A nipa hut with class

Today Bob and I went to Samal Island with our friends. They wanted to see some land there for them to build their vacation house. They really liked the beach front. After looking at the property we then decided to get some lunch. We know a good place in Samal for that its Chemas by the Sea. We know the owner so we called him up if we could go there at his place and eat lunch. He said that its okay. So we went there, but before sitting at the restaurant we gave our friends a tour at Chemas. They were really amazed of how nice and clean Chemas is.

After a little bit of a tour we then sat down at our table and began to order our lunch. Their food is good there too. While waiting for our food Bob and I observed that Chemas really had a lot of renovation going on. They really beautified the place. Our guests really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place. After eating we were just chatting, the owner came to our table and talked to us a bit. He was telling us about his renovation. Just then he asked us if we wanted to see the inside of one the the cottages that they just finished making? We said to him sure we would like to see it. I was in awe of how the good craftsmanship and the good design of the room. The structure is really something. As if I was seeing something in a magazine. The cottage was made of bricks and a lot of good woodwork. I like the crown moldings that he had all through our the cottage and the bathroom. The loft is really nice too. I could have like that for an office with a nice view of the gulf. The design of the bathroom is really awesome and its overlooking the water and had a sitting area. Very impressive.  I am not totally in for Adirondack furniture, but they had on that cottage and I like it a lot.

Just then Bob and I decided to build something like that for our house in Samal. I’m really a fan of a brick wall and Bob too. That is what they had on the cottages. I like the whole package except for the roof. Its Cogon or nipa material (like straw hat materials) on the roof. For me that kind of roof its always needs maintenance. Plus the birds or some bugs would be living inside it. So that is really our (Bob & I) dilemma now.  He likes that nipa hut roof but I don’t. Gosh, we might end up with no roof at all because we can’t agree to it. Hmmm we have to compromise I guess… Good thing we still have a lot of years to think about and resolve this matter. Anyway, Bob and I have to think a lot about this though. We have to be on this place forever. This is our home. I know we are on the tropics and that it would be the perfect thing to have a nipa hut. MAYBE!


Post Author: Feyma (353 Posts)

Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.

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  1. Danny says

    Hi Feyma,

    I really like these Nipa huts too….but I like the appearance of Nipa roof too, but you bring up some good points. I hear there is lots of maintenance involved in these types of roofs too. But those are very nice looking nipa hut type buildings. My Roses family has a nipa hut that is in need of renovating, so we have that little project to look forward to as well….but this gives me some ideas too.

    dangang salamat, Danny :mrgreen:

  2. says

    Hi Danny – I am really impressed on that cottage at Chemas. I might have to go for nipa hut roof. :smile: You'll never know.

    Anyway, good luck to you and Rose on your project soon. Have fun!

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. John Miele says

    Feyma: Just a suggestion, for whatever it's wort… You could contact a builder and see about putting Nipa over a more "secure" roof, like metal or concrete. That way Bob could get the look and you could have some peace of mind. I'm not an engineer, but it might be feasible.

  4. says

    Hi John Miele – Ah, you are on my side! Ha ha… 😆 Your solution is exactly what I have been suggesting to Feyma! Have a good roof, whether it be metal or whatever, with the Cogon materials as more of a facade on top of it! It's the best of both worlds. Feyma, though, doesn't like the look, I think. 👿

  5. says

    I really like the hut, although its more of a house in the style of a nipa hut isnt it?
    How much does something like that cost to have built?
    I prefer a strong clean, maintenance free roof, tiles would be nice for a place like that. Don't put a false roof on top of it though, you'll still get insects living in it and birds picking all the time, it may also corrode the roof as the leaves decay over time. It will be damp and smelly underneath the leaves as there is no natural air flow as you would get in a genuine nipa roof.
    A tiled roof will still look very nice!

  6. CHAS says

    Hi Feyma,I have always found brick built houses to be quite rare in Phils,and assumed that the reason is,they are more expensive to build.I also have assumed that building with re-inforced concrete (metal frame in centre of wall) is more earthquake proof than brick,regards Chas.

