Updated 6 July 2016:
I have just published a 750 page eBook that follows the challenges, frustrations and successes of building a house in Thailand from the very start of us buying the land through to moving in and beyond. You will be part of our building team for every day of construction and I will share many do’s and don’ts all designed to save you time, money, sleepless nights or all three. This book is a must have as part of your research on the subject of building in Thailand and you can find it HERE.
21 – 27 February, a week of painting and the start of tiling. I will also cover ordering the kitchen and windows and whatever else I can think of.
The build is getting towards the finishing stages so there are less things to report on, which for me is a good thing but maybe makes for less interesting reading. In theory we are on the downhill run towards a late March early April finish but I won’t tempt fates by writing that here!
We start the week with a workforce of two, Ming and Jack. The tilers were off building a wall for one of the relatives elsewhere in the village – an occupational hazard in a small community with an interlinked chain of obligations. Having selected the ceiling paint Ming and Jack were doing their bit by steadily applying it, Jack on the roller and Ming doing the more detailed work. Paint was being put on the walls too where needed.
The first four days of Week 17 were more of the same so I will skip through that topic and cover some other things.
With the outside tiles installed across all the sliding door entrances it meant that we could now organise to get the windows and doors measured up by Deku German Windows in Pattaya, Chonburi HERE. I did promise you that I would keep you informed on their performance and the quality of their product in case you wanted to use them too.
I have to say that initially I was very disappointed with their communications. I was dealing with Anne, their Sales Manager, and several emails went unanswered. I prefer to deal with companies in written form so that both side have a record of conversations and situations agreed. To me the ability to respond quickly to emails was important as I am dealing with someone 600 km away supplying a reasonably expensive product that I hadn’t even seen yet. Slick communications gives one confidence as to the professionalism of the organisation. A couple of telephone calls got me a promise of action the following day, which never happened.
I was so disappointed that I was seriously considering moving to the next choice on my window supplier list, even though they offered a lesser quality product. All I wanted to do was arrange for a measure and quote so we were only talking the first step in the process getting my windows.
Luckily for DeKu and me, Peter the CEO of the company and the German expertise according to their website, took over communication and we have been on track ever since. He arranged for one of his guys to travel to Si Bun Ruang overnight on the bus, measure up and return the same day, all of which happened smoothly on the 26th. I received an update quote on the 28th, which I have attached below for anyone interested.
The young guy Peter had sent up was very enthusiastic about DeKu’s product, which you’d sort of expect, but he was a quiet nineteen year old and not a sales type in any way. It was only as we took him back to the bus station that he shared more about the company.
This was lucky because to start off with after we picked him up there was no conversation at all and I will share why that was because it gives you an insight into an aspect of Thailand you may not pick up if visiting here.
In living with Gaun, my Isaan wife, for over nineteen months now, I have come to realise that as far as she is concerned are two groups of people in Thailand. There are those people from Isaan, a large mostly rural area of Thailand in the North East, who speak Isaan, which is pretty much Lao, and everyone else. Isaan people wherever they meet have an immediate connection and the first line of conversation is to work out where each person lives. The closer to each other’s home base the better!
Well, when we collected the DeKu man from the bus station I think Guan assumed that because he was from Chonburi, which would make him an “other”, no great effort was required. During the measuring at the house it became obvious that he could speak Isaan and not only that but he was from Udon Thani, which is 80 km from us – a double bonus. All was in chat mode from that point and that’s how we got an insider’s opinion of DeKu and their product!
One of the interesting observations the DeKu guy made was the number of farang who visited the Pattaya showroom looking for a high quality product at a Global house window/door price. It is a sad consistent in life that in most cases you do actually get what you pay for.
The Week 18 update will be one to look out for if you want more information as to DeKu’s product, as we are flying to Bangkok on Tuesday with three main tasks on our list. I have to renew my Retirement Visa by 25 March, and that requires me to get a statutory declaration from the Australian embassy verifying that my income exceeds 800,000 THB per annum. You can read about the Retirement Visa in huge detail HERE.
