Living In The Philippines Forum

It’s Your Money => Building in the Philippines => Topic started by: on December 23, 2007, 10:42:44 AM

Title: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 23, 2007, 10:42:44 AM
I\'ve been asked to bring this post to our forum here. I DON\'T know everything and I\'m not the most picky in what I will except, a Britt buddy runs circles around me LOL, so keep that in mind while reading.
 

Location and within a location \"AND\" ones desires in reguards to
housing will set the price in building.

Php400,000 will build a do-it-yourself, (hire your own labor), 3 BR
2 CR NICE hollow block, GI roof 75 sq. meter PINOY style house with
extras. Then there\'s the price for the fees and lot to build on.
Don\'t want a do-it-yourself? Then add 1.5 ± million pesos.

That is, \"IF\" a person know a bit about building and does some
homework on matterial prices before putting the project out for
bids, a mistake most foreigners don\'t do, (bidding and pricing),
will deturmend the cost of the project!

Case in point, I designed, (rough drawing), a 2 story, (69 sq meter
each), apartment building and spec, (foundation,columms, beams), as
a 3 story. I was quoted for the architecture plans, (not included
with the bidding, mistake to include), Php500 to Php1,500 for each
blue print page that included a material list. We used a graduating
college student and got the same thing using the latest computer
programing for Php300 per page and he got a grade for it too. A win-
win situation! BTW, found out later that the local Government
Enginerrs Office will draw up the plans also. Something to check out
in your area.

Evaluating the bids that came in, found materials listed not needed
like 150 kilos, (spread throughout the material list), of 5
different size nail to be used in a hollow block/steel building.
Paint at Php850 per gal. that I paid Php458 per gal. and quoted 200
gals. more then needed. And the list goes ON though the 6 bids that
came in. The bid excepted took some fine tunning and save Php150,000
and with the after thoughts, still missed a few things.

What some say they paid to have something built and I\'ve seen expat
houses after built and KNOW that someone else would have saved a
bundle and got better quality, (common Pinoy that\'s good enought).
But, as long as their happy, I\'m not one to knock it!!

BTW, spent that last 3 years building and remolding here in the
Philippines and I will not use a contrator again with their basicly
stand around, know nothing and that\'s good enough workers and their
screw the foreigner with a smile!! There\'s never a closed season or
bag limit on, (not just), foreigners ya know!!

Oh yes, almost forgot, you\'ve gotta watch the material suppliers
too. They\'ll ship to the site sub-standard materials and their
workers are not the sharpest tack in the box either!

Building and not being on location daily is your BIGGEST and most
COSTLY mistake! You\'ll understand that better during the 1st few
years of ownership.

Addition: Pride in workmanship isn\'t a strong suit with the majority of Filipino workers, (learned the trade on the job and say their EXPERTS)! Therefore, \"that\'s good enough\" is what to expect or send the majority down the road kicking rocks. I\'ve sent many and they don\'t have the foggest idea why, (doesn\'t comput), therefore, I\'m the F\'n foreigner. What they are GOOD at is covering things up to LOOK spiffy!

In the last year I have learned to lighten up with the firing or dealing with Pinoy workers. Finely, the \"save face\" and \"lying\" has computed in my head as part of the culture and will not change! Being hard nose and  point blank, (my trates), expecting a Pinoy \"expert\" to know,  isn\'t in your favor with the local workers that you will be living around! 
B-Ray
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 23, 2007, 02:12:40 PM
I would not disagree with most of your comments about building, but I feel that your figure of ± P1.5M is on the high side. This works out around P25,000 per sq mtr when I have been quoted P15,000 by a contractor (expensive way of doing it) for a house that is a lot better than a basic Pinoy design.

We had a basic Pinoy house built for the family 6 years ago for the sort of figure you quote but I do not find it comfortable and I don\'t think most foreigners would either. We recently had to spend on replacing all the inner wooden walls that were damaged by termites.

We have put our house building on hold until I raise more money by selling my house in the UK. I would expect to spend between P10,000 and P15,000 per sq mtr for a good quality 250-300 sq mtr house. This would be using workers recommended by the architect but payed directly by us.

Colin

Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 23, 2007, 02:22:49 PM
Hi B-Ray,

Nicely written. You have for sure, captured the skill & attitude of the average contractor here. We bought a house & lot package (right choice for us) and have had work done over the past year by a variety of \'craftsmen\'. Lessons learnt:

1.   Check all quotes for work. There will be numerous errors & over costs.

2.   Buy materials yourself if you can.

3.   Pay a daily rate rather than a contracted price. Contracted will lead to rushed & shoddy work. Daily rate does mean watching them as they will try to make the job last. Example. We just had the exterior of the house painted. 2 x painters at Php350 an hour. Took 7 days plus paint/materials at Php50k. Total inc bonus (worth paying to keep on target) just over Php11k. A contractor quoted inc materials Php35k.

4.   Let them know, that you know a few things about building & painting etc & are watching them. The \'good enough\' attitude is common.

Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 24, 2007, 05:22:46 AM
Excellent information here Ray.  I wish I had that information when I started! 

