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Old 05-18-2008, 01:59 PM
 
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I am considering St. John for my retirement home. I am an experienced builder ... block masonry &/or wood frame. Can anyone in the U.S.V.I. tell me if there are restrictions on owner-designed and built homes? I understand a V.I. approved engineer must stamp all plans ... is a licensed contractor also required?

My present home, in Washington's San Juan Islands, is self-designed and built — including a living roof. I had my plans engineered and stamped and then self-built without issue. Home has proven to be very successful. Depending on site characteristics, I would likely want to build a partially earth-bermed design again. Any problems with this in the V.I.?

I assume there are excavation contractors available. Curious about what the soil/rock composition is there, as well.

Thanks for any comments.
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Old 05-18-2008, 09:08 PM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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First, have you been to STJ and are you familiar with the price of its acreage? STJ is about 2/3 National Park and thus buildable lots are VERY high end. Your best bet would be to visit for a few weeks and literally scope out "the lay of the land" and then talk with DPNR (Department of Planning and Natural Resources) to find out specifics of owner-building. Owner/builders are certainly not uncommon but DPNR (as any government agency anywhere) has a slew of regulations which have to be followed through the permitting process. STJ and STT are volcanic islands so there is plenty of rock base and minimum topsoil. Hope this helps a little. Cheers and good luck!
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Old 05-18-2008, 10:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STT Resident View Post
... are you familiar with the price of its acreage?
... DPNR (as any government agency anywhere) has a slew of regulations which have to be followed through the permitting process.
Yes ... am aware of the prices ... I have retired military pension and one other ... no need to work for pay any more. Not a bit rich, at all, really, but have a home (I built entirely alone) on several forested acres of salt-waterfront with spectacular views in the San Juan Islands of Washington State ... transference of that equity can afford a modest St. John property.

Beautiful here but contemplating the craving to be warmer ... and I am used to many years of living on a small island (1/2 the size of St. John) ... and nope, no bridge here either Lived in Hawaii before, as well .. loved it but boating sucks so no going back there as long as I can still hoist a sail.

County Land Use and Planning here is a brutal department / process ... U.S.V.I. DPNR has only a very vague webpage ... to find out if they are as bad, I guess I'll have to call them by phone with questions as they don't even offer an e-mail contact system. I don't wish to re-license myself as a contractor with bonding etc. just to build one last home for myself (I still have one more in me I think) — but some places require a General Contractor be in the process as a "lead".
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Old 05-18-2008, 10:42 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nullgeo View Post
Yes ... am aware of the prices ... I have retired military pension and one other ... no need to work for pay any more. Not a bit rich, at all, really, but have a home (I built entirely alone) on several forested acres of salt-waterfront with spectacular views in the San Juan Islands of Washington State ... transference of that equity can afford a modest St. John property.

Beautiful here but contemplating the craving to be warmer ... and I am used to many years of living on a small island (1/2 the size of St. John) ... and nope, no bridge here either Lived in Hawaii before, as well .. loved it but boating sucks so no going back there as long as I can still hoist a sail.

County Land Use and Planning here is a brutal department / process ... U.S.V.I. DPNR has only a very vague webpage ... to find out if they are as bad, I guess I'll have to call them by phone with questions as they don't even offer an e-mail contact system. I don't wish to re-license myself as a contractor with bonding etc. just to build one last home for myself (I still have one more in me I think) — but some places require a General Contractor be in the process as a "lead".

Will you marry me??




sorry, I have ALWAYS wanted to live like that.
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:54 PM
 
7,150 posts, read 9,067,683 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindsey_Mcfarren View Post
Will you marry me??
sorry, I have ALWAYS wanted to live like that.
Sure, if you don't tell my wife

I always wanted to live like that too ... and then I decided "well, why not?!"
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Old 05-19-2008, 01:44 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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nullgeo, have you looked at this blog? Long, humorous, and pretty much a story of two guys building on STJ and a litany of the seemingly unending trials and tribulations they faced.

