Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Time

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

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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai

Postby Greenside » Fri May 03, 2013 8:42 pm

Hitch #2 (the first was the pound going into free fall the moment I signed the contract - happily, it's recovered a little during the last week):

How do you trust these pest control people? We asked a couple of companies to quote (one via our contractor and one directly) and only one responded. Unfortunately, it was a 13 page pdf with every detail you may or may not want, including snapshots of the standard plastic tubes and spray heads that everyone uses, and a long an impressive list of customers. The downside that it was all in Thai and they didn't actually give a price. After an ultimatum (the laying of the floor slabs looming) they came up with a price but based on a misunderstanding of the plans and taking in a little more than half the area that really needed doing. After a meeting, they revised the price and gave an extra discount but it still came to 44,000 baht for the installation of the tubes, one treatment and two years' service.

That evening the guy who has been treating the perimeter of the Studio every 4 months under the contract the builders included, came round and offered to do the job for 20,000 using the same chemicals as the first lot. On the basis that we had to get the tubes installed sharpish and that if he did only that part we could inject the pesticide ourselves, we agreed but told him that we would have to approve the installation and test it with water before the floor slabs were laid to check the coverage was good enough.

The guy is hard working but I really believe that he's never done a big installation and actually tested it. His pump (and the replacement he bought yesterday) weren't powerful enough to handle the multi section areas he hooked up and the type of sprayheads and the position on the tubes didn't produce decent coverage even with 3 bar from my irrigation pump. Since the rest of the floor is going down tomorrow and the screeding starts, there will be a lot of crawling around to fix and check it which I'm not looking forward to.

The moral of the story is get the system fitted as early as possible and do a full test with water to establish that the coverage is OK. I already treated the base of each column (all 62) and under the pool slab with Solignum Soilguard and I think we'll get this all sorted out, but were I to be crazy enough to build again I'd do to whole thing myself and probably use blue PVC pipe rather than the flexible stuff. My guess is that a huge number of installations are done badly and once the house is up the work's out of sight. It's not rocket science by any means.

You can catch a glimpse of the tubes in the time lapse below.

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A Bank Story

Postby Greenside » Fri May 03, 2013 9:15 pm

With even a quarter of a baht movement in the exchange rate making a significant difference, I'm getting obsessed with checking the currency several times a day and racing off to the bank in the centre of town at the drop of a hat (or should that be the drop of a baht?). A couple of days ago when it magically passed 45 to the GBP I went to change the next payment due to the contractor. I had the young clerk check the rate and it turned out a little higher than I was expecting so I happily went ahead and did the deal, checking that my baht savings account had been credited with the correct amount.

Later in the afternoon I got a call from the bank to say that they'd made a mistake and that not only had the teller given me an incorrect exchange rate but he'd credited my foreign currency account with £20,000 instead of debiting it and the bank couldn't close their books for the day without sorting it out. Although we're near the city it's not easy to find and finally three of the bank staff (two managers and the rather sheepish guy who had made the mistake) showed up at 5.30 full of apologies. They took the books away and the poor young man returned them to us at 9.30 that night - probably an uncomfortable evening for him all round.

I'll be checking both books more carefully next time.... :D
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Greenside » Sat May 11, 2013 9:01 pm

Unbelievable! A different teller made exactly the same mistake yesterday although I caught it before leaving the bank. I wonder how often they actually lose out by employing idiots to do high value foreign currency transactions? :shock:

On the house front, the screed was poured a couple of days ago and they are working on the columns so we can now walk around and wonder where we're going to find all that furniture.

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Incidentally, I still see builders using wood for formwork but all the beams and columns for our project have been done with locally hired plastic "planks" with two or three lengths of square section steel fitted into the back for rigidity. About 200 baht a length I was told.

