Several weeks ago, Rob and I traveled to St. John with a few objectives. Having received our first clearance from CZM (Costal Zone Management) back in September and with finished drawings in hand, our first objective was to file for the final building permit which we did on September 12. We had also submitted those drawings previously by email to Fish Bay Owners Architectural Review Committee which is required by Fish Bay covenants.
We also met with two local excavators which will be the first skill needed in the rebuild. Our preferred contractor (Steve) who we really like, had an issue with machinery. He had been ready to acquire a needed machine and only the week before discovered the deal had fallen through. Thus, we had an excavator with no excavator! Not good. While chatting with him, Rob recalled seeing a machine parked in front of a neighbor’s house above Sundancer. To make a long story short, both Steve and I know the owner and it turns out he has health problems and is more then willing to let Steve use his machine on our project. Problem solved.
We also met with the mason who will immediately follow the excavation and he is ready to move forward too. (One never knows what “ready” really means on St. John.) We also met with a plasterer who may end up doing the finish on the pool as well as the interior and exterior of the house walls.
While in town one day, I hear a loud call of “Mr. Bob, Mr. Bob”. It turned out to be, Nevil, a man who had done a fair amount of work for me on the old Sundancer right before the Irma. It was Nevil who told me about the evacuation boats coming to STJ to take folks to San Juan on Friday after our Wednesday storm. (Recall that we were on the first boat.) Nevil was in the final stages of restoring a house in the middle of the Island and wanted us to see it. We followed him into an area that I never knew existed off Centerline Road past Bordeaux Mountain. Nevil is a highly skilled craftsman and had done a great job on the house and had assembled a crew of lesser skilled, but hard-working men. The bottom line is that there is no doubt that Nevil and his team will be part of our crew once the foundations are finished and house starts going up.
In addition, the neighbor who owns the excavation machine we will be using is a contractor and has a skilled crew of guys who are scrambling for work given he will be in the states receiving treatments for his illness and he encouraged us to use his crew to help as well. So suddenly we have access to trusted skilled and semi-skilled local labor. Nice!
We also reached agreement on housing for the duration of our construction on up on Gift Hill which is convenient to Fish Bay. It will hold us and any crew or volunteers who come down to help. That is a load off our minds.
We will need temporary power during the project and we planned for that, which can’t be activated until the building permit is approved, but we also planted the pole near the road which will hold the meter. (The first actual piece of construction! Photo below).
I purchased a very nice work truck near my home in Florida (photo below) and as I write, my friend Gene, the welder is building a bed and roof rack system for it. The plan is to ship the truck to. St. Thomas so it is there near to when we arrive.
Now for the great news. This past week, we heard from Fish Bay Architectural Committee and our plans have been approved! And further, just yesterday, we learned that the Building Permit was approved! Great job, Rob and Na’ama!
Thus, we are ready to go. As a final step, in the interest of safety and peace of mind, we are having a St. Thomas structural engineer review the plans one final time despite that fact that our SIP engineer designed the house to meet the stringent USVI codes of 185 mph winds and Category IV earthquake standards.
So, that’s it for now. Rob and I plan to go to STJ right after Thanksgiving and get things started.