Our Philippine house project: the structural heart of the house – concrete columns and beams

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Our Philippine house building project: reinforced concrete columns and beams, the heart of the house.  What we did right in building our Philippine house and suggestions on how to do a better job.  Learn from our experiences!  Just keep in mind that we are not engineers or design professionals.    We urge you to have your building engineered by an engineer.  We share our personal experiences and insights.  They may help you ask the right questions as your house is designed an built.

Roof beams are nothing new…



Hollow block walls in Philippine residential construction don’t have much load carrying capacity or the shear strength need to withstand lateral shaking.  That’s why its so important that the reinforced concrete columns and the  roof and lintel beams are properly specified and constructed.  They may look fine until the shaking begins.  During the day that we written this we’ve had a number of tremors.  Poor design or construction can have disastrous consequences.

Hyatt Terraces Hotel, Baguio

Hollow block hotel, 1964 Valdez earthquake, Alaska

This post will show how we constructed our columns and beams and will discuss some ways in which we could have done a better job — if we had known then what we know now. Take advantage of what we’ve learned.  While Bob was generally knowledgeable about construction in the US, he had little experience with concrete and reinforcing bar (rebar). Most of the Philippines, Panay Island included, experiences severe earthquakes.  An 8.2 magnitude quake struck our area in 1948, causing extensive damage.  We told our engineers we wanted   home designed to survive  earthquakes.  Here are some of the issues we faced.

  • Our crew, which was hardworking, intelligent and experienced, really knew nothing about structural engineering.  What they knew was learned haphazardly from years of work building residences and other modest structures.  They had not worked on higher-end commercial projects where, presumably, they would have worked under the supervision of an engineer and learned basic engineering practices for using concrete and rebar properly.
  • We assumed that the plans developed by our engineers would ensure, if followed, that our project would result in a soundly engineered house.   In some aspects, the design of the beams and columns, quantity and size of rebar, this goal was met.   Most people who looked at the way we built the house thought it was ridiculously overbuilt.  They may have been right in terms of concrete mixes, column and beam sizes, and quantity of reinforcing bar.  We used good materials but, unknowingly, did not always follow good engineering practices.  Why?  In many critical areas, the plans were woefully deficient.  They did not  provide details that were needed to properly tie together rebar joints for maximum strength.  There were no rebar splicing details. There were few details about such critical issues such as  adequately tying corners and walls together so that the building can act as a unit to resist earthquake stresses.  Given that there were few instructions in the plans, the workers followed their own instincts and prior experiences. While Bob was not knowledgeable about such matters, he was on the job every day and became uneasy about some of the work.  He called in the engineer and the inadequate splicing of the roof tie beam were corrected.

Engineer and crew meet to talk over rebar splicing problems. See engineer’s chalk marks on wall giving splicing instructions.

However some other rebar placement and splicing work is seen to be inadequate.  One conclusion which can be drawn is that the owner can’t depend on workers or engineers to ensure that one’s dream home is properly built.  The owner must educate himself, in advance, about building principles.  One book I highly recommend is “Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country” by Peter Yanev.  I only wish I bought and read it before building our house rather than after!  You can buy the book inexpensively from amazon.com.  There should be an ad for it to the right.  If you use that link, MyPhilippineLife.com will get a small commission.  Since the book can be obtained for three or four dollars, don’t worry too much much about our profiteering!

  • What was the engineer’s response to our complaints about the missing engineering details?  Basically that the workers should know how to do these things.  Obviously, they did not.  If they did, why we would we need an engineer?
  • In some respects, the plans could have incorporated more advanced engineering practices, especially given the mandate to make the building earthquake resistant.  For example, our house has unusually large windows.  These can very substantially reduce the shear strength of the building.  It would have been better if we had strengthened the wall areas surrounding the window openings. We have bond or tie beams above the windows windows (lintel beams) and at the top of the wall — the roof beam.  A bond beam below the windows would have also strengthened the structure. We had a few downright engineering missteps.  One of these was leaving out a beam needed to support the roof rafters over the porch.  The solution involved demolishing some work already done and installing a pretty dodgy beam and column add-on.  Overall, our engineering experience was disappointing to us.  A recommendation that we use nine meter long rebar rather than six meter would have resulted in less splices and a stronger building.

