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Some 3 km from west from the town of Tomohon, or about 28 km from Manado is the village called Woloan, which has become famous for its industry in traditional knock-down houses that can be transported and re-assembled anywhere in the world. These are not dolls houses or souvenirs, these are actual houses to live in.
Orders have arrived from as far away as Argentina, Norway, Poland, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and the United States, and of course domestically from Jakarta and Bali. The village is a favorite stop on any tour to Tomohon, and a number of orders have actually come from tourists.
Woloan, located in the district of Minahasa, is a pretty village surrounded by Mt. Mahawu, Mt. Masarang and the very active Lokon volcano. The weather is cool and can become pretty cold at night.
Along the main street of Woloan is a display of various houses that visitors can enter and admire and even order on the spot. The houses are built by skilled local carpenters using traditional methods and hard wood, so that houses are sturdy and well built, but can still be easily knocked down for reinstalment elsewhere.
They are a wonderful asset to have in a large garden offering that rural feeling. They have been used as chalets, gazebos or bungalows in beach resorts.
The traditional Minahasa house is built on pillars and stands 3 meters above the ground. There are typically a pair of stairs in front and at the back of the house, one on the left and the other on the right leading to the main door. Interested buyers can either take the one chosen from those displayed, but houses can be customized according to the buyer’s wishes.
A typical 112-type house has a terrace, a living room and three bedrooms, each 3.5 by 4 meters. There is no kitchen nor bathroom but these can be added and made to order. The house has 19 glass windows and 6 doors. Construction of a house normally takes 2 months for 8 men to complete.
The supporting beams are said to be made of iron wood, the walls are from cempaka wood and the ceiling is nantu wood. While the roof is supported by iron shafts. All woods are imported from neighbouring Gorontalo and Central Sulawesi regions.
Unlike other parts of Indonesia, the Minahasans donot believe in putting tiles on the roof, based on the belief that since tiles are made of soil and soil reminds one of death, therefore they do not belong on the roof. Roofs are therefore normally made of corrugated iron or natural fiber.
To transport and re-assemble the house in another city or overseas, the costs for transportation and customs fees as well as travel costs of carpenters to reinstall the house at site are on the account of the buyer. When the house is to be built within Indonesia, this will need about five men, but for overseas orders the company usually sends its master carpenter and a senior carpenter.
As Woloan is located not too far from Manado, the village is on the itinerary of any Minahasa country tour. You can also hire your own car or if you are more adventurous, hire a motorbike.