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The Philippines is a beautiful country until we talk about living conditions and government. One of the poorest countries in the world, ruled by one of the most corrupted governments in the world. Corruption and geography isolation keep foreign investment away, good paying jobs are hard to be found, so about 10% of country population is working overseas. Philippines have one of the highest income inequality of the world. They built an impressive business district in Makati City (header photo) and Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, while half of population lives in poverty (less than $1.25 per day).
Incidentally, Philippines is the country which provide most customers for my architecture design services, this since before writing anything specially about Philippines on my website. Probably due to large population, booming economy, lack of public housing programmes and too few large-scale private housing developments, many people need to build houses themselves, browsing the internet for floor plans and contacting me for custom house design.
(personally I considered Philippines a better country than it actually is, until local people who contacted me for house projects, also informed me about living conditions)
General review of housing
Philippines have beautiful architecture, there are a lot of beautiful, over-decorated houses, but this architecture style mask the fact that the they have one of the smallest houses in the world.
Filipinos are also one of the shortest people in the world, but I still see their homes ridiculously small. Bedroom around 6-7 sqm, making 3 bedroom houses to be about 50 sqm, size comparable with Hong Kong apartments despite of much larger country, even more ridiculously, in Hong Kong most apartments are 2-3 bedrooms while in Philippines most apartments are studios or 1 bedroom. In subdivisions built by major real estate developers, houses are usually 2-3 bedrooms.
If this was not worse enough, there are many people living in informal settlers (aka slums, squatters), of the rest who have legal land titles, many built houses that still looks like slums. In downtown Manila every unused piece of land gets built up occupied by informal settlers, river beds are also heavily built, people living above highly polluted water and in danger of flooding. Even the 8-meter wide land between railways and nearby streets is the home for numerous poor families (cannot imagine how you can sleep as the trains horn continuously).
Government is trying to clear the slums from Philippines National Railway land and from danger areas such as river beds, and move them into socialized housing built at city outskirts, but people do not want to live there and move back to slums, which are conveniently located near workplace and amenities. There are too many illegal houses for the government to take care about them.
What I do not understand yet, is why in smaller cities and countryside, where the land is cheap, people own large plots but still build extremely small houses. Living in tight rooms is part of Philippines culture?
Beautiful houses from Eastwood Greenview subdivision – Slums of the poor built on Philippines National Railway
Philippines population has grown from 60 million people at 1990 census to 92 millions at 2010 census, and hit 100 millions in 2014 despite of massive emigration. Additionally, at least 12 millions filipinos are working overseas, primarily in United States and Middle East., according Wikipedia. Seems that is impossible to get a well paid job in this country.
In Metro Manila lots are over-subdivided by successive family generations and nowadays there are entire families squishing on lots small as 20 sqm.
Gated communities (called subdivisions) are being built by private developers at city outskirts, with large open spaces, pool and guards.
The fastest developing cities are Dasmariñas, Bacoor and Inus (30 km south from downtown Manila, within Cavite province), here are the most subdivisions and most beautiful architecture, less slums and more wealthy people.
Subdivisions (aka Housing Complexes in other countries) became more common after year 2000.
There are rowhouses on plots small as 3.5 meters wide and 10 meters deep, with 24 meters between street axes, reaching densities of about 200 housing units per hectare, probably the densest housing development in the world (example: Ximena Mabalacat – floor plan).
Single detached = house surrounded by courtyard on all 4 sides, houses built at minimum 3 meters apart (1.5m setback for both houses).
Single attached = a definition that do not exists in any other country, with 1 or 2 firewalls (walls built at 0-lot boundary), built with same orientation so everyone is having windows facing to neighbor’s blank wall at 1.5m apart, giving the advantage of detached houses without shared walls. Sometimes the carport roof is attaching houses. They are VERY UGLY because on one side the roof is overhanging 700mm and on other side there is a blank wall that extend above roof.
Duplex = semi-detached, 2 houses symmetrical.
Rowhouse = synonym with british Terraced house or american Townhouse.
Bungalow = single-storey house, similar with American meaning. Unlike the rest of Asia where bungalow means a detached house regardless of number of floors.
Most common housing typologies in these subdivisions:
40 sqm 3-bedroom back-to-back terraces on 5×8 m land (example: Cedar Residences – floor plan – I wonder how you can reach house door after parking, carport is 2.5 m wide and an average car 1.8 m wide will block the door).
50 sqm 2-bedroom terraces on 4×10 m land, (example Portville Mactan)
The subdivisions offer also bigger houses with 3 and 4 bedrooms but very few of them are over 100 sqm.
Prices of the 2-bedroom 40-50 sqm terraced bare houses vary from about 1 million (22,000 USD) in Cavite to 3 million in Metro Manila. 3-4 bedroom 100 sqm detached finished houses are 3 million to 10 million.
