Building a House in the Philippines

The Experiences of building my House in Balamban.

In 2005, after having looked at nth locations, I finally found a suitable Lot to build my House in Balamban, Cebu.

English: Map of Cebu showing the location of B...

English: Map of Cebu showing the location of Balamban (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why I took three years was mainly because I wanted it to be the “perfect” location and not just a lot somewhere to build something. Also I finally made my decision NOT to live by the Sea after having lived along the seashore with a view to my Sailyacht for almost three years in a rented house. As tempting as a House along the Waterfront sounds, it has too many disadvantages. First of all everything rusts away, even stainless steel is not solution. And second, there is no real relief from the heat of the tropics. The Sea is an excellent “keeper” of the heat of the day and the night breeze coming from the Sea mainly provides a constant temperature of about 26- 32 Celcius all year round average and no relief from that either.

Back to the Land purchase – again my “Lucky Stream” came to my aid.

A year before I was asked by a befriended widow of an Italian if I would like to live in and watch their Mansion for a while in Pondol. This was were I had a bit of “test living” in my future Land.

Because later the window then decided to sell the neighbouring 1100sqm Property of her Mansion and  logically asked me first. The Price was very “friendly” and I said YES.

It was a perfect Land. Originally planned and  subdivided for wealthy members of a well known Political family, the lots were piece by piece  sold to hand selected Foreigners also.

Far enough from the noise and pollution of the Highway, but still near enough to have convenient access to the town Center and Malls. Embedded on a peninsula of Fishponds and “Nipa” forests and encased by a natural Reservoir of a river.

No future aggressive development was to be expected either. All the surrounding Land was in firm hands of nice people which planned to live their soon. Just nice.

Guenther Vomberg view from the Terrace
That’s my view today


So after I signed all the Papers and also bought the 400 sqm adjoining lot from another close friend I could start to build.

Plans where drawn by a Professor from the SW University ( as a gift ) and then I was thinking of the “How to do this project?”

Because I wanted to do a lot myself, I always had the Idea to build a house, even if only partly, by myself.

A philosophy I have developed  during my “Ocean yachting” days and because I really like to create things with my I own hands.

But of course I would lack the capabilities of raising statical elements such as structural columns and beams.

I might be an individualist, but I am not crazy.

The House was designed as a Two Story with Concrete Roof decks !

So I asked a befriended Contractor if he could help out and just build the columns/beams and I would then fill the walls with the required brickwork and walling elements.

He looked and checked and calculated and then said for the amount specified he could build not only the columns and beams but also the Walling and even a thin layer of  cement – ready to paint and move in also.

This was very friendly of him, not only towards me, but also towards his crew. Because Christmas was coming up and he thought this way he could give his casual extra worker “army” an employment well into the next year until his next project came up.

So – at the end of October they started digging ! All Columns were set into the ground within a week and the Ground flooring poured.

He worked with 60 Workers and 3 mixers at the same time.  One could see, that most of the time the contractor did mainly Industrial projects and not Private housings.

Guenther Vomberg's terrace
That’s the terrace & first Roof deck during the construction Phase

Then after another week and enough just enough concrete “curing time”, the horizontal beam structure  and floor of the second storey were poured.

(To  pour beams and floor in ‘one” go is preventing expansion leaks.)

Again another week had to pass and the final 120 sqm “Roof deck” of my upstairs living area was poured in another overnight action, since the concrete Pump could not get that high above ground.

60 guys made a chain of buckets and the three mixers worked non stop.

After 6 hours the Job was done and the “Lechon Baboy” ready to eat. A few case of beer to celebrate and then, as if GOD wanted to bless the House, it rained very lightly for 48 hours..

Which was another “Lucky Event” since the concrete stayed moist and could cure perfectly without any cracks.

Guenther Vomberg House during constrution front view

Frontal view, it started slowly to look like a house !


It was December Now and the Armada of “Concrete Workers” got lesser and lesser, being replaced by Electricians and Plumbers. All over the past month I constantly drove between the City chasing bargains of Tiles, Bathroom Fittings and installation materials. My Contractor was often astonished about my haggling abilities and the low prices I got, but the secret was Time and buying “last” stocks. Over the prior years I have  spend a lot of time with other friends in Builders Supply shops  and gathered a bit of knowledge and a “nose” for prices this way. It also helped that I was wore a Polo-Shirt from a local British Shipyard which made them believe that I worked there. Technically that was true, I was sometimes as Crew on deliveries of their ships and did most of the “Event catering” for them. They did not mind me shopping under their name either, it would just increase their Shopping revenue and therefore help to even get more discounts.

So from now on, since most Masonry works was done, I watched (as arranged with my Contractor Friend) the  Foreman, who then watched the workers.

Plumbers and Electricians were subcontracted by me, so I had to check on them personally anyway. But no problems there, they worked smooth and perfect. Aside from my “extra wrench turn” I had to do on all the pipes and Plumbing Installations. ( People here are afraid that the threads “go” because often building construction material is cheap Chinese crap, not so in my purchases, which were mainly US or European origin )

But I like it tight, I had bad experiences in Cebu City with plumbers, who out of fear to”break”a thread did not use the desired “force”. Months later the leaks started…

In order to not insult the plumbers,  I did tighten it when they weren’t watching.

Guenther Vomberg House seen from the Garden
View from the “right side”


During the Christmas and new Year Holidays suddenly nothing almost nothing happened any more until Jan.2 ! Thus was to be expected.

But since I already arranged two good helpers (Which were working at the Municipal Government and therefore “on vacation” during those days) and a few tools, I started to lay the Tiles . I have never done that before, but it went surprisingly well. One guy mixed the Tile Cement, I planned, measured and cut the tiles, and the third guy laid them.

Of course not in “German Speed”, but also not for”German costs”.

Thus we were finished with that within two weeks only.

Guenther Vomberg Restaurant construction, tiles laid
The Restaurant, The Stranded Shipscook Inn freshly tiled…

I still had no windows and sliding doors…they were made by some other subcontractor.

”Guenther Vomberg Restaurant"

Restaurant almost done.


Well, after multiple complaints they eventually came and the Contractor could finish his last “cementing” of the walls. The Garden, thanks to the Tropical climate and a lot of work by me, also started to look a bit more civilized. The Grass was cut from somewhere in the wilderness in one foot size bits including a bed of three Inch mother soil and then laid by hand.

 in ”Guenther Vomberg Garden
View from the Garden back then.

On February 2nd 2005 I moved in. Overnight ! And re-opened “The Stranded Shipscook Inn”, my Restaurant,  the next day. I did not even had one closed day…

Total Building time was 3 months only. Excluding Paintwork, which I had to wait a few weeks for, because of the concrete curing times.


Guenther Vomberg Restaurant today
February 2005 – Restaurant done !

In the following weeks I Painted indoors and two guys

That’s a few months later with paint

painted the exterior.

All in all those were the most stressing months in my life so far.  But it was worth it.


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9 thoughts on “Building a House in the Philippines

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  6. Tips for Opening a Restaurant in the Philippines | Guenther Vomberg Blog

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