So you have finally decided on building your own house in the Philippines, the area you are going to build in and decided that the environmental tests the Philippines will throw at you constantly are worth it.
So, take some advice from someone who spent hours on YouTube. If you decide to go cheap, you will get cheap. I have seen some horrors while watching people getting their houses built in the Philippines. I have also seen just as many beautiful homes built.
You will find out very quickly that if your partner is from the Philippines, then you can guarantee they will have a relative who is a builder or contractor or plumber etc.
Before you agree to hire anyone in the extended family to build your dream home, be very careful and make sure you talk to someone who has had a house built by them before.
Cost of building in the Philippines
I suggest that you first look at the three basic levels of build the Philippines use; these figures were good when I wrote this article and are in Philippines Pesos.
Rough Finish. The basic essentials are in the house: cement floorings, concrete walls (but without paint), corrugated roofs, jalousie windows. This type of finish is at 20,000 to 23,000 per sqm.
Standard Finish. The house features in this type of finish level up in terms of design. The floors already have ceramic or granite tiles. The walls are painted, while the windows have aluminium frames. The ceilings may feature a cove style. This type of finish is 25,000 to 30,000 per sqm.
High-End Finish. By the name, it means the fittings and features have an upscale feel. In general, this type of construction will have double-coated granite tiles. Accent wall panels, terracotta roof tiles, and ceilings with a customized design with pin lights. This type of finish is pegged at 35,000 to 40,000 per sqm.
Now you need to decide how big a house you require. Once you decide on this and the finish you want, then you can set your budget for building your house in the Philippines.
Do I need an Architect?
I was going to talk about building a home without using an architect, but I cannot understand why you wouldn’t. Ok, if you are coming from the construction industry, then fine carry on. If you are like me and your total knowledge and understanding of concrete is that it’s grey, you need the professionals.
So I will talk as if you are going to be smart and hire an architect.
A good architect will listen to you and get to know you. Then based on the information you have given will hopefully design your dream home. I would imagine that after several revisions, you will have the final design. The typical architect in the Philippines will charge between 5% and 12% of the build cost.
The architect will then arrange for an engineer to complete the engineering drawings. The electrical engineer and the plumbing engineer to complete the drawings for the electrical, water and waste systems.
The engineer will understand the land your house will be built on and know how deep the foundations need to go. The engineer will also able to arrange the appropriate surveys.
Once all the drawings are done and signed, you will have a 15-year building design and structure guarantee. You will also have everything you need for your contractor to obtain the building permit.
The architect will also be able to help you find a suitable contractor. With all the drawings in place and signed off, you effectively put the job out for tender and wait for the quotes to come through the door.
Again, I would rely on the architect to point out the contractors they have worked with before to guide you on selection.
When the contractors send in the bids for your home, there are a few ways to save money if you want.
Generally, the build will not cover things like your AC system or security systems. This is good as it gives you the chance to shop around and find the design you want. Once found, you can connect the supplier with the contractor so they arrive at the appropriate stage of the build.
You will get a BOM (Bill of Materials). You need to go through this line by line and ensure that the materials match the building engineers’ specifications. If you have hired an architect, then he or she will also do this to ensure the build is as per design.
You have the option to let the contractor buy the items on the BOM or you can take complete responsibility for this.
My advice is to allow the contractor to buy the items as this will save you paying extra due to not being a local.
Before building a house in the Philippines begins a good contractor will send you shopping. looking for doors and window styles you like, along with paint colours and tile styles. This will save time for the contractor as they can then order items that have a long lead time.
You will also need to negotiate the payment terms. At the moment, the standard deposit is around 30%. This covers the first part of the build and the “Mobilisation” costs for the contractor. 10% will be retained for 12 months after the handover day to cover any issues with your house in the first 12 months.
The rest of the payments are up for negotiation. I suggest you work with your architect to decide on a structured payment contract based on build completion stages.
You also need to allow for variations in the contract. How they are managed, and who can authorise what. This may include design drawing changes because as your build progresses, you decide a particular room needs changing because it just doesn’t look right.
If you have never seen a build in the Philippines, you are in for a treat. The first thing your contractor is going to build on your land is an accommodation shed and a toilet. The workers will live on your land for the duration of the build to protect the building supplies and the general site.
In my next article, I will talk about some of the issues I have picked up on whilst watching various builds. You will understand after reading that why you need professional architecture services.