Building in rural Chonburi

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Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Rick Bradford » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:20 pm

Hi all,

I and my Thai wife are shortly to start building a house about 70km west of Chonburi town (in ampur Bo Thong).

It's a greenfield site on a plot of land mainly intended for agriculture (dimension 40m wide by 450 metres long, ie 11 rai).

As nobody knows the first thing about building (with the slight exception of myself), the potential for an expensive f**k-up is clear. Already, without my knowledge, some dubious decisions have been made, to wit:

1. The land slopes gradually over 450 metres down to a road; the building, for various reasons, will be not too far, perhaps 50-70 metres from the road (ie not at the top of the land).

The earth is fertile and heavy -- on a scale between sand and clay, it's about 70% towards the clay side, with plenty of small stones -- ideal for growing sugar, palm, rubber. It drains, but quite slowly.

2. A pond was dug in July, and the excavated land used to build a raised area of 40x40 metres above the surrounding terrain to a height of about 80 cm.

The plan is to leave that for a few months (under fierce rain which doesn't seem to be degrading it) and to formally commence building on Nov 4, a propitious day according to the local monks.

I have come to understand that I must keep my eye on the ball throughout; if the monks have to be told to choose another day, I'm sure they will happily do so. I mention that to indicate that I haven't completely lost control of this project yet.... with your help I may even wrest it back. :wink:

Some questions:

1. Was it a good decision to raise the land, given the gentle slope, heavy rainfall, and nature of the earth?

2. Should the raised land be mechanically compacted before any construction is attempted?

3. Obviously, pillars need to be driven all the way down into the established earth through the new added earth. It's only going to be a bungalow, so no huge structural strength is required. So how far down would be adequate?

4. Any other suggestions at this early stage?

I should mention that the builder is a local dude who has considerable but not varied experience -- i.e. he has built lots of houses which are all the same. Thus he will be competent at doing what he does and probably useless at anything else. In fact, I expect he will ignore any instructions contrary to his way of working and do them his way anyway. I have to manage this process artfully (my Thai isn't bad, but being understood doesn't mean being listened to) to try and get the best compromise between what we want and what he is prepared to deliver.

Basic stats: Area under roof to be 160 square metres, single storey, intended to be fairly basic

All advice gratefully received.

Thanks,

Rick.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Max&Bee-in-CM » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:18 am

Rick Bradford wrote:
Some questions:

1. Was it a good decision to raise the land, given the gentle slope, heavy rainfall, and nature of the earth?

2. Should the raised land be mechanically compacted before any construction is attempted?

3. Obviously, pillars need to be driven all the way down into the established earth through the new added earth. It's only going to be a bungalow, so no huge structural strength is required. So how far down would be adequate?

4. Any other suggestions at this early stage?


Welcome Rick, both to CTH & to the adventure of a lifetime!

My attempt at your questions...

1. If the land slopes over 450, and the house is 50-70 metre from the bottom road boundary, then if there is a huge torrential downpour that lasts 7 days and 7 nights (can happen!), that will be a lot of water flowing past the house down the slope. Although 80cm is good, I would be going for at least 1.5 metres, considering you have 11 rai of free soil available ! One thing about Thailand, you can never put too much soil. Once the water gets to the road at the bottom, does it have somewhere to drain - if not, will it back up into the land?

2. Yes and no. The purists will say get a mechanical compactor or a tractor and compact it, others will say leave it for 1 rainy season and let it settle. Others will say hose the soil down with water every day for a few weeks. Since you will be using piles, they will be smacked in, and the ground beams built between them, so technically there will be nothing "lying" on the ground so to speak. I assume you will use horizontal planks on top of your ground beams, so a small cavity between the planks and soil does no harm. But if you have a compactor available, go for it anyways, cannot hurt.

3. A proper soil test and engineering calculations (by engineer/architect) will answer that correctly and safely.

4. Enjoy the free & relax time before the building starts. Seriously. Once building starts, take care of family, very important, stress will build hard and fast.

