Lessons Learned: Building in the Philippines

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Lessons Learned: Building in the Philippines


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Old 18th August 2019, 09:42 PM
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Default Lessons Learned: Building in the Philippines

My wife and I recently completed a home construction project in the Philippines, renovating part of her parents' house and adding a second floor. My wife now has a walk-in closet and I have a balcony to enjoy coffee and pan de sol in the morning. I'd like to start a conversation (there may be earlier ones) about lessons you have learned from similar projects. I'll start off with a handful:

1. We were fortunate to have my sister-in-law, a US resident, on a long-term stay at the house being renovated. She acted as the project manager, being the go-between with the foreman workers, paying weekly salaries, and keeping us up-to-date with progress or issues. One of my brothers-in-law used our family van to pick up cement, rebar, etc.

2. The foreman and many of the workers lived near the house. It was very important for us to keep good relations.

3. Required permits are now becoming more common. Ten years ago in the municipality there probably was not such requirements.

4. At the end of the project, we decided to give bonuses. See no. 2. We predicated the bonuses on completing the work by a certain date. When there are no schedule penalties or fixed-firm bids, work can stretch out longer than needed.


I'm looking forward to hearing from other members.

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Old 19th August 2019, 03:29 AM
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You may have just opened a very large 'can of worms'. There have been several discussions in past threads concerning having houses built, construction practices, getting work done, and such.

I'll let it go at that, as I've already had my fill for today of blood pressure raising experience while dealing with PLDT this morning.

Fred


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Old 19th August 2019, 04:21 AM
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We knocked down the wifes single story small house and built our new 2 story home using a local builder who had a good reputation. Anti earthquake footings etc, however one thing we did learn was for us to buy the building materials ourselves and to keep a daily note of materials etc that were used as things did go missing, paint brushes,drill bits,cutting discs etc and especially electrical and plumbing items ! We actually got rid of 3 of the helpers because of theft !
Our overseer was the mother in law who would often walk around especially if we were out shopping etc and she would sit and watch what was being done ! The extended merienda and lunch breaks soon stopped !
Overall we are pleased with the building work , we have an enlosed balcony so i can sit in my old gits rocking chair and watch the local fishermen in the bay as i drink coffee or beer. Since the house was built we have added a front extension, built a veranda onto the back of the house , bought a Bayo Kubo and built a walled entrance on the front of that the back garden is full of flowers ,hanging baskets,5 fruit trees and a orchid house ! The back garden is the wife and her sisters happiness !
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Old 19th August 2019, 08:07 AM
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We turned our Bamboo home into Concrete but so many growing pains with the workers, there was one guy that was fired for demanding he get paid as much as the foreman because he also is a foremen and they always want to drink and have fancy foods after work it's like they expect it.

Stalling work, slow mundane tasks no real motivation to get much done at all and 6 workers, we had so much stress that at times we just fired everyone and took a break and did it all over again the same ole same ole until we finally found one guy that pretty much could do everything with another laborer and we finally finished up our home.

For sure lessons learned on buy your own materials don't let the crew or in-laws do that and theft always even with our most trusted workers I now have half the tools I brought to the Philippines.

I'll fix it myself except when it comes to electrical work.
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Old 19th August 2019, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by M.C.A. View Post
We turned our Bamboo home into Concrete but so many growing pains with the workers, there was one guy that was fired for demanding he get paid as much as the foreman because he also is a foremen and they always want to drink and have fancy foods after work it's like they expect it.

Stalling work, slow mundane tasks no real motivation to get much done at all and 6 workers, we had so much stress that at times we just fired everyone and took a break and did it all over again the same ole same ole until we finally found one guy that pretty much could do everything with another laborer and we finally finished up our home.

For sure lessons learned on buy your own materials don't let the crew or in-laws do that and theft always even with our most trusted workers I now have half the tools I brought to the Philippines.

I'll fix it myself except when it comes to electrical work.
Ah Phillipines power supply, in the UK i rewired my brothers home from top to bottom, turned off the power at the main box test with meter before i began , no problems.

Here i was adding a new power supply to our cctv camera all power turned off or so i thought
But no both cables still live, so got the local electric guy in , he just laughed and explained this is the Philippines !

