Construction on a Caribbean island may sound exotic, but it can be a difficult process.  Construction Managers (CM) face a number of unique challenges.  Issues the CM must confront include site logistics, infrastructure, labour, materials, shipping and local regulations and support.  In addition, each island may have its own unique challenges not mentioned here but nevertheless requiring an experienced CM’s focused consideration.

Site Logistics
Depending upon the island, construction sites may vary from rocky terrain to sandy coral shelf. Typically, roads to the site are either nonexistent or poorly built, so transporting materials to the site will become a major task. Almost all materials will have to come in via shipping container. This may require an upgrade of the roads to the site or the construction of a dock in order to land the barges. This process needs to be planned and tracked carefully because you cannot go down to the local supply store and get the materials you find you are missing.

Most projects need to have their own water, power and sewage plants capable of providing fresh water (typically by reverse osmosis), power (typically by diesel generator) and handling wastewater (typically by wastewater plants). These plants will form the basis of the facilities operations and need to be planned carefully not only for initial construction location and sizing, but for ongoing operations once the project is up and running. When renovating existing properties, we often find the plants require massive repairs. These projects require the same planning and eye to the future as do new construction projects.

Large construction projects in the Caribbean often rely on a multinational labour force. Although we utilize to the maximum local trade contractors, many locations may simply not have available the sufficient labour. Bringing in large numbers of off-island labour may not be allowed or may be strictly regulated by the local government, and it is therefore critical that the work rules and regulations are understood. Plans need to be made for where to house and feed the labour. These cost and planning issues must be considered. The labour productivity rate of a multinational labour force must be evaluated and considered in developing the project timeline.

While many of the materials will come from international locations, all construction projects need to have concrete materials, and in the Caribbean this may mean setting up and operating an onsite batch plant. Due to the ongoing shortage in cement, even if there is a good concrete company on the island, the plant’s capacities must be carefully analyzed to ensure that the project's needs will be met.

Local Regulations and Project Support
Local regulations and project support will play a large role in the development of your facility, and it will assist with permits and other regulatory hurdles. In the Virgin Islands, there is a detailed procedure for reviewing developments. To ensure the project will be a success, the developer needs to become familiar with the local regulations and understand the processes during the due diligence period.

But Wait … There’s More
These are just some of the hurdles to overcome when planning and constructing a project in the islands. Of course, there are perks: warm sunshine, tropical trade winds, turquoise waters, gorgeous views and a laid-back way of life that’s hard not to love. Our company has been involved in island resort construction since the late 1900s, and we look forward to continued activity for many years to come.