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‘Cost of construction increasing rapidly’

BVI News photo

As the demand for construction workers continues to increase in the British Virgin Islands, the cost for construction-related services is also increasing.

Residents who are repairing or rebuilding homes and business facilities are starting to complain about these reported rising prices.

Some residents are reporting that since the hurricanes, the daily cost to retain construction services have increased considerably and have even doubled in some instances.

“The cost of construction is increasing rapidly,” decried one resident while speaking at a public meeting in Cane Garden Bay this week.

He explained: “Say, for instance, John Doe was working at The Moorings and he got laid off. He was working for $40 or $50 per day. All of a sudden he goes to the college, takes a course for five months, and he becomes a $180-a-day man, and the people are paying these prices.”

Government ‘working on’ solution

Residents in need of property repairs have been echoing similar woes and are calling on government to intervene.

“I do agree that we have to look at the labour cost of the country,” said Premier Dr D Orlando Smith while responding to the concerns this week.

He pointed to an impending piece of legislation as a solution to the issue.

“What we are looking at now is what you call Consumer Protection Legislation which that (the problem) will come under and I do have a draft which I received a couple days ago to review,” Dr Smith said.

Residents have said they welcome the long-promised legislation.

However, many have grown impatient and are clamouring for immediate relief from the pressure being placed on their pockets.

Reports of rising labour costs come just two months after insurance expert Michael Fusco warned residents to brace for increased prices on local goods and services.

At the time, he said prices would increase based on a phenomenon known as ‘demand surge’.

Effectively, demand surge is a process resulting in a higher cost to repair property damage after large disasters, than the price to repair the same damage after a small disaster.

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30 Comments

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  1. Greed says:

    What is wrong with these people. Insurance is not paying people hardly anything from morning. Now some thiefing contractor will take the rest. How will some people in the BVI be able to fix back their home? This is just plain greed. That is why you will see a lot of home undone, its because of the thiefing insurance companies and contractors. No heart, no conscience, not scruples. And at the end of the day, all some of them have a fly by night licence to do construction, if so much. Even with experience, some of them are not qualified to build even a dog house based on their poor quality works. And their labourer should have to produce papers too, if this is the greedy path they are taking.

    • Ford says:

      $40 to $50 per-day can hardly purchase 2 meals a day. When last have you been to the supermarket. Get real.

    • Hmmmm says:

      If you have a construction company and someone is willing to pay you way more than the market rate for work, you’re going to turn down the work? What is happening here happens anywhere when there is a shortage of labour/material. Of course the people on the lower end will feel the pain but Irma spared no man and the reality is it will get worst! This is a wake up call to us to stop making it seem as if trade jobs are dumb people jobs. If we took trade and training seriously we wouldn’t be here making noise. The sad reality is that a lot of imported labour, especially recently don’t have ties to the BVI and couldn’t give a shit. They are here to make money from the situation and that’s the bottom line. There is nothing Government can do about it, NOTHING!

      • Online Now says:

        Of course there is something the Government can do. They can let in more temporary labour via work permits so that there is no shortage and demand doesn’t surpass supply.

        Having said that, everyone deserves the right to a living wage and paying anyone $50 a day is a disgrace.

      • Greed says:

        Its not the imported labourers that are causing this, it is the greedy contractors who bring them in, charge enormous fees and still dont pay them right, but steal your money to splurge on. This is not right this is called price gouching and the Governent of the day NEEDS to look into this. If there is a medical disaster where there only a few people sell the meds that the public needs and suddenly the price of that med increases high sky, the people should be protected against price gouching. This is not about nonbelonger vs belongers. Yes, the government CAN DO something anout this if it WANTS to!!!!

    • Burned says:

      What about the building supplies companies? There is no duty on building supplies now yet one company at least, one of them has raised it’s prices. When I asked why, I was told that they had no new stock, all board, concrete etc was from before the hurricanes and when they got new stock there would be discounts to reflect no duty. What a load of …..

  2. Wow says:

    Nothing govt can do, thats market forces. If someone is willing to pay a guy $160 a day to get their work done then thats what they think he is worth. You cant get upset because you want to pay him $120 and he says well I was offered $160 ao if you cant match that Im gone. We shouldve expected that. If you think it is bad now wait until these massive resorts start rebuilding and sucking up the labour and equipment. This disaster has shown that despite the many locals that hold a contractor trade license there are very few that can be considered ‘SKILLED’ persons.

    • Burned says:

      Government is turning down trade licences for contractors coming in. To my certain knowledge a contractor came in to fix only the commercial buildings (which need huge equipment) which we need to attract trust and legal companies back. He sent in a project manager a week later, and had a local partner (who had known the company from Puerto Rico) and was told, they were too big and would give too much competition to locals so no trade licence. What rubbish is that? All big buildings are owned by locals and rents are $10,000+ no one local pays that (they build), that is a lot of money to contribute to the economy but the gvt doesn’t see it that way.

  3. Watcher says:

    This is nothing new a norm for this government smh!

  4. OK says:

    See…this is where you have to think outside the box. Can the Government not ask OECS member states for workforce assistance? I would even go so far as to ask Caricom!!!! Link with nationals who are willing to make the move to take up jobs in construction!! It is going to be impossible for locals to do it all.

  5. Aswad says:

    Certain companies/individuals have driven up the associated labour costs dramatically since entering the BVI construction sector in the 90’s to present. The quality assurance is not in-line with the value for the works executed. Rates have always been an issue and until brought back down to reasonably unacceptable levels – the fleecing will continue unabated! Legislation without teeth (enforcement) is not what the public are demanding Mr. Premier! Take for e.g. the labour rates offered by CCCC (TBLIA Airport preferred bidder). Food for thought.

