Sun | Jan 17, 2021

Soon-to-be homeowners in the dark … Developers failure to follow design standards impacting buyers

Published:Sunday | August 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson - Staff Reporter
Lenworth Kelly
Blaine Jarrett
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Droves of soon-to-be homeowners are forking out heavy sums, while they endure long wait for the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) and housing developers to sort out building code glitches.

Almost two dozen stakeholders in the construction industry recently participated in a forum hosted by JPS, where the challenges to access electricity locally took centre stage. The forum was dubbed ‘ building partnerships, improving ease of doing business’.

According to Blaine Jarrett, JPS senior vice-president of energy delivery, a large number of local developers are failing to follow design standards set by the electricity company and the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ).

“On the drawings that they were doing, they were not indicating where and how close the road is to a fire hydrant, they were not making any reservations to plant the poles, and they were putting in infrastructure in front of persons’ gates and were not making provisions for repairs,” listed Jarrett, during an interview with The Sunday Gleaner last Thursday.

“Sometimes there were some simple things: like the designs don’t have legends, and when we send our guys out there, they couldn’t identify what was on the map versus what was on the ground,” continued Jarrett, noting that the challenges were primarily rooted in the lateness of developers to involve the JPS in their construction endeavours.

Additionally, the construction designs are not being reviewed by registered engineers, he explained, noting that at least 50 per cent of developers pose some sort of challenge, which ultimately affects homeowners in three main ways.

“You are buying a property and the developer promised that you can move in on Christmas Day, but come Christmas, the units may be completed but there is no electricity available so you don’t have anywhere to live,” he explained.

“In some instances, it may even result in escalation because when we get on site, it’s something completely different, and then it will cost them (homeowners) more. It overall affects customer service, because the customer in turn gets frustrated with the developer and with JPS.”

LATENESS ISSUES

Lenworth Kelly, president of the IMAJ, explained that much of the challenges listed by Jarrett indeed stem from lateness on the part of the developers to partner with agencies such as the JPS.

“Water and electricity are very important, and what should happen is that at the early part of the project, you should submit your electrical design for the subdivision to JPS so they can assess it and start giving you the cost,” he said, noting that this could save customers inconvenience.

“What happens a lot of time is that people wait until they have started to build and have gone partway down the road before they bring in JPS, and then JPS starts finding problems with your drawings. Then they say JPS takes long, when really and truly your drawings are not up to the standard that they require.”

The Sunday Gleaner tried without success to get a comment from the Construction Developers Association Limited, but developer Rivi Gardener of Rivi Gardener and Associates noted that once developers follow the guidelines set out by the JPS, their projects should be fine.

“If you use a professional engineer, they will know the guidelines, they will present the guidelines to JPS, they will approve and you build according to what JPS wants. So I don’t see why there needs to be a problem,” he stated.

Among some of the challenges developers had with JPS was the length of time it takes to approve drawings, the multiplicity of departments to sign off on contracts, and alleged corruption within its walls.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com