THE Philippines currently has a housing backlog of 3.9 million households, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
On top of that, is a projected yearly demand of about 800,000 units, noted the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP), in a recent interview with The Manila Times.
With the industry producing only an average of 230,000 units a year, OSHDP said supply “can’t even catch up on a yearly basis.”
While the housing backlog issue is multi-faceted and complex, one aspect may be addressed, according to developers Woodendragon.
The firm has been building mass housing units using their own version of precast reinforced concrete modular housing.
Their ambitious promise: “ten houses built in one day.”
Woodendragon calls what they do “precast reinforced concrete box system for modular houses.”
The system departs from the traditional construction method of post and lintel, and walls of hollow blocks. Woodendragon Chief Executive Officer Kim Cabatit describes it as “more of manufacturing houses—than constructing them.”
The method, certified by the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing (AITECH) Committee of the government’s Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, is a precast construction system that literally raises modular housing from the ground up on-site – minimizing build time, reducing the number of deliveries required, and managing the manpower needed, all while being responsive to the conditions there.
Woodendragon does its own concrete batching and mixing, and panels are molded on-site using steel casting tables. All required utility installations are embedded in the reinforced concrete panels. Within 24 hours of casting, the panels are lifted and installed by 45-ton cranes.
Except for the first unit, which requires a lead panel, Woodendragon’s basic 22-square meter row housing unit is composed of only five precast reinforced concrete panels – including the toilet. These three-inch 3000-pound per square inch (PSI) reinforced concrete panels acts as shear walls. When installed with corbels, they can support the load of a 20-square meter loftable second floor.
With the concrete panels weighing an average of six to eight tons, Woodendragon’s “precast reinforced concrete box system” requires that roads be built after the cranes install the houses.
“Imagine a corps of army engineers with all the equipment and heavy machinery rolling into a place and essentially setting up a manufacturing plant, then raising up the pre-cast panels one after another till you’ve finally assembled a house right before your very eyes in a short span of time – that’s the magic of our system,” explains Woodendragon Chief Planning and Design Officer, Engr. Ray Mendoza.
Mendoza adds that their system ensures regularity and quality, as no panel can be lifted and installed if it is sub-standard in composition.
The modular nature of Woodendragon’s “precast reinforced concrete box system” allows it to combine two basic 42-square meter lofted row houses, to create and 84-square meter floor area. Chief Operating Officer, Arch. Richie Agbulos reveals that, with their system, Woodendragon can also produce a variety of two-floor designs for single and single-attached (duplex) units.
It is an accomplishment in itself that the system earned the approval of AITECH as the committee counts members from the government’s housing bodies, the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines, as well as Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Product Standards, and the University of the Philippines’ Building Research Service.
Moreover, Woodendragon’s “pre-cast concrete box system for modular row houses,” is cost-efficient—Agbulos says it can even cost one-third of what other players can budget for construction—even as it is solid and safe.
“Our units have withstood major storms like Typhoon Glenda, and they are definitely sturdy,” shares Cabatit. The system, he adds, “can seismically withstand the force of a magnitude 7 earthquake, as well as super typhoon-category winds.
The “precast reinforced concrete box system” complies with all relevant codes, including the American Concrete Institute (ACI)’s building code requirements, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)’s standard code for steel buildings and bridges, the country’s National Building Code, the National Structural Code of the Philippines, and the standard specifications for highways and bridges adopted by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation.
Woodendragon’s flagship project for its “precast concrete box system” for modular row houses is San Manuel Villagio, a National Housing Authority (NHA) housing project of 1,165 units for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Barangay Molino in Naic, Cavite.
The young company had also finished a 1,111-unit housing project for the informal sector in Barangay Lallana, Trece Martires City using the same “precast concrete box system” for modular row houses system.
While Woodendragon acknowledges that there are certainly several factors to consider in addressing the housing problem, it believes that it can—and has—addressed the build aspect of it with its “precast concrete box system” and its promise of affordable, quick and quality houses.