What a difference several weeks makes!
When I last left Anguilla, the guys had finished the foundation excavation. Our first "Anguilla construction" (well, OK, it was just the office/storage shed) was completed shortly thereafter. And since then, the base of the cistern has been formed and poured.
On this trip back, it was exciting to see how far this terrific team of Anguilla builders has come...
I can see the outline of our family's future home! More on that in just a minute.
I'll let the pictures tell the story and introduce you to the builders who I've come to know much better on this trip...
The first thing I noticed, before even peering into the excavation that has become known as "the pit" (AKA "The Hole That Is Hotter Than H_ _ _!")...
The electrical poles are here!
A sure sign of civilization reaching our neck of the woods.
We intend to explore going "off grid" with solar (or maybe even a giant windmill on top of our roof, ha! ha!).
But it's still reassuring to see the grid come to us. The last pole stops behind the house, and the transformer will be on the pole higher up the road...
So no view obstruction, and no hum.
The next thing I did was peek into "The Pit"...
The Outline Of Our Home Takes Shape
As you can see, footings that form the perimeter of the the house have been completed. The wooden structure in the center is the future cistern that will sit under the house. (A cistern is the container that holds the water collected from rainfall on the house.) The next concrete pour will be the walls of the cistern.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to see a dream like this start to take shape. Now let me introduce you to the people who are building our home...
Jim And Mike, Construction Lead and Project Manager
Curtis And Me
I'm not sure if Curtis is doing his Jack Benny "Oh my" impersonation in the photo above, or if he has a toothache. But I can tell you he's a pleasant, thoughtful man who I enjoy talking with.
And note my tool belt. I've come ready to work!
That's Jim With Me
Jim is the construction contractor. Mike and I had scoured the island for a great builder with a superb team. More than that, though, we wanted someone who we would enjoy working with.
Personally, I don't understand why I've heard so many stories about the arguments owners and builders get into. And I'm not talking about Anguilla, this just seems to be a problem anywhere in the world.
Building a home is something a person might do once in his lifetime. So it should be a joy. Like anything else, having a great experience boils down to people, working with good people.
That goes for building homes, and it applies to building companies...
Mike loves it here and wants to start a new life in Anguilla, building quality homes. So I have helped Mike form a new Anguillian construction company. It even has a name... TurnKey Construction. (Jim gave it the name when he said the company slogan should be, "We hand you the keys when we're done.")
Mike is adding Anguillians as shareholders, key people with needed skills who want to grow a truly excellent Anguillian construction company. This company will distribute profits to Anguillians (including a profit-sharing plan for employees).
We originally approached Jim and his team because they clearly did great work, and took pride in that quality. And that is Mike's philosophy...
Build the highest quality homes, with the newest technologies (including energy-saving and hurricane-resistant). That's why my house will be a pilot project, the first home to be built with Insulated Concrete Forms ("ICF").
I like Mike and Jim and all the guys and would like to see them use this experience to build something even bigger and better for themselves.
Of course, owner and contractor won't always agree. And when that happens...
Have A Drill Ready (But Watch Out For His Hammer)
More of the team...
Jason (left) and Toby (right)
Jason is a new member of the team and is fitting right in. Toby is all business on site, a strong member of the group.
Jim, Curtis, Toby, Jason, and Mike. That's the "Anguilla Builder All-Star Team." And, as I watched them work, it was clear they really are a great team of guys, working together as one.
Later, of course, Jim and Mike will select the best people we can find when it comes time to sub-contract the trades... plumber, electrician, etc. But the men above are "the core."
I didn't just watch, of course. I came to work on this trip. So...
I did it all. I worked fiendishly. And in the end, I was victorious...
Ken "The Terminator"
When I looked around, exhausted, I realized that I was alone. Everyone had left. Where were they?
Toby, Mike and Calvin (above)
Curtis and Jason (below)
OK, OK, seriously... I didn't really swing a hammer. And Mike wouldn't let me near a saw that was actually turned on! And honestly, I don't know how the guys work that hard in the heat.
We had a wonderful dinner at Flavor's, where I got to know the guys as more than just "Anguilla builders" but as interesting and genuinely nice people. We shared some great stories about this island we all love and the people in it.
And here are some photos of the guys who really did the work. I, um, got all hot and exhausted just taking the pictures...
Jim Working In the Future Cistern
Toby And Curtis Working On The Cistern
I was looking to take a photo of Mike, too, but had to leave the site for that shot. Mike is Project Manager so he was hard at work "planning"...
Before I leave you with the wrong impression, Mike is indefatigable. The guys had commented at Flavor's that they had never seen anyone come from a Northern climate and work long, hard hot days without a "getting used to it" breaking in period.
He loves Anguilla, loves the opportunity to start an Anguillian construction company with a difference. I hope this proves to be a life-changing time in his life.
I left Anguilla with one look back at the site from higher up...
Imagine, soon our home will be there.
Next Step? Caribbean construction makes steady progress! The guys build the cinder block foundation and pour the walls of both the cistern and the perimeter of the house. The ground floor slab will rest on those foundation walls and we'll be up to ground level. What a milestone that will be!