Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 27th 2014 Contents BG8 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 2014 • WEEK FOUR
Ruana Booker-Evans is very
much an entrepreneur. She s a
University of Miami-trained
architect with her own self-
On January 31, she launched the T&T Building
Her media kit described the company as the
only online source for detailed sector-specific
construction service and catalogued product
listings in T&T.
And she designs Carnival costumes for Tribe.
In 2014, she ll be playing in the section she cre-
ated, Spirit Seeker.
Booker-Evans, 30, launched the T&T Building
Source at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel on
Dock Road, Port-of-Spain, to which she invited
Jenifer Smith, president of the T&T Institute of
Architects. The feature address was delivered by
Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie.
Booker-Evans said the idea behind T&T Build-
ing Source came to her years ago after she d
returned to Trinidad from studying.
Describing herself as "very detail oriented,"
She described herself as very detail-oriented,
she said one of the roles of an architect is to
produce product specification documents detail-
ing the exact tiling, door handle to be installed
in a building.
"I just found it was difficult to find the infor-
mation locally. You wouldn t know where to
look. You d go on the Internet and there was
very little information there."
"I m not sourcing materials. I m specifying
them for the contractor to use. That s not my
job to drive around and find it. That s a con-
tractor s job.
"I m trying to produce a document, as detailed
as possible, so that when he or she gets it in
their hands, they know exactly what they are
looking for. You also have to have different levels
During her initial search, Booker-Evans said
she eventually resorted to US-based Home Depot.
"When it came to interior finishes, I went to
Home Depot. I used Home Depot as a reference.
I reached a point where I got very detailed with
them. I did that for years, where I would down-
load their pictures. They had a wide variety of
Booker-Evans worked at architectural firm
Bynoe Rowe Wiltshire Partnership.
"I started training there since I finished school
at St Joseph s Convent, Port-of-Spain, in 2002.
I was interested in learning architecture.
"When I was at Bynoe, I tried to develop a
very detailed specification document where you d
have an image of the exact faucet you d use, the
manufacturer, the local supplier, etc. Given the
US culture, I wanted something very detailed.
I got to a point where I realised I m not supporting
local by doing that. When I hand this over to
a contractor or a client, the client is always then
inclined to go online, buy everything and ship
it down, or get on a plane and do that.
"I myself was guilty of it because in 2012, we
gutted the entire house (her family home in
Westmoorings); I was about six months pregnant
at the time. I did everything by myself. I flew
off to Miami and shipped everything.
Rebuilding inside the house took four months
because Booker-Evans was on site to manage
the contractor and the project.
"I was here everyday, so I was on top of them
to the point where they said they couldn t wait
to leave. I was a real perfectionist.
"One of them even came to me after and said
when he first started working, he didn t really
like me, that I was too bossy, but he really appre-
ciated that I made him do over things, that it
will help him with his future works. He was the
Though pregnant, she still had to source
materials, fittings, finishings.
"I got to a point where I had to rest because
of the pregnancy, and when I came back, I con-
tinued ordering everything online. I just could
not deal with the driving around down here,
and the customer service, and they don t have
this, and they re not sure...
"I m guilty of going away and shopping, which
I think is terrible. As a society, we need to
support each other, and unless we do that, we d
never be the First World country we want to
"I thought it time it needed to be done. Finan-
cially, I just couldn t do it at the time."
She jokingly said her "crazy hormones" during
her pregnancy propelled her to go forward with
creating T&T Building Source.
The business model:
She said the Building Source will making
money through companies showcasing their
profiles on the Web site. Bringing up the Build-
ing Source s home page, Booker-Evans
explained a building supply company like
Arima-based GGI could have a featured image
on the page to draw people s interest to its
"So I click on that product and I see other
products from the supplier. I want to see who
the supplier is, so I click View supplier . Com-
panies pay to have themselves profiled. They
have their logo and a short write-up, a com-
pany overview, a product gallery."
Currently, 15 companies have been uploaded
to the Web site.
"We want to have hundreds, of course. I
have guys on the road meeting with these
companies and, as information comes in, we
put it on the Web site."
She has three employees: one works with
Ruana Booker Architect, and the other two
with T&T Building Source.
"We have different price packages. A com-
pany profile---just to have your logo and infor-
mation---is $1,700. It goes all the way up,
depending on how many images you want to
have, to $9,500."
She said the cost of a company using the
Building Source depends on the number of
photos used in the product gallery.
"I don t think people know the range of
products available locally. If a homeowner
wants to redo their roof, everyone thinks of
one type of roofing. Even if they are thinking
of metal roof sheeting, they don t realise the
different types of profiles that exist."
Booker-Evans said the site also allows a
company to showcase the projects they have
She described the site as trying to get as
much information as possible in an organised
way. She said if someone is registered, messages
can be exchanged with them. The site includes
a feature where someone can post details about
tenders/bids, which would give info about the
owner, type of budget, owner, etc, for architects
and contractors to find jobs.
Asked about the response, Booker-Evans
said, "It s been overwhelming."
"There s nothing like this in the region. Now
companies locally and regionally can plan their
construction projects here and share it."
one-stop shop for
These images are
designs by architect
Ruana Booker-Evans of
a commercial building in
Diego Martin, right, and
a residential property in
Maracas Gardens, St
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