Video – Building a Home in the Philippines

In other articles in this Blog, I described our decisions leading up to acquiring property (real estate) and building our home over the long-term, in order to be ready for our retirement when that time came. It turns out it worked better for us this way as the economic climate in the U.S. forced us into an easy decision…to retire early. The video is actually a collection of photos over recent years depicting the different stages of the construction process, and the eventual move to our new home. For other questions related to real estate and construction in the Philippines, visit the Real Estate category of this Blog. Questions and comments are welcome or you can contact me through the Contact Us page for more information.

I apologize for the lack of sound on this track as I experienced some trouble with the upload. Thanks for watching.

16 thoughts on “Video – Building a Home in the Philippines

  1. Building a house in the Philippines takes time to build. Unlike in America, after a week you have a house. The good thing in the Philippines, there are lots of fully furnished houses, all you need is your money and your money. Thanks for the video.

    • Thanks for your comment. Actually, building a NICE home in the Philippines takes time. The cool thing about building a house here, you don’t have to be in any big hurry, which can put many foreigners at a great advantage over time. To buy a fully furnished house here, it will typically cost you more than building one and may not always be built to western standards of living.

      • I have to disagree. In my experience very few Foreigners stay longer than 20 years, and most foreigners build homes. These homes can be bought at vastly reduced prices when those guys went home because of children, health issues (death), or his Filipina wants to earn for her retirement in a place of higher wages.
        These homes are often built with the foreigners eye as to safety and non Filipino lifestyles. With a Filipino built home there is simply no way to know what lies behind that paint.
        It is also true that very few foreigners can understand the reasoning or “why” behind some construction practices. So to then apply those practices in a foreign land leaves that same foreigner open to… honesty or being forthright issues… from his workers or suppliers.
        Building can be very stressful, and can interfere with “retirement”. It took you 5 years to get a structure that you could take a bath in, not every expat wants to wait that long taking tabo showers.
        I would advise to not build/buy at all if you can. Remember it is “location, location, location” and not all neighbors are as good as some are. Neither are all marriages. Buying seems simpler than selling. Some hobbies take land, first houses rarely have any to spare. Politics change the desirability of some places, doing the right thing is rarely rewarded as one might think.

        • You might have missed the fact that we are both retired and chose to retire here. The fact that it took us 5 years to build is because it was planned that way. Without a plan, people normally fail at anything, be it building a home or marriage. We took our time because we approached it as if we were making time deposits into a bank, and as it turns out, we gained significantly. Most of the basic construction was done while we were still living and working in the U.S. Once we got here, we finished up in less than two months. Buying an existing home here poses a different set of problems, and I have seen many an expat spend much more on top of the purchase price to get things right. And as far as doing the right thing, well… most people may not be as prophetic as you.

        • retiredinsamar, I was not specifically talking about you but most expats. I did use you as an example of how to go wrong though. Making a plan (as you say) should include a sophistication, about culture, about construction, that most expats do not possess. Yes, you are happy in your marriage and your wife is about your age, this is not always the norm though. You are healthy, for now. You have only been there 3 years, too soon to get fake meds that should have been life saving. You have reserves you can fall back on when your neighbor becomes unreasonable and makes your retirement hell, not all of us have that financial depth.
          I wait for your post on “why expats leave the Philippines”. This list should include children wanting to get an education in the country where they work, health issues and most of all when “cultural novelty” turns into just “pain in the but” or “flat immoral” or “just too wrong to ignore”. This should also include what happed to their assets in the Philippines when they left.
          Enjoy your home and health today. But please, if you are thinking of giving advise to newcomers, have a long talk with those who have lived the life and left, for long range advise.

        • I can only agree to disagree with your negativity. Like many of my friends who also live here, most of us came to visit or live here many years ago and had an excellent grasp on life here, before making the decision to retire here. I’m talking of course of the retired military types. On a more personal level, we have no children who need an education and we have good neighbors. If or when we do ever leave this place, for whatever reason, we will still have our home here. And when we leave this earth, our home will go to family. I’ve done my best with my writings to caution and advise those who may be unfamiliar with living in this part of the world, to only be prepared. I can only lay out the process, I cannot make their decisions for them. And, while the reasons that expats do come to live in the Philippines might have many similarities, the reasons they leave can be as varied as the heavens, and that is not what this blog is about. It is about our retired life, living our daily life where we chose to live in Samar. I cannot speak for those who leave here, other than to surmise. People have a tendency to reap what they sow in life. It sounds to me like you might just be one of the disgruntled that chose to leave. Thanks for your comment.