We are going to assume that someone is going to check and double-check the column layout — that columns are in the right places, that the building is square, that the columns are plumb.  Our foremen and crew were pretty good about that.  Now we’ll look at how we did things in a series of photos showing what we did and pointing out some pitfalls that you can avoid.  We are going to be honest about our shortcomings in the hope that others can benefit.  We are covering concrete, concrete mixes and concrete vibration in another post and hollow blocks in yet another.

Digging the column footers

The workers insisted on using mahogany rather than coconut lumber for batter boards.  They were right.  We were able to reuse the mahogany many times.  Coco lumber is much poorer quality. The crew did a good  job laying out the house using simple tools — fish line, a water level and my 25m tape.  The only problem was that they assumed that the “front” of the house faced the road.  It actually faces the mountains.  They had to reverse some of the layout.  What a start!  Anyway, they did a good job.  Again, it’s critical that the layout work be near perfect.  Small problems with the layout can cause big problems later.

Constructing the rebar column cage


Column rebar going up

Column rebar cage and footer.

The rebar mat supporting the columns is constructed grid of sixteen pieces of 16mm rebar wired together. The mat and the footer are 1.2 meters (about 4′) square.  The footer excavation is 1.2 meters deep.  The column rebar cage is of 12mm rebar, the stirrups 10mm.  As you can see in the photo, the bottoms of the vertical rebar are bent and wired to the mat.

Thus, for our one story house, a six meter rebar extends without a splice from four feet underground to a few inches above the roof beam in which it is embedded.     As you can see in the photo, this particular column is at a corner of the house, is L-shaped, and consists of seven 12mm rebar. There is nothing to apologize for here.  It should be an usually sturdy column resting on a substantial footer, possibly suitable for a two-story residence.

The photo above also gives a good overview of how the footers were done.   Our workers put a shallow layer of large gravel in the bottom of the 1.2 meter deep footer excavation, perhaps 4” of it. (No gravel was indicated in the plans.  We’re not sure if this was necessary or desirable.)  Then the rebar mat goes in the bottom and the column cages are put in and wired to the mat with 16 gauge galvanized tie wire.  Then the column footer is poured.  The plans call for the footer to be 1.2 meters square by 25 cm (10″) depth.  Hint.   Make sure your workers support the mat above the bottom of the footer so that the column rebar is embedded in and bears on the concrete footer, not on the dirt underneath.  My workers had to be instructed to do this.  To raise the mat you can use stones to lift up the mat so that the concrete will flow under the mat.   Also make sure that the footer extends the full depth into undisturbed native soil.  We had done some filling of the area where the house was to be built,  so our excavations had to be deeper — 1.2 meters plus whatever depth of fill there is.

Column forms were of mahogany 2×2 and 1/2″ marine plywood

Once the concrete footer has set, the plywood forms are secured around the column rebar assembly.  Use good materials for the forms.  During the project these materials will be used and used and reused.  Coco lumber and thin plywood will not hold up. Of course it’s essential to check and double check that the columns are exactly in the right place and that the forms are plumb. The columns, which total about fifteen feet high, are formed up and poured in sections.  Make sure the rebar is centered in the forms.  As you’ll see, it’s very difficult to fill every void in a column form.  The the usual Filipino method is to use quite soupy concrete which flows easily, but of course the column will be weaker.  Our L-shaped corner columns have advantages.  They make strong corners which end up being the same thickness as a six inch hollow block.  That means there is no exposed column to work around during finishing. You’ll have a simple, square corner.  The downside is that the column form is filled with lots of steel which the cement may have a hard time flowing around.  Apply the rule of thumb that the aggregate should be no larger than 75% of the smallest gap the concrete need to flow through. See http://www.concretenetwork.com/aggregate/gradations.html. Any big stones are going to catch in the rebar and prevent a proper flow.  Keeping the column concrete thick enough to be strong and thin enough to fill the form is tricky.


