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.


13 – 19 December 2014, this was the week that the shape of our house became a reality with both the roof structure and concrete slab completed.

Day 43 Saturday, the concrete slab team of four guys turned up first thing and started the preparation work to get the ground levelled and the sand down ready to lay out the rebar for the slab.

The preparation work starting.

The preparation work starting.

Meanwhile Ming’s three workers continued to build the roof. It was a very pleasing sight to see eight people working on the site rather than Ming + one, which we got down to at one stage. We headed to Nong Bua Lamphu and Thai Watsadu to pick up a couple of rolls of black plastic to lay on top of the sand and under the rebar as a vapor barrier and to slow concrete drying period.

Levelled.

Levelled and black plastic being laid out. All plumbing complete including P-Traps!

Ming is mostly pretty on top of his job. Here he has incorporated the electrical conduit to bring electricity into the house under the slab. He wants to bring power from the roadside pole to the house underground, which shows an unusual sensitivity for the aesthetics of the build for a Thai.

Conduit in place.

Conduit in place.

Formwork starting to be put in place. One meter surround to the house outside the walls.

Slab formwork starting to be put up. A one meter surround to the house outside the walls. 260 m2 of concrete.

By the end of the day the slab team were starting to lay out the rebar, which was to be constructed on site, a task I was pleased not to have to do. We decided do this as the off-the-shelf versions were made from thin rebar and everything else in the build has been of quality so why stop now? The extra labour costs would be covered by Ming and he didn’t have any problems in going down this route.

Day 44 Sunday, gotta love the 7 day a week build. The roof guys started to put up the central supporting beam that will form the ridge to the roof.

Struggling to make sure the beam is vertical. Everything is checked on this build.

Struggling to make sure the beam is vertical while Ming welds. Everything is checked on this build.

Workers above and below.

Workers above and below.

A separate area being built next to the bore for water tank, filter and pump.

A separate area being built at the back of the land next to the bore for water tank, filter and pump.

Each join done individually. Not the most interesting job.

Each join done individually. Not the most interesting job.

Tying rebar together. All done in good spirits, which is something they consume in amazing quantities at the end of the day!

Tying rebar together. All done in good spirits, which is something they also consume in amazing quantities at the end of the day!

Here you can see the center beam in place and the start of the roof structure happening.

Here you can see the center beam in place and the start of the roof structure happening.

Day 45 Monday, the preparation for the slab was finished today and the concrete pour booked for the morning. Ming and team made great progress on one half of the roof.

Starts to look like a roof.

Starts to look like a roof.

From the road.

From the road.

Meanwhile we hit the road to Udon Thani with the mission to find the alternative supplier of Windsor windows as I had been told through udonmap.com, a local forum, that they were a cheaper alternative to EK Decorate, the better known of the two suppliers in Udon. This one is located on Thong Yai road with Bangkok Hospital on your left. The shop is about .5km on your right shortly after it becomes a lot narrower. You’ll see a large construction material yard when you arrive but it is easy to miss. Just drive in and ask for Khun Yok. Nothing like EK. No fancy displays but the people are really friendly and helpful and the head lady speaks pretty good English, something missing at EK Decorate.

I am still struggling with selecting the right combination of windows as I wrote about HERE. This second Windsor supplier came in with the best quote to date by quite a margin. However the best Windsor can do for a double glazing profile is a 5/6/5, that is 5 mm glass, 6 mm spacer and 5 mm glass, which is less than the one I wanted being 6/9/5. The difference in the glass size is supposed to help with noise reduction.

I am minded to get the double glazing from DeKu in Pattaya HERE because they will send a team to install and offered a competitive price, and the single glazed units from Windsor 2. BTW they quoted in 6 mm for the single glass, a better result than the standard 5 mm you will get from the major building suppliers like Thai Watsadu or Global House.

Back at the house all was ready for the big day tomorrow.

Columns marked for concrete height.

Columns marked for 10 mm concrete height.

Also these nails used to gauge thickness during the pour.

Also these nails used to gauge thickness during the pour.

Day 46 Tuesday, Ming, Gaun and I went early to the concrete supplier and signed off on the order with a 10,000 THB deposit. I ended up selecting the highest grade of mix, which would normally be used for driveways or garages. I was mindful of the one meter surround to the house which had been recently made with soil that hadn’t had a lot of time to compact. Evidently a ST 180 is the one most used by Thais and the cheapest, ST 220 the next and ST 240 the one I got. Who knows, it may all be the same mix but there is supposed to be more concrete in my mix. 1800 THB per cubic meter. Two trucks delivering one with a five and the other a six cubic meter capacity.

Shortly after the order was placed the first truck turned up.

Shortly after the order was placed the first truck turned up……..

and promptly got bogged in the sand and gravel as he tried to get up the side of the house.

……..and promptly got bogged in the sand and gravel as he tried to get along the side of the house.

A bit of digging and another run at it and all was well.

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

The first delivery of concrete sliding down.

The first delivery of concrete sliding down. It may not look much to you but it was a highlight of the build for me.

The same the world over.

The same the world over.

The whole team at work.

The whole team at work.

Before the first truck left the guy with his tractor who originally smoothed out the soil prior to the slab team arriving was called back and moved the sand and gravel to give the trucks a better access. No charge. The first batch of concrete was very wet, which is a Thai thing reading the forums. I asked Ming via Gaun to get them to hold back on the water and the other deliveries looked a lot better.

One in and one waiting.

One in and one waiting.

Progress.

