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Build a House in the Philippines

So you are thinking about building a house in the Philippines, or anything else for that matter.


I am a Resort owner, not an engineer, and never did construction before coming to the Philippines but figured out real quick that it is different here than where I came from!

Here are some practical tips I have learned from doing construction for myself and my friends in the Philippines since 1999.

Finding a construction firm that actually does accurate floor plans for private homes is difficult, especially the farther you get away from the major cities. So, any project you do will require months of planning and no detail is too small if you want to get it done right. It’s much easier to do it right the first time than changing it afterwards.


I go through a ream of graph paper each time I plan a building. For useful measurements and ideas use the internet, it’s a treasure trove of information.

For all the rooms, kitchen, bathroom etc I draw chalk outlines in a parking lot with everything the exact size to see if everything fits, which way the doors should open, where to put the switches, lights, sockets, plumbing, mirrors etc.

Stairways take a tremendous amount of space. Plan these carefully. Hallways are a total waste of space so I built a 2 story, 5 bedroom house on our farm with No Hallways. It’s perfect.

Plan to Build a house in the Philippines out of CONCRETE! It will not rust, rot, get eaten and takes very little maintenance. In my resort rooms all the beds, bedside tables, wardrobe & counters are concrete. You can dress it up, trim with native materials, bamboo, hardwood, stone, tiles etc.

This also adds structural integrity to your building to withstand earthquakes.

We even made the door frames in concrete so nothing eats them. The doors are still wood ☺


Make your building Typhoon Proof & Secure. A solid Concrete box with a flat concrete roof is perfect as the core structure.

Then, again, dress it up for aesthetics with native materials like nipa roofs over the balconies, maybe an outdoor kitchen, seating area with nipa & bamboo for that “South Pacific Island” feeling.

The flat roof is also perfect for water tanks, rain catchment & Solar Panels. The solar panels are almost a pre-requisite since we have such awesome access to this clean, free source of power. Also, with our proximity to China & Taiwan the equipment is relatively inexpensive and the quality has gotten much better.

In case of emergency, install underground water storage tanks. Even in Urban areas there can be water shortages or outright failures during typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions etc.

Plan on having space for a generator. You may not think you need it but, trust me, better to have the space and not need it, than need it and not have it. A small electric start diesel generator can make life much more comfortable when the time comes.

I would suggest roll down metal shutters on the windows if your building is exposed to high winds on a hillside, oceanside or you expect to spend extended periods of time away.


Now that you have a 100% idea of what you want to accomplish and are ready to get started you might think you can save money by dong it yourself but, I promise, you will quickly get frustrated by the nonsense, theft, delays, excuses, lies and schemes.

It doesn’t matter if you are a foreigner or local, everyone will be looking for an angle on you. They all know you will not be a repeat customer since most people only build a house in the Philippines once so they will be looking to make as much as possible on this deal.

Yes, labour is cheap here and there is a reason for that. No Tradesmen. Yes, it’s true. You will meet Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters etc but none of them went to trade school, did an apprenticeship or got Certified by any governing agency. They learned by watching others, then started doing it themselves and eventually called themselves professionals.

Let someone else deal with them…

BADLADZ Beach Resort Construction

In 2010 we built our 2nd resort. A 15 room Beach Resort with swimming pool. Then in 2014 we closed this resort temporarily so we could add another 4 story building with 15 Suite rooms, full stainless steel Kitchen, Restaurant, Bar & Reception area.

build a house in the philippines
BADLADZ Beach & Dive Resort / build a house in the philippines

We accomplished all this from June 15 > Sept 15…Yes 90 days.

It had to be done within this time frame because, on day 91, we had guests arriving ☺

Granted, the 15 new rooms were not finished inside but they were closed in with doors & windows so they could be finished while the resort was operating….and Making Money.

This would not have been possible without meticulous planning and an awesome Contractor.

I have heard far more Horror stories than Happy stories when it comes to construction. Sloppy work, inferior materials, outright theft, runaway builders, incomplete structures, no permits etc.

Make sure the Contractor is a Licensed, Board Certified Professional Engineer or Architect. Don’t be shy about asking to see their credentials. Also ask for references then actually Check Them Out!

All builders will show you structures that they say they built so go and ask these people about their experience. Don’t be shy!

Some people try to hire a contractor only to ‘supervise’ the construction for a set salary while paying for the labour & materials themselves. However, this backfires as the contractor will not want to finish the project…..because he stops getting paid ! The workers feel the same way.

Also, it’s far too easy for a supervisor to pad the payroll, divert materials, get kickbacks from suppliers etc. etc.


My preference is to get a formal ALL INCLUSIVE contract so you know EXACTLY what your finished cost will be. I don’t care how smily, friendly, honest they seem, a good contract makes for a good business relationship, period.

Make sure it details EVERYTHING that will be Included and what quality of materials that will be used. Good quality paint & tiles are important so do your research & specify a brand name to be used.

You can always decide to have some items that will be “customer supplied” like high quality bathroom fixtures, lighting, countertops etc.

Get a completion date ! Set penalties if they go past this date. Since this is a set price contract they will also want it done as soon as possible.

If possible, hire someone with construction experience to be onsite for quality control. Making sure something as simple as the stairs all being the same size and that there is enough head space for a 2 meter tall person to walk up them. Don’t forget, in the land of little people these things get overlooked, promise.

Things like the right mix of cement, sand, gravel in the concrete mix is vital. The correct amount & size of reinforcing bar in the columns, beams & flooring is also crucial. These are all areas where contractors can cut corners without you seeing it…with disastrous results.

You must understand, there is no government agency to save you if anything goes wrong with your contractor or the construction. Legal action is expensive, slow, corrupt and is generally unenforceable so….Go Slowly, Research, Plan, Hire a Contractor and make sure everything is done right the first time.


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