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Septic And Walls Started: A House In The Philippines


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 a few courses of concrete hollow block were on the wall footers, the house began to take shape. The septic tank started to shape up as well.

Septic and walls

The exterior walls went up before the crew began on the interior walls. While one part of the crew worked on the outside walls, a couple of crew members worked on our three-chamber septic tank.

Our three-chambered septic tank

The septic tank was designed so that the rear chamber would receive the flow from the house. Solids would settle to the bottom of that chamber and liquid, once it reached capacity, would flow into one of the second chambers. That, in turn, would provide a second settling chamber and a cleaner liquid would overflow into the third chamber. 

At this point in the photo, the crew hasn’t added the overflow pipes that will allow the flows to move between chambers.

We built a channel the full length of our driveway that passed through the perimeter wall and into a dry well outside. The third septic chamber overflows into this channel with what is called “grey water”. This part of the system also handles the roof runoff so as not to fill the septic with stormwater.

The photo below of the channel was taken long after the walls were up and the house floor, carport, and driveway were poured.

The channel that carries rainwater from our roof

What’s a dry well?

A dry well is a hole in the ground that some type of water is pumped or channeled into. Rather than discharge rainwater and grey water from the house right out on the ground (which would stink and make a mess), it goes in the hole. The idea is to control the water and let it seep into the ground slowly. 

Ours is basic, just a hole with gravel at the bottom. Dry wells can be much more complicated. The one below is lined with plastic and filled completely with gravel and other material.

A dry well

We’ve seen that our dry well should be much larger than it is. We’ve had four extra people living with us for a few months. That’s four extra showers a day and many more loads of laundry. The water in the well hardly ever goes down now.

We need a larger pit but we’re right at the edge of the property already.

Wall work

The photos below show how the courses of concrete hollow block go up.

Deformed bar, (“Rebar”) is laid along the course and tied into the steel column cage work and either end. Short piece of deformed bar are spaced along the bar, wired together and the hollow block put over.

Below is what the long deformed bar looks like on a course of concrete block.

Rebar on a course of concrete blocks

In the image below, you can see how the bar is tied into a corner column metal cage.

Rebar tied into a corner column

Below you can see how the long bar is tied into a column along the middle of a wall.

Rebar tied into a middle column

Columns and courses

That’s is the basics of home construction in the Philippines: columns and courses of concrete hollow block. Below is one of the front patio columns. Once it’s finished, it will be wrapped in some decorative stones.

A view of a front corner of our house being built

You’ll see the photo below again when I tell the story of how we discovered our living room was too small. That front wall there gets knocked down after it’s built waist high.

That’s the difference, though, between seeing your house on paper and seeing it going up in 3-dimensions. Reality changes things.

A view of the front of our house under construction

Below is the view of the rear of our house. The edge of our patio is marked by the coconut wood lumber.

A view of the rear of our house under construction


Photo Credit: Dry Well: drywellguy Flickr via Compfight cc

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