If you are considering building your dream home in Paradise there are several key issues to take into account before breaking ground.  These factors include minimizing damage to our hillside, mangrove and coral reef ecosystems; designing a home that is in harmony with the existing landscape, community and culture; and creating a home that has sustainable systems that use our natural resources and reduces its environmental footprint.
Site Preparation
It is most imperative to utilize proper site planning to avoid drainage problems onsite and downstream into existing property.  Remember, water, runoff and sewage all flow down hill eventually making their way into our beautiful seas.  Designing around and with the natural contours of the land can cost less and create fewer problems.
One should also be mindful of clear cutting a lot during construction.  This can create erosion and drainage problems, as well as alter the harmony of the existing landscape and potentially take away from the privacy of neighboring properties.  Hand clearing select areas vs. mechanical clear cutting also reduces the carbon footprint of the building site.  Green spaces of native plants not only act as erosion control barriers, but they are also home to our valuable native wildlife.
When constructing a new home, clearing of vegetation is inevitable.  However, before any mechanical clearing or construction is begun, proper erosion control measures should be correctly installed, such as silt fences, to reduce sediment displacement.  Brush that is not composted on site can also be used as an effective erosion control barrier.  If large trees must come down, replant native species after construction is completed.  On-site fill, stones and boulders and be easily recycled back into the landscaping.
Placement of external lighting when building near on the shore is also critical, as it could have a negative impact on wildlife and surrounding neighbors.
When designing your home it is important to take into account more aspects than just the floor plan.  Take the time and study your building site and incorporate the sun path, trade winds and rain fall into the design of your home.  We live in an age where we can take advantage of renewable, recyclable, local and sustainable building materials and systems.  Consider using solar hot water heaters along with photovotaic and wind energy systems to create a source of auxiliary power.  Rain does not fall equally across the various parts of our islands, so be mindful of your water collection system design.  It is also a good idea to incorporate a grey water irrigation system for landscaping needs, why waste valuable potable water on the bougainvillea when you can recycle that septic water.
Remember, tread lightly to help conserve and preserve America’s Paradise for generations to come.
If you have any questions or comments on buying, selling or leasing property in the US Virgin Islands, please contact Jennie Rosenberg at jennie@sealgassproperties.com, or 340.690.4903.