I am also having another go at formally marrying Gaun, my wonderful Thai lady, as we only have a social marriage, which you can read about HERE. If you happen to come across a Thai national you want to formally marry 🙂 I explain how HERE. Part of this latter process also requires getting a statutory declaration from the embassy. Finally we are going to Pattaya, a two hour’s drive from Bangkok and perhaps Thailand’s best known beach party town, and staying overnight before visiting the DeKu showroom the following morning. I know, yet another example of doing it tough in Thailand.
I may or may not report back on what we did on the Tuesday evening in Pattaya 🙂 but I do promise to take photos and give you as much information as I can on DeKu.
Just as an aside I will also let you know what I think of Lion Air, the airline we are using to travel from Udon Thani to Bangkok, a first as we used AirAsia for this trip last time. The return trip for two is costing 2,800 THB or around A$110.00 at today’s rubbish exchange rate.
OK, back to the build. Day 117 – the painting has now been mostly done and one of the tilers returned from wall building. Just the one guy as Ming wanted him to work alone as the second one evidently isn’t as good. He is being paid 80 THB a square meter or around A$3.20. I am told the test of a good tiler is to run a 1 THB coin across the floor. If it doesn’t bounce across the joins you’ve done well!
However the first job had nothing directly to do with tiling. With the floor being uneven with a fall from the right of the slab to the left, the job for a couple of days was to add yet more concrete to raise and even out the floor.
They are putting down more concrete base than normal as I want the inside floor level to be higher than the outside tile level. The sliding doors will sit on top of the outside tiles and the inside tiles will then butt against the door frames at a higher level. This both reduces the step over the base of the PVC frame, which are pretty bulky, and also gives extra protection from any water getting inside.
Day 118 – and finally we have tiles going down. Very exciting because it is the final step in the big construction items before we move to the more fun fitout stages. Covering the ugly concrete floor starts to make the place feel like the final product and gives us the best idea to date of what we’re getting for the money.
While this was going on Gaun, who is one of the most thrifty people I know, was out in the 35 degree heat sifting left over sand by hand, so it could be used in the tiling process. The forums are always rubbishing Thai women and their desire to send as much of their farang’s money as possible. I am here to tell you that there is an alternative. Choose wisely!
This was the day we also finalised the kitchen design and placed an order with Global House. A 50% deposit was required with a 15 day delivery time. We have been dealing with a young lady called Jen in their kitchen area and she has been great. Everything promised has come through and she is efficient and good to work with. In fact Global House in Nong Bua Lamphu is a real credit to the company. We always get excellent service and always in a friendly way. I could almost invite the staff over for the housewarming!
Ordering the kitchen was another very positive moment. It is a pivotal step in finishing the house. In my mind it goes tiling finished, kitchen installed, granite benchtop measured and ordered, electrical fitout, doors and bathrooms done and windows installed. A three week timeline starting about now.
The kitchen ended up costing close to 115,000 THB or A$4,600.
We also bought two bedside tables, which isn’t too exciting but the colour of the timber is the theme that is being carried throughout the house in all the wood we use, including the kitchen.
The week finished with more tiling, which will be the theme for next week too, all being well.
The thing I am happiest with is just how cool the house is. We are now getting 35 degrees during the day as we move out of what passes as winter here, although the nights are still very comfortable. In that 35 degrees the family home upstairs is 40 degrees and unlivable but the house is only 28 even though we have no windows. I have postponed the installation of air conditioning in the living areas until I assess how well the house performs during the hot season we are currently slipping into. We have overhead fans as well as portable ones and I am hoping that will be enough once we can shut the house up during the day.
As the house is the coolest place to be during the day we have semi-moved in. A couple of chairs, a fan and a drinks box with ice and life is looking quite comfortable. I have added a mobile wifi device and am typing this post from Peng’s bedroom! Gaun has just brought me crumbed prawns and homemade ice cream for lunch. Maybe a snooze in the afternoon!
Week 18 starts slowly as the death of one of the villagers shuts everything down for the day for his funeral and then a village festival stops work the next day, which you can read about HERE. However I am writing this post on Monday and things are on the move again. I am looking forward to seeing some positive progress once we return from Bangkok on Wednesday.
Thanks for reading and for the comments.