My building experience in the RP started late in the 80\'s and this information would have been nearly on target then.  Since, I\'ve had a variety of building experiences, good and bad.  I think your prices are a bit highball, and prices do vary a good deal throughout the archipelago, but they are a good reference for the newbie.  Over the years I have found some good construction men who I still hire from time to time, even moving them temporarily to other provinces when the need arises.   When you find a good worker you want to keep him!  I have an architect and contractor who has been of help from time to time, but picking one cold is like playing Russian roulette.
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 25, 2007, 09:00:49 AM
Wooden walls, good point to bring up! In this area inside walls are mostly hollow block. But in some houses 1/8th plywood can be found on a 2x2 coco wood frame. You can see that if the walls are the same thickness as the doors and if the walls are wavy, then you know rough cut, (chain saw), lumber was used and most likely coco wood and thin plywood. 

Metal studs are available now and a product call \"hardi-flex\" a cement board product that I use a lot. The trick is finding workers that know how to build with the metal studs since it\'s so new, at least in this area. I used the hardi-flex for the ceiling of the 2nd floor and the deck/walkways overhang using self tap screws to a 1x1x1/8 welded angle bar frame with round bar welded to the metal truess. I think if I do that again, I would make the metal frame work and drop the hardi-flex in like a drop ceiling. Not only would it be easier, (hardi-flex boards are heavy), and faster to install, but if needing to get above the ceiling, any planel can be removed to get too a given area. BTW, make sure you have a welder that KNOWS how to weld! Not bubble gum globs GRRRR  >:(

Does anyone want to talk about concrete or install tiles?
B-Ray

I would not disagree with most of your comments about building, but I feel that your figure of ± P1.5M is on the high side. This works out around P25,000 per sq mtr when I have been quoted P15,000 by a contractor (expensive way of doing it) for a house that is a lot better than a basic Pinoy design.

We had a basic Pinoy house built for the family 6 years ago for the sort of figure you quote but I do not find it comfortable and I don\'t think most foreigners would either. We recently had to spend on replacing all the inner wooden walls that were damaged by termites.

We have put our house building on hold until I raise more money by selling my house in the UK. I would expect to spend between P10,000 and P15,000 per sq mtr for a good quality 250-300 sq mtr house. This would be using workers recommended by the architect but payed directly by us.

Colin


Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 26, 2007, 08:32:42 AM
OK here goes, in mixing concrete and your not watching the proccess, you\'ll be short changed on cement in the mix. After 6 bags or so there\'s a extra bag to use on another project or money in the pocket. It doesn\'t matter that a bag of cement cost less then Php200, it\'s getting it that matters! The same logic goes for lenghs of steel bars. These are two areas are unsceen in the finshed project and they know that!

Also, they like the mix VERY WET so it\'s almost self leveling which means a VERY WEAK mix, but that doesn\'t matter, less work does. Also you\'ll find most will use the cheaper smooth stones in the mix instead of crushed rock meaning the cement doesn\'t have much to grab on too. And pouring a level smooth floor, forget it and I\'ll get into that with setting tile later.

Pouring a large area of concrete could mean stopping for a period of time and starting again, meaning a dry joint. Hours, (2 hour lunch?), means a \"dry joiint\" not just over night and do they  care? More that they don\'t know/understand the cemistry of concrete and how it reacts. Also, once poured it\'s left alone, no watering down for a slow cure. There\'s a way to handle dry joints or adding new concrete to old and it\'s called \"ready-fix\", a liquide that once applied gives a bound with the old.

How do they get away with all that? Basicly there\'s no stage inspections, (concrete, plumbing, electrical, framing), during building and the locals don\'t know any better as with most foreigners, ie open season.

Bottom line, you\'ll live with what you get, cracking, cement dust, (not enough cement and/or to wet, dried to fast), is common and not getting what you paid for! Granted, things might look mighty spiffy, but for how long? That\'s YOUR JOB to deside during building!

Yep, building in the Philippines isn\'t anywhere near State side standards where there\'s the local Government looking after your best interest, (inspections), and workers that take pride in their workmanship! The majority of Filipino workers operate with \'THAT\'S GOOD ENOUGH\' attitude and when you find a few that takes pride in their work, their worth their weight in gold! Well almost  ;D
B-Ray

 
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: tbevan on December 29, 2007, 09:32:02 PM
Oustanding Forum. I look forward to reading all your members postings with home building experience. I must admit this is my shortfall and main worry when I start building. Anyone have ideas on how to find / screen the right workers,Foreman,designers etc....

1. Pro\'s and Cons on building from scratch or remodeling an older home??

Tom Bevan

Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: Gray Wolf on December 30, 2007, 12:44:48 AM
Tom,

Welcome to The Forum!  On January 1st we will officially close the LinP3 Yahoo list and invite all of our 11,000+ guests over to this new forum.  I\'m certain that you will get a tremendous amount of information from them.  We have guests over there who have been sharing all of the details anyone could think of about building, remodeling, costs, labor, supervision and so forth.  I look forward to seeing the answers here on our new Forum in a few days.

Thanks for being with us, Tom.  I look forward to reading more from you in the years to come.

Jack
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on December 31, 2007, 10:20:22 AM
Oustanding Forum. I look forward to reading all your members postings with home building experience. I must admit this is my shortfall and main worry when I start building. Anyone have ideas on how to find / screen the right workers,Foreman,designers etc....

1. Pro\'s and Cons on building from scratch or remodeling an older home??

Tom Bevan



Gosh Tom, your questions are hard to answer.  As to workers, I went through the trail and error thingie for the 1st two years and have to live with what I got in some areas and  redone others. One of the two man crew I have now, I\'ve used for some two years for things that didn\'t take much know-how but always wanting to do and learn what the wife and I wanted. The other is a very good jack of many trades, master of none. About like me and in some areas much better, LMAO.  We both have commented on how much we have learned from each other, a win-win situation.