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Old 19th August 2019, 10:55 AM
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Our formen is a very big Filipino and he has a reputation as a no BS kind of guy. He is married to my sister-in-law (wife's sister) so we had the family thing going on. He worked for over 20 years in the middle east as an engineer so he knows his stuff. The workers lived at the site while the building was going on to save them travel money and as security for the materials. I was in and out of the country sill working for the DoD but my lady was here and at the site daily. She was not and is not shy. Oversight is very important. Pay as you go - no lump sum early in the program with a substantial amount upon completion. Met a Canadian at LTO who paid up front...I am sure you can figure out the "rest of the story" for him. Also I suggest talk to some of his former customers and get feedback about the workmanship, use of time, costs and attention to detail.

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Old 19th August 2019, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Rebaqshratz View Post
Our formen is a very big Filipino and he has a reputation as a no BS kind of guy. He is married to my sister-in-law (wife's sister) so we had the family thing going on. He worked for over 20 years in the middle east as an engineer so he knows his stuff. The workers lived at the site while the building was going on to save them travel money and as security for the materials. I was in and out of the country sill working for the DoD but my lady was here and at the site daily. She was not and is not shy. Oversight is very important. Pay as you go - no lump sum early in the program with a substantial amount upon completion. Met a Canadian at LTO who paid up front...I am sure you can figure out the "rest of the story" for him. Also I suggest talk to some of his former customers and get feedback about the workmanship, use of time, costs and attention to detail.
Good call Reb and definitely owners on site/live onsite certainly reduces theft and motivation for the workers but as most here say one simply needs to find a competent architect/builder to secure your works/dream at an acceptable cost to achieve.
We recently employed a supposed architect that boasted he spent 8 years in the UAE,,,,,,, Groan, what a farce and then some and guess what? (read earlier posts, spill my guts) He was sacked as were his guys because they couldn't install simple ceilings, level, flat joints that won't crack. Yes sir we can do that,,,,,,,,, lesson learnt and as you wisely say Reb, ask to look at their work and talk to their/his/her previous clients. An 85K job lost the dude 8 to 10M pesos of extensions and fencing. His loss, my frustration and as we say once bittern twice shy. Your contribution rings true and that's where we head now. Thanks for the reinforcement.

Cheers, Steve.
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Old 19th August 2019, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expatuk2016 View Post
Ah Phillipines power supply, in the UK i rewired my brothers home from top to bottom, turned off the power at the main box test with meter before i began , no problems.

Here i was adding a new power supply to our cctv camera all power turned off or so i thought
But no both cables still live, so got the local electric guy in , he just laughed and explained this is the Philippines !
We had a similar issue with our electrical grid and Melarco Electrical company told us to have a new electrical concrete pole installed and hook it up all over again, so that's what we had to do because the in-laws had cleverly rigged our electricity to their homes, we went from 10,000 pesos a month down to 3,000 pesos.

The only other issue I can think of is that someone has bypassed your circuit breaker to hook something up in your home but you should be able to find those wires.
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Old 20th August 2019, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpearl View Post
Good call Reb and definitely owners on site/live onsite certainly reduces theft and motivation for the workers but as most here say one simply needs to find a competent architect/builder to secure your works/dream at an acceptable cost to achieve.
We recently employed a supposed architect that boasted he spent 8 years in the UAE,,,,,,, Groan, what a farce and then some and guess what? (read earlier posts, spill my guts) He was sacked as were his guys because they couldn't install simple ceilings, level, flat joints that won't crack. Yes sir we can do that,,,,,,,,, lesson learnt and as you wisely say Reb, ask to look at their work and talk to their/his/her previous clients. An 85K job lost the dude 8 to 10M pesos of extensions and fencing. His loss, my frustration and as we say once bittern twice shy. Your contribution rings true and that's where we head now. Thanks for the reinforcement.

Cheers, Steve.
True Steve...I forgot one thing or is it 2?. I got a bid first from the builder with specific details of what was going to be done and not done. This was to eliminate possible short memories in the future. We also bought the tiles and plumbing fixtures and lights on our own so they would be of a quality we could live with. This reduced the original bid appropriately. I had seen too much in this country where the builder would make a reasonable bid then make the margin larger by cheap fixtures which would have a very short life and need replacing far to soon.
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Old 20th August 2019, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expatuk2016 View Post
Ah Phillipines power supply, in the UK i rewired my brothers home from top to bottom, turned off the power at the main box test with meter before i began , no problems.

Here i was adding a new power supply to our cctv camera all power turned off or so i thought
But no both cables still live, so got the local electric guy in , he just laughed and explained this is the Philippines !
That is normal in many places in Philippines. The 220v is actually 110v on each cable, ie there is no neutral, hence the use of double pole breakers. Still OK as long as you include a good earthing system and RCD's in the main supply.

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