Building a concrete block house – part 6

putting the roof on a new house in the PhilippinesBuilding a concrete block house in the Philippines – part 6

In this series we are trying to build a house on a budget in the Philippines. Most of outer shell is complete but there are a lot of details that are going to take time and money to wrap up.

Here the boys are getting the corrugated galvanized roof  installed.

sealing the umbrella nails

Roly applies Volcasin sealant around the umbrella nails that secure the corrugated sheets to the roof. Typhoon winds and heavy rain are common so you try to do as much as you can to keep leaks to a minimum.

tin roof on house in the philippinesWe painted “Wood Saver” mixed with motor oil on the lumber to prevent termites from taking hold in the lumber. Wood Saver costs 900 pesos a gallon and the more name brand Solignum runs 1300 pesos.

.4 x 8′ corrugated galvanized sheet costs 272 pesos at Liberty Hardware or 275 pesos per sheet at Mercury Hardware

Volcasin sealant runs 360 pesos a liter

building a house in the philippinesWe had a separate crew getting fill from the riverbank to build up the floor another 6 inches.

building up the floorThe earth moving crew crossed a bamboo footbridge to get the soil and hand carried the dirt in used rice bags.

bamboo footbridgeThere is a cane field right behind the house across the creek.

hauling fill by handThese guys earned their money – they worked together and split 1,500 pesos.

hard workThey got most of the job done before the heavy afternoon rains set in.

cane field behind the houseBeautiful view of the cane field behind the house.

building a house at the edge of a cane fieldKeep in mind that there are a lot of hidden costs when doing a project in the Philippines.

metal roof

We have already burned through 250 kilos of rice, 50 kilos of fish and 30 kilos of chicken. Wages are quite low but there are support costs you have to count on to keep the helpers happy.

water for the concrete mixThe floor is ready for concrete which we hope to pour tomorrow. Then this project is going to be on hold for a month while I go to Palawan to see some old friends.

concrete floor in house in the Philippines

The fascia (sinipa) boards don’t show up until Wednesday. We are a bit out of sequence on this step because we should have nailed them in before putting on the metal roof but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

arch ways over the front door

I was thinking about making these boards from coco wood but changed the plan because coco lumber can not hold up to wet conditions and will deteriorate quickly.

building a house in the Philippines

At the Yon Yap sawmill in Ormoc City the owner suggested going with jimbalina wood and he had some good dry logs under cover out back. I noticed that a lot of his coco was wet and already had some insects but the jimbalina wood looked good – straight and dry.

building a house in the Philippines

The owner said that the end product would come out reasonably straight and clean but the longest stock they had was 10 feet in length. Jimbalina seems like a hardy wood and is resistant to decay even if it is not painted. We agreed on 200 pesos per board for s4s lumber. Surfaced 4 sides means that it will be run through a planer to create uniform pieces and it should be straighter and look better.

Looks good!

building a house in the Philippines

Oct 29, 2010

33 responses to “Building a concrete block house – part 6”

  1. Hi DP,Great Job by you! I do know all about those “hidden costs”!!! Enjoy the Holidays!

  2. DutchPickle

    Looking forward to completion of the house.
    Having gone through building a house on a budget, I know that many expenses are not contemplated, such as food for the workers, tuba for the end of a hard day pouring cement, etc.
    No matter what the house costs in the end, the future occupants will always be happy.
    Thank you again for sharing this with your readers, it shows what can be accomplished when everyone works towards a common goal.

  3. Hi
    I came accross your site when I was looking to see how much it would cost to build a house in the Philippines. My wife is from the Philippines and we are looking to build in a house in Mindinao, near Naawan. Do you think this could be done on a budget of around €15,000? Maybe it’s not the sort of question you like and if so I’m really sorry. It’s just that it seems to be a minefield and I can’t get any straight answers.


