Many of the buildings on Grand Bahama and Abaco that were completely destroyed by Hurricane Dorian did not comply with the country’s building code, Build Control Officer at the Ministry of Public Works Craig Delancy said yesterday, explaining that lax enforcement on Family Islands might have led to the non-compliance. He added that his ministry is looking to strengthen compliance of the code moving forward.
Delancy, who spoke at a Bahamas Society of Engineers lunch meeting at The Balmoral, said he and a team carried out in-depth inspections of buildings damaged throughout those islands and found they were missing vital, code-compliant parts. In some cases, they simply had structural damage due to wear and tear and in some cases termites.
“Many of the buildings that were damaged or completely destroyed, were buildings that did not comply with the code,” said Delancy.
“We know that on the Family Islands – some that are more remote than others – there tends to be less enforcement. And from our inspections, looking at some of the buildings, we saw where basic building components were not meeting the codes.
“And so that is one of the major items that we recognize. Also, a lot of the buildings that were destroyed were old buildings where there was rotten wood, termite-infested wood, corroded anchor bolts and hurricane clips. We even saw masonry buildings where reinforcement was corroding and major cracks were already in the building.
“We noticed the absence of angle bars, which would have helped hold the building together. And so all that was to say that code enforcement is a major item we need to look at in the future.”
Delancy added that there are areas that can be improved on in The Bahamas’ building code, though he said some engineers maintain that the parts of the code dealing with the structural aspect of buildings is robust.
However, he said climate change and the ferocity of hurricanes the likes of Dorian, should lead the construction sector to “be more conscious about how we build and make an effort to improve how we build”.
“And so, we will be looking at, in the near future, other amendments that can assist in improving building construction and the code itself,” Delancy said.
“We need to look at other areas such as renewable energy and energy conservation, those are some of the items we are looking at to be part of the building code.”
He said the country will also have to decide whether its code will be a performance based code or prescriptive based.
He said the Ministry of Public Works continues to look at involving the private sector in carrying out inspections of built properties in the future.
“We know they have been lobbying to this for a while,” Delancy said.