Our Philippine House Project – Building, Zoning, Fire Protection Permits

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Our Philippine House Project – Building, Zoning, Fire Protection Permits. Certificate of Occupancy.

A number of readers have asked about our experiences with obtaining our building permit. Since we had an engineer who headed our “design team”, we decided to let her handle the permit application.

Our Philippine House - June 2011

Our engineer employed an individual who does nothing but submit such applications. She is not a fixer or bribe giver,just someone who knows the proper procedures, is persistent, patient and able to work with permitting authorities. This was a good decision on our part. There were a few delays and frustrations, but we were not involved and our permits arrived just in time for the start of the project.

We understand that some will want to save money and do the applications themselves. Our decision was based on frustrations we experienced in trying to get a temporary electrical permit for our fence project. Probably this was due to the fact that it’s not customary to give temporary electrical permits rather than any intention to give us a hard time. Most people utilize a temporary electrical hookup to a neighbor’s power during construction and then, when the project is done and approved, the permanent electrical service can installed. It appears that approval of electrical hookups is a way to ensure that permits and inspections are complete and (probably more importantly) that tax assessors can reassess the property to reflect improvements.

The temporary electrical permit application cost us P2,380 of which P1,700 was to expedite to application when it languished.  Also we had to pay a deposit to the electric utility of P3,000.

There have been no inspections during construction of the house. Evidently, this is typical.

Here are the fees we paid to get our building permit:

Building Permit P2323.04
Zoning Certification P2,900.00
Fire Code Fee P3165.55
Consultant Travel and Misc. Expense P1,142.00
Consultant Fee P3,500.00
TOTAL P13,030.59

Certificate of occupancy.   Before you move into your house you are supposed to apply for and receive a certificate of occupancy.  Supposedly, many do not bother with this, but we wanted to do what was required.  The certificate of occupancy application requires “certificates of completion” from the architect, engineer, plumber and electrician and final inspections.  Our architect, who has never seen the house, charged P3,000 for signing the certificate of completion.  We also paid P1,600 for an occupancy fee and various small inspection and “miscellaneous” fees totalling P3,189.  We paid the same consultant who helped us with the original application to help us obtain the certificate of occupancy.  Her fee was P3,500.  Our total cost for the certificate of occupancy was P9,689.

Therefore, the total fees and expenses for permits for our project were P25,099.59 — not an insignificant sum!

Real Estate Taxes.  Our next task is to meet with the assessors and make a declaration of market value of our improvements (house) as required under section 203 of the Local Government Code. The land is separately assessed and taxed.  See our post about Philippine real state taxes at http://myphilippinelife.com/our-philippine-house-project-philippine-real-estate-taxes/



Comments (31) Write a comment

  1. You are lucky enough to be charged by the architect with the amount of 3,000.00 only . I believe he needs to distribute that to the Civil engineer, Master plumber and Professional electrical engineer to complete your occupancy . Maybe you did not include the Architect to supervise your house and let him draw up the plans only .. I pity the architect who designed and planned your house you shouldve hired a draftsman instead .. you saved a lot dear …


  2. Greetings, we are still a few years away from building our home in the Philippines, however I have begun talking with a local architect to try and get the plans started. Since they are based in the US, and have never done any work in the Philippines, they want to make sure the finished plans are usable in the Philippines and have requested copies of building codes. Can you help me with this? We are looking at building in the Lucena City, Quezon area.


    • My suggestion. Just have a good Philippine architect do your plans. Have U.S. architect do sketches of what you want, if you care to. A good Philippine architect is indispensable. He knows materials available here and most importantly can oversee the work.


      • Understood. Thank you for the guidance. Since we are not building anywhere close to where you built (we looking at the Lucena City area) how do you recommend we go about locating a good architect? How did you find the one you used?


