Is your business in a tug of war with the struggling economy?  Are you yearning for an increase in business traffic?  What about your plans to expand the business; is that on hold? Maybe it’s time to move on to the next best alternative – remodel your store/office?


Remodeling efforts are increasing as business owners’ increase their efforts to outshine the competitors and improve their capital investments.  We are seeing it happening, businesses are making the move, they are improving their businesses, they are changing faces, some are even rebranding.  Just a few years ago the Fort Young Hotel, one of Dominica’s most renowned and famous hotels, remodeled their building which improved the visual appeal of some of its public areas.  We also saw the refashion of National bank of Dominica Ltd and we embrace the new look and feel.


Keep in mind, renovations doesn’t have to be grand. Sometimes the minor changes can catch shoppers’ attention, but you would like to maximize your potential so probably you shouldn’t hold back on the remodel.


If your business has been in existence for some time now and more so has been in the same location, now may be the time to brighten up the doorway.  Invite new customers with your fresh look and entice existing customers to enter to see what’s new.  That in itself is marketing for the business.


For some businesses remodeling is not even an option, you have been leading in the battle with the economy but you have a new micro struggle and that is space.  Your door is always clogged with customers; your reception area can barely hold waiting clients and you have no more storage space for new items in demand.  Sometimes business growth demands extra space.  Customer satisfaction and by extension customer experience may also demand some extra space.  Your business is going well? Expand. Build a larger store/office.


Competition may not be the reason why you may need to renovate; perhaps you’re not even reaching full potential but wear and tear, or a disaster demands renovation.  This is an opportunity to deal with existing issues with the current design and layout.  Is everything in the most strategic location?


Women spend quite some time in the salon or at the beauty parlor; some stores have taken advantage of this and have remodeled to include a food department.  We can well imagine how this can make existing customers happy or draw new ones in.


One thing to note however is that although renovations may increase sales and rekindle customers interest, it is also essential to examine other aspects of the business, like product range, prices, staff/management relationships and customer service, they too may need to be remodeled.



The most difficult part of moving to Dominica can be accomodation. If you are in England (or America) and you want to build your home in Dominica, in the past you could send money for relatives who would oversee the process for you (God willing).

Now, it isn’t that simple. To build your home in Dominica the very first thing you will need is an architect and plans drawn up.

Today, I took a look at something that will make the whole process of creating plans easier.

Millenia LDC – the company who provide me with the properties for sale/rent on this blog – have come up with a really innovative way for you to build your home by providing pre-designed residential plans.

They have pre-designed a number of different house plans that you can purchase and then add minor modifications to, to suit your own needs.

Along with the drawn up plans you can also get a cost estimate that includes a list of everything you need. Quantity, quality, dimensions – everything – so you have a good idea of what your final costs will be.

If you have been thinking about the best way to build your home in Dominica and you don’t have a particular design in mind these pre-designed plans might be great for you.

Some of the properties included in these pre-designed plans are:

Saraca – A 2-bedroom, 1.5 baths home with a large open living, dining and kitchen area. This is a single storey bungalow type property. It covers 986 sq ft of living space and 205 sq ft of covered porch. Click the image to see a larger version

Chataignier – Also a single story two bedroom plan with an ensuite master bedroom

Campeche – This is a family home plan. 3 bedrooms, walk in closet and a private deck.

Almond – Another 2-bedroom pre-designed plan but this one is on two floors. The lower level features a studio apartment so great if you are looking to rent out space

Apricot – The largest pre-designed plan I looked at out of them all. A house built on three levels and particularly good if you own land with sloped terrain. Below is a drawing of what the kitchen area will look like.


There are pre-designed plans of all shapes and sizes. You can take a look at what your finished home will look like without having to worry about actually coming up with plans yourself.

If you are looking to build your home in Dominica. You have your land and you are ready to get started click here to get in touch and I will be able to introduce you to the talented company who can show you more plans.

Things have definitely come a long way in terms of being able to buy some land and set up home in the Caribbean.



Renovations and additions can improve the comfort and functionality of your home as well as increase its value.  Renovation may be very simple in the sense that the only activity it involves is replacing existing materials like windows, doors, cupboards etc.  Larger renovation projects may need a great deal of consideration and planning especially if it’s an addition to an existing building.


If you are planning on expanding your home please ponder on these:


Purpose – The reason for the renovation is a good place to start planning.  Your decision to add to your home may stem from reasons like family growth, increase in disposable income, the need for a more comfortable living space etc.  These reasons will affect things like material choice, style and size.


Location – Just as location is important for new buildings, it is important when adding to an existing building especially as utilities are already well placed.  Choose the location that’s most convenient for the purpose.  Enhance the environmental quality of the building by taking advantage of and considering a beautiful view, use of yard space, the flow between the current sections of the house to the addition as well as making use of natural ventilation and lighting.  These aspects are a few that could contribute to your decision.  The extent of the renovation may warrant involvement by the local planning authority.