  7. says

    Hi Feyma, I love nipa roofs also. To insure that birds and bats will not build nests on it, you must cover the roof with nets. In addition the nets, is a good protection for wind damage. It will probably take a category 4 typhoon to blow up the roof. Nets are not that expensive.

    In our beach house here in Marinduque we have a nipa roof with nets. The roof survived category 1, 2 and 3 typhoons for the last for five years. However, when typhoon Reming hit Marinduque, two years ago, a portion of the roof started leaking ( although the roof was not blown away). So I decided to replace it with metal roofing. Most of the nipa roof was still usuable, so we give it away to our tenants whose roofs were blown away by typhoon.

    Nipa roofs are cool but you may have to replace it every 10 years, or earlier if a typhoon hits Samal island.

  8. Ellen says

    Hi Feyma, this is my experience for whatever it is worth. Unless you do the work yourself, a lot of workers here tend to do shortcuts or just are not as detail-oriented as the one who spends all the money for the construction. So you will always end up (initial stages) finding leaks on the roof. The only way to know where the leaks are coming from is to crawl into the celing to see where the holes are – and this they do by searching for the light coming through. If you have nipa on top, then you can't see where the light is. 😀

    We have been in a resort in Vanuatu with nipa roofing. There it rains a lot, just like here. And there were leaks all over the place. Birds – lots of birds here. They are making their nests inside the gutters too. Water collection – in Samal you need a water tank to collect rain water because the ground well produce hard or salty water. It is necessary to clean the roof once in a while. With Nipa roof, this will be difficult. So Bob, good luck on this.

    I like the bricks too, and you can find fake ones which are much cheaper. If we use them, it would be more for insulation than for aesthetic purposes, so probably will have to use the real kind.

  9. says

    Hi John Miele – You got me there. Bob was just telling me that yesterday. Really I might go for it. Well see. Thats what they had on that cottages, a tin roof underneath the nipa. Well see though… :smile:

    Thank you John for your nice advice. Take care!

  10. says

    Hi Phil – Its really nice. We asked the owner how much the cost for that cottage he said just half a million pesos. With that a nice and big master suite, a big bathroom, a big patio, and a nice size loft too. With a good wood all through out. I like the tiles that he uses inside and outside the house.

    Thanks for the tips on the roof. Thats one thing to consider too.

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  11. says

    Hi CHAS – Honestly the cost of bricks and hollow blocks are about the same in price. I really asked the owner of that cottage about it. He uses the good quality bricks. He also said that bricks can handle good if there is an earthquake.

    Thank you so much for stopping by again!

  12. says

    Hi David B Katague – Good advice there. Thats what I notice on the nipa roof in the cottages they had nets. It also looks pretty good too. Wow, to replace every few years is really nice to hear. Oh gosh, I'm really leaning towards it now. :smile:

    I am not too worried about typhoon because we don't have here.

    Thank you so much for your good comment. Thank you too for stopping by!

  13. says

    Hi Ellen – Really to have workers here you have to be there all the time. We experience that when we have a renovation done before. I have to be there from they stated in the morning till they finished up in the day. It's exhausting but its worth it because Bob and I got what we wanted them to do. It's a struggle sometimes, but we finished up the projects ahead of time. I've heard of that shortcuts before, we don't want it.

    If we go for that nipa roof I guess we have to hire somebody regularly to clean the roof. We wanted to collect the rain water though. Hey good advice from you too.

    I would want to use the good bricks. Its really almost the same price as the hollow blocks.

    Thank you again for stopping by! Take care and God bless!

  14. Ellen says

    Nipa roofs are good for insulation. Also nice for a beach house and tropical look, but not for me. Besides, can't really stay on top of the roof watching the workers all the time. Am going for something that will last longer than 5-10 years – like tiles. Besides, we plan to put solar panels on the roof too.

    What kind of wood are they using? coco lumber? I have heard it is getting harder to find good hardwood here. What about the inside walls – bricks also? or cement boards?

  15. says

    Hi Ellen – Good point there. Hmm, we are thinking of putting up solar panels too. I guess we have to think it over a lot of times too.

