Cost of constuction for a house?

Does anyone have good information on the cost of construction in HCMC or Bien Hoa? I have land (with a single floor home) in Bien hoa. It is 6m x 33m on a busy street. I want to remove that house and build: a basement (below ground), ground floor, 1st floor and rooftop garden (1/3 area enclosed). Any thoughts on demolition cost and construction of the foundation, basement and main structure(not including finish work like tile, paint, etc.)?

I have designed the plans and can send PDF's to anyone who has some insight. Thanks.

I have built three buildings since I've been here in VN and it is a frustrating job.

The concrete mixing and pouring trades are good as are the bricklayers. Plumbers and electricians suck, but plasters and tilers are good. Windows are dubious at best (in aluminum) and doors are handmade but good.

They tend to well undersize 'posts' - concrete pillars - and they usually use a single brick thickness as a wall.

You can calculate a lot of your bill of materials.

The iffy area is labour. Factory mixed concrete is generally delivered at night because the traffic jams, at least in TP HCM, can delay the trucks to a point where the mix is substandard - OK for driveways and garden walls but no good for load bearing elements.

In my second build, a mini-hotel, I use 40 foot containers welded together as a basement with the ramp coming through a set of doors that were removed and a very good sump pump to remove the ground water.

Ground water will likely be your biggest challenge. In many parts of HCM the ground water lies between 2 inches and 18 inches from the surface but you can find out by having a hole drilled on the site and waiting a week or so to see how much water comes in using a weighted string.

Your basement will be the biggest challenge. They usually drill foundations from ground level through the basement height and then beyond. These are used to not only support your new building but also stop the neighbours houses falling in to your hole. There have been numerous cases where houses have moved, strong the buildings are not.

VNese are good with rebar but you ave to make sure they use the right size and count.

I used North American standards for all my concrete and rebar - and they often place the floor rebar too near the base of the floor concrete. It affects strength.

For reasons that escape me VN construction workers like doing things the hard way. Instead of using foam forms to place in floors where plumbing and conduits are to pass through, they pour a complete floor then spend days beating holes in to the concrete.

VNese don't believe in sewer inspection holes. Again, they wait for a pipe to get blocked and then they can whack on your tiles and concrete, knock a hole in the pipe and clear the obstruction!

Use lots of inspection traps. Also you might need an anti-backflow flap to stop street sewage backing up into your house.

Another quaint idea they use is omitting sewer down pipe venting. The result is all over VN when people flush the toilet it goes glug, glug, glug. Likewise with sinks. Spend the extra $10 and out the vents in.

In Canada we put outlets about every 4-5 feet apart around the walls. VNese prefer single outlets, possibly two, in each room.

They also like one breaker per house. I ran my mains feed in to the house at the second floor, putting it in to a box with a breaker for each floor. Then on each floor I put breakers for the lights, power circuits, air-con and water heaters.

In flood areas it is common practice to mount power outlets at around 4-5 feet off the ground do the water doesn't mess with the power. VNese often carry this practice to higher floors where no flood water will ever reach them.

Roof. The heat in the houses from the sun can be substantially reduced by having a double roof. In your case you want a roof-top garden. The ceiling of the top floor of bedrooms, which can be of thinner concrete should have a gap of about 18 inches between it and the roof-top garden floor.

The sides of this 18 inch floor can be either left open or you can use airbricks with lots of holes in them.

hen the sun beats down on the roof garden floor the heat will be dissipated in the 18 inch gap and the heat blown away through the airbricks. Cheaper than air-con.

Hope these notes help.

[at] Jaitch
Thanks so very much for your input ... extremely helpful! As to electrical & plumbing, I have noted the same deficiencies that you have in my time there (the power grid always amazes/amuses me). The lot I have is high on a hill in Bien Hoa, so I don't think ground water will be a problem. Do you have any links to cost out materials (bricks, poured concrete, windows, doors, etc.)? Alternatively, do you have any general cost basis per sq meter per floor level? Thanks again.

