More information can be found here: Perimeter Fence Philippines: Index
We’ve covered a lot in this series on how we built our concrete fence in Davao City, Philippines.
This post will include a look at how we went about securing our Philippine fence by topping the walls with steel angle bar.
There are different approaches to being an expat and living in the Philippines. Buying or renting a house in a gated, guarded community is one approach. Living in a condominium in a limited-access building is another.
In the first article in this series, Building In The Philippines: The Lot, I discussed what our needs and wants were for living here. We wanted a large lot so that we could build a house with room left over for growing veggies and raising some chickens. We also wanted the kind of infrastructure that a city has. Those desires translated into needing to buy a private lot.
With no guard on a common gate and no private access to our lot, we had to build a fence much different from the low walls typically found in planned communities.
The Need For Security
When we chose Davao City as our home, we based our decision partly on its reputation for being one of the safer cities in the Philippines. “Safer” in this case means “less of a chance that bad people will steal from us”. (A full discussion of crime and physical safety in the Philippines is a subject beyond this post.)
When we designed our fence, we designed it to discourage burglars. Here high fences and high concrete walls are the norms. Climbing deterrents like barbed wired and even broken glass embedded in the tops of walls are common. But we also wanted some visibility and air flow.
We chose to finish our walls on the left and right sides with sections of steel angle bars, the tips cut to points. Spikes, in other words.
Not All Steel Is Equal Here
Our fence design called for 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 3/16″ steel angle. My wife Menchu went shopping for that (remember, we were doing the buying for the project). She was told that the 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ angle was available in a thickness of 3/16″ and that it was either 2.5mm or 2.8mm thick.
Huh? 3/16″ of an inch is 4.7498mm. Conventionally called 5mm.
We tried to make sense out of the hardware store’s response for quite some time. We finally had to go and talk to the owner before things began to make sense.
Here, 3/16″ thick steel stock comes in “substandard” thicknesses. The most common “5mm” is 2.5mm “substandard” and 2.8mm “substandard”. The 2.8mm substandard was OK for us, we were told, even though what the design called for was 5mm.
This was one of those “culture shock” moments where the Kano* is left with his jaw hanging open and his eyes bugged out. Substandard?! Who in the hell buys substandard steel? Well, Filipinos do because it’s cheaper. Cheaper always wins here.
We wound up buying the 3.8mm version of the 3/16″ steel (hoo-boy!) because the actual 5mm steel is special order. Why? Because “nobody uses that”.
Cutting and painting
The crew began working on the spikes from the beginning of the project. We needed about 200 5-foot sections for the north and south walls. The crew cut the rest into 1-foot sections for the front and rear walls. That’s a lot of cutting. Especially when you consider that the chop saw hadn’t arrived from the other work site and the laborers had to cut through the thick steel with just hacksaws.
This is the general order the crew followed to make the spikes:
The crew laid the stock across makeshift sawhorses. They sanded it and primed it with red oxide paint. They then cut the stock into 5-foot sections and put points on one end. The bars got one coat of primer and one coat of black enamel after being installed.
The laborers who were painting fell behind the crew members cutting the angle a number of times because the laborers had other work. During those times, the cutters cut the angle before painting.
The Spikes Go Up
The welders installed the spikes atop the walls by first welding angle bar stock to some of the deformed bar that stuck up from the wall top. They built a brace out of the angle bar for the upright spikes and welded them in place. We decided to part with the architect’s design and have a permanent brace welded along the side walls about 8-inches from the top. This would prevent the spikes from being bent (thieves cuse car jacks here to bend steel grills on windows).
Thanks for reading about how we made our Philippine fence more secure. Please feel free to leave a comment or question if you like.
Here is a photo of the finished wall, spikes welded and painted:
* AmerikanoPhoto credit, barbed wire: scragz via Foter.com / CC BY. Photo credit, Makati buildings: Roberto Verzo via Foter.com / CC BY