Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page
We are building on
a Caribbean island.
Although we learned a great deal on our previous island
building in British Columbia, we did not feel it
prepared us completely for building on an island in
the tropics. Research is essential.
There aren't many current construction or architecture books about the tropics, but here are the ones we found. I've rated them according to how useful I found
them to my project on Anguilla, zero to 5 stars. If the book is
a highlighted link, you can click on it and go directly
to that book's page on Amazon.com where you can read more
about it or buy it.
Book links provided in association with Amazon.Com Books.
- Design Guide for
Building A House on a Tropical Island. Robert and Dalia Fleming have produced an excellent new book
- Caribbean Style ***** by Slesin et al (1985).
- Tropical Style. Since I can find only one book devoted to (and called) "Caribbean Style", I've
looked for books on architecture from other tropical regions.
They were all good books.
- How to Live in the Caribbean by Sydney Hunt (Copyright 1989, but
much information is more dated). You can buy this at
the National Bookstore in Anguilla.
- Blueprint for Paradise by Ross Norgrove (1989).
Moon Publications. Click link for only place we know of that sells it.
- Books on masonry construction:
- Books on energy efficiency usually focus on heating, but these books have
some information on cooling (basic conclusion is that in a climate like Anguilla
you cool with the breeze, due to lack of temperature drop at night):
- Energy-Efficient Houses by Fine Homebuilding (1993, Taunton Press)
- Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture, Principles and Examples
with Reference to Hot Arid Climates by Hassan Fathy (1986, Univ of Chicago).
Fascinating book but Anguilla is not an arid climate so many of these ideas don't work.
- Passive and Low Energy Cooling of Buildings by Baruch Givoni
(1994, Van Nostrand Reinhold). Great book. Gets pretty technical.
- Books on architecture and building:
- Places of the Soul * by Christopher Day.
but hard to implement.
The Aquarian Press, An Imprint of HarperCollins.
- A Pattern Language ***** by Chris Alexandar, et al. My
design bible. Full of insights about what makes houses "feel" right.
Oxford University Press. 1977.
- Structures, Or Why Things Don't Fall Down ** by J.E. Gordon. One of my all
time favorites. Sort of Engineering for the mathematically challenged.
Penguin Books, 1978.
- How Buildings Learn, What Happens After They're Built **
by Stewart Brand.
Good to have the humbling realization that what makes buildings
loved is age. Simply being used and modified by the occupants
Penguin Books. 1994.
Low Cost Pole Building Construction **
Doug Merrilees and Everlyn Loveday,
Garden Way Publishing,
ISBN 0-88266-170-1. We used this book to layout out wooden gazebo,
the frame of which is constructed from recycled telephone poles.
- Books on finishing
- Books on Swimming Pools
- Books on Landscaping and Gardening
Orchid Growing In The Tropics.
Palms : The New Compact Study Guide and
by Martin Gibbons is our favorite palm book.
"Now reprinted, this compact, hard-cover book by
Martin Gibbons is the best selling palm book in the
world! With 80 pages, and covering 120 species all in
full colour, it not only aids identification, but covers
cultivation (both indoor and outdoor), plant pests, etc.
and represents excellent value, much of the information
being based on the author's personal experience both
as a nurseryman and palm grower, and international
explorer." (quoted from The Palm Centre)
Palms Throughout The World by David
It is about 410 pages and is a very complete
reference book, covering the entire world.
Unfortunately, it did not prove that useful for
our immediate task of selecting
palms common to Florida and the Caribbean which will
can tolerate Anguilla's salt spray.
Drip Irrigation For Every Landscape and All Climates
by Robert Kourik. This book simplifies drip irrigation
"Blueprint For Paradise"
|A classic book.|
One of the classic books we read while dreaming about
building on Anguilla id
Paradise: How to Live on a Tropic Island"
We bought a copy in 1993 from a speciality store, but
could never find it in stock anywhere else.
A fun book, which covers construction on tropic islands
ranging from remote South Pacific atolls to
reasonably civilized places like St. Thomas.
Henry Babcock writes: "Blueprint for Paradise" is still available where I first bought it over 10 years ago:
www.loompanics.com - I just called Loompanics, and they said they have 23
I ordered a new one yesterday, because I loaned my old
one to someone and
I'm not sure if I will get it back. I'm thinking of buying more; I saw people selling it used
on Amazon and
half.com for $60 to $100....
"Caribbean Home Ownership"
Note: No Longer Available!
There is a book called Caribbean Home Ownership - A Novices'
Handbook. This book was written John O'Toole, who built
a home on the island of Culebra, located between Puerto Rico
and St. Thomas. He covers an amazing array of practical
problems that must be faced in any Caribbean construction
Here is a list of the Chapters and topics:
- Home Ownership Basics
- Ownership-different laws in different places
- Taxes-different taxes in different places
- Buying or building-getting what you want
- Existing house-will you be happy with the compromises?
- Building your own home-disaster can strike if you don't plan ahead
- Permits and other prerequisites-ignoring these can become a big problem
- House sites-planning ahead-architects-The first steps
- Contractors, labor and other things to watch before committing yourself
- Roofs and other construction details
- Water-its sources, collection, handling, storage, use, re-use and - alternate sources
- Sources of domestic water
- Water Storage and Handling-as important as the getting of water
- Cisterns-design considerations-make it large
- Calculation of cistern capacity and rainfall harvest->is it enough
- Cistern construction-is it enough?
- Water filters-is it clean?
- Solar water heating-is is warm?
- Conservation of Water
- Drip Irrigation
- Other conservation methods
- Ponds-their construction, uses and caveats
- Fish-Tilapia-how about several thousand pets
- Electric Power
- Sources of electricity, pros and cons and alternatives
- corrosion, electrical and other
- Fire Protection
if you'll need this, don't ignore it
- Other Considerations
- Communications-phones, including cellular, faxes, computer modems and TV
- Furnishings-don't make yourself uncomfortable
- Appliances-bigger is not always better
- Lightning-more important than you think
- Animals-mice, rats, mangooses, horse, cattle, dogs, cats
- Diseases-some you should know about
- Sewerage and sewage-pitch of drain pipes, percolation
- Composting-important to your plants
- Vehicles-selection, fule and maintenance
- Insurance-good luck
- Financing-good luck again
- Paint-good stuff costs less when you consider labor
Site Map: Links, Plans and Other Info
Beach Shack Contact:
Mary Ann Green
Anguilla, Eastern Caribbean
Bellamare Villa, Anguilla
Azu Villa, St Barts
Bellamare Villa: www.bellamare.ai
Azu Villa: www.azuvilla.com