Building a concrete house – part 8

house construction philippinesBuilding a budget concrete house in the Philippines – conclusion

This will be the last page about building a house in the Philippines. There will be a few pictures of the house in nearly completed condition and I am going to try to outline a few difficulties that you might come across if you choose to build a place in this country.

concrete pillar supports arch way

In the house featured on these pages I did not take a big risk by investing a lot of money. We are located about 17 kilometers up in the mountains of Leyte near the geo-thermal plants near Lake Danao.

kids riding carabao in the philippines

By building in remote locations you will save money on some things and other thinks will increase the costs. Factor in delivery charges and the endless commuting back and forth to town to get supplies. The labor costs are less if the local guys are looking to work and have the skills.

framing the windows

We were able to use some local coco lumber but it is not an ideal building material due to it’s susceptibility to infestation by boring insects and termites. We painted a mix of used motor oil and wood saver on all the wood.

window installer

The walls and floor are concrete, the roof corrugated metal, jealousy glass windows in aluminum frames, the electric pole is 10 meters away but I have not yet connected with Leyeco.

completed window installation

I was planning on spending 3,500 USD but the final cost will be closer to 7,500 USD. The lot was less than 100 USD and the ownership is not  secure, but it should be ok for up there in the mountains. Doing things this way is not a good idea if you are trying to make an investment – this house is basically a gift and I accept that.

Kids cutting down a tree.

cutting down a tree

I ran into a temporary problem when my lead guy just disappeared last week. I was in Palawan for 2 weeks and left them with 5 cubic meters or sand and maybe 10 sacks of cement thinking that they would start to frame in the windows and start finishing the walls. They decided to work on the septic tank instead which was ok I guess but the project seemed to be grinding to a halt.

All the local kids wanted to help out.

cement crew

Apparently the lead carpenter’s wife had “utanged” (took out a loan using her husbands labor as collateral) and they wanted to collect on the loan so he just buggered off. It opened a window for me to get things under control again so I hired a few guys an we are going full speed ahead right now.

breakfast in the new house

I have a crew of 7 or 8 guys wrapping this project up right now – wages for a full day are 200 pesos and 100 pesos for a half day – this is for skilled masons with their own tools. (basically 5 USD a day) I have come to really like these guys in the mountains. They are willing to work hard and give you an honest days work for their money. The pace is different than some people would be able to deal with but you have to be flexible if you are going to try a project like this.

tin roof

A lot of the kids in the pictures are the workers children who just want to watch their father build.

I usually bring snacks from the bakeshop and noted that often the workers would take the food and then quickly hand it to the kids when I wasn’t looking – or put it in their pocket to give to them later. One of the kids gave her father a hug and exclaimed “Thanks my Daddy”. with a big smile.

house construction philippines

I am concerned for that guy because he has a nasty cough and I fear that he has tuberculosis. You have to be careful to know where to draw the line when helping people out but I hope to get this guy to go in for an x-ray and get on some medication. He just showed up claiming to need exercise and just started finishing the walls, but did such a good job and fast that I decided to keep him full time for the next two weeks. All of us have limited cash reserves so you have to be selective when helping people out.

I enjoy the clean air and water up there in the mountains but would probably weary of living up there full time. The view is great and the temperature is cooler than down in the lowlands. This house has some towering bamboo that provides shade  and there is a creek that runs by behind the house which rages during the heavy rains but I don’t think that there will be any erosion problems.

Overall this has been a fun project but my advice is to use caution if you are a foreigner planning to build in the Philippines. You have no legal protection as far as land ownership goes and estimates will always be low balled – figuring that you will not pull out of the project once you are in too deep.

I brought about 400 kilos of rice up to the mountain since we began this project – 8 bags 1300 – 1500 pesos per 50 kilo sack. You have to have rice or things simply will not get done.

My hidden cost estimate is roughly 1000 USD. This is fish, chicken, bake shop goods, other snacks, and gas for my motorcycle. The project was started the last week of September and should be nearly completed by the third week of December.

We are camping out in the house until it is finished now. Basically all that is left to complete now is the glass, electricity and some doors. The project can go on forever if you let it.

Observations made while building this house

1) Everything will cost more than you are planning on spending. In my case the final costs were about double my estimate but we just kept coming up with new ideas and add ons. I really did not have a solid game plan at the beginning and allowed too much operation creep – you have to keep a close eye on what is going on. In this case we also had communication difficulties – my guys don’t speak English and my skill with the local languages is lacking as well. There were also subtle issues that I wasn’t able to pick up on which further complicated things.

2) Some jobs are best done by contract – providing the the guys really know what they are doing. For example – my neighbor was an installer for Ormoc Glass and offered to complete the window installation for 100 pesos per window. He had his own glass cutter, drill and had the skill to do the job quickly and professionally. Be advised that many workers will say that they have a handle on it but in reality don’t have a clue and you will have to have their work re-done. It can be cheaper to hire a more skilled worker in some cases.

3) Try not to be on western time. You can have very good workers but once they get paid they might have a late night and simply not show up the following morning. You can’t freak – it just happens and you don’t want to loose guys that are very good at what they do. Just make your plan for the day with the guys that do show up.