    • Bang says:

      The CCCC labour rates does NOT take into consideration the cost of living in the BVI. They plan to set up work camps, work them to the bone and send them back to China. How can you compare our normal rates to that? With the fake local trade license contractors with petty contracts should be blamed for what is happening now. Let’s not act like we are not complicit in what’s happening and trying to cast blame. We have been paying ‘our people’ out our asses and we had no problem with it because everyone was eating big. Now that we have to pay for our own s*&t all of a sudden we think it’s wrong? It has BEEN wrong! When Paul P. Wattley spoke out on it he was blasted and hated for it. Have your cake and eat all now!

  6. BOSANG says:

    I do agree that we have to look at the labour cost of the country,” said Premier Dr D Orlando Smith while responding to the concerns this we
    That should be labour IN the country.

  7. Sam the man says:

    Supply and demand dictates rates/prices simple…anyhow $180 a day isn’t unreasonable for a days hard work…the No Direction Party failed to bring in consumer protection years ago and the draft will just sit gathering dust as usual on the Premiers desk…I think the Government should focus more on improving the building codes and standards so that buildings are built properly not just thrown up negligently as usual…

  8. vi says:

    A guy charged me $260 to remove some form work. He worked a total of 7 hrs on the weekend. I paid him what he asked for because no one will walk around saying I owe them for work done on my property.

  9. East End says:

    While I am in agreement with what is happening with construction worker taking advantage of the situation. What about the land Lord raising the house rent. The Government also need to look into it and it not because of (Irma) we have been crying out. The house rents are ridiculous.

    • Online Now says:

      Whilst I agree that to just raise rent is very disappointing, we also need to recognise the additional costs that landlords are facing – increased insurance costs, uninsured repair costs, etc. will all have an impact. Plus of course supply and demand will also have an effect.

  10. Truth says:

    The Government cannot just tell businesses what to do and what not to do without first looking at the banks, duties and everything else that affects rent and product costs. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks which is why the consumer protection legislation is not there yet. It is not an easy thing because of all the variables involved. You cannot tell a landlord how much to charge for rent when you never told the contractor how much to charge or the bank how much interest to apply. If a landlord feels they can get $2K for a place that was renting for $1K pre-Irma, who is to tell them they have to charge different?

  11. true says:

    Supply & Demand

  12. Albion says:

    Construction crews are expensive, but what do people expect? They are in huge demand. We don’t have enough people and Labour and Immigration keep trying to block any more from coming in.

    I can almost live with the high costs. It is the delays I can’t take. It will be next hurricane season before I get someone to fix my house from last hurricane season.

  13. Political Observer (PO) says:

    The increasing cost for construction services is a function of demand and supply. The devasting hurricanes and resulting damages caused an increasing shortage of material, equipment and labour, coupled with a limited supply of these factors of production. Simply, more is demanded at a lower price; less is supplied at a lower price. Conversely, less is demanded at a higher price; more supplied at a higher price.

    Moreover, it is no surprise that the cost of construction services, especially labour, is rising exponentially; labour supply is limited. Typically, when supply is limited and demand is high, there must be some means of allocating the scarce resources. In regards to labour scarcity, price (rising prices) is the means. For example, everyone would like to live on the beach but there is limited beach front property. Consequently, those that are willing and can afford to pay the inflated prices get to reside on the beach. Similarly, in the current labour scarcity environment, property owners who are willing/capable of paying the inflated construction prices will come first.

    No doubt, there are some greedy seasoned contractors and some pretenders that can barely pound a nail are taking advantage of property owners at their lowest point. I got a news flash. 4 or 5 weeks of construction theoretical and lab training does not make one a carpenter, electrician, mason, plumber, pipe fitter, tile layer, painter, air condition technician……….etc. Some of these skill sets require thousands of hours to get licensed.

  14. Mr. Hodge says:

    There are multiple issues here. Firstly it took forever for the minimum wage to be increased and the cost of living is exceptionally high but when was the last time someone worked for $40-50 a day??? The reason you pay someone to do labor is either it isn’t in your bailiwick to do or you don’t have the time. How many of you would be willing to do the kind of work you want done and be paid minimally? An honest hard days work should be paid accordingly. There should be set fees for labor just like there are for taxi fares

  15. Stop purchasing that garbage pinewood and your roofs wouldn't fall off... says:

    Stop purchasing that garbage pinewood and your roofs wouldn’t fall off…

  16. watcher says:

    What is amazing is that ANY roofs stayed on in Irma. Those that did were properly designed and constructed. Note that traditional 4 slant sided Caribbean roofs with no overhangs did best. Build those right, screws not nails and plenty of them, oversize timbers, and they will survive the next one.

  17. like it? says:

    We should have been training our senior students in all those technical fields years ago but no! we all want to send our childern to be lawyers. How much lawyers we could have in the country? MOST OF THEM JUST COME BACK AS CRACKER JACK LAWYERS PUSHING PAPERS FROM BEHIND A DESK AND HAPPY TO SAY THEY MAKE THE BAR. THATS GREAT BUT WE NEED OUR CHILDREN TO BE ABLE TO BUILD HOUSES AND RUN CABLES AND DO PLUMBING AND CARPENTRY AND THEN WE WOULD NOT HAVE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT DOWN ISLANDERS DOING THOSE JOBS AND SENDING MONEY BACK TO BUILD THEIR HOMES AND COUNTRY.

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