We used a gasoline powered concrete vibrator to try to ensure there were no voids in concrete as we filled the forms.  The vibrator has a long flexible shaft with a vibrator on the end. The use of vibrators is common in non-residential concrete work.  More on the vibrator HERE and HERE. We pried the forms off our first column and this is what we found.  We were all pretty discouraged.

Demolition of column


Another column problem

I was in Iloilo buying supplies.  When I got back I saw a suspicious looking patch on a another column.  The tried to hide this behind some mortar.  This is what it looked like after a removed the mortar.

A good column, but other problems

This L-shaped corner column looks to be  just about perfect.  The rebar protruding from the column will be spliced into the horizontal rebar in the hollow block walls. The protruding rebar on the right is far too short to make a strong splice.  When the earthquake shaking starts, the building corners are critical to holding the building together.  It’s hard to imagine these tiny splices doing the job.

Corner and tee column plans

Compare this to my rough drawing showing stronger rebar placement in corners.  The outside rebar should be bent around the corner and extend as far as possible into each wall.  Of course these long rebar tails are a bother on the construction site.  Also, consider using longer rebar in beams than the standard 6M (20′) lengths.  That means less splices and more strength.

The ends of the inside rebar should be bent down into the block cavity.

Poorly tied corner

I did not have a good photo showing how the corners were tied in our house but the above photo of another house under construction illustrates the problem very well.  This house uses lots of rebar — no expense is being spared but note how little attention is being paid to tying the corners together.  It is these corners which will come under tremendous stress in a seismic event.  We’d love to hear an explanation from an engineer as to why things are done this way.  It’s probably practicality.  These complex rebar cages are put together on the ground and raised into position, just as if they were wooden beams.  Long protruding ties would be a nuisance.  The end result is that much of the potential strength of the building is compromised.


The columns and the walls go up simultaneously.  Here you can see the vertical rebar sticking up from the hollow block walls.  Although we had big windows, no extra rebar or reinforcement was specified.  If you have big window openings, we suggest you add two additional vertical and horizonal rebar in the hollow block at each side and above and below the window opening. The wall footers and walls will be covered in more detail in another post.  Note that the bamboo staging is secured with old-fashioned Manila hemp rope.  According to the crew this rope will not stretch and grips the bamboo much better than synthetic rope. And where does Manila hemp come from?

Abaca (Manila hemp) being unloaded at Port of Iloilo in 2010.


Another problem

In the photo above you can see the hollow block wall almost touching the rebar cage for a column, leaving little to no room for column concrete.    Since our columns are almost exactly the same depth as the 6″ hollow block we used on the exterior walls, forms for these columns were simplified.  Although Bob was not especially knowledgeable about concrete columns, it was pretty obvious to him that there was a problem in not having the rebar well embedded in concrete. Bob brought the problem to the engineer and she agreed.  These hollow blocks had to be cut back  to allow room for the full column. Frankly, the engineer somewhat grudgingly admitted the problem.   That the experienced crew could not see the problem and that the engineer was not especially concerned encapsulates some of the problems facing the foreigner (or Filipino) trying to build a quality house in the Philippines.

Rebar corrosion

Rebar corrodes.  Corroding rebar can break apart columns and beams.  If any rebar is exposed to moisture the corrosion is much faster.  In commercial projects, hot dip galvanized or epoxy coated rebar may be used to slow down corrosion.

Coated rebar.  Galvanized is better but more expensive.

