Cover Image
close this book Daughters of Sysiphus
close this folder The building process
View the document Building a house
View the document Investing in improvements
View the document The stories behind the figures
View the document Vulnerability to natural hazards
View the document Recommendations

The building process

The vast majority of housing in Jamaica is built informally, i.e., outside the formal framework of building legislation and approval. Intercensal counts of housing indicate that nearly 70 per cent of all housing is built in this manner. Most is also built without assistance from formal financial institutions.

The majority of informally constructed shelter is built incrementally or, to use a local term, "little-little." A unit starts with one or two rooms and over time additions and improvements are made as the household shelter "evolves". Because of this process few households see their house as complete, even if they may have been living in it and working on it for many years.

The kinds of building technology used depend, to a large degree, not only on the level of financial resources available but also on the land tenure of the household. Renters and those living free are the least likely people to build, expand or improve their houses. People who are paying lease or ground rent are more likely to build and those who own or squat nearly always build.

One of the important features of the building process within the informal sector is the reliance on second-hand and recycled building materials and the vast range of building materials that are used. There is a thriving second-hand building-materials market.

This chapter looks at the building processes used by households interviewed in the low-income household survey and also those used by the women in the case studies.