Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

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

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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:21 pm

Thanks for the advice on the new Global House Jerome, which we have since visited trying to find neutral floor tiles - see Week 15. I have to say that DoHome on Route 2 is still my pick for the biggest hardware store in Udon. Maybe we can do a Google aerial comparison!

Week 14

31 January – 6 February, a week of progress. With a full crew of nine people now working on the house since the Thursday of Week 13, things really pushed ahead this week.

Day 92 – A big effort after yet more render was ordered and delivered. Another 70 bags. These walls would stand up by themselves even without the AAC blocks! I measured them on completion and they are 25 cm thick. They look almost medieval in appearance. Wonderful. The kitchen area was finally finished as well as the outside living space. Meanwhile we headed yet again to Nong Bua Lamphu for more electrical items. This is a drip feed process with things being asked for by the electrical guys on a day by day basis, something I am getting a little tired of.

From the front door looking towards the kitchen/family area.

Day 93 – Back to Nong Bua Lamphu this time to order the ceiling. We had tried to do this previously but the very knowledgeable guy we meet there the first time had a few days off. I have never seen a suspended ceiling in a domestic situation so had no idea of what was involved other than Gyprock sheeting. At Global House they ran the size through a computer program and it came back with the qualities of everything we needed plus some probably. Delivery the next day at a cost of 558 THB – a per km rate.

If you are interested I have included a step by step descriptioon of the ceiling installation process here with lots of photos.

Back at the house the delivery of outside tiling arrived a few days before expected. We had ordered 100 m2 from a local business in Nong Bua at a cost of 122 THB per m2, covered in Week 13. When they unpacked the pallet the centre boxes were damp and had been infested with small white ants, the combination of which had stained 33 boxes of tiles. No questions asked, they loaded those back on the truck and said they would deliver replacements in the next week.

After long consideration I decided not to go the Thai way of laying the smoothest, shiniest and most slippery tiles outside, designed to cause the maximum damage in the wet season, but to go for a tile that had a rough sand finish with plenty of grip! We farang are strange creatures sometimes.

A minor addition but important in my eyes anyway was the drilling of a hole to allow the kitchen gas bottle to sit outside in its own little AAC box with the pipe feeding through the wall to the inside cooker, rather than have the bottle under the benchtop in the kitchen. Saving space and safer too.

Outside the left side of the house was finished in render.

Day 94 – A big rendering day with the team split in two, some doing the right hand side of the house while the others working on the remaining wall in our bedroom.

Meanwhile Global House came up with the goods and delivered the ceiling material on time. With the rendering done in the front two thirds of the house and the electrical wiring now completed the second crew was keen to get going fitting the ceilings. Almost as soon as the truck backed out there was action in the roof area.

From lounge looking towards the kitchen.

Meanwhile Ming, the builder, was working in the roof space putting the final anti-corrosion touch-ups to the steel beams where needed or where there had been additional welding.

Day 95 – Heaps more happening. The ceiling framework was completed in all the areas where the rendering had been finished. The slow point has been the ensuites at the back of the house.

Gaun had been chasing Thai Watsadu in Udon Thani all day because the insulation, which was supposed to have been delivered the previous day, still hadn't made an appearance. It ended up the truck had got lost and we eventually got hold of the Rt37 insulation rolls, the purchase of which is covered in excessive detail in Week 13.

It is hard to take a photo without a Thai posing! My wife in this instance. Insulation now joining the Gyprock in the lounge room.

The ceiling guys were keen to get the insulation installed so that they could get on with fitting the ceiling panels. The rendering guys had been hard at work at the back of the house and this was also completed by the end of the day.

Our main wiring from road to house has now been buried in underground conduit and the wires that have been going to a makeshift fusebox on a mango tree stump have been removed and connected directly to the internal fuse box.

I have been really happy with this gang of workers. People turn up to work at 8.00 and work through until 5.00 often followed by a period of relax over a bottle of beer or Thai whisky. Ming buys a round from time to time and I do too, but not often. The other times they sort it out between themselves. I have had no problems with drunkenness, sometimes reported on the building forums. The same crew has been working pretty well since day one with on and off according to the work required. I suspect I have been very lucky.

