How the Plan Developed
My wife and I are planning to build our new home just outside of Carcar, Cebu, Philippines. I have started, and will attempt to maintain, this blog as an ongoing record of this effort. It is intended to also serve as reference material for those that may see similarities in our plan and while we certainly hope to avoid as many pitfalls as possible, it may serve as a window into our errors and corrections for others to learn from. We recognize that our plan and implementation is not for everyone and we may attract our fair share of detractors.... such is life, we only ask that the integrity of the blog as a record and tool for others be respected. My goal for this blog is that it will result in being a more informative and more detailed accounting of such an effort than will be found anyplace else. While simply not possible to include every consideration that went high points as I see them.
We have property inherited from my wife's family and while it is in an attractive mountain setting, it is landlocked and therefore, not much of a consideration for us as we started our planning in 2007. We relocated to the Carcar area in 2010 and we decided that we would test our concepts for an eatery business while continuing to seek out that perfect location for our house. We were very pleased with the results of our business efforts and although we needed to close it down due to some unexpected international travel, we learned what we needed to learn and that is, the business model is rock solid so with some enhancements, we will re-open it after our house is built.
We opted for mountain locations in lieu of beach or city properties. With that in mind, I was able to continue down the path of the design of the structure itself. Being a Mechanical Engineer, I understand clearly that a design is an evolving entity and as you think through the thousands of considerations, changes are made until at some point, time constrains you to start construction, knowing that there will continue to be changes through the construction phase. For us, however, we have taken over 4 years for me to whittle away at fine tuning the layout, studying various earthquake proofing design features, considering thousands of material options across the structure and really, getting comfortable with the design. Knowing we were looking for property in the mountains, I was able to stick with our original house concept that would best suit a sloping site and ideally, a slope downfacingto the south (to the sea on our side of the island)....a plus would be a SE facing down slope so the afternoon sun was not directly into the main rooms with the view.
So hard to do when the last person to see a property was me..... any other way and the cost would be so jacked up as to not be viable for us. You see, we are not hell bent on building at all costs.... we are only interested in realizing this dream within a strict budget. So, the first step in this process is securing a property to which we can build. As I believe that this step in the process is SO unique to every different buyer, seller and location... I will not spend alot of time on it other than to say, we had some MOST EXCELLENT help from friends we made in the area. Friends that had gone through this process on their own and so unselfishly shared their insights and guidance with us that we will forever be so grateful to them both. (you know who you are). Without such aid, we could very well still be looking. My asawa was the road warrior and I reviewd cell pics and really, we did not get too serious so in the end, our friends helped us, but our plan was for the asawa to find and do the first level negotiations to a point where we felt she peaked and then bring me in, at the risk of all negotiations re-starting... but our most valuable asset was time.. .we were not in a hurry and we knew that a negotiation that slowed could be sped up by any number of events.. .from one of the sellers greed suddenly increasing to an unforeseen death and burial that needed to be funded.... being patient can save you HUGE in the end and get you around all that non-value added cost inflation.
We will be returning to the Philippines in July of this year and after a year plus of attending to business abroad, I am "stir crazy" over getting started on this effort. Our property is as hoped for, on a SE downslope of approx. 40 degrees more or less. Absolutely perfect for the design that we began finalizing in Oct. 2011. By March 2012, I had all layouts, truss details, plumbing, electricals, networks, renewable energy circuit designs... hundreds of drawings all as final as they are going to get prior to the start of construction. When fully realized, the property will be home to not only our house, but our new resataurant structure, a workshop, an in-laws nipa style hut, terraced planting for crops of all sorts, and provisions for goats and chickens (what is a home in the Phils without a rooster crowing at 2am, eh). The house is three story in size, with the lowest floor to be the utilities/helper/laundry level, the main floor to be exclusively for us and the upper floor a partially open/covered space for entertaining the extended family. Our most important consideration in the design is that the lower and upper floor are accessible independant of the main living floor.... per the asawa, "I do not want people going through our home to get to these other parts of the house". No problem from me on that... I am not really big on the "open living" concept anyhow. The concept where people roam in and out of your house at will all day and night... it is not for us and thankfully, that edict came from the "boss". That said, we are perfectly fine with the in-laws residing nearby... they are fantastic folks that have never asked me for a single peso.
OK, this section may result in some dissent, but I am NOT.... repeat... NOT hiring an army of 10%ers ( work 10 percent of the time) workers that I need to montitor every rebar tie-in, every concrete mix and every tool in my arsenal... I and my brother in law will begin this effort, as he and I work well together, can communicate fairly well and number one... I TRUST HIM. Yes, he needs constant guidance BUT, he remembers tomorrow what I told him today and even last month... he wants to learn and THAT is the key. I have learned enough online to know that I can not sleep under a structure that I did not see properly constructed.... and there are multitudes of examples of improper construction techniques and corner cutting in the Philippines. Most important to remember, once the concrete is poured around the rebar... you have no idea what it may hide and if the concrete was mixed too wet... well, the loss of strength will not show initially... just not worth trusting this to others in my opinion. Of course, we expect to draw a crowd of prospective hires, but I will be in no hurry to take on anyone that puts the project at risk in any way. I am a very motivated and hard laboring person and that will make up for alot of unmotivated folks that need constant oversight. This is our most significant unknown at this time..... so an overall schedule is impossible to pinpoint at the onset... .we have goals, but at this point, I am not committing to an overall schedule until we develop a labor pool and I can benchmark some of the effort.
Well, in conclusion of this introductory post... I will say that there will be mostly background info types of posts and then not much until we get underway in July. At that time this blog will come to life with pictures in support of the journey we are about to embark on.
Thanks and thank you to those that stay tuned!