The realities of building a house in Roatan

A completed architectural design is only part of the process to realize a home in the islands. The gap between a vision of cool tropical breezes, lazy afternoons and a completed dream house is huge.  So many people get carried away with the dream and ignore the details of engineering drawings, soil sampling for foundation structure and selecting a competent contractor for the construction.  Building a quality home in Roatan demands attention to detail and quality workmanship and same as anywhere else there are good contractors and some less good.  Building codes and requirements in Honduras are strict but unfortunately many builders do not fully adhere to them.  While this may be expedient for the builder, it can detract from the design or at worst, result in a substandard structure, which raises costs and leads to frustration.

I work with professional engineers and general contractors in Roatan who have the experience and skills to translate my clients designs into lasting homes, on budget and on time.  Construction of the McDonald residence in Palmetto Bay Plantation was an example of a well run construction project.  Complete engineering drawings were produced, including foundation load calculations and on site soil testing to assure that the structure is built to last.  Because of the demands of the site, we used a reinforced high strength concrete slab on pier foundation with the piers supported both on bedrock and floating footings.  This allowed for a cost effective structure, which minimized excavation and met the demands of tropical saltwater exposure in for a region prone to earthquakes.

The 5000 sq ft primary slabs of the structure were completed as a single continuous pour and were only possible by coordinating all the groups involved.  The site was carefully prepared for the process and timed to be completed during the dry season.  We erected environmental silt barriers and constructed temporary access roads capable of supporting the 30 ton concrete mixers.  The deliveries and the on site crews were coordinated by the Project Manager and the entire operation was completed error free within 10 hours. Within 24 hours, erection of the concrete block walls commenced.  I’ve learned that detailed scheduling, budgeting and above all else on site coordination of the different trades and suppliers is what is needed to get the job done properly.  And at every step of the process, the specifications were checked and re-checked to assure that the design and structural integrity was adhered to.


About anagallo

International Architect, Ana D. Gallo was born in El Salvador and did her professional education at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville
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