4) When we started off I paid the crew every Saturday night. Later I switched to paying every day. This way you can shrink down the crew anytime using the excuse – lack of materials, job finished, whatever…you don’t have to make the guy loose face because he simply is not up to the job at hand.

5) My feeling is that it would be very difficult to manage building a house in the Philippines from abroad. Even if you have a family member on site overseeing the job, there will be a lot of things that they just don’t see that will gobble up money as fast as you can shovel it their way. I hate to be cynical, but many locals in the Philippines feel obliged to “finish” the money as quickly as possible. They feel that the foreigner has endless cash reserves to exploit. Do not let anyone pressure you into spending needlessly. I have moved into this house

Building a budget house in the Philippines

Dec 5, 2010

121 responses to “Building a concrete house – part 8”

  1. I really enjoyed reading the entire episodes of “Building A Concrete House”. What’s the floor area by the way? I can’t seem to remember you ever mentioned it.

  2. Great series DP. Looks like you are in same boat as almost every one building – true cost vs estimated cost. I agree the workers truly work hard in spite of what we consider very low pay. Looking forward to your future post about “lessons learned” and what some of the difficulties you encountered. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  3. Hi Dp i was wondering how Long it has taken you to build this house so far and how many bedrooms since I want to build one In Bulwang Palawan was thinking if 5000 U.S.might be enough ? How much would it cost a rough estimate to build a two or three bedroom in Palawan and maybe later expand that to a four bedroom later on , would 10,000 us in budget would it be a feasible thing to try and i am in the process of buying the land to build it on it will be in my wife’s name as you know the rules of us owning land there any way it would be in bulwang Palawan on a 20 x 40 cubic meter lot which will cost me 23k pesos and should i build it with wood or will i be better off using concrete and concrete hollow block and wood especially due to all the storms of the seasons, i am very interested but since this will be my fist time at this i don’t want to get into a bad thing but I also know in life there are no guarantee’s as far as planning and building it since my skills are minimal and i will find some help there as far as family and friends but it leaves me to asking you on this before i do this was looking for any good ideas and input if you could lend any good ideas so I have a idea where to begin on this thanks, Frank

  4. Hi dp,

    Did I read that right?! 4 months?! That’s way too long! And bet I know why it took 4 months, it’s because you pay them daily wages or “arawan” (plus other bonuses like food). Naturally, these guys will purposely work slowly as if they have “steady” jobs to the detriment of the owner.

    As much as possible, we avoid that set-up. We contract them with fixed amount so that they won’t be working so slow.

    I remember a townhouse inside our compound, the owners had their carport tiled and it took 3 men to do the work and a week or more just to tile 40 sqM and ours took only 3 days with only 1 doing the entire thing! So we said to ourselves, must be “arawan”.

  5. Awesome Blog! i am always checking for updates ever since i first found out about your page. I am also interested in building a house similar to what your doing right now for my Mom who lives in the Philippines. Im really curious on how much the total cost are or like an estimate after the house is totally finished. Please please please if you can share some info hit me up in my email. I will really appreciate it. Im really happy that your project is so close to being complete! Will be waiting for the final pictures! God Bless!

  6. DP you have a huge heart, well done, I think house finished now.

    There is truth in a contract price, how ever if going this way you must be there 100% of the time or quality will suffer. They just want to finish get paid and go. I think considering your nomad life style you went the right way.

    By way guess your broke now and looking for a job???

  7. Thank you for this excellent information and story. I am currently building a small two story house. You have given me encouragement to continue as cost seem to be growing, although I am not rushing the build subject to available funds and being abroad. I have someone that i trust looking after the build for me. I hope you will publish a few ‘finished’ photos to see.

  8. Great article and photos! I was wondering how well you think the roof panels will stay in place during a typhoon? What winds speeds are you anticipating? Also, what severity of earthquake damage do you think your house will take without much damage? Are there any special building techniques employed to protect the roof from loss in a typhoon? Are the concrete blocks used on the walls solid or hollow? If hollow, are the voids filled with cement or left hollow? Is the wall foundation dug down to bedrock? Did you use re-bar in the floor? I want my house to be as typhoon proof as I can afford as I am greatly afraid of typhoons. Our house will be probably be built in Borongan, Eastern Samar. Again, thanks for the articles. Please write more!

  9. I am another fan who would like to see more pics of the finished house and room layout. Questions: is the 7,000 US$ estimate just for the shell or does it include wiring, plumbing, interior doors and finishing etc? Next Q: how many square meters is this house and is that larger than surrounding houses or normal? And final Q: Were you your own general manager or did you just make suggestions while the lead hand actually directed the build?

    My wife thinks we can build a similar house in Biliran for 300K pesos and I am wondering if that is realistic or if it is a case of budgeting 300 for a final bill of 600K. Thoughts on costs in Biliran?

  10. hi DP
    thank you for sharing your journey of building there.

    i hope you update us on your outside kitchen and bathroom with pictures.

