Author Topic: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??  (Read 31403 times)

Offline Calatrava_Kano

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What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« on: January 20, 2008, 05:01:21 AM »
Greetings to All,

First off, I envy all you who have the construction knowledge to over see or build your own home in the Philippines.  In the States I never worked in the trades, but have owned several homes and have done a lot of rehab/remodeling over my life.  I have done a house addition along with lots of repairs/remodeling so framing, roofing, flooring, electric and plumbing are not a problem. 

But, I am not a mason, I have never made or built with a block anything, never used steel for roofing, nor have I laid ceramic tile.  This combined with the fact I do not speak the local language makes me feel very unqualified to build a home.  because of this at some point I will need to put some trust into someone, either a contractor or a foreman to take charge of building the home we plan to build.

I have been around this group and others for years, listened to B-Ray and others talk about the work ethic and quality of work that is done.  I guess my question/topic is what are the key things I need to watch for and make sure are done correctly when hiring someone to build a home.  Perhaps a \"your builder should, and not should\" list or guide could be created from those who have been down this road to help those like me.

I have notes on proper CHB ratios and drying methods \"The ratio of cement/sand should be 1:16 to make a total of about 55 blocks from one 40 Kilo bag of Portland\" and I have read it\'s a good idea to paint the rebar to prevent rust from harming the concrete over time.

What other common poor technique or mistakes need to be prevented??  For kuripots like me on a budget this is important.


Thank you


Brian

Calatrava, Negros Occ. / Chicago, IL

Brian

Calatrava, Negros Occ. / Chicago, IL

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2008, 08:19:31 AM »
Well the first mistake you are going to make is to make 55 cement blocks from a bag of cement you need to get around 35 blocks per bag 55 per bag your blocks will fall apart while you are trying to lay them

Tom


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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2008, 03:37:29 PM »
I learned my brick laying at a one day seminar - I built a wall 4 courses high with corner at each end.....and that\'s all that\'s really needed (oh and another 3 walls and a few more courses for a house structure
 
Used a non-setting mortar.....can\'t remember which ingredient we left out/shortened the ratio on...so we could correct mistakes....knock it all down at end of day

Practiced a number of times the following week and noticed speed in laying increase noticably....

But with labour so cheap in RP....I doubt I\'ll be doing my own....but at least I\'ll know what\'s right

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2008, 05:09:28 PM »

Alternative to Hollow Blocks

After experiencing the quality of the Cement Blocks available and the way everyone lays the blocks here when I built my small house I made forms and poured solid concrete walls over vertical and horizontal tied rebar

They had never done this before in my area, I had plenty of plywood available from packing crates for our rice mill equipment so the forms were no problem. The house is now 6 years old and still has no cracks in the walls so I guess it is okay

It is actually quicker as you do not need to come back and plaster over the walls as you do with the block walls the cost is close to being the same

When I do use Cement blocks I found the only way to get a quality block is to make them youself I bought a small machine (9,000 Piso 2 guys 300-400 blocks a day ) that vibrates the mix and forms a nice block by doing this you can almost get to the quality of the blocks available in the US

We are planning on building our real house in a couple more years I found this company on the internet that offers you a free cost estimate and uses a new system for building here with poured concrete in my opinion this is the best way to build here

There site is http://www.sibonga.com/

Good Luck on your adventure if you are in Roxas City stop by

Best Regards

Tom

 

Offline Ted

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2008, 05:00:32 AM »
Brian,

If you can do an addition to a house then you are way ahead of most engineers in the RP.

The typical house is designed by an engineer, drawn by a draftsman and built by a foreman.  The engineer is likely the only one who has any basic understanding of strength of materials, compression and tension.  He may be the only guy who can read well and is likely the only guy who can read a blueprint.    Of course the engineer is not on the job site on a daily basis and may never show up.  If you can afford to have one who will really be there or family members who really understand construction and can really supervise then you are extremely fortunate and you don’t need to read further.

The typical problems in the Philippines could fill a book. Most have to do with saving time and money. Some are cultural.
Here are a few problems:

“Do it the way we’ve always done it” mentality = Low standards. No lintels above windows (even in “good” construction). No grounding, undersized wires, over fused, no ground fault interrupters.

With the exception of the engineer, lack of basic understanding of the principals/theory of construction. No basic understanding of curing, tension, compression, chemistry, hydrology.

Foremen that are corrupt, steal, take a percentage from the crew, ignore safety don’t provide basic sanitation, cut corners and lie about what they did while you or the engineer were away.  They get drunk and fight and go to jail. Saw this a lot.

Engineers that don’t understand engineering, project management what you want and will never show up on the job.  They overcharge for materials and take a cut of the total project – an incentive for running up the cost. They bankrupt the project, blame the owner and move on the next victim.

