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.


7 – 13 February, a slower week after the big effort last week, which you can read about HERE, but steady progress made. It is at this point in the build, where the house is starting to look more like something that could be lived in, that one wishes for a fast forward button and we could just finish everything today!

One of the more pleasurable aspects of progress is the winding down of the pure construction and a move to the decoration and fit out stage.

Day 99 – We had been drip-feeding the team bags of render so that for once we ended up without an excess of materials. The FINAL five bags of render was bought locally and dropped off at the site and soon after the front of the house was completed meaning the whole inside and out was finished. Yay. I wrote last week how fed up I was of concrete and nothing has changed that opinion this week.

The render finally finished. A happy moment.

The render finally finished. A happy moment.

Inside all the ceilings were completed and the plastering of joints etc done. Anti-moisture Gyproc was bought for the ensuites, more expensive at 222 THB a sheet rather than the 143 THB for the regular version, but with only 12 m2 to cover a good investment for a very small additional cost. These sheets are green in colour or you can go the next step up and buy the ones with a silver backing.

Day 100 – With the ceiling finished the team on site dropped to Ming and Joy, one of his permanents. The other regular, Jack, had hurt his knee and was out of action for a couple of days. The attention turned to outside and building the framework that would form the soffit or eaves. This was being constructed out of some heavy duty looking steel beams, far more than I would have thought necessary, but it was a standard detailed in the plans. So we were once again back to steel and welding, something we hadn’t seen since the roof was finished.

At the end of the day Tam, the electrician plus a few other occupations, dropped in. He had asked me the previous day what I was doing to control the water flow into the water tank from the bore. As far as I was concerned we just got a bigger version of the float valve I put on the family’s water supply from the Moo Baan source. Tam pointed me towards an electronic version which he said was what was needed for a submersible pump and offered to buy one for me the next day being his day off. This is what he came up with:

Who would have thought?

Who would have thought?

This was not an area I researched so I am going with the flow, so to speak, on this recommendation. We have a 1 1/2 pipe from bore to tank and I haven’t seen a float valve that size but maybe they are around. Tam is pretty switched on, I must stop this, and in this case I am trusting his advice. At 955 THB it wasn’t a great expense.

Day 101 – Ming and Joy continued to work on the soffit frame. In the two outside areas, the lounge at the front and the dining area on the right of the house, I had requested a more fancy design than just having the ceiling boards run from the facia to the walls. The frame of the soffit had to match that, which involved more steel and man hours. The result ended up being a piece of design in itself.

The soffit frame in the outside lounge area.

The soffit frame in the outside lounge area.

Some of the detail that went into building this.

Some of the detail that went into building this.

Being Ming not only is the frame secured to the wall it is also double welded on the edges and at the suspended frame points.

Being Ming not only is the frame secured to the wall it is also double welded on the edges and at the suspended frame points.

All welding joints being covered with anti-corrosion paint.

All welding joints being covered with anti-corrosion paint.

We headed to Global House and bought 3 tubs of primer paint and tiles for the ensuite walls. The tiler and his offsider were due on the site the next day as they had just finished another job and were looking for work. At Global I also bought 3 litres of tinted paint to test the colour I thought would work for the exterior walls.

Returning home I got into some work clothes and actually got my hands slightly dirty doing a test wall using the paint I had selected. The end result was good and I got the thumbs up from Ming but no pay for my work 🙁

My test wall.

My test wall – the front panel on the right.

I was originally going for a cream, something along the lines of Dulux Rose White, but changed my mind and got a Dulux colour called Pearl White Ref 8575, which is a very light cream off white with a touch of green.

The following photo is from later in the week but it gives you an idea of the colour when it is directly compared with a white, being the primer in this case:

Can you pick up on the slight green tint to this?

Can you pick up on the slight green tint to this? It ends up looking quite white in the sunshine and then goes darker and more green in the evening.

Day 102 – The tiling started today in the two ensuites and what was the first thing they needed? – cement!!!! 2 bags bought and delivered. The 12 m2 of floor tiles I had bought well in advance ended up being wall tiles! Oh well. They can go into the guest bathroom when it is built once the exchange rate improves.

Now here is a hint for those of you looking to build here. I recommend you choose the floor tiles first as they are the most limited in choice especially if you are looking to use neutral colours. You have a wider range of wall tiles to choose from. If blue patterned floor tiles and a nice pink or green for the walls is your thing, maybe with some flowers thrown in for extra impact, no problem and ignore my advice.

DSC_0206

Subtle Thai flooring.