Day 96 – Plasterboard was installed to all the living areas of the house and doesn't that make a difference. Suddenly after months of waiting you have rooms! Make sure you have your lighting plan ready as they will need this to accurately measure the ceiling light placements. The eight LED downlights I have in the kitchen has caused some merriment from the workers:-)

Looking towards the kitchen.

Outside the final panel on the right side of the house was rendered. Three sides of the house are now done with only the front to do, which you won't see until Week 15.

The right side of the house finished. The break in the wall is the undercover dining area.

This looks very blocklike with no windows to break it up but it was was designed that way as this side faces West to the setting sun. Also I have no idea what the neighbour will be building on the land next to ours in the longer term. If typical Thai than the lack of a view of the structure will be a big plus.

Another trip to Global House this time to order 100 m2 soffit boards. The outside living and dining areas will be an extension of the eaves not plasterboard.

While at Global we enquired about the cost of paint. For those of you planning to build here, did you know that the brighter the colour of your house the more expensive? Nine litres of house paint in a cream will set you back the cost of the white base paint plus 12 baht for the colour. A vivid red alternative will cost you over 1,500 baht just for the tinting! One of the weird differences between building here and back “home”, where I never remember being charged for any colour tinting. Bland is good although you don't see too many examples of it in colour-blind Thailand.

Our final Global purchase were two fluorescent lights. I'm in Thailand so must have at least one example of the most common form of light fitting here! One will go into the pantry and the other into the roof connected to an outlet thoughtfully provided by the electrician.

We also ordered 15 m2 of tiles for the ensuite floors from the same place we got the outside tiles from and arranged for them to be delivered with our missing 33 m2.

Day 97 – with the ceiling installation being held up by the unfinished rendering in the ensuites all attention turned to that part of the house. This should have been picked up earlier but anyway…..

The plasterboard was being prepared for painting by Wood and he was doing a good job of it. Meantime more insulation and Gyprock was going up in the bedrooms.

Our bedroom with completed render wall and ceiling.

Day 98 – the ceiling guy was short of joint tape and we needed a few more bags of insulation, which I thought might happen, so we had an early morning run to Global House. I am doubling up on the 3″ Rt21 insulation rather than head back to Udon Thani to get more Rt37. The Global house version, pictured in the last photo of this post, has a much thinner foil covering than the Rt37 brand I bought from Thai Watsadu. An inferior product but it is only being used as a top-up. I also thought we’d buy some primer paint so that we were ahead of the game for once.

Gaun in true form checking everything out to make sure it is up to standard! She has contributed as much to this build as I have.

I am sticking with the quality brands, or at least brands that I know, even though Dulux is more expensive. These 18 litre tubs cost 1,745 THB each. Just another small heads-up for locals – you will be expected to provide the rollers and paint brushes not the builder. This had me slightly puzzled. After all I have bought the nails but didn’t have to buy the hammers! Anyway that’s how it is and the 160 THB for two rollers and paint brushes won’t break the bank.

The next stage starting Week 15 will be slower focussing on getting the soffit up. Painting the exterior is next and then the external tiling. Once this tiling is done I can get DeKu, the window people, in to measure up and start manufacturing the sliding doors and windows. The end is more realistically in sight.

Heaps of other photos here plus an update of the budget
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:44 pm

Week 15

7 – 13 February, a slower week after the big effort in Week 14, but steady progress made. It is at this point in the build, where the house is starting to look more like something that could be lived in, that one wishes for a fast forward button and we could just finish everything today!

One of the more pleasurable aspects of progress is the winding down of the pure construction and a move to the decoration and fit out stage.

Day 99 - We had been drip-feeding the team bags of render so that for once we ended up without an excess of materials. The FINAL five bags of render was bought locally and dropped off at the site and soon after the front of the house was completed meaning the whole inside and out was finished. Yay. I wrote last week how fed up I was of concrete and nothing has changed that opinion this week.

The render finally finished. A happy moment.

