sudden, short, showers, but it flows quickly right through the limestone soil. Use superabsorbent polymer particles that increase the soil's ability to hold moisture and makes this moisture available to plants when they need it. These particles create a root zone reservoir by expanding to many times their original size when exposed to water. The particles come in various brands such as SuperSorb. Another tip is to put 3 inches of mulch around your plants to keep the moisture from evaporating quickly. Bags of mulch are cheap and lightweight, so you can fill extra space in your container with them. Or buy your own mulcher and turn the brush cleared from your property into mulch. We did both.

Starting the Office Second Floor

[Click to enlarge embedded beam]
Embedded beam in the ceiling.

The office is a multi-purpose, two-story building designed for commerce and pleasure. Last month we erected the walls of the first story, which includes a large conference/seminar room and two office/bedroom suites. The goal is to create a technology center right on Shoal Bay beach, with air conditioning, Internet access, and clean, uninterruptable power--a place where people can escape the stresses of the North and let their creative juices flow. We already have one inquiry to host a conference in November.

Embedded Beams.

However, in order to create a large conference/meeting room from concrete, without a supporting column in the middle, meant engineering and installing embedded beams in the ceiling/floor above. You can see the rebar of the beams in the picture to the right.

[The concrete truck arrives]
Looking down on the concrete truck and the "palm statement".


Garden work continues for the "clubhouse" even as the concrete truck pulls up to pour the second floor.

If you look closely at the picture, you will see that the "palm statement" at the entrance to the property and the office now has a rock retaining wall around it to keep the carefully nurtured and doctored soil from washing away in the first tropical downpour. There is also a path through the palms and a bench to sit on in the shade of the palm trees. Further plans include a spacious entry courtyard suitable for large receptions that overflow and include the office.

[Click to enlarge pouring of concrete]
Pouring the second floor.

The Second Floor.

To build the second floor, which is also the ceiling of the first floor, the contractor Geoff Richardson assembled a plywood mold of the entire floor, supported by piers underneath. Then he laid out the rebar which gives the floor strength. Then the concrete truck delivered concrete in a long tube, which is spread over the rebar and smoothed out to an even thickness. After the concrete cures, the plywood frame will be removed.

[Click to enlarge stairs]
Pouring the stairs.


The stairs are also made of concrete, poured onto a carefully laid out wooden frame. The upstairs villa/reception area of the office has its own entrance and stairway, making it suitable for renting as a separate accomodation.

[Click to enlarge second floor and view!]
Second floor is poured - what a view!

Ready to erect second floor walls.

In this last picture you can see the second floor of the office from the road behind. On the left you see the guest villa. The view is an expansive one of the beach and the ocean reefs. The second floor is higher up and will be cooled by the breeze through louvered windows. It will be used for receptions/meals for seminars and conferences held below, as well as spacious accomodations for important visitors (i.e., tenured professors, major investors, and serious tourists!).

The two office/bedrooms on the main floor can also be used as accomodations for visiting collegues. They have their own outside entrance and bath, PC with Internet access, and they also have a connecting door to the main work space. But, they don't get a view.

An Ocean View Boat Shed

[Click to enlarge the boatshack]
Storing 3D panels.

The basement of the office has 3 parts: a storage area for boats/cars, the cistern, and an unplanned "dungeon" (see below).

Although the storage was planned as a safe haven for boats and cars during a hurricane, it was also planned as storage for construction materials. However, the location on the ocean side was so nice that we put windows into the space.

Now it is being eyed as additional ocean view office space.

A Dungeon For the Grad Students!

[Click to enlarge the cellar]
An unplanned cellar.

On the Sunday before the Geoff Richardson was to start forming up the foundation, a backhoe operator was sent to the property to dig out a little more cistern space from the hillside.

Unfortunately, no one was there to supervise him. He didn't want to hold up our project by digging out too little, so he went overboard!

The result is a large underground space between the cistern and the hill. Undaunated, we have put a door and a window into it and smoothed the floor with crusher waste. It will make perfect space for graduate students. They should feel right at home - this is the kind of quarters they are used to being assigned.

How to Run Utilities in Solid Rock?

[Click to enlarge covered conduits.]
Bury conduits, then plant.

We spent a while deciding what to do about the utilities on the property. We didn't want power poles down the side of our property to the waterfront. Instead we put the power, telephone and data cables into PVC conduit and ran it along the western fence.

However, exposed conduit was ugly and will decompose after being exposed to the sun, rain and salt air. Since we also wanted to plant a hedge for privacy and shade, we decided to solve both problems at once.

We buried the conduit in some of our least desirable soil, then planted oleanders in it. With a little water and attention, the oleanders should grow into a substantial barrier and the conduits are always available just below the surface if we need access to them.

Site Map: Links, Plans and Other Info

Latest News from our Construction Site

Past and Future Progress Reports

Plans of the Main House

Plans of the Software Center

Plans of the Guest Villa

Tropical Construction Bookstore

Links to Related Sites

Building Material Sources

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