Good luck!
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby geordie » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:59 am

Hi and again welcome to the forum raising the land is never a wrong decision but adequate drainage is also becoming of huge concern on rural sites which by design hold water and thats not what you want take a read of Max,s thread its an on going battle
Regarding the rain making no impression on compacting the land i think you will find it is sinking but as a mass so you would not see it anyway its not going to suddenly drop six inches if the land slope,s naturally toward,s the road thats where the water will head for but do not get in its way with the house ! allow the water to go around or under via a good sized drain (pipe or french drain) so it continues to the road where as max has stated it may well form a pool which could hinder access
The footers will as you know go down to original ground level but how far into that ground depends on how solid it is i went down a meter plus the fill on clay but village setting not farm i also used pre cast posts to save a lot of time :)
With using mechanical means to compact it other than a wacker plate there is little else available and all a wacker plate will do is compact a few inches of the top layer so hardly worth the bother most plant is designed to float on top of soft ground (tracks huge tyres)
so not really good for compaction
Take a good look around the area to decide on fill height you may be in the spilway area of a dam or overflow of a river but building a void under is not unheard of to get more height
REgarding keeping an eye on the ball thats a bit of an understatement you must unfortunately watch every inch of the build and check recheck everything they do if they insist on doing it different to what you want remember you are paying them !!! That by definition puts you in control Keeping it simple is about as good as it gets complicated causes issues You are as max put it entering a new adventure in life just take it a day at a time and prevent it turning into a nightmare I have no idea how far you are with plans but take a read of a few builds see a few of the pitfalls and go into it with an open mind consider some things are not possible to build with their skills level other things they do great
enjoy as best you can the next few months and keep posting good and bad
my comments may be wrong but never deliberately
If it aint broke, dont fix it
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby fredlk » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:38 am

Rick Bradford wrote:1. Was it a good decision to raise the land, given the gentle slope, heavy rainfall, and nature of the earth?
2. Should the raised land be mechanically compacted before any construction is attempted?
3. Obviously, pillars need to be driven all the way down into the established earth through the new added earth. It's only going to be a bungalow, so no huge structural strength is required. So how far down would be adequate?

On my topic, http://www.coolthaihouse.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1698, you will see that I also built on a slope, 1 in 20 if I'm not mistaken. The ground was raised and compacted, a mixture of clay and soil, and it hasn't budged in 2 years. Piles were driven through down to 7 metres, more for me than for necessity. It's definitely safer to do so, but many people don't do it.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy the process of building your own home as I did most of the time.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby elgato » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:26 am

Welcome aboard and good luck with your build! I haven't started site work on my (our) land yet so cannot offer any advice other than to check out the posts of others on this site for good info.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Rick Bradford » Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:53 am

Thanks to all for the quick, helpful and comprehensive replies.

Of course, answers raise even more questions that I have not considered, so, just before I delve into fredlk's marathon thread, I will ask a couple more:

1. Presumably, building in the wet season is a no-no -- I ask, because the Thai Met Office is now suggesting that the wet season will last well into December (caused by ongoing La Nina).

2. The relation of piles and slab. The piles (of which there will be 20 or so, will be driven into the original land (OL for short). The concrete slab will sit on the raised land (RL). So where does the stabilisation from the piles happen? Is a cage of rebar used to tie pile to pile? And if so, is this done at OL level or at RL level? Obviously, I want the concrete slab to have as much inherent strength as possible, given the newness of the earth on which it will be sitting.

3. We are not (and will not be) attached to city water. This raises cesspit questions as well as water availability issues. Is there a thread that deals with this someone could point me towards?

This forum has already proved invaluable to me, partly because of the answers I have received, and partly by alerting me to questions I need to be asking the people who will be involved. For example, until I delved into fredlk's tale, I had no idea that a government building permit would be required.

