Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project
Implemented by the Organization of American States
Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment
for the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Caribbean Regional Program


Status of Building Codes in the Caribbean

Status as of May 1999

Country Code Status Code Availability Building Inspection Capacity
Anguilla Anguilla Building Code completed. Anguilla Building Ordinance mandates the use of the Anguilla Building Code. Efforts underway to incorporate building regulations into the new Physical Planning Ordinance (administered by the Department of Physical Planning). Hardcopy can be purchased from the Government of Anguilla.

Electronic version available.

Being developed. Building inspectors being trained
Antigua Completed, based on OECS model building code. Legislated as regulations under the Development Control Ordinance. Hardcopy can be purchase from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda Government Printery (EC$480) 5 Building inspectors on staff 
Bahamas Code was in operation from the mid 1970's. The Code was based generally on the South Florida Building Code Copies available from the of Works, Nassau, Bahamas   Building inspectors in place in adequate number and training. 
Barbados Draft Building Code being discussed. Government proceeding with the establishment of a Building Authority and the appointment of Building Inspectors. Technical provisions of the Code based on the standards contained in CUBiC Target date for detailed recommendations for establishing the Building Authority and other mechanisms required for legislative review is September 1999   Copies available for the Barbados National Standards Institute  Recommendations will be made for the engagement of an adequate number of building inspectors for monitoring residential construction. Other buildings will be monitored by professional engineers and architects engaged on a case by case basis.  
Belize Belize City Building Code in place from 1963. Belmopan has building and planning regulations. There is no national building code. Efforts are now being made with assistance from CDMP to develop a national building code and a residential construction guide based on te technical standards in CUBiC Target date for completion of the documents for legislative review is October 1999 Copies of the National Building Code when completed will be available from the Government of Belize.

Electronic versions will be available. 

The Ministry of Housing and the Reconstruction an Development Corp in Belmopan have building inspectors. Consideration will be given to the nature of inspection desired and to the number and training requirements for building inspectors.
Dominica Drafted, based on OECS model building code. Submitted for legislative review. OECS Model Planning Act is being reviewed by OECS consultant (June '99). Copies will be available from the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Development Control Authority has 5 building inspectors of staff.  
Grenada Currently drafting code, based on OECS model building code. When completed, hard and electronic copies will be available from the Government of Grenada. No information available 
Jamaica Jamaica National Building code drafted and distributed for comment in 1984 -- not adopted. Current efforts to draft a new document.

There are building by-laws in each of the Parishes and in Kingston-St. Andrew.

Code being reviewed. The Government has appointed a facilitator to move the project along to the legislative stages   There are building inspectors in each parish with training in building and in construction.

The draft CUBiC 2000 will contain recommendations for the review of plans and monitoring of construction of large and important buildings. This task is beyond the capacity of the building inspectors in place.

St. Kitts and Nevis New building code drafted, based on the OECS Code. Presented to Parliament in December 1999, to be gazetted in 2000. Available once it becomes law.  
St. Lucia Code drafted and accepted by the Development Control. Code is based on OECS model building code. Copies of the Code will be available from the Development Control Authority. Electronic versions will also be available.  There are twelve building inspectors in the employ of the Development Control Authority. The inspectors are engaged mainly in monitoring residential construction.
Trinidad and Tobago Small building code being drafted based on Chapter V of CUBiC. To be ready for public consultation in Spring 2000.

For engineered buildings British, American and Canadian codes are used as standards.

Hardcopies and electronic versions will be available from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago upon completion. Special committee mandated to prepare building regulations for legislative review.
Turks and Caicos Islands TCI Building Code included in the building regulations of 1990. Code in regular use in the islands since 1991. Hard copies are available from the Department of Planning 

Electronic versions will also be available.

There are three building inspectors on staff of the Department of Planning. Monitoring of construction of large buildings such as hotels and condominiums is generally carried out by engineers and architects engaged as Special Inspectors under the Code.  

The following text was prepared in March 1999 by Alwyn Wason, consultant to many of the territories in the eastern Caribbean that have recently or are currently updating national building codes:

The status and legality of building codes in the Caribbean has caused some confusion, mainly because the existing building and planning regulations never mentioned the use of building codes as such. The emphasis on the legislation has generally been to safeguard health and property by proper planning and spatial requirements. However the Jamaica building legislation which were developed on a Parish by Parish basis was quite specific about the size of members to be used for various applications, but here again there was no attempt to relate the prescriptions given in the by-laws to any of the existing building codes.

In some States, notably Antigua, Dominica and Anguilla, there is an attempt to incorporate building codes into existing planning or building legislation. Antigua has passed legislation mandating the use of the Antigua Building Code for all building in Antigua and Barbuda as regulations to the Development Control Ordinance. Current problems with use of the code has to do primarily with the non-availability of documents and not with the legislation itself. As in many jurisdictions the legislation has caught the regulating body (the Development Control Authority) unprepared. This is a "hiccup" but the law is firmly on the books and gazetted.

In Anguilla, the existing Building Ordinance was amended in September of 1997 to mandate the use of the Anguilla Building Code. The amended Ordinance has to be passed by parliament. This should have been done in January of this year as the Attorney General stated in December that he was placing the Ordinance on the agenda for the January sitting of Parliament. The Department of Planning is working to incorporate the building regulations into the new Physical Planning Ordinance.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) the TCI Building Code was included in the building regulations of 1990 and has been in use for the last 7 years. The building fraternity has found no major problems about the use of the code.

Dominica is drafting legislation (according to the Attorney General's office) to include the building code in the Development Control Regulations.

In the legal system used in most of the OECS States, the Building Code has been placed as a schedule of the Building or Planning Regulations. This allows the Code to be amended easily and approved by the Minister without the requirement of parliamentary approval. There should be no constitutional problem with mandating the use of codes. The constitutions of all of the States are similar and give parliament the authority to pass laws controlling development in the State. But to change the building culture of any country takes a long time. The problems in California with building near the cliffs (so it appears) can only be solved if the people wish it. It does take a long time, but experience in Anguilla and in the TCI tells me that it is easier to change cultures in small places than in big places. Jamaica for instance had a building code - the Jamaica National Building Code - drafted and distributed for comment in 1984. Nothing came of this and another effort is being made to draft another document. The Barbados problem appears to be an administrative one. The code has been drafted and accepted by the Government but our information is that the setting up of a properly staffed regulatory body is causing some problems.

It is important to know that the codes that have been drafted for the various States are based on the technical requirements of CUBiC. In fact certain parts of the OECS codes such as wind and earthquake loads simply refer to CUBiC as the principal reference. The Codes however contain administrative requirements that are specific to particular States and hence the Code for each State is named differently.

For further information, see the CDMP thematic page entitled Hazard-resistant Construction.

CDMP home page: Project Contacts Page Last Updated: 07 November 2002