Building Your Own House in the Philippines
There are two ways of owning a house – it’s either you build it or you buy one. This article focuses on the former.
The option to build your own house is the only way that you can truly get the house that you like. It’s often the most demanding and stressful way of owning a house (consider also that a lot will have to be bought if you have none yet). However, if done right, this process can offer the home owner very substantial savings.
Since it will be built from the ground up, you can customize your house around the unique requirements of your family, your own personalities, tastes and whims. Home owners who choose this path are adamant that their house should fit them, not the other way around. They refuse to accept the dictates of commercial developers who build houses and tell home owners that "this” is the house they should live in.
What building your own house means
Many Filipinos, especially first-time home owners, have this romantic notion that they can do it all – acting as architect and general contractor, sometimes, even as carpenter, mason and painter. The obvious advantage of this is your service will not cost you a cent… Sadly, that’s a myth! You wouldn’t be able to afford to build a house in the first place if your time and skills aren’t spent on something more productive that brings in the money. So, your best option is to enlist the services of design and construction professionals.
Building your own house doesn’t mean actually getting personally and physically involved in the build process. Building a house is not as simple as nailing two pieces of wood together. Even if you are the DIY type, building a house, no matter how modest, requires a much more complex set of skills that is best left to specialists.
Your most important task when building your dream house
Seek all information you possibly can long before starting the build process. Immerse yourself to acquire as much knowledge as you can about house design and construction – read books, surf the net. Ask questions not just from architects and contractors, but equally important, from people, friends or relatives who have recently built their own houses.
These people are usually very proud of their new homes. For many, their house is a trophy or a crowning glory for what they have achieved. And chances are they will share with you their experiences, whether good or bad.
Learn as much information about the latest technology in building and housing materials. Many houses today are no longer built of the usual plywood, lawanit and GI sheets. The last decade or so has seen technology in both building systems and new materials advance by leaps and bounds. The Philippine housing industry today is flooded with the latest, most modern and most innovative European, American and Asian building products.
These advances do not necessarily translate to higher cost. Admittedly, many of these new materials do cost more than traditional materials we are familiar with. But many are far more durable, require easy installation and little maintenance that save you money in the long run. Also, many building system and material advances today are focused on creating greener and "healthier” houses that address the so-called sick building syndrome.
Make it a habit to regularly attend trade exhibits like Worldbex, Philconstruct, and the likes. Cut back on leisure time spent at SM Department Stores, Trinoma or Glorietta and allot some on visiting Wilcon Depot and other one-stop construction providers.
Why you need to learn all these things
Since you will be dealing with specialists who will actually design and build your house, it’s important for these people to know that they are dealing with someone who has knowledge of what they do.
Building your own house should never be a passive undertaking. The more time and effort you spend on research, and the more you communicate with those who will actually design and build your house during the programming, planning, designing and build stages, the better the chances are that your house will be built on time, on budget and as agreed upon.
How savings is gained by building your own house
Savings is realized because you did not buy from a commercial developer.
If done right and things go according to plan or nearly as planned, a home owner can save anywhere from 30% or higher when building his own house. These are the margins that commercial developers earn when selling a house and lot package. None of course will admit it.
Savings is realized by eliminating the commercial developer’s profit, overhead, interest expenditure and other non-building related costs plus the commission paid to an agent. Since the commercial developer (who also employs the services of architects, contractors and other building specialists) and the agent are removed from the picture, the profit that could have gone to them translates to savings for the home owner.
In another perspective, the savings can also be viewed as an increase in the house’s market value. A well-built house that cost, say, five million pesos can be valued at 6.5 million pesos or higher in a flat property market when prices remain basically the same over a period of time. What more if the property market goes up?
How else can you explain the proliferation of "build-and-sell” ventures if not much profit can be gained from building a house "yourself?” Note that many who engage in build-and-sell are businessmen who are not design and building professionals. I personally know of at least two.
So, when you are ready to build your dream house, ask yourself: Am I knowledgeable enough, have I researched enough, have I asked enough? Because, you see, in building your own house, having significant knowledge of the design and the build process are as important as having the money to build one.
Author: Cecilio A. Sanchez, Jr. (Licensed Real Estate Broker)
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