It seems like everything is done on a need-to-know basis -- whatever you need to know, they neglect to tell you. :wink:

Thanks again for all your help. I'm sure that after 104 pages of fredlk's story, I will have a realistic idea what to expect.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Maseratimartin » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:18 am

Hi and welcome...

First ...never "I and my wife"....correct "my wife krap and I krap di krap" .... :wink:

You have there a nice piece of land and rising the land for your house is sure one of the right ways to go for.

Further you should check if you like the for example about 1-2 m rised house styles...

Finally you need to look for (as already mentioned) that the water has a way to drain / escape ...

Many builds start with a totally filled plot. Flat like a piece of butter....looks clean...but afterwards even when the complete plot is rised there will be one problem.
Water will hopefully not come from outside your land on your land but what is with the water from your plot only...before you build your wall it was running everywhere and nobody complained....that's nature. The day a wall marks off your plot all neighbors will look that no water crosses the border...

Lucky you if there is a city drain system available.

Many guys here extract a pond...
We decided not to level the complete land...what made the wall construction slightly more complicated....also the looks are maybe not ideal...but at least I know the water will run over the wall before I get wet feets in our house... :mrgreen:

Soil infill:
We let our land rest for one year before we started the build...when extracting the holes for the house footings I made sure that we at least reached the original grown ground.

Post some photos if possible!
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Roger Ramjet » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:45 am

Rick,
Welcome, may your retirement be enjoyed.
You have heaps of time. Read a few builds, not just one. You must work to your budget and not be confused by "decoration" and a house to the lock-up stage.
The bore piles or "bang bang" piles are totally different and it depends on how close another house is to where you will build and what the engineers recommend. A quick trip to the Or Bor Tor or Tessaban engineering department is never wasted, in fact I found them to be most helpful.
If the land does flood, build the house above the worst known flood level.
We do not take prisoners here, so be prepared to have heaps of criticism, especially if you are building a pool and have a pool builder like mine. Sigh.
Good luck with the build when it starts.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby geordie » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:00 pm

Rick the way they do the bang piles is simple hammer it in untill it stops or fractures ? if it does stop or it does fracture it,s hit solid
They are a problem near other houses with massive ground vibration they can cause damage so not too good for the neighbours as Rodger stated
Any pile system poured or hammered will be linked together but usually its the house platform that does the linking via a system of poured beams to support the walls
Permits are the safe way to go and recomended but a lot of people take the easy root and just build in a rural setting usually no one take any notice
Your cess pit is the least worrying issue getting a fresh water supply is more important so a well is going to be needed or you can have it delivered by tanker
Max & bee ( an australian house) has done a great render for a cess (borrowed by a few members now ??
Water supply should be high on the agenda as you cannot build without it although i am assuming if you dug a lake/pond you have water available there?
Take a look at my neighbours build /Fredic among the banterer you will see a water tank constructed with concrete rings (very cheap but works)
You could try a hand dug well constructed with the same rings at least get a garden supply
Where Fred1k did his well it had to be drilled but he is up a hill
The hand dug well will also give you a good idea of the make up of the ground you could find a poured footing is on the agenda rather than piling it depends on how solid the base layer is and at what depth the water table
This is not an engineering spec :mrgreen: but in the past when i have dug footings and the ground apeared soft i have dug down untill i reach a point where putting 18 stone on a spade will push the blade 1-2 inches into the ground that usually passes a uk inspection for building a footing ??????? be care ful with that test in thailand as in summer the clay turns to iron ?
Building in the rainy season has opened up a whole new way of construction the thai.s put the roof on as soon as they have a frame built Uk we build ground up there = roof down :?
So it can be done but november is a reasonable time to start anyway the rains
usually have slowed down a bit and are coming to an end
Have you done a sketch or floor plan yet on the layout that you can out on here to give us a chance to see what you have planned and maybe pick up on layout problems
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Max&Bee-in-CM » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:54 pm

Rick Bradford wrote:Thanks to all for the quick, helpful and comprehensive replies.

