We live in the Bahamas and have friends who chose Eleuthera builder Wallace Sineus to construct their beautiful three-bedroom home on the Atlantic side of Central Eleuthera.
Mike and Sally from the U.S. highly recommend Wallace as an Eleuthera builder.
Read their referral after the interview with Wallace by scrolling to the lower part of this page. There you will also find another Eleuthera home owner's comment about the quality of work Wallace and his brothers produced.
Are you planning on building in Eleuthera, too?... There's a form at the very end of this page to contact this Eleuthera builder.
But first, let's talk to him. Wallace Sineus has a good name on Eleuthera as a builder as well as a man of integrity. Here he is...
Wallace, the name of your building company in Central Eleuthera is Whel's Construction or Whelsco. For how long have you been an Eleuthera builder and what type of work do you do?
Wallace: Yes. I formed my business in 1998. I do both remodeling projects and new home construction. Just recently (2006) I have completed two homes for U.S. citizens in Eleuthera.
Interviewer: What are the typical second home owners’ concerns when they first come to see you?
Wallace: They are concerned about maintenance. You see, much of the time they are not on the island. Therefore they want me to build them a house that does not require a lot of maintenance.
A second major concern is protection from hurricanes. A lot can be done by us as Eleuthera builders to make a house more resistant to the storms. Knowing how to properly site or position the house is very important. Good design is also critical, for example limiting the amount of roof overhang and integrating porches within the overall roof design.
Good quality building materials, especially windows and doors, help a great deal. And, of course, quality construction might be the most important factor in reducing potential hurricane damage. Fortunately, Bahamian building codes are among the strongest in the world.
Interviewer: From what I noticed, there are two types of construction used for winter residents’ homes. Walls are made either with concrete block or wood. What is preferred material, and why?
Wallace: Concrete with reinforced column structure and poured concrete belts is definitely preferred because such a construction will require least maintenance and is most hurricane resistant.
But we also build wood frame houses, and if designed and constructed well, they are resistant to hurricanes too. But they will have to be repainted every couple of years, and nails rusting due to salt spray have to be treated as well.
A new material hardy plank can also be used for finishing wood frame houses. It's made out of concrete and recycled paper and is therefore resistant to rotting and termites. It lasts longer than wood but does have to be repainted from time to time.
Interviewer: There is always a certain content of sea salt in the air, which of course is true for any island. What is your advice for protection against accelerated corrosion?
Wallace: It is best to use stainless steel hinges, nails, and hurricane clips. These are more than double the price of galvanized metal parts, but the investment is worth it. And we recommend PVC rather than aluminum for windows and doors because PVC does not corrode.
Interviewer: Please tell me about roof structures and the advantages of a Bermuda roof.
Wallace: Usually, roofs here are asphalt shingle roofs. The build-up is plywood, tar paper, shingle. For heat protection, Eleuthera builders paint these with a white roof coating. Two to three coats are necessary to get the full result.
Then, there’s the Bermuda roof. It's made up of a basic core of expanded polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam. Thicknesses from four inches to twelve inches allow for a wide range of insulation values. Contoured panels are mechanically fastened to a roof deck, and a white coating is applied at the building site.
Advantages of these roofs are that they look good, and they have very high hurricane resistance because the roof is essentially glued together in one piece. Insulation is excellent, which saves costs for air conditioning.
I like to buy building materials from Mikrocorp because they are located in nearby Ft. Lauderdale. They supply everything from wallboard to roofing, plumbing, flooring, stucco material, doors and windows.
Interviewer: What is the size of an average winter resident's island home?
Wallace: The living space is typically between 1,400 and 1,600 square feet for a two-bedroom house.
Some of our clients want the garage to be extra large so that they can use that space as a workspace for maintenance or for washers, dryers, and freezers.
Interviewer: What would be the approximate price for an average size two-bedroom, two-bathroom home? Please give me a price range based on summer 2006 prices.
Wallace: As you know, the price will vary depending on the level finishing desired. But a realistic range for median level finish would be $250-290,000. This would not include a garage or swimming pool.
Interviewer: It is known that some Eleuthera builders do not properly calculate bids. How detailed can a prospective client expect your bid to be?
Wallace: I do not quote a square-foot price in my final bid, but I use it for pre-bid meetings. My final bid is based on a detailed estimate. What this means is that I add up all the costs for materials, labor, and my profit. This is the fairest way for my clients as well as for myself.
Interviewer: Are there things you recommend the homeowner buy in the U.S. themselves?
Wallace: Many clients want to purchase those things that show... tiles, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and so on. Clients have the choice of purchasing cabinets or having me build them on the island. Many basic building supplies can be purchased on the island but can also be purchased abroad if the owner prefers.
In an ideal situation, I can send my client a list of building materials to purchase in the U.S. The client will add to that order all the appliances and fixtures of his choice and have it shipped by boat to Governor's Harbour. At the other end of the spectrum, I can construct the contract so that I do all the purchasing.
Interviewer: Let's say someone wants his Eleuthera home built by you. How long would he have to wait until you can start working on his project? And how many buildings can you do at the same time?
Wallace: In order to keep my quality high, I prefer to do no more than one home at a time. A potential client would get in touch with me, and I would tell him what my present schedule is. I'll be able to provide an estimate of when I could start the work But it is essential that a potential client comes to the island for a first meeting with me.
Interviewer: What do you consider the most important point in your cooperation with a new client?
Wallace: He will have to understand and accept that the island is ticking at a slower rhythm than the U.S., so he’ll have to be more patient.
We are in hurricane mode for about two months every year, and delayed shipments by boat from the U.S., as well as heat and rain, can slow down the building process. That's why I said patience is important.
Interviewer: Any other important information that you would want your client to have?
Wallace: Not many Eleuthera builders who have a computer check their e-mail every day. I do. So communication is not a problem. I can also phone my clients via computer and they can reach me via my cell phone if something urgent comes up.
Interviewer: Thanks, Wallace, for an interesting and informative interview.
On Central Eleuthera's best beach, Club Med Beach - soon to be renamed French Leave - Jim and Betsy Bigler had the above home built by Wallace. Read below what they are saying about Eleuthera builder Sineus...
Interested in building on Eleuthera?... Please fill in the form below, type in your inquiry and click the *Send* button under the text field. Your message will go to Wallace directly.