Budget Build in Issan

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Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:28 pm

Hi everyone I thought some might be interested in a Thai Style build I am currently involved in. My wife's sister has recently married and her new husband's family are house builders. They have offered free labour to help rebuild my mother in laws house which will eventually be inherited by the sister in law. We will also be building a 1 bedroom suite on the side of the house. Currently the house is a 6mx7m shell elevated 2.5m above the ground with a kitchen and sitting area underneath (earth floor). It is the very typical Issan village house that you see everywhere. It has sat on 9 precast concrete pillars for the last 20+ years with no footings.

In broad strokes the build consists of first moving the house onto new taller posts that will be sunk further into the ground. We will then put in the remaining 11 smaller posts that will support the roof on the single floor sections of the house and connect all the pillars with the ring beam (not sure what it is really called). Next comes plumbing, floors and the roof and finally walls, doors, windows, electrics, tiling, kitchens, painting, and likely a long period of fixing screw-ups. ). My hope is that we will get the whole build done for 300-350k baht. The roof should be the biggest expense and we will be watching the budget very closely. I have made it clear that if we reach the 350k baht point I will not be putting in any more money so they need to budget effectively. Of course they are more concerned about where to find the gaudiest floor tiles rather than thinking of structural issues.

The existing wooden house will have the wall boards removed and replaced with shera wood while the lower floor will use the cheap grey blocs. The existing walls on the house are not teak but are some other local hardwood. They are at least 30 years old but were never finished properly so many are twisted and there are many gaps big enough to put your hand through. I think the wood would be very nice if properly cleaned up but we won't have enough to properly redo all 4 walls. I wanted to replace the back wall with shera wood and use that wood to fill the gaps on the other 3 sides. I love wooden houses and I think this wood would look great refinished but I was voted down because shera wood is much more "nalak" (cute). We will likely end up using the wood for stairs and other things so hopefully all is not lost.

My involvement in the build is that I am paying for most of the materials and am trying to keep things going smoothly with gentle suggestions. I am in a bit of a difficult negotiating position in that it really isn't our house, the labour is donated and everyone involved is close family. So far I have won on roofing materials (insulated steel), grounded electrics, a three tank septic system and using a CPAC truck for the floor pour. So far I have lost on proper footings and the bottom ring beam being CPAC.

I am nervous about the footings but they are right in that the house won't be very heavy. A separate company that has been contracted to move the house is in-charge of taking care of the new footings. My input on the footings has been outvoted as the general belief is that these people have moved 100's of houses in the past and none have fallen down "yet" so they must know what they are doing. Basically they plan on digging 0.5m holes slightly larger than the base of the precast columns, throwing a bit of concrete in the bottom of the hole, and then placing the columns on top and refilling the holes. While clearly not a best practice I hope they are right that this will be sufficient. My guess is that in the worst case we will have some movement and cracking. Hopefully we are not the first house that does fall over.

I don't have any photo's to post yet as we are not yet on site but I will add some shortly. The house movers have a backlog and we don't know exactly when they will show up but it should be within 2 weeks. The builders are finishing another house now but expect to be available shortly after songkran. We should be on-site for the relocation and for the main build. Though I am an Engineer by profession I have zero building experience, the information on this forum has been very valuable to me so far.

I do have a few quick questions I would like to ask-
1. What is the minimum thickness for the concrete floor (10mx15m)? I am thinking about 10cm but don't really know. I expect that we will end up pouring with no plastic underneath on a loosely compacted but competent fill material.
2. Is 10x15m too big to do without providing for expansion?
3. Is it a better practice to pour the under-floor ring beam first and then wait to do the floor or is it better to do them in one integrated pour.

Sorry about the long post with no photo's but I should have some to post shortly.

floorplan.png
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby Roger Ramjet » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:42 pm

MalKowJai,
If you use precast reinforced concrete over your beams then pour 10 cm of concrete over them with trench mesh you should do fine.
You cannot pour the beams and floor at the same time without a disaster later. Pour the beams first and give them three days to cure, then you can add the reinforced concrete planks (braced) and 10cm of concrete.
If you start at this page you'll get the picture viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1864&start=420
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:55 pm

Thanks for the quick response. Glad to hear 10cm should be sufficient.

In my previous post I neglected to mention that we will be using the existing wood floor for the 2nd floor of the house, only the ground floor will be concrete. The ground floor will be poured directly on the beams and on the sand infill that will be placed between the beams. Since I have convinced them to go with a CPAC truck for the floor I will try to get the water resistant additive as well since my guess is I will have trouble getting them to put plastic down. In fact I am getting resistance on using the steel mesh but if go out and buy it myself I think I can get them to use it.