In building, I got a strong building because I was on location daily and wouldn\'t put up with any crap and over built to start with.  Cutting corners, that\'s good enough is common, but over specting is an arrea a contractor feels they can REALLY line their pockets and nothing the worse for it. You just don\'t get what your paying for.

Remolding you may not know what your really getting from the get-go? What I look at with what might be called a standard Pinoy house by foreign standards, 2  BRs 1 CR and under 70 sq meters is 4 walls and a roof and expect to spend another Php200,000± in making it rentable. Figuring on changing ALL plumbing, including seperating the gray water from the towlet drain to a septic, whatever it takes, (soaps and bleaches KILLs the septic action) and electrical from the get-go!! Tiling and/or retiling, repairing  cracks and paint. Wooden door/window frames and doors might have to be replaced as well as some rafters, (termits).

I now realize that these Pinoy houses have been standing for some decades, so even with the \"that\'s good enough\" thingie doesn\'t mean it\'s going to fall down around you ears. Knowing the problem area and getting them taken care of from the get-go means, not trying to make things work on a regular bases, It\'s the old pay now or pay later and your going to pay thingie! If you can buy and remoldel for Php1m and size and area meets your needs, you have a good deal, IMO. But, if you think you can make more then 10% per month as a rental on your investment, you might be barking up the wrong tree, depending on the area? As an extra income is another story and best, IMO, having more then one. Building two seperate house will cost a LOT more then a two story building giving the same sq meters each!!

I can except less then perfect, but DANG it better work RIGHT!!  ;D If you can find expats in the area of interest that has done what you want to do and you can see their outcome, then you can evaluate how they did things and what they have learned. A lot of expats will except WHATEVER they get and are happy and that\'s OK. Their advise might be worth the \"you know what\" on a bore hog depending on your comfort zone!
B-Ray

Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 02, 2008, 04:03:07 PM
Oustanding Forum. I look forward to reading all your members postings with home building experience. I must admit this is my shortfall and main worry when I start building. Anyone have ideas on how to find / screen the right workers,Foreman,designers etc....
1. Pro\'s and Cons on building from scratch or remodeling an older home??
This is a pretty broad question and I\'m sure that you\'ll be getting many opinions from anecdotal experience.  I can only speak for mine. 

I\'ve been fortunate in that I picked a community to live in that is populated by a number of skilled carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians.  Among them I have a select few who\'ve worked on nearly every project I\'ve ever undertaken over the past quarter of a century.  We\'re located on the west coast of Cebu, but have been involved with projects up and down our coast and in Abra as well.  I\'ve had the help of an architect and contractor who\'s also been a good friend of the family for all of those years.  He was my source for knowledge and advice in the beginning and we\'ve since worked on projects together.  We\'ve not had any particular problems that would be unique to the Philippines.  Our workers have been skilled, dependable and productive. 

To do business of any kind in the RP and have a chance of being satisfied, you need to understand the way that business is done here and that includes the construction trade.  There are always exceptions, but business is done on a personal level and like Filipino time, often schedules and deadlines have no bearing.  It does pay to culture friends in the trade and learn something of the local dialect as well.   ::)   Once you\'ve established relationships with suppliers, being a foreigner has no particular disadvantage. 

You must know by now that building from scratch or remodeling an existing home have very different requirements.  Yet the acquisition of materials and applying them are nearly the same.  I can\'t tell you which is better or cheaper and I\'ve done both.  Each project seems to have a mind of it\'s own.  My preference is to build anew because part of my enjoyment is in planning a design and incorporating some of the amenities I appreciate from the 1st world (electrical outlet placement in particular) the most.  I can do without a/c, but sometimes tear my hair trying to find an electrical outlet!  My Filipino friends say, \"One is enough, we have plenty of extensions!\"    >:(
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 02, 2008, 10:04:43 PM
I\'ll try and sum-up my experiences with the contractors in the Philippines over the last 6 years \\ with a joke I saw on our local Filipino website it pretty much covers how things go here

Subject: Contractors < PINOY TALAGA >

Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence.  One from the Philippines, another from Mexico and an American. They go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The American contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil.

\"Well\", he says, \"I\'ll figure out the job will run about $900:  $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me.\"

The Mexican contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, \"I can do $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my-crew and $100 profit for me.

The Filipino contractor does not measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers:  \"$2,700.\"

The White House official, incredulous says, \"What?  You did not even measure like the other guys!  How did you come up with such
a high figure?  How do you expect me to consider your service with that bid.\"

\"Easy\", the Pinoy explains, \"$1,000 for you, $1,000 for me and we hire the guy from Mexico \"

The next day the Pinoy got the contract.

My biggest suggestion is do not advance any large amounts of cash to your builder they are notorious for starting a job and then disappearing with your money it has happened not only to me but to several other people I know

Ask to visit some of there past jobs and talk to the owners of the homes that they built at least you can see the results and talk to the owners if they can not provide you any one to visit find some one else to work for you

Contractors also here seem to have no tools they will paint you a picture of how professional they are I had one that had a wall full of pictures of projects he claims were built  by his company when his crew showed up 14 guys at the job site they had one crescent wrench, 2 shovels , 1 hammer a welder and a hacksaw and 2 bolos this is what they were going to use to erect a 12000 square foot steel warehouse imported from China

If you do hire some one have them sign a contact take it to your attorney have it notarized set out completion and progress deadlines attach copies of all of his professional licenses to this contract. This is the most important thing having a notarized contract enabled me to have one contractor arraigned on Fraud Charges and the refund of 20,000 Dollars he had ran off with

And most of all do not hire any one that is related to your wife or a friend of the family to do the job

I now hire and supervise all my own construction and hire the same local people that the contractor would have hired I just hire the city engineer from another town to do the plans and get the permits for the building

Hope your experiences are better much better then mine

Best Regards

Tom
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 03, 2008, 08:01:14 AM
Very good advise Tom and I agree totally.

