How Much Will it Cost to Build Your Retirement Home in the Philippines?

How much will it cost to build your retirement home in the Philippines?  In  this post I will address how much it might cost for you to build your own residence on this archipelago of 7,107 islands.  But keep in mind there is absolutely no way I can predict how much it might personally cost future expats to build a new home in the PH, this post is merely drawn upon my own personal experiences  and online research.

Our new residence is being manufactured in the rural island province of Guimaras, located in Western Visayas. Location and time of year are two factors to be considered when planning your own building project. A recent comment from a faithful reader, Jason B, prompted me to post this article. Thanks for the comment, Jason, and thanks for your support.

We started manufacturing our domicile in January 2015. Our rainy season ends in November. The months of February through May are the prime time building months in our region. Heavy monsoon rains from June until November, with rainfalls up to 18 inches in August, make it extremely difficult to build a new home and will certainly result in delays. During our entire construction phase thus far, we’ve only had a half-day delay due to rain.work on our  granite top in the Philippines continues

(My lovely asawa stands by our new granite top island in the kitchen area.)

But as the summer months of March, April and May approached, the price of building materials in our region increased, due to increased construction on our island province during this time. It’s a classic case of supply and demand.

A bag of cement cost 252 pesos (5.63 US Dollars) in January. Now the price has gone up, ten pesos, to 262, $5.85. We’ve used well over 800 bags of cement thus far (a conservative estimate.) 800 bags would now cost us 176 dollars.  Not a huge difference, but add up the additional costs for other building materials and it does inflate our budget somewhat.

How much would it cost for you to build your own home in the Philippines?  Location, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, is another component to consider. Those expats building in the NCR, National Capital Region, Metro Manila, might find your material costs somewhat cheaper than what we experience in Guimaras. My research shows the aforementioned bag of cement selling for around 200 pesos in the NCR,  4.47 USD. tile floor for our laundry room in the Philippines

(Most of the tile work in our new home has been completed. Here’s a look at the floor of our laundry room.)

If you live in the Metro area and can give me a more accurate price for a bag of cement, or any other vital construction material, it would be appreciated.

My asawa and I have a brother-in-law in the Metro Manila area of Caloocan who has been selling construction materials for years. While we could have purchased materials from him, it would have been a wash, as shipping the materials to Guimaras would have erased any possible savings we could have gained by buying from our relative.

It has been much easier to buy our material from our own island province or nearby Iloilo City on Panay Island. Some material, such as our roof, had to be purchased and shipped from Cebu.

You could build your own expat home in Guimaras for as little as 4,000 US Dollars. Or you could spend five million pesos, over 110,000 USD, (or more) for your new homestead. I know of expats on our island province who have done both. My father-in-law’s nipa hut on our property was built for 2,000 USD and could comfortably accommodate two people.

Our 3,000 square foot home, replete with a 1,700 living room/dining room/kitchen open floor plan, with four bedrooms and four CR’s, comfort rooms, currently is coming in at approximately a little over 70,000 dollars. Could we have built a new home the same size in the United States for that price? Doubtful.

The United States Census Bureau in 2010 puts the cost per square foot of a single-family home in the Midwest at $85.24. Thus, a 3,000 square foot house such as we are building could have cost $255,000 and that’s according to figures five years ago.skim coat on our windows have been completed

(A skim coat has been applied to all of the windows. Next, another coat of paint, flat white latex, will be applied. After the inside of all the windows have been painted, the installers from Guimaras Glass will put in all of our windows.)

However, according to “Build Your Own House,” by Carl Heldmann, it would now cost 319,000 USD to build a house, 1,900 square foot home in Kankakee, Illinois (I’m originally from Central Illinois.) By his estimate of square footage for the Illinois project, a 3,000 square foot home would cost $500,000, if I’ve done my math correctly.

Either way, I am convinced, that for the most part, we would have had a difficult time building a 3,000 sq. ft. house in the Philippines for the equivalent cost in Central Illinois. I am neither a builder or construction expert, like some of my readers, Bill S, for example. Mine is only a somewhat educated guess, again based upon my own personal experiences.our new front door in the Philippines

(Here’s a peek at the custom front door. Glass inserts are being manufactured for the door.)