Actually the power grid n VN is very modern. I drive from DakLak to TP HCM frequently and the power lines, double cables, parallel the road in many places.

They even use helicopters for live maintenance.

The problem is political priorities. Ha Noi and HCM are favoured with supplies over other parts of VN (except DakLak and Gia Lai set their own, local, priorities)).

The EVN has started a program of completely upgrading electrical networks, go visit Cam Ranh Bay - they have even pre0-wired future development areas.

The following is the cost standard from Davis Langdon & Seah construction cost Handbook Vietnam 2012 (as per end of 2011).
Davis Langdon & Seah is one of the leading construction cost surveyors. Their data are used by professional real estate developers.


Detached houses/bungalows (No basement): 500-600USD/m2
Terraced houses (No basement): 425-485USD/m2

Above-mentioned cost is per Gross Floor Area m2 (GFA).

Excavating basement not exceeding 2m  69 000 VND/m3
Excavating for footing <1.5m 64 000 VND/m3
Remove excavated materials 66 000 VND/m3
reinforced contrete grade 30    1 730 000 VND/m3
112.5m thick brick walls 165 000 VND/m2
Alum casement windows, single glazed 2 545 000 VND/m2

Costs are lump sum fixed price contract rates exclusive of prelim and contingencies (10%-20% is normally assumed in professional setting though normally much higher in practice) AND VAT(another 10%).

There are 20 additional construction + M&E (Mechanical and Electrical) cost measures but I am too lazy to type them.

The cost is for PROFESSIONAL developers/contractors.

Otherwise, I would like to add another wisdom: construction always take at least twice as long and double the cost of your budget. In Vietnam, make it quadruple instead of double.

Thanks to both Jaitch and Anatta for all the great info. This site has a wealth of information. I am certainly glad to have stumbled onto it. I will porbably have many more question prior to my relocation, so thanks to all in advance for any help.

Anatta :

Otherwise, I would like to add another wisdom: construction always take at least twice as long and double the cost of your budget. In Vietnam, make it quadruple instead of double.

I've just watched a house rise from the ground and become a four storey house, about 6 metres x 28 metres that took 6 weeks to complete to keys handover including one week for demolition and site clearance.

VAT is often not paid to contractors, pre-mix concrete has VAT added. Roof tiles usually attract tax, too.

Acting as your own general contractor saves a fortune but you will need a foreman unless you have the time to nurse the workers. Cost inputs vary from month to month and from place to place and often you will get quotes for different segments of a building 0 determined by the amount of work the guys have.

even using casual labour to cut channels for pipes and conduits in walls is cheaper than the electricians rates. Instead of internal walls made of brick I substituted hollow concrete blocks because I could use the holes for conduits and pipes.

Rebar and pre-mix concrete vary wildly and buying on the spot market can save a fortune. If you need concrete for non-loading bearing purposes, letting a pre-mix company know of your needs can get good deals as they always are looking for somewhere to dump out-of-time mix.

Time-wise, the problem is mostly not in the actual construction, but in the approval process. If you don't know your way around the system, good luck.

Attended a conference last week where a presenter tried to explain the approval process for Japanese investors. What a mess of Gantt charts!!! Not sure those investors were any wiser.

Personally, I had an architect explaining to me the steps: No less than 20 major steps if things go as planned.

Also, same conference: the CEO/chairman of one of most prominent real estate projects in HCMC gave a speech where, among others, he admitted repeatedly that the real estate industry is highly inefficient in terms of construction cost: cost overrun/waste.

Anyway, for a single simple building like the one you are trying to build, things may not be that bad, I guess. Don't know. Have only dealt with (much) bigger projects so I may see it through that perspective.

One more question: Does anyone know if Vietnam allows 'selling back' of electrical power to the grid? (i.e. When the sun is shining, can you 'meter back' power from a solar array to the grid for 'credit' for when you are pulling from the grid (known as 'net-metering' here in the USA)? Thanks again.