Inside all the ceilings were completed and the plastering of joints etc done. Anti-moisture Gyproc was bought for the ensuites, more expensive at 222 THB a sheet rather than the 143 THB for the regular version, but with only 12 m2 to cover a good investment for a very small additional cost. These sheets are green in colour or you can go the next step up and buy the ones with a silver backing.

Day 100 - With the ceiling finished the team on site dropped to Ming and Joy, one of his permanents. The other regular, Jack, had hurt his knee and was out of action for a couple of days. The attention turned to outside and building the framework that would form the soffit or eaves. This was being constructed out of some heavy duty looking steel beams, far more than I would have thought necessary, but it was a standard detailed in the plans. So we were once again back to steel and welding, something we hadn't seen since the roof was finished.

At the end of the day Tam, the electrician plus a few other occupations, dropped in. He had asked me the previous day what I was doing to control the water flow into the water tank from the bore. As far as I was concerned we just got a bigger version of the float valve I put on the family’s water supply from the Moo Baan source. Tam pointed me towards an electronic version which he said was what was needed for a submersible pump and offered to buy one for me the next day being his day off. This is what he came up with:

Who would have thought?

This was not an area I researched so I am going with the flow, so to speak, on this recommendation. We have a 1 1/2 pipe from bore to tank and I haven't seen a float valve that size but maybe they are around. Tam is pretty switched on, I must stop this, and in this case I am trusting his advice. At 955 THB it wasn’t a great expense.

Day 101 - Ming and Joy continued to work on the soffit frame. In the two outside areas, the lounge at the front and the dining area on the right of the house, I had requested a more fancy design than just having the ceiling boards run from the facia to the walls. The frame of the soffit had to match that, which involved more steel and man hours. The result ended up being a piece of design in itself.

The soffit frame in the outside lounge area.

We headed to Global House and bought 3 tubs of primer paint and tiles for the ensuite walls. The tiler and his offsider were due on the site the next day as they had just finished another job and were looking for work. At Global I also bought 3 litres of tinted paint to test the colour I thought would work for the exterior walls.

Returning home I got into some work clothes and actually got my hands slightly dirty doing a test wall using the paint I had selected. The end result was good and I got the thumbs up from Ming but no pay for my work :-(

I was originally going for a cream, something along the lines of Dulux Rose White, but changed my mind and got a Dulux colour called Pearl White Ref 8575, which is a very light cream off white with a touch of green. The following photo is from later in the week but it gives you an idea of the colour when it is directly compared with a white, being the primer in this case:

Can you pick up on the slight green tint to this? It ends up looking quite white in the sunshine and then goes darker and more green in the evening.

Day 102 - The tiling started today in the two ensuites and what was the first thing they needed? – cement!!!! 2 bags bought and delivered. The 12 m2 of floor tiles I had bought well in advance ended up being wall tiles! Oh well. They can go into the guest bathroom when it is built once the exchange rate improves.

Now here is a hint for those of you looking to build here. I recommend you choose the floor tiles first as they are the most limited in choice especially if you are looking to use neutral colours. You have a wider range of wall tiles to choose from. If blue patterned floor tiles and a nice pink or green for the walls is your thing, maybe with some flowers thrown in for extra impact, no problem and ignore my advice.

If however a more neutral theme is required then we are excluding about 95% or more of the choice in Thai tiles. Unfortunately we had already selected the the wall tiles in an off-white with a silver/grey square pattern and finding a matching off-white floor tile ended up being one of the hardest supply tasks of the build equalling finding 37 Rt insulation. The other restriction was that I wanted to getting a rough non-slip tile rather than the shiny versions, which were in slightly more plentiful supply i.e. they had a choice of two! This is a house that I hope will take me into old age and I may as well start planning for it now.

I originally thought we’d have no problem and drove to Nong Bua Lamphu. By the time we had covered Global House, Thai Watsadu and a Thai tile franchise called Tile Top, and found nothing I was starting to get worried enough to plan a trip to Udon Thani the following day.

Back on site more steel was required for the soffit framework, of course, and 20 bags of cement for the external tiling aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Ordered locally and delivered the same day.

Day 103 – We left early for Udon Thani, an hour’s drive from us, because not only were we on the hunt for floor tiles but also I wanted to check out granite for the kitchen benchtop and a place that custom built timber furniture.