Here’s our pay scale for each worker:

Joery, foreman for our nipa hut and dirty kitchen: 400 pesos a day, 9 USD

Laborer: 300 pesos a day, 6.70 USD

Carpenter: 350 pesos a day, 7.80 USD.

The workers are also provided two meriendas (snacks) a day but no lunch. While these wages are extremely low compared to what workers in the United States earn, they are a fair wage for our island province and one reason while it is much cheaper to build a new home in the Philippines than in a Western country.

Do workers in the Metro Manila area earn more? I would leave that question to Derek, or Scott H, and other readers that live in the Metro. When Scott H had his dream home in Paranaque  built a couple of years ago, he was paying his laborers 310 pesos a day and his foreman 900 pesos a day. We were paying our main foreman, Boy, 600 pesos a day, but Boy is now working on a per job basis (installing the tiles now) and he is paying his crew out of the fee for that job.tile adhesive we use in the Philippines

(Bison brand tile adhesive is being used for the floor tiles.)

If I would venture a guess, I would estimate it might take another 300,000 pesos, around 7,000 USD, to complete our home. We will always have future projects, like our new swimming pool, which will begin around November or December of this year, after the end of the rainy season. There will be plenty of landscaping projects and other details that will keep everyone busy even after we move in.

It’s been a busy time for us down at “The Farm,” our present location in Guimaras. I’ve begun packing some boxes and getting things in place for the big move. But at least this move will not involve going from one island to another as was the case when we moved from Iloilo on nearby Panay Island, to our present location. And we now have a truck which will greatly assist us in the move.

We will be purchasing new appliances and furniture once our new home in the Philippines is completed. Doesn’t make sense to buy everything now and move it again.

Feel free, if you like, to share what your retirement home in the Philippines has cost you. Of course, that’s a personal topic for many people but any information shared on this site could potentially help other expats and future expats like Jason and would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

 

28 comments

  1. the wharf we used to take boat to natago is right next to that new 200 room hotel that the chineese investor is building, have you seen the place yet? Anyway the place is massive and according to the people I was with it is pissing off the locals because they cant get building supplies such as sand for concrete and so on. Also the locals are upset due to all the water that’s going to be used from the ground water table to run this place which has 2 pools under construction. This hotel is supposedly geared towards the Chinese as the mayor also has a big fiberglass boat moored out front of the hotel, this boat seats around 20 passenders with individual seats and is powered by 2 huge 200 horsepower outboard engines. The boat will be used to ferry passengers back and forth to the hotel from Iloilo bypassing to slow Bangka boats and the 45 minute trip by van to the hotel. I am not sure which mayor is involved, argo may know more about this.

    1. I haven’t seen that new resort, Scott B, but I know the investor you are talking about. Argo has met him, if I am not mistaken. I will not name him in this comment as I’m sure the locals are pissed. Until the last few days, when we’ve had some good rains, everything on the island has been extremely dry. It’s the worst drought I’ve seen since we arrived in July 2009.

      I don’t know how they’re going to fill that hotel unless someone really starts promoting Guimaras more. I’ve seen Chinese tourists at Raymen Beach in Guimaras on occasion, but it will take a lot of promotion, in my books, to fill up all of those rooms. Guimaras has a lot of potential, they just need to get the word out.

  2. Hi Dave, you’re house is looking good I like that front door looks quality,here in Manila
    1 bag of cement will cost about 220 pesos the price will get lower if you buy in bulk
    We pay our workers about 400 pesos a day carpenters 500 pesos a day,we have a guy
    Working now who can do plumbing carpentry welding and roofing we pay 500 pesos a
    Day, we give them lunch and 2 meriendas biscuits or cake for there breaks , we try to
    Look after them it’s not a lot of money to us but to them it’s their living, another thing is
    Price of the land your going to build your dream home on we bought our land for about
    8 thousand pesos a square meter about 10 years ago now it’s 15 thousand a square
    Meter now our land is only 250 square meters but it’s still a lot of money compared with
    What you can buy in the province,so Dave you’ve got it made there in guimaras
    Derek in sunny pasig , just going to have a cold one its been a hot day

    1. Thanks for the info, Derek. Apologies to everyone for the late reply on my comments. My asawa and I just returned from a mini-vacation in Cebu City and I didn’t check my email or comments. We had an extremely poor Wi-Fi connection at the pension house we stayed at.