The next step was the lintel beam

Forms for lintel beam

Window and door openings weaken walls. Lintel beams carry the weight of the wall above door and window openings and can also help tie the building together.  Lintel beams typically are only over the door and window beams, but since we have so many and so big openings, we decided to make the lintel beam into a continuous tie beam.  Our lintel beams were 15cm x 20cm (6″ x 7″) and used two 12mm rebar with 10mm stirrups. Usually lintels are not so strongly built  as other beams as they are bridging small spans.  It might have been better if we had used four 12mm rebar.  More on that later.

Lintel rebar

This photo shows some nice long splices in the lintel rebar, but the splices are one atop the other.  They should be staggered.  See below.  In the red circle, a very short splice in the vertical hollow block rebar.

Lintel beam – forms off

It looks like there’s a curve in this beam but it’s aspherical distortion in my zoom camera lens.  A few notes.  The rebar stubs extending downward from the window opening will be used to weld in the steel casement windows.  The ends of the column rebar are the very ends of six meter (20 foot)  rebar the other end of which is securely anchored in the footers 1.2 meters (4′)  underground.

Above the lintel beam are two courses of hollow block.  On top of those goes the roof beam — the main structural beam in the building.  This is where we missed a key opportunity to strengthen the building at very little additional cost.   We could have, and should have  made a single, strong 80cm x 15cm reinforced concrete beam from the top of the windows to the top of the walls, replacing the lintel beams, the two courses of hollow block and the roof  beam.  Combined with rebar wrapping in the corners, this would have greatly improved the shear strength of the entire structure and would, in our amateur opinion,  have been a good engineering response to the many large window and door openings.   Of course no such improvement was in the plans, suggested by the engineers or thought of by myself or the workers until it was too late.  So we hope that our readers may be able to raise this issue with their engineers and perhaps end up with a better, stronger house.

So, the next steps were to lay the top two courses of block and form-up for the roof beam.

Splicing error in roof beam rebar

This photo shows the 16mm rebar framework for the concrete roof beam.  The plans called for 15cm x 25cm (6″ x 10″) room beam with 16mm rebar.  We decided to build a 15cm x 30 cm (6″ x 20″) beam

A visit by our engineer confirmed our suspicions of a  problem with the arrangement of the rebar in the beam. Rebar comes in six meter lengths.  As shown in the photo above, the workers spiced all the rebar in the center of the span.  The engineer directed that splices be staggered with no splices at mid-span in the bottom rebar and no splices at the support columns in the top of the beam. Everything above was taken down and redone.  Our plans lacked a rebar splicing plan.  This has caused endless required corrections and wasted time and money. Our foreman and workers just don’t know the engineering principles. We asked the engineer to prepare a splicing plan so that the workers (and owners) will be sure that things are done properly.  We never got one. We suggest that you insist that your architect or engineer include a complete splicing plan.

Here’s a few rebar splicing guidelines we learned.  They are only rules of thumb.

  • The splices for reinforcing bars in the top of the beam should be between columns.
  • The splices for reinforcing bars in the bottom of the beam should be approximately over the support columns.
  • The reinforcing bar splice overlap should be a minimum of 40X the diameter of the rebar.  For example the splice on a 12mm rebar should be a minimum of 48cm.  For a 16mm bar, the splice should be at least 64cm.  Longer splices are better.


This photo (above) shows 16mm rebar spliced with a 40cm splice. The minimum overlap should be 64cm. This rebar cage had to be disassembled and redone.

Rebar cage at intersection of roof beams and column.

Rebar cage at intersection of roof beams and column.

Our engineers left a porch support column and a beam out of the roof plans.  Our workers spotted the problem. The engineers came up with an ad hoc solution — adding slender (15x15cm) columns so as to not spoil the appearance of the porch.  Both we and the crew thought the columns were too small.  It this photo you can see the tangle of rebar coming together at this tiny column.  It’s hard too see exactly where there is room for concrete.  We used small aggregate (the rule of thumb is that aggregate should be one-fifth the size of the smallest rebar opening) and gently vibrate the concrete.  Poor planning by the engineers.