I talked to the contractor about how long the project would take and was given a time frame. I said for her to really think about that and if needing more time, to say so now because that\'s what\'s going into the contract with a 1/2 of 1% of the total bid per day beyound that time frame if not completed in that time frame that I will charge back to her.

Payment was in forths with a 10% held for 30 days after completion giving time to really look over the job, eventho I was on location daily and a 6 months call back for anything major with no extra charges.

The contract was signed in our attorneys office and drawn up by our attorney with my imputs. The time frame and persentage charge back was new to our attorney, but would be in every contract she writes from then on. LOL

As a foreigner, I have no idea how that contract would hold up in court if needing to go that route? It did give me some pressure on the contractor near the end of the project.
B-Ray   
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 03, 2008, 08:51:55 AM
B-Ray,

A friend of mine had exactly the same clause in his contract. Of course, the contractor still over ran but it sure kept him focussed on the completion date. My friend didn\'t activate the clause but the contractor didn\'t know that until he completed a little overdue. Without the clauses \'motivation\' who knows how much over the job would have run.
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 05, 2008, 08:58:02 AM
Whoops!  :o Ya got me on that one. Should have been Php350 a DAY! At per hour I would set myself up in business  :D
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 06, 2008, 09:19:03 AM
Whoops!  :o Ya got me on that one. Should have been Php350 a DAY! At per hour I would set myself up in business  :D

Figured as much Keith. Wages varies greatly across this Country and the guildlines are as good as the paper there written on.

Here common labor is Php150 a day and a foreman Php250. 110 & 200 are more inline with what contractors pay with no lunch, (cook your own).  We pay our guys Php175 and 300 and a all you can eat lunch that varies 3 times a week, fish, pork, chicken with rice and the Philipino soup, large glass of coke and two snacks, (10 & 3).  They don\'t take the two 15 minute breaks, but that\'s up to them. They take the snacks home to momma  ;D We figure it cost us Php100 each for food per day. Willie says lunch is more then Php150 in town.  Well feed makes good workers if there worth it to start with and most likely the best meal they\'ll have all day. At the start,  I had to tell these two guys that if anything is left it\'s there fault for not eating it!

Good workers are hard to find, sent many down the road kicking rocks, and bending over backwards just a bit will get you at the top of their list when needed.
B-Ray
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 06, 2008, 09:39:59 AM
Hi B-Ray,

Wise words & a sound strategy with the food. We give our guys a snack twice a day & a San Mig at the end if they have worked well.

Keith.
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: fred on January 06, 2008, 03:13:54 PM
We pay 550.00 PHP for our working foreman and 450.00 for his brother who is a mason,tiler and carpenter.
The work is always spot on with nothing to be re done..
The quality of work is almost the best I have seen in all my years in the building ind. and my snagging lists are short.
If they have work elsewhere when we need a job done,we wait for them for as long as it takes.
Labourers daily wage here in Manila start at 350.00 and we only use the labour that the foreman brings along with him.
One thing I  never do however is to deal with them directly..
Now thats where the problems would begin!!


Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 07, 2008, 07:14:50 AM
Hello Fred and welcome to the forum.

Your comments states how much more it cost for labor in the BIG Cities, as well as the cost to live there, they go hand in hand. Your paying a foreman 2.5 times more then a contractor pay here. But, it seems your getting 100% better quality, (not the comman that\'s good enough), for your money.

I don\'t know if your foreman is a run of the mill, many like him avaiable? Mine isn\'t and one really has to search in finding the like minded.
B-Ray Bacong, Negros Oriental
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: fred on January 07, 2008, 08:45:31 AM
Hi Ray..
Thanks for the welcome..
Yes a lot of things of course are more expensive in the city,however there are savings to be made in regards materials etc here because of the huge suppliers.
The Chinese that own these building supply operations always offer good discounts with large orders.
If we establish a good business relationship with the Chinese here and are prepared to pay in cash then there genuinely is little need to constantly haggle which becomes tiresome after a while IMO. 
In regards labour costs here.These can vary a little depending on skill levels etc...If the demand for a worker is high and their reputation is good then the wage demand increases.
The thing is that we decided long ago to buy quality materials such as imported porcelain floor tiles etc.
When I  hand these type of tiles to a tradesman here(or anywhere for that matter)I must have 100% confidence in their ability to cut and fit them with precision.The floor tiles fit so tight that there is no need for grout etc with this kind of tile.
All of our bedroom wardrobes and fitted kitchen units were all built with marine plywood and hand painted.
This has saved me an a lot of money.. The working foreman can build me a kitchen in three and a half days so the little extra he earns gives me good value as I hope the pictures below might suggest .
(http://www31.brinkster.com/herofest2003/images/2bed.jpg)
My brother in law hired a local province tiler and his work looked like somebodies nightmare!
He now has to witness this mess 3 times a day until he can justify the costs of having it rectified..Could be years.
All the best,
Fred.









