15 – 21 November 2014.
Another steady week of progress. Writing these weekly updates is good for me because construction seems to edge along at a Thai pace of progress, and that’s true to some extent, but reviewing the changes from the Saturday to Friday shows that I have more of a house now than I did at the beginning of the week.
As I reported before, work on the land itself had been delayed waiting for the official blessing ceremony, which happened last Sunday. Ming, the builder, was like a Thai greyhound after the ceremony, off the leash and in full building mode at the land rather than pottering at the edges filling in time, which he’s been doing up to that point.
Day 15 Saturday, with the building ceremony scheduled for tomorrow not a lot was happening on-site. However there were indications that Ming was keen to get going once the starter’s pistol went off. Using string lines this guy was finding the centre of each hole using a plumb line. Once marked a piece of rebar was drilled into the concrete to indicate the positioning for the column reinforcement when installed.
Once this was done the rebar base was placed in each hole.
Back at the house Gaun’s mama was preparing for the next day’s ceremony. A old spinning wheel was brought out and a roll of cotton thread spun onto it. This would form the center piece that would be installed at the top of one of the columns.
Day 16 Sunday, Gaun and her sister Yuan were up at 3.30 am to get to the markets to buy food and cook before the start of the ceremony at 7.00 am. I decided that my presence wasn’t required and sensibly stayed in bed.
Up and about early all the ceremonial items were transported to the site. The ceremony itself was “organised” by one of the village elders and a guy I call the “Spiritman”. I am sure there may be an official title for him. He’s the man who decided that the 16th was the most auspicious day of the month for the blessing and is the main contact point to any spirits, Gaun calls them ghosts!, that may be inhabiting the land.
I have put “organised” in quotes because organisation isn’t often in evidence in any ceremony I have been witness to in Thailand, including my wedding! Semi-planned chaos is probably a better description as generally maybe someone has an idea of what should be happening but hasn’t passed that onto the helpers who then run around madly assembling the missing items, all usually in very good humour. Frustrating to some farang I know but I love the community involvement, the spontaneity and laughter that goes with it all. If you bring your organised western mind to Thailand you will be constantly disappointed with how things are done here. Read any of the on-line forums and you’ll find cranky guys complaining about Thai processes. Get with reality or go home!
I was expecting some sort of official speech, chanting or moment of great significance but it was not to be. The main focus of the blessing is the raising of two ceremonial columns, one which has attached to it the cotton spinning bob the photo of which I showed you above, and the second a beautifully made fishing basket. I only include the photos below because the basket is a lovely piece of handmade work by an old bloke who brought it round. Bought for 250 THB or A$8.00. How many hours went into making it?
Of course NO ceremony would be complete without food and lots of it. The Spiritman had headed off to do another blessing having pocketed 500 THB for his efforts from me.
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
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The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.