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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.

I know some of you are following the building side of this blog so I thought I would update you with the latest house design but firstly I wanted to let you know how the blog will be looking over the next few months.

Writing this post is a reminder that our time here in Chiang Mai is fast coming to an end. We have another three weeks here before packing up and moving to Si Bun Ruang, a small town midway between Udon Thani and Khon Kaen in the Northern part of Isaan, in the North East of Thailand.

We have organised four quotes from removalists to move our stuff from here to Isaan, including Gaun’s entire garden which is taking up most of the truck! I will report back on how the winning company performed for anybody thinking of using a Chiang Mai based removal company.

The blog, which has been all about travel and stories on the sights of Thailand from Phuket, Isaan, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai will change focus for a while and become mostly about the challenges of building a house and establishing a tropical garden in rural Thailand.

Once we are settled the blog will once again become a mix of everyday living in Thailand stories and travel orientated posts as we explore Isaan, the Mekong River and Laos.

I am currently working on making the indexing of the blog more accessible. With over 130 posts here finding stories that interest you isn’t as easy as I would like. The “Quick Find” index on the right of every page is being refined to fit everything under a smaller range of topic headings. I will also publish an index page that has all stories listed under broad headings with a short introduction on each one.

I have Peng my step daughter visiting us in Chiang Mai next week. She is 14 and we wanted to show her the sights of a big city while we were living here. This will include the zoo, which will rate its own post. We fly down to Udon Thani on Sunday and then fly her back Tuesday. This will be her first time in an airplane so she is already having sleepless nights with excitement 🙂

Back to topic. I haven’t been totally happy with my previous design for the house, which looked like this:


The original house design. Two ensuite bedrooms and a blog room at the back, kitchen/family in the middle and lounge at the front.

1-Home Plan 3

The 3D version looking from left to right.

I had several concerns with this design being:

  1. In order for both bedrooms to have sliding doors accessing the outside undercover living areas they had to be wider than I wanted;
  2. I also wanted more internal storage space. Our rental house is hopeless. Other than bedroom cupboards there is NO storage space inside. We have things sitting in the entry hall and in the shower area of the downstairs bathroom because there’s nowhere else to put things. Although I had a pantry in the design above I was worried that farang items like vacuum cleaners wouldn’t have a place to live;
  3. Our block of land is quite narrow at 20 meters and this design including the eves was around 15 meters at its widest point, which had it closer to the borders than I really wanted; and
  4. The narrower outside living area flowing off the main bedroom, the back room on the left, didn’t really have a function. An outside dining area comes off the kitchen family room on the right side of the house and the undercover sitting area to the left of the lounge room at the front. This left the bedroom veranda area as a bit redundant.

In order to overcome these shortfalls I have come up with the following design as an alternative option:


Option 2. Slightly narrower and shorter.

To make the house narrower I have removed the external access from the main bedroom, which I can live with. The space saving new/old is represented by the green colour. The main bedroom still has a separate computer room for me and the second bedroom a desk area for Peng. Both bedrooms have large ensuites.

The kitchen is a better wrap design, has more bench space and the pantry is now 2.4 x 1.0 meters, giving more flexibility to store larger items. The lounge is one meter narrower at 5 x 7.4 meters and still flows into that outside undercover sitting space.

The sun sets to the right of the design so there are no windows facing that way other than the one in the family room, which is set back over 4 meters under the roof.

The walls will be made of a double layer of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) with a 5 mm air gap. You can find useful information on AAC HERE. The roof will be white colorbond with silver foil insulation. I have no idea if the following numbers pinched from the Whirlpool forum are correct but there is no argument that a white roof is cooler than a darker coloured one.

On a clear day, a conventional dark roof can get 40°C to 50°C hotter than the outside air. A clean white roof, by comparison, runs only 5°C to 10°C warmer than the ambient air. This cooling from choosing a white roof over a dark one yields additive virtues. Well documented is the first – a cooler roof means that the space beneath the roof needs less electricity for air conditioning, saving money and avoiding emissions of CO2 and other pollutants back at the power plant. Secondly, by reflecting more of the sun’s energy back into space, white roofs cancel a small percentage of the heating effect from CO2 that has already been emitted. 

White roofs are supported by this article HERE and the colour chart below. TSR stands for Total Solar Reflectance – obviously the higher the number the better:

Snap 2014-10-08 at 16.49.26

In a country that is pretty well constantly hot it seems to make total sense to minimise the build-up of heat in the house for “free” by using a lighter coloured roof. Each to their own but I am less worried about aesthetics than I am in having a cool house with minimal requirement for expensive air conditioning usage.

Why aren't more Thai houses looking like this - a sensible hot weather Queenslander style?

Why aren’t more Thai houses looking like this – a sensible hot weather Queenslander style?

Fiberglass insulation will sit on the ceilings to keep heat out from the roof space but also retain the benefit from air conditioning in the rooms below and any cooler overnight air captured. As with any hot weather country the strategy is to trap cool air inside the building for as long as possible during the hot days i.e. don’t open the house up in the morning but shut it up. With no sun entering the house and good insulation I am hoping this will be a comfortable house to live in.

I will be making a decision on the final design this week and meeting with the Tessaban guy to draw them up on Monday in Si Bun Ruang. I am also catching up with our potential builder to sort out his labour quote, so a bit to report on shortly.

Thanks for reading.