 
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 08, 2008, 09:39:15 AM
Well guys as I read Freds requirements, you now have two views to follow and that\'s good!

What I do and will except might be seen as mid range and just can not afford to import materials.

As to working with the local Chinese supply owners, my wife and my foreman couldn\'t do more then 2% discount for large amounts. I found by doing my own shopping could beat the prices without a discount. Case in point, 200 gals of Boysen paint with the same paint number can have a range of Php200 more per gal and paint was just one item we had to deal with.

The same with tile when there\'s 1,000 of the same size comming in the same box and save Php9 each. For me, that\'s a biggie too.

Here, a biggie also is finding what supplier has what at what price, (no one stop shopping),. That takes a lot of leg work and working from a material list helps greatly! If one figure this ordeal as a hobby thingie, there\'s fun in it.  ;D

Our big orders is now two years old and usless to compair for todays projects!
 And sometimes a supplier will not have the material you started with and has a cheaper product at the same price, GRRRRR!
B-Ray 
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: Ted on January 09, 2008, 01:52:47 PM
 I built my house on the beach in Negros Oriental with a lot of help. I hired local guys within walking distance to my place. All live in the same barangay.  I had between 5-12 people working at any given time and I acted as foreman and engineer.  I paid 180 pesos per day and we worked 6 days a week.  We always had a snack at the end of the day. They went home for lunch. 

Not everyone worked out for the long haul.  The guys who cleared the land didn’t necessary transition to the foundation work. Some guys showed up drunk and they were “let go” as I reduced staff.  A few quit (out of pride) after I reduced their responsibilities and pay.

I built a small house using methods that I would later use for the main house and kitchen. This gave me chance to train the crew and find out who could mix concrete, bend re-bar and tile.  It also gave me a place to live while we built the rest of the place.  I only trusted one guy to mix concrete and he knew the standard. By the time I built the main house, everyone on the 6 man 1 woman crew knew their jobs and I got custom work.

We held team competitions to see who could consolidate concrete the best or set the forms for a column the fastest. The winners took home a bonus.  They worked fast and safe and had a great time. There was no one milking the job as happens very often in construction in the Philippines.

I always had a first aid kit ready and insisted on eye protection for grinding steel.  I used ladders and scaffolding that I had our welder make custom. The workplace was as clean at the end of the day as any job in my career. We had zero injuries in a two year period.  I took care of the guys and sponsored their sports team.

Prior to our move on site to the little house, we had a discrepancy in the inventory.  I was using a rotating shift for the night watch and accountability suffered.  I took one guy off the crew to do permanent night watch. We made a tool board and an inventory sheet. One of the family did turnover in the morning.  I have never had another loss in tools or inventory.

Most contractors will have a crew that build a CR and live in a temporary shack on site.  Their laundry is hanging around and it generally looks like a mess. Safety is the last concern.  Guys quit and take stuff with them. The foreman takes a percentage from the crew. Fight break out. That’s not what I wanted.  I was living on site with my wife.  My place was always peaceful, clean and quiet when the crew left and the watchman showed up.

One of my workers went on to additional construction jobs in town and is in high demand.

My first worker was a lady that lived next door and just showed up to help.  She has been on the payroll ever since and has had fewer issues than any of the guys.  The guys spend their money on cell phones and karaoke. She saves her money by delaying her pay until she can buy a goat.  She lies to her relatives “I didn’t get paid” so they don’t ask for support. Then she buys another goat.  She sweeps the place daily and helps around to this day.

The most talented and trusted of my crew stayed on as my maintenance guy.  He is more loyal to us than his family and I was his witness at his wedding.
Too many foreigners in my opinion waste an opportunity to hire locals and build their own home.  Many end up frustrated by the process and spending more money for less quality. They already develop a bad reputation for the way they treat their workers before they even move into the neighborhood. The make their contacts after the house is built. It’s a missed opportunity.

Most who hire an expert of any kind including contractors, agents, engineers, electricians, and even  foremen are robbed and live with shoddy construction or worse. Some have the municipal engineer’s attention because the contractor never got the permit.  Some violate easements and end up with a suit later.  They pay markups on materiel, labor fees and consultations.  They get less than the required re-bar and little supervision. The crew list is padded. There are a hundred other trick of the trade.

All of my money went to hard labor and good materials. I won’t say it was cheap.  I didn’t use a single hollowblock.  I used cast in place reinforced concrete, mahogany for exposed joinsts and other good materials. It shows.

Construction is not rocket science.  I did a little construction but I had never laid tile or poured concrete before.  I never did framing.  I studied the process and read books.  When you’re retired you can’t say that you didn’t have time.

I treated the chance to build my house as a one in a lifetime dream. My wife does not have a single complaint.

Ted was in Negros, now back in the states for a while.
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: fred on January 09, 2008, 03:05:03 PM
Nice one Fish...I like your attitude.
Im going to have a go at building a swimming pool next year..Got any good books on the subject?     
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 09, 2008, 08:24:30 PM
Hello Fred,

Be very careful when you build. It\'s very easy to go in the hole on a Project like this!!!

 ::)

Seriously, you\'ll need to start reading up on how to keep the pool clean and free of algae. Maintenance is the biggest problem I\'ve heard about including finding good pumps / filtering systems.

Billy

Nice one Fish...I like your attitude.
Im going to have a go at building a swimming pool next year..Got any good books on the subject?
     
