First Brac Affordable Homes near completion

| 18/12/2008

(CNS): Cayman Brac’s Affordable Housing initiative is nearing the end of phase 1 when the first four home owners will actually move in to their new homes. The board members of the Sister Islands Affordable Housing Development Corporation (SIAHDC) and the new owners signed the transfer documents Wednesday. Once Cayman National Bank, which is partnering with the SIAHDC for the financing of the homes, has signed off on the closing documents, the owners can move in.

Andre Scott, chair of SIAHDC, a government-funded non-profit company that manages the programme, said the houses were “substantially finished” before Hurricane Paloma – they were just waiting on a few appliances and were hoping that the owners would be moved in by the end of November.

“Then Paloma came along,” said Scott. On the plus side, he said the houses sustained only minimal damage, which was a testament to their structural integrity. All the homes lost shingles and one window was broken. “After the storm, with all the repairs going on throughout the island, it was difficult to get the work done,” he noted. However, at this point, all the shingles have been replaced and most of the cosmetic repairs have been taken care of.

After the storm, the homes were used by emergency relief personnel, who stayed three to four weeks.

Each three-bedroom home is 1,075 square feet on a 100ft by 100 ft lot, and all four are on the Affordable Housing Programme’s West End site on Bonita Crescent, off Alta Vista Drive. Their  owners will own the house and land outright.

Quality Construction, which was awarded the contract for the four houses by the Central Tenders Committee, began building on 23 July 2007 and was required to complete the project by 23 May this year. However, Scott said that though there were delays with the contractor, he delivered at last. “These are not an inferior product. These are good homes,” he maintained.

The corporation was formed to develop the programme at the beginning of the current administration and the process has been a steep learning curve, said Scott. Explaining the length of time it has taken to finish the first homes, he said that apart from construction delays and Paloma, that all the board members were volunteers with limited time. In addition, all the applicants had chosen to have a home on the Bluff site. This needed a lot of work, as opposed to the Watering Place site, which was essentially prepared and already had access to the main grid and road access.

Scott also noted that the Crown Land allotted to the programme had only recently been transferred to the corporation.

In August the board had hired a manager, Todd Eldridge, to coordinate the completion of the homes and this had helped speed things up.

The homes have been sold for approximately $100,000 each, which will go towards the development of more homes. The board members are hoping to start these as soon as possible, and hopefully the process would be quicker next time, Scott said.


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