Size – The larger the square footage of the addition the higher the cost of construction.  The reason for the addition and the amount of money available helps determine size.  The purpose also helps determine type of materials to be used.  E.g. a large increase in disposable income could encourage a luxurious finish.


Appeal – No one wants their addition to look like a misplaced ornament.  Although additions don’t allow expression of creativity and personal taste as designing a new home would, it could be seen as a pattern to follow.  So if your house has frosted white windows and oversized doors for example you would want to match that.  If it is difficult to obtain those items for any reason then you could simply match the colour and the interior layout. If budget permits, change all windows and doors to create a more cohesive look.  Try as much as possible to maintain one general look on the exterior.


Plan and budget – Develop a general idea of the amount of money you want to and can spend on this project.  Once you know how much money is available compare it to your plan.  Comparing renovation plans to budgeted funds allows you to weed out any part of the renovation that is not compulsory or necessary at this time or increase the scope of the project.


A lot of components come into play when adding to your home and you may want to avoid costly or dangerous mistakes.  If you intend to renovate or remodel in the New Year now would be a good time to start planning.  If the remodel or renovation is planned for the Christmas, consult a professional before jumping in!



The decision of whether to buy a home or to build a home is one faced by many individuals.  Being involved in the real estate component of our businesses, we come across many people looking to buy a home, most with the justification that it will be much more convenient to buy the house and move in immediately, avoiding the construction process and period.  On the other hand, we have the privilege of witnessing our architects serving clients who are adamant that building their home is the best way to go.  Today we share with you five (5) common rationales from our clients as to why you should chose to design and build your own home.


  1. You get your dream home

The biggest advantage is that you can build your dream home or something very close to it. When you are searching for a home, it is often impossible to find one that has everything you desire, you most likely have to make compromises.  When building your own home, there will be far fewer, if any compromises to be made. You have a lot more control over the design and function of your home.


  1. Your home will be brand new

When you work with design and building companies, they will build you a beautiful brand new home. Whereas, when you buy an existing home, you may find that it has not been treated with care by its previous owners or that it has alterations that are not pleasing to you. A new home is a blank canvas with which you can do whatever you want.


  1. New homes are more efficient

Any property built these days must adhere to the current efficiency standards. These standards cover elements such as heating, cooling and ventilation, and many others which results in more efficient and stronger homes being built.  Not only does it lead to comfortable living conditions but it can also be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to live.


  1. Choice of materials

With the increase in availability of different types of building material including environmentally friendly material you get to choose your building materials.  Most new homes are designed to use more environmentally friendly materials and energy efficient systems to create a home that is far more sustainable.


  1. Government Fees

The government fees payable by a buyer on a typical property transfer is 7.5% of the sale price or value, whichever is greater.  You can buy land and pay associated fees on it then build, avoiding payment of government fees and often lawyer fees on land plus house price or value.


If finding that perfect home has proven to be difficult so far, why not consider having it built?



Designing and building a home, office or investment property can be particularly complicated.  Each task entails exceptional skills and disciplines in order to get the job done perfectly.  If you are planning a home extension, conversion or are building a new property, it is more than likely that you will need the assistance of an architect. Therefore here are a few reasons why hiring an architect is important.


  • An architect works with you on an intensive examination of your requirements, to help you accomplish your vision. He will help you characterize and create what you want to build, as well as present options you may never have considered.


  • An architect will help you set a practical and rational budget, and help guide you through the planning process. They design in accordance with set standards and provide assistance in obtain permission from the necessary authority, in Dominica, Physical Planning Division.


  • They are knowledgeable about building materials and practices and are also familiar with new building technologies and materials, and their application, to create efficient buildings that are airy, comfortable and stylish.


  • An architect knows how to plan rationally for best environmental performance, they can give advice about placing the building on the site to enhance views and features, to catch the sun, provide shade, promote natural cross-flow ventilation, reduce and conserve energy.


  • Architects produce outstanding solutions to often complex residential and commercial needs. Creative thinking, attention to detail and functional performance underpin everything an architect does.


  • An architect manages the construction phase and all the work if necessary. They manage consultants like surveyors. Critically, your architect will inspect the work right through the construction period to facilitate you in getting the quality and level of finishes you deserve.


Anyone looking to buy a home knows that it is all about compromise. You may find a good home, but the kitchen is smaller than you want. Or the price is within your budget, but the layout is nowhere close to what you are looking for. If you have searched tirelessly and simply cannot find the right home, you may need to have the perfect home constructed. One of the most common questions we get asked is, how long will constructing a home take?


