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Housing in Philippines

Are you building a house in Philippines? See sample house plans and contact me to design new house for you!

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, and build beautiful houses when they return home.

Chapters: statisticshousing reviewhousing typeshousing regulationsmore stufftransportation

Skyline of Makati City

Philippines have one of the highest income inequality of the world. They built an impressive business district in Makati City (above photo) and Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, while half of population lives in poverty (less than $1.25 per day).

Population and housing statistics

Philippines population has grown from 27 million people at 1960 census to 60 million people at 1990 census.

2000: household population 76,332,470, number of households 15,275,046, average household size 5.0
2010: household population 92,097,715, number of households 20,171,899, average household size 4.6
2015: household population 100,573,715, number of households 22,975,630, average household size 4.4
Source: psa.gov.ph

Additionally, at least 12 millions filipinos are working overseas, according Wikipedia.

If in the past USA was preferred work destination, since 2000s most overseas workers went to Middle East, but you can find filipinos on every continent. I can tell this from my personal experience of architectural designer. I have been contacted by people from all over the world telling me that build houses in Philippines, and this even before writing this article. Actually half of my customers in Philippines contacted me from an IP located in another country.

I believe that the booming economy, lack of public housing programmes and too few large-scale private housing developments, made people to build houses themselves, browsing the internet for floor plans, find my international website and contact me for custom house design.

While many people from Philippines choose to emigrate or work overseas, Philippines is also a destination for foreign expats looking for a cheaper place to live. Many Americans are living in Philippines, I personally don’t understand (maybe someone can explain me?) why people from such developed country would move to a third world country where living conditions, education and health system are much worse and crime ratio is high. YouTube is full of videos about moving or against moving to Philippines. If you want to have same living conditions you had in United States, a big house, a car, have kids in private school, etc, the cost of living is not much cheaper than in United States.

(personally I considered Philippines a better country than it actually is, until local people who contacted me for house projects, also informed me about bad living conditions)

Manila skyline Manila aerial view

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. Worse than this, most apartments are studios or 1 bedroom, compared with Hong Kong which is dominated by 2-3 bedrooms. 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).

There are too many informal settlers for the government to take care about them. 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.

This is Forbes Park subdivision in Makati (average home price 5 million USD)…
Salcedo Village Forbes Park Forbes Park and Makati skyline

…and the typical Philippines houses from Metro Manila near Makati!
Pasay City slums Manila slums on river Village houses on water
Slums on Philippines National Railway Slums on Philippines National Railway

Happyland“, weird name for the biggest slum in Manila
Happyland, Manila Happyland, Manila

New housing estates (called subdivisions) are being built by private developers at city outskirts, less-dense developments, large open spaces, gated communities with guards, clubhouse and swimming pool.

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.

Modern housing developments in Cavite, Angeles and Mactan
St. Dominic Subdivision in Basak Mactan Timog Park Homes, Angeles City La Aldea Buena Homes, Mactan Cavite

Beautiful houses from Eastwood Greenview subdivision – Slums of the poor built on Philippines National Railway

I estimate average house size in legally-built developments at 30-50 sqm, but a significant amount of population lives in slums which their house size cannot be defined, some slums having just a small enclosed area for sleeping, and people spend whole day outdoor. Is common to see families of 10 people sleeping in a 5 sqm space.

While population was rising, cities did not expanded much horizontally but rather became denser and denser, in Metro Manila lots are over-subdivided by successive family generations and nowadays there are entire families squishing on lots small as 20 sqm.

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 spaces is part of Philippines culture?

Housing types

Subdivisions (aka Housing Complexes in other countries) became more common after year 2000. 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 Mabalacatfloor 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.

Nipa hut = Philippines traditional houses found in rural areas, made by bamboo and other wood, they are so light that if you want to move somewhere else you can ask few villagers to carry your house on their shoulders, as seen in the below video, a practice called bayanihan. I do not understand the reason of moving since this type of move is limited by people’s walking distance.

Most common housing typologies in these subdivisions:

40 sqm 3-bedroom back-to-back terraces on 5×8 m land (example: Cedar Residencesfloor 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.

As 2014, prices of the 2-bedroom 40-50 sqm terraced bare houses vary from about 1 million PHP (22,000 USD) in Cavite to 3 million PHP in Metro Manila. 3-4 bedroom 100 sqm detached finished houses are 3 million to 10 million PHP.

