Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Any story related to building in the LOS, whether everything turned out hunky dory or not!

Moderators: MGV12, BKKBILL, fredlk

Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:16 am

About two years ago, my wife bought 4 rai in Nakhon Nayok. We wanted to put a small house there, but weren't keen on the concrete boxes common these days.

I've always been interested in sustainability, especially in building. Trying to keep things simple, I looked at what was possible and realized bamboo was an option. Bamboo is the world's fastest growing plant and poles can be harvested annually, unlike trees which have a turnaround of about 30 years. It has been used by the majority of the world as a building for thousands of years.

Pound for pound it is as strong as mild steel. It has great tensile strength, which is why it is increasingly popular in earthquake zones of South America.

Having decided on bamboo I looked around for varieties.
liang.jpg
liang.jpg (15.03 KiB) Viewed 6197 times

The picture above is Pai Liang, a common variety in Thailand. It's a fast grower, with poles of 40-60mm. Despite it's small size, it's very strong and is great for bracing and rafters.

asper1.jpg

This is Pai Tong (D. Asper). One of the best giant bamboos for construction it's quite straight, with poles of 100 - 250mm in diameter and 20m long.

large-asper-shoot2.jpg

This photo gives and idea of the growth rate of bamboo. The large shoot is only a couple of weeks old. There are some bamboos that can grow over 1m a day.

While bamboo grows to it's full size in 1 yr, it takes 3 years before it's fully mature and useful for construction. Young bamboo is weak, prone to cracking and more prone to insect attack. We found that most bamboo is harvested before maturity. This was no good for us so we made arrangements with a farmer to select and help harvest the bamboo. The huge poles are like trees, while they're easy to chop down, they get tangled and among the other poles, which makes harvesting a bloody nightmare.

As most ppl know, bamboo is prone to rot, mold and insect attack. To be used for long term structures it needs to be preserved. There are many chemicals used for this, most of them quite nasty. Borax is a very safe and rather than killing pests, it acts more like deterrent.

The method we choose is called sap displacement, this involves using pressure to push the borax solution thru the basal end of the bamboo. A few seconds after the pressure is applied, sap drips from the other end of the pole, as can be seen in this vdo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEmLwXg83p0 (mods, I've tried to embed the VDO, but it doesn't seem to work, any suggestions?).
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby dozer » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:57 pm

There is a new youtube button on the top right of the posting screen which you can use to embed the videos. Just paste the URL between the youtube tags. example with extra space added after tags: [youtube ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEmLwXg83p0[ /youtube]

embedded video

dozer
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1939
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 4:21 pm

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Nawty » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:48 am

Keep em comin...
conwood is not real wood.....break it down 'con' to deceive...'wood'
User avatar
Nawty
 
Posts: 804
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 12:23 pm

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:01 pm

When we bought the land, there was an old house ir really poor condition. Rather than rushing to build something new, we decided to make some basic repairs to give us somewhere to stay on weekends and breathing space while we decided what to build.

This is the house before the repairs:
unfin1.jpg


The rusted iron made the place really hot, so we added a thing layer of thatch and some walls for a bedroom.
fin2.jpg


The idea was for the repair to last 2 years, in which time we'd have enough knowledge and know what we wanted to build.

The two years are up, the thatch has worn out, the roof leaks and the termites are eating away at the timber...
old-house.jpg


DESIGN
Rather than being a luxury, I think sustainable housing is a necessity and therefore shouldn't be too expensive. Below are some of the things I took into consideration when designing:
- No use of petrochemicals

- Recycling of wastewater and humanure

- As little 'embodied energy' as possible in materials (i.e. not having traveled long distances or requiring heaps of energy to produce, mine etc.)

- No rubbish produced from the building site

- Be energy efficient (no air con or lights required during daylight hours

- Should be affordable, comfortable, blend with the surrounding and look half decent

From what I read about building with bamboo, models are more useful than plans. This is especially true in our case, as the workers can't read plans. Below is the unfinished model:
Attachments
.jpg
Last edited by Smithson on Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:05 pm

I'm having trouble with the attachments, one of the pics has been double posted, can't seem to remove it.