I won't cover the outcome of this trip here because it is slightly outside the build progress brief but if interested you can read about it in detail here When we got back some progress had been made on the tiling.

Ensuite wall tiling almost finished.

Day 104 - The tilers having got as far as they could with the ensuites moved to painting. Primer was slapped up both inside and out, which lightened the house immensely. It was great to say goodbye to render grey.

We made yet another trip to Nong Bua Lamphu and Global House for three more packs of wall tiles for the ensuites as the tilers had run out the previous day.

Day 105 - The soffit frame was finished and the house swept and cleaned, ready for painting and tiling. With the primer finished the two guys who had worked on putting it on moved to painting the first coat of colour. Ming and Jack started on putting up the soffit boards.

A run through the house with the camera gave me the following progress updates at the end of Week 15:

From kitchen to the outside dining area. Master bedroom, pantry and Peng/guest bedroom doors from left to right.

From kitchen toward the outside dining area on the left and the lounge room on the right. The window on the right might turn into a servery to the outside lounge area.

As always I have run out of photo uploads so if you want a more comprehensive coverage of progress and an update of the budget please go here
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby pipoz » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:56 pm

Getting close to picking your paint and interior colours, if you haven't already.

Good luck with agreeing your colour schemes with the wife. Thai's seem to have weird ideas when it comes to final colours selection for interiors and exterior colours.

Its like they don't want anything to match.

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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:25 am

Hi Pipoz. Yes, I have read some of the stories of the "challenges" farang have with their Thai wives on many aspects of building. The insistence on clay roof tiles is another example along with colour selection.

Gaun, my wife, refuses to have any Thai colours in the house and we have a very neutral scheme happening. I try to get her involved with sharing a decision on the build but she tells me that whatever I like is fine by her - and actually means it. The easiest woman to get along with that I have ever met. The same colour is going on the internal walls as outside, as detailed in Week 14 I think, with a smoky white ceiling. The floor tiles outside are a light cream and inside a white with a slight grey fleck. White tiles in the two bathrooms with a slightly darker version of the wall paint.

Gaun was totally happy with the white Colorbond roof as well, something that would lead to divorce in some relationships. It makes things so much easier having one's wife on the team rather than in opposition.

Cheers Tony.
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:29 pm

Week 16

14 – 20 February, a mixed week of soffits or eaves, whichever term you use, plus a touch of paint, electrical and tiling.

Soffit (from French: soffite, formed as a ceiling; directly from suffictus for suffixus, Latin: suffigere, to fix underneath), in architecture, describes the underside of any construction element.

Day 106 – The build seems to have entered a slower stage. I think that Ming, the builder, is worried about the amount of money he has been paying out to subcontractors for doing the major work and is now trying to contain costs by keeping some of the final aspects of the build within his own little team. Unfortunately one of his two off-siders is still away cutting sugar cane on his land, which reduces the workforce to Ming plus Jack.

Some additional hands ended up being included as the guy who will be doing the tiling and his mate had just finished a job and turned up looking for work. I am not sure Ming was that keen to offer it but one needs to be careful with relationships in a small community.

The longer term priority is to get the outside tiling down so that the final measurements for the sliding doors can be taken and the windows/doors ordered. I can’t finish the fitout on the inside unless I can lock the house at night. We haven’t had any items go missing as far as I know but with a lot of money going into electrical, the kitchen, bathrooms and doors I don’t want to take the chance. One of my brother-in-laws has offered to sleep in the house at night and that may still be something I take up as we progress.

To get the tiling down we need to finish the soffits and get the first coat of paint on everything. With the soffit framework finished in Week 15 attention turned to getting the 100 m2 of soffit boards screwed into place. Of the four workers three ended up working on the soffit boards and the other guy started painting whatever was available.

Having pondered on paint colour for the inside walls we decided on just using the same as the outside, a Dulux colour called Pearl White Ref 8575, which I really like. It is a paint that changes colour depending on the light it is exposed to. In sunlight it turns almost white and in shade will go a more cream colour and at some angles it has a touch of green.

