Can you trust people with house construction in the Philippines?

If you read the problems we had at the apartment you could see there are issues by doing things yourself but what if you actually got an architect to deal with everything for you? Well I visited a friend today who is to say the least disappointed with the results on his house and it was done by an Architect trusted with the project. I can’t discuss names or locations as there is a chance of legal action currently happening. But a list of the faults that have come up would surprise most people unless it was on something like Rogue Traders in the UK.

Most of the work was carried out on a “trust” basis as the owners were in the UK working. The Architect handled both parts of the project himself (which should never be done on a project) that is as Architect and Engineer. The main reason you have the two is they play off each other as the Architect would be looking for quality and the Engineer is trying to save money so somewhere in between you should get a reasonable standard of work. The Architect actually instructed the workers on the property to do it with the “cheapest” materials which is why my friend is currently at the problem stage he has now.

  • The waste pipes had been packed with a couple of carrier bags and concreted into the wall which meant that raw sewage backfilled from the toilet and came up in the shower. Architects response “the plumbing wasn’t in the price”. The bathroom fixtures are all second hand and an obvious crack inside the cistern shows how it was concreted back together.
  • There has been no foundations or hard base put down on the property just built straight up. The walls are showing signs of cracking below window level and above. Also the wrong type of lintels have been installed for the spans.
  • All doors are the cheapest found with daylight showing through.
  • Floor tiles don’t match and the cheapest that can be found (nothing wrong with cheap as long as its done right).
  • Handrail has different colours and shades on every baluster (different woods used).
  • Front gate is impossible to open as its been built below road level.
  • Main gates that are supposed to replace the existing temporary ones are obviously second hand from another project and are too big and heavy for the existing posts as well as not in keeping with the rest of the building.
  • Electrics failed as ratings were wrong although now corrected.
  • Gas bottle and pipe need to be removed from the house and installed externally inside a cage (same as UK) failed on inspection.
  • Kitchen wall units built across cooker span needs removing (yet  its all one piece now needs remodelling).
  • Floors are all unlevel and in some areas have very obvious dips.
  • Garden isn’t finished and external walls not smooth skimmed.

There were a lot more but I just wanted to give a few. Now this is a bungalow which needed the external walls on a solid base because the roof span now is likely to be causing the cracks in the walls as the span is pushing down. Eventually its likely the roof will drop forcing the walls to lean outwards at the top unless its underpinned and corrected. Not a cheap repair for something that was easy to do on the first stages of construction. The other issue here is the fact the Architect seems to either be a total idiot or just assuming he can get away with most things because of the “stupid foreigner” mentality some people have. The other factor which you might be thinking you get what you pay for well the work has cost around P1.8million pesos and I like other people have estimated it as a total project of P800,000 where did the other million go besides straight in the Architects pocket.

How do you avoid this for yourself? Well there are people like me who are here full-time who can oversee projects if requested. The other thing is to check other peoples houses and get recommendations as they have been through all these problems  already. Another important factor is to invite the City Engineer round for dinner before the project and ask them to look over the plans etc. to see if there are any major problems he isn’t happy with and try to get them involved at various stages to check the quality to keep it on par. At the same time you really need to keep your own person on site who isn’t working for the Architect or Engineer but primarily has some construction background to keep asking questions and make sure its built as it should be. This project was too late for us to help as its now looking at its day in court but if approached earlier I would happily sit on site for P20,000 a month to monitor the different stages to make sure the correct size steels are used and that the re-bars go into the walls all the way up to “good paint” being used on the walls. Getting it wrong isn’t only expensive and time consuming its stressful. People don’t need these hassles when retiring.

7 comments for “Can you trust people with house construction in the Philippines?

  1. Tropicalpenpals
    June 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Hi John,
    happily help out where needed. In the UK you would be looking at around P12million to hire me for 12 months but generally here in the Philippines I work at P20k as A. I have other incomes and B. Its a rate I think is acceptable and reasonable. A lot of people may be looking at the article thinking P20,000 a month thats crazy.. but I tell you now if people get it wrong on your home your going to be paying a lot more than that. Firstly material overpricing then sub-standard construction and finally things that could be outside of permits/standards nothing against anyone making a living but so many people will try to cut corners here especially if your abroad in the hope you never go legal with them.

  2. John Hall
    June 6, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Wow Matt. Great article bro. This is very enlightening. When my Dad gets here in December we all need to team because my dad wants to build some type of residential retirement structure for himself and my mom. I would glad to have you aboard or at least have some advice. Hell I don't think I would mind you sitting around a supervising for that price. My friend in Boracay had a similiar problem. I have to say that construction isn't my expertise. EVERYONE WHO IS READING THIS ARTICLE FROM MATT READ IT TWICE AND REMEMBER THIS ARTICLE IF YOU EVER PLAN TO HAVE SOMETHING BUILT.

  3. Tropicalpenpals
    June 7, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Hi John,
    happy to help out where I can. Also if your wanting some plans done I can also sort out an Architect. Generally they can work out to a budget and style if you let me know what your parents are after and minimum/maximum sqm. As the ones I know will be a lot cheaper than what others have paid (e.g. the article above the owners forked out P50,000 for the drawings which is way over the top for the design and size of the property.

  4. John Hall
    June 7, 2010 at 5:16 am

    I will be sure to hit you up in about a year when my parents are ready to build. I am sure my dad will be like WTF but we both know how many things can go wrong.

  5. Alvin Sarcon
    June 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Hi John,
    happy to help out where I can. Also if your wanting some plans done I can also sort out an Architect. Generally they can work out to a budget and style if you let me know what your parents are after and minimum/maximum sqm. As the ones I know will be a lot cheaper than what others have paid (e.g. the article above the owners forked out P50,000 for the drawings which is way over the top for the design and size of the property.

  6. Tropicalpenpals
    June 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Hi Ken,
    please feel free to submit an article about your company also willing to do a trip over to you see the sort of things your company are involved in. Generally I don't like adverts posted on TP not because I am anti business but where do I draw the line as I would have to let everyone else post advertisements as well. An article would be a lot more useful for your business but also good for other people to see the services you can provide.

    Matt.

  7. Kensav23
    June 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    This is disgusting and i feel for the owners, i have been in the Philippines since 1991 and as a fully certified engineeer, trained in the UK, there no job satisfaction or pride in there work.
    For this reason we started a company named Mr Fix All with the slogan: FED UP WITH POOR WORKMANSHIP, SHODDY REPAIRS. Call Mr Fix All for reliabilty and guaranteed construction and repairs.
    I would be glad to advise, help in way including competative quotes.
    My name is Ken R Savage and can be contacted 09158401986 or office 2563018