Our Philippine House Project – Roof Design

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Our Philippine house project: Roof Design

We’re building our dream home in the Philippines and want it to have a Filipino flavor.  Our roof design seeks to capture a bit of the design aesthetic of the classic Philippine native house – the “bahay kubo”.

Here’s a little about the architectural design of our roof.   Our roof design goes against the trend.  Increasingly elaborate roof designs are very popular, especially for houses that are or aspire to be “upscale”.  The more valleys, ridges, dormers and other complications the more impressive the house.  Bob was brought up in the northern U.S. where every valley was another spot for ice and snow to build up and cause ice dams and leaks to form,  so simple roofs are an instinctive choice.

These over-complex roofs are a recent development in the Philippines.  Traditional Philippines houses had “dos aguas” or “quatro aguas” roofs.  These terms are a carryover from the Spanish “un tejado de dos aguas”, a simple ridged roof or “un tejado de quatro aguas” a hip roof.  The older members of my construction crew still understand and use these old Spanish terms.





Simple gable roof

Simple gable roof

Hip roof

Hip roof

The hip roof has been very popular in traditional Philippine buildings and for good reason.  In a land where buildings are buffeted by typhoons every year, the hip roof is streamlined, giving the winds little purchase.

Hipped roof Philippine house

The roof above was popular in the 19th century but during the Commonwealth era one starts to see a modification which adds roof vents.

Here's an example south of Cebu City

Here’s an example south of Cebu City

Closer is the old Guimbal, Iloilo Municipal building.  Guimbal has a new city hall but thankfully has preserved the older one.

House in Lucban, Quezon Province

In Western architectural lingo such roofs are called “gablet” roofs or “Dutch gable” roofs.


Certainly the aesthetic for this roof  is inspired by the roof profile of the beloved Philippine “bahay kubo” native bamboo house. Filipinos, rich or poor, seem to have a deep attachment to life in the provinces.  For Filipinos, the provincial life  and the bahay kubo conjure up an idyllic paradise lost.  Of course Filipinos know about the hardships of provincial life, but those don’t seem to dilute the romantic attraction of life in the provinces.  Just consider the current crop of TV soaps which alternate between a sorid, squabbling life in huge, pretentious houses in Manila, lives filled with greed, envy and bickering.  Then in a flash you are in the provinces, in a bahay kubo,maybe with some pretty capiz windows–a harmonious pastoral life populated with kindly, wise lolos and lolas with birds singing and maybe a carabao contentedly ploughing in the background!

Panay Island bahay kubo

This rustic bahay kubo roof design, transferred to wood frame and concrete buildings,  has evolved to incorporate a ventilator in the peak of the roof.  We wanted to incorporate at least some Filipino style into our house and also realized the advantages of attic ventilation under our hot metal roof.  Here’s our original design for a two story house.

Perspective Drawing for our Tigbauan House

We finally decided on a one story home but kept the roof design we liked so much! More at /our-house-project-design-devolution/

Here’s a single shot showing our bamboo bahay kubo and our house roof taking shape.  See the similarities?


Comments (7) Write a comment

  1. Hi, I have a property in Siquijor, Maria and want to build a 2 bedroom Nipa Hut, do you know of some contacts to do this.


    • No, sorry. Unfortunately we have never been to that beautiful isle, but I am sure there are workers there who can do a great job for you. Just ask around and look at bamboo buildings that look well made and find out who built them.


  2. Hi Bob,
    We chose a flat steel roof and the style is ordinary corrugated. At two story no one sees the roof except helicopter pilots.
    The plan is to open up the bedroom ceilings by large vents and have the heat from the underside of the steel roof draw cooling breezes up and out through the open larger roof end and dry the washing in the process.
    the small angle of elevation is about 5 degrees and we have overlapped the longspan roofing sheets by 2.5 “humps”.
    Union steel in Calamba were very good and they made our 7.5 meter galvanised “C” channel purlins in a few days.
    Having a local roofing company in San Pablo city install the roof was a day to remember. Lifting 8 pieces of steel sheeting at 18 metrs long was no mean fete.
    All done in a few hours for 10,800 pesos


    • Peter,

      Yes, we had the same experience with our roofing crew. They really seemed to know what they were doing. We are 100% satisfied so far. Not a bit of rust on the roof anywhere.



  3. Pingback: We build a “bahay kubo” bamboo guest house at goILOILO.com

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

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