Of course, answers raise even more questions that I have not considered, so, just before I delve into fredlk's marathon thread, I will ask a couple more:

1. Presumably, building in the wet season is a no-no -- I ask, because the Thai Met Office is now suggesting that the wet season will last well into December (caused by ongoing La Nina).

2. The relation of piles and slab. The piles (of which there will be 20 or so, will be driven into the original land (OL for short). The concrete slab will sit on the raised land (RL). So where does the stabilisation from the piles happen? Is a cage of rebar used to tie pile to pile? And if so, is this done at OL level or at RL level? Obviously, I want the concrete slab to have as much inherent strength as possible, given the newness of the earth on which it will be sitting.

3. We are not (and will not be) attached to city water. This raises cesspit questions as well as water availability issues. Is there a thread that deals with this someone could point me towards?

This forum has already proved invaluable to me, partly because of the answers I have received, and partly by alerting me to questions I need to be asking the people who will be involved. For example, until I delved into fredlk's tale, I had no idea that a government building permit would be required.

It seems like everything is done on a need-to-know basis -- whatever you need to know, they neglect to tell you. :wink:

Thanks again for all your help. I'm sure that after 104 pages of fredlk's story, I will have a realistic idea what to expect.


Septic system information here:

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2094

What I am using:

- using 1 2000L plastic poop tank connected to 2 toilets in the house with an overflow 4" pipe leading to a septic tank made of 5 concrete rings.
- grey water going into another septic ring tank, which has an overflow valve into a leech field, or the perimeter fence, whichever is easier.

Concrete slab as such does not really exist here (well not anyways the concrete slabs we have back in Oz). Here you do one of 3 things - lay prefab planks, lay hollow core planks, or
compact dirt. On top of this you lay "wire mesh" (same name thai and english), then pour from 5 to 15 cm concrete on top, as you may wish. The prefab and hollow core planks are
the better and more expensive choice, as they give you a clean and stable foundation on which to pour concrete. To save costs, the other option is infill soil or rocks or sand or
combination between your ground beams, then put down some plastic, then wire mesh then 5-15cm concrete.

Here is how we did the concrete floor at our house we did it twice though, out of normal spec - about 5-7 cm for the first rough pour, then another 5-7 for the final top pour:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1970&hilit=pour+concrete+floor&start=135#p16080
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby tothemark » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:16 am

Yes good luck Rick, your first decision is a positive one, (in my experience) your not using family to build, lol.

To me if the basics are covered adequately you can always then make a silk purse out of a sows ear, should it become apparent that this is the likely outcome. Its just down to the finish, ability of the finishers and the quality of the finished materials. This is where you time will be most needed, as you say he will build the structure the same way he always builds them, with little respect to your input, but then he will also endeavour to finish it off with cheap contractors white goods and fittings. Same same in UK.
On a final note is Bradford your surname or where your from ? if the latter your on my doorstep.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Rick Bradford » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:37 pm

^^That's exactly my feeling -- if there's a strong structure in place then I'll be happy. If the worst comes to the worst, I'll have a super-strong cattle barn...

1) The suggestion has been made that they hammer the piles in to a depth of 7 metres. I'm quite happy with that, as the land quality is only moderate.

The next advice seems to be that piles must be driven in every 4 metres, not just around the outside, but in the middle of the house area as well. How rigidly should that suggestion be followed -- it makes any kind of interesting design almost impossible if I have to lay things out in a 4x4 mesh.

2) Waste water: I'm getting conflicting information about this. Obviously toilet detritus has to go to the septic area, and the design has all the toilet areas close together to facilitate this.

But other waste water (kitchen, laundry), I believed, can just be run off into some out-of-sight location underground, where it will go its own way. But now the suggestion is being made to send this water as well to the septic. As the kitchen is on the far side of the house from the toilets, this would mean running a 15-metre-long pipe under the slab from kitchen to the septic, trying to ensure there is enough fall for gravity to help the water flow.

