World Homes Guyana Inc says that of the 600 houses it has built so far only a small number has defects because of shoddy work by contractors, something which is beyond its control.
World Homes head Edward Lai said that the company has extended its construction warranty to a year and is working to rectify defects which arose after houses were built for customers in various areas.
Lai was speaking following a statement on Wednesday from Minister of Works Harrinarine Nawbatt issued through the Government Information Agency (GINA) which said that no more house lots would be issued to World Homes unless the current construction problems are rectified and homeowners are satisfied with the quality of housing being provided.
Lai said the company, which has been in Guyana for the last five years, has built homes in 20 locations across the country in comparison to the other developers, adding that President Bharrat Jagdeo had invited him here to assist with low-income housing in Guyana.
The World Homes head told Stabroek News he was not pleased by the statement attributed to the Minister of Housing and Water Harrinarine Nawbatt in the GINA release on Wednesday. "The world is unkind, unfair and unjust," he said noting the good you do is not acknowledged but when you do bad this is what is pounced upon.
Housing developer Lai told Stabroek News by phone from Canada yesterday that his company is tackling the problem using a three-prong approach. First they have acknowledged the complaints made by customers and are aware that these complaints are justified. Secondly the individuals involved have been contacted and World Homes has undertaken to remedy the situation. Thirdly, they are putting preventative measures in place. This affords clients the opportunity to be onsite when the contractor is about to start laying the foundation on a new property and at other key stages of construction. The client would also be able to interact with one of nine personnel trained by World Homes to effectively monitor work being done by contractors.
Lai said that in Guyana, "everyone is sharp with contractors being among the sharpest." His son who is the President of World Homes designed the buildings but he said, "If the contractors short-cut the work and did not follow the plan the result is a defective house."
Lai contended that the Ministry should take a look at the houses which it constructed since in his opinion they are not of good quality.
He said the present situation arose as a result of a letter written to President Jagdeo and the Housing Ministry by a woman who was going through difficulties with defects on her house. When they checked the situation, said Lai, it was a leaking toilet bowl and wash basin that they rectified.
At the moment he said the problem with the Ministry has been rectified and the company's primary bank, the New Building Society is satisfied with the situation. Additionally the contractors who would have worked on the defective houses were released from further engagement with the company.
According to a document perused by this newspaper World Homes over the last three years built some 127 houses in Diamond with two major complaints made by clients. Nine complaints were raised by clients with houses in Westminster, five were major and four minor, while at Onderneeming where the company erected 34 houses there were seven major complaints. At Cornelia Ida three houses constructed resulted in one major complaint and at No. 77 village there was a minor complaint from a customer there.
In August Stabroek News reported on a situation involving a woman who said she was desirous of stopping construction on her house part-way because of what she described as "agony too much" from her dissatisfaction with the quality of work.
The total cost of the house, described as a two-bedroom deluxe home, was estimated at $2.2M. It was being built on land provided by the customer in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.
She had written to the management of World Homes on August 14 complaining about certain aspects of the work and being unable to meet with the contractor despite several attempts.
"Please note," she wrote, "that I did not sign a contract with the contractor but with World Homes who has left me to the mercy of the contractor."
She noted further that bad wood had been used for roof beams, and one was joined in three places. Close observation, she had written, led to her discovery that some blocks at the centre front of the house were out of line "like falling inward." Two beams were replaced, but the blocks have not yet been aligned, her letter stated.
The woman also disapproved of ordinary carpenter nails being used to nail down the zinc sheets on the roof. She said too that the structure, which is supposed to be the septic tank, was only 12 inches deep.
She said she believed the doorframe put on the house had been used previously since she found part of a lock attached.
And the plyboard used for the ceiling had nail holes in them, she said, indicating that they could have been used before.
Concerns have been raised in several quarters surrounding the quality of work executed by contractors in various locations on low cost housing. Members of the Guyana Association of Professional En-gineers (GAPE) have linked this to the fact that there is no registration system for local engineers hence anyone can carry out construction work without facing the responsibility for work of a poor quality.