      Well, I know that wages are usually higher in the Metro area, and it sounds like you are paying your guys a fair wage. It must boggle the mind of Westerners not familiar with the Philippines to discover how cheap it is to hire workers. If we would have had to pay comparable wages that carpenters and laborers in the States are earning, we would have had to downscale the size of our new home considerably.

      Land prices are definitely going up, even in our little island province, especially the beach front lots.

  3. It would be very interesting to know how much it would cost to build your house here in the US, using the same building types of construction materials you used there. Of course everything would have to be brought up to building codes here, so I am guessing that alone would add a minimum of 25% or more to the costs. Concrete block, concrete and steel are not the norm for here, instead of wood would also add very significantly to the cost over a standard stud wall construction.

    I have read articles that differ, but here labor is apx. 67% of the cost for building and materials are the other 33%, but that depends also on the area of the US.

    Totally a guess, but I think in my area your house would be up around the $115.00-130.00 psf. cost. mainly because of it being all masonry construction, ( I am trying to compare apples to apples for the same type of construction) Your window and door fascias, made out of concrete, they would all have to be custom made for each opening, I believe they alone could reach upwards of $80,000.00 here , just because of the specialized craftmanship it would require here. Here we would use wood, or Fypon mouldings (Styrofoam) to keep the costs down somewhat, but they would still have to be custom made pieces.

    Like there, prices differ widely depending on area and many other variables.

    In my opinion, that is a GREAT price, but then I am not the least bit familiar with prices there. My very small amount of research I have done there, I do think it would cost more to have built your house in the Davao area, but thats a highly Un-educated GUESS!

    1. Thanks for the info, Bill S. As you’re quite knowledgeable in the construction field, your opinion carries a lot of weight. Masonry construction is definitely the way to go here, due to the termites, long rainy season and the humidity. At our present location, which has a lot of wood construction, we are constantly fighting damage done from the termites. We just purchased PVC kitchen cabinets which should also be able to keep out most of the cockroaches that are so prevalent in our house. My main input in the construction of our new home, aside from finances, is the demand for as little as wood as possible. Our doors, aside from the four CR doors, are wood, but have been treated for termites.

      Well, I think we’re getting good value for our money. We’ve taken bids on all the major work done, such as the roofing, ceiling, windows, doors and tile installation and think we’ve gotten a fair price. The window guys are installing the new windows and screens now and it looks like they’re putting in some quality products. Again, thanks for your input, Bill, it’s appreciated.

  4. Hello Dave:
    looks like things are moving along nice on your new house i’m sure you and your asawa our excited about getting it finished and moving.
    as far as the cost of building in the philippines I have to agree it has a lot to do with location your building , time of year, cost of material, size and style. not only is a house build much cheeper in the philippines then in the states the construction process is much different . can you imagine the cost of building a house in the states with all cement and steel. also add in a custom built kitchen cabinets, doors and all tile floors.
    control of the build is a must. also you must be in charge of all material purchase and paying of your workers and have eyes on build sight. I can pretty much promise if you hire a lead builder (“contractor”) in the philippines if they think they can build they will call them self contractors. but if you give someone full control over your build chances are it is going to take a lot longer to get finished if it gets finished at all. and the cost will be at least double.
    bottom line you can spend as much or as little as you want “BUT IT IS A MUST THAT YOUR IN FULL CONTROL OF THE BUILD”

    1. Thanks, Roger, for your input and advice. I completely agree with your statement that you should be in “FULL CONTROL OF THE BUILD.”That is great advice. Our contractor/foreman quoted us prices tens of thousands of pesos higher than we got from other sub-contractors we eventually employed. We used other bids as leverage and did have our foreman do additional work like the precast concrete work and tile installations. The foreman also quoted to our brother-in-law, working on site on a side crew, a final price he thought it would cost to build the house. The house, however, will come in at 2 million pesos cheaper than what he told our brother-in-law.

      Our foreman now only has one day of work left, to finish the tile installation. Our small four-man side crew, led by my aforementioned brother-in-law, are now doing the interior painting and will install the remaining sinks and toilets for the CR’s. It is absolutely imperative to have someone that you can trust 100% on the site at all times and our brother-in-law has done just that.

