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John’s Cool Thai Style House Project

image johnghousea.jpgfrom John G Great documentation of your house building. Like you I am going through the same process and it is only just finished. I still have landscaping and the perimeter wall to do, but will wait until April to start that.
I could also email you about 150 pics of the construction in progress of our home in Buri Ram province, via yahoo photos link. I did most of it from afar, as I do not yet live in Thailand.
Reading your site pages, I ran across many of the same problems, and had less trouble in other areas. Of course I spent way too much, but it is a nice home. I really got the feeling I was building a home ala carte, as no one builder/contractor could do everything or would know what a problem was if it was not in their specific expertise. I think final costs will run me about 5 million baht, I have a weakness for wood floors, ceramic tile roofs, and teak siding, otherwise it would have been less than half that.
image johnghouseb.jpgI guess the big thing to as few problems than I thought I would have, was I was not in a rush to complete the house. It took 15 months from start to finish. This gave time to let problems sort themselves out and for my wife to call me if something didn’t look right.
Good luck in getting your road drainage situation settled. That was one thing I saw early on with our place and raised the elevation almost a meter compared to the neighbors’ plots which are at the most 5-10cm higher than the surrounding rice paddies. My neighbors (all thai) are kind of ticked at me and my wife that our home doesn’t share their annual flooding problems. It didn’t cost that much to address, but they don’t have much money to begin with.

Editor: Note of clarification. The coolthaihouse is comfortably above the road, no flooding problem here. On the site I do show an example of a house which is too low – but it isn’t the coolthaihouse. Agree wholeheartedly one of the most important things is making sure the house you’re embarking on is above road level, good job on raising your plot level.

image johnghousec.jpgI do share the access road drainage problem though. It is dirt right now for the last 60 meters to the house. It won’t be paved according to the amphur-government plans for another 4-5 yrs. I will probably pay to have it covered in the crushed stone as a temporary fix later this year. That should build back some good will with the six neighbors that also use it.

image johnghoused.jpgimage johnghousee.jpg

Editor: Nice looking house. So true about not being in a hurry, that can be a smoothing agent. The contractors are normally in a such a hurry, if you can dole out work to slow things down that can, as you say, give problems some time to sort themselves out. Good luck on the road! Also, compliments on use of wood trim, adds a nice touch!

I did write a couple articles for the www.stickmanbangkok.com site (link to the second article below) article hosted on stickman

copied from Stickman to here for convenience

Hi everyone, I know I promised my follow up piece in July but a transfer and a lack of connectivity conspired to delay this piece. I would like to thank the kind souls who corresponded with me earlier on the first submission. Overall, the comments were welcome. For those of you who are just opening this article and haven’t read the first reader’s submission it is worth a look as well, the link is: here

From that point, fast forwarding to mid-August 2004 I finally had a chance to return to Thailand after an enforced absence in areas less than desirable. During the intervening period my fiancée had been emailing me with the building progress photos. She has learned a quite a bit about the building trade by osmosis. Now I would hate to be on the receiving end of her wrath should a supplier fail to meet his promises. That said, we have been fortunate and the vast majority of our contacts with the building trade have been pleasurable.

Although steady progress has been made on the house since the last report, events slowed down the pace of construction. The rainy season and rice planting time have intervened. From the 8-10 men working daily on the house, the crew dropped to 4-5 men as the others returned to their farms.

In August, I returned to find that the house was now only about 80 percent finished versus the 100 percent I had expected to find. No worries, as we are under no pressure to occupy the home anytime soon.

In April 2004, the big event was delivery of the roofing tile. The house required over 4,700 of the suckers, each approx. 30x60cm, I know because I was charged by the piece. In March, we visited a roofing contractor in Tao Phrya in the southern portion of Buriram province. We ordered the ceramic tile and had to wait approximately 45 days for delivery. About the end of April, the tiles were delivered to the work site, just before the rains started. The contractor was ready for it and installed it over a ten-day period.

I had thought the roof would need a backing (tar paper…), but the contractor said that the steep angle of the roof and the tiles we were using negated the need. It turns out that he was good to his word. Other than one minor leak at a junction with the roof barge boards, which was quickly remedied, the roof went the entire season without further leaking.

The next major delivery of material to the house was the teak siding for the second floor. The wood contractor was from Ayuthaya and visited the construction site in late February to get the measurements between support pillars. In mid-may a total of fourteen panels (12 outside and two interior) were delivered.

The contractor was given mounting instructions by the wood supplier and proceeded to install the panels. With one exception, the panels went on smoothly. One panel had to be cut down / trimmed about 30-40 cm to take into account joining an interior wall. From the exterior of the house, the cut is undetectable.

With the exterior shell roughly complete, most of June and July were spent working on the interior of the home. We went a little overboard on the flooring ordering either marble or hardwood flooring and tile for the bathrooms. This was where the reduced workforce was noticed by us. The pace of progress to me was very slow. At least the men were careful about their work and continued with excellent workmanship.

Around the same time, my fiancée told me that many people, who had been driving by, were stopping by to look at the house. Two of the people made further arrangements with the contractor to build other homes later this year.

Throughout June and July, the floors and wiring were installed. Before the home was started, we had already purchased a lot of hardwood (a type of mahogany, about 200k baht worth) that was available for the workers to use.

We also had to take delivery of the roof trim, porch railings and railing posts from the supplier in Tao Phrya. The supplier in Tao Phrya was a little more difficult to deal with in this area. My fiancée and her brother in law had to make about five different trips to his factory to get the required wood. Without the constant attention and face time there, he would have stalled for several months. In the end, we got what we needed.

This brought my visit and us up to August of 2004. During august, we were at the point where we had to decide on fixtures for the interior. Selection in Buriram was minimal to be fair. We spent a lot of time and money at HomePro in Bangkok in reality. Their prices were about 20 percent more than select stores, but they had a much wider range of selection and availability to quickly order – deliver what we needed. The HomePro on Rama 3 got to know us well and gave us select discounts as our orders became more frequent. We even ended up ordering our water storage tanks from them and they had a person deliver the four tanks to Buriram for us.

During late July and most of August the construction crew concentrated on finishing the wood and applying sealants. We recruited my fiancée’s brother and his wife to do much of this work. He was between jobs in Bangkok and delighted at the chance to work near his home. His wife also did a lot of the grunt work involving sanding some of the paneling and stain application on the railings. Her brother mounted all the doors and security hardware. By mid-August we could finally lock the house up. Until that point, we had a man staying at the property at night. We have never had much of a shrinkage problem, but did notice the odd bag of cement go missing over the months.

We had the glass cutter come out in mid-August. We received several bids and one man from town had both the reputation and a good price. We went with him and in the space of four days he installed custom windows where required. He also lined the teak panel tops with clear plastic to act as a mosquito barrier. We chose not to install glass on the upper floor teak panel openings in order to keep the intent of the maker to be able to open and close the panels. They will either have to be closed at night or have mosquito netting installed as a barrier. Come late august it was time for me to get back to my job in the Philippines. It was obvious to me that we still had a lot of work left, including setting up the well, water storage tank installation, split pack air-con for select rooms (we are only doing air-con for about half the house), and kitchen fixtures installation.

We are hoping that this will all be finished in early December. Come January we will start on the perimeter wall. All told the house has now ran over my initial estimates of 2-3 million baht and will end up near 4.5 to 4.8 million baht. This was more than I wanted to spend to be sure, but I will enjoy it all. I have several albums set up on yahoo.com if anyone would care to see the house progress photos from December 2003 up until mid-September 2004 if you want to email me I will respond with a link for the yahoo photos. Best of luck to everyone.

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