  11. Hi DP,

    I too am in the Ormoc area (well in Alaska now) and the wife and I will begin a home for her parents up in Quezon Jr. sometime next year. You articles gave me some great info on what I should plan for. Would like to see a picture of you place when completed. Great website and always a pleasure to give your articles a read.

  12. hi .ive just discovered your blog …..congratulations on a job well done in the building game in australia .I have a filipina wife and kids in an isolated place in mindanao ..At the moment we are adding a bedropom and cr shower ensuite all building work supervised by my wife and my builder brother in law
    i find all your advises very accurate …..allways proceed with caution because this is money u will not see again .As i have seen many foreigners go on a big ego trip building a dream home on land they will never own or be able to sell at a profit , By far my best investment in the fils is my practical and trusting wife ………good luck in your retirement ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,hope to join you in fils in a couple of years ,,Geoff .

  13. what was the size of this house? i am helping a family out in Zamboango del sur build a small shop for retail business. i see your design and i like the all concrete and metal roof design. it is simple but strong. i want to build a shop that is 4 meters wide and 18 meters long. i was hoping to build it for around 55,000 php is this possible. it will be half brick up to four feet tall and coco wood the rest of the way to the roof and metal roof. any help or advice would nice. god bless you.

  14. Hello…. Im from Victoria, Australia currently staying with my wife at brgy luna near dolores Ormoc city where we also built a concrete home. maybe close to where you claim to have built not far from Tonganan Geothermal.
    Do you still live in this area?
    Just curious to share some notes as my wife and I visit Ormoc often.
    We are impressed by your comprehensive website on the Philippines. You are obviously blessed with travel opportunities. A truly wonderful experience for you especially being married to a filipina.

    Mark and Lea

  15. Thanks for your great report…

    I am about about to start building in Zamboanga City..

    Yes it is risky for me as a potential kidnap victim but I will be only spending 3 months of the year here ate different times of each year.. The rest will be spent in Subic or Angeles with my Asawa..

    My Asawa needs to put a roof over the heads of her family. They will become a burden when I soon retire in the Phils..I will build an extra bedroom which will be ours each time we return..

    Your building report has given me so much info which is invaluable..Not so much on the costs but the attitude and expectations of the Pinoy workers…

    Hope it works out well for you..cheers..

  16. I plan on building a house in 5 years in Leyte. I already have a house there but will end up tearing it down to build a new and bigger home. I want it to be around 4 or 5 bedrooms and 2 stories. I have a 2 million peso budget and was hoping that will be enough. What do you think and what advice can you give me.
    Thank you.

  17. Dp
    I was also wondering what would be the best way of arranging supplies since you can only get to my village via a boat. Would it be best to just carry a little at a time or higher a large boat and have all of the supplies brought at one time. More than half the village is my wifes family, they are very nice people. They are always shocked when i go there because i will take heavy loads off there shoulders and carry them myself. I plan on retiring there in 10 years. :) and do you have any updates on how much money you have to deposit in there system before you can request a permanent residency there? I will be 45 when i retire there if that helps. i heard it changed from 50,000 to 10,000 dollars is that true.
    Sorry for so many questions.

  18. Hello,
    I had discovered your website while trying to find information on purchasing land in Leyte. My wife and I have been looking in her home town (Isabel) Trying to find land to build a house for her and my daughter while Im working abroad. We were trying to stay in the city area, the cheapest land found so far is 2,500 P per sq meter, for lots in sizes of 200 sq meters and up. I feel they are all asking too much, my question to you is if you know how can I actually find out what the value really is? Or is the value basicly just what the owner is asking? Will a local attorny or lawyer have landing appraisal information? I just dont want to over pay for land. I would appriecate any advise you can shed, thanks.

  19. Been living in Manila for a year now and thinking of doing something like this soon realy enjoyed your blog on building the house.Is the foundation part the most expensive ? Would be nice if you could post some photos of the finished house thanks again

  20. yes like your project, i am building a 66 sq meter block house in Calinan Davao, i noticed the prices for material are cheaper here, but labor higher, i have had good luck so far, we are finished with with every thing but the roof, i waited to do it last, i didn’t know if i would use wood or steel for the truss, and had to go back to the USA do do some work, but i have decided to use gemalina for my roof i found the trees close to my lot and gave 18 peso a board ft. cut, so that is cheaper than steel hope to return next month and finish up.

