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Author Topic: Building in the Philippines  (Read 11958 times)

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Building in the Philippines
« 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

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #1 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


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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #2 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.


  • Guest
Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #3 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.

  • Guest
Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #4 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



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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #5 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

 

Offline tbevan

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #6 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


Offline Gray Wolf

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #7 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
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #8 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


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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #9 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!\"    >:(

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #10 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

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #11 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   

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #12 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.

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #13 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

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Re: Building in the Philippines
« Reply #14 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