Housing design regulations

In urban areas (non-subdivisions), according my study from satellite photos, most lots are within 4-10m wide and 10-16m long. Most plots 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 my help to design house plans for lots small as 20 sqm.

Philippines building code regulate habitable rooms at minimum 6 sqm and 2 meters wide, most houses are built at these minimum values, but corruption in real estate allow developers to build even smaller rooms, 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 minimal sizes are rarely seen and only in public housing. I never seen any 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 never 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 2.5 meter 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. The idiot architects don’t know that 2.5 meter wide is OK only for open carparks, garages or any parking space between walls should be 3 meters minimum width, today cars average 1.8 m width and you need 90 cm space on driver side and 30 cm on other side.

I need feedback 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.

More stuff

Anyone who know or find resources about building code regulations across history please contact me!

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.

https://www.sheltercluster.org/Asia/Philippines/TropicalStormSendong2011/Documents/Revised%20implementing%20rules%20and%20regulations%20for%20BP%20220.pdf.
different laws again

More strange examples found during my study

Wallnut Grove, 22 sqm 1-bedroom house, 4m wide and 5.5m deep (smallest house ever?)
Gran Seville, 36 sqm single-floor 2-bedroom house.
Greeensbolough Dasmarinas, 40 sqm 3-bedroom house

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!

Can’t find an empty plot of land? No problem, build OVER ROAD!
Bambang Barangay Hall build over road

Transportation

Manila Light Rail / Metro Rail was the first metro system in South Asia, opened 1984 but development was slow and presently it have only 3 lines totaling 51 km.

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 SUV, vans 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).

Old jeepney from 1950s Jeepney vs bus Jeepney overcrowded and overly-decorated

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!

Owner Type Jeep Trycicle waiting area

Philippines House Price Index vs Inflation
More charts with price index in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines on systemisbroken.blogspot.com

Page published for first time in 2012 and updated over next years with more information found by me or provided by visitors. Text written by me (Teoalida) and images taken from Wikipedia, Panoramio and other websites. Do you have useful information that worth adding? Did you found an error or have a contradictory opinion? Leave a comment!

74 comments

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    • Mohan on January 28, 2016 at 8:13 am
    • Reply

    Good Day,

    Hi! I need help, Thank you, I have a lot of 13.31mX7.89m and planning to build duplex 2 bungalow house for rent with approx. 50sqm both. Can you sketch me 2 bedroom and 1 Master bedroom and 1 common toilet, 1living room and 1 kitchen. Thank you.
    And also if the area is 80sqm 8×10m planning to build duplex 2 bungalow house for rent with approx. 40sqm both.

    Thank you very much for the help.. will appreciate much.
    From Batangas City Philippines,

    1. You can’t build two 50 sqm on that 13×31×7.89 m = 105 sqm because you need to keep 1.5m street setback and also some space at rear for ventilation. Here is possible sketch, they are 36 sqm https://www.teoalida.com/design/Sketch-for-mohan.png
      On 8x10m lot is impossible to build two 2-bedroom single-storey, why you don’t build 2 floors on both lots? such as https://www.teoalida.com/design/Tiny-House-54-56sqm.png

    • Redd on February 7, 2016 at 10:39 am
    • Reply

    Good day!
    I would like to ask you if it is possible to build 2 story duplex house in 113 sq.m with 1 room on the lower ground,1 living,dining and 2 common bathrooms(1 each floor) and 3 rooms on the second floor.By the way I like your sample house with 3+1 bedroom detached good for 80sq.m-100sq.m.Is it possible for our lot size?

    Thank you! and God bless!

    from,
    Cavite City,
    Philippines

    1. Tell me length and width of that 113 sqm lot… but probably is possible, is enough space

        • Redd on February 8, 2016 at 10:28 am
        • Reply

        Good day again,I dont know exactly the length and width of the lot,just got this measurement-8.12×13.66×14.16.and if ever we want you to make a plan for our duplex house,how much it will cost?thanks.

        1. Looks that you mean DUPLEX = 2-storey house while other people mean house for 2 families (semi-detached).
          Perhaps your lot is 8.12 m wide and 13.66-14.16 m long (longer on one side than in other).
          You want detached house, no firewalls? Price: $50 x number of rooms = probably $200.