The existing structure of the original wooden house will also be reused including the roof support which is hardwood and looks to be in good shape.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby jazzman » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:32 pm

There are actually two good reasons for the plastic sheeting: As a damp prppf course, and to stop the water being sucked out of the new concrete by the sand.

The wire mesh is pretty indispensable - in fact on floors and driveways I actually go OTT and add DB12 @ 0.80 to it.
How to build a $20,000 / £14,000 house and a $???? MOTEL Updated 21 March 09 - with BOQ and costs
Don't let this happen in YOUR house.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:56 pm

Step one in the build was to relocate the old house to its new location. The MIL arranged this with a local group who do this as a full time job. The house has been moved 2 times previously over the last 20 years. As I have previously mentioned since the labour is free and the house is not being built for us I don't always get my way on how things will be done. I have told them that I will put in 300k baht and after that the ATM dries up. They are responsible to cover any cost overruns beyond that. My rough calculations come in at 370k for the entire build (approx 2k baht/sq meter). At this price point it is obvious that we will not be building anything that you would find in any dream home magazines). With steel costs as they are it will be hard to meet this budget even with free labour).

I lost the footings battle as I wanted to put proper footings in to support the concrete floor that will be laid next month. At 150 square meters and 10cm thick we are talking about 15 m3 of concrete (approx 35 metric tonnes of concrete). This is to be supported by footings with a combined area of only 1.2 m2 (9 precast coloums with 30cmx30cm bases, plus 11 columns with 20cmx20cm bases). This means that the bearing pressure is going to be about 30 metric tonnes per square meter. This is roughly double what I would expect the bearing pressure of the soil to be under the footings.

Granted they did put the precast columns on top of concrete that was poured into the holes and the holes were dug down .5m into original competent soil, so if we are extremely lucky that will increase the effective footing area somewhat. On the other hand, since the concrete was poured poorly with no steel in it I have my doubts if it will contribute any strength. The roof will be steel (negligible weight compared to the floor) and the upstairs floor is wood, I don't think we are going to have safety issues but there will be settling and cracking unless we are very very lucky. Maybe we will be lucky and the concrete beams under the floor will take some of the load though they will be on less competent fill.

One thing that completely slipped my mind about moving the house was the power line. We moved the house farther from the pole and needed to add almost 10m of additional wire. This was not too expensive at only 450 baht including clamps etc. but I am guessing all will have to be replaced once we actually start putting in the proper electrics as the old stuff likely won't handle the load safely.
Some of the promised photos...
Attachments
DSCN0037b.jpg
Original Electrics
DSCN0021b.jpg
Old Pillar to Beam Join
DSCN0019b.jpg
Another Old Pillar
DSCN0018b.jpg
Old Pillar
DSCN0013b.jpg
New Pillars (15x15 with 30x30 bases), 3.5m tall.
DSCN0014b.jpg
House day before move
DSCN0012b.jpg
Future site of house
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:36 pm

Notice the spalling on the old pillars and the rusted exposed steel on one in the previous photos. Not much to say about the old electrics other than SCARY.

Some more photos...
Attachments
DSCN0042b.jpg
Completely cracked base that was only revealed once the pillars were out of the ground.
DSCN0041b.jpg
Vertical jacks are leaned so that they will move with the house and be level after each step.
DSCN0040b.jpg
Jacks in place ready to go, 3 pushing from other side, these are to steady as it moves forward.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:45 pm

More Photos...
Attachments
DSCN0048b.jpg
They actually did a good job of keeping everything level using simple tools. Doubt it will stay that way once the settling starts.
DSCN0054b.jpg
Attaching the new pillars, house raised and lowered many times to get holes lined up.
DSCN0056b.jpg
Lotsa water to keep mixing easy (grrrrrrr....)
DSCN0057b.jpg
Bolts a bit to short for my comfort will spot weld later.
DSCN0058b.jpg
House was raised then concrete poured and the pillar sunk into it. Supports only left for about 18 hours of curing time.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:53 pm

I am now back at our condo relaxing until Songkran is over, then the builders show up and we get back to work on the 18th. My overall impression of the house move is that it was about what I expected. The crew was actually pretty competent on moving the house and they got it relocated quickly. I am still disappointed in the footings but my input was not headed. I am now in a lose-lose situation, if we have settling and cracking I will get blamed for not arguing harder and if we don't get cracking there will be gentle reminders about how they were right and I was wrong. :x
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:50 pm

Update #1

We are back on site and things are moving forward. The builders have showed up and have gotten started. The main builder is a really nice guy and wants to do a good job and he is willing to listen but his advice is always that if we do things my way that it will be more expensive and that since this is not a Farang style house the extra cost is not required. The family generally follows his advice so I don't get my way very often. Once we start on the electrical I will be much more forceful but for now I am not arguing too much.