If however a more neutral theme is required then we are excluding about 95% or more of the choice in Thai tiles.  Unfortunately we had already selected the the wall tiles in an off-white with a silver/grey square pattern and finding a matching off-white floor tile ended up being one of the hardest supply tasks of the build equalling finding 37 Rt insulation. The other restriction was that I wanted to getting a rough non-slip tile rather than the shiny versions, which were in slightly more plentiful supply i.e. they had a choice of two! This is a house that I hope will take me into old age and I may as well start planning for it now.

I originally thought we’d have no problem and drove to Nong Bua Lamphu. By the time we had covered Global House, Thai Watsadu and a Thai tile franchise called Thai Top, and found nothing I was starting to get worried enough to plan a trip to Udon Thani the following day.

Back on site more steel was required for the soffit framework, of course, and 20 bags of cement for the external tiling aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Ordered locally and delivered the same day.

DSC_0041

Our site shed was free of concrete for a couple of days.

Day 103 – We left early for Udon Thani, an hour’s drive from us, because not only were we on the hunt for floor tiles but also I wanted to check out granite for the kitchen benchtop and a place that custom built timber furniture.

For the tiles I thought that the farang orientated HomePro would be the answer and the other two places were covered on a local forum called UdonMap, the granite in the business listings HERE and the furniture in a separate post. The granite place came with a Google map location and blow me down if when going to street view the business wasn’t exactly where it was supposed to be! I am always critical of Google maps in a Thai context, as it is often wildly inaccurate. The furniture place was helpfully described as “opposite Thai Watsadu on the ring road”, which sounded a bit vague.

These are my location pins so are correct. Google in true form has Living Index at the HomeMart site.

These are my location pins so are correct. Google in true form has Living Index at the HomeMart site.

I thought I would replicate the map I included in last week’s post because it shows all the major hardware stores in Udon Thani except the new Global House and we visited them ALL in search of floor tiles, a long and frustrating experience. We eventually found something close to what I wanted at St Mall. In Australia I could have walked into any tile shop and had a selection of dozens of cream/white floor tiles and been out of there in ten minutes. Oh well.

We had a lot more success on the other two aspects of the search so it wasn’t a wasted day by any means. The granite shop was exactly as advertised on Highway 2 heading towards Nong Khai, a town on the Mekong River at the border with Laos. The shop is huge and has masses of granite to choose from.

Wanghin Granite.

Wanghin Granite.

And more.

And more.

A good quality version for a benchtop was quoted at 3,500 THB or about A$140 m2 at todays rubbish exchange rate. What have you guys been doing since I left? Something like a black with gold flecks will set you back 4,500 THB a m2. Cutting and fitting is extra.

I was also very pleased to find a really decent garden decor shop just before the granite place on the left hand side of the road. The Garmin GPS location is N17 29.612 E102 47.834. It has some great pots, statues and outside furniture in a very extensive garden setting. Very Chiang Mai in appearance and the quality of products. We will be back. Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera into the shop but this is what it looks like from across the road.

A welcome addition to my Isaan list of attractions.

A welcome addition to my Isaan list of attractions. It stretches well back into the land behind. A big range of items.

We also came across another granite shop maybe 1 km on the left driving from the new Global House back into Udon city. GPS N17 20.836 E102 49.663.

The new Global House location in Udon Thani on Highway 2.

The new Global House location in Udon Thani on Highway 2.

The prices were a bit cheaper than Wanghin starting at 3,000 THB m2 and the boss guy speaks excellent English, always a big plus when deciding on a supplier here. He actually knew where Si Bun Ruang, our home town, was and had even been there the previous weekend to do a measure. I think that we will be ordering from him once the time comes.

The trifecta for the day was we also found the furniture shop pretty well where described – GPS N17 22.641 E102 49.543

The furniture shop nearly opposite Thai Watsadu on the ring road.

The furniture shop nearly opposite Thai Watsadu on the ring road.

DSC_0056

A decent choice of furniture mostly in “Thai-style”.

We were there because they not only stocked furniture but would make furniture to order. The spaces we have for wardrobes in the two bedrooms are odd sizes so custom made seems the only way to go.

Basic timber comes in a couple of options in Thailand. You can either have softwood, which is most of the cheaper stuff you see everywhere, or hardwood, which can be expensive by Thai standards. Lots of rubber tree wood used here and it has a very nice grain. Our kitchen will be made from it.

Most of the furniture they had in the shop was Thai style, which I don’t like but obviously works for the Thais and some farang. I especially don’t like the very shiny varnish they paint everything with, but each to their own.

DSC_0054

Although we weren’t specifically looking we found what will become our inside dining table and chairs.

DSC_0051

6,500 THB for the table. We want one slightly shorter and wider at 2.0 m x 1.0 m. They will make to order in three days and it will cost 7,500 THB or A$250.00. I will ask them not to varnish it and will then apply my own stain to match the kitchen. This set is made from rubber tree wood.

