[Click to enlarge cabinets under construction]
Custom-built cabinets.

Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page

Report #16:
July 9, 1998



Since our May 9, 1998 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.

Kitchen Cabinets for the Guest Villa

[Click to enlarge cabinets under construction]
Maynard built the custom cabinets.

This kitchen is intended to make the guest villa independent of the other buildings, but not so fully equipped that guests will never leave. These cabinets were custom built on the island by Kenneth Maynard (see picture below). All the cabinet doors have open lattice work to allow ventilation and there is no press board in these cabinets (press board sucks up moisture in the tropics and then...)

[Click to enlarge finished cabinets]
The final cabinets.

We have a small two-burner gas cooktop, but not an oven. Instead there will be a microwave. There is a ceramic sink with drain board and a small refrigerator will fit under the counter on the left.

The cooktop was purchased from an RV supply house in Seattle, the sink from Dutch St. Maarten, the Italian tiles from French St. Martin, the faucets from St. Thomas. As you can see, a simple little kitchen can be an excuse for a tour of the Caribbean!

[Click to enlarge bananas]
Quick growing bananas.

If you check back in our reports, you will find that a few short months ago we planted some banana sapplings along the west side of the guest villa. Let's walk around the side of the building and see how they are doing.

Those little sapplings have exploded in size now.

[Click to enlarge back door of guest villa]
The back door.

Here is the back door of the guest villa, which opens onto the private garden. Notice the outdoor shower encloser to the right of the door, with the Passion Fruit vine growing up to give it privacy!

The Roof of the Technology Center

[Click to enlarge office railing]
Form for upstairs railing.

The upstairs of the technology center has a large porch which will have a fabric awning over part of it for shade. The railing is made of local concrete bulustrades, tied together with a concrete top railing. This picture shows how they lay the form and the steel for the railing.

[Click to enlarge roof rafters.]
Roof rafters installed.

The pitch pine roof rafters for the upstairs of the technology center have been installed. But first, Arne Harrigan smoothed them with his thickness planer and added an edge detail with his router. We didn't use a concrete roof on this building because of the weight and the desire to have a large meeting room on the ground floor without a concrete post in the middle.

[Click to enlarge ceiling installation.]
Installing the ceiling.

Here is Geoff Richardson's crew installing the tongue and groove cypress boards which will become the ceiling upstairs. Battens are then installed above the cypress to create an insulating air space, then marine plywood with radiant barrier glued to the underside. See picture below of the gutters for a view of the installed plywood roof.

[Click to enlarge inside view of ceiling.]
Inside view of the ceiling.

And here is the completed ceiling which will be painted with a light wash of white paint ("pickling").

Notice the concrete beam that ties the two walls together. This is to keep the building from blowing apart in a hurricane, since there are no structural walls in this large space to provide strength.

Traditional Concrete Gutters

[Click to enlarge some gutters]
Traditional built-in gutters.

Here are some traditional built-in gutters on an office building in The Valley. They are made of solid concrete and are an integral part of the structure.

[Click to enlarge Ken Maynard and gutter design]
Ken Maynard's form for the gutters.

We were stumped for a design for our gutters. It has to be easy to build the forms, but we wanted a curve and some elegance. Luckily, Kenneth Maynard ("Columbus") was on site, working on the cabinets for the guest villa, and said he could create exactly what we wanted in his shop. He went off and came back the next day with this clever design, made of PVC drainage pipe and standard lumber.

[Click to enlarge gutter forms]
Forms for builtin gutters.

Here is how the form for the gutters is laid out as an integral part of the ring beam. When the concrete is poured, the gutters will be tied into the building's ring beam. The ring beam is a structure of steel rebar and concrete that runs around the top of the walls, tieing together the wall panels and the roof beams into a single, strong composite unit.

[Click to enlarge pouring of gutters]
Pouring the gutters.

This is Binger of West Indies Concrete pouring concrete into the gutter forms.

[Click to enlarge the gutters]
The gutter forms are removed.

Here are the rough gutters with the forms removed. The surface will be smoothed when the "marbletite" stucco is applied.

This type of guttering system is excellent for hurricanes. The gutter projects above the wood roof, preventing the wind from getting under the edge and lifting off the roof.

[Click to enlarge the roof]
The roof and gutters.

Here is a view of the marine plywood roof and the concrete gutters. The seams between the sheets of plywood have been sealed with fiberglass tape and will next be covered with an elastomeric coating that contains ceramic particles (this is supposed to reflect even more of the solar energy). Very "cool".

And Other Work Continues...

[Click to enlarge container]
Another container...

We have received two containers of building supplies from Miami. This one contains Marbletite stucco to finish the outside of the Technology Center, solar panels and batteries, and a new Pentium-II 333mz computer for doing CAD and architectural graphics faster!

[Click to enlarge priestman.]
The Priestman Returns!

We are starting on the foundations of the main house this week, but first we had to have the Priestman rock pounder back to dig out space for the cistern and the swimming pool.

[Click to enlarge site of main house.]
Laying out the foundation heights.

We laid out the outlines of the building and the planned heights of the various areas. Everything is relative to the floor of the gazebo: 28" up for the living area, 70" up for the master suite, and 84" up for the master sleeping platform and master bathroom.

[Click to enlarge watermelon.]

Gardening Tip: watermelon will grow in Anguilla! This is our first fruit, from what was a ground cover.

New Book on Caribbean Home Ownership

There is a new book for sale in Anguilla called Caribbean Home Ownership - A Novices' Handbook. This book was written John O'Toole, who built a home on the island of Culebra, located between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. He covers an amazing array of practical problems that must be faced in any Caribbean construction project.

Here is a list of the Chapters and topics:

  1. Home Ownership Basics
  2. Water-its sources, collection, handling, storage, use, re-use and - alternate sources
  3. Conservation of Water
  4. Electric Power
  5. Fire Protection
    if you'll need this, don't ignore it
  6. Other Considerations
A very useful book for the person harboring fantasies of tropical construction. Available on Anguilla at the Anguilla Drug Store and other outlets, or from Pooka Publishing, PO Box 568B, Eau Claire, MI 49111-0568. The cost if $13.95 plus $3.00 shipping (check or money order). This book is not currently available from Amazon, but does have a web page where you can email the publisher.

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