Jump to content
  • entries
    9
  • comments
    16
  • views
    2,938

The Plan

Dzighnman

591 views

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.

The Search

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.

The Overview

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.

The Effort

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.

Conclusion

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!

  • Like 3


3 Comments


Recommended Comments

Hello again Dzighnman,

I don't think you will get any "detractors". It sounds like another engineering project that you don't mind getting your hands dirty. Your wife and her family should be commended for their initial contribution in making your dreams come true. I'm curious what your plans are against debris and mud slides, since you're planting your foundation on a slope.

My mother owns several properties in Manila and Olongapo area. My understanding it's being well taken care of and guarded against potential squatters. Even then, I will need to make sure that the titles are super clean and have no outstanding liens against them. More importantly, no other person(s) have or will claim the properties.

Thank you for your insights in planning and execution stage and will look forward reading your progress reports.

Respectfully -- Jake

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Hello again Dzighnman,

I don't think you will get any "detractors". It sounds like another engineering project that you don't mind getting your hands dirty. Your wife and her family should be commended for their initial contribution in making your dreams come true. I'm curious what your plans are against debris and mud slides, since you're planting your foundation on a slope.

My mother owns several properties in Manila and Olongapo area. My understanding it's being well taken care of and guarded against potential squatters. Even then, I will need to make sure that the titles are super clean and have no outstanding liens against them. More importantly, no other person(s) have or will claim the properties.

Thank you for your insights in planning and execution stage and will look forward reading your progress reports.

Respectfully -- Jake

Jake,

I hope so Jake as I really am only doing this to offer helpful tips (to do's and not to do's) to those following a similar path. My inlaws are great.. although we could not use the land that they gave to my wife (lasndlocked), when we found this other land, we knew the design had to include a place for them.... they will have exactly what they like in a native style home to call theirs in an early phase of this project.... in another post down the road, I will address our relationship with them as although off topic a bit, I believe it is something most all of us have to deal with on some level... I am truly blessed to have the inlaws I have.

You are correct in expressing your concern that the land/title be cleared of claim... not easy in the Philippines. I have purposely not addressed our specific land details as I do feel every situation is so unique that there is not much to gleen from others experiences. Also, I feel strongly that if someone is getting into this they should be doing all their research, learning all possible and so on, and that cannot come out of a forum... it all changes to rapidly and again, is always unique to the land, the sellers and the buyers... just suffice it to say that buying land (yes, in the Filipina's name) is NOT the same here as it is in western countries.. there are many and sometimes surprising differences. There are more degrees of family mambers with claim to property here than most foreigners even realized exist.... how many of your second and third cousins kids can you name??? nuff said.

Squatters are a problem... no doubt there at all. In the Philippines, once a squatter sneaks in and sets up shop... you will most likely have to pay them to leave... one of those insane revelations I have had since starting this journey. We have our inlaws make weekly trips up to ensure nobody is squatting, and this is where the locals relationships comes in... we had some reports of guys trying to chop some tres on the land and so our tact was to send up the inlaws, mingle in with the neighbors and put a face to the property. THIS is vital, after the initial "good will mission", no problems and in fact, my father in law knows some of the neighbors and their parents so the mission to put a face on the land in order to alleviate the theft that was impending... a success and more as now the "face" they associate with it is a long time family friend... chances are high that this will alwys be the case as everyone knows everyone in a given area right? In the end, we accomplished our goal of preserving the trees on our property and did so through the methods that exist in the Philippine culture.... my in laws also set up some Visayan "Please do not chop our trees" signs and that was what brought the neighbors out initially to chat.... never underestimate the power of being neighborly in the bukid!

Regarding landslides. Normally, I would not build on a slope... however, and this is good and bad.... We have maybe half a meter of soil to the bedrock. Cebu is not a volcanic formed island, it is a pushed up seabed. at our elevation, we have a very sound limestone base that is close to the surface... that is the good... the bad? Lot's of jackhammering ahead for me. This is also a plus as we will have a high level of on site aggregate for other uses thoughout the project. My foundations will extend a bit deeper than published building codes dictate. A great test occurred near Cebu earlier this year. A friend of mine has a recently build structure in an adjacent lot and there was no sign of any damage, not even cracks, during the recent earthquake that occurred this year. The quake was centered less than 50 miles away and for example, our rental house, near Valladolid in Carcar City, suffered significant cracking and alot of furniture tossed about. If we had concerns about the stability of this region before, we are less concerned now. THAT said, I have incorporated a fairly significant amount of intelligent design into the structure to afford even further robustness to the structure as further protection against any quake damage. Being we are into the bedrock with our foundations... mudslides are of little concern to us. Even the slope that rises above our lot in elevation is not only similar in it's lack of topsoil layers, but is also forested to protect against erosion.

Another couple of great points to be discussed Jake... thanks much!!

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

I was just thinking today that I hadn't heard from you in the forum for a while... And now I know why!

I am most definitely interested in your blog as I was thinking of building myself in a couple years. And, for everything that I have read in this first blog, it sounds like we will similar thoughts in design. I have built a few houses in Canada and flipped a few others (after extensive renovations) so I'm not a newby at building - in Canada! In the Philippines? I have lots to learn before I even think of starting! And I have a feeling I will learn so very much from your adventure!

I was all set to head to bed but I see you have a couple more blogs so... Time to dive in!

Thank you sir!!!

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment
×
×
  • Create New...