People buying land here on island need to take a little more time walking the land before walking to the real estate office to sign a contract.  What may have a wonderful view and lush green foliage may also have very steep slopes and huge boulders and a gut running through the land.  Oh, what a headache!

Taking some time to fully view the property is a must.  You can access simple topographical surveys from the BVI Survey Department for a few dollars.  These plans will at least give you some idea of what the land slope looks like.  But do not count on a survey that is anywhere near 100% complete.  These surveys are for general use only.  You may want to ask the seller if you could have a proper topographical survey done before you lay down a hefty deposit.  A topographical survey will tell you how steep the land is, where large trees and boulders are hiding and any guts running through the property.


Any self-respecting architect will ask you for a topographical survey before they even consider designing a home for you.  A quality architect will design a home that will be absorbed into the land and not protrude from it. In short, you cannot place a square home on a steep slope without having to design and build a monster retaining wall and massive footings, and incurring huge excavation costs.  You also need to think about the driveway to your humble abode.  A steep grade may lead to several switchbacks and sharp turns.

Any home built here in the BVI needs to be designed not only for hurricane winds but also for earthquakes.  The structural foundation upon which the home sits needs to comply with a “seismic zone 5” standard.  This is needed when the earth below decides to shift, and the shake- rattle-and-roll that follows tries to take down your home.  Just imagine an earthquake occurring at the same time as a Category 3 hurricane is taking place.  Has it happened before?  Do you want to be ready?  See where the topographical survey comes in?  Be smart and play it safe.  Not only is your money at risk—so is your safety.