It sounds unnecessary to me, but then I don't know much about building. :oops:

Any ideas on those points much appreciated.

PS: What do "4 hun" and "3 hun" mean in terms of steel sizes. The builder has written 4 นิ้ว (inches), 3, and 2, but I am sure this is a language thing. He doesn't even understand metres, which is a bit of a worry, preferring คืบ (keup, a handspan of 25cm), or ศอก (sok, a cubit of 50cm)
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Max&Bee-in-CM » Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:49 pm

Rick Bradford wrote:
PS: What do "4 hun" and "3 hun" mean in terms of steel sizes. The builder has written 4 นิ้ว (inches), 3, and 2, but I am sure this is a language thing. He doesn't even understand metres, which is a bit of a worry, preferring คืบ (keup, a handspan of 25cm), or ศอก (sok, a cubit of 50cm)


Some info on the hun:

http://www.coolthaihouse.com/blog/construction/hun-unit-of-measure-for-metal-rebar/

The best way is pop by to your local friendly metal shop, and ask to see all the different huns , get a feel for the metal, can see which is strong which is weak, get a price list... bring soap, its dirty.

For the septic:

The toilet is run to the big plastic ball septic tank, purchased from any good by the side of the road hardware shop, I have 2000L capacity, so that should be a decade or so of pooping.

The shower/kitchen sink/hand sinks/laundry sink/washing machine - all grey water - is run to an underground "tower" of 1m to 1.5 metre wide septic rings, where it is then leeched into the surrounding soil or to the neighbors property (quietly).

Technically for the grey water, you dont need a septic rings, you can just run the PVC pipe outside the house and leave it open there, and let the water flow where it may, hopefully away from the house, but then you will have toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, hair (head and otherwise) and all other (non-poo) human wastes deposited in the sinks and showers, plus all the gooey kitchen stuff, just pooling there, and it aint look or smell too good after a while. Same thing if you just bury it 1m or 2m under the soil - will your water discharge be high or low, can the soil absorb the showers and sink and laundry daily, and not flow back to surface or worse clog back into the pipe? Thats the best thing about a septic ring tank, it has somewhere to go,
and as long as your outlet pipe is lower than the inlet form the house, all will be flowing well.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby pattayapope » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:41 am

Rick Bradford wrote:1) The suggestion has been made that they hammer the piles in to a depth of 7 metres. I'm quite happy with that, as the land quality is only moderate.

The next advice seems to be that piles must be driven in every 4 metres, not just around the outside, but in the middle of the house area as well. How rigidly should that suggestion be followed -- it makes any kind of interesting design almost impossible if I have to lay things out in a 4x4 mesh.


Rick

Who said you need piles the builder or a qualified engineer, the piles should be driven where you have columns as the basis for the foundation, get your builder to show you on a drawing were the piles are located. Normally driven piles have to reach a certain "blow count" (how far the pile goes down with one drop of the weight) and depending on the ground maybe it will only go down a few meters. If you keep hitting the pile it will eventually shatter and be no good as a foundation. Pileing can add a considerable cost to a building and may be a bit over the top to make extra profit when it really is not needed.
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Re: Building in rural Chonburi

Postby Rick Bradford » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:39 pm

The more I look into this, the more confused I get; everything is being done on the need-to-know basis -- if I need to know it, nobody tells me.

1) The reason for the piles is that the original land is rice paddy, on top of which is 1 meter of newish fill. Not good foundation material.

2) The aim then seems to be to have a raised concrete slab (sitting on the piles, presumably), elevated about 50cm above the new fill. The piles would be laid out in a 4x4 meter grid, and go down 4 or 5 meters

My question is simple; is this an accepted way to build a house? My ignorance, and the low level of credible information I am getting, are threatening to turn this into the project from hell even before it has started.... :(
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