Whom am I dealing with?
The owners, Don and Lesley Ward are from England and have lived in Antigua for over thirty four years. Don recently retired as Managing Partner of the Antigua office of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Prior to that, he had been involved in other developments, notably Antigua Village, which was the first condominium development in Antigua. He and his wife have had several homes in Antigua, but acquired lands for The Peninsula, a few years ago and built their substantial home with guest cottage on Plot #1.
What can I build?
Whatever you build must fit in with the overall development. There are sensible reasonable covenants on the land to protect everybody. The developers have built a main 2 bedroom house with large lounge, kitchen, study, snooker room, 3 bathrooms and substantial patios measuring a total of 4,000 square feet. In addition there is a pool and a 2-bedroom guest cottage with 2 bathrooms, kitchen, lounge and patios measuring 2,000 square feet. Basically, a one or two storey house, depending on location, with 2/4 bedrooms would be perfectly acceptable. Guest cottages are allowed but no further subdivision will be possible.
Do I have to build to a certain style?
Yes. This is important, not just from an aesthetic point of view, but also because of local conditions. Traditional West Indian architecture, based on the historic Georgian period, is beautiful and practical. Windows have shutters. Roofs are pitched at about 40 degrees. There are plenty of shaded patios and the overall effect is pleasing.
Do I need air conditioning?
No. Some people put it in the bedrooms. The constant and reliable Tradewinds blowing over a cool atlantic keep temperatures at between 78 to 80 degrees. You seldom air condition the living areas. Most homes are oriented towards the Easterly trade winds.
How much will the building cost?
Allow US$250 to US$350 per square foot of covered area depending on floor coverings, windows, doors, finishing’s, kitchens. bathroom, etc. This will include the pool. The developer’s own guest cottage comprising a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom house with lounge and kitchen and large patio provides a perfectly satisfactory holiday home of 2,000 square feet.
So, with the pool, the cost would be approximately US$500,000 for building costs. This is for a house built in block with steel reinforcing and a treated timber roof with shingles. The floor coverings, kitchen, bathrooms, doors and windows are of a high standard. If you want a dock and boathouse, these can be built in wood and the whole package would start at about US$20,000.
Are there good architects and builders on the island?
There are some excellent architects, some originally from Antigua and several expatriates. They will help you select the best contractor, of which there are many. At the Peninsula we use Andrew Goodenough to assist in design and he has done most of the architectural work for the houses built to date.
This is an approved project and planning permission will be very easy to obtain. The Developer must first approve the plans for everybody’s protection. The outline plan and whether a one or two storey house can be built will be agreed before the sale. The final plans get approval from The Development Control Authority.
No dogs, cats, kids or parrots….only joking! The covenants are very straightforward and will not offend anyone with an ounce of consideration for his neighbours. The covenants are to protect all of the owners. No one appreciates yapping dogs, the sight of washing hung out and the sound of amplified reggae music. The covenants cover all this and avoid a situation where someone builds a house and blocks his neighbour’s view. That is not going to happen.
Can I rent the house when not there?
Yes. There is a growing demand for villa rentals and there are agents there that will take care of this for you. There are two rental seasons (high season Dec15-April 15). Depending on the amenities offered, a two bedroom house may get US$2,500 to US$5,000 per week in season and US$1,800 to US$3,600 per week out of season.
What are the Stamp Duties?
Total stamp duties and Alien Landholders’ License come to seven and a half per cent. The Non Citizen’s Land Holder’s License is a requirement for all foreigners and any sale will be conditional on its being granted. The Developer has never known one to be refused.
What is the security situation?
Very good. The Developer has a security guard, and there has never been a problem. However, it is intended to retain 24-hour security. There is criminal activity in Antigua, like everywhere, but this is mainly confined to the St Johns area. The Peninsula is a sleepy little place, where everyone knows everyone else.
How close is it to the beach?
Five minutes by road brings you to a nice white sand beach. There are two hotels there and Long Bay has a delightful beach bar that is not crowded. There is a beach barbeque on Thursdays. The beach is safe and has good snorkeling. Antigua is famous for its beaches and many of these are within easy reach by boat. You don’t need anything fancy. A small open boat and outboard will do. Pack your drinks and lunch, walk onto your jetty, get in your boat and take off through the reef to one of the islands and you will probably have the beach to yourself.
How close are we to shops, restaurants etc.?
There is a village half a mile away, which has a couple of stores that supply basics. Reckon on going to St Johns, half an hour away, once a week for everything you are likely to need. The Epicurean supermarket at Woods Center is excellent with the shopping center providing virtually one stop shopping for goods, banking and other services. There are also top quality, well-run outlets for foodstuffs and liquor closer.
There are no restaurants at the development. However, there are some wonderful restaurants, mostly Italian, a short drive away. English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour are a short 20 minutes drive on a scenic coastal road. In season, November-May, this place is full of beautiful yachts, beautiful people and bustling bars, restaurants, recreational sports such as tennis, squash, horseback riding and sailboat racing.
How about this? Take your boat into the bay. If it’s calm, turn right and head for Green Island and Nonsuch Bay. It’s a short trip and there you will find the wonderful Harmony Hall Italian restaurant. If it’s a little choppy in open water, turn left and head in flat, protected water to Jumby Bay at Long Island and have lunch there. (Maybe you should book). It’s not far and is second home to some big names. Plots Jumby Bay is about US$2,000,000 and $5,000,000. Existing homes start at $8 million for attached 3 bedroom units and larger homes have sold from $10 million to in excess of $40 million.
Is it easy to get staff?
Yes. Home helpers, gardeners and handymen are available from the local village, Willikies. The developer has contacts with good electricians, plumbers etc. There are caterers who will organize your lunch parties and if you want someone to play the piano for you we can organize that too.
Beautiful and actually very healthy. Temperatures are in eighties by day and seventies at night but there is very low humidity, which is perfect. September and October are the warmer months because the trade winds diminish, but still pleasant and cooler than most temperate places.
You have given me all the whys. Now tell me why not?
OK. So there is no such thing as Paradise on Earth. Here goes…
Hurricanes can occur usually in September although the official season is June/October. You build your house with a pitched roof, shutters and take care to ensure that your house and patio roofs are properly ‘tied’ with specially designed hurricane straps (small galvanised steel brackets) These are placed so that they are pretty well invisible, and you should not have a problem. There is no danger of tidal surges at the Peninsula.
Earthquakes can occur in most Caribbean islands. In Antigua they are infrequent and usually there is no more than a shudder that lasts a couple of seconds. The last earthquake in Antigua was in 1974. Again, there is no real danger as long as the house has been properly constructed. That is where the steel reinforcing comes in. It is all basic and not expensive.
Mosquitoes and other bugs do exist. This is the Tropics after all. However, the Peninsula is cooled by the Trade Winds for most of the year and mosquitoes do not enjoy fighting a 15 knot trade wind. It usually blows them to the developments in the west! You have to be strict about not leaving food around uncovered. Flies are not really a problem at all but ants will find anything left around. Generally, this place is far, far better than, for example, Florida. For a few days a year there may be moths about. Leave the lights off for an hour after dusk and that solves the problem.
Termites can attack wood. They can get into the roof. Before construction, treat the site. Use pressure treated wood and inspect monthly and spray if necessary. Problem solved.
Medical treatment is high quality and readily available, and Antigua has a state of the art new 185 bed hospital and the Adelyn Clinic. There is an air ambulance service to Puerto Rico (45 minutes) and the US. There is also a very good hospital in the neighbouring French island of Guadeloupe.