<edited the post to remove the extra attachment.... Dozer>
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:58 pm

While we were waiting for our repaired house to fall apart we built a small structure for practice, this would become our treatment area.
DSCF1656.jpg

DSCF1663.jpg


Before starting, we had a look at different bamboo building techniques. We talked about the pros and cons of different methods, what suited our situation and then decided how to proceed. I've done a heap of research on bamboo, but these guys also have a lot of local knowledge, it was good to put our heads together.

First we sorted the bamboo based on size and straightness, altogether we had over 50 large poles of 7m - 9m in length.
sorting.jpg


As we were still sleeping in the house, we prefabbed as much as possible before taking the roof off.

Using the holesaw to make neat joints.
holesaw.jpg
holesaw.jpg (29.25 KiB) Viewed 6103 times


Using smaller diameter bamboo plugs to connect poles.
plug.jpg
plug.jpg (30.98 KiB) Viewed 6103 times


Inserting bamboo dowels
inserting.jpg
inserting.jpg (18.21 KiB) Viewed 6103 times
Attachments
inserting.jpg
inserting.jpg (18.21 KiB) Viewed 6103 times
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby ningnong » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:20 am

Hello Smithson, thanks for posting all the pics and the commentary. This looks very interesting and different from usual style posted here. My wife and I are looking forward to following your progresses. We will probably not follow your example for our main residence but will certainly consider it for a guest house and/or sala. Good luck with the project.
ningnong

"Life is what happens while you are making other plans."
John Lennon (1940 - 1980)
User avatar
ningnong
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:45 pm
Location: Southern England -> Thailand

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:51 am

Hi Ningnong,

Bamboo makes great salas. We're in LOS are you? You should be able to find some locals to do a nice job. Our first project was a sala, it's now our bedroom while building. One of the neighbours did it, less than 10k, nice traditional design. The guy is quite a craftsman, but didn't have time to help with this project.
sala.jpg
sala.jpg (32.27 KiB) Viewed 6081 times
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:20 am

Sanding of a joint
sanding.jpg
sanding.jpg (29.86 KiB) Viewed 6078 times

Unlike timber, bamboo fibers only run along the length of the pole, not width-ways. This is what gives it such tensile strength, it's also makes it inclined to split.

Making bamboo dowels:
dowel.jpg
dowel.jpg (31.91 KiB) Viewed 6078 times
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:18 am

We'd done as much prefab as possible, so it was time to start on the old house.

First the roof and old timber came off.
no-roof.jpg
no-roof.jpg (22.93 KiB) Viewed 6076 times


The old place has concrete columns. In places where there are walls, we only shorten the columns 500mm. In open areas we remove them completely, replacing with bamboo. To create a more open plan, one of the columns will be removed and there will be no bamboo replacement.
jack.jpg
jack.jpg (29.81 KiB) Viewed 6076 times


As we belted away, the walls shook, with a small section hitting one of the workers. We then decided to remove all unstable walls by simply attaching a rope and pulling the whole thing down.

The dangers of falling walls didn't not mean a review of safety standards.
jack2.jpg


The first column went up, this has rebar and concrete in the bottom 500mm.
colimn.jpg


Other columns and beams went in. Plastic bag were placed around these to protect from sun and rain.
columns.jpg
columns.jpg (26.99 KiB) Viewed 6076 times


Trusses went up.
frame.jpg
frame.jpg (26.4 KiB) Viewed 6076 times


All 4 trusses are now in place, the house is much higher than before.
4trusses.jpg
4trusses.jpg (25.94 KiB) Viewed 6076 times
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:02 pm

Once the trusses where in place, the ridge and other purlins were added.
ridge.jpg
ridge.jpg (28.97 KiB) Viewed 6045 times


rafters.jpg


For rafters, we are using the smaller diameter bamboo, besides holding the thatching, these add bracing.
rafters1.jpg
rafters1.jpg (33.65 KiB) Viewed 6045 times


The pic below shows where we were at when I left the job Monday, to return to work in Bangkok.
view.jpg