    He is using jimelina wood planks on the ceiling inside. It is really nice. I guess the termites doesn't really go for that kind of wood. The inside walls are brick.

    Hey, you should check out Chemas just ask for Quincho. It's just near your house anyway. You probably know him.

    Take care.

  16. Markus says

    Hi Fayma,
    I would suggest to put a steel roof first, then screw verticaly termite treated timber buttons on top of the roof then streach a chicken wire (thin galvanise metal net) before you put the nippa on top of it. That way you have the nippa tropical look, air circulation between the metal and nippa, and metal which will gives you no leaks. When you replace the nippa in 5 years time you hose the metal with water to clean it from dry and rotten peaces of leaves. You can also screw brackets to the timber battons for support of your solar panels. The buttons should be 4" thick, so 2"x4" timber would be ideal, where 2" is touching the metal. It would be even better if you also could seal the timber around with "roof silicone", but that is optional, it will make your roof last forever. 💡

  17. Markus says

    Also that will give you a better insulation from sun as the air in the empty space between metal and nippa will be the insulator. (air is one of the best insulators – since double glazing in cold climates.)

  18. says

    Hi Markus – Honestly you really made me think a lot. I might really have to agree with Bob then. :smile: Your suggestions really is good. Really I like what you just said.

    Thank you so much for your advice. I really appreciate very much. Take care…And thank you so much for stopping by!

  19. Tim says

    Bob and Feyma,
    Feyma, do it your way. Bob, agree with Feyma. It's a lot more peaceful. If Momma ain't happy, no one is happy.

  20. says

    Hi Feyma – thats a nice looking house, but I might be leaning your way on this. I think the roof is going to need a lot of maintenance, in addition to the difficulty of adding solar panels.

    I'm thinking we might have a smaller nipa hut type structure on our land, in addition to our house. Then we would go with the standard nipa roof.

    We'll see how it works out for you, and then we can decide 😉

  21. says

    Hi Randy C – Hey I suggest you guys go and see Chemas by the Sea before building your dream vacation house there. Talk to the owner of Chemas, he has lots of knowledge on building and the materials and where to get them cheaper. Very informative.

    We might be building in time together, we are not ready yet at this time.

    Thank you so much for stopping by. Take care!

  22. sandy says

    hi feyma, just wonderring what type of paper works you'll get when you buy property in samal? is it a title or a declaration?

  23. says

    Hi Sandy – I have to say it would have to be the title. As far as I know thats what people get as soon as they paid the property they bought.

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  24. says

    I've put some metal roofs on before and they work very good over any kind of decking because you can use leveling strips. If you strip the decking with 2×4's you can place foam board insulation in between the strips wich adds alot of insulation. A man told us half way through a roof job with the foam board that it was the first time his aircon.had ever shut itself off that time of day in august and we where only a little over half way finished. What ever you do I'm sure it will look great!

  25. Peter Huchrak says

    Hi Feyma, Love the design of the Nipa hut. My wife and I will be building something similar at Puerto Galera Oriental Mindoro in the near future. I would love to get in contact with the owner of the Nipa hut to pick his brains on the design and construction of the building. At the moment we are both in Australia but are planning on moving to the Philippines in a year or so. It would be great to have more info on the design of the Nipa hut. My wife is from Cagayan de Oro.
    Regards Peter and Angie.

  26. says

    Hi Tim Payne – Thank you so much for the tip. Good thing I have a lot of years to think about.

    Really that cottage really turn out good. I would be happy living on it.

    Thank you for stopping by!

  27. says

    Hi Peter Huchrak – Next time I see him I will tell him about your inquiry. I will try to give him your email address.

    Try to visit and see the place before you decide on building. Maybe you can stay on that cottage and see if you guys like it.

    Good luck to you and your wife.

  28. Ken Jenson says

  29. Ray Langey says

    Hi great site like the nippa tropical look as one of the guys said
    we live here in the uk, but we have some land 4 hectors in Bicol, Daet is a municipality in the province of Camarines Norte..

    we go there for two months a year we are going to build a small house on the land looking at what you can do i will most like
    build something on the same lines..

    but i am not to sure of the base ? concrete? or build on columns.. any ideas welcomed..

