Choosing a Architect / Builder in the Philippines
In the Philippines most builders have architects and engineers on staff. One usually approaches a builder with design requirements and the builder then has his architect and drafters design the layout and his engineers make sure its sound. Once the design is completed, approved and money changes hands, the “architect / builder” then overseas the project from groundbreaking to handover. The architect basically morphs into the general contractor for the duration. He is on-site each day making sure his plans are followed and things are constructed properly. The builder may actually send a engineer out to the site for oversee specific tasks during the build that are under his area of expertise.
Choosing a architect / builder before you arrive in the Philippines opens a whole nother can of worms. As the Philippines in general are typically behind the 8 ball when it comes to a company’s presence on the web and even when they are the information is limited at best, at least in comparison to firms here in the states. So basically you have to reach out to everyone and anyone that you know for recommendations and references. There is limited architectural information for the Philippines online, and of that very little is marketing info. There are a few blogs out there written by expats describing their process of building a house and the steps and people they used, but that is only a small fraction of the available resources (Andy Hyners Blog and Bob Hammerslag’s goILOILO.com ). There are a few more but with limited information (If you know of any please let me know in the comments :)) I also found Licensed architect lists for several cities with names and contact info. I recently emailed every one of them for my area with a chain letter of sorts to see what information I could get back. I then took the responses and did as much research on them and their respective companies in regards to building in my city.
Luckily for me my design is pretty much set, I don’t need the architect / builder to design the layout for me. I feel that this process via email and overseas would / could be a disaster. Taking into account the distance measurement differences between the US and the Philippines, the language barrier and in general, the overall house design mentality of Filipinos, I decided I better be able to hand them something concrete to start with. I have found out during this process that architect’s consider themselves artistic. I always considered architects belonging to the engineering field. I have provided my potential architects with to scale drawings with metric distances along with topographic measurements of the lot. All they will have to do is modify for materials lengths and do the structural engineering on the house.
I am full on in this process right now, I have a couple firms on the short list and am getting pricing and other pertinent information. Luckily I have several years before I start the process, so I have time to gather information and make sure all the t’s are crossed. I hope to have my decision made within the next months allowing for me to start refining my design from a engineering standpoint.