They are now adding the thatch, which should be done when I return on Friday. The guys have been working really hard in 40 degree heat to get to this stage. Once the roof is on we can breath a sigh of relief knowing the bamboo is protected from the sun and rains (which could start any day).
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby grant » Sat May 01, 2010 8:25 am

Nice to see you moving forward Smithson. A very interesting project indeed. I used about 150 poles in my house for screening and securing open areas and now after 1 year have learned a few things. Shading the bamboo from the sun is critical. I have one area where some of the poles are exposed to morning sun and about 10% of the poles have some degree of cracking. Rather than replace them, I've made small saw cuts across the pole on each end of the split and it seems to have stopped the cracking from progressing. We'll see if this is a long term solution. I inspect the poles on a regular basis to limit the cracks to a single node. Obviously the cracked poles cannot be exposed to rain unless the cracks are sealed with silicone. I soaked my poles in diesel for 24 hours and then let them dry for 1 month before coating with a water based varnish. This seems to work very well as none of the poles have any insect damage. No residual diesel smell either. I would love to see the finished product one day as I am planning to build again using bamboo for at least some structural elements like you are doing here.
Attachments
_GGD9024.jpg
grant
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:48 pm
Location: Phuket

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby grant » Sun May 02, 2010 8:35 am

Smithson wrote:As most ppl know, bamboo is prone to rot, mold and insect attack. To be used for long term structures it needs to be preserved. There are many chemicals used for this, most of them quite nasty. Borax is a very safe and rather than killing pests, it acts more like deterrent.

The method we choose is called sap displacement, this involves using pressure to push the borax solution thru the basal end of the bamboo. A few seconds after the pressure is applied, sap drips from the other end of the pole, as can be seen in this vdo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEmLwXg83p0 (mods, I've tried to embed the VDO, but it doesn't seem to work, any suggestions?).


Do you have any pics of the apparatus used for injection at the other end of the pole? And at what pressure?
grant
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:48 pm
Location: Phuket

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Mon May 03, 2010 1:06 pm

grant wrote:Nice to see you moving forward Smithson. A very interesting project indeed. I used about 150 poles in my house for screening and securing open areas and now after 1 year have learned a few things. Shading the bamboo from the sun is critical. I have one area where some of the poles are exposed to morning sun and about 10% of the poles have some degree of cracking. Rather than replace them, I've made small saw cuts across the pole on each end of the split and it seems to have stopped the cracking from progressing. We'll see if this is a long term solution. I inspect the poles on a regular basis to limit the cracks to a single node. Obviously the cracked poles cannot be exposed to rain unless the cracks are sealed with silicone. I soaked my poles in diesel for 24 hours and then let them dry for 1 month before coating with a water based varnish. This seems to work very well as none of the poles have any insect damage. No residual diesel smell either. I would love to see the finished product one day as I am planning to build again using bamboo for at least some structural elements like you are doing here.


Bamboo doesn't like UV rays, so it's best to keep it away from direct sun. Instead of sawing, you could drill small holes. Are all the poles exposed to sun cracking?

Your always welcome to visit us, where only 1.5 hrs from Bangkok. This place is very much a learning experience. Besides the building techniques, we also had to learn about harvesting and preservation, it's been hard work, but fun aslo. I tried to keep the design simple, while ensuring almost no sun or rain hits the bamboo.
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Re: Bamboo Eco House, Nakhon Nayok

Postby Smithson » Mon May 03, 2010 1:32 pm

grant wrote:
Smithson wrote:Do you have any pics of the apparatus used for injection at the other end of the pole? And at what pressure?


Below is a VDO that shows the process quite clearly. The claim treating at 3 - 10 psi for a few mins, from what I read and our own experience this is way too short. We were treating at 10 - 20 psi, for longer poles it took several hours.

The fittings they are using are all one size, which means the culms must be very similar diameters. My guess is they are located very close or within a plantation, because this process requires fresh bamboo. For structural bamboo, you need the correct species, it must be at least 3 years old and harvested at the correct time of year. So while the process itself isn't that difficult, the other requirements are tricky. We've managed to build up a relationship with growers in the area, but it took a while.
Smithson
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:58 am

Next

Return to Your Building Story

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests

cron