        • Choosing any professional is a challenge because when you seek recommendations it’s hard to ever be sure what the motivations are. Altruism can be hard to find. Recommendations are often made to favor relatives, business associates or someone else who can somehow benefit the person being asked. We interviewed foreigners who had houses built, not that foreigners are better, but because they don’t have the web of family and business interests local have. Interview architects and ask to see some of their completed projects. Speak to their clients. If you have the knowledge to judge good construction, go to building sites and see how the quality is. Good luck!


  3. Hi,
    I would like to ask if I still need to apply for a fence permit if I only used bamboo poles to surround the perimeter of the lot I purchased, no building of any structures to be done yet.


    • If the fence was bamboo, I would guess no permit would be needed but your municipal engineer could be consulted.


    • David,

      Interesting! I could not face building another home and besides we like our place. Will keep on file in case we change our mind. Best wishes!


  4. Well I don’t want to jinks myself yet but this is my experience so far in Bangued Abra
    We travelled to the Philippines to meet with the builder/architect and sign of on the plans for out 230SQM bungalow and do the building permits

    Permits forms were submitted on June 11th and 13th and on the night of the 15th our builder emailed us all of the permits and clearances. I was quite shocked, as getting our land title took 7 months.

    Costs listed below with no fixer/handler.

    Building Permit 1326
    Location Clearance 3286
    Zoning Certification 680
    Fire Clearance 2886
    Total 8178 peso


  5. Hello,
    Just found this site and proves to be very interesting as I plan to go back in a few years myself.

    Can you provide the overall dimensions of your house and number of rooms and total size of your lot.

    If you had it listed somewhere, I missed it.




  6. Hi Bob, how much did your building plans cost–sorry if I missed it here. tom.


    • P25,000 for the plans. We paid modest additional amounts for site visits during construction and for help in obtaining permits and the certificate of occupancy.


  7. Bob,

    I’m getting ready to begin our fence project. I have two questions – one pertains to permits and I’ll ask it here.

    First – what are the criteria that determines if a fencing permit is required? You never mentioned a permit in your write-up about your perimeter fence and you never mentioned a fencing permit here under “permits”.

    So, were you required to get a fencing permit or not?

    The rules and regulations in the New National Building Code are very ambiguous. An accessory permit is required for a fence over 1.8M high. Is that for all fences over 1.8M – whether of constructed of solid HCB, or cyclone wire attached to reinforced concrete columns or barbed wire strands attached to RC columns?

    To add to the confusion – garden masonry walls not exceeding 1.2M are exempted from a building permit.

    Thanks much.


    • Ted,

      Wish I could be of more help. Our fence was our first project so we hired an architect to prepare the plans, get any permits and oversee the project. The oversee part was a disaster as described in our fence building account. So, I really don’t know if a permit was required but the architect did submit a full set of plans and we did get a permit.



  8. This is a clarification to my previous post. The Department of Deeds in your province will issue the property owner a document called “Tax Declaration”. The amount calculated in this document is the amount you’ll need to pay for taxes. This includes the land and improvements (buildings).


  9. As for paying property taxes, you’ll need to go to the Department of Deeds for your province. This is the legal amount that you’ll need to pay. Skip paying your yearly taxes and you’ll pay penalties which can become substantial over the years.


  10. Pingback: Building our Philippine House – Index at goILOILO.com

  11. …more…you might be interested in another fellows experience in the Philippines…

    Re: [Philippines_Britclub] Property tax

    The imposition of property taxes seems to vary from area to area. Here in Balangiga property taxes have never been imposed universally by the town council. Mind you this has not stopped the council from trying to extort “property taxes” from a few individuals perceived as rich. When a council officer demanded a “bung” from my wife and I , my wife in turn demanded they produce the council minute authorising this tax, a further minute authorising the method of calculating this tax (eg. so many pesos per square metre of floor space), and copies of the tax bills sent to the mayor and council officer speaking to us. That was five years ago and suffice to say we have received no further demands since then! Our land tax is only P120 per annum.
    The situation is worse in the adjoining town of Lawaan, which has the highest taxes in Eastern Samar (apart from the capital Borongan).Their town council has no single method of calculating property taxes, but demands what they think they can get away with. A Belgian friend of mine, residing in Lawaan, unfortunately does not have a strong willed wife (unlike me) and is currently faced with a property tax bill for P14,000, which he is unable to pay!


