Island Paradise Turns to Component Systems to Fix Labor

Originally published by: Tribune 242June 6, 2019

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A prominent businessman yesterday said his “$1m-plus” new construction venture is aiming to “double sales within a couple of years” once its pre-engineered model takes off.

Robert Myers

Robert Myers told Tribune Business that Bahama Island Homes will focus on the Family Island second home market with a construction model that aims to deliver a “higher quality product” by slashing building time by 40 percent.

The company will unveil its technique, which involves constructing only the home’s foundations on-site, with a model property it plans to start work on in six weeks at Andros’ high-end Kamalame Cay resort.

Mr Myers explained that Bahama Island Homes will build all roofs, trusses and walls off-site in Nassau - a move it believes will reduce wastage and inefficiency in the construction process, thereby generating cost savings for itself and clients.

He added that these savings will be reinvested into the construction process to generate “a higher quality product” through improved finishings, such as impact-resistant windows versus non-impact resistant windows.

Mr Myers said construction will generate work for 30-40 persons on each home, with 16-18 workers on-site at any one-time. He added that Bahama Island Homes was seeking to “scale up fairly quickly” in terms of activity once it proves the concept can work and deliver the advantages it promises.

“We are in the throes of incorporating, and trying to get active and accounts open to conduct business,” Mr Myers told Tribune Business. “We’re going to do a spec model home at Kamalame Cay in Andros. 

“What we’ve done that’s a little bit different is that we’re working on the basis that while we build the foundation on-site, we build the roof, trusses and walls off-site. What that does is it increases our efficiency and decreases the amount of materials we have to ship.

“It lowers the amount of waste from building on the island, and what you have to do on the island. The cost savings, we think, we will be able to put into higher quality finishes. What we’re trying to do is produce a higher quality product, and do it in a short time period,” he explained. 

“The net really won’t be any different, but it will be faster and using higher quality finishes - impact-resistant windows as opposed to non-resistant windows.”

Mr Myers said home construction in islands such as Andros typically took ten months, but Bahama Island Homes is hoping to cut this to six - a 40 percent reduction. “That’s the start-up foundation, and then everything else is erected on-site,” he added.

“A lot of that will be done in Nassau. It’s really a pre-engineered wall and truss system. All the trades will be Bahamian trades. Nothing changes much in that department.”

Mr Myers said Bahama Island Homes was an extension of the same “philosophy” employed by one of his other companies, which for several years has successfully constructed concrete walls off-site before installing them in “high-end” residences on New Providence.

He explained that his new venture, though, will follow the traditional wood construction employed in Family Island communities such as Harbour Island, Hope Town and Spanish Wells. He described this as “a more environmentally friendly way to build because it’s lighter, more efficient and still strong”.

In addition, Mr Myers said roofing and walls can both be better insulated and achieve “higher energy ratios”, thus making it “more efficient to run and operate the A/C”.

Bahama Island Homes is now in the process of procuring materials and equipment, and selecting staff, for the Kamalame Cay launch project that it aims to begin “in six weeks or so”.

“We feel the differentiator is that it gives foreign direct investors and homeowners the ability to know they can execute a building project in a reasonable period of time, which means they’re more likely to purchase,” Mr Myers told Tribune Business.

“We’re really focused on identifying developers and developments where we can build multiple homes. It’s really geared for the Out Islands, where we think there’s much more potential for growth. We’re hoping that we can scale it up fairly quickly.

“With proof of concept that we’re building this efficiently, I think we can grow the business quite quickly and, within a couple of years, hopefully double our sales year-over-year, especially if we get developers in need of a reliable and efficient building methodology and contractor like ourselves, and give them three to four model choices for pre-designed properties set out for them.”

Mr Myers said Bahama Island Homes would still require a rotating cast of construction professionals, including plumbers, electricians, sheet rock specialists and tilers, to work in the construction process. It will also need site supervisors, general managers, labourers and other trades.

He added that while the company was originally working on a two-bedroom model, three and four-bedroom concepts will be developed shortly. “Right now we think this is a good start,” Mr Myers said. “We want to crawl, walk, run. We’ll see what demand looks like, get the kinks out and get better with the next one.”


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