Following a disaster, communities, governments, and organizations are required to make rapid decisions that will govern the path towards long-term recovery. Hazard-resistant shelter designs have long been heralded as necessary for facilitating resilient and sustainable reconstruction; however, there is sparse documentation of designs implemented. We examine the case of design and building material selection for 20 shelter projects following Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, using photo documentation, interview data and field observations as a means to document rates of design adoption and choices in material selection. Findings use the shelter cluster ‘8 Key Messages’ as a framework to assess level of improved shelter design. Results highlight improved foundations, roofing, building shape and site selection and identify deficits in structural elements, including connections, bracing, and joints. Findings quantify design features that saw poor uptake by organizations and hold potential to inform future practice that encourages hazard-resistant design in the Philippines and other future international disaster responses.