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: fred on January 09, 2008, 10:09:57 PM
Thanks Billy..

Yes.. I used to be an aquarium freak so I know all about algae and how tough it is to control.
A swimming pool I hope may have better anti algae techniques due to being able to use chlorine and other chemicals that would be fatal to fish etc.
I would have thought that manual sweeping and netting dead algae when necessary are the kind of things I will need to do or pay someone to do to help along  the correct filter system with its work..
With the  business I have in mind,a pool is essential so these are problems are the kind I  will have to learn to face. 
But thanks for reminding me anyway..Grrr..!!
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: Ted on January 10, 2008, 01:32:24 PM
Sorry Fred, No book on building a pool. Unlike masonry electric and framing, pools are rarely a “do it yourself project” in the states.  Most concrete pools in the states are built with shotcrete (gunite) on a web of re-bar.  Some are cast in place. I’m convinced that shotcrete can be replicated or a cast in place alternative is possible.  You can find online resources if you search hard.

In the states a cast in place job is poured all at once with trucks.  In the Philippines it’s one bag at a time until everyone is tired. That means lots of “cold joints”. We set forms in the morning and poured in the late afternoon so no one in our small crew was ever too worn out. I didn’t mind cold joints (between each day’s pour) because the rebar tied it together and it is lightyears stronger than a local hollow block.

We made our own concrete kitchen sink that my guys thought was a swimming pool.  A tight web of small rebar built on a form, inverted. It was really nice. We put it in place like Egyptians putting another block on a pyramid.  Lots of leverage.

I’ll build my pool when I go back.  I have the DE filter, pump and breaker from the states already.  If I had my crew at their peak I have no doubt that I could build one again. I\'ll practice the technique with a septic tank. No one will see our mistakes. Rehearsals help a lot.

I asked my crew “who’s done tile before”.  “No one has done it…yet” they said because they knew that regardless of their experience we were going to make the attempt. My guys would ask their friends for tips and I just followed the book.  It was a good combination. We tiled the CR floor and the kitchen sink and counters. Very nice inexpensive kitchen counters. 

We built “flitch beams” from scratch that support the whole front of my house.  They are a wood-steel-wood sandwich with terrific properties.  The first one was hard but after a while they did them on their own.

Half Moon restaurant and bar had a big concrete structure built by contractors just outside of Dauin. It had a nice pool on the third deck. The pool leaked so bad they shut it down.  I left before they got it fixed.  I don’t know, maybe it’s a big planter box now.

At least if I blow it I have only myself to blame.

I’ll take skilled (inexperienced) hands that care over a contractor any day, as long as I have a book. Even with a pool. 
Best of luck on yours.
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: Rick B on January 10, 2008, 04:20:22 PM
Fish, i do like your style and your approach and it has clearly worked for you, dedication, personal attention and it comes across in spades, you really enjoyed it, congratulations.

Fred above shows us the picture of his kitchen, there is more than one way to skin a cat and from the picture we can see even from a photograph the result is excellent, congratulations to the both of you.

I did it another way and perhaps that is due to my background which is in construction, but at the managerial level, not practical, so, i was not brave enough to take Fish\'s hands on approach, although you are spot on with your comments regarding safety and cleanliness etc

Anyway my job was a 1 bed guest house and swimming pool as an extension to our place, in davao, i decided to go down the professional route and interviewed architects who eventually, designed, submitted design for approval and built the thing, using a specialist contractor for the pool. I was overseas when the project got built in 06 so i asked my wifes brother to \"oversee\" the project as my representative. Anyway, with a few minor problems the project was very succesfully completed and quality is spot on because this was my emphasis with the architect and his professional qualifications buying into the project. Maybe i was lucky but i did the work front end of the project which was my instinct and it worked, so, maybe i made my own luck.

For Fred above i would recommend either Fish\'s very close attention method or my method of specialist contractor for a pool, its one that could go very wrong,(you can view his works and establish the standard based on what he can show you) Good luck
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: philippinediver on January 10, 2008, 07:30:27 PM
Hi Rick. I am wondering if you would be kind enough to provide the name and contact numbers of the architect you referred to in your post as well as builders you have worked with and have confidence in... (Davao). I too plan to build a pool and guest house there as well in addition to my main house hopefully starting in June. While I can\'t speak for others, I am sure there might be some here on the forum from Davao that may be interested as well. Thank you

Vic
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on January 10, 2008, 08:13:38 PM
Pooh......I had a 36x15 pool in NJ....was OK to do maintenance for a year or so

Then I showed the kid who mowed the lawn how to do the maintainence

1 hour once a week, he\'d mow the lawn then clean the pool (bonus was he got to swim afterwards).....

Most difficult parts are opening and closing pool at beginning end of summer - total non issue in RP

I\'d suggest an above ground pool with a fixed depth of 3-4\' for ease of DIY construction

I\'ll google DIY swimming pool construction when I\'m ready to build



Hello Fred,

Be very careful when you build. It\'s very easy to go in the hole on a Project like this!!!

 ::)

Seriously, you\'ll need to start reading up on how to keep the pool clean and free of algae. Maintenance is the biggest problem I\'ve heard about including finding good pumps / filtering systems.

Billy

Nice one Fish...I like your attitude.
Im going to have a go at building a swimming pool next year..Got any good books on the subject?
     