  21. Wow! You have an amazing blog. I too build my house right across biliran Island in leyte. My mistake was building it without me there. It just a simple amakan house it cost me over 6,000 US dollars.. And my land cost me 6,000 dollars with 2 hectar of land, also without no papers thats another big mistake.. I build the house about 10 years ago that’s when the dollar was high and things were cheap.. My aunt was cheating me I think with my money, I was not there! We are going to retire in 7 years, we plan to build another house with cement but, I think we are looking to rent a place some where instead. I think in seven years things going to cost a lot more money by then. So you are right to be there if you wanna build something to keep them guy’s working hard, bcuz as soon as you turn your head away from them, their going to slow down. :) I wish I waited to build my house, but its too late now. Lesson learn! Thank you for sharing. Please post more picture of your finish house! Dee

  22. hi dp,
    it was so wonderful blog, after reading ur journey of making a home for ur own to stay, its amazing & i came to realize how hard it was, im planning to build a home but after reading ur blog really makes me scare because im sure doing it without my present could be something wrong by cost, but im interested to see final outcome of ur home,hope u can share the view to us,tnx

  23. Hi, Dp,
    Really enjoyed reading of your blogs. Am planning to have a second floor of my house and the first floor on it already concrete, What do you think, of the estimated budget??? coz my budget is only 100,000 pesos is this enough??? my lot is 49 sq. m.? only building a concrete second floor, and planning not to use wood on flooring,,,,everything is concrete, do I have to spend it 100,000pesos, or more? what do you think??


  24. Hello, I enjoyed reading ur series, 1st because ur observations are truthful and funny… I have built my own house before and went through the same experience of building in the rural area a bit away from the city…. I learned the ff lessons:

    1. It was not expected but I left that same house and its now up 4 rent cause in the rural area, my potential for progress is limited. Im a Filipina but i need to have active business network in the city

    2. I cannot resell the property because its built on an ancestral land my parents owned

    3. We always go overboard our planned budget, its common

    4 so many charity works for people living around but it pays

    5. hard to find a contractor that is reliable to do work while the owner is out

    many more!!!!! but nice house, hope you enjoy it!!!!

  25. Hi it was fun to see your site,,, you are correct there are many pitfalls I too have a wife from the PH we have been married for 10yrs with two beautiful kids and have visited and done some renovation for her family home. new tin roof , bathroom,, floor tile ect and always think of it as a gift. when we visited there 2 yrs ago I purchased a used tricycle for the family since they never owned a tricycle before, a childhood friend of her sister offered to “process the papers” for p2500. I was naturally suspicious so …we decided to make the trip to the LTO our self and did it for a small fraction of that. after many visits everyone “knows me” In the barangay. Hey Joe

  26. the datails are very clear from beginning,.nice 1

  27. Do you have a total now on the construction of the home? and It being a couple years ago now I am sure I guy could factor in another 20% in inflation rates. Also how many sqaure meters was this project?

    I have a father inlaw with little ones still at home in the mountains outside of General Santos City. We picked up a great tax registered lot off a local cop for 60,000 included a little piggery for 13 pigs (why 13?) I was told. but they are in a tiny little bamboo shack with a dirt floor. So I would like to build them a home of 101 Square Meters.

    Knowing what you paid and the size could give me a bit of a general idea of the costs. I have about 100,000 php a month to spend on the project for as long as it takes.

  28. I really enjoy viewing your blog from the very beginning. I am inspired for you all of this. It’s really happening here in the Philippines and I get some nice ideas just by viewing all of this… Hope The house done well..
    I am a Graphic Artist and a Contractor to my metalcraft business too. I am planning to be a Contractor to construction business but I am not in an engineering field. This helps me a lot.. Thank you..!!! more power to you.

  29. I got a 110 sqm lot in bacoor cavite, the place is fully developed and I’m planning to build a two storey, 6 unit studio type all concrete building on it. The 110 sqm lot is about 5 meters (fronting the street) x 22 meters in size. Per unit size could be about 3.5 meters by 7meters, floor area of 24.5 sqm per unit for a total of 147 sqm (6 units) of floor area. Roofing will be concrete and will serve as roof top for laundry and other purposes. How much will it cost to build it per square meters?

  30. Hello again DP.

    I just wanted to let you know I completed the house in mountains near general santos city. not including the lot it came in at 676,000. However I used 1000 PSI hydraulically pressed 6″ hollow blocks (1660) and 4 inch on the inside walls (1100) And used 170 lengths of 12mm deform bar. I built the walls 12 feet high with no columns or beams as the blocks were structural rated and I filled them with concrete not mortor with lots of deform bar. I used treated 2″ x 6″ coco lumber rafters not trusses and treated them with solignum this allowed for 2 attic bedrooms. I used Onduline laminate roof panels as they are colored and are a fibre composite from france but there is a dealer in Surigao. they are guaranteed for 50 years and good for up to 200 km/hr winds. They also provide quite a high R value for insulating for such a thin product. I bought PVC sliding windows and installed manufactured cabinets in the kitchen. I used Amakan for the soffits and interior finish as I really love the look of it, if it is finished in polyurethane and not weathered. The cherry on the cake was the high polished 2′ x 2′ granite tiles and granite counter tops. It did go significantly over 400,000 but I am very happy with the end product.

    I still need to run the water lines into the house and build a stand to buy a 2000 litre tank and pump that I intend to buy. The lot as I mentioned before is paid for and not included in the cost and there was an existing septic tank that seems to be working fine, but I suspect I will need to expand it or build a bigger one eventually. My father inlaw (Papa) and my wife’s 5 younger siblings are already living in it. It feels good to get them out of that tiny run down Kubo with dirt floors.