Day 107 – Slow progress being made on the ceiling. Because the design is two triangles pointing into a central rectangle it involves a lot of measuring and cutting. A straight fix of boards from the outside facia to the walls would have been a lot easier but less interesting.

Three people working on the outside sitting area ceiling.

Inside a second coat of primer was being applied where the first looked a bit thin.

Day 108 – The outside lounge area ceiling was finished and some more painting mostly inside happening. I am a little frustrated with progress. There is another big ceiling to be done in the outside dining area plus all the external soffit around the whole house and at this rate it will take well over a week. Apart from my self inflicted progress delayer by complicating the design, the soffit frame was specified with over-thick steel for some reason which makes screwing into it a super effort.

Day 109 – I have to admit that I had a restless night worrying about progress on the build. It is not so much the slowness of the soffit build in itself but the cascading effect it has – soffit, tiling outside, windows, fitout. What really had me going was that today it seemed as if Ming would be the only worker on site. His regular, Jack, had to take his son to hospital for a check-up and the two tilers were off to build a wall for one of their family members. Ming has problems with finding the strength to apply the pressure needed to get the soffit screws in. He’s 64 and maybe has arthritis in his wrists like I do – thanks Mum. So it looked like a stalled day ahead.

However I needn't have worried and should have trusted on the goodwill generated by the house blessing ceremony in Week 3 :D Ming was equally as worried as me evidently and was up early to try and round up help. Wood, a guy who worked on many aspects of the build, received a very early morning visit from Ming and agreed to help out. He’s part of what I call the “A Team”, four guys who did the concrete slab, the Colorbond roof, built the walls and are doing the electrical. They subcontract out to Ming as a group.

The good news didn’t end there because it has started to rain in Isaan. I thought we were in the dry season and wouldn’t see rain until April but since early February it has rained most days. Only short thunderstorms but good for the new sugar cane and mango trees I am told.

The significance of some wet is that the A Team are working on the early stages of a Swedish guy’s house in Si Bun Ruang and it doesn't have a roof yet, unlike mine. What a shame :-). So a loss to the Swedes is a win for the Aussies and the A Team turned up in bulk for a day’s work. The two tilers couldn't build their wall so they arrived as well! So we went from a possible one worker to seven. Both Ming and I were happy men.

We ended up with two groups working on the soffit, one team filling in the sides and the other starting on the outside dining area ceiling. Existing soffit was being filled with putty where needed and primer being applied.

The outside ceiling design in the dining area.

We made such great progress with the extra workers that at the end of the day, over a few drinks which I gratefully provided, I offered the A Team via Gaun an incentive to return the next day. I told them that I would pay them each the same as Ming was, which is 350 THB or A$12.00 for the day, if they came and worked again the next day and finished the soffit. Once they caught on that they were to be paid two days for one day’s work we quickly had an agreement. Ah the power of money.

Day 110 – We had the A Team happening, Jack returned as did one of the tilers, so we still had seven workers on site. By the end of the day all the soffit was finished, filled and mostly painted. The house was swept and cleaned ready for tiling to start. It was 1,400 THB well spent.

The house all spick and span ready for tiling.

From the outside lounge area looking towards the garden at the front. Sliding door to go in on the left.

Day 111 – With no rain we were back to Ming, Jack and one tiler. The good news continues though because I thought that we would have to do most of the tiling before being able to call in DeKu, the window people. Ming and the tiler had got together and arranged that he would only do enough of the outside tiling initially to get the levels and fill in the sliding door spaces so that we could get DeKu in asap. An unexpected bonus.

The levels were determined with a water/plastic pipe system and what it showed was just how unlevel the concrete slab was. There is quite a drop from right to left which means that in order to get enough mortar down to form a base for the tiles at the higher side the lower side needs quite a lift to match the height. It is a problem with the unsophisticated way slabs are laid here relying on the final level being achieve at tiling stage rather than getting a level slab to start with. Oh well. More bloody concrete!

On the lower side.

