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6 – 12 December 2014. This is my 150th blog post since June 2013 and I am so pleased it coincided with a weekly report on the house project, which is the most significant thing I have done in Thailand next to retiring here and represents the next phase of my life in this wonderful country. Another post I thought would be brief but has ended up quite extensive. Week 6 was all about the roof and getting the beams that will support the roof structure in place and welded on the concrete columns. For those of you following progress you might remember that because we couldn’t start the build proper until after the house blessing ceremony on 16 November, all covered in Week 3 HERE, Ming the builder concentrated on constructing some of the roof structure at the family home, which is where the steel was being stored. The main components were the base beams, three of them at 18 mtrs running the full length of the house and two 11 meter beams running the width of the house.
The base roof structure sitting on the concrete columns.

The base roof structure sitting on the concrete columns.

The challenge was now to transport these large beams to the land and get them on top of the columns, which stand more than 3 meters high. Now at over 6 kilos per meter, and we had two lengths of 18 meters welded together so around 220 kgs or 485 lbs for you non-metric people, and with only three workers on site at this time one of them being 64 year old Ming this ended up being a bit of a challenge. Day 36 Saturday, the first beam was moved using Ming’s son’s truck but getting the beam from ground level onto the tray and above the cabin was a real effort.
The first 18 meter beam being moved the hard way.

The first 18 meter beam being moved the hard way.

Some of the beam on its way. Needed wide angle to get the whole thing in the photo!

Some of the beam on its way. I would have needed wide angle to get the whole thing in the photo!

Having got it to site the next problem was a system to get it onto the columns. Luckily Ming, who is a professional builder, had all the equipment and this pulley arrangement was put in place.
Can you spot the problem?

Can you spot the problem?

Unfortunately the first attempt failed as the two stack scaffolding didn’t give the height needed to winch the beam above the level of the column and they found out that manually lifting it the extra height was out of the question. Phone calls were made and a guy who had borrowed some scaffolding from Ming was instructed to give it back quicktime!
That's better.

That’s better.

In true Thai fashion it all looks pretty bogey but did the job.

In true Thai fashion it all looks pretty bogey but did the job once the extra layer of scaffolding was added.

Height now achieved the beam was manouvered into place. This was a one day operation and I was a bit worried as there were another eleven beams to do. Of course in most western countries a crane would have been hired and the whole thing done in half a day.
End of day 1 - one beam.

End of day 1 – one beam. The timber nailed on top of each beam was to support the beam at the correct height and level until the welding happened.

Full marks to Thai ingenuity in this case though. Instead of repeating the same process Ming’s final action for the day was to remove the wheels from the two wheelbarrows previously used to shift concrete and nail a few bits of wood onto them ending up with this:
The solution to moving large heavy beams.

The solution to moving large heavy beams.

Day 37 Sunday, the next day saw this transport solution on the road.
No lifting up onto the truck and the front wheels steered although the turning circle wasn't too tight!

No heavy lifting onto the truck. The front wheels even steered although the turning circle wasn’t too tight! Ming sitting on the beam travelling the easy way.

In this photo above the family house is on the right out of view and the land is through that junction and halfway down the street on the left. It has been wonderful to be this close to the site. On the site Ming had now set it up with two winches on two scaffold towers. The lifting operation all went much quicker.
The organisation was all in place now. The second beam.

The organisation was all in place now. The second beam being lifted into place.

Once again you can just see the timber nailed to the top of each beam at the correct level. The column closest to us in the photo was the one built on its own very early in the piece, as it didn’t need to tie into any footings. The height is quite out as a result because the other column formwork wasn’t in place to provide a comparison. 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.