These chairs are very solid and heavy. 750 THB each or A$25.00. We will get cushions made.

These chairs are very solid and heavy. 750 THB each or A$25.00. We will get cushions made.

I haven’t finalised whether we will be using them for the wardrobes. The budget is very tight as we head towards some big ticket items at the end of the build so this may be a later addition. I will report back.

When we got back some progress had been made on the tiling.

Ensuite tiling almost finished.

Ensuite tiling almost finished.

The render finished and the small render cracks being filled to allow for painting.

The small render cracks being filled to allow for primer painting the next day.

Day 104 – The tilers having got as far as they could with the ensuites moved to painting. Primer was slapped up both inside and out, which lightened the house immensely. It was great to say goodbye to render grey.

Again

One guy patching and the other painting primer.

Just the primer suddenly made inside look like an almost finished product.

Just the primer suddenly made inside look like an almost finished product.

The back wall.

The back wall. Soffit frame still to be done.

We made yet another trip to Nong Bua Lamphu and Global House for three more packs of wall tiles for the ensuites as the tilers had run out the previous day.

The framework for the soffits were all finished except for the back, which is where Ming and Jack were now working. Joy had taken off for a few days to cut sugar on his 10 lai of land. 1 lai = 1,600 m2.

The outside dining area with soffit frame in place.

The outside dining area with soffit frame in place. Thai kitchen on the left.

Ensuite, which I was worried about being too dark c]vastly improved with some white paint.

The ensuite vastly improved with some white paint. The ledge on the right will have a granite shelf when finished.

Day 105 – The soffit frame was finished and the house swept and cleaned, ready for painting and tiling. With the primer finished the two guys who had worked on putting it on moved to painting the first coat of colour. Ming and Jack started on putting up the soffit boards.

It will be good to see the last of the roof space.

It will be good to see the last of the roof space.

A run through the house with the camera gave me the following progress updates at the end of Week 15:

The outside lounge area. The left side of the house.

The outside lounge area and the left side of the house.

Looking from the outside dining area through to the internal dining area and kitchen at the back

Looking from the outside dining area through to the internal dining area and kitchen at the back. Pantry and bedrooms on the right.

The reverse view.

From kitchen to the outside dining area. Master bedroom, pantry and Peng/guest bedroom doors from left to right.

Peng's bedroom.

Peng’s bedroom. Desk alcove under the window and ensuite on the right.

From Peng's desk area looking to the doorway and the sliding door leading to the outside dining area on the left.

Looking the other way from Peng’s desk area towards the doorway. The sliding door leading to the outside dining area on the left.

Our bedroom from doorway to blog room on the right and ensuite on the left.

Our bedroom from entry door to the blog room centre and the ensuite on the left.

The reverse view. Wardrobe alcove on the right.

The reverse view. Wardrobe alcove to the right of the doorway.

From the inside dining area looking towards the kitchen and outside lounge area

From the inside dining area looking towards the kitchen and outside lounge area through what will be a sliding door at the back.

I think the first photo of inside the pantry.

I think the first photo of inside the pantry.

From kitchen toward the outside dining area on the left and the lounge room on the right.

From kitchen toward the outside dining area on the left and the lounge room on the right. The window on the right might turn into a servery to the outside lounge area.

The entrance hall and lounge.

The entrance hall and lounge.

From lounge to the outside sitting area.

From lounge to the outside sitting area.

From the front door.

From the front door.

I was worried the house design would be too plain and boring and planned to break up some of the lines with post-build additions – things like pergolas. The further the house has progressed I have come to really appreciate the simplicity of the design. For me the clean unadorned look works very well in a hot climate and I probably won’t be making too many changes.

Obviously with our love of plants and flowers Gaun and I will be adding splashes of tropical brightness but the house itself will stay as is. I have even decided to only use the one colour inside and out, which may be taking simplicity to an extreme but I think will work.

I love the play of light and shade against the cascade of walls.

I love the play of light and shade against the cascade of walls.

At the end of the week.

At the end of the week.

DSC_0178

Expenses Week 15.

Expenses Week 15.

Expenses to date.

Expenses to date in THB!

 Happy Valentine's Day from Gaun and myself for those of you into recognising the day. 

Happy Valentine’s Day for yesterday from Gaun and myself for those of you into recognising the day.

It was our first wedding anniversary yesterday too and you can read about the wedding we had in Isaan HERE.

My good friends from Australia, me and Gaun and my brother and sister-in-law.

My good friends from Australia, Gaun and me and my brother and sister-in-law. Valentine’s Day 2014.

Thanks for reading.