I do have to say that whatever the process involved I wanted 210 cm high spaces for the sliding doors and I have precisely 210 cms from the top of these tiles. Well done Ming. I had Peter, the CEO of DeKu German Windows, out to look at the house a while back and he wanted to sit the sliding doors on top of the outside tiles, which is why the tiling has been so important. The inside tiles will then step up again and butt onto the frame of the sliding door to give additional protection from any water trying to get in during our many tropical storms. So the concrete base on the inside will be higher again from what you see here.

The tiling in the outside lounge area was completed plus across the front and started down the right hand side.

Tam, the main electrical guy and head of the A Team, turned up and installed our outside fuse box for the submersible bore pump and house pump. He also coupled up the electronic water level system I wrote about in Week 15. Our bore is now automatically filling the house water tank according to need.

A step towards the final water system which is actually quite detailed. It involves the bore, the submersible pump, the holding tank, an initial water filter and water softening system, the house pressure pump and a five stage internal drinking water filter.

Day 112 – We headed to Udon Thani as I was due to make my 90 day visa report to Thai immigration.

On the way back we bought 20 more palms to fill in the perimeter fence across the back of the house plus some left over. We have been keeping an eye out for them and were lucky to spot some good sized ones at one of the nurseries we use between Udon Thani and Nong Bua Lamphu. We got all 20 of these into the boot and back seat of a Mazda 2, which is a statement about the excellent carrying space of this little car. Gaun was over the moon and even though it was now raining immediately planted 13 of them! Rain and mud to an ex-Isaan farmer is part of life.

Shortly after we got back and because it was raining the A Team turned up and started to clean out all the powerpoint and light switch boxes of any stray render. Sweden loses again! A couple of them also working on cutting holes into the ceiling for our 42 recessed lights.

The kitchen with its 8 LED lights.

Meanwhile the tilers had completed the bulk of the dining area as it was just as easy to set up both sliding doors this way than just run the single row around the edge.

The outside dining area looking more complete.

Having got the house to window measurement stage the two tilers are heading off to finish that wall for the first couple of days of Week 17. Some steady progress planned to happen, which I will report on next week.

More photos and an update to the budget here
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby pipoz » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:38 pm

Hi Tony

I noticed in the early stage of your build, that you had a guy on a small track excavator, placing the backfill to underside of you slab. I presume that you also used him to dig all your foundation pad holes as well.

I don't suppose that you have a name and contact number for him, (its OK if he only speaks Thai and I can get someone to speak with him). I have some 15 -18 No, 1.0 x 1.0 x 1.0 m holes to dig, some for footings and some for trees.

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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:57 am

Hi pipoz. Are you sure that was my build? I have never used a small excavator in my build, only a couple of tractors to move earth around. The column holes were dug by hand. Tony
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby pipoz » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:57 am

Thaipom26 wrote:Hi pipoz. Are you sure that was my build? I have never used a small excavator in my build, only a couple of tractors to move earth around. The column holes were dug by hand. Tony

No, not sure, had two pages open at the same time. Now I have to find where the picture was.

Thanks Tony

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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby pipoz » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:39 pm

Hi Tony,

I read your post under "Tony In Thailand, Building in Isaan - Week 15".

I went looking for Wanghin Granite, last time I was there and I too couldn't find it.

Can you remember some Landmark nearby and is it on the left going out of Udon Thani or on the left travelling towards Udon Thani?

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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:59 pm

Sorry Pipoz. This reply is probably way past being useful. I am just about to update having been so focussed on finishing the build and came across your question.

On Route 2 heading to Nong Khai go past Do Home, on the right, and maybe 2 km down that road on the left you will see their sign.

Snap 2015-04-04 at 14.49.12.jpg
Wanghin Granite just past that pile of rubble on the left. That big white building on the left is a good marker.

Snap 2015-04-04 at 14.51.42.jpg

Just out of interest we ended up ordering from the guy close to the new Global House that I also mentioned in that post.

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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 3:28 pm

Week 17

21 – 27 February, a week of painting and the start of tiling. I will also cover ordering the kitchen and windows and whatever else I can think of.

The build is getting towards the finishing stages so there are less things to report on, which for me is a good thing but maybe makes for less interesting reading. In theory we are on the downhill run towards a late March early April finish but I won’t tempt fates by writing that here!