    1. Thanks for the link, Lance. Good story. I wonder how much the solar panels mentioned in the article cost. My own extremely small contribution for solar power in our new home, the solar-powered light for the dirty kitchen, has already taken a hit. I inspected our dirty kitchen a few weeks ago and discovered my brother-in-law had installed a light, against my specific instructions. Seems my asawa had overruled me and had instructed brother-in-law Joery to put in the lights. Said asawa informed me I could use the solar light during brownouts, defeating the whole purpose of buying the light for the dirty kitchen in the first place.

      My spouse, did, however, have Joery put in a clear plastic panel in the roof, a cheap skylight, if you wish, which should allow enough light during the day, to cook in.

  5. Dave,
    When you start packing you know the move is close. Everything is relevant, but overall it sounds like a pretty good deal and you can never do that in the US. Looking to seeing it in person.

      1. We lived near Oton, Papa Duck. Very possible to build a small one-room-house for the price, but it would have been too small for us, too. If you use native materials, you can build a very reasonably-priced home here.

  6. FFS. You’ll appreciate this Iloilo scenario Dave! Half in the bag, power goes out… Ok, no prob, sleep it off. BANGity bang bang bang! Cat falls though apparently UV damaged skylight. All frickin’ hell ensues, He breaks through skylight into pantry and dishes / goods / etc. everywhere. Light candles, get the cat out of the house and eventually block skylight with cardboard. Yay! Unless it rains tonight…. 🙂

    1. Sorry to hear about the cat incident, Rease. As I just mentioned to Lance, we have a clear plastic panel in the dirty kitchen outside, our own cheap “skylight,” but haven’t seen any cats at our new location yet, only one annoying dog.

      Rain? We had a good rain yesterday, upon our return from Cebu, and it has helped fill up our well a bit. Hopefully you will get your skylight repaired soon, looks like the rainy season might have finally hit us.

      1. Yes, had it repaired the same day. Same type skylight as yours, just was older and UV damaged (something you may have to worry about in 20 years maybe).

        Yes, more rain coming FINALLY 🙂

        1. Glad to hear it’s fixed, Rease. Yep, let’s hope we can get some more rain. Our well at The Farm is filling up but now the pump is not working. Time to call in our caretaker Gerry to see what’s up.

  7. Your costs sounds about right compared to what we spent to build our home in Digos, Mindanao. Although I think you did a much better job than us, as we were not present during the construction.

    1. It was a great trip, Roger. I love Cebu, great place to visit. We plan to return again next year when the new SM Seaside Mall is built there. It will be the fourth biggest SM mall in the Philippines.

  8. I always look forward to the stories and updates on your house. My Asawa and I had a two story dwelling built in Bacoor, Cavite back in 2009-2010 which cost us the equivalent of $57,000.00 it is a five bedroom, three CR cinder block house and it has served us well. My brother-in-law oversaw the build and lives in it and we stay there when we visit. My wife and I are contemplating the big “move” after I retire in a few more years but have yet to make up our minds for sure. My wife has lived here in the states since 1978 so almost all of her habits and routines are Americanized so we’re not sure we will be totally happy living there on a full time basis, we may make a couple of 6 month trips to “test” and see if it is what we truly want. I am all for it with the exception of missing immediate family and if we do, we plan to build again this time I could be on site nearly every day, and I think that would be quite an adventure. Good luck wrapping up your final major work and definitely enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    1. Thanks, Kevin, and thanks for the information on your own home. We also used cinder blocks, or hollow blocks, which are smaller than what is generally used in the States but the structure seems pretty solid to me.

      Well, if your wife has lived in the States since 1978 it would be very difficult, in my opinion, to make the move back to the Philippines. My own asawa only spent nine years with me in Illinois before going back to the PH to retire. A 6 month return “test trip” is probably a good idea.

      But you never know about the Filipino, as you know, they are quick to adapt to any situation. My own wife grew up in a dirt floor hut with no running water or electricity in the middle of the jungle. She ended up working in such First World countries like Singapore and Taiwan, and America without much difficulty (though she was hooked on Jerry Springer back in the States and thought all Americans were like the characters on Springer’s show.)

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