As the title (I know, cliche) might suggest to some, we are in fact moving upward. Work on the roof began this week. Yay! It was supposed to begin last week, but for some unknown reason it didn’t begin until Tuesday. But the good news is that it has begun.
Whenever I mention to any of my friends/family in the states what it is costing us to build this house they are generally shocked. I am shocked too, but I do understand, to some extent at least, why it is so expensive. In terms of materials, nearly everything has to be shipped in. The cost of shipping is borderline ridiculous. An example: the three bundles of lumber in the two photos below came from Miami last week. I spent around $3K for this lumber. For me to get these bundles from the lumber yard in Miami to my site involves three different shippers. A local in Miami, the freight shipper from Miami to St. Croix (CaribTrans is who we are using), and the local in St. Croix to get it to the job site. Total cost of the shipping was right around $1200. Your first question is “why not just buy it locally”? And of course that is a great question. Unfortunately, even with the cost of shipping, I was still saving money. In addition, the local suppliers didn’t have quite a bit of the sizes of lumber I needed. We try to do things local when it makes sense, but most times it is just too cost prohibitive to do so.
What else have we accomplished these past two weeks? Let me walk you through it. First we were able to get the back/ocean side garden wall up. I was a little surprised by the height of the poured walls. Not including the footers, the walls stand nearly 8 feet high, with half of that being above ground. This wall isn’t moving, it is solid. The original design called for a gate in the middle, but since we are keeping much of the sea grape the gate would end up opening right into it. So we shifted the gate to the one side.
In addition we decided to take advantage of the space underneath the office to use as storage, so we put in a small opening for a door and poured a floor under there.
We also poured the slab/floor for the guest bathroom and the office. This puts us at nearly 200 yards of concrete used so far. Shortly after the office wall forms started going up.
As mentioned above, the rafters started going up for the roof over the master.
And finally, a few random photos.
Wow! You are really moving along. We have had land in St. C for about 5 yrs and are determined to build this year. Can you tell me which architect you selected and who the builder is? We are trying to decide on both and the process is not an easy one. I think we can learn a lot from your blog and will check it regularly for tips. Thanks so much.
Hey Mercedes, thanks for the comment. Our architect is Hera Psaros (340 718 0725) and our builder is The Pro Shop (http://www.theproshopvi.com/).
Thank you very much. Would you recommend the architect and/or the builder for a home on a hill in the Grapetree area? We want a modern home w/ an infinity pool. Can you kindly tell me why you chose the particular architect and builder? We have not encountered their names before so I am hoping they are each a treasure! Are you paying about $200 per sq ft? Thanks again and best of luck. All seems to be going pretty well for you and we hope it continues to be so. We will continue to monitor your blog for updates and hopefully more good news!
Yes, we would recommend our architect. Make sure you continue to stress your budget through the design process and have them design for your budget. Ask us about our builder when we are finished with construction. We are still too early in the build process, even though we have been working with him for a year. The cost per sq ft will unfortunately be closer to $300 than to $200, but your selected finishes have quite a bit to do with that cost per sq ft.
My, you are brave! I just found your blog tonight while Googling “solar power on St. Croix”. Read your whole history and am impressed. We first vacationed at a friend’s place at Villa Madeleine on the East End and loved it so much we ended up buying there last summer! We are in the process of having a solar powered pool pump installed.
Your comments about “island time” and costs are spot on. A waterfront at Judith’s Fancy and a view of Buck Island in the distance from your master bedroom. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Mike, thanks for the comment. You will have to let us know how the solar pool pump works for you. We are looking at doing the Pentair Intelliflo pump.
We are looking at the SunRay System, installed by a local company, SSDI.
http://www.sunrayus.com/index.php for the system info and http://ssdisustainable.com for the local installer (Onaje Jackson). He has already done 8 systems at Villa Madeleine and we have gotten excellent feedback on them. We hope to install when we are down for 2 weeks in late-April/early-May. He’ll be doing ours plus 2 more at that time. WAPA is really killing us with the cost of electricity and with oil going way up who knows how high their kwh rate will go!?!