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I understand that this guy works by touch alone...
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby thailazer » Sun May 12, 2013 5:50 am

Looking good! Our builders also used those plastic forms and it seems every village has a rental place for them tucked away somewhere.
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Greenside » Sun May 12, 2013 11:24 am

I'm sure it's a good business and a lot more eco-friendly than wood (although they still use a lot of rough wood for the supports etc.). I'm surprised that you don't see many tool hire places here.
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Mike Judd » Sun May 12, 2013 11:50 am

Ha ! that would be great, but can you imagine trying to find where the non returned tools were.? If you started a Hire Shop that is. Half of them are going around on un registered bikes and cars with no licence. Be a good way of getting tools cheap though, or am I being unkind.?
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Greenside » Sun May 12, 2013 12:00 pm

In Europe you need to sign a credit card authorisation which probably wouldn't work here outside of a main city but a deposit that was at least as much as the used value of the hired item might be enough to deter thefts. It will come as the cost of labour rises, small contractors will see the value in hiring more and more time saving gear rather than tying up capital and someone will leap into this market in a big way. Probably CP Foods as they seem to do almost everything else!
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Roger Ramjet » Sun May 12, 2013 12:17 pm

Without taking the thread off topic: All tools and hired machinery require a large deposit in Bangkok. When I hired a generator the deposit was 60,000 baht, which was reduced because I live just up the road from the hire company. For the steel forms it was 80,000 deposit because that leasing company didn't trust anyone. Hiring tools is even worse, which is the reason I purchased all mine.
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Beam Supports & An Early Delivery

Postby Greenside » Sun May 12, 2013 5:17 pm

Today they started to put up the supports for the beams and the concrete for the remaining columns will be poured tomorrow.

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And as a surprise to round off the week, the first of four deliveries of roof tiles arrived almost three weeks early. We decided to accept them but it's a pain in the neck to have them sitting around with the possibility of damage in the meantime.

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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Greenside » Mon May 13, 2013 5:41 pm

The concrete delivery came late but as far as I can tell they are going to work through until they finish the remaining columns. A lot more beam supports went up today too.

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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Greenside » Fri May 17, 2013 9:00 pm

They are making good progress on the beam supports and all the re-bar should be finished tomorrow. The forms are being delivered so they can be in place for the ready mix truck and the crane on Tuesday. Miserably hot up here still with afternoon temperatures of about 40 in the shade so I've got to hand it to these guys working on top of the bamboo supports with no shade. Makes me sweat just thinking about it.

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A question I can't quite get my head around: As I understand it, for maximum strength, concrete should be kept cool when it's curing so if shade isn't available they often hose it down with water several times a day or cover it with wet sacking material. Our builders (and others that I have seen) wrap the newly formed columns in shrink plastic which, while it keeps the moisture in, doesn't do anything for the cooling. So is it the loss of moisture due to direct sunlight that's the issue or simply the temperature?
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Galee » Fri May 17, 2013 9:10 pm

From what I observed during my build, the plastic causes condensation which constantly keeps the concrete moist.
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Greenside » Fri May 17, 2013 9:37 pm

That's right, but is the strength of the mix improved because of retained moisture or by slowing the reaction down by the application of water which then evaporates and reduces the temperature?
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Roger Ramjet » Fri May 17, 2013 10:10 pm

Greenside wrote:That's right, but is the strength of the mix improved because of retained moisture or by slowing the reaction down by the application of water which then evaporates and reduces the temperature?

The longer the concrete takes to cure the stronger it becomes.
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Re: Building A House In Chiang Mai At The Worst Possible Tim

Postby Mike Judd » Sat May 18, 2013 6:45 am

i believe it's all about curing (drying) at the same time right through the total thickness, hence the wetting of the surface which would dry first and cracking occur other wise if very hot weather. They say the Hover Dam which was several meters thick in parts ,was still curing years after it was poured. How true I don't know, but they didn't wait that long to put it to the test. With the normal test samples ,4 in each truck load, 1 is crushed every 7 days , with the resulting P.S.I increasing to a satisfying figure give or take a bit in 28 days. Obviously the correct mix in the beginning comes into it ,also most important in Thailand, (Sorry to labour the point) WATCH THE WATER !
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