Build your dream house (without turning it into a nightmare)

Building your dream house
Building your dream house

A checklist for first time home owners
By Arch. Boyet Tejuco

Imagine a happily married couple saving money during the next two years for their dream house. Both have satisfying jobs and earning above average salaries. They find a nice lot in a good neighborhood, accessible to work and major establishments. They find an architect through referrals. They hire a contractor to supervise the house construction. Everything seems to be in order. That is, until the lot’s real owner knocks on their door step and charges them for illegal construction. It seems that the couple failed to double check the lot based on the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT).

The dream house becomes a nightmare. The story ends not entirely bad. The matter is settled outside the court with the real owner getting paid twice the value of the lot for damages. Unbelievable? Things like this do happen but they can be avoided. In building construction, certain issues have to be addressed. Below are some of the main considerations:

The lot
With urbanization, areas which were considered far like Alabang, Muntinglupa, and Fairview, Quezon City, is now deemed accessible. There are still a good number of vacant lots in Metro Manila but the lot prices vary based on their proximity to major centers and road networks.

Ideal travel time from the proposed residence to place of work is an hour to an hour and a half. Prospective home owners are searching as far as the outskirts of Metro Manila like Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna. It should also be accessible to important centers like schools and hospitals, the market, and churches. Make sure basic utilities like electricity, water lines, telephone, cable, and Internet lines are accessible.

If you already have your lot, check and double check your TCT. Make sure that the property has no pending cases to avoid future headaches. Hire the services of a surveyor to ensure that the boundaries given in your TCT are accurate and matches the actual lot.
Before construction, the lot should also undergo soil testing to determine the kind of structure and number of storeys the lot can carry.

Time and money
In construction, these two factors are quite related. More budget means continuous work flow and shorter construction period. In the process, the owner can save more.

The owner should identify how he intends to finance the construction. Who among the family members can help shoulder the building expenses? How much is the annual household income? From the various housing loans available like PAG-IBIG and banks, find out which is the best for you.

Currently, an average house with an area of 60 square meters may cost between P700 thousand to P2 million (P12,000 to P35,000 per square meter), excluding the lot.

Based on this, you can set a realistic budget and decide how much you’re willing to spend for the house. Keep in mind that the cost of construction materials changes from time to time, so set aside allowances.

Manpower
The Philippines has a wealth of manpower from architects to contractors and laborers. Proof of which is the flight of designers and engineers to Middle East countries. Owners should first get the services of a licensed architect. Friends and relatives will probably give referrals. Inside subdivisions, you may opt to look for your candidate based on their existing works.

Architects are licensed professionals under the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), making them the best and only choice in the field of design. Currently, there have already been cases filed against non-architects who have misrepresented themselves. Appropriate lawsuits have been filed against the suspects. When in doubt about an architect or contractor, you can inquire from the PRC or the BIR.

Moreover, the law requires the representation of architects in almost all forms of transactions from the application of building permits to construction to completion. A contractor is similar to a wedding planner, acting as construction supervisor on the owner’s behalf. Although not everybody can afford a contractor, it is advisable to have one.

All transactions should be done under a contract. The Constitution also protects clients from possible abuses by contractors and vice versa. The architect’s or contractor’s scope of work responsibilities, mode of payment, and pertinent information are indicated here. When in doubt, ask for a copy of the contract and consult a lawyer.

Arch. Jenner P. Macaballug, managing principal of J.P. Macaballug Architectural Services advises, “Hire a 3D renderer or walk-through artist for added visuals to ease decision-making for owners. Few owners can understand the concepts of plans so walk-throughs allow them to see and feel the space.”

Space requirements and output
Filipinos are generally creative and receptive to new ideas. We adapt new ideas and “Filipinize” them. During conceptualization, there is a tendency for clients to lose sight of what they really need. Architects can help enlighten owners regarding practical design while addressing the requirements of the users. The owners’ input becomes highly invaluable during the design development phase. Spaces should be set according to the homeowners’ lifestyle and norms. Effective and sound design should work for the people who will live in the house instead of forcing them to adjust to the design.

Owners should also keep in mind whether the house will be newly furnished or they will reuse their old stuff. Make a list of things you still intend to use. Consider the layout of your spaces based on the furnishings you intend to bring with you and buy.

Consider spaces and door and window openings. In some cases, owners are forced to make last minute adjustments because some of their previous belongings cannot fit in the new house, like perhaps the bed that cannot fit inside the main entry. Worse, some are forced to dispose of it, resulting to additional costs.

Owners are free to consult a feng shui expert. If they must, get and incorporate the recommendations with the design before actual construction.

Building materials and technology
With the continuous innovations in building technology, there is a wealth of building materials from door and window openings to ceilings and roofing materials. Owners should take advantage of the opportunity to know the latest in building technology.

These include environment-friendly termite killers, solar-powered water heaters, and non-toxic paints. There are even pre-fabricated houses available in the market, prices of which are below half a million. In some cases, these materials are not only economical but earth-friendly.

Numerous establishments like MC Home Depot house a number of building suppliers under one roof, making purchasing for building materials easier. Specialty shops and suppliers can be sourced out via Internet, phone directories, and media advertisements.

In the Philippines, there are two major events that showcase the latest and best in building technology: the Philippine World Building and Construction Exposition (WorldBex) and Philippine Construction Exposition (Philconstruct), held in the first and last quarter of the year, respectively. So visit those expos to get a better idea of what materials and technologies are available in the market.

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