Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

We had to buy a cook stove for our new Philippine house.  Here’s our experience buying an Italian BOMPANI range. Bompani 90×60 "giant oven" stove Carol is a fantastic cook.  One of her dreams was to have a decent kitchen stove.  Typically kitchen stoves in the Philippines are 50 or 60 centimeters wide — 20″ to 24″.  While these may have four burners they are very cramped for serious cooking.  We decided we wanted a 90cm (36″) wide stove.  The major brands in the Philippines are La Germania and Elba.  A 90cm range costs about P70,000.  This was just more than we wanted to pay.  The Citi Hardware chain is marketing a smaller Italian brand — Bompani ( www.bompani.it )…

Our Philippine house building project, kitchen cabinets.  We decided to follow the usual provincial Philippine method of building our kitchen cabinets.  This Philippine system for kitchen cabinets is radically different from that we’re familiar with in the U.S.  Generally, U.S. kitchens use a wood base, prefabricated cabinets which are of wood or particle board clad with a laminate or other protective finish and topped with various counter materials.  These cabinet systems are available in the bigger Philippine cities, but are expensive.  Most importantly we wonder about their durability, especially that of base cabinets, in the hot, wet, bug/fungus-infested Philippine conditions. Kitchen Counter Bases The Philippine system is a concrete skeleton; base, end panels and under counter.  In basic homes, the countertop may be tiled and the bare concrete painted…

Earthquakes When we hired the engineer to design our house we were aware that the Philippines was included in the “ring of fire” earthquake zone and that our part of Panay Island had experienced a magnitude 8.2 earthquake in 1948.  In 1948 the island was much less developed.  Doubtless all or almost all the hollow block buildings on the island were built after 1948.  The 1948 quake damaged or destroyed. …

Ceiling Support System Our ceilings will be about 30cm (1′) below the top of our walls and 3.1m (10′) above the finished floors.  We wanted high ceilings because we hope that the hot air will rise above us but also because it makes our modest rooms feel more spacious.  Changing lightbulbs will be a challenge! Generally Philippine ceilings are marine plywood or one of the cement board products such as Hardiflex.  The price is about the same.  There are plusses and minuses for both.  Termites and rot don’t attack cement board but the cement board is more affected by roof leaks.  Originally we were going to use Hardiflex but we decided to use plywood instead.  Like gypsum board, cement board is a totally uniform material.  Plywood has some texture, some hint of once being a natural product.  We just like the look of plywood ceiling better. Ceilings can be supported by wooden joists or one of many suspended ceiling systems.  We decided to use 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ 2.5mm steel angle bar …

The finishing (plastering, stuccoing) of  the pretty crude hollow block concrete walls is the process which covers up a multitude of construction sins and starts to convert the project into a finished home.  Finishing uses a mixture of cement and screened sand to create a smooth, paint able wall. Finishing Workers begin by laying out a network of guide strings to ensure that the finished wall will be flat.  During the process, about 3/4″ of finishing will be applied, first rough courses to level the wall and then increasingly smooth final coats.  Lots time and cement are consumed. Finishing – more It’s this process of finishing which makes me really appreciate the Filipino method of construction.  My workers are quite skilled at their finishing work.  I worked at restoring old houses in the U.S.  We always tried to use plaster rather than sheet rock when we could afford it.  Plastering, especially over wood lath, creates wall surfaces and interiors with character and visual interest whereas sheet rock is…

Plumbing in the Philippines. We build our Philippine house. Interior plumbing We will only have “cold” water plumbing so our water supply plumbing is quite simple.  We are trying to avoid running pipes in tiled walls or tiled floors to avoid having to tear out tiling to make repairs.  In this photo the blue pipes are supply lines to a bathroom on the opposite side of the wall.  That way, if there’s a leak, we can make repairs from the untiled wall in this bedroom. Plumbing outside This photo shows three elements of the plumbing system.  The horizontal blue pipe is a 1″ water supply line which encircles the building outside.  Repairs and changes to these outside pipes will be simple. The vertical blue pipes are 1/2&#…

House Construction Expense 1/1/2010 through 5/22/2010 (in U.S. Dollars) House Construction 40,904.32 Equipment 2,545.19 Labor 7,095.75 Materials 30,251.73 Soft Costs 1,011.65 OVERALL TOTAL 40,904.32 Includes stockpiled materials, almost all electrical and plumbing supplies and fixtures.  Electrical work about 50% complete.  Plumbing about 75% complete. Includes work on 35 square meter carport.  Next step finishing the walls (cement plaster) inside and out. House Construction Expense Our Philippine house building project – construction cost report as of 5-22-10. Roof completed 1/1/2010 through 5/22/2010 (in U.S. Dollars) Equipment 2,545.19 (Most to be sold at end of project. Concrete vibrator

Our Philippine House Project:  new construction cost report as of April 21, 2010 Project after 70 work days 4-19-10 House Construction Expense 1/1/2010 through 4/21/2010 (in U.S. Dollars) House Construction Expense – YTD:2 1/1/2010 through 4/22/2010 (in U.S. Dollars) Category Description 1/1/2010- 4/22/2010 House Construction 31,080.37 Equipment 2,484.79 Labor 5,866.73 Materials 21,756.69 Soft Costs 972.16 OVERALL TOTAL 31,080.37 Equipment 2,484.79 Labor 5,866.73 Materials 21,756.69 Soft Costs 972.16 OVERALL TOTAL $31,080.37 Number of workers: 8 Cost per square meter P9,324 so far. Cost figures include a P200,000 ($4,500)

Our Philippine house project: Roof Design We’re building our dream home in the Philippines and want it to have a Filipino flavor.  Our roof design seeks to capture a bit of the design aesthetic of the classic Philippine native house – the “bahay kubo”. Here’s a little about the architectural design of our roof.   Our roof design goes against the trend.  Increasingly elaborate roof designs are very popular, especially for houses that are or aspire to be “upscale”.  The more valleys, ridges, dormers and other complications the more impressive the house.  Bob was brought up in the northern U.S. where every valley was another spot for ice and snow to build up and cause ice dams and leaks to form,  so simple roofs are an instinctive choice. These over-complex roofs are a recent development in the Philippines.  Traditional Philippines houses had “dos aguas” or “quatro aguas” roofs.  These terms are a carryover from the Spanish “ un tejado de dos aguas”, a simple ridged roof or “ un tejado de quatro aguas” a hip roof.  The older members of my construction crew still understand and use these …

What we’ve learned about roofing systems, roof trusses, roofing materials and cost of roofing in the Philippines as part of our house building project. Roofing systems have become very standardized in the Philippines.  What we describe here is the roof system that goes on most houses except the very high end such as real clay tile or cement tile, a few asphalt shingle roofs and the Nipa or sheet steel roofs of the ordinary “bahay” – native house. Steel trusses of various designs rise from the topmost concrete roof …