    • imus on March 21, 2016 at 5:03 pm
    • Reply

    yeah. pre cast or should you say pre “rust” houses. 3 bedroom
    subdivision units that will eventually become a 2 bedroom house coz u hav to convert the gf bedroom to hav a decent living/dining. and a roof that has no rain gutter! rain water pouring and entering your main door. chek it out here at the so called “New City”

    1. Sometimes the shape of living room + ground floor bedroom do not make useful to demolish the bedroom, example http://www.condoliving.ph/site/condoliving/var/uploads/2013/02/21/4-5125abececb7d-venti.jpg
      I have seen also subdivisions with no bedrooms, just ground floor and loft.
      Where to check the “New City”?

    • imus on March 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm
    • Reply

    btw “the filipino architect” y dont u use ur profession to design decent relocation sites?
    i bet u can’t

    • Jennifer on March 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm
    • Reply

    Nice job, though ur not an architect youre talented and some appreciated it even me.. Ive been searching for sjmple house plans and easy to built i like most from toelada i dont know if those from ur ideas i like its simplicity. Inshallah we will built our own house too soon.

    I want the bungalow d3sign. For gross 100 sqm but i dont seee 4 bedrooms from ur floor plans..

    1. As you read the above comments, how did you not realized that you should provide length and width of your land if you want to make a sketch for you?
      You don’t see 4-bedroom from my sample plans? Here is one https://www.teoalida.com/design/Semi-Detached-House-54-91-107sqm.png

    • Roy on August 26, 2016 at 3:11 am
    • Reply

    Philippine Architects just is too darn expensive. 7% of the total building cost. Imatine building a house for $75k, design and supervision for that architect alone is already $5,250?

    1. In this case I am extremely underpaid. I was charging $50 per room meaning $200 for a 3-bedroom house averaging 80 sqm which cost probably $30,000. And some people still ask me for discount. Well, I am not architect and I provide just the drawing. But I think that you can still save money by making drawings with me and going to a local architect just for approval.

    • Mark Jackson on October 2, 2016 at 1:45 pm
    • Reply

    I have an italianette plan idea i would like modifying suitable for philippines, inhabitable space is 5400sq ft over 2floors I think maybe i will need plot size of 700sqm . How much would you charge to assist me please

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    • JayMena on February 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm
    • Reply

    Hi!

    Good Day!

    Can you draft a floor plan for 240sqm of land?L=24m x W=10m.Possibly 2 floors?

    We are a family of 5 (Me,my wife and our 3 sons.) Soon we are planning to build our house,and we want to make the most of our piece of land.

    BTW, is it possible to have some space allocated for garden,landscaping,garage and dirty kitchen(backside)?

    Thanks in advance.

    From:Philippines

    1. Your land is quite big!
      How many rooms do you need? Do you want a detached house 7 meters wide with courtyard on all 4 sides, or a 10 meters wide house with firewalls and space only at front and back?
      Do you need a sketchy floor plan for ideas or also detailed floor plan, elevations, sections, 3D design, etc, for contractors?

        • JayMena on February 19, 2017 at 6:51 pm
        • Reply

        Wow!

        I did not expect that you’ll give a feedback so soon:)

        Actually just to correct my previous post the dimension of my property is 24m horizontal (facing the road) and 10m vertical.We preferred a detached house design,with 5 BR.

        Although i dont have much experience regarding design & construction,still i want to get involve in some aspect,so for now what i need is an intial sketch of the lay-out of the house including the amount of space that can be utilize for open space,since i want the kids to enjoy the outdoor as much as possible.

        Also can we discuss via email so i can give you further details if possible?

        Thanks!

        1. Someway I hate lots that are only 10 meters depth. instead of parking in front of house you need to park in side. House can be just 7 meters depth, or can you make firewall at back side?
          Such lot with large frontage is more suitable for rowhouses, you can build 6 houses of 2-bedroom each and rent them! And for your family find another lot narrower and deeper so you can have private courtyard at back.

          I replied at your email and haven’t heard any reply from you. Can you visit website from a computer and use live chat in lower-left corner of screen?

    • Roldan on February 26, 2017 at 6:51 pm
    • Reply

    I would just like to ask if it is possible to build a 3 bedroom in a 100 sq floor plan. (Land area is 126 sq. 9meter width 14 length)

    Rooms will be aligned vertically in one side of the house. Would that be possible.???thank you

    1. Probably possible. 1 or 2 floors? detached house or attached (with firewalls)?
      Can you use LIVE CHAT in lower-left corner of screen so we can discuss your project in details?

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