Making the country’s buildings safer in the face of heightened threats from natural disasters and climate change is the impetus behind a new draft building code released yesterday for public review.
The 400-page document sets out proposed rules governing everything from the types of materials that should be used in construction, to fire prevention measures and disability access.
The code was adapted from a 2016 OECS counterpart and has already made the rounds via a number of government departments and experts.
Members of the public are now being invited to suggest improvements to be sent to Cabinet and then for debate in Parliament before a final version is officially adopted.
Consultant Colin John Jenkins, who has been assisting with the code’s revision, told Observer it seeks to set out “minimum standards to ensure safety and security for anyone undertaking development”.
He said the aim is to “add more resilience” to current regulations, “including considerations for health and wellness in light of the pandemic”.
“Resilience means more sustainable development principles, looking at things such as energy efficiency and safe spaces within homes,” he explained.
He said community feedback was an important part of the process.
“I would urge the public to spend some time looking at it. Yes, it’s a technical document but you have various sections to look at and see what you would be on board with.
“We want a building code that responds to a collective voice and also responds to a minimum standard to ensure health and safety for occupants who are inside spaces in Antigua and Barbuda,” he continued.
Jenkins, a sustainable development consultant, noted that the provisions within the code must offset safety against economics.
“There’s a delicate balance between resilience and robust construction and development, versus persons’ pockets, society and vulnerable people,” he conceded.
“You do not want to disenfranchise persons from having a building that would be considered a bunker when an average person or someone who has financial challenges can’t afford it. And that is why building codes are aimed to be documents that provide security for the minimum standard for persons to survive,” Jenkins added.
The draft code can be found in its entirety online by following the news links at www.environment.gov.ag.
Hard copies including comment sheets are available from the Department of the Environment’s headquarters at Victoria Park or the Development Control Authority at the Transport Board building in Herberts Main Road. Call 462-4625 for more details.