In urban areas (non-subdivisions), according my study from satellite photos, most lots are within 4-10m wide and 10-16m long. Land sizes vary from 40 sqm (minimum by law) to 120 sqm, very few lots are more than 120 sqm of land in urban areas. 80-120 sqm looks being average lot size. However, some people asked me for architecture help for 20 sqm house plans, so smaller lots than minimum by law does exist!
Philippines building code regulate habitable rooms at minimum 6 sqm and 2 meters wide, most houses are built at these minimum values, but some violate the law! Examples: Pioneer Woodlands bedrooms are less than 2m wide, Angeles, floorplan 25.5 sqm 2-bedroom home, bedrooms should be 1.9 x 2.4m internally.
For comparison, a nearby country Malaysia building code says 6.5 sqm bedroom and 9.3 sqm master bedroom, but these sizes can be rarely seen and only in public housing. I have never seen a developer in Malaysia building anywhere closer to minimum requirements, they build usually 10-15 sqm common bedrooms and 15-25 sqm master bedroom.
House setback are 1.5m in front and sides, and 2m at rear. I have not found a clear regulation about carport roofs and balconies within setbacks.
Ceiling height should be minimum 2.4 m, and 2.7 m for first floor, but in most houses, all floors are 2.4 m.
Bad house design: as seen in floor plans provided by developers, living room is so small that you cannot place a sofa, TV and dining table in same time, or dining chairs once pushed out, block the way between kitchen and bedrooms.
Kitchen stuff (sink, stove, fridge, cabinets) are together only 2 meters long. Some low-cost houses do not even have kitchen inside, sink being placed outdoor (so you are bitten by mosquito while washing dishes?).
Carports are often designed 2.5m wide, minimum by law, the floor plans illustrate cars but insufficient space to open car door (so how you can get out of car?), or the car is blocking the way to house main door. No wonder why we see many people parking on roadside. Normally 2.5m should be the width of lots in open carparks, garages or any parking space between walls should be 3 meters minimum width, since today cars average 1.8 m width, is better to have 90 cm space on driver side and 30 cm on other side.
I need opinion from local people. I understand that a large part of population is poor so low-cost housing is needed, but are these houses big enough for people needs? Or people will extend it over courtyard and destroy the urban landscape, like in Mexico?
Good website: www.pinoyrealty.com, few dozens house models, all with floor plans shown on site.
According http://hlurb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/services/developer/rule1.pdf, the minimum lot areas and is rowhose 50 / 4m, duplex 80/attached sqm / 8 m, detached 100 sqm / 10/12 m (medium housing).
According http://hlurb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/services/developer/rule1n2.pdf, the minimum lot areas and frontages are: rowhouse 32 sqm / 4 m, duplex/attached 48 sqm / 6 m, detached 64 sqm / 8 m (economic / socialized housing).
According http://hlurb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/laws-issuances/board-resolutions/BR_824.pdf, the minimum lot areas and frontages are: rowhouse 36/28 sqm / 4/3.5m, duplex/attached 54/48 sqm / 6 m, detached 72/64 sqm / 8 m (economic / socialized housing).
Which is the truth??
http://grem.ph/realty-resources05.php specify different laws, setbacks 3 m at front, 2 m at back, 1 m at sides.
More strange examples found during my study
M Place, block with apartments from 16 sqm studio to 40 sqm 2-bedroom
Cambridge Village, Condo with 2-bedroom apartments small as 30 sqm.
The Stratford Residences, 68-storey condo dominated by studio and 1-bedroom apartments. 3-bedroom apartments are only few on top 8 floors.
Note that all these horrible tiny houses are examples of LEGAL buildings, designed by architects and build with permit from government. Imagine that the slums are even worse!
Manila Light Rail was the first metro system in South Asia, opened 1984 and reached 51 km of lines after 3rd line opened 2004.
There are also modern buses, but most common means of transportation is the Jeepney, originally US Military vehicles which (few hundreds vehicles) were sold to locals when troops retired at end of World War II, locals converted them in buses by extending their wheelbases and installing roofs, and over-decorated, calling them Jeepney. Nowadays most Jeepneys are made 100% locally, resembling the shape of American Jeep but made 6-7 meters long, others are based on second-hand Japanese SUVs and trucks, still called Jeepneys despite being unrelated with American Jeep). About 50.000 Jeepneys are driving around Manila (according BBC).
These vehicles are over-decorated with various texts, religious messages and other bullshit, but not with their route (so how people know to pick the right one!?). They follow chaotic routes and stop anywhere even in middle of road, putting passengers in danger. In rural areas is common to see Jeepneys overcrowded with people sitting on their roofs, despite that it is an illegal practice (example video).
Another form of transportation unique in Philippines are Owner Type Jeep, hand-made vehicles resembling the US Jeep but in miniature, less than 3 meters long, most lacking seatbelts, windshield wipers, or other features standard for western cars since 1960s. Does anyone know what engine they have?
Philippines also have tricycles, common also in other South Asian countries, made from bicycles and motorcycles with a bench attached supported by a 3rd wheel, and roof. Some are even used as taxis. When you see a car, it looks giant compared to traditional vehicles!
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