To put in an additional porch column, we had to demolish part of an already completed wall and wall footer and pour a column footer under the existing wall footer.

A forest of bamboo scaffolding

A forest of bamboo scaffolding.  Roof beam.

Bamboo scaffolding in Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2005

Bamboo staging in Hong Kong

The roof beam is complete

Pouring the roof beam. Concrete vibrator in used.

The crew worked feverishly to finish pouring the roof beam.  This is the last structural concrete work.

Beams and columns done

Despite our missteps, it does look pretty strong doesn’t it?  It takes at least two weeks for the beam to cure, then the steel roof trusses can go on.  At this point we  laid off some of the laborers as there was not so much heavy work left to do.  The welders kept busy with the roof trusses and windows, the masons with interior walls.  Our next coverage is WALLSROOF and WINDOWS.

READ THIS BEFORE YOU BUILD.  Thanks to reader Naldy Bulan for recommending an excellent, free UN publication on building in the Philippines:  Handbook on Good Building Design and Construction in the Philippines at http://www.unisdr.org/files/10329_GoodBuildingHandbookPhilippines.pdf

Read all our Philippine House building project pages at /building-our-philippine-house-index/

Comments (40) Write a comment

  1. Very informative. My comment is that; 15x80cm beam or lets say lintel beam as you proposed is somewhat non-standard design in structural engineering world for single/2 storey residential house. 15x25cm or 15x30cm are fine, beyond that is somewhat unimaginative. You can still use 15x>30-45cm if and only if you have a very very heavy loads, 2 course of blocks cant be considered as heavy. Yes it can reduce shear stress but it can cause damage to your windows as it increases the vertical loads.


    • Sir? If I’ll use the dimensions of the beams you provide, what diamter of bars can I use?


      • When we built our house we hired an engineer who specified the size and placement of rebar. You should do the same. We used 16mm for the roof beam and 12mm for the columns.


  2. We’ll be doing construction soon, and we’ll be managing on our own. Both myself and my husband don’t have much idea about constructions, but we don’t trust contractors as well. Thanks for your posts, very informative! I have taken notes! 🙂


  3. I like the idea very much, but could you give me an idea of the size of footing and column + the steel round bars that i should use for a 2 storey 50 sq meter house.
    A contractor that I talked to, told me that 16mm round steel bar is enough for a column x 6 for vertical and 12mm for horizontal support


    • We are not engineers. We can only say that when we were going to build our house as a two story building, the engineers recommended 25mm for the columns but then relented to 16mm.


  4. what will happen to two story building. if the contractor had made a mistake on the foundation ( under design foundation) they tried to dig again and make it bigger and wider by welding additional rsb. on the wire mat. and add another tie beam over the existing foundation by welding again. as I remembered in our structural design class we are not allowed to weld the re-bars specially on the foundation for ot weakens the structure rather we have to tie them with tie wires. By the way its a government project in the Philippines.


    • The only situation like this that I am familiar with was to dig under the existing problem foundation and pour a large new footer. This can only be done one short section at a time under the supervision of an experienced engineer. Good luck!