    I want to thank you for your wonderfull blog and article, it gave me the confidence to go ahead with the construction. I am hoping next year to takle a 120sq/mtr mini market for them as the nearest one to that barangay is a 25 minute motorcycle ride down the mountain and there are no trikes or jeepneys up there so I figure the best place for a business is where there is no competition. I have spoken with the barangay captain about it already and he tells me there will be quite a few people with sari sari stores up there that will oppose it but he will support it because it will be a great time/money saver for most of the community and the sari sari stores will have to live with it.

  31. Kudos! great blog!
    4 months is really waaaay too long, the cost of labor is very minimal unlike here in Manila.

  32. hi dp

    I get good idea and less spencess from you dp 100k including labor?


  33. Hi Mr. DP,

    im planning to build my small house with 2 bedrooms, 1 cr & kitchen. Based on your experience do you think 500,000php is enough to build my house? And what is the ideal floor area for it? TIA sir..

  34. need to know how much does it cost to build a 2000 squre meters semi bungalow house

  35. 2000 square meters semi bungalow house how much does it cost in pesos? Thank you..

  36. Hi DP,

    I really enjoyed reading your articles. However, I don’t agree you on giving free meals. It is optional really in the Philippines to give free meals because you are already paying them. Maybe just bread and coffee/juice for 9 or 10 am and 3 pm snacks will do. You could have saved sacks of rice and kilos of fishes.

    Nice articles. Hope you will post the final picture of the house.

  37. Hi iv just built a house in the philippines and the simple way around the land issue is to put it in joint names with your wife and then you are protected by philippine laws and it was my uncle who built our house and he cost alot more than what he said but that was down to both of us due us changing designs all the time and a wife saying dont like that

  38. I am amazed with your blogs and congratulations for the good investment/project done successfully.Anyhow,I am also building a bungalow house in Leyte facing the pacific ocean.I didnt buy the land because its our family Land which is the best.Its 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.So,while looking at your pictures from the beginning of constructions,i also imagining my workers back home,the same way as ive seen at your pics.yeah,your labor is cheaper maybe becaouse it was 2 yrs back?For us now,the labor cost for foreman is 450pesos,400 assistant and 200 for ordinary labors.Now adays its too expensive.I smiled when you wrote the detailed cost of each materials needed plus the delivery.:)).Living in province is very peaceful and fresh thats why I decided to build there.Hopefully and Gods willing I can finish it though its only my small brother managing there because am overseas worker too.

    please post new picture of your finish house..


  39. welcome sir…I really hope I can finish it though the working time is not continues due to financial status,but at least i started already.I am not in a hurry also to finish it.I just want to ask with the roofing that you are using is the ordinary color roof right?Because actually i am canvassing for that,hopefully within this year I can manage to do the roofing.Do you think how much i need for to save from now for color roof with the 150sqmtr house floor plan?I hope you can give me an idea.Thanks.

  40. Hi,

    How much does it cost to build a 3 bedroom, a kitchen, a common toilet and living room nowadays? The house lot is about 100 sq. m.


  41. hi

    just want to inquire planning to build house in isabela santiago we have already the land, kindly can estimate how much I can spent for 120 sq meter.

    I brough 300 hollow block for 20k pesos. including sand, steel and cement for side wall.

    Kindly help how many hollow block and estimate price with 2 rooms

  42. they finished the 300 hollow blocks only side left 14 tall then in front 2 tall right side 5 tall….

    planning to buy again 300 hollow blocks, i think approxiately 1k hollow blocks will do… need 700…

  43. guys FYI materials was given by my wife

    240php Cement Bag
    8.50php Hollow Block
    130php Bakal 10mm
    80php Bakal 9mm
    3,500php Buhangin 1 Truck
    3,500php stone small size 1 Truck

  44. Hi there, I really enjoyed reading your post. My husband is also a foreigner and we would like to renovate the property that we bought in Batangas. Will you be able to post the finished house? Thanks a lot.

  45. Hi Dutch,just read your sight on building a block house,very good article.We have spoke in the past but it has been very long ago.My wife is Filipina,and her mom said she would give us part of her land to build a house of coarse we would pay her for it.Her land is on a mountain with a great view,lots of coconut trees and banana trees and some very nice people around,was there all of January this year 2013,had a great time.The place I’m talking about is in Leon Postigo Zamboanga,about a 25 min ride on motorcycle to Sindangan,would love to see a finish pic of your house,we are planning on building a block house next year there,nothing fancy just a comfortable home.

    Chat later good luck to you

  46. Hi!DP,
    Thanks for your blog
    im just surfing the net when I
    . came across on it im gong to continue my house project in two weekseveryone is curious to see the finish house and im one of them
    Thanks …

  47. Nice reading your blog sir, you gave me good idea about the labor fee hehe and materials too ;)…. i am planning to build a 50sqmtr floor area (6×8) single storey house for me and my son next month. i hope i can strictly monitor the buying of materials and the construction… thanks to you.

    by the way hope to see the finish project…

    maybe next time ask somebody who knows about the labor fee and duration of work so that you will not spend to much extra labor fee… be wise and be careful also.