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: Rick B on January 10, 2008, 08:14:51 PM
Philippinediver, please send me an e mail (click on my profile and it will give you my e mail address and i would be glad to give you the info.)  I replied to you in similar fashion on my mindanao post and i remember you are coming to Davao in April, i will be glad to assist you, i did have a good experience overall but i  can see there is a lot of negativity about and am sure many mistakes are made, always good to learn from other peoples experience.
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: fred on January 29, 2008, 10:39:39 PM
Quote
I\'d suggest an above ground pool with a fixed depth of 3-4\' for ease of DIY construction

This sounds like a great suggestion.. I could put decking all around the top of pool with steps going down to ground level..
All the electrical wiring and filtration systems would be easy enough to get at under the deck for maintenance etc..
Thanks a lot..
Lots for me to think about there.
Title: Building in the Philippines
Post by: BoBHofmans on February 06, 2008, 08:43:08 PM

3.   Pay a daily rate rather than a contracted price. Contracted will lead to rushed & shoddy work. Daily rate does mean watching them as they will try to make the job last. Example. We just had the exterior of the house painted. 2 x painters at Php350 an hour. Took 7 days plus paint/materials at Php50k. Total inc bonus (worth paying to keep on target) just over Php11k. A contractor quoted inc materials Php35k.



Php 350 per hour? My wife asks if you were painting in Makati!
Here in Barangay Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City, my foreman makes 350 per day, his masons/carpenters/electricians 250 per day, and the common helpers 170 to 180 Php per day.
Before you ask: this foreman is very very good, uncle of my wife, church member and trusted, never drinks and doesn\'t play cards, something that can really screw up your building plans. The boys sometimes have a beer on payday, the pm before their day off - I might even spring for 2 big San Migs - that\'s all. 

(http://www.geocities.com/bobhofmans/Jan14F.jpg)
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on February 06, 2008, 08:54:53 PM
Whoops!  :o Ya got me on that one. Should have been Php350 a DAY! At per hour I would set myself up in business  :D

Hi Bob,

Too slow on the per hour mate!  ;)Already put my hands up to that little slip of the typing finger ::) Looks like you got things of the ground there in CDO. Give us an intro to you & yours on the \'Meet your neighbors\" board.
Title: Building in the Philippines
Post by: BoBHofmans on February 07, 2008, 08:34:49 AM

And most of all do not hire any one that is related to your wife or a friend of the family to do the job

Tom


Hey Tom, you scare me. In my message posted above I proudly explain that my current foreman is an uncle of my wife.
He built my first house in the winter of 2005-2006 and I was quite happy with him, his style, his behavioir and his work.
The next winter, 2006-2007, I wanted to build an extension for my in-laws to the new house. \"Papa Susing\", as the uncle is called, was working on another project and we took some guy from the neighbourhood. I wanted a smallish extension, bedroom, small kitchen, CR, with a flat, concrete roof. He did that well enough, although some columns give a crooked impression and when it rains, it also rains in the CR. The foreman got 300 a day and was always complaining that he was short. The word \"Cash Advance\" was in his daily vocubalary. Sometimes he showed up late or not at all with \"LBM\" as the usual excuse. Then I heard from his son, who got irritated with Daddy, that he had been playing cards and drinking and got home at 5 in the morning!
What p-ed me off most was that he drank his Christmas bonus and didn\'t work for a week or so. The helpers suffer as well, financially, because they can\'t work without their foreman.
In february 2007 the extension was finished and he started doing the ground work at a lot at the seafront we had just bought. In March 2007 we had to go back to Spain to work, which in hindsight is very fortunate. Half of the columns he built are crooked.
When we came back last October \"Papa Susing\" took over again and the job goes splendid. He had to build another wall along the firewall of last year\'s forman and some connections between new and old columns aren\'t too great, but I\'ll have to live with that.
I trust the uncle in as far that I don\'t think, or cannot imagine, hat he mixes cement badly or sells some of our materials to \"the highest bidder\" or whatever, exactly because he\'s family. He or my father in law or a jack-of-all-trades (cousin) kind of \"male au-pair\" sleep at the beach (construction site), so there\'s always somebody there.
So why should I \"above all not take anybody related to my wife\"? You must have had some bad experiences. I can imagine that a relative could take it easy simply because he\'s family and thinks he can get away with it. This has also happened and the guy is fired by my father-in-law sometimes even before I realize there was something wrong.

(http://www.geocities.com/cagayan_mindanao/Dec02-01f.jpg)

CDO, December 2007, preparing for the roofing of the ground floor.
Title: Building in the Philippines
Post by: BoBHofmans on February 07, 2008, 09:24:03 AM
@ Keith, sorry, I didn\'t see your rectification till later. 350 a day is more like it.
BTW, this site reads like a new history book, almanac, websters or so. I flip back and forth and try to take in a year\'s writing in 5 minutes.
So, I react to a remark just as I read it, not necessarily in chronological order!
Bob
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on February 07, 2008, 10:10:13 AM
Scared you! Maybe I should have put a PG RATING on the post ! Good to hear that you are happy with your experiences with your family members.

I have 6 Brother in Laws and when I started my business here ( I\'m not retired ) I thought it would be a good idea to employ them as none of them had a job of the 30 employees I have the only ones I have had problems with were the Brother in Laws.

To date only one  still works for for me the rest have all since retired to sitting under the coconut trees.

The brother in laws were always laying back, not showing up for work and if working they would not pulling there fair share they seemed to enjoy standing around and watching everyone else work. If I said anything to them it started a family discussion more like a Feud which included-the father in law, the mother in law and all of the wives.