      • To bob, carol and all readers of this article,
        First of all it was really a great article on residential construction and it’s really informative. But if you looking for an earth quake proof, there is none! Anything can destroy by earthquake and natural calamities because this is nature and no one can predict or design the maximum factors for this force majeure. But there is so called earth-quake resistance (they are different meaning “proof means like it’s hard to destroy and resistance is its resisting the force of nature as far as it can and depends of the load factor that the civil or structural engineer considered in his seismic design and structural calculation) now if you want to house to be resistant as it could my suggestion is (one) hire an LICENSE ARCHITECT for he knows how to analyze the site where are the possible wind blows and safe distances and setbacks that need to be imposed on your house, the height, the width, length and other planning consideration and besides from aesthetic of course. In addition, he can provide full details from architectural to electrical for he has connection to different license engineers that may help him to finalize the design at the proper, correct, complete and detailed construction working drawings. He and his engineers will be the one will give the best solution for your dream house. (Two) hire a LICENSE SITE ARCHITECT / ENGINEER to be on-site 24/7 for he will be responsible for every construction methodology that will apply and implement on site. NEVER EVER TRUST AN EXPERIENCE FORMAN for they only experience and not study the world of engineering and construction. I am not against them but if they will be the one to take responsibility… think again! These 3 professional architect (the designer), his engineer (allied profession) and the site architect/engineer will be your backbone for a safer and good house design and construction. YES! This will be extra cost but it’s better to pay when it will assure your comfortability and safety.


        • Marc,

          Your points about “resistance” versus “proof” are certainly correct. We did have architects and engineers for our project, but there were problems. It took my own construction crew to notice that a needed porch support column and beam were completely missing from the plans. The plans had to be revised during construction to add the missing structural elements. Further the plans were missing key details to assist the construction workers, such as a rebar splicing plan. Having an engineer on-site 24/7, while a lovely ideal, is not practical. Most engineers are supervising multiple jobs. Further, many engineers have their own construction crews. They have given the property owner an estimate for the cost of the project. This provides incentives for the engineer/businessman to cut corners on labor and material so that more of the final cost is in the engineers pocket rather than in the building. I agree 100% with the benefit of having a competent architect/engineer to develop the plans and supervise the construction. Since this blog is giving a foreigners perspective. the foreigner’s ability to determine the quality of the design team is difficult. There are good professionals out there and there are unscrupulous ones. How is the foreigner to know? I have seen some wonderful houses built for (and by) foreigners and I have seen lots of shoddy work. Thanks for your input. Bob and Carol


    • do not even try digging! once the foundation is set, you can’t make it stronger. the only way is to do it again. pouring concrete or welding rebars will not work because the new footing is not connected to the column using dowels. the last thing you want to do to a footing is disturb the soil beneath it. digging the footing will expose the soil to water.

      regarding the post, please refer to typical beam to column connection plan. also, consider adding more L-shape dowels to you footing. you can refer to developmental lengths


  5. Bob, I have enjoyed reading all the chapter about your house and how you have attempted to make it structurally sound and earthquake-proof, but recent events have caused me to wonder: Did your house survive the major earthquake that hit Bohol in October and the winds and rain from Typhoon Yolanda from last week? If you have time, how about adding another chapter and tell us all about your experiences with these 2 calamities. Regardless, I wish you well there in Iloilo and hope it wasn’t too bad for you.


    • Stephan,

      I really can’t give any feedback because (thankfully) neither the earthquake nor the typhoon Yolanda were especially strong here. I hope it stays that way!

      Bob and Carol


  6. Hi Bob and Carol,

    Good job…very informative for non engineering builders. Need some insights ..advice that can help me decide in having a dependable quality in housing. My contractor is suggesting to use I-beam instead of rebar columns. I’m not that so comfortable with i-beam as it is not commonly use for residential house. My blue print is a two storey house with a roof deck. Can you give us a guidance which to take should it be I beam or the reinforce concrete column/post. Another thing that bothers me is the quality of stell that we have in the market. How can I ensure that the stell being use is not a substandard quality.


    • Jode,

      You raise some question which we really can’t answer. Personally, I would stick with conventional engineering unless you have a talented engineer in who you have complete confidence. I would not follow such advice from a builder or contractor. Rebar quality is a legitimate question. I have read that rebar (most of it from China) is a product produced by the lowest-end, lowest tech mills. That said, more specialized material, rated for strength, is available in the bigger cities. Also available is galvanized rebar and expoxy painted rebar and longer length rebar for fewer splices.