While experts believe that it takes somewhere between 5 months and a year to build a residential building from scratch, there are a lot of variables that can affect the construction timeline to be considered, the biggest of which are:-

  • The number of efficient workers on the job each day – the timeline in which your home is completed heavily depends on the amount of individuals working on the construction site. For instance, if you have a large crew more work can be accomplished in a shorter period of time compared to having a small group of construction workers.


  • Type of materials – the materials you choose can also impact your construction timeline. Based on the home you want built, whether it be made of concrete, brick, wood, or a combination of the above mentioned, the time taken to complete will vary. Also whether you desire a concreted roof, galvanized roof, or a tiled roof can affect the timeline.


  • Arrival of materials – one holdup that can be out of your contractor’s hands is the arrival/availability of materials. It is beyond the control of anyone except the company providing the construction materials as to when they will be available. Not having the necessary items when needed can cause your construction project to get off track.


  • The state, location and accessibility of the lot – in instances where there may be an existing building in need of being demolished or the ground where you want to build is in bad shape or steep more time will be added to the duration of the construction project. If the land is located in an area with poor access, transportation of materials can be difficult and result in work being slower.


  • The weather – weather is probably one of the most common factors that can delay construction, especially at the beginning of the job, before the roof is complete. Constant rainfall as well as many other acts of nature can delay your progress. Once you have the walls and roof finished, bad weather isn’t as much of a concern.

What is most important is that you find a contractor or construction firm who you can trust and who communicates with you every step of the way. You need to trust that you are being given a reasonable time estimate. If something feels like it is taking too long, ask your contractor about it. There could be a good reason, but you will not know unless you ask.

Have you experienced the home building process? Are you a contractor yourself? What are your thoughts on the variables shared? Did you experience another factor that affected the timeline of your construction project? Share with us in the comments below.

If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at



Every construction job is different, and from our previous article we discussed the different Variables That Can Affect the Construction Timeline. However, there are some steps in the process that are standard when it comes to building a home. A construction timeline tailored to the house you are building should be provided before the project begins. If one is not provided there is nothing wrong with asking for one.

According to Home Building Smart, here’s what the average construction timeline might look like:

Pre-construction period

Before you begin, the construction plans and cost estimates should be finalized and your finances (loans, etc.) should be sorted out. This can take one to two months maybe even longer.

Preparing the lot and laying the foundation

This includes clearing out trees, leveling the lot, construction of the foundation and starting the flooring. A month is about the average timeline for this step.

Framing the house and building the roof

Framing usually takes about two months, but can be delayed by the weather. Once the roof is completed: framing and covering, weather is generally less of a hindrance as it allows for different activities to be undertaken within the structure during rain.


Siding and services: electrical and plumbing

Workers will erect internal and external walls of the house, which takes about a month. With the walls in place, rough plumbing and electrical wiring works, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (if included) can be done but the installation of services will be ongoing.


Surface finishing

This is when the inside of your house starts to look like a house, with the work completed. Expect about two months.


Fixture installation and finishing works

In the final two months painting is done in addition to finishing the plumbing and electrical work and hanging of ceiling fans, if any.


Punch list

This is a critical step where you do a final walk through and you and your contractor create a to-do list of little things that still need finishing up to ensure that the work meets your expectations. Make sure you go into this with a critical eye and question anything that seems inconsistent with these expectations.  This is your chance to get your contractor to fix mistakes before you move in.


Some of these steps can overlap, of course, and as previously stated delays along the way can make the job take longer than anticipated.


Have you experienced the home building process? What timeline did it take? Share with us in the comments below.


If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at



The building materials used when building affects the extent of damage sustained by infrastructure during and after natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.



Reinforced concrete is one of the most practical and preferred building material in the world. Why? Because it has the ability to regulate the strength required at specific points within a structure, and it can be used at a relatively low cost.  Properly designed concrete structures will resist hurricane force winds and can be made to resist earthquakes. Compared to wooden construction, it provides superior fire resistance, and can gain strength over time.  Concrete structures can also stand against sea swells and intense waves along shore lines and floods. It is one of the most durable building materials.



Under proper conditions, wood provides excellent, lasting performance.  However, it also faces several potential threats to service life, including fungal activity due to increased levels of moisture. It is also buoyant and this makes timber structures get swept away at high water levels as in floods and sea swells. Albeit timber structures can withstand earthquakes and hurricane force winds once they are well built.


In earthquakes, timber structures have the ability to permit high levels of displacement in the structure due to its flexible joints.  These joints dampen the horizontal forces generated, while sustaining only minimal damage.  Also, since the forces acting on the structure in an earthquake are directly related to its self-weight, lighter materials like wood would be best.


Steel Frame

The steel framed structure is widely used in the construction industry due to steel’s physical properties such as strength, malleability and its ability to be prefabricated. In terms of the ease of erection and overall durability of such structure, these properties make it one of the best materials for construction, but also one of the most expensive materials and methods in the industry.  Like reinforced concrete, it can be designed to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.