The Bongo Bongo Blog

I know a realtor/broker on STX that I believe works on STJ some that may be willing to assist you if needed. DM me if you want or need the info.
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Old 05-19-2008, 07:40 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nullgeo View Post
Sure, if you don't tell my wife

I always wanted to live like that too ... and then I decided "well, why not?!"
I don't mind sharing as long as I can have a SMALL bedroom close to the beach.

I'm a good cook as well.
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindsey_Mcfarren View Post
I don't mind sharing as long as I can have a SMALL bedroom close to the beach.

I'm a good cook as well.
Present wife is an awesome cook ... I don't know whether the old adage "too many cooks spoil the broth" would come into play — or whether I'd end up getting fat, which I have somehow managed to avoid so far ... but at least you seem to have a good sense of humor ... marriage is brutal without that ;-)
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:05 AM
 
7,150 posts, read 9,067,683 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam I Am View Post
nullgeo, have you looked at this blog? Long, humorous, and pretty much a story of two guys building on STJ and a litany of the seemingly unending trials and tribulations they faced.

The Bongo Bongo Blog
Thanks for the link ... I read through it expecting to find re-occurring nightmare stories about building and code red-tape ... but was stunned to read that it only took 2 months to get plans approved and a permit issued! Cakewalk. Here it would take 6 months, at minimum, to get a prescriptive crackerbox permit. Anything creative would likely go up to double that, as happened to me with current garden-roof (yes, dirt up there) timber cabin.

As for the litany of struggles, frustrations, and delays these guys Did experience, it was all very believable, given what they were building. Just about none of their challenges would likely pertain to me in this case. I'm no hippie ... and not lazy, either ... but don't need ANY of their type of design requirements for myself. Just finally learned to enjoy life simple. Present home is highly appreciated in this community for my aesthetics and attention to blending in with the environment — it's no shack ... yet it is only a 1000 sq. ft. solid timber cabin with a garden for a roof. And that is nearly twice as big as my next home will be.

Been through a combat tour, teen-sweetheart wife of 30 years dying in my arms, finishing raising the 4 kids alone after, 20 years of self-employed entrepreneurial venturing ... and more. After all that, it just doesn't take much to make me happy with very little. Fixed up an old 28 foot boat in Hawaii and lived aboard with 3 people and large dog. Go for extended trips (and I mean extended!) in my mini-van with dog. Happy as a clam-at-high-tide in small spaces with next to no possessions now. Should be against the law to live so minimally, I suppose. Considering St. John as a great place to NOT need a pool (big ocean), NOT need a room for every different imaginable activity (outside is big enough for all), and NOT need a large acreage for privacy (can hike the Nat'l Park). Perfectly happy to sit on the grass under a tree rather than on fancy furniture on a veranda with custom glass tiles and lighting sconces. Happy to build small boats under tarps ... no big shop required.

Suppose I'll need to find a building site without CC&R's to build my little place. Most organized community developments have minimum sizes and other restrictions. Thanks for the offer of referral to the realtor. I am pondering several moves. When I narrow it down, if St. John IS the place, I'll take that next step.

By the way, Maine is likely to be our primary residence, as my wife has an outstanding teaching opportunity there at University. Love Maine! Lived there when I was young. Looong winter for me anymore. All the more reason for me to spend about half every year in the hot. She'll buy the place north ... I'll buy the place south. Looking in the Keys, too ... but it's not grabbing me so much yet.
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Old 05-19-2008, 07:29 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 16,652,893 times
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Honey, if you can live 6 months on STJ, you just go! It is my favorite spot in the world so far, with Curacao running close second...home ownership there might be difficult, though! The thing I love about it most is that you can catch a day trip to Jost or over to Gorda and the scenery is just spectacular. If we could have afforded it, I think we'd still be there. St. Croix just wasn't a good fit for us and we found ourselves missing the things we'd left behind, namely the kids (although why, I will never know - they were ALWAYS there!). With the financial ability to have another home stateside and be able to come and go...yes, I can say without a doubt we'd still be there in the Caribbean. It's a different way of life for sure, though...for sure.
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