My wife was always caught in the middle so after dealing with these family problems for about 8 months  I realized no family employed no problems .

Tom

The in laws were the only real problems I have had with employees in the 7 years I have ran the business the rest of the workers and are happy to show up for work everyday.

The Brother in Laws seemed to resent the fact that they needed to work for a paycheck this has been my experience your experiences may vary

You are very lucky that you have some one from your wifes family that you can trust but believe me it is a rarity here many of my expat friends have their own horror stories to tell aout dealing with the local family

Enjoy your life here

Best Regards

Tom

Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: Rick on February 23, 2008, 12:28:20 PM
   I did not use any inlaws in the home building process but for other things such as
yard work, cutting down trees, helping erect fences, all we hire are relatives and never had
any problem with them. Hope my luck holds.

Rick
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: coutts00 on February 23, 2008, 12:59:29 PM
For my 2 Centavos worth,

What I am seeing here is the generation gap, the uncles, father-inlaw etc, are from a generation when there was no OFW money flowing into the family. Their work and hence their self worth came from the job they had done and the quality of their workmanship.

The younger brother inlaws seem to have the mentality that why should I work for you when I can just ask your asawa/my sister for money or have my wife do it. The self worth ethic seems no longer valid in this generation. I have noticed in our family the sisters of my asawa are the best workers, working in our store, always on time, overtime never charged for, and insulted if I try to pay it.

Their husbands are another thing entirely, except for one, who whenever he is not intoxicated works very well, except until he saw a power saw, then the hand saw was outdated and always coming to me, could he use it. I hand him the handsaw, and say he needs to lose a few pounds.

My wifes uncle, who is the last of the breed, if we call him to work and we pay for the fare, will travel from the distant reaches of Catanduanes, from a tiny village, in the deepest jungle, over 10 jeepneys, a ferry and a couple of buses to come work for us, his work is first rate, he is an old craftsman, jack of all trades, master of none.

Why buy a new door he says he will just make one, sure enough 2 hrs later, some wood, a handsaw and some nails, and we have a new door. Strong, Sturdy and built to last. Cheaper and better quality than I could buy anywhere and straight as an arrow.

So I think it is not the relationship of the worker, but the age and pride in oneself that determines how well the work is done and the behavior of the worker.

Wayne
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: on February 23, 2008, 03:16:29 PM
For my 2 Centavos worth,

What I am seeing here is the generation gap, the uncles, father-inlaw etc, are from a generation when there was no OFW money flowing into the family. Their work and hence their self worth came from the job they had done and the quality of their workmanship.

The younger brother inlaws seem to have the mentality that why should I work for you when I can just ask your asawa/my sister for money or have my wife do it. The self worth ethic seems no longer valid in this generation. I have noticed in our family the sisters of my asawa are the best workers, working in our store, always on time, overtime never charged for, and insulted if I try to pay it.

Their husbands are another thing entirely, except for one, who whenever he is not intoxicated works very well, except until he saw a power saw, then the hand saw was outdated and always coming to me, could he use it. I hand him the handsaw, and say he needs to lose a few pounds.

My wifes uncle, who is the last of the breed, if we call him to work and we pay for the fare, will travel from the distant reaches of Catanduanes, from a tiny village, in the deepest jungle, over 10 jeepneys, a ferry and a couple of buses to come work for us, his work is first rate, he is an old craftsman, jack of all trades, master of none.

Why buy a new door he says he will just make one, sure enough 2 hrs later, some wood, a handsaw and some nails, and we have a new door. Strong, Sturdy and built to last. Cheaper and better quality than I could buy anywhere and straight as an arrow.

So I think it is not the relationship of the worker, but the age and pride in oneself that determines how well the work is done and the behavior of the worker.

Wayne

Will he travel as far as Bohol?  ;)
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: coutts00 on February 23, 2008, 04:40:27 PM
I am sure he would, is retired now and his only income is from a small sari store.

Wayne
Title: Re: Building in the Philippines
Post by: philippinediver on March 08, 2008, 09:49:41 AM
I am inspired by what I am reading in this forum about Building in the Philippines, the many challenges it brings to us expats and some of the practical solutions offered here. I too am planning to build my dream retirement house and I would like to pursue my dream in a manner even more practical to my situation. This can result in something that may be of interest to some readers here in the forum or others thay may know.

For one thing, I have absolutely no desire to become a watchdog on my own building project. I have neither the patience nor experience to know what I should be looking for in the building process. I am here to enjoy life and coupled with some major medical challenges and temperament issues I have, a construction site is the last place I should be. In this regard I have an idea that may be of interest.

Too the point I would like to find an expat with building expertise that might be interested in overseeing my personal building project. Perhaps there are some here that are bored with the daily routine and might seek some challenges, additional income and a possible business opportunity in the end if all goes well.

The project would probably take upwards of a year and will be quite challenging and large. The end result will hopefully be a model that future building projects can be compared against. I know for a fact there are many expats in the same boat as I am totally frustrated by the lack of expertise and enthusiasm for building by the local building companies where all that is missing is proper guidance by an expereinced supervisor builder.

The opportunity side of a successful outcome could be the launching of a construction company that will provide this expertise, security and peace of mind to other expats seeking to build their own dream house wherever they might be in the Philippines. I would provide what is needed to launch such a company.

Anyone interested in a further dialogue should please contact me directly.

sincerely

Vic