NO, reverse metering isn't allowed for by EVN - yet - there are specific agreements with privately owned (i.e. non-EVN) generator companies.

Solar is worthwhile, with a battery bank, to provide standby power when your area's turn for no power rolls around.

At least solar equipment is readily available, at good prices, of Chinese manufacture. Far less than in the States.

There is sufficient sunlight that even with arrays pointed in the wrong direction (except north) you can use it. (Many collectors are pointed in the wrong direction, as you can see from any highrise!)

Saigon Visitor

Come one, man. We are talking about Vietnam and you are asking for a thing not even available in even (many) European countries. Adjust your expectation properly.

In a country where electricity loss (thief??) is 20% per official number (neighboring countries: 10%), I don't think their first priority  is buying back. They'll get much better return by just figuring out where the hell the 20% goes.

Yeah ... I guess that was asking a bit much! :lol: Ok , I'm learning ...

Building costs:
from 3 mio VND/m2 (so-so Quality from 20y workers)
5 mio VND/m2 (good Quality)
Including cables, basic lightining, toilet a.s.o.

If you have 5x20m land, cost for 3 floors: 100m x 3 x 5 = 1.500 mio vnd more or less
700 mio vnd, if built cheap

SAigon Visitor,

Curious have you built your house yet? I am living in Bien Hoa and not sure whether to buy a house or buy land and build. There seems to be quite a bit of land for sale around here.

Interesting. I was just off the phone with my fiancee as I inquired about the piece of vacant land 20 steps from her home along a busy street/artery in Bien Hoa. The phuong is Long Binh Tan if that is of any importance.

She had to ask her aunt who sells concrete and was told it was $50,000 USD for about 20X40m I think it was. Not sure if that's the price for the land or having a house built on it. I think it's quite expensive if it's for the land because Binh Duong was selling land for about $10,000 USD/100 m2 but she said it was for land only.

In any case I'd like to hear some more from those that have or considering purchasing land and building a house in Bien Hoa.

I'm planning to buy a piece of land, preferably at least 500 m2 and building a 100 m2 2-story house with roof top garden that is off grid running on solar panels and solar water heaters.

I might be able to build the 2nd floor and roof top garden on my own. Well that's my plan anyways.

Just confirmed with my fiancee the piece of land is 4X20m for 995 million dong. Think that works out to just under $47,000.

hmmm... decision decision. Bien Hoa or land by the Mekong Delta river or live at her parent's house for a few years.

[at]khanh44
Don't forget, you can only lease land in VN. No ownership!

First of all I suggest you ascertain the highest 100 year peak flood level in your area. Add a metre and if your land is above that, go for a basement. It is so much joy being able to park a vehicle elsewhere than in the entrance/hallway of a house!

Another consideration is the depth of the sewer below the ground - usually around 1-1.5 metres.

Cost-Concrete
There are two types of concrete: readymix (comes in the back of a truck) and dubious (mixed on site by inexperienced people).

Only use readymix for posts (verticals) and above grade floors.

The readymix concrete prices are determined by construction in the area at the time you need it. Careful co-ordination with the readymix plant (i.e. not demanding deliveries when others want them) will get you goof prices.

Note that readymix has a lifespan and if traffic is bad they will only deliver at night/ The delivery ticket always shows when the mix left the plant and when it will meet specifications to *time). Either you, or an independent foreman, needs to be there when concrete is delivered.

Equally, if you want 'overtime' concrete for the yard or basement floor they will gratly discount it to you. No good for verticals or floors.

Dubious concrete costs are fairly stable as the ingredients are always available.

Cost-Plans
Architects have found a new way of calculating their fees. Square metres.

The main thing building inspectors are interested in are the foundations and concrete-rebar/steel beam frame.

I developed the drawings myself using some templates I had. There are two larger drawings - the outside showing doors and windows, etc.
The second large drawing shows everything about the foundations and the concrete frame to the roof. This drawing also shows the main sewer and rain water pipes.