Large crews that are fast and impossible to supervise.

Slowdowns, drawing out the work, milking the job for the pay.  

Being blocked.  If you are not on the highway, the road is blocked until you pay for an easement or buy the lot.  If you are on the highway you get notice that you are blocking an easement and construction is halted.  Maybe they pay off the engineer for a permit and a lot owner blocks them.  Happens even to big contracts.

No permits.  Guy I know had a fence built close to the shore and was given a “notice of illegal construction” by the municipality for no permit and violating the 20 meter shore easement (Water Code).  He resolved it but was so disappointed in the process that he put the lot up for sale.

Pride and respect.  Pride means I’ll never admit that I made a mistake, I’ll cover it up.  Respect says I’ll never bring up a mistake by someone else.  Never look ahead. Run out of materials in the middle of work. Run out of gas in the middle of a concrete mix.  Ignoring problems and “just good enough”.  Recognizing and voicing problems, and maintaining standards - not a cultural strength here.

Hollow blocks that fall apart in your hands. Not reinforced, no consolidating of concrete.

No drainfields. Single chamber septic system, poorly vented.

No perk test, no soil analysis for load bearing or drainage.

No sense of style.

Concrete problems in order:

Too much water - it makes the concrete easy to work, place, consolidate and finish. It also is a major factor in reducing strength.  If the concrete is easy to place and consolidate then it is too wet. The amount of slump can be tested but you’ll know it when you see it after a few bags.
 
Too much rock and sand – a cheap mix ruins strength.  A typical very strong mix is 1 bag cement, 2 bags sand and three bags of rock.  I used this for columns and beams.  1-2-4 is ok for flatwork (floors). Typical local mix is 1-4-7 and lots of water.  

Undersized rebar and not enough of it. Rebar is expensive. But it is the key to strength. There are online guides for rebar.  You don’t need to be an engineer if you are patient and can read. Of course my rebar schedules were in the blueprints, were more than adequate and were easy to flow.  

Poor aggregate - Crushed hard clean rock binds better than round, the size should not exceed ¾ of the distance between rebars. We washed all of the rock in my house.  Almost unheard of in our small town.


I had very few of these problems. I built with local fishermen and farmers. I didn’t hire experts and barely had a foreman.  I took a hands on approach.

I never mixed concrete until I started building my place in the Philippines.  There are a lot of books, online guides and tips and I read many of them until I understood the concept. I watched it done on job sites.

For house construction, most concrete mixing is done in a “one bagger”.  It mixes one bag of cement, rock, sand and water.  The amount of rock, sand and water determines the strength of the concrete.  I like to add a few gallons of water, add the sand and then the cement.  This keeps the dust down.  Then we add the rock and additional water until the slump looks right. Curing is a process of keeping the concrete damp for several days. This is important because concrete gains strength only if it has water available.

Concrete is very strong in compression but weak in tension. So rebar takes the tension forces.  

 I only let one of my guys mix the concrete.  Everyone fed the mixer but he was the only one to add water. He counted the bags going in. This was a constant battle because his older brother always wanted to take over. It was almost impossible for him to tell his brother to back down.  I always put his brother in charge of placing and consolidating.  When the forms were removed, zero air pockets were a source of pride for him. So it helped him stay focused on his job of placing.

While hollow blocks make up the walls, the structural elements of the house (columns, beams and foundation) are all cast in place reinforced concrete.  So you will have to learn the basics of concrete masonry anyway.

I used the cast in place method. We built our own forms and didn’t use hollow blocks.  It costs more and is a little slower but there is no comparison in strength.  My wife’s lot near the beach has real sloppy land and is prone to flooding.  So concrete was the way to go for the first floor. Also, bugs can get inside the hollow block and find a path to the wood structure.  Not in my house.

A draftsman did the coordination with an engineer that I never met.  He drew the plans based on my drawings and had the engineer sign.  They were complete with rebar schedules and diagrams.  They were 500 pesos per sheet. The crew made 150-180 pesos a day and lived off site.

I started small, building the road and a large octagon bamboo tambayan.  Then the CR, then a small 2 room house. By the time I started the main house we had a system.  A small team of seven that knew what to expect and knew the standards. I was trained as well, knowing how to handle the project with complete confidence. It took 18 months to finish the job but I moved on site after only 5 months.

This is not the route for everyone but I had a lot of fun doing this.  If you can read you don’t need to hire experts.  They are generally the source of the problem not the solution.

Ted


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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2008, 09:32:32 AM »
Sorry Tom but I totally disagree with you numbers! The 80 to 100 per sack of cement that\'s normally available will do just what you said.