Progress.

From the water tank platform across the house.

From the water tank platform across the house.

All smoothed by hand.

All smoothed by hand. Not as good as a machine would have done but it’s what you get.

The obvious benefits to sealing the plumbing as soon as it goes in.

The obvious benefits to sealing the plumbing as soon as it goes in.

We ended up with 26 cubic meters at a cost of 46,800 THB. A small amount left over was used to partly seal one of the driveways into the family home in a rough way. Better than mud in the wet season.

Truck redirected to the family home.

Truck redirected to the family home.

The remaining concrete being levelled.

The remaining concrete being levelled.

Bottles of Thai whiskey being handed to Ming at the end of a great day's work.

Bottles of Thai whiskey being handed to Ming at the end of a great day’s work.

Party starts.

Party starts.

I had a fraction of what they did and still nearly went blind!

I had a fraction of what they did and still nearly went blind!

I gave Ming a progress payment for labour and it was interesting that the payment to individual workers is all done out in the open from this bulk amount. The boss of the concrete gang got his share and then paid his crew. Ming gave the solitary worker who stuck with the job when everyone else took off to cut sugar, a lovely bloke called Joy, a 3,000 THB bonus. It all helped pay for the additional bottles consumed after I left the scene.

Day 47 Wednesday, the formwork was removed and all attention moved back to the roof. Ming has had a problem ordering the correct qualities of steel needed to build the roof so we had to make a trip to Nong Bua Lamphu and the super new Global House, which opened 6 December, just in time for my build.

Huge building and homewares store. No idea how it will make a profit as the town of Nong Bua Lamphu isn't that big and already has a Thai Watsadu.

A huge building and homewares store. No idea how it will make a profit as the town of Nong Bua Lamphu isn’t that big and already has a Thai Watsadu. No complaints from me though.

As we were taking Ming’s truck we also bought the septic and water tanks both 2,000 ltrs.

Loaded up.

Loaded up.

Three workers building the roof.

Three workers building the roof. Slab after being watered.

End of the day.

End of the day. Really beginning to look like a roof.

The roof is getting a bit of attention from the local Thais who drop in to follow progress. I don’t think they have seen many hip roofs.

Day 48 Thursday, having almost completed the main structure of the roof the steel cross pieces into which the Colorbond would be screwed, purlins in English building terms, were next to go in. Ming was true to his word and all the welding joints were painted with anti-corrosion paint.

Paint going on from ground......

Paint going on from ground……

....and from roof.

….and from roof.

The purlins being fitted.

The purlins being fitted.

These were doubled up to give more rigidity.

Purlins – these were doubled up to give more rigidity.

A spiderweb of steel.

A spiderweb of steel.

The steel facia being welded on.

The steel facia being welded on.

Ming still uses the plans every day.

Ming still uses the plans every day.

Almost there.

Almost there.

We made a trip back again to Nong Bua Lamphu and Thai Watsadu because they had a special on AAC blocks for the walls at 16.5 THB a block, a saving of 3 THb each. We need 4,860 of them – more because of our double thickness block walls. Unfortunately delivery is going to take a week with them arriving on 25, 26 ad 27 December – it must be a really small truck or maybe a tuk tuk!

Day 49 Friday, into Si Bun Ruang and the builder’s supply shop we got the concrete from to buy the decorative board that would be attached to the metal facial. We also picked up a few extra steel purlins and four concrete rings which will become the grey water seepage tanks once installed.

Facia board fitted. It won't stay that colour.

Facia board fitted. It won’t stay that colour.

Another view.

Another view.

The rafters welded to the ring beams but also a separate plate made from offcuts of the same beams welded to the ring beam and the rafter for added strength.

The rafters are welded to the ring beams but also a separate plate made from offcuts of the same beams have been welded to the ring beam and the rafter for added strength.

To show my dedication to my readers I got up on one of those handmade ladders and took this close-up of the brackets.

To show my dedication to my readers I got up on one of those handmade ladders and took this close-up of the brackets.

Our final trip to Global House for the week had us buying 300 meters of 90 cm wide silver foil insulation with a 5 mm foam backing, which will be laid directly under the Colorbond for both heat and noise reduction. A tin roof in a tropical rainstorm stops all conversation underneath it. We will also be putting further insulation on top of the ceilings to exclude roof space heat, retain air conditioning cool and reduce noise.

For those interested in the technical details the rafters/joists are 1.8 mtrs apart centre to centre and the purlins 1.0 mtr.

We selected the two toilets for the ensuites and possibly the vanities. The toilets are on special for December so we’ll pick them up soon. You’ll be the first to see the photos!

A neighbour pops over for a look. He's a doctor and is opening a very small clinic off his home across the road. Useful.

A neighbour pops over for a look – the bloke in the hat. He’s a doctor and is opening a very small clinic attached to his home across the road. Useful.

All done.

All done.

With the roof finished Ming was able to review his calculations for the amount of Colorbond roofing we needed, got them double checked and is ready to order. Unfortunately we have a week to wait for delivery on both roofing and the concrete blocks. The pace of the build has outstripped the supply sources so Week 8 might be a quiet time. The septic and grey water tanks being dug in doesn’t make for a sexy building report but who knows what else might happen.

A big week on costs with nearly A$10,000 heading out of the bank account. A$27,000 in expenses so far including prepayments on the AAC blocks and 1/3 deposit on Colorbond. I am still budgeting for a 1.8 million build with a 10% contingency.

Costs-Week-008

Thanks for reading.