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James B: To Utilize Thai and Western Design Features

from James B I’m enjoying this site tremendously, especially since I have for the past year been working on the drawings for my own house which I intend to build on a plot of land my wife and I have already bought in the north of Thailand. I should add that I am an engineer and have had direct experience supervising Thai construction workers on quite complex projects.

I thought I might share some of the ideas I have and that I am encorporating into the drawings. My base design follows that of the Tiptus House, but where the Tiptus house follows wholly Thai principles, I intend to incorporate Thai and Western design features, reflecting our marriage being Thai/Western.

I have written some objectives, chief amongst which (apart from the usual living requirements) is that our house shall be as environmentally friendly as possible. To achieve this we plan the following features.

All water usage shall be harvested from rain, water shall be stored in an underground concrete tank – Design complete, ready for early installation.

Water to the house shall be pumped to a water tower and then gravity fed to the house.

All drinking water will be micro filtered from rain water hence no use of chemicals.

Waist water and sewerage shall be recycled through a septic tank, with run over into a reed bed filter (I have the designs for this completed and expect to install this as an early item), we have sufficient land and a stream bed so that cleaned water can be disposed of. The design I have meets Californian standards for self water treatment and has no moving parts (gravity fed).

Electricity use shall be minimized, I do not intend to install solar power as the costs are high and the use of batteries to store energy is in itself a questionable environmental option (Batteries need to be produced and eventually disposed – significant levels of chemical use and waste).

I shall be applying double skin walls with inter-insulation.

Insulation shall be applied in the roof void and the void shall be provided with natural ventilation to further reduce heat gained (I have seen this demonstrated and the effect is significant).

AC Units shall be fitted with heat exchangers (AC Coolant to Water – These are very efficient and can generated large amounts of piping hot water). Note here that it is usual to have a single heater (tank of water heats up) and then still use the AC Compressor fan to do the final cooling of the AC Coolant. I have made a design that has two water heat exchangers, the first that provides hot water, the second dumps excess heat into the main water tank/stream – The advantage is a water heat exchanger is very much more efficient than the air fan (and quieter) so saving electricity and noise.

I have been buying reclaimed timber which I shall be using for floors and doors etc, skimmed up it provides and amazingly cheap supply of very good quality wood.

To these energy saving ideas I shall also be following best practice for installation of electrical supplies, and plumbing.

I don’t see the need to buy foreign imported fixtures and fittings (something that greatly increases costs) but I do see the need to pay particular attention to items such as non slip tiles in bathrooms, and getting the height of kitchen cabinets/work surfaces correct (my wife is tall for a Thai).

Another concern I have is security and fire, it bothers me that the bars people fit on windows, while effective at keeping burglars out also lock the occupant in if there is a fire. I’m looking at this right now, but it seems a combination of good windows, external lighting, burglar alarms and fire alarms is going to have to be employed.

Anyway, I intend to start my build later this year so hopefully I will have resolved these issues by then, and I will of course post pictures/news of how it is going. I’m enjoying this site tremendously, especially since I have for the past year been working on the drawings for my own house which I intend to build on a plot of land my wife and I have already bought in the north of Thailand. I should add that I am an engineer and have had direct experience supervising Thai construction workers on quite complex projects.

Editor: please take some pictures and send them on. I would especially be interested in the septic system and also energy conservation aspects of the house. Also, I agree on problem with exiting a house in the event of fire — it is not very well planned out here. Often Thais will physically lock the door with a padlock when they go to sleep and like you say the windows have security screening.

2 Comments

  1. I just finished a second hand shopping expedition to Lat Krabang district of bangkok whose shops specialize in reclaimed wood. I bought up some terrific floor planks of wood that are 6 meter long and outside panels of wood for the exterior. If new the cost wood have been at least 50% more.

  2. Hi James…waiting to here more.

    I just finished a second hand shopping expedition to Lat Krabang district of bangkok whose shops specialize in reclaimed wood. I bought up some terrific floor planks of wood that are 6 meter long and outside panels of wood for the exterior. If new the cost wood have been at least 50% more.

    If your into second hand restaurant equipment for your kitchen, there are many places there as well!

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