Then there are small drawings showing the method of attaching concrete floors to vertical concrete posts; vertical concrete posts to load-bearing concrete beams.

No rooms were shown. The plan inspector said there had to be rooms and he was satisfied with a single line defining a room.

Then I had a mechanical engineer sign off on the drawings. He did his load calculations and the planners were happy, After construction w gav them 'as built' drawings.

Save a huge pile of money doing this.

Cost-Rebar & Steel
Another variable price is the market for anything steel. A couple of years ago the bottom fell out of the stel market so I promptly bought all my steel. Have rebar fittings made in a factory, not made on site.

Tradesmen
Vietnamese are good concrete workers, good at smoothing floors, good at laying tiles and marble.

The plumbers haven't a clue and the electricians are plain rubbish.

Dry wall erectors and plasters are good.

If you want tips, PM me.

Windows and doors
The hardwood windows and doors are good. A steel embedded frame is recommended. Aluminum doors and windows made here are rubbish.

Walls
Walls are typically the width of a brick thick. No insulation - wastes air-con.

khanh44 :

Just confirmed with my fiancee the piece of land is 4X20m for 995 million dong. Think that works out to just under $47,000.

hmmm... decision decision. Bien Hoa or land by the Mekong Delta river or live at her parent's house for a few years.

MeKong - Bien Hoa prices look around TP HCM prices.

If you don't have family in the MeKong why not look at Bao Loc or elsewhere in the Central Highlands?

KonTum is a great little town way out in the country and surrounded on two-three sides by low hills. Looks a little like Austria. It's way cooler than at lower levels and only a few hours, by road, from Nha Trang.

Thanks I'll definitely come pick your brains uhm I mean talk it over coffee when I've leased the land and ready to build a house on it.

   Unfortunately I'm in a pickle as my family is from Can Tho and my fiance's family is from Bien Hoa. I'm also planning to start a business venture so I think being close as possible to TP HCM has it's advantages.

  I like phuong Thao Dien but that might mean I'll have to put up my houses as collateral. And they get lots of flooding there so don't think a basement would be feasible.

khanh44 :

Just confirmed with my fiancee the piece of land is 4X20m for 995 million dong. Think that works out to just under $47,000.

hmmm... decision decision. Bien Hoa or land by the Mekong Delta river or live at her parent's house for a few years.

995 Million for a 4x20? That seems pretty high for Bien Hoa. I see 5x20's going for anywhere between 45 million and 300 million depending on the location.

45 mil for 100 m2? That's about $2,000 Cdn? Where about is it I would be interested in getting 500 - 1000 m2 if that's the case depending on location of course. Again I thought it was pretty high priced too considering I was offered to buy 100 m2 of Binh Duong land for $10,000.

Khanh44,

Not sure where. They have land for sale signs posted on every street light here. 45 million is on the low side and I would be wary of the location. The average for 100m2 is probably around 200 million from what I have seen. The next time I see the low priced one I will jot down the number and PM you with it.

khanh44 :

Unfortunately I'm in a pickle as my family is from Can Tho and my fiance's family is from Bien Hoa. I'm also planning to start a business venture so I think being close as possible to TP HCM has it's advantages.

Can Tho has gone down hill of late. Terrible reputation.

It's called the Howie Effect.

Maybe my fiancee was right. Here's a piece of land in her Long Binh Tan ward selling for 1.1 billion for 105 m2.

I've looked at many others not from Long Binh Tan ward and most are selling as others have alluded for 200 million or less for 100 m2.

Long Binh Tan ward

khanh44 :

Maybe my fiancee was right. Here's a piece of land in her Long Binh Tan ward selling for 1.1 billion for 105 m2.

I've looked at many others not from Long Binh Tan ward and most are selling as others have alluded for 200 million or less for 100 m2.

Long Binh Tan ward

That is a prime spot for a retail business. Is that what you are looking for or land for living only?

[at]Jaitch Ha Ha!! Got a good laugh with the Howie Effect. That's a good one!

