Designing your home in Jamaica – How to approach it

The house/home is a place for family and loved ones.

While thinking about building on your own and your Jamaican home, there are some important questions you should ask yourself:

WHAT DO JAMAICAN ARCHITECTS DO?

Jamaican architects typically help you to realize your design objectives and guide you through the design and construction process of your build on own land project. The services given by an architect extends much further than producing a set of drawings in the construction industry. You would not be paying for a blueprint-you would be paying for the design. A blue print is just a photocopy.

An architect designs to the clients specifications and coordinates the entire construction team, selects materials and building systems to achieve production and cost efficiency, ensures building quality standards, and manages the work processes for the team to enable the project to be constructed.

Your architect will analyze your build on own land project site (where you would like to build) to determine the following:

  1. Best configuration: your architect will determine the type of house you want and the configuration that best fits your site. For instance, split level, single-storey, multi-storey, or terraced configurations.
  2. Best placement and orientation: your architect will observe and record the best view for placement and orientation for your house on the proposed project site. You should also think about the design of your build on own land project in Jamaica in regards to solar power installations in the future.
  3. Ventilation: Your architect will record the wind direction, flow and patterns to ensure that your house is well ventilated and naturally cooled, especially in our tropical island of Jamaica.
  4. Solar gain or energy reduction: your architect would visit and analyze your site and document the sun path to calculate and design your shading devices to reduce the solar gain in your house and consequently reduce your energy costs.

An architect will design your house on your build on own land to your specifications. Your architect will listen to your needs and design your home to fit your needs and lifestyle.

 

WHY HIRE A TRAINED JAMAICAN PROFESSIONAL?

For most persons, building your house on your own land is one of the largest and most important undertakings you will ever accomplish in their lifetime. Many people take on twenty five year mortgages or build on their land over many years toward the completion of their homes. The majority of the home owners will own only one house in their lifetime. So ask yourself:

If I am going spend all this money building my house on my own land, do I want just anyone to do it for me, or do I want someone who is professionally trained and who knows what they are doing?

Like most people, if you have a limited budget for the project, wouldn’t you want to get it right the first time and make every dollar count? Wouldn’t you be interested to know ways in which you can save on your construction expenditure?

How many horror stories have you heard of persons who bypassed an architect, only to regret it many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars later?

Hiring an architect in Jamaica at the start of the home building process saves you time, money and many of the stresses that come hand in hand with home construction and ownership here in Jamaica.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE SEEING A JAMAICA ARCHITECT

So you’ve decided that you want to hire an architect. What’s next?

Here are some important questions that you need to ask yourself before seeing your architect in Jamaica.

Living Requirements:

Q: How many people will reside in this house?

A: Possible answer 3-6 persons

B: What are their ages, gender and living preferences?

A: Possible answers: Late 30’s-male and female, 5 months-male (both must have separate bathrooms)

Q: Do I like large open spaces or do I prefer a compartmental layout?

A: Possible answer: large open spaces

Q: How long do I anticipate living in this house?

A: Answer- at least 10 years then rent it for income in retirement plans

Q: Do you like to entertain or have frequent visitors and guests?

A: Answer: yes

Design Requirements:

Q: What are the internal spaces I require? E.g. bathrooms, bedrooms etc.

A: Answer 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, and foyer

Q: Which spaces are optional vs. a necessity?

A: Answer: optional items-outdoor kitchen, patio, lap pool, family/games room, bedroom #4 and 5, office, cinema

Q: Which space is the house is most important to you?

A: Master bedroom

Q: Do you want to complete the house in phases? If so what will comprise each phase of the project?

A:  it may be necessary to complete in phases; phase 1 comprising of necessary elements and phase 2 comprising of optional elements

Q: Should your design allow for a future expansion? If so what new spaces would you require

A: Office or study, covered space for two more cars

  • Is there an architectural style which you prefer?

Possible answer Mediterrian modern with lots of glass to see the amazing view

  • Will your design include a pool, hot tub or spa, sport court, greenhouse, guesthouse, detached office or studio, extensive landscaping or extensive interior design

Possible answer: greenhouse and pool

 

All these questions are essential as most persons are only able to afford one house in their lifetime. You must therefore think of your house as a customized product that is designed and constructed solely by you. You will paying for this house and living in it, so it is of utmost importance thatthe house you are building on your own land fit both your lifestyle and your living preferences.

 

Another factor to consider in building your house is climate. The Caribbean has a tropical climate, where we have an abundance of sun, wind and rain. With worldwide increases in fuel cost, there is an increasing need to design your house in close relation with climate considerations so as to make the home more energy efficient. Why not design your house in such a way to take full advantage of prevailing winds with the introduction of courtyards for cooling and cross ventilation and adopt design measures to reduce solar fain on the building such as building placement and orientation on the site in conjunction with the usage of appropriate materials. The daily path of the sun is known as relates to each season; therefore your house can be designed to reduce gain (heat) with the use of adequate shading devices and designing appropriate opening sizes. Consequently, reducing your dependence on advantage of the natural climatic factors in which your house is being built and could significantly decrease our daily energy consumption, thus saving you money in the long term. It makes no sense to be penny wise while building your house and pound foolish with its long term expenses.

 

Our Climate offers many more opportunities for energy reduction with the installation of solar panels and solar water heaters, as well as water catchment and recycling devices that can provide far more energy than we can possibly need on a daily basis here in Jamaica. Instead of spending your resources on over-sized rooms and spaces you really might not need, consider spending this money on energy devices that will reduce your maintenance costs and still allows you to achieve your need to live comfortably.

Many first time build on own land hoe owners usually want a 2,3 or 4 storey house. Before deciding to build a multi-storey house one should think about being able to climb the stairs when you get old. Consider leaving space for a staircase escalator. You should lso think about having the entrance to the bedrooms, bathrooms and other rooms wider than normal just in case as you get older you will be able to roll a wheelchair into each room comfortably.

build on own and in Jamaica wi home interior

Most people buy house plan books at their local pharmacy or drive around looking at other houses in an attempt to seek out design ideas for their own house. Some people copy design elements of particular houses, or copy the design of entire houses when making decisions to build their own house. While this may sometimes benefit your architect by communicating to him or her ideas about what you feel is visually acceptable, the design presented might not be appropriate for the build on own land site that you would like to develop.

 

Most people pay top dollar for hill side lots with spectacular views and quite often the house neither relates to the slope of the land nor acknowledges the view. It seems a waste to pay for such a site and not maximize it for its chose use.  For instance, what is the sense in creating small windows that hide the view rather than celebrate it? Most of the land that is available for sale is in the mountains, therefore there is an abundance of hill side lots.

It should be considered that building on a slope is more expensive than building on a flat piece of land. Most people take the approach of excavating the hillside by blasting or clearing the land with heavy duty equipment. However, it is cheaper to design your house in relation to the land’s attributes rather than trying to fit the land to the proposed house’s attributes by blasting and erecting expensive retaining walls. Let the land govern the design of the house rather than the other way around.

Contact Affordable Home Concepts today for your build on own land in Jamaica needs.