These materials can be utilized on their own or in combination to address the weakness of one, to fit within the budgetary allowance, or to make the structure’s design more interesting.


The prevalence and impact of natural hazards means that special attention should be made in building designs and materials and in employing the right technical professional to lessen tragic loss to property and life.



Before hiring a contractor / builder to construct your home first ask these important questions we share with you this week.

Question #1: How long have you been working in this industry?

You need to know how the builder / contractor learned the trade and how much experience has been acquired.  While more experience does not always mean better service, a builder / contractor who has been around the block a time or two is more likely to have a proven track record.

Also, ask whether or not this builder / contractor is a member of any professional construction body.  This is not a determining factor but it provides more credibility.


Question #2: Are you willing to provide me with references?

A builder/contractor who is proud of their accomplishments would be happy to provide contact information for owners of projects that they have worked on, and would love to show you their work.  Be mindful that you are looking for projects that fit the style and scale that fit your needs.


Question #3: How does the actual work get done?

Some builders / contractors subcontract or use someone else as a foreman on their projects.  Getting background information on this person is important. Taking a look at projects handled by this foreman is essential.

In addition, it is useful to find out how the work will be laid out and what the typical work day will be: working hours, line of communication/responsibility.


Question #4: What is the payment schedule?

Different contractors / builders may offer different options when it comes to payment and different options may work better for your situation. However, never pay for the work in its entirety prior to the job’s completion and inspection. Do pay a fair down payment but you should establish a payment plan tied to progress and should hold back the final payment until the job is completed in keeping with the agreement and reasonable standards.


Question #5: Will you write out a contract specifying what you will do, the anticipated time frame, quality of material, payment schedule, and a termination clause?

A builder/contractor (or any professional) can offer you the moon but deliver a pebble; and what can you do about it if you don’t have the agreement in writing? Not much. Request a written contract that includes the items listed above.  Have the contractor sign and date the contract and keep a copy in your records. Beyond that, make sure you understand everything in the contract. There needs to be a written and clear outline of who is to do what and when – and what happens if there is a violation.  This contract will be useful if any legal action has to be taken.

Is there any other question you would like to add?



After all the dreaming, hard work and saving you are finally ready to turn your dream home into a reality. With all the excitement what most individuals fail to realize is that it does not take much for the project to turn out to be an epic fail. Proper planning needs to be in effect to save you time and money. Here are 5 costly mistakes you need to avoid.

Mistake #1 – Poor financial planning!

Unless you will be buying your home out of pocket (in that case, we envy you!), you are going to need financing. Check around for the best mortgage rates and terms and find out how much you can afford before meeting with a real estate agent, architect or contractor. Building your dream home should not plunge you into debt or a straitjacket. Deciding on the type of construction and style of the home that will fit into your budget may require some research but it will definitely pay off in the long run.

Mistake #2 – Planting roots in the wrong location

After you have built your dream home, you will not be able to move it around if the location chosen turns out to be wrong for you. Consider changes that may occur in your environment in the future and how that will affect your quality of life, and value of your property in case you decide to sell your home later on.  For your own enjoyment and for future sales look for property in a location which is convenient while still being relatively peaceful.

Mistake #3 – Not starting out with a good set of plans

People think they are saving money by not buying good plans.  First, without plans you cannot get an accurate cost estimate for building a house. You can’t make an accurate materials list so you won’t know what the materials will cost. A contractor will not know how difficult the house will be to build so he cannot give you an accurate estimate of the labor. The plumber, the electrician and other subcontractors need to be on the same page so it must be a plan that can be understood by all concerned.  Incomplete or nonexistent plans will inevitably lead to misunderstandings, tear-outs, delays, and conflicts which cause greater expense.

Mistake #4 – Choosing the Wrong Builder

Shop around for builders, ask for references and check them!  Do not make the mistake of choosing a contractor because he has the lowest price. Talk with several builders; check out their work to find the right fit. A good contractor will be willing to work with you to stay within your budget by going over the proposal to see where you can cut back. Regardless of your choice, understand that working with a professional with a solid background and years of experience can come at a premium price but it is worth the investment.

Mistake #5 – Building for only your current needs

If you know that children are in your future, build with them in mind.   If you cannot afford to prepare for children immediately build to allow for an addition later on. There is nothing worse than building a new house that is already too small the day that you move in.  If you need more square footage than you can afford at the present time, consider lowering the cost of the fixtures such as cabinets, windows, and doors some of which you can always upgrade in the future.  If this is to be your retirement home, what will your needs be then?  Does your home need to have wheelchair access?  Will you always be able to use the stairs?

Which one of these mistakes do you believe would be the worst to make?  Have you made one of them?  Can you think of other mistakes that should be avoided? Share with us in the comments.