      Bob and Carol


    • Ceazar,

      Thanks so much for suggesting this terrific resource. Anyone building a hollow block house in the Philippines should read the publication you recommend first and insist that their architect/engineer do the same. Giving this publication to an architect and seeing how she/he reacts would be a good indicator of how serious they are. Thanks again!

      Bob and Carol


  7. Great job of documentation! I used the book you talked about in earthquake engineering class back in ’75. Wasn’t aware i it was still in print! You happen to have this in PDF?



    • Wayne,

      Nor sure if it’s in print but very widely available as a used book for very little money. I have good luck with abebooks.com because some of the sellers offer international shipping for a reasonable rate. No, I don’t have a PDF.



  8. I am neither an Architect nor an Engineer. I am also planning to build a new house but I want to draw the plans myself. I am doing some research online. Your article has been very helpful. I think you’d be interested to further back-up your construction observations with some practical structural standards. I’ve come across this website which you might be interested in: the Handbook on Good Building Design and Construction in the Philippines at http://www.unisdr.org/files/10329_GoodBuildingHandbookPhilippines.pdf. I look forward to reading more of your articles. How nice of you to put up such website, thanks.


    • Naldy,

      Thanks for bringing this publication to our attention. It’s excellent! I’ll modify some of our pages to include a link to it.

      Thanks again

      Bob and Carol


  9. Hello Bob,
    Did you replace the Lintel Beam and hollow blocks to have the 80cm X 15cm reinforced Concrete Beam installed?


  10. unbelievable.This site is amazing .Thanks to great people like you..I savored and enjoyed everything that you have to say.


  11. Nice documentation!!!

    Wish I could do the same but am not very good at consistency- write now, not write now (if you know what I mean)

    Found your blog while looking for rebar cutters:))

    Congratulations on a job (documentation) well done. Might be in Iloilo for Christmas to visit my wife’s family.


  12. Pingback: Our Philippine house project: walls and wall footers. | My Philippine Life

  13. Pingback: Our Philippine House Project: Concrete Quality, Concrete Vibration | My Philippine Life

  14. bob and carol, it is great that you are writing about this…. you should put together a good building crew now that you have trained them and sub out to high end builders, or some niche like that! probably more work than a retired couple like you wants to do, but all this learning and training should be used in the future!? you are both doing an awesome job, i hope catherine and i get to see the results in person someday. good health and enjoy the construction process and your new home!!


  15. i always encounter similar situations as to rebar splicing even though the plans indicated the splicing details. understandably, the experience of a residential construction foreman is too far way off compared to a high rise building foreman. residential foreman, most of the time, never review the plans on a regular basis. inexperience to structural detailing is a serious concern…some foreman never learn on their previous projects or they were never mentored by their engineer as to the basic principles on rebar installation.

    it’s good on your part that you actively participated in the construction of your house. errors is costly and affects the construction timetable. i really appreciate your constant monitoring on the progress of your house project.


  16. Rebar splicing seems logical but complicates things by constructing the cage on top of the wall. If the join is midships but overlapped by a couple of feet wouldn’t this add more strength and serve the purpose just as well?


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

  18. Bob, Can you imagine how this would turn out if you were not on top of everything? I continue to follow your construction project with great interest. You should have filmed all of this and made a documentary out of it. Ron


    • Ron, it’s likely that it would come out looking just the same. All of these problems would have been hidden from view. Maybe all my fussing over these details will not really make much difference unless there’s an earthquake and maybe not enough if there was a big earthquake. It’s amazing how Filipinos are blase about earthquakes, as though they are a remote possibility. What Warren Buffet said about financial markets applies to building construction in earthquake prone areas — something like “you don’t know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out”. While there was widespread destruction in Haiti, there were many buildings which seem undamaged. My engineer told me that construction quality in Philippine commercial buildings can be quite good but that with residential construction, many corners are cut. Bob


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