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.


28 March – 3 April, a week of settling into the new house, another kitchen and the wall.

Only those of you who have spent time living in a basic Thai village house can appreciate what a pleasure it is to move into a western style home again. I don’t mean to imply that I have been living on the edge for the last five months because the family home provided all the basics; shelter, a comfortable bed, a western toilet and a hot shower. Not exactly doing it tough.

What it couldn’t provide was comfort, cool from the 40 degree temperatures we are getting at the moment, quiet and cleanliness. The latter only as a result of the design of the house which leaves a large gap between the top of the walls and the start of the roof. The roof beams sit on top of the walls and the space has never been filled in, a common situation here, maybe providing extra ventilation. Although it may allow the cool air in and hot air out it also gives easy access to the sugar cane residual, which floats everywhere after they burn off, gekkos and dust, and Isaan is a terribly dusty place in the dry season.

My house wonderfully sealed, so although keeping outside clean is a constant challenge, inside is everything the family house wasn’t.

Still in that moving in phase but what a delight. My view as I open the bedroom door in the mornings.

We are still at that moving in phase but what a delight. My view as I open the bedroom door in the mornings.

And speaking of settling in I am coming across many weird selections I made to bring from Canberra:

Gaun unpacks some of the things we brought out from Australia.

Gaun unpacks some of the things we brought out from Australia. Pizza plates and microwave dishes – really! Spot the ugg boots 🙂

There are four main jobs to be completed before we can say a thankful goodbye to builders and they are: (1) the Thai kitchen (2) the pond (3) the front wall and gates and (4) the granite benchtop for the kitchen. This week three of the four were being worked on.

The design of the house provided for two outside living spaces, a lounge area on the East and a dining area on the West. Breakfast and mornings to be spent on the West, the cool side before moving to the East late afternoon for drinks in the lounge area. Yes, it is a hard life.

Showing the two outside areas on opposite sides of the house.

Showing the two outside areas on opposite sides of the house.

My original drawn plans for the house didn’t have an outside kitchen included for some reason. It was always my intention to have one both for my Aussie BBQ and for when Gaun wants to cook up something especially spicy, usually incorporating a sauce which the Thais call “fish dead long time”. I rest my case for outside cooking facilities.

I had sort of gotten used to this view of the Thai kitchen.

I had sort of got used to this view of the Thai kitchen.

We had bought three good quality plastic cupboard units from Global House and they had made the move across from the family home waiting their turn to be included in the build. This was their week!

The Thai kitchen starts to go in.

The Thai kitchen starts to go in.

Render is a wonderful hide-all. It allows a total mess on the blockwork to be covered up and end up looking super professional.

More

The kitchen in Ming is now working on tiling.

And the end result? Everything I wished for:

My BBQ on the left. Looking towards the guest bedroom door.

My BBQ on the left. Looking towards the guest bedroom door.

The view the other way.

The view the other way. That dining setting was bought from Global House needless to say. Expensive by Thai standards but the table takes four people to move and the chairs are very solid – a two hand lift. Super comfortable too. Will outlast me.

This was always part of my philosophy for building a house in tropical Thailand. I didn’t want to construct an air conditioned prison with no connection to the outside world, especially once the garden gets established. There are certainly times when retreating inside is a sensible thing to do but equally there are periods where being comfortably outside is also an attractive option. An icy cold beer and a steak from the BBQ, Aussie and NZ steak can be bought from Makro for those locals reading, and all would be pretty good with the world. You can see that I have started testing the beer in the photo above.

Just as an aside for those of you who have been told to expect to be eaten alive by mosquitoes, and that’s what I thought having read forums, not so. I have lived in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and now in Isaan for a while and although there are mosquitoes around especially at dusk, they are far less of a problem than during a Canberra summertime. Spray is a good idea as a precaution but if you forget it is not a certainty that you’ll get bitten. Now that may change in the wet season but even then it wasn’t a major problem in Chiang Mai anyway.

Because the Thai kitchen wasn’t included in the plans it was outside Ming’s original quote for labour. He ended up charging me 4,500 THB or A$150.00 to build it.

Because we don’t have an internal kitchen until the granite benchtop arrives in Week 23 Gaun has set up the Thai kitchen for everyday cooking. Pick the odd one out. Answer the microwave. I have two of them, one I bought in Chiang Mai and another that arrived with my Australian stuff. Honestly I have no idea what I will do with them. They form no part of any process involving Thai food and I can’t see them being used for when I cook Western style either. Take them off your bring to Thailand list unless you want to continue to buy TV dinners!

Because we don;t have an interall kitchen until the granite benchtop arrive in Week 23 Gaun has set up our

Gaun like any Thai person could cook a feast for 20 people in no time using this kitchen.

Kitchen finished Ming and Jack moved to the pond, which once finished will house Barney the turtle, when he/she makes an appearance on the family farm in the wet season, and some Koi to eat any mosquito eggs.

The walls are rendered.

The pond walls are rendered before tiling.

Ming working away in 40 degree heat.

Ming working away tiling in 40 degree heat. He is under what will be the saphan or bridge, which sits just above the water and leads to the front door.

I chose a soft green tile to blend into the garden.

I chose a soft green tile to blend into the garden. The red carport steel will be changed if you were thinking that “blending” had taken a day off.

The area beyond the pond, behind the carport in this photo, will be grassed to help soften the whole area. The pond will be finished in Week 23 so I will report back on the end result then.