    I would also like to contact any other expattirates living in this area ..cheers
    Ray Langley

  30. aceman says

    Hello, just admiring that modern nipa hut, and first time visitor. I am also in the process of planning to build one for myself, and for now gathering intel and design ideas. I have to extend my thanks for the great ideas i've gathered so far from this thread. Personally I'd incorporate some "sawali" and bamboo on the outside walls instead of showing the brick for a more authentic look, perhaps with some "capis" windows. :)

    I have some suggestions regarding having a solar setup for your new home. For one, it is a nipa hut (or at least would "look" like one), so incorporating solar panels on a nipa roof will not be a good idea; solar panel maintenance will be a big chore, roof area will not be adequate space for the panels, and the inverted v roof configuration with solar panels on both sides will not be the most efficient positioning for them, thus drastically degrading it's performance. The solar panels will require a good open area for the sun to shine on, which will require you to remove all that useful shade that's suppose to be around your home. To make the most use of solar panels, they need to be facing the sun most of day time, taking into consideration home construction and orientation to the sun, which is not always possible. It's best to mount them on pole mounts @ ground level, preferably utilizing sun trackers (it allows the panels to move as the sun moves, following it as it rises and sets), in a more open area close to the home clear from trees and other shady areas. Solar power is still very expensive, so efficiency is the key to make the most of your investment. Feel free to ask if you have more solar power questions. Good luck :)

  31. gena says

    Hi Feyma, nipa huts look very inviting, but in the end not really easy for the house owner to maintain. We have a beachfront house, and we started to have nipa roofing. We insulated it with that kind of insulator you buy per meter, then had bamboo mats as ceilings. Then the monitor lizards, geckos and field rats came, they make the ceiling their homes. It can get noisy, it also can give smell. I hope you can find a solution to eliminate such risks. As we reside in an area with big trees, we also have snakes. Then the termites, no matter how many gallons of Solignum, you still get them. The solution our English neighbor had was to paint bitumen on the posts. But termites also can fly, they even eat the trees live in our area. Think about it.

  32. metelyn mital says


    I like the design of the native house on the photo, i just want to ask if what website could i go to look for native house plan,coz we are planning to have a native house with a synthetic kugon roofing on the beach, and with a concrete panels,meaning a concrete and native house combinations;and its a 2 storey house.

    we been looking for some of the website for it,but we coudnt found one, can you help us please. thank you


  33. mike says

    if you have the money go with tiles for roof, stay away from nipa roofs, after 3 years they need to be replaced and never set a nipa on top of a metal roof. it will rust out. if you put a 4″ space it will be ok but hard to repaint metal roof. birds and bats will set up homes bettween the two roofs, bad idead . simple solution just but a metal “tin roof” repaint roof every 4 years and headache free.

    get 2 water collection tanks one to sit on ground on re-enforced concrete slab and one mounted higher then your highest water faucet in house, you could use the tank mounted high on a secure cement slab to gravity feed your inside plumbing. the tank sitting on the ground would be your main storage tank which is fed from the roof and the rain gutters. battery are of lower amp hours and of less quality then you would find back in the states. Solar will require a lot of panels and 1000 watts will run a refrige, tv and some lites. to run air con you can double that. you will need the proper size charge and power inverter and alot of batterys to store the power. there are websites that have a formula and you just 4ype refridge size, tv type and how many hours you tend to use thr lights and tv. you will need a water pump to pumpthe water to your main water feed tank ank water filters. setting up a water system and solar system is costly. here in butuan the electric is always out and so is the water.

  34. says

    Hi Ken Jenson – The only picture I have for the cottage was the one I just used for this column. I haven't gone there again to Chema's since I wrote this column. Next time I go there if the owner's there I will asked him if I can take some photos.

    Thank you so much for stopping by!

  35. says

    Hi Agnes Sales – Sorry I didn't have pictures inside the cottage. I will try to get next time I go there.

    Nice seeing you here. Thank you for stopping by!

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