  12. Hi Bob.
    January in the local Municipals is packed with people paying their LAND taxes to obtain the good discount. What we discover is that very few people are paying PROPERTY tax! This tax is far greater than the land tax by as much as 5 times.
    ie our land tax on 1094 sq mts is 600 a year and the 200 sq mts property is over 5000.
    The property tax comes as a result of the Residence certificate and the signatures of builder/architec/electrician.
    Without the residence certificate you won’t get an assessment and NO ONE seems to care?? Local people we meet only pay the land tax. There don’t seem to be any penalties for avoiding the property tax or any inspections by officials from the Municipal. You don’t need the residence certificate to live in your home. I’m all ears for contradictory advice. I will no doubt go through the ritual of obtaining the residence certificate for our new place but it peeves me to know that we really don’t need to do it.


  13. Mike,
    Cost of building is definitely part of the equation and its in your interest to keep the figure as low as possible. The developer/builder will provide the costings, if not then the assessors office will send an assessor. Bare in mind that the figure settled on will become the yearly taxation and so best keep the assessment low. I’d be inclined to cross the palms of the inspection officer on the assessment day ………
    Market values for the municipal taxes have shot up this year by as much as 30% residential and 120% for the land. Can only assume that this is to increase the Cap gains revenue. The actual paid taxes seem to be quite steady.


  14. Bob,
    Not sure where was posted, but have you been assessed yet for your property “improvement” tax?
    I am getting conflicting advice on how this is calculated. One party states its based on the construction cost of the residence, another that it is based on the Sqmeter liveable area?
    any input appreciated.


  15. Hi Bob,
    It would be interesting to know how many building blue prints you needed for each official permit/certification.
    thank you.


    • Sorry for the late reply. Five copies. You’ll get one signed copy back after your building permit is approved. Keep it safe and pristine. They’ll ask for it when you apply for your certificate of occupancy. We had two more copies, one for me and one for the builders.


  16. Its amazing here in the Philippines, we notice electrical supplies going from poles beside the roads to shanty houses whose occupants have obviously crossed the palms of electrical guys to install power.
    We on the other hand have to supply all the desired blueprints and signatures to get our supply put in.
    Hardly surprising when we see TV news programs on large fires that decimate slums and shanty houses where poor unfortunate people are killed.
    If we can see these electrical pole supply lines to shanties why cannot an inspector also check them and so prevent or reduce the likelihood of electrical fires.
    …off my hobby horse….


  17. Bob,

    Should you include your small fees and deposit (less than P10,000) here for the “permanent, temporary” electrical connection?


  18. Your entry here about the cost of building permit and other fees really helped me on deciding against going through a fixer. We were just offered 15k for building permit of our bungalow with mezanine plan! imagine my shock when i received the offer. thank you for the digits,it gave me a ballpark figure on how much is the real fee.

    thank you!


  19. Fire inspection permit.
    Our local fire lady inspector saw the electrical drawings and insisted on a few fire extinguishers from a certain retailer before she would sign the forms. The reason she said was because of the loading. Our beach-house was a simple construction, no aircon or storage of fuels etc. I disputed her reasons specially the loading since I do have an electrical background. It took some strong words and promise of applying the application to higher authority before she signed the papers and sent them to us via LBC at her expense.
    Building permit.
    My wife accompanied our architect into the permit office and overheard him being asked by the official “how much can they afford?” We paid 5 thousand, back signed in a week.
    …..money talks in the Philippines, shame but true.


  20. Pingback: Our Philippine House Project – Building, Zoning, Fire Protection Permits | Philippines or Bust

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