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Digging In: A House In The Philippines

A backhoe, in the bed of a dump truck, is delivered to the site.

This is another installment of the series on designing and building a house in the Philippines. An index to all of the posts in this series can be found here: House Build Philippines: Index.

We also built a concrete hollow block perimeter fence. The index to all of the posts in that series can be found here: Perimeter Fence Philippines: Index

After the lot was leveled by the crew who built our concrete wall, the house contractor brought in the heaviest piece of equipment we’d had on the lot so far: a backhoe!

Lay It Out, Dig It Up

A backhoe and some of the wooden layout guides on our lot.

The contractor began by laying out the shape of our house using coco lumber.

The backhoe operator scooped out most of the column footer holes and started on the long trenches for the wall footing. The laborers “cleaned up” the sides of the trenches and column holes and leveled the bottoms at the proper depth (4 ft.).

Digging with the backhoe really made the work go fast. Using it was expensive for the contractor (it came out of his costs) but it allowed him to get a quick jump on the project and helped him conserve the energy of his workers.

Rooting Around

Nasty soil and old roots were waiting for the backhoe bucket. The giant stump dug out from where our septic tank was to go.The contractor, the foreman (in hat) and the backhoe operator.The soil on the very top of the lot was still pretty loose even though the wall crew had mechanically compacted it.

This is because it was fill, put in place by the wall crew to make the lot level (the lot naturally sloped toward the front).

Underneath the fill layer, the soil was nasty. It was hard, clumpy clay and was full of roots from the trees that we had removed.

The contractor used the backhoe to dig out the septic tank area at the same time the trenches for the footing were being dug. This saved having to have to backhoe come back later in the project. 

While digging that hole, the backhoe operator ran into a huge stump left over from what was a durian tree we had cut down. It took the backhoe operator almost an hour to dig up the stump. It would have taken days to do with just shovels!


The first partially dug out column hole and footer trench.

Once the backhoe operator had done his job, we started putting in the columns and footers.

That part of our house construction will be covered in the next installment in this series.

We also had to perform another padugo before serious work began and do some mechanical work on our rented concrete mixer. Supplies also started pouring in and so did workers.


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