[at]Howie - you need to go back to Can Tho and set things right ! Maybe install a few giant solar panels and aim it at Daklat!

Parmyd :
khanh44 :

Maybe my fiancee was right. Here's a piece of land in her Long Binh Tan ward selling for 1.1 billion for 105 m2.

I've looked at many others not from Long Binh Tan ward and most are selling as others have alluded for 200 million or less for 100 m2.

Long Binh Tan ward

That is a prime spot for a retail business. Is that what you are looking for or land for living only?

Ironically that's what I told my fiance. If I'm going to buy that land the front is going to be for business. That place is overcrowded. Can't even cross the street literally. The truck had to stop and block traffic for me to get across lol.

But the business I had in mind would require lots of open space.

How's Binh Duong?

Khanh44,

Not very familar with that area. I have been told that if you are looking for a large amount of land to buy and build on not to buy land zoned for farming as they will only allow you to build on a small percentage of it. I am not sure how accurate that is maybe others here on the board might know.

Good info. I thought, VN does not allow foreigners to buy "Land" then build your own house?

Duc_y2k :

Good info. I thought, VN does not allow foreigners to buy "Land" then build your own house?

From what I read and correct me if I'm wrong but no one can legally own land and that includes Vietnamese citizens.

What Vietnamese citizens and foreigners can own is the paper certificate that shows one leased the land.

What differentiates a foreigner and a Vietnamese citizen is that foreigners can only lease the land for 70 years before they have to renew it without additional payments if possible. Vietnamese citizens can theoretically lease the land forever.

Thanks Khanh44,I understand that foreigners can only lease the land but Does VN allow the foreigner to build the house on raw land they leased?

Parmyd's correct. If it's zoned for agriculture you would only be allowed to build a structure at the max of 400 sq meters. I got a t-shirt with that on it.

Duc_y2k :

Thanks Khanh44,I understand that foreigners can only lease the land but Does VN allow the foreigner to build the house on raw land they leased?

Not all foreigners who want to lease land will be accepted. Just those who invest in Vietnam according to Law on Investment can lease land in Vietnam.

Foreigners only can build housing on leased land pursuant to a project accepted by competent authority of Vietnam for purpose of sales or for rent. I want to say that foreigners can build many things on leased land but for business purpose only.

Plz note that laws and regulations on landing and housing are one of the most complicated laws of Vietnam, all of them have made a big mess.

Complicated indeed. How would this work out for me if my spouse is a Vietnamese citizen?

Or would it just be easier to re-claim my Vietnamese citizenship?

khanh44 if you have an option at this point go for number two. Buy, build and get everything in YOUR NAME. Than go back to option one. May I mention something. If you you don't have a Vietnamese exemption certificate (VEC) in your passport right now, that is the first thing I would go for. The VEC gives you a lot of  options when it comes to Visa's but a little known fact that since May 2010 it also gives you some, not allot, but some privileges concerning land and house ownership here in Vietnam.

I have something called a Certificate of Visa Exemption that is good until January 2017. Don't know if it's the same as the VEC you alluded to.

Duc_y2k :

Good info. I thought, VN does not allow foreigners to buy "Land" then build your own house?

NO ONE can BUY land in VN - all the land was seized after the American War in VietNam and is held 'in trust' by the National Government for the Vietnamese people, just like China.

khanh44 :

Complicated indeed. How would this work out for me if my spouse is a Vietnamese citizen?

Or would it just be easier to re-claim my Vietnamese citizenship?

Reclaim your citizenship, anyway, always good to have more than one passport.

The only time you don't want a passport is if you lose another in the process, unless it's North Korean.

Nhi :

... Plz note that laws and regulations on landing and housing are one of the most complicated laws of Vietnam, all of them have made a big mess.

Further complicated by bribes. Look at the casino in Nha Trang - USD$10-million crossed hands, but then they caught the guy.

Duc_y2k,

What Jaitch meant to say was after the defeat of the Canadians, who were sent in to enforce the 1973 Peace Accords, all the land is owned by the people.

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