Building a house in Guyana is not easy

Dear Editor,

Whilst everyone’s attention is being drawn to the antics of the Granger-led administration and the supposed rewards from oil, dishonesty, crime and lawlessness seem to be climbing the ladder without any form of resistance. The government seems to be interested in making people build a house on the plot of land allocated to them, and the various banks are giving loans to assist in building speedily, but the home owners are being ripped off and no one cares. This has been happening over a number of years.

Recently, my services were requested to assist a woman in Barnwell (EBE) build her house and I made some interesting discoveries. In addition to the high cost of building materials, the sizes of certain products have been reduced. For example, if you pay for a 1/2inch steel rod, you will be getting a 3/8 size, and when you point that out to the store, they tell you that’s the size. This is what you are getting from the big companies. At some stores the nails that you purchase have not been finished properly, and in order to prevent wood from getting huge marks, you or the workmen will have to sit down and clear the nail tips individually, which takes a long time because in some cases the unfinished nails exceed the good nails. As for the weight, that is another issue too that the Bureau of Standards should investigate.

The woman was instructed to purchase materials for her roof, floor, walls etc, and she went to an EBE lumber yard. The quality of the boards is terrible, and if you put them on the floor or walls, they would deteriorate rapidly, because many were filled with wormholes, cracks, tree skins, etc. And many were bent tremendously. Whilst work was continuing, it was discovered that along with the bad materials the boards were not the amount she had ordered and paid for. Apart from that, the 1×6 floor and 1×4 wall boards were not fully that size; they were 5 ½ or 5 ¾ inches and 3 ½ 3 ¾.

When I asked my friends who work in the lumber business about these issues I gathered that no lumber yard gives you what you paid for; they all try to rip something off. With regard to the size, you are supposed to get the six inches board that you pay for, but to rob you of a few cents, they cut the logs down to six inches and then pass it through the machine to be dressed (plane, groove and tongue, lap edge) when either half or three quarter inches will be lost from the original six inches of wood. Had they cut the original wood six and a half or three quarters instead, you would have got what you were paying for.

Finally Editor, many contractors are in communication with the lumber yard dealers and should they take a customer there, they are given a ‘raise’, which would eventually make the contractor in cahoots with the supplier, or voiceless in relation to the future dishonesty that will be committed against the buyer. There are contractors who will give you an estimate which is more than what is required to build a house, while the supplier will only supply the required amount and the extra will be divided between the supplier and the contractor. The supplier would send an amount which is short, and then the contractor would say that he made a mistake in his calculations or he didn’t want to order extra in order to avoid wastage and have you go and buy again. But the money ends up in someone’s pocket.

The chances are that if you discover these problems and you raise the issues with the suppliers, you will get what is missing, unless they think they could bully you and you have to either buy more or go somewhere else. When you go to a lumber yard and create a scene about what is rightfully yours, there are workmen from the lumber yard who would side with the boss, and they would normally get rewarded for their actions. There are workmen too who have their own scams unknown to the boss. Building a house in Guyana is not easy, and there aren’t places that people are aware of to complain about this dishonesty.

Yours faithfully,

Sahadeo Bates

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