We made our own, (2,500), using the \"black\" sand which has a binder in it and averaged 53 per sack of cement. Using sea sand or the common concrete sand will give a weaker block.

The cussing from the guys in handlng them was knocking a hole in them for piping and electrical boxes and they were heavier!

By Filipino building standards, hollow blocks only support themselves, not the building. The columms and beams are the building and the hollow blocks are the filler and room dividers.

Over spec your foundation, columms, beams and you\'ll have a strong building reguardless what hollow blocks you use depending on the concrete mix, mortor when installed and finishing. The Pinoy standard subdivision houses here have been standing with the cheap hollow block and that\'s good enough labor for some 15 years with no ill effects and there\'s been a few shakers to raddle there cage, even since we have been here. We are building on an island ya know.

With my, \"foreign better ideas/demands\",  just might be an over kill? I haven\'t seen a Pinoy block house fall down or fall apart yet and some around these parts haven\'t been lived in or completed for YEARS. Some look bad with morter hanging out between the blocks and don\'t even have a bound beam at the top of the blocks, but have gone through a generation or two. I know, not our cup of tea for sure!
B-Ray



Well the first mistake you are going to make is to make 55 cement blocks from a bag of cement you need to get around 35 blocks per bag 55 per bag your blocks will fall apart while you are trying to lay them

Tom



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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2008, 12:54:14 PM »
B Ray we must be talking apples and oranges what is the size of your blocks

I needed 25 hollow blocks today to fix a culvert so I went to a guy that makes them for the trade I asked him how many blocks he  gets to a bag of cement he said 45 blocks per bag of cement in his mix he calls them Class A

Our blocks over here are 8 inches wide and 18 inch long and 8 inches high we are using 1/ 25 kilo bag of cement to the mix for good block we can only get about 35 blocks per bag from the street they get 45-50

I hope you can tell me how to make a 100 blocks per bag of cement if so I can start making them to sell

Thanks

Tom

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2008, 11:33:31 AM »
Apparently Tom,  location in the Country in what one can get is involved in this. Blocks here are 6x8x16 or 4x8x16 with 3 hollow chambers.

Yes, we are talking about apples and oranges since SIZE of the blocks is the difference and also the size/amount of the cement sack too.

We made the 4\" blocks and a 50 kilo sack of cement in a one sack mixer, (not done by hand GRRR), giving an \"A+\" block, which apparently was an over kill as was sizing the 2 story building as a 3 story. At the time, the blocks cost me Php3.5 each to make where on the street the 80-100 were Php5 each.

I was told a couple of years ago, if a super strong block is wanted, add tile adhesive and a produce called Nevada, (water proofing), to the block mix. The ratio I have forgotten as with the block mix  :(

Also adding new to old, (blocks, mortor or concrete), a product called \"Ready Fix\" cut 50% with water applied like paint to the old, will give a bound to the old, (less chance of a crack). This product is used also for laying new tile over clean old tile before the adhesive is used.

Anything to do with cement, my foreman uses all 3 of those products, even the Nevada in the tile grout meaning less chance of light colored grout staining.

Oh well, I got off the subject a bit here  ;D
B-Ray     

   

   

B Ray we must be talking apples and oranges what is the size of your blocks

I needed 25 hollow blocks today to fix a culvert so I went to a guy that makes them for the trade I asked him how many blocks he  gets to a bag of cement he said 45 blocks per bag of cement in his mix he calls them Class A

Our blocks over here are 8 inches wide and 18 inch long and 8 inches high we are using 1/ 25 kilo bag of cement to the mix for good block we can only get about 35 blocks per bag from the street they get 45-50

I hope you can tell me how to make a 100 blocks per bag of cement if so I can start making them to sell

Thanks

Tom

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2008, 07:56:25 PM »
Thanks for the information on the additives I do not believe they are available in our province also I was mistaken on the sack weight they are 20 Kilos and the larger size when available are 40 kilos so 10 short of your area

If you ever get over this way the beers are on me

Best Regards

Tom

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2008, 08:49:17 AM »
Well Tom, it\'s been good that we brought up these differences! 

It\'s so easy to think what we have available is the standard across the Country. Just a remainder to me, (which I should already realize after a few years), too NOT think ANYTHING is standard in this Country!  ;D

Best re-guards to you and yours and beer may not be on tap, but rum and coke is always at this home front! I think it\'s time for one  LMAO
B-Ray

Offline fred

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2008, 10:57:44 PM »
B-Ray.. I agree with your comment regarding blocks not being structural here.. The post and beam structures here are the important element to the buildings strength. Like you say..The blocks just fill in the gaps. Unlike the ring beam structure you dont even really need lintels over door and window openings..
In all my years here I have never once seen a building or wall fall down on a house built in this way...And why should it?

