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Building a Farm House in Leyte

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When we bought our house in Leyte the seller included a lot, just shy of a hectare, about a kilometre up the road. They called it ‘The Farm’ as it had a few dozen Mango trees, coconuts, Jack Fruit and a variety of other harvestable crops.

Being that we don’t live on the property there was no way to supervise and control what was happening there. Also, my BIL and family needed a place so we decided to build a house and storage/shed there to sustain the land and give shelter to blood. It also takes care of the maintenance issue as he and a live in cousin will take care of it.

We started with the shed towards the end of February.  We hired a ‘skilled’ journeyman for 450 a day plus snacks, mid-day and afternoon. He also picked a labourer for 300 a day. He also talked me into hiring another ‘skilled’ to speed up the job. The other ‘skilled’ is his uncle, (70 years old), and I’m glad he did. These 2 brought some exceptional talent to the table with crafts that are not seen these days where I come from. That plus my cordless power tools allowed them to do a great and speedy job for us.

House and shed started in last week of February, finished end of April.

While we had our moments, mostly communications, the build went relatively smooth.

We built the shed first to allow us to store tools and building materials on site.

First we needed some wood so we took down some non-productive coconut trees. We hired a guy with a chain saw who cut the trees into boards for a flat fee, any size and dimension you ask for.  Again I couldn’t believe the skill


Next the upright supports.






Lots of help from the family, especially at snack time…



I was going to ask for tiedowns for the roof in case of high winds but realized it was already part of their plan.


They poured the slab after the walls went up which made sense in a project like this. Normally I would pour the floor first but they knew their stuff.


Our plan was to build the shed and if we were happy with the builder we would ask him to do the house. Yes, we were happy!


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I had drawn up the original plan and they followed it well. I would be on sight a couple of times a day in case they went sideways but rarely had to give advice.

While they were building the shed I was fine tuning the plans for the house. First, the foundation and upright supports.


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Roughly 20’X20’ with 9 support posts. I know that’s overkill but it sits on top of the hill and will catch the worst of the typhoons.


Poured footer and concrete blocks



Concrete block only part way and then amacan and plywood for the walls. But before that let’s get a roof on to get out of the heat.


The roof was nothing like the plan but I was very happy with their design. Again overkill but super strong.



It was at this point I realized that the skilled workers had no math skills. There were several cost overruns because of this and next time I will sling a duyan and be on the site all day


They started installing the ridge caps while I was absent and they decided they needed to be scalloped to fit in with the corrugation of the roof panels…that wasted a day and a half but we have a fancy roof!



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Posted (edited)

Working in the shade again we can pour the slab. We rented a cement mixer and a couple of other workers for that. (all relatives of the builder)





Got a good deal on these windows but should have gone with jalousie for better circulation. They looked good in CITI hardware but too small.


Fortunately I caught them before they went too far with the amacan to show them that they had to keep the pattern in sync with the neighboring piece. Sometimes you are standing too close and don’t see the big picture. (or don’t care)






70 year old craftsman hand cut, chiseled and joined the framing for the doors.





Edited by Dafey
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Looks good Dafey, thanks for sharing! The house looks sturdy, and it's appealing to the eye as well.

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Sibonga Simon

How much did you put into the house?  It came out a treat.

Edited by Sibonga Simon
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Looks great - - makes me want to build something too.  Nice spot of land too!  You even have a bit of landscaping going already.    The windows don't look too small.   

Do you have any enhancements planned?

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Great looking build and so kind of you to build it for them.  We may eventually have some sort of MIL house on the property. 

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2 hours ago, SkyMan said:

Great looking build and so kind of you to build it for them.  We may eventually have some sort of MIL house on the property. 

Well they are doing a lot of work for us there also. Plus, he's without work at the time sio we were paying their rent anyway.

Locals used to use the property for a cut through and kids would steel the mangos and coconuts. Some times groups would gather and they would have impromptu parties fires and cock fights so BIL has put an end to all that. If we get some spare change we'll fence it in and make it official...NO TRESPASSING!

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17 hours ago, Dafey said:

We started with a budget of 200,000 pesos and anticipated 50,000 cost overrun. In reality we spent a little over 300,000 including hookups for water & electric.

It's amazing isn't it.  [email protected],500.. or US$6,000.. to gift someone a mortgage free house.  There are those back home making that much is a month.   Makes me wonder what mythical gods I was chasing for most of my life.

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I am grateful we have the ability to help family like this. We could never afford to do it in the US.

As in earlier posts, the other brother will be gifted a house next year and sometime after that we will build our own cottage on the high ground. (Great view) So the whole family will be living there. My US family also has the option to build there though I doubt they ever will.

BTW, the Philippines family was an emended help when I had my emergency surgery and recovery. They are also always there whenever we need them.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Looks great, thanks for sharing. Think you got a good deal on the construction. A good tight crew makes all the difference and you've obviously found one.


Looking forward to returning your visit and checking it out in person!







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Septic system

Before we started the build I posted asking about container septic systems. Got a lot of good advice here and prompted me to do even more research.

We were hitting major cost overruns and the locals wanted unrealistic prices for installing a system so we went to the container route. They were asking 25,000 for digging and installing...I buy the cement, block and pipes.

A hardware store in Ormoc had prefab septic containers about 5 feet tall and probably 100 gallons for 7000 pesos. I figure you need at least 2 of these for chambers. I think the local government require 3 chambers but the 2 & 3 chamber is very small. Anyway 2 of these would be 14,000 plus delivery and we'd still have to dig the holes and drainage field.

So I found a guy who had some 50 gallon plastic drums for 500 each. The tops were messed up so I needed to get a couple of 24" laundry bins and flip them upside down and glue them in place for the tops...




The tops were messed up so I cut those off with a scroll saw. I probably didn't have to cut the tops off but it just seemed the right thing to do.



Laundry tub upside down with a 4" intake. Each drum has a T fitting for outflow. The first chamber empties into the second through the top. The second dumps into a drainage field made up of 2" pipes formed into a grid to spread the joy.

Sorry I don't have a photo of the grid as the install took place while I was laid up


T fitting for outflow


The T fitting is important to keep any floaters from passing through or plugging the system. If the tanks are installed level, the water will come up to the bottom of the outflow pipe. The T allows water to rise to that level while blocking the good bacteria from being flushed out and any floating poops can't enter the pipe. Theoretically the poops will all sink over time if not immediately and the bacteria breaks down the poop.


All pipes and buckets were sealed with a hot glue gun so if we ever need to access or replace parts it can be easily dismantled. (By we I mean them)


The drums were installed with the 1st tank to the right and the second to the left on a lower step. Just enough to run the outflow from the 1st tank into the top of the second. Then the drainage field was placed to the left of number 2 tank, (no pun intended), which is also on a slight hill so the flow always goes away from the house.






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