Building our house in the Philippines. Buying our construction equipment in Iloilo. Delivered, premixed concrete is rarely used in residential construction in the Philippine provinces. In fact, many houses are built without even a cement mixer. The concrete is mixed on the ground by workers with shovels. When we were considering a two story house, we were certain a gas powered mixer would be a good investment in the quality of the concrete and the safety of our house and ourselves. This is earthquake country and recent events in Haiti can’t help but focus the mind on structural design and construction quality. Although we finally decided to build a one story house, we decided to buy a gas powered mixer for the project. After all, we’re building a house which is almost entirely concrete — not to mention driveways and carport. The mixer will allow us to control and properly mix the concrete we use. The cost of the mixer is a very small percentage of total construction cost and it will be sold once the project is done.
We looked at mixers at several locations. The best we saw was at “New OK Marketing” on Ledesma Street in Iloilo City. New OK impresses as one of those frantically busy businesses which move a large volume of product out of a small storefront. They seem to know their product, have a good stock of spare parts and can service what they sell. So far, we are impressed with “New OK”. They sell and repair all sorts of gas and diesel equipment including generators, brush cutters, chain saws, agricultural and construction equipment.
We also bought a more exotic bit of equipment, a gas powered internal concrete vibrator. One of the challenges of building with reinforced concrete columns, is getting the concrete to flow around all the rebar in the relatively small column forms and thoroughly fill all the voids without making the concrete so soupy that it is weak.
We decided to buy a Chinese-made gas powered internal concrete vibrator to ensure the quality of the columns. This consists of a Robin 5 HP gas engine with a coupling for a six meter long flexible shaft. At the end of the shaft is the vibrator mechanism. It bears a frightening resemblance to the equipment used in a colonoscopy! The vibrator is inserted into the wet concrete filled column to ensure that the concrete fills every void.
A word of caution. The proper use of a concrete vibrator can definitely produce better concrete. However, it’s likely that your crew will not know how to use the vibrator and may produce worse concrete. Unless you educate yourself beforehand so that you can properly train and supervise your crew, you may be better off without the vibrator. There are some instructions on vibration and lots of other information in this PDF from the Australian Concrete Association.
The price of the mixer was P48,000 with a 6.5 HP Briggs and Stratton engine. A Robin or Honda engine would have added P7,000. Once proud Briggs and Stratton is now the economy option. We had a choice of a light duty mixer with a Robin or Honda engine or a heavy duty mixer with a Briggs and Stratton engine. The heavy duty mixer looked 100% better than the cheaper model so we opted for it. The price of the vibrator was P17,000. As it turns out, both the mixer and the vibrator required repair. The Robin engine had a defective ignition and had to be returned for repair. Both times a problem getting repairs would have been caused vexing delays in the project, but were delighted to report that New OK has really stood behind the equipment they sold us. The Robin engine on the concrete vibrator was fixed while we waited under warranty, at no charge. We ran the cement mixer for one day and our foreman sensed that all was not well. He removed the mixer bucket and found that the main bearing roller bearing was frozen. He hopped on a jeepney to Iloilo City and later the same day a technician from New OK appeared at our job site in a New OK truck with all the tools and replacement parts needed to replace the faulty roller bearing — and the new bearing was a USA-made Timken. The entire repair was done so promptly and at no charge, so we happily recommend New OK if you need power equipment including generators, brush cutters, pumps, compressors, welders and similar equipment. New OK, 29 Ledesma Street, Iloilo City. 033-337-1023, 335-0509, 337-6931.
Based on the first two weeks on the project, we can’t imagine not having the mixer. It makes better concrete much, much faster.
This is a reinforcing bar “rebar” cutter. Cutting and forming rebar is a big part of building in the Philippines. On our fence project all rebar was cut with hacksaws. For the house we invested in this rebar cutter. It speeds up the work at little incremental cost. I can’t say the number of “Lenox” hacksaw blades we bought on the fence project but it was dozens. This cutter cost P4,300 and will be sold at the end of the project. We bought our at Far Eastern hardware in Iloilo City. Far Eastern is nirvana for the builder with every type of tool you can imagine on display.
Update. At the end of the project we had no trouble selling the equipment. We sold the mixer for P38,000 and the vibrator for P13,000.
Read all about our Philippine House building Project at /building-our-philippine-house-index/