Offline oldehappycat

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2010, 07:17:10 PM »
Greetings to All,

First off, I envy all you who have the construction knowledge to over see or build your own home in the Philippines.  In the States I never worked in the trades, but have owned several homes and have done a lot of rehab/remodeling over my life.  I have done a house addition along with lots of repairs/remodeling so framing, roofing, flooring, electric and plumbing are not a problem. 

But, I am not a mason, I have never made or built with a block anything, never used steel for roofing, nor have I laid ceramic tile.  This combined with the fact I do not speak the local language makes me feel very unqualified to build a home.  because of this at some point I will need to put some trust into someone, either a contractor or a foreman to take charge of building the home we plan to build.

I have been around this group and others for years, listened to B-Ray and others talk about the work ethic and quality of work that is done.  I guess my question/topic is what are the key things I need to watch for and make sure are done correctly when hiring someone to build a home.  Perhaps a \"your builder should, and not should\" list or guide could be created from those who have been down this road to help those like me.

I have notes on proper CHB ratios and drying methods \"The ratio of cement/sand should be 1:16 to make a total of about 55 blocks from one 40 Kilo bag of Portland\" and I have read it\'s a good idea to paint the rebar to prevent rust from harming the concrete over time.

What other common poor technique or mistakes need to be prevented??  For kuripots like me on a budget this is important.


Thank you


Brian

Calatrava, Negros Occ. / Chicago, IL



I can go on and on about all the mistakes my workers made, but here was MY biggest mistake.  Everything you read about concrete warns you that too much water is the enemy of strong concrete.  But, this rule must be modified in the heat of the Philippine building season.  Some of the defects in my own house are due to my insisting on a conventional mix and ending up with sections of \"bony\" concrete.  By the way we used a 1-2-3 mix throughout (1 cement, 2 sand, 3 stone).

Bob

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2010, 09:06:35 PM »
I can go on and on about all the mistakes my workers made, but here was MY biggest mistake.  Everything you read about concrete warns you that too much water is the enemy of strong concrete.  But, this rule must be modified in the heat of the Philippine building season.  Some of the defects in my own house are due to my insisting on a conventional mix and ending up with sections of \"bony\" concrete.  By the way we used a 1-2-3 mix throughout (1 cement, 2 sand, 3 stone).

Bob

Same here, the mistakes were uncountable, but the one that sticks out most is the guys had no concept of how concrete works, or what the ratio is meant to be.

They mixed it by eye, on the ground, shovelled in whatever they felt it needed, thus producing batches of concrete that varied immensely in strength and hardness.

When they laid flooring it was left to dry in the sun, and racked all over.

When they formed beams or pillars they made them as rough as guts, and skimmed them to look pretty afterwards, rather than make accurate form-work to start with and be done in one hit.

I did some research myself and soon knew far more than they did about the whole process.

I should have realised something was wrong when they laid the footings using nothing but a cement and water mix, not concrete, but they insisted that was how it was done and my wife told me to keep my nose out, for once, and let them do their job, as they knew all about it......

If ever I build another place I will have a meeting with the builders, right at the start, and we will all understand that they do what I say, that I am in charge, that I am paying them to follow my orders, not to do whatever they feel like.



Yes, and we all know exactly what\'ll happen then...........  :D :D :D


ps. Has anybody ever seen a concrete mixer in the PI, one of the small ones???  ???

Thus:

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In the UK you can rent one for about £15 a week, or buy for £250.

Offline fred

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2010, 09:22:21 PM »
Quote
When they formed beams or pillars they made them as rough as guts, and skimmed them to look pretty afterwards, rather than make accurate form-work to start with and be done in one hit.

Its always done that way here..Even on large projects like hotels,hospitals,resorts,etc..

Quote
I should have realised something was wrong when they laid the footings using nothing but a cement and water mix, not concrete,

Neat cement?? lol..Ive never heard anything like it!! I assume you got through quite a few more bags then planned then!!

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Re: What Building Mistakes/Issues to look out for??
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2010, 09:44:47 PM »
Quote
When they formed beams or pillars they made them as rough as guts, and skimmed them to look pretty afterwards, rather than make accurate form-work to start with and be done in one hit.

Its always done that way here..Even on large projects like hotels,hospitals,resorts,etc..

That was their response: this is how we always do it....

Quote
I should have realised something was wrong when they laid the footings using nothing but a cement and water mix, not concrete,

Neat cement?? lol..Ive never heard anything like it!! I assume you got through quite a few more bags then planned then!!

Seeing as I was paying for the cement, they were collecting their mark up for the cement when they sourced it, I\'m guessing it was all part of the master plan to rip off this Kano.  :D

It worked, the 10,000 piso workshop cost me 30,000 piso......