  4. I wish it only cost $1000. Before I begun to build it, I told my wife that I thought I could build a nice house for close to $1000. She told me that it is near impossible. In the end she was right, the family got a nice house, and I learned many lessons, including a house like that costs nearly $3000. Most of the labor was family, so the major part was material.

  5. Hi DP

    Thanks for your reply. I now have something to go on. I knew some of the issues about land but that will go in my wife’s name.

    The main problem about project manangement is that we live in Ireland! My wife’s uncle should be able to oversee this though.

    I wish you every success with your home and looked forward to seeing the finished project.


  6. Have to agree with DP and building a house in the Philippines when you are not “on site”.
    What you envision and what the person you designate envisions, can be world’s apart.
    Filipinos will generally not tell you of problems except for asking for more money to fix them. You will be spending more money for an ever increasing substandard house.
    The big question is why build a house from thousands of miles away? I have never heard any good stories about having a house built from afar. But if you are determined to have a house built, I would insist on the following:
    1. Never advance ALL the money up front.
    2. Pictures of everything being done.
    3. Receipts for all major purchases.
    4. Almost daily communication.
    5. Permission to go ahead with major parts of the build.

    There may be alot more, but each of the above has it’s reasons and one must have knowledge of how a house is built in the Philippines to avert an potential problems.
    Trust me, what they think is normal, is not normal to a foreigner. From the tiniest thing, to some pretty major things.

    Good luck in your build.

  7. I built a house in Narra Palawan and i can tell you if you are not going to be onsite to “SUPERVISE” the building of it don’t even bother starting it in the first place as you will just be ripped off and end up with a sub-standard house!!!

    I took the time to spend 2 months in the Philippines while i was building our house and it was well worth the effort i spent.

    Also another good tip ask the local people as they know the best builders in the area and you will find that those are the ones always working on other building sites, so to get them like i did you may have to offer them a bit more money per day but you get a far better job for the little bit extra spent.


  8. Hi
    Thanks everyone for your advice. I’ll have to think long and hard about what the way forward’s going to be. We’re going over at Christmas for 3 weeks so I’ll look into when I’m there


  9. Hello there,l found your building topics quite funny and glad to see everything is working ok,why is the cr and kitchen going outside? This is something lm going to go thru with shortly,in Negros,and being a ex lecturer,l intend to do the bulk of the work myself,using labourers only when needed.One thing l noticed was you didnt use 200 wide blocks there,any reason for that?

  10. Hey thanks for the reply,l have aquired 1000 sq mts at a place called Jimalalud,about 100 klms north of Dumaguete,and the land is elevated on the water,looking straight across to the back of Cebu.Im told by the locals it is 3 hr trip across ,but they use paddles haha.In regards to the blocks,in Australia they use a 8 inch block here as well as 6 in and 4 in our metric world they are 190,150, and 100 wide blocks.I would construct the footings and pour a slab first to build the walls on,as the land is flat then slops down gently to the water, A solid retaining wall will be needed to retain the soil and slab,but once that is done,it should be plain sailing hahaha,gee we are in the philippines here arent we.Any way when time comes l will keep you informed,and at the time l havent done all the homework so have no estimate of cost

  11. Hi DP,again you you given me a idea here,as l can go deeper with the footing near the water side of the site,just as you did,as lm a fair way off the water even at high tide here,and l think l will be using 150 wide blocks (6″) becoz my wall length is 12 odd metres long and the extra width should help here,as this will be my retirement home and l only want to do this once.By the way,you should make the trip up here some day,as its a beautiful and peaceful part of the world,cheers Gary

  12. This is for MG who built a house in Narra. I want to get someone to build a vacation house for me. Can you recommend someone or carpeters in the area?. My budget is up to $10,000.

  13. i am building a house at the present time, and am hoping to get it up in the P400,000 range, i have a good carpenter and lot of workers it is 60 sq meters, we are really doing good , we had a few trees to remove and a bunch of bamboo, got all of that cleared and the footings and piers dug in 5 days, ready to lay block , i think we can get the block and floor poured in 14 days, than the steel truss and metal roof, i have 126,000 piso in Materials and 6,950 in labor so far hope to get the block laid and floor poured for under 30,000, we will build the steel truss ourself ,rent a screw gun .

