nav-left cat-right


Frustration with Construction

Today again I was frustrated while trying to do something at the house.

I guess first I need to explain how most houses are constructed here in the Philippines.
The exterior and interior walls are made from a 4 inch thick masonry block. They are made with a low quality concrete and are not used as a structural element. There are formed and poured concrete columns and beams for structure and then the 4 inch block is more of just a fill.

If you watch the construction, the mortar joints are very uneven and there sometimes not full and smooth.
After the wall is up they use a concrete plaster to cover the exterior and interior walls like a stucco finish. This is their way of covering all mistakes. Unfortunately over time the plaster cracks.

If you ever want to add electrical or plumbing, you need to chip out the wall and then re-concrete it closed.

Back to my frustration;

Here for clothesline we use a thick gage steel wire. To attach it in the past to the wall I got plastic expansion anchors that you drill a hole and the screw expands the anchor. Well over time the concrete crumbles under the weight of wet cloths and fell out. I next got Sleeve Anchors but 2 of them failed too. Today using a bigger anchor the wall kept crumbling. I had to break out more of the hole, mix some concrete to fill it solid and as soon as it sets I will then try again.

Think how easy it is in the States where you have studs and drywall. Any time you want to hang a picture, you just use the thin nail and a picture hook. Here you need to get some item to attach to concrete.

I have to accept it since I have no choice but in the future, if I am able to build a house, all interior walls will be metal studs with either concrete board or regular drywall.

7 Responses to “Frustration with Construction”

  1. Ellen says:

    Here on Samal with lots of humidity and ocean air, are metal studs or drywalls ok? I leave all windows and doors open to let in the breeze, and I find that some metal fastenings and hinges are already rusty (even tho they are supposed to be stainless steel). I also see that it is common here to paint solygnum (spelling?) on the bare wood to prevent termite attacks. I think they also put a heavy underlining before the foundation to prevent humidity from seeping up from the ground. don’t know.

  2. Bruce says:


    I will discuss your comments with the architect. I know in America we have used drywall for as long as I have ben alive and before aircon. The steel framing I am not sure.
    I will discuss it and post as soon as I have an answer.

    P.S. we have not forgotten your invite, just looking for a good weekend to plan it.

  3. Ellen says:

    Thanks Bruce. I am familiar with the gyprock used in North America. In fact, I did the whole plastering, sanding and painting in the basement. I don’t think it is available here. When you say drywall – is this what you meant? Personally, I think I would use coaltar paint behind walls and outdoors to termite-proof and humidity proof it. I was told solygnum is only good where it is applied and has a limited effective time. Whereas coaltar paint is very effective. Refer to:

  4. Bruce says:


    Yes, gyp board, sheetrock and drywall are the same things.

    I spoke a little with the architect. He agrees steel studs could rust but if the moister is kept down with propper ventilation it should not become a problem. He said here they use cement board more often, it is like a drywall. He also said for more protection but more money too is paint the studs with a rust proof paint before application of wall board.

  5. Ellen says:

    Thanks again. I’ve heard of cement board all the time, but don’t think I’ve seen one. Maybe I have but didn’t know it. We’ve lived in the boat for several years and I know what humidity and dampness can do 🙂

  6. passerby says:

    Houses there are made of masonry and concrete because its the cheapest and easiest material to source, over there in america steel studs with gypsum boards are more convenient and practical with HVAC, plumbing, electrical, cable and phone utilities installed within the hollow walls. Structural wise Philippines is located in an active zone of seismic activity therefore reinforced concrete and spread footing foundation is used (to prevent differntial settlement and lateral forces) for the masonry walls maybe it makes good sense for security reasons :P. In the west or say north america drastic temperature changes makes for the consideration of construction since using conrete walls would be futile in effort and hard to maintain because of cracking by drastic temperature changes and hard to insulate during winter months.

    Wood would also be expensive to use and hard to maintain due to the fact that termites infest the entire country of the Philippines 😛 just my 1.99 cents

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for visiting and your 1.99 cents.
      It is true about masonry is the cheapest and easiest to build with, but the quality of a lot of the masonry has a lot to be desired. Also the cracks appear here too soon and needs to be filled in.
      With concrete walls, they absorb the heat all day and radiate at night so it is hard to cool off the house.
      But, hopefully over time, new techniques will be utilized here and will be more common.

Leave a Reply