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22 – 28 November 2014. I thought this week was going to be a shorter post but having just finished writing it not so. The main stories are sort of supplementary to the build with the actual construction almost taking second place. I think that even the most talented of writers, which I’m not claiming to be, would struggle to develop an enthralling story around concrete formwork being made and then concrete poured so I won’t even try. Having said that the week was actually a great one from my point of view because what we ended up with was the entire house design outlined in concrete so for the first time we could see each room, its size and relationship to other rooms and the garden. Day 22 Saturday, I left you in Week 3 with the rebar that forms the basis for the beam footings completed and the timber formwork starting to be constructed around the rebar frame. The building of formwork continued today.
New formwork.

New formwork being built around the Week 3 rebar. This is the ensuite end of the house at the back.

The final result was a mish mash of timber planking with the whole thing held together by a collection of pieces of wood nailed across or driven into the ground. Technical is wasn’t but did the job.
You end up with this haphazard result.

You end up with this incredible mix of timbers.

Day 23 Sunday, The first pour of concrete into the rear of the house, which contains the ensuites and my small computer room.  Concrete was mixed on-site and two barrows delivered it to where it was needed. A slow process that resulted in the footings being poured over a number of days.  We also had an electricity outage so work had to pack up early for the day.
Concrete on its way.

Concrete on its way.

Delivery of concrete, which is then bucketed across to formwork inside the outer walls.

Delivery of concrete, which is then bucketed across to formwork inside the outer walls.

I came across my first major challenge with the build today. In getting the formwork ready for the concrete pour Ming was adding some extra reinforcing steel to what will be our bedroom sliding door and asked me via Gaun if that was OK for the step down. Now this was news to me as in my mind and what I thought I had asked the draftsman to draw was the slab extending from inside to outside inclusive of everything under the roofline all at the same level. No step down involved! An examination of the plans showed that in the some of the drawings what I wanted was shown while in the more technical ones that the builder was quite correctly using the slab was in two parts. Based on these drawings the internal concrete for the slab would be poured 10 cm thick on top of the current 40 cm high beam footings giving a 50 cm variation from the inside floor to natural ground level. A 10 cm slab would then be poured for all the external areas under the roofline but at ground level. That meant there was a 40 cm drop from inside to outside and the concept I wanted to achieve of a clean flow between the inside and outside living areas would not be happening. This 40 cm drop was why Ming was enquiring about where I wanted the steps to be – thank goodness for the heads up.
A natural flow between inside and outside areas like this.

A natural flow between inside and outside areas like this, although my outdoor living areas will all be under the roofline.

This was not Ming’s fault. I should have understood that how the footings were being constructed weren’t in a way that supported the vision I had. I should also have picked up on the variation in the plans. It isn’t entirely the draftsman’s fault because he was applying a Thai solution to what I was telling him through Gaun that I wanted. A Thai house tends to end with the walls dropping to the dirt, which is never covered with concrete, and there is no incorporation of outside living areas in the way we would think of doing in the West. The benefit of having a good relationship with one’s builder came to play here because we worked through the various options to come up with a way to achieve what I thought I was originally getting.  The end result is that we are adding 40 cm of new soil to the entire half of the land where the house currently sits, sloping down to the current level towards the front. The effect is to bury the concrete beam footings so they sit almost at ground level rather than being 40 cm above ground level. Once the new soil is compacted the 10 cm concrete slab can be extended from inside to include the total area under roofline in the one pour all at the same level. For those worried about the flooding risks to this strategy the land on which my house will sit will be the highest in the village! My Thai family have come to the rescue and organised someone to provide the trucks and tractor to move the soil and will provide it free from their farm. Day 24 Monday, I had to order another 50 bags of cement to complete this stage of the build. Same price at 125 THB a bag but saved 100 THB on delivery this time – bonus! Delivered within the hour.
New supplies.

New supplies.

Good progress made today. The team seemed to be keen to get on with the job. I was told they are getting paid 160 THB a meter, which is an interesting way of doing it. The last of the completed formwork at the rear bedroom end of the house filled with concrete by the end of the day.
The first formwork comes off. This is our ensuite.

The first formwork comes off. This is our ensuite.


End of day 24. More formwork being taken off.

Ming is keeping the water up to the competed concrete including the plastic wrapped column.
Out one and only completed column.

Our one and only completed column being watered.

Day 25 Tuesday, today the remaining formwork was completed for the front section of the house. More electricity problems so no concrete poured.
Everything ready for a big day tomorrow - electricity willing.

Everything ready for a big day tomorrow – electricity willing. This is towards the front of the house.


More concrete beams revealed. From left to right ensuite 1, a small homework area for my stepdaughter Peng, my blog room and the second ensuite. Spot Gaun!

Thanks for reading.

Building in Thailand eBook

When my wife and I bought some land in Isaan, which is a region in the north east of Thailand, and then started to build our house I started to record the daily events of construction life. For twenty six weeks I wrote a weekly blog update about all the aspects of the build and included as much detail as possible for others who might be thinking of going down the same path. I was surprised by the number of readers I attracted as a result of writing on this subject, many of whom followed the entire build from beginning to end. 

Based on this continued interest I thought I would revisit my original words and bring them all together under the one heading in the form of an eBook. Included in this process has been some extensive updating and expansion of many of the original posts and the addition of the many COMMENTS, which are designed to expand your knowledge and save you time or money or both!

Read more HERE and find out how to obtain the eBook.

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.

The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.