Common sense and workers don’t mix–construction Philippines

As I went round yesterdays work I came across things which can only be described as either caused by stupidity or laziness one thing was for sure they simply didn’t care about the damage they caused. Its a common problem here when it comes to ownership in the Philippines which basically if its not mine it doesn’t matter. Everything from finding people asleep in your open top vehicles to throwing garbage in your empty lot people generally don’t care about other peoples property or space.

Yesterday I wandered around the work carried out as I had set out a few jobs in the morning and was just going over some of the work that had been done. They had managed to put a ceiling in the wrong place for some reason as I had added an extra set of glass bricks to the bathroom to allow light to travel through from the window in there to the main room. Not now mind as they built the ceiling below it. Why? well that quickly became obvious when last night I was doing some filler on the walls because they had stood on the toilet seat in there and cracked it because they were too lazy to bring in the steps to put the ceiling at the right height or even one of about 15 solid chairs from the net-cafe to stand on. They had simply thought well I can reach this far sod it will just put it here.

The reason I was doing the filler in the first place was down to another act of severe laziness in the main room as they were installing the new ceiling. We had provided them with steps and a scaffold to reach the new ceiling so they could do the work. But hey what about the bit in the corner that’s slightly out of reach? move the scaffold? no.. step on the handle of the toilet door and swing on the door to reach the ceiling is easier. Well it was until it ripped all the concrete out the wall as the door quickly became disconnected from the frame as well as damaging the back of the door I spent last night repairing the door with filler to patch it in today.

Then there is the deaf ears which is the most annoying thing as people will often try to do it the way they know which is a complete farce telling me that workers do it different ways. There is a reason things get done a certain way some of it is regulation, some of it is building standards but most importantly its common bloody sense! Plywood that missed their centre marks very obvious mistake and something I wouldn’t expect any carpenter to make for gods sake I had already built a wall in the room they could have followed its layout to make sure the ceiling was perfectly spaced. Plywood by the way is generally 8 x 4 same as gypsum board you can get 10 x 4 and smaller sizes but generally I have always worked on 8 x 4 sheets. So you set your timber frame out so that your first edge will then go to 2ft then the next 4ft centres so that your next sheet is half on the timber frame and continue that pattern. They had done some of it this way but the problem was they hadn’t bent any curved timber straight as they went disrupting any measurements. On top of that I wanted the ceiling tied in to the stud partition wall which they ignored doing their best to just ply straight through “knowing best” yet the reason it gets tied in is to make it a lot stronger which also means there are less chances of movement that could cause cracks in the final paint work. But hey what I know only been in the construction trade 20 years.

To finish the post of on a positive though I would advise getting a  nail/staple gun instead of the little tapping nails people use here and its for a couple of reasons. First one being the nails they use aren’t ringed which means they can pop out with any disruption. Rings on nails when they are hit in normally dig in deep as they are hammered in making it difficult to remove which means your ceiling will remain undisturbed for many years. The next is that the nails here that are used are normally the wrong type meaning they also rust this problem means that the fine finish you put on a ceiling will at some point lose its clean finish especially if you ever have any water leaks above as the rust will show through. Get yourself a good nail/stapler and it doesn’t need to run off a compressor there are electric ones out there.


One thing you might wonder is why I keep posting photos of items from the U.S.A. instead of U.K. but there is a reason for it using other Expats to bring stuff into the Philippines for you. Look at this stapler for example its Dewalt and for less than $100 an unbranded unit in the UK of the same ability is about $200 with Dewalt being a lot more. Point being I will track items for you but ideally you should look for someone travelling in from the U.S. to bring things like this for you as they are small and not heavy and buy them a few beers as a thank you.

2 comments for “Common sense and workers don’t mix–construction Philippines

  1. Tropicalpenpals
    March 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    They’ve been fired.. went over last night to check everything to find they have laid the sink out back to front (has a strainer one side and the way they have done it the tap is at the front!). They have also managed to wire the spotlights to the bedroom light switch which I found amazing since I had done it previously for them and they still got it wrong. Its just one of those things here but luckily enough one of our good workers has just returned from the wilderness somewhere, not fast but doesn’t make mistakes. I put the cost of damages of these first 2 down to around P3,500 for 3 days which is unacceptable anywhere.

    Regarding the house being built unsupervised it happens to everyone seen a Filipino friend in the UK have the same her brothers and sisters done the work. Arrived back after 3 years to find nothing had changed and the money gone. So its not always a foreigner thing as people do it to their own just as quick

  2. Profile photo of OLDARTICLES
    June 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Good point it does happen in other countries but you won’t find it at this level in most other countries. Problem is there is no regulation stopping people doing it in the Philippines and no real structure of “legally skilled” e.g. qualified, trained and time served. Most of the good labour is gone the brain drain on the Philippines has been happening for decades leaving the country to be served by mainly what would be handy men and worse. You just have to look at any pool of labour to find it. Entire burns unit teams missing from hospitals because they have all taken jobs abroad. Welders working in other nations etc. etc.

    Its easy to say oh its clowns but in reality the Philippines has sent the majority of its abled labour abroad. Nothing to do about liking to complain about workers its simply FACT and the same way people lose money all the time maybe its better to be like you who will look for an excuse in everything rather than deal with the problem? These must just be a few bad amongst the bunch right? but why is it I know so many people with the same problems with different construction companies and labour? In reality burying your head in the sand like your talking about and blaming me for complaining when the truth is the labour market is getting worse not improving is counter productive. Saying no and making sure if they can’t do it they get fired only assists in improving things but many people aren’t aware of how bad construction is here until they start building.