LITTLE BAY, Montserrat – The process of building a home from idea to financing was shared with aspiring homeowners at Bank of Montserrat Ltd.’s first Homeowners Showcase. The event, held on Saturday, August 12, 2023, at the Montserrat Cultural Centre and streamed online, featured experts who work at various stages of the home ownership process.
The day began with presentations on financing your home, designing your home, the legal aspects of home ownership, home valuation, working with a contractor and how to make your home energy efficient. Presentations were delivered by BOM’s Senior Supervisor of Credit Amanda Jn.Baptiste, Architect Kenneth Cassell, Attorney Fitzroy Buffonge, Evaluator Keith Thomas, Contractor Barry Chalmers, and acting Director of Energy, Marissa Allen.
General Manager Baldwin Taylor, said during his opening remarks that the event was “designed to equip customers with the knowledge and tools necessary to understand the home construction process. From planning to application to disbursement to completion. Bank of Montserrat wants to empower customers with the confidence and understanding to navigate the complex world of mortgages and guide them to achieving their homeownership goals.”
Honourable Minister of Housing Crenston Buffonge commended the Bank for the initiative to educate young people about owning their home.
“We have always been a people who prided ourselves in building our own home. It is equally important for us to know how to build and maintain it. This symposium is timely,” the minister stated. “I firmly believe that homeownership plays a crucial role in shaping a stronger and more prosperous society. It is also a catalyst for economic development.”
The minister closed by saying his ministry will continue to partner with Bank of Montserrat to offer affordable and low-cost housing solutions for the people.
The Bank’s Senior Supervisor of Credit Ms. Amanda Jn.Baptiste said that aspiring homeowners must “plan for what they can afford and not to meet the lifestyle of others.” She explained that often homeowners have designs created at values way above what their budget can manage. She encouraged them to avoid disappointment by consulting the Bank first to see what level of mortgage they can afford.
Architect Kenneth Cassell says Montserrat’s topography is primarily sloping, either gently or very steep. He suggests finding lots that have a more gradual slope to avoid the high costs of steeper sloping lots. While the land may be cheaper to acquire, he explained, you will pay much more in construction.
Both Cassell and Evaluator Keith Thomas said homeowners should not underestimate the importance of good design as this will increase the lifetime value of the home.
The architect encouraged attendees to work with their architect to “design understanding we live in a hurricane and earthquake zone and to design for low maintenance.”
Attorney Fitzroy Buffonge said getting legal advice is critical in the land purchase and home construction process. He said that before purchase, ensure that the land is physically inspected to see the state of the land, and whether anyone has encroached on the land in any way. He advised buyers to check whether the land is landlocked and has road access. “Get a certified surveyor to find your boundaries,” he recommended. The lawyer also said having expert advice to identify any legal or financial encumbrances on the land was also critical.
Following the presentations, there was a small exhibition in the lobby where attendees could interact with architects, construction and home goods suppliers. The Department of Energy also provided the opportunity to sign up for its light exchange programme. Residents can turn in up to nine fluorescent bulbs and replace them with energy efficient LED bulbs.
Watch the Homeowners Showcase at
About Bank of Montserrat
Bank of Montserrat is Montserrat’s national bank which was founded in 1988. The bank is committed to investing in the development of the island through commercial services as well as a community giving to education, cultural activities, sports, and more.