The major piece of work happening this week was the construction of the front wall and gateways. I had originally thought that I would just replicate the barbed wire fence we have around three sides of the land and plant a hedge to hide the ugliness in time. However I ended up ordering a full concrete wall with slatted palings. The A Team, a group of four super guys who have done a lot of the construction on my place, contracted to build it for 15,000 THB, which seemed a good deal especially as I knew I would be getting a quality result.

I mentioned last week that my main brief for the wall was that it stayed upright, an essential criteria for any wall in my opinion except in Pisa, but not necessarily a requirement for Thai walls. I also wanted it to incorporate a garden bed for some of Gaun’s flowers and have two gateways, one for the car and one for people access as the main gate would be closed most of the time.

The design was also complicated in that the wall had to work around two trees rather than cutting them down, another unfortunately quick solve in many cases here.

The wall going around this tree. The Thais must think I am crazy.

The wall going around this tree. The Thais must think I am crazy. After all that digging around the roots the thing will probably die on me!

The main foundations tied back to secondary foundations to ensure the whole thing stays upright.

The main foundations tied back to secondary foundations to ensure the whole thing stays upright.

There will be five lights across the length of the wall. Here the wiring is going in.

There will be five lights across the length of the wall. Here the wiring is going in. There are no street lights in our street, very few in the whole Moo Baan, so it will be very visual at night.

I have also incorporated an power point for an electronic gate opener although, because we hardly use the car here once we stop going to Global House every other day, I am not sure that I will bother putting one in.

Another me supervising photo. I had to go to the local government office, which is why I am looking unusually neat.

Another me supervising photo. I had to go to the local government office this day, which is why I am looking unusually neat.

Footings in. Gaun's turn for a photo moment.

Footings in. Gaun’s turn for a photo moment.

You can see the double wall arrangement in the photo above. The front footings will support a low wall, which will form Gaun’s flower bed with the main full height wall behind. Gaun is posing at what will be the small gateway into the property.

The first block is laid.

The first block is laid.

Peng, my step-daughter, arrives to view the action. You can read about her three wheel motorbike HERE.

Peng, my step-daughter, arrives to view the action. You can read about her three wheel motorbike HERE.

From the main gateway towards the house at dusk.

From the main gateway towards the house at dusk.

You can see the double wall now.

You can see the double wall now. Gaun will be in heaven planting this up with flowers. You can also see the sala in the background under the two mango trees.

That tree in its own little enclosure.

That tree in its own little enclosure.

And the other trees protected fro the chop.

And the other trees protected from the chop. A mango and longan trees. One will have to go anyway.

A better view of the sala.

A better view of the sala. The palings ready to go up in the front. The sala will be nicely enclosed once the wall is finished. You can see that Gaun has been planting it up already.

Gaun's work again. Bougainvillia shrubs finally out of pots and into the ground.

Gaun’s work again. Bougainvillia shrubs finally out of pots and into the ground.

A makeshift enclosure for more shrubs. Gaun is unstoppable.

A makeshift enclosure for more shrubs. Gaun is unstoppable in most things but the garden is her real love along with an Aussie bloke I hope 🙂

The wall further down the track.

The wall further down the track. A supporting reinforced concrete capping is being put in place.

What's happening here? You will often see small children on the roam here unlike our kid-free streets.

What’s happening here? You will often see small children on the roam here unlike our kid-free streets.

Through the small gate, which will lead to a path that will meander through the garden to the front door.

Through the small gate, which will lead to a path that will meander through the garden to the front door.

Peng has fallen in love with the hot shower I covered in Week 21 HERE. Her bike out front means that she is making a visit.

Peng has fallen in love with the shower I covered in Week 21 HERE. Her bike out front means that she is making a visit to enjoy a real shower before heading back to the family home for the night.

Enough wall photos already - my last one.

Enough wall photos already – my last one.

A couple of non-wall things to happen. The inside dining setting was ordered unstained because I wanted to do that myself. The end result looks great, although colours don’t 100% match as the table and chairs are made out of different timber, but I don’t find that a problem. It sort of fits in with the general theme inside.

Me actually doing something.

Me actually doing something.

Before with wife.

Before with wife.

After without wife.

After without wife.

The curtains were installed in Week 21 and what a big difference they made to the house. They helped stop a lot of the echo feel to a place built with so much concrete. The final venetian blinds turned up this week to finish the order. All supplied by a very efficient place outside Thai Watsadu in Nong Bua Lamphu.

The desk area in my "blog" room.

The desk area in my “blog” room where I am currently typing this post.

And finally I can so recommend this Samsung fridge, which we bought from HomePro for around 17,000 THB or A$700.00.

DSC_0469

It has a cold water dispenser outside which access a 5 liter tank inside the fridge but more importantly also has an automatic ice making machine inside the freezer. Ice is a constant in Thailand and to have it available so easily is a huge plus.

Bliss.

Bliss. Empty the bottom tray, just swap over and it will be refilled.

It is a poor man’s version of those big double door fridges with the auto ice maker/cold water unit built into the door. Those fridges to me always seem like the opposite to Dr Who’s Tardis. They are huge on the outside and small on the inside 🙂 A cheque from Samsung is on its way.

Next week will see the end of builders until the next project. A BIG BLOODY hooray on that one. The wall and pond will be finished, the carport painted and the granite benchtop installed. It will be brilliant to have a fully functional inside kitchen again after so long and to have drinking water that isn’t shipped from the rainwater tanks at the family home.

I have to say that I am a very happy Thai houseowner the end of Week 22.

Expenses Week 22

Expenses Week 22

Total Expenses to date.

Total Expenses to date.

Thanks for reading and for all the positive comments that have been coming in.