        • Tommy, I am not sure of your experience but no doubt you had a bad experience and I feel you in that regard. However, life is full of risks. If we are risk adverse we would never choose to marry or have kids etc etc. I think the choice of living in the Philippines is yet another risk. RetiredInSamar has given plenty of advice along the way but he certainly can’t be a marriage counsellor, financial advisor etc to everyone. It is up to each and every individual to choose what is right for them.
          If someone has been happily married for a good number of years and they amicably agree to live in another country (that could be any developing country where your retirement dollars stretch further than a 1st world country) then I say good luck with your adventure together. Just be sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Be sure you both want this “sea change” (pun intended) and enjoy your latter years together. Even if you make a loss, consider the savings you made each year compared to life in a 1st world country.
          That is my 2 cents worth… I do hope Tommy you make wise decisions in the future and enjoy the rest of your life wherever you choose to do so.
          God bless!

        • Tommy, I am not sure of your experience but no doubt you had a bad experience and I feel you in that regard. However, life is full of risks. If we are risk adverse we would never choose to marry or have kids etc etc. I think the choice of living in the Philippines is yet another risk. RetiredInSamar has given plenty of advice along the way but he certainly can’t be a marriage counsellor, financial advisor etc to everyone. It is up to each and every individual to choose what is right for them.
          If someone has been happily married for a good number of years and they amicably agree to live in another country (that could be any developing country where your retirement dollars stretch further than a 1st world country) then I say good luck with your adventure together. Just be sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Be sure you both want this “sea change” (pun intended) and enjoy your latter years together. Even if you make a loss, consider the savings you made each year compared to life in a 1st world country.
          That is my 2 cents worth… I do hope Tommy you make wise decisions in the future and enjoy the rest of your life wherever you choose to do so.
          God bless!

  2. Hi just want to ask how many sq meters in all before you built your very nice house? I am planning to built my own soon. Thank you and congratulations!!!

    • Hi Kevin, our lot is a double lot or about 230 sq. Meters. The house is about 135 sq. Meters (1,452 sq feet), not including the carport. When you begin building, take it slow and never get in a hurry. Communications with the workers is the most important thing in the entire process as most times they do not understand western designed and constructed amenities the way we like them …like plumbing, water heaters, grounded electrical, light switch locations, etc. There will be many decisions to be made and a lot of oversight during the construction phase. Unfortunately, there will also be some do-overs…it’s a given. Happy building! …and if you ever need to pick my brain, I’d be happy to offer up what I can.

      • I was a contractor in the US, my house building was an exercise in frustration. I felt that contractors/engineers in the Philippines had a slightly different attitude than those in the US. In the US we were building houses for customers , and in the Philippines the engineer was using construction to get money from his customer. On one hand economy makes sense and the other it does not.
        I noted in your video you were using stirrups in your fence posts, very common, but stirrups are to keep bars inside the concrete undergoing a vertical load (sometimes to counter bending compression as well), no such load in a fence so it is a total waste of money. I noted that your workers elected to block instead of cast solid, thereby tripling the labor to plaster, got to keep those Filipinos working!
        Your tile guy is a real pro!

        • Stirrups keep the courses of rebar spaced properly. The posts you see are an extension of a retaining wall and need to be constructed with strength. Some posts will double as stantions later for a concrete roof deck, so in that sense, stirrups were not an overkill. Casting solid concrete… double the cost of materials and labor combined, and nobody here knows how to do it. Even our 5 story Gaisano Grand Mall under construction is using traditional hollow block construction.

  3. Hello again. I’m planning to build a new house on Biri in the near future. Our design calls for a folding door system that opens the room up to the outdoors. Should I look in Calbayog? Any recommendations? Thanks!

    • Are you asking about looking in Calbayog for the folding door system? Do you mean like an accordion door or a roll up? You can find both types here…or at least you can order them.

  4. Hi Retired in Samar, we have a lot in Calbayog but would like to know if you can recommend an engineer or choice of engineers that may be able to assist us?
    I am in 2 minds to be honest. Either building a regular concrete block home like most modern homes there are OR (radical thinking activated!) getting a kit home from Queensland Australia which would be steel frame and cyclone proof, all shipped in a container (roofing exterior cladding, the bathroom sink – everything – just like a burger with the lot).
    A kit home, built to lock up stage takes about 2 weeks (plus shipping time and about 3 weeks manufacturing). After that, the blue board can be rendered, floors tiles, kitchen installed etc.
    Just wondering if you have seen any expat go down this path before? Is it a good idea? Or a silly though bubble?
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Regards,
    John

    • Shipping something like that would be expensive and you WILL be assessed import taxes (customs) on this end. It is probably not worth the effort. Labor here is so cheap, you can easily surpass building standards here to build a good solid home. I personally do not know of any engineers at this time that I would feel comfortable referring. Sorry.

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