  48. great blog! we are going to build in Jaro, Leyete on the wifes farmland. I wonder why we should not use a flat cement roof? Do they have that capability to build them?
    What do u think of and adobe style house with a flat (slight grade) roof of cement?
    Thanks a lot, Mike

  49. Great blog. I have been here 7 years, have overseen several construction projects in Cebu and Negros, it is exactly the same everywhere. If you are a foreigner you must be there everyday to control costs and supervise labor efforts. DP I know you are aware, but you know you paid 2 times or more what a Filipino would have paid for that house I think. As foreigners we are always victims of the Filipino Foreigner conspiracy, and that often includes our spouses refusal to “stand up” to workers or other Filipinos. The job is only finished when you tell the workers go home. I actually had a helper on one project get angry when I told him there was no more work for him. Luckily I had a “good” lead carpenter to explain to him, still they will milk the job relentlessly unless you have a firm hand. I always am there everyday, and I always lead by example, pitch in and work side by side to show them how you expect the job to be done. You can not show them a blueprint or explain in words. These are concrete thinking people who have to see you do it then they learn quickly. good job.

  50. Yeah I saw this chainsaw work done in Dumaguete, unbelievable, ignorance is bliss, or necessity is the mother of invention, not sure which applies. I bought myself a Dewalt 12 volt rechargeable screwgun while there, along with some Philips head screws, drill bits. I was once a cabinet maker in the U.S. I wanted to make a rolling chest with hinged lids for seating and storage for empty bottles. I bought the required 3/4″ mahogany (luan) plywood and drew out the patterns on the sheet. My carpenter pulled out an old short 8 point hand saw and proceeded to rip up the plywood, I felt guilty as he labored away for hours, and you know the cuts were plumb and dead straight. I never got the screwgun back until the job was done on the whole remodel, they never saw such magic, and were quick to realize its potential.
    By the way can you give me a heads up on an apt in Ormoc? 2 bdrm budget 4-6 K

  51. Hi, I just read this blog and I’m sorry to say that We are the victim of a bad contractor, it’s a big project,a two storey home with the area of 554sqm for the house alone…we invested almost all of our hard earned money,’s an 8 month construction project. We hired a contractor in a package deal, as the months went by, we were on the project site every day looking at the workers doing their job and we are amazed with them working hard..but as the days pass by, we rarely saw our engineer onsite. Instead, he hired an apprentice engineer to supervise on behalf of him. Time came that we confronted this engineer we engaged our contract with about his supervision and he said, with modern technology nowadays I can supervise through my phone!! What?? Are you serious? You can supervise the big project with your phone anywhere you are? And that triggers our trust in him, lots of left over cement outside as everybody rushes to go home, using 1 week old hollow blocks in our expensive project plus lack of supervision of our engineer…finally 5 months of contsruction we decided to stop the construction by sending our engineer an email ordering him to stop the work and vacate the place..last day of their work he paid his people and move some of his stuff out of our property but left his two workmen inside our property, claiming that the project site is under his full responsibility..we went to the police asking them to get those two trespassers he left on our site but the police did not do anything..right now the construction is on hold and we got our attorney to file a case against our engineer for the lack of supervision, fraud, poor workmanship..the moral lesson here is that, please be careful with whom you are going to trust your project here in the Philippines, know your contractor well, gather information about him and his background, do not be easily carried away with his kind words about the project.. Be wise and don’t just leave the project without leaving somebody else whom you trusted to oversee it..take it from me, we are the victim of a greedy contractor!!
    But we will fight for our right and give this contractor a lesson. It’s a good thing we took pictures from day 1 of the construction started until the last day they leave..


  52. Hi mate,

    Great blog! ive been interested to read some of the comments/questions specially the ones on material prices, if some of the folks asking questions about material prices just asked google “concrete blocks in manila or whereever” then they would get some pleasant suprises…. anyway my question for you my honourable friend is this: my wife has been given a 180 metre lot in Angeles City and im wondering if you think i should build a bungalow or a house? Im not overly worried about materials/labour as ive got that covered thanks to my father in law who thankfully has worked for me overseas before he retired plus im a builder myself and will be “hands on” from start to finish, theres only the wife, our young son and myself that will live there, luckily her family are all happy where they are… cheers!

  53. What are the temperatures like up near lake danao? I now it is around 600 meters in the mountains. Does that make the weather substatially cooler than down in ormoc?

    I also understand that leyte does not really have a pronounced dry season like a lot of the Philippines and that the rainfall is a bit more evenly distributed through the year. Have you found that to be true?


  54. Thanks for your response DP,

    My wife and I are going to lease or purchase a couple of hectares next year to build a modest home. We were looking seriously into the Don Salvador Benidicto area of Negros because it is up in the mountains and cooler.

    We are going to raise some pigs for a little income and are going to grow a lot of food for ourselves and the pigs. The negitive for us on Negros is that they have about 4 months out of the year that get very little rain and I really do not want to have to irrigate. I did a little research and found that the rainfall in Leyte is much more evenly distributed than on Negros or Cebu so to me that is a big positive from an agricultural perspective. So that is why I am interested in the mountains around Ormoc.

