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 March, a week of yet more tiling, the start of landscaping, progress on the pond, doors and fixtures.
We still only have three workers on the site, two on tiling and Ming who has started the week building the walls for the feature pond in front of the house.
The pond will be tiled in a light green, which will blend peacefully into the garden. I hope Barney the soon to be resident turtle likes the choice.
The two guys working on the tiling are great. They both turn up early in the morning and just get on with it. Jack, who is employed by Ming, mixes the cement and cuts tiles and the other man, who both Gaun and I call “the small man” – Thais aren’t strong on using names, lays the tiles. It is a smooth running operation and the results are excellent.
A day was spent on Peng’s ensuite floor using the elusive white non-slip floor tiles I wrote about HERE, although the outcome is still more grey than white.
Sunday build day 128, the furniture we had ordered turned up and was packed into the family home’s carport. We had bought two bed bases and mattresses, bedside tables, a display cabinet and a couple of desks with matching chairs. All made from timber and good quality.
By Tuesday day 130 of the build Ming was still working on the pond and had added the saphan or bridge that would lead to the front door.
At this stage I spoke with Ming via the family and asked that more emphasis be placed inside. The pond and anything else outside could be done later but my priority was to get the house ready to live in. We had bought all the doors and associated hardware at the weekend so Ming moved to getting the doors hung and once again got my brother-in-law Lud to help him out.
Now here is one of those useful tips that I wish I had picked up on before. If you buy a standard door frame from Global House and probably the other hardware places, it comes ready to fit a 3.5 cm thick door, which is the standard in Australian and possibly elsewhere. However just to be different and cheap if you buy the standard Thai door it is a thin 3.0 cm. This leaves you with a door that doesn’t fill the frame, makes is very hard to fit a Western standard lock, which is designed for the thicker door and generally leaves you with an inferior job. Needless to say I bought doors thinking about height and width, not thickness.
This was one of the few disappointments on the build even though only very minor in the scheme of things. I have bought everything on the basis of being high quality and i have slipped up right at the end.
In the meantime we were busy moving 10 meters of gravel to three sides of the house to cover up the clay, which is sticky and deadly slippery in the wet, and to stop dirty splashback onto the surrounding tiles and the walls as we don’t have gutters. It was also a chance to clean up the builder’s yard look with leftover things scattered everywhere. A real statement about our intention to move in shortly.
Just on the topic of gutters. I originally had them included in the budget and then took them out, partly to save 30,000 THB but also because I decided to spread the effect of rainfall across the house area rather than concentrate it at wherever the downpipes were situated. The curtain effect of rain off the roof is really tropical in feel and now that we have the gravel down and the land sloping away from the house there will be no movement of soil or possible flooding. For those who are interested the local off the back of a pick-up price, they will supply and install large tropical rainfall sized guttering for 280 THB a meter. You’d get them down in price. It was the thicker of the two versions they had on offer, the thinner one would bend if you looked at it.
Work on tiling mostly done inside, except for one ensuite and the spaces which will be filled in once the sliding doors are installed, the effort moved outside.
The family got involved in moving gravel and also digging a shallow trench for the pipe that will supply two taps situated on either side of the land halfway down the garden. No money was accepted even though they took time out of their own work on the farm. Absolutely typical of the support I get from them.
On the Wednesday we made the final payment on the kitchen at Global House and arranged for it to be delivered on Friday. I had expected it to be flat packed, even though it was a full timber affair, requiring assembly at the house. I was very happy to find that it comes already built and all we have to do is put it in place and screw the components together.
We tried to buy everything for the electrical fitout – power points, light switches etc from Global House Nong Bua Lamphu. Unfortunately I wanted a farang style Panasonic range and they didn’t have the quantities I needed. I am hopeful of getting everything when we visit Udon Thani next week as there are more farang there and the supply may be more plentiful.
The kitchen turned up the next day as they had a slack delivery schedule and it was stored in the family carport along with the furniture:
I am delaying putting the kitchen in in the hope that the windows and sliding doors arrive in Week 20 and I can lock the place up. I do want it installed as I need to order the granite benchtop and that can only be measured up once the cupboards are in place.
I had picked out a small shop adjoining Thai Watsadu in Nong Bua Lamphu as a likely supplier of our curtains and blinds. We called in there this week with a budget of 30,000 THB for the curtains and 16,000 for the venetian blinds. I had expected only to be able to finance the bedrooms, being the priority, and doing the living areas later. However the quote given us for some good quality curtains with backing, giving a 95% blockout, and blinds for the kitchen and the two windows at the back of both bedrooms was the 39,000 THB. This is for over 30 m2 of curtains and 8 m2 of venetian blinds. This includes fitting and the curtain rails.
In the budget you will notice we paid a 9,000 THB deposit and they can be made and installed in a week once we give the word.
For those of you following the build and having no interest in the garden – see you next week 🙂
Gaun is in full garden mode and bringing her plant collection we shipped from Chiang Mai over to the house from the family home in stages.
These will be trimmed not to get too big and will provide edible privacy along this side of the land.
Every Thai person has a nickname that they are known by given very soon after their birth. The original idea was fool the spirits in never referring to the person’s real name and thereby preventing the spirits getting some degree of hold over them. Gaun’s “real” first name is Suban – don’t tell the ghosts – and that’s what is on her official ID card. However she refuses to answer to that and is known by her nickname Gaun, which is short for Pi Guan, a white flower of the Bulletwood tree.
One day as we were filling in some time in Khon Kaen before picking up our Colorbond roofing for the house we called into a large plant nursery area and when I saw some Pi Gaun trees I had to buy a couple. These are now planted on the land and growing nicely.
Having boasted about the two mango trees on our land I now have to eat humble pie rather than mangos. For whatever reason the trees are producing very few mangos and the image I had of sitting in my sala and picking fresh mangos has been dealt a blow this year. I will be buying them from the markets like everyone else!
Week 20 is huge so don’t miss it. It includes the house blessing ceremony, the arrival of the windows and doors from DeKu in Pattaya, the building of our car accommodation and the installation of the kitchen. We are heading towards a completed house by the end of March and I can’t tell you how exciting that is.
Thanks for reading.