So now you have decided to retire to the Philippines, you need to decide to buy or build a house in the Philippines.
If you read my previous posts on retiring to the Philippines, you will have read that you cannot own land as an ex-pat. So, if you are single or not sure you want to trust your partner with your hard-earned cash, then it is condo shopping all the way, and you need not read on.
However, if you are sure (like me) that you can trust your partner with your retirement pot of gold, then congratulations. You have now unlocked the riches the Philippines has to offer, and after reading my article on living in the city or province, you can look at the rest of this article and take notes.
This will probably be a two- or three-part article.
Buy or Build?
Although not a builder, but I am an electrical and electronics engineer, so I know about domestic electrical systems. To be honest, some of the things I have seen on these build videos would land “western electricians” in court.
The Philippines authorities are trying to regulate the building industry Currently, it is all too easy to circumvent the requirements.
If you consider that “regulations” are easy to circumvent in the Philippines, then you have the answer to your buy or build question. Especially if you think about all the things that could go wrong now and in a few years.
If you have a bucket load of cash and can afford a high-end house in a subdivision built by an international contractor, then, by all means, crack on and buy.
If like me, you have a modest budget, then YouTube is your best friend, and you will need to be onsite every day watching the build to ensure standards are followed and try to spot the issues before they become a permanent problem. Building a house in the Philippines can make your dreams come true.
Title Deeds and Ownership for a house build
Land titles can be a minefield! Make sure you have the title deed, and it has your partners name on it. Then make certain your lawyer has confirmed it is 100% yours with no potential issues. Don’t do this, then there is every chance a relative or even the real owner of the land could turn up one day asking why you build on his land.
Buying inside a subdivision, won’t be a problem as the lots will have already been divided and the appropriate deeds drawn up ready for ownership transfer.
In the province, you do need to be aware that the person selling you the land may not be the owner. Talk to neighbours and the Barangay Captain with your lawyer before you sign anything and hand over any money.
One useful piece of advice if you buy in the province before building a house in the Philippines.
As soon as the land is in your name, and you have the title deeds or bill of sale you must put a fence around the property. It doesn’t need to be the final wall you want, a post and wire fence will suffice.
The reason for this is that if there is no fence and a Filipino comes along and builds a house on you lot. It will take years and a lot of money to get the courts to evict him.
If there is a fence around the property, then the local police can just remove him as a trespasser.
Sub-Division or Province?
Some areas that have been developed, are referred to as subdivisions or gated communities. The benefit of buying a lot in one of these areas is that you don’t need to worry about road access or services (water, electrical, sewerage) to your lot. They generally come with 24hour security, a clubhouse and an owner’s association. If you are a nervous ex-pat then building a house in a Philippines subdivision is a must.
The downside is that the prices of the lots are high. The developers, along with the owner’s association, will need to approve your house design. Then you will need to pay an annual fee each year to cover the cost of grounds maintenance and security.
Environmental Considerations for building your house
If you have done your homework, then you will understand the trials that the Philippines environment can throw at you.
Then you have the rainy season (June to November) with the regular super typhoons. If you have a weak house, you will quickly find out during one of these storms. If you have bought your land in a low-lying area, you may find your house floods every year.
Dry season is December through May, and this is where your house can turn into a brick oven if you don’t design it right. Then your electrical bills will be through the roof trying to cool it.
If all of the about doesn’t concern you, then you must also consider Tsunamis and volcanos.
I am not trying to put you off building a house in the Philippines. Only trying to make sure you are informed and go into this with your eyes wide open.
So, your house needs to consider the above. Maybe not all of the above environmental issues but most of them are based on the location of your land. The internet is fantastic as you can now do all your research to find environmental information in the area you want to live.
This article talks about buying or building in the Philippines in relation to location and environment. Next week I will start to talk about the building process.