Lots of people have asked me about building in Jamaica, so I thought I would cover a few of them.
First I have to admit that I have a design degree, and I have enjoyed designing the houses, the site and the experience. I admit it can be a bit more challenging if you are not familiar with the build environment.
So let's start with the houses.
There are a couple of options, generally for building in Jamaica. I am from Vancouver Island, so what first struck me, is the lack of wall construction. You don't have to fill them with insulation, you don't have to worry about HVAC and homes are historically small in neighborhoods, Generally, and especially if you want to build authentically.
You build with 6 inch concrete blocks, or wood framing, or at least, that's the way I have chosen. I wanted to have AC in one of the units, so chose to do concrete as a first floor, and carry it upstairs for the bathroom, which follows the same floor plan for weight. The ceiling and walls wrap around the bathroom in wood, and with a little roof cap upstairs.
Concrete is more long term, and I hope a storm doesn't blow away the wood cottages. You try your best; tie the walls to the concrete decking with bolts and tie the walls to the ceiling with metal hurricane straps and screws. Also, when building, remember that he water rises quickly and drains quickly, so build a couple of blocks high, so you don't' worry about flooding. For me, and my bug fear, I chose a monolithic concrete poured floor throughout. I just like knowing. This is also great for when you spray the perimeter of the house for bugs.
To build a deck for the house you dig a trench, building the block staggered wall within that trench, on a poured concrete base or if you hit natural stone. then you fill that foundation with stones, pieces of concrete and fill like mal (a heavy, muddy earth). Then you pour your floor. Choose a nice finish if you aren't going to tile it...one tip is contractors here think they are finished before door knobs sometimes, so be clear. If you want a finish on the concrete, be clear, because they will leave it rough and builder, ready for tile.
Window blade kits are sold in sets, and are the way most do windows here, especially in board houses. You chose the number of blades, and then customize the width by cutting them. You can also purchase them in glass, which I'm not familiar with.
Glass windows are available, and I used them in the concrete building. It wasn't easy to fit them into the concrete boxes, but after some mallet work and damaged concrete walls, they look, well, not that great, because I chose the UV coating...its really dark, and it blocks the light.