    Do you have any input on the availability of a couple hectares and what the prices may be like? We plan to purchase a Suzuki Carry 4×4 so a dirt road is no problem. We may even take a risk on tax declared if the situation felt right. Any input would be greatly appreciated.


  55. Hi good post. It is true. Purchasing a property is tricky. Picking a contractor is tricky as well, but my husband and I got lucky with ours. We were very satisfied with our house and it was way cheaper than those i’ve talked with previously. :) My advise is have talk with the contractor explain everything you wanted done, and everything should be in writing. SO that in the end there will be no confusion. Also ask for photos of their previous projects. Goodluck to your dream house!

  56. i extended my house with an additional of 20 sq. mtrs.. one toilet and bath, kitchen and a small bedroom. i hired a foreman and 2 helper. i do the material purchased. it cost me 110,000 php. so far i find no problem with the workers. job well done.

  57. I bought land on Bantayan with my Filipina and got the title in her name “married to My Name” and that puts me on the title also. That is how to get joint ownership if you are a married to a Filipina.

  58. Thank you for sharing us your story.

    Just want to inquire planning to build house in Nueva ecija. we have already the land, kindly can estimate how much I can spent for 50 sq meter with 2 rooms.
    Thank you!

  59. Hi DP , Read the 8 episodes of Building Block House, enjoyed very much.
    I’m from Australia & emailed you last year before I went & after I returned from Siargao Island, stayed at Ronaldos , you may remember .
    Like to ask you 2 favours , if you don’t mind. The first being about your camera , because I think all the photos are very good, & would appreciate Make —- Model —- Approx price, if possible.
    The second ——Daniel contacted you with comments during your house building exercise, he was picking your brain , which was good I thought, as he stated in his last entry that he gained confidence by reading your reports during construction.
    In his last entry, ( that I read ) he said he completed the house & gave a brief description of his project The description sounded OK, so therefore I would like to Pick his brain
    I was wondering if it was possible to contact him . Or does he have a web site . Any information would be greatly appreciated .
    Are you still in Philippines at present ????? .
    I intend to relocate there as soon as I sell up here in Australia. Don’t know when that will be as market is very flat at the moment .
    Masbate at this stage , but want to look at Panay & Palawan before I make final decision .
    Hope life is enjoyable & good for you ,
    Yours sincerely ,
    David . .

  60. I enjoyed reading your blog! I just wondered, is that house still standing strong and okay after the typhoon yolanda? Is it typhoon proof?thanks and God bless..;)

  61. very informative…

    i was looking exactly this kind of information. we’re planning to build a house now,and the architectural plan is on going. im a filipino and dont know exactly whats the best in constructing a house, could it be in contract or daily wage for the labor. my office is far from my build site so i have difficulty in going to the site everyday. that means i cannot see/supervise all the works in the house. i thought of just hiring a contractor for all the labors and i buy the materials.

    any advice is very helpful.

  62. thnx for the reply.
    its been months now. we decided to start construction last july 2, we hired a foreman/main carpenter to do all the construction of the house. he ask 38 percent from the material cost.
    after a month of construction he is now doing the trusses. all walls, column, beams are done. it seems he did a good/fast job. i guess the price he ask for is all worth it. i fope he can finish all the trusses this week so the roof supplier can install the roofing next week.

  63. Great Blog DP,
    I have enjoyed it and your interaction with the guests.

    My fiance’, a Philipina, considers my foray into your blog a distraction from responsibility to finish our Piggery business plan and facilities design, but I love construction and am working out the financial analysis of developing a tilt up construction business in the PI as well.

    Did you ever calculate your cost/sm for the house? I got it that you spent 7560 USD for the house and about 1000 USD for food, but I didn’t see numbers for sq. meters, cost on fixtures, electrical and plumbing. Help?

    Thanks! and I’m glad to see you’re still updating your blog.


  64. Hi@ dutchpickle

    Nice to read your page and about construction! I have just finished building a concrete house in Leyte ormoc, it’s 2 storey house with 3 bedroom in ground and 2 bedroom in upper floor. Land cost me about 3 hundred and 50 thousand peso, construction all on all approximately 25000USD and my fiancé and me was planned 10000 USD will be enough but it’s cost us double of what we calculate….