  14. Hi everyone,
    I have been reading this with a smile as I’m in the process of buying land in Siquijor San juan
    A guy I meet there told me there is a company that will build your house, everything & they start from php 12,000 a sqm including fittings, tiles, everything but not the furniture!!!
    This is measured as 1 sqm = floor area to roof of first floor.
    Does this sound to expensive ??
    As I’m back over at Xmas with my filipino wife & our 6 month old gwapo boy
    I love how you have built up your house Dutchpickle :-) sounds like fun as I’m a builder so would love to get involved with the build of my own place so I don’t know if I should just get local builders in or employ a contractor & just keep an eye on things.
    Our land is on the beach going up to the main road & has a cliff edge around 14 feet high
    Man it looks so nice that I sit at home in the UK just dreaming about it :-)
    Good luck with all the houses you guys are building & God Bless

  15. Hi, everyone. First, kudos to DP for a job well done of documenting his whole construction project. I stumbled upon your site while i was looking for tips on how to save on cost when constructing a house in the Philippines.

    I recently acquired a piece of residential lot in Pangasinan and i’m planning to build a vacation house there, but not before i sort out the land ownership issue. You and me are in the same boat on that, so i was chuckling while reading part 1 of your article. Everything you said about land ownership is true, so i have to navigate through that minefield shortly.

    I live in California, and like Malcs, i can only spend a few weeks at a time in the Philippines, so i have to plan my project really good. I know quite a bit about construction, but sInce i cannot be physically present to upervise the project, i’m thinking of using a steel framework instead of concrete columns and beams. Steel columns and beams can be manufactured off-site without supervision as long as you give the steel fabricator a proper blueprint. After the steel components are finished, they can deliver that to your project site and install it themselves. All you need to do is construct the concrete footings for everything. The same thing for the roofing. Steel trusses can be manufactured offsite and delivered/installed without supervision. You pay the fabricator half upon signing of the job order, and half after completion of installation. That takes care of the house framing. Putting up the cinder block walls will be a cinch.

    This method is (hopefully) cheaper because i won’t have to worry about daily payroll and food, and i don’t have to be present while the steel components are being made/delivered/installed. I can time my arrival a couple of days before we pour the concrete foundation, go to Manila for a week to conduct some business and visit with some people, and then go back to oversee the installation of the steel structure and roofing. Both times, i aim to be there for only 3 days.

    I know that’s easier said than done, but i do have a lot of time to plan it as i don’t have any time pressure. I’ll probably start my own blog to document my progress and let you guys know how to follow it.

    Keeping my fingers crossed :)


  16. May I request all stages of building this home from the very 1st step to the last? Beginning to End? Please…. I will be building my own home in Masbate, hopefully this summer!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.



  17. but the roof is open bug can get in the house. well my girl want to build a room i want it to be soundproof for it to be a movie room and to be able to record music her sis likes to sing if i was to make out of cinder block i think that kind of room will not work sound will get in and out what other room could one use to in close it

  18. the house look nice small but nice but the roof is open all bugs can get in the house. well my girl want to build a room i want it to be soundproof for it to be a movie room and to be able to record music her sis likes to sing if i was to make out of cinder block room 30 x 30 feet i think that kind of roof will not work sound will get in and out what other roof could one use to in close it

  19. Thx everyone for sharing. It was like getting to know ppl without talking to them. My wife and I are in the process of getting a title from a property we bought in Cabanatuan. We are starting to plan on putting a bit a house on the property. Probably middle 21. Really thankful to run into your sight. Lots of great insight. The part where I’m a bit lost is water. Where to dig and how would a guy find the right place. Anyways much thx for sharing the building of your house

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