21 – 26 March, the week we moved in and I can’t tell you what a wonderful moment that was. Obviously the move will be covered in this post but there is a lot else happening still around the build so this week will be a long read. I will also come clean with those things that aren’t right although there is a temptation to set myself up as the only guy who got a house build 100% in Thailand, I’m afraid it isn’t so.
The builders have basically finished the inside and have now moved to some of the more detailed work outside, which gave us the the freedom to claim the house and move in. There is still some work to be done inside to make it fully operational. The main one is the kitchen which is waiting the granite bench-top. Until that arrives we can’t install the sink, connect the drinking water filter or cut in the gas cook-top.
There are some very minor touch-ups around the place that others may not notice but I do. Rather than get Ming involved I will do them myself over time although if I leave them long enough I won’t see them any more and save myself the effort!
The week started with that slightly frantic activity when the builders know you are hanging out to move and they try to get everything finished so you can get going. The ensuites were the main delay at this stage and all action was happening in this part of the house. The plumbing, which has been the most woeful aspect of the build, was causing all sorts of problems. I have done some building work in the past but never tackled plumbing and I thought Ming knew what he was doing in things like the location of the piping etc. so basically left him to it. Mistake.
For some reason the outlet pipes for the two wash basins and the kitchen sink have been positioned as close to the wall as you could get. The toilet outlets were in the right place thank goodness but the water inlets weren’t. All of this required extensive work to reposition everything when if they were located correctly in the first place a lot of time and effort could have been saved.
LESSON: Even if you know nothing about whatever aspect of the build is happening at this moment it could well be that you know more than the Thai builders! Given my time again I would have been a lot more active in the placement of the plumbing pipes before the slab was poured.
However as I wasn’t paying for the labour it was nothing to me other than time. The end result has worked out fine as you can see below:
Cold water to the basin only. I never used hot water in Australia so saw no point adding it here. The measurement is 2.8 x 2.0 meters and is a spacious and uncluttered space. The ceiling extractor fan is a Panasonic and will cost you more than double a window mounted one. This one has a flexible pipe that takes it to a vent cut into the eves.
It is very quiet and seems to do the job. I went for this option rather than the wall one because I wanted to be able to seal the bathroom from noise at night and I also think they look ugly.
I will stick to the bathroom theme and show you some minor but avoidable mistakes.
Before I talk about the negatives let me tell you that this is the best shower in Thailand by far! Massive amounts of water, you can have it as hot as you like and it is just bliss after 1 1/2+ years of rubbish “run around to get wet” showers with lukewarm water.
However the shower head and tap aren’t in the middle of the wall 🙁 and this applies to both showers, which if you are trying to achieve the best result possible is one for the minus side of the ledger. I have to say that I don’t know why the placement was so poor. I know we decided to move the shower wall to make the enclosure wider, but I am sure that decision was made during the time the wall plumbing was being fitted.
The other silly aspect is that, as I mentioned above, the waste pipes were stuck right next to the wall. That has meant that I have to have a crappy Thai outlet cover rather than a nice classy unit, which would be so easy to install in Australia where the water outlets are in the middle of the shower floor.
If the pipe had been moved a few cm I could have achieved this. Oh well. The alternative was to jackhammer the floor to relocate the pipe and I just couldn’t be bothered.
Back to the positive again. Having a venting pipe outside for the grey water means that the water exits the shower super quickly unlike so many Thai showers where, even with a pathetic water flow, you end up flooding the bathroom because the back-pressure in the grey water pipe outlet prevents the water exiting rapidly.
The bathrooms still need to have skirting boards put in and a white granite shelf will be installed along with the kitchen benchtops. I will update the photos once fully completed.
The electrical fitout was completed on the Saturday, which was the other major holdup in us moving in. The total cost of around 32,000 THB, which will show in this week’s spreadsheet, was for the entire electrical from wiring the house to connections. It involved some complex work around the water system, which I will cover shortly, the hot water tank outside, and 97 switches and power points.
HINT: For those building here and reading about how cheap it is and budgeting accordingly watch out.It certainly can be cheap. For example a light switch/power point can be provided for 150 THB. However the catch is that this is an electrical wire stapled to the wall with a switch box stuck onto the wall. Two switches=two wires etc. Maybe not the best look but certainly cheap. It is what you’ll see in many Thai homes.
If you want wiring within a conduit inside the wall or between the two walls in my case and power boxes cut into the walls to make them flush, then you will be paying a lot more. 350 THB in my case. BTW this includes all the associated wiring not just for the box itself. Still super cheap by Aussie standards but very expensive by Thai.
Thanks for reading.
The most comprehensive reference manual on building a house in Thailand. An e-book of 120,000 words arranged in a number of sections including the initial planning stages, a daily report on the construction process, later updates after we move in, a few summaries and a section on more general background topics such as land titles, Usufruct contracts, utility expenses and the daily cost of my building project.
So, what will you find here?
Firstly, I am a retired government employee not a builder so you won’t find a very specific how-to building book full of technical details. However, what you have bought is a very detailed 884-page coverage of how an enthusiastic amateur like me survived the Thai building challenges and ended up with a wonderful home that I still find hard to believe I have achieved.
Although the house we built is unique to us and may not be anything like the style of dwelling you plan to build, you will find many of the processes, frustrations and hints I share very relevant to almost any domestic construction project in Thailand. Topics covered such as creating a cool house, planning and design tips and specific topics like septic and water solutions are mostly likely generic to your situation, or parts of them will be, so will be a useful addition to your research material.
I have tried to make the book a good read and not just a dry list of dos and don’ts. It is written in a casual style as though I was chatting with you and I hope that makes it more engaging. In each chapter you will live every individual day of the build with us plus some of other events and activities and share our excitements and frustrations. Even if you aren’t about to build in Thailand, I believe the book includes enough interesting material of one farang’s story to hold your attention.
I am loving your book – just on my second read at the moment, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything first time around (which actually it turns out I did!).
Just a note of thanks at this point ……. I am a fairly methodical sort of bloke, but there are many issues which your book highlights which I just wouldn’t have thought about – or if I had, I may well have assumed they were “standard” building practice [U-bends, drain positioning, barge-board alignment] – if it hadn’t been for your excellent descriptions!! I will probably still “miss” something – that’s the nature of building/design – but thanks to you, it shouldn’t be anything too mission-critical. Mike
Undoubtedly, we would not have the quality home we now have without the book, we had no idea even where to start until we found Building in Thailand eBook. We did manage to avoid most of the traps that we could have fallen into, we are extremally thankful for the authors attention to detail and common-sense approach. Chris
I have had the good fortune to have used the first edition as part of Yuri and my plans to build our home here in Surin. To say it is a good reference book is an understatement. The practical advice and your self deprecating style make it a great read. The anecdotes and asides all add to its appeal as both a “how to manual” and a fascinating insight into what lies ahead for people like me who have only just commenced a similar journey. Far better armed for what’s to be encountered. Greg
The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.