To date they have erected all the precast concrete columns, started doing the ring beam in sections (to save on forms) and they have started putting up the roof steel. They are working hard and making good progress considering that there are only 2 working full time with others pitching in when extra hands are needed. Most of the work is going well but there are some things I wish we could have done differently. They again used no steel in the footings below the precast columns but this time the concrete mix looked much better (not so much water). They also did a very good job of keeping everything level and true with the simple tools they had at their disposal.

When starting the ring beam the first thing they did that I knew was going to happen but was powerless to resist was that they used the sand fill as the base of the ground beams with no plastic and only put the forms on the sides. They did pour water on the sand first to moisten it but my guess that this wont do much. They also used warped wood for the forms which caused the steel to be in contact with the forms in many places. They also didn't use any kind of proper vibrator on the concrete though they did try to get some of the air our with the trowels as they were pouring. I was happy that they didn't overdo the water when mixing the concrete but was unhappy when they removed to forms after less than a day of curing time. One saving grace is that for the next 2 days it was raining off and on constantly so the surrounding fill was damp and hopefully didn't wick to much water out of the concrete. I have some photo's of the beam showing some air bubbles and exposed steel that I will post soon.

The roof steel is going up at the same time as the ground beam and while the majority of the welds look ok, their solution to joining the steel to the columns that have no surface for the steel to sit on, leaves much to be desired. Instead of backing out the bolts and putting in a thin steel plate that they could have welded onto, they used steel bar that was welded to the carriage bolt heads that secure the second floor wooden columns to the concrete columns. Difficult to explain without the photos but once I get the photos up you will be able to see what I mean. Since we are only putting a lightweight steel roof up I don't think this will be a fatal flaw but if we were going with a CPAC roof it would have to be redone. The other thing they did was they added paint thinner to the paint before rust proofing the steel, thankfully we are no where near the ocean....

All in all the build is going along as I expected, I don't think any of the sub-standard work is going to make the house unsafe but I won't be surprised if problems pop up down the road. Hopefully these future problems are limited to minor surface cracks but we shall see. If we end up with rust on the steel work or if one of the week welds fails I won't be the one who foots the bill for repair or replacement.

It is an interesting thing to see how they get on with things on their own. It is good too that my wife is learning as we go since I can point out problem areas to her and she can see what I mean now. Hopefully when we do our own build in 7-10 years she will remember what went wrong on this one and will be more supportive of my input. Photo's to follow in a day or two.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby thaicbr » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:16 pm

How much were those 3.5m precast pillars?

Looks to be a good job .. good luck on the rest.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:30 am

Depends on the cross section size, our 6" (15mm) pillars were 740 baht each, the 5" (12.5 mm) ones were about 670 baht if my memory is correct.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby thaicbr » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:01 am

thanks.. looking forward to more info and pics.. good luck :D
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:59 pm

Some more photos
DSCN0082b.jpg
Forms too close to steel and nothing but sand on the bottom.

DSCN0088b.jpg
End result, air holes and exposed steel.

DSCN0089b.jpg
Interesting welding, not exactly as I had envisioned.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby MaiKowJai » Mon May 06, 2013 1:25 pm

Project is moving on, had 50,000 baht of steel roofing delivered. They couldn't get the count right so they re-handled the roofing sheets again and again managing to deeply scratch many through the paint and into the steel. Another simple thing that could have been avoided with a little common sense. They did a pretty good job of installing the roofing and I was pleased that they put the screws in the top ridges of the sheet rather than in the low flat spots.

Then the family decided that we don't need to get a CPAC truck for the floor, lets just hire 2 extra guys and do it ourselves. They did a reasonable job mixing the concrete putting in only a little too much water. The rest of the job was not quite so great. Rather than pouring the floor 10cm thick as we discussed they decided 5 cm was enough. They also left the steel mesh laying on the ground rather then putting it up on some small rocks to get it in the middle of the concrete.

I am so frustrated now that I mostly just keep my mouth shut, I will get involved when we start doing the electrics since that has real safety issues for the family but I am getting more and more hands off with the rest. I still don't think the structural issues are a safety concern since there is such a light load from the roof but it is very frustrating to see almost everything done poorly.

Despite underestimating some costs initially (concrete, roofing and steel), we are pretty close to our budget since we canceled the ready mix and dropped the insulation on the roofing. I would have preferred to eat the extra cost on those 2 items but was outvoted. The best thing about the project is that I am learning allot about the group dynamic and how doing things by committee doesn't really work here.
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Re: Budget Build in Issan

Postby fredlk » Mon May 06, 2013 1:38 pm

MaiKowJai wrote:how doing things by committee doesn't really work here.

You hit the nail on the head. If you're not the boss then I suggest you take a back seat and an advisory role and not worry too much.
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