  65. hi, neil here,,,in Canada i,m a structural building mover,meaning i can move a whole house from 1 location to another from sub-floor and up.Sometimes i have to cut houses into pieces to move them due to size and height.and then put them all back together.
    But since i married last april to a beautiful Filipino girl from just outside Borongan we,re in the process of building a 3 br,2 storey,1200 sq. ft concrete home.
    Starting off with 12″x 14″concrete pillars with 8″concrete blocks followed by 2″x 6″studs on inside,can,t stand the 40 degrees heat so i,m installing R 32 in my walls,spray foam insulation.All electrical will be in stud walls.2nd floor only consists of 2 br and 14’x 24′, Ceiling is getting 6 “of alum. foiled back insulation with a R value of 48.Later i,ll add more.
    Main floor holds living room 14 x 16,kit area is 10 x 10,dining are 10 x 8, master br 12 x 10,a office 6 x 10, cr is 8 x 10 with a separate wash area for clothes plus a separate cooking area next to kitchen exposed to outdoors so no smell is in house.
    I,m not totally rich but i do want to live comfortably, so kit has a dble sink with drying rack,plus cooking area has a single sink for preparing foods,triple burner big bbq plus a extra burner on it,s own.Since we have a good dug well on our property i,ve bought a 1 hp,20 gal water pump plus a 75 gallon water holding tank which i,ll install on roof of first storey for warm water. I do have a hot water heater that will be installed in shower area 5 x 6 ft. Also i,ve bought a 100 amp panel box and 8 dble breakers.
    I,ve spent $9500.00 Canadian already buying insulation,all our plumbing to septic tank,alot of electrical,including ceiling fans,a 3000w generator,cords,electric skil saws,hand tools,water pump,water tank,bbq,plus all the steel roofing,screws needed and 14 dble sliding alum. windows with a full screen on the outside,special order as Filipinos don,t make them this way.
    In Canada and the US we install hurricane ties to our mobile homes,so i,m installing those same ties to my roof for it,ll be constructed out of wood topped with 5/8 plywood then steel,screwed at every 16” top to bottom.
    Our sewage will flow into a 2 part tank with only liquid going into drainage bed made of perferrated pipe and 12″of clear stone.Solid waste can be pumped out every 10 – 20 yrs.same design as US or Canada.
    If i want to be comfortable why worry if i spend 25,35 or even $50,000.00 i,m going to retire here and i love my wife and i can get a perm.residence card.I have a good friend that is a lawyer here and knows the ropes and lope holes i need to jump through.
    As far as our property,filipino culture is youngest of family gets family home once they marry,,,,so guys find the youngest,even if she,s 27 like mine is.Also a ante gave us her house ajoining the family home so lot size is about 50’x150′ with it,s own well.
    We live now in a condo in taguig metro manila but are moving to family home on dec. 21/2014 for xmas at home with family. Because we,re moving we hired a big truck [ her bro did ] from borongan that,ll come to taguig to pick up our furniture and all the supplies i,ve bought here,,,,cheaper buying and transporting then buying on other islands.
    Since the last 2 big typhoons last yr and the recent 1 steel roofing has gone up by 400% on the islands let alone every other building items we need.
    I can do this myself for i have the knowledge to build a house from ground up,having many trades under my belt,masonary,carpenter,electrical,plumber,heavy equipment operator,,,,all these are required to be a structural building mover.
    So my wife of now,myself,a little niece that her mother left will live and enjoy a comfy house within it,s own security wall around the property in our back yard consisting of trees,flowers, and a small pool with shower.
    Once construction begins after xmas i,ll keep you all posted. tnx for your blog. neil

  66. Hi Sir,I enjoyed reading your blogs from the start and all the pictures you took from the beginning of house construction.Anyway,how much it cost you to finish that house?Cause I’ve planning to make one for my Mom in Dumaguete,Thanks

  67. HI DP,
    I really enjoy reading your page, very informative.
    I am also planning to build a house in Bacolod.
    I am currently working in East Timor. Hoping I could start building next year or before my contract end, but my problem is that I am not there to look on day by day construction. Scared my piggy bank will just melt away.

    You’ve done a good job. Thank you for sharing your building experiences.

    Best Regards

  68. Dear Dutchpickle,

    I am so happy that i discovered your blog, because it really gives me hope to make my dreams of a small home in the Philippines come true! I am planning to build a small house (only 20 sqmeter) on Cebu. The land is owned by my friends family, they did already build a bigger house on the same land but there is enough space left for my small one. (Just for one person: me. For my retirement)

    I am not sure yet If I should use bamboo or concrete block stones. I would have liked to see how you get the electricity and internet in your house and how it is done in a simple house like the one I am planning. I am excited already, hoping that I will be able to do a lot of building by myself.

    Greetings to you and your family,
    Tanni from Germany

  69. Dear Dutchpickle,
    My wife is from Calubian and we are gioing to visit there in March. I was wondering if you are close to that area? Part of my visit there will be to look at land with the hope of re-locating there from Palawan.


    Don and Rosalyn

  70. dp
    I am planning to buy a piece of land here in iloilo city and I don’t know how it costs per square meter nowadays..the area is in the outskirt of the city and I want to buy just 60sq meters…how much do you think it costs? and if I build the house using half concrete and half wood how much do I have to spend?thank you


  71. Very nice blog, lots of good info. You mentioned the higher altitude making it cooler. How high up are you. My wife bought a lot around Jaro. It’s elevation is 645ft.

  72. Hello ~ Quite the interesting experience you’ve created. Might be you can impart some of your sage wisdom in regards to my purchasing vacant land near the Tacloban/Palo area to then construct a modest one level home three bedroom and two baths.
    My wife’s family in Sta Rita Samar are experienced construction workers so that will help as I hope to build for costs plus labor.

    Your input would be most welcome.

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