The Process Map: building your home in T&T

WE START WITH YOUR VISION FOR YOUR HOME, we make sense of it through intimate discussions and planning, resulting in a 3D visualisation of what your home will look like when built. In order for your vision to be developed from a concept to reality it must first be approved by the necessary statutory bodies, to do this we typically suggest the input of several integral consultants.

A Quantity Surveyor (Q.S.) and a Structural Engineer (S.E.) are then engaged1. Once the structural plan is generally on the right track and the budget is where you’d like it to be, we submit the necessary drawings2 to Town & Country Planning Division (T&CPD). If approved, T&CPD then forwards these plans to the Municipal Corporation (M.C.) for their approval. Once your local M.C. is OK in principal with your plans, they will issue a building permit3 and you can then begin construction on site. At this stage your contractor4 can break ground when the relevant structural and architectural drawings have been issued for construction5. This is a simplified version of the process required to build your home in T&T. The nuances of the process are described in further detail below.


You may need to engage other consultants depending on the complexity of the project/ the land. If the land you are developing has a gradient of more than 1:4 then you will need to obtain a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA). You will likely need to engage a Geotechnical Engineer to assist in the production of the report required to obtain this CEC. In addition, if your soil type is atypical, your structural engineer may request that you obtain a Geotechnical Report so that the structure can be designed to suit.

A Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Engineer may be necessary depending on the complexity of certain relevant factors; your Air Conditioning system for instance (central AC requires a fair amount of design work vs splits). The MEP can provide you with drawings needed for WASA approvals as well. If your building is to be sewered for instance, you will need WASA to approve the connection. Construction of a pool also requires WASA approvals.


It is recommended that you obtain Outline Planning Approvals prior to pursing drawings. This allows you to have a clear understanding of what the building allowances are for your specific lot. These requirements tend to vary from one lot to the next. There are Professional Planners who can assist with planning issues. Once this is obtained, you can proceed with the design of your home and subsequently submit for Final Planning Permission through the T&CPD.

Drawings needed for Final Planning Permission (all to scale):
Site Plan + Location Map
Plans of all Floors
All building Elevations
Building Section

In addition you will need to fill out the relevant forms and supply a certified copy of Deed for the land + the relevant cadastral. If the land is on a slope, a topographical survey will be required to produce the site plan.


After you’ve submitted the required drawings to T&CPD, they will forward these drawings to the Municipal Corporation. The Municipal Corp. will then issue a defects list requesting more information if necessary. This will include structural framing plans, foundation plans, plumbing plans, roof framing plans and all structural details related to the project. At this stage you can submit your coordinated Structural Plans and Plumbing Drawings produced by your Structural Engineer and MEP Engineer/ Licensed Plumber.


The selection of your builder/ contractor can be done many ways. Two of the most practiced are Sole Source Selection + Invitation to Tender.

Sole Source Selection essentially means that you simply ask one contractor to provide a bid and they are selected without any competition once their price and scope are found to be acceptable.

Inviting contractors to Tender means that your QS has likely produced a document which the contractors can price + bid on; a Bill of Quantities. The BoQ is produced when the architect + engineers have supplied the QS with detailed drawings and information regarding the building. This drawing information is translated into a quantifiable document, much like an Excel sheet. This document is then used as the basis for pricing by the contractors. Bidders are then evaluated based on their financial and technical proposals and a suitable fit is selected (your QS typically provides you with a recommendation).


“For Construction” drawings are a more robust set of drawings especially when compared to those that are initially submitted for planning approvals. These drawings are specifically for construction purposes and are detailed so as to ensure that the building is built as it was envisioned. These drawings include detailed finish schedules, staircases assembly drawings, bathroom and kitchen plans, door and window schedules, ceiling plans, power + electrical plans, HVAC plans, wall sections etc. At this stage, the architectural set of drawings is coordinated with the structural and MEP drawings to ensure accuracy prior to commencement.

You will likely have to apply for a temporary electrical connection from T&TEC to begin construction. If there is no water connection to your site, you will have to apply to WASA for one.

Both Architect and Engineer will perform routine site visits throughout the duration of the construction process. Your Q.S. may still be engaged at this stage to perform post contract services, this helps in ensuring that the construction being done is in line with the monies to be spent. When the building is complete, an electrical inspectorate, CFO and WASA (where necessary) will inspect it. 

Once everything has been constructed to their satisfaction and your registered architect/engineer have certified that the building has been constructed in strict accordance with the plans that were originally submitted, the building will be inspected by your M.C. and a completion certificate will be issued once found to be satisfactory. Your architect can act on your behalf for the duration of this process as it can be rather onerous.


The process can seem quiet complex and laborious but fear not we’re here to help make it as painless as possible. If you’re ready to get started on your dream build feel free to contact us for a free consultation so we can help guide you where necessary to make your concept a reality.