We start the week with a workforce of two, Ming and Jack. The tilers were off building a wall for one of the relatives elsewhere in the village – an occupational hazard in a small community with an interlinked chain of obligations. Having selected the ceiling paint Ming and Jack were doing their bit by steadily applying it, Jack on the roller and Ming doing the more detailed work. Paint was being put on the walls too where needed.

Me, coffee and paint.

The first four days of Week 17 were more of the same so I will skip through that topic and cover some other things.

With the outside tiles installed across all the sliding door entrances it meant that we could now organise to get the windows and doors measured up by Deku German Windows in Pattaya, Chonburi. I did promise you that I would keep you informed on their performance and the quality of their product in case you wanted to use them too.

I have to say that initially I was very disappointed with their communications. I was dealing with Anne, their Sales Manager, and several emails went unanswered. I prefer to deal with companies in written form so that both side have a record of conversations and situations agreed. To me the ability to respond quickly to emails was important as I am dealing with someone 600 km away supplying a reasonably expensive product that I hadn't even seen yet. Slick communications gives one confidence as to the professionalism of the organisation. A couple of telephone calls got me a promise of action the following day, which never happened.

I was so disappointed that I was seriously considering moving to the next choice on my window supplier list, even though they offered a lesser quality product. All I wanted to do was arrange for a measure and quote so we were only talking the first step in the process getting my windows.

Luckily for DeKu and me, Peter the CEO of the company and the German expertise according to their website, took over communication and we have been on track ever since. He arranged for one of his guys to travel to Si Bun Ruang overnight on the bus, measure up and return the same day, all of which happened smoothly on the 26th. I received an update quote on the 28th, which I have included on my blog post for Week 17 for anyone interested

The young guy Peter had sent up was very enthusiastic about DeKu’s product, which you'd sort of expect, but he was a quiet nineteen year old and not a sales type in any way. It was only as we took him back to the bus station that he shared more about the company. This was lucky because to start off with after we picked him up there was no conversation at all and I will share why that was because it gives you an insight into an aspect of Thailand you may not pick up if visiting here.

In living with Gaun, my Isaan wife, for over nineteen months now, I have come to realise that as far as she is concerned are two groups of people in Thailand. There are those people from Isaan, a large mostly rural area of Thailand in the North East, who speak Isaan, which is pretty much Lao, and everyone else. Isaan people wherever they meet have an immediate connection and the first line of conversation is to work out where each person lives. The closer to each other’s home base the better!

Well, when we collected the DeKu man from the bus station I think Guan assumed that because he was from Chonburi, which would make him an “other”, no great effort was required. During the measuring at the house it became obvious that he could speak Isaan and not only that but he was from Udon Thani, which is 80 km from us – a double bonus. All was in chat mode from that point and that’s how we got an insider’s opinion of DeKu and their product!

One of the interesting observations the DeKu guy made was the number of farang who visited the Pattaya showroom looking for a high quality product at a Global house window/door price. It is a sad consistent in life that in most cases you do actually get what you pay for.

The Week 18 update will be one to look out for if you want more information as to DeKu’s product, as we are flying to Bangkok to visit Pattaya, a two hour’s drive from Bangkok and perhaps Thailand’s best known beach party town, and staying overnight before visiting the DeKu showroom the following morning. I know, yet another example of doing it tough in Thailand.

I may or may not report back on what we did on the Tuesday evening in Pattaya :-) but I do promise to take photos and give you as much information as I can on DeKu.

OK, back to the build. Day 117 – the painting has now been mostly done and one of the tilers returned from wall building. Just the one guy as Ming wanted him to work alone as the second one evidently isn’t as good. He is being paid 80 THB a square meter or around A$3.20 for floor tiles. I am told the test of a good tiler is to run a 1 THB coin across the floor. If it doesn't bounce across the joins you've done well!

However the first job had nothing directly to do with tiling. With the floor being uneven with a fall from the right of the slab to the left, the job for a couple of days was to add yet more concrete to raise and even out the floor.

Just when you think you have finished here comes more concrete.

They are putting down more concrete base than normal as I want the inside floor level to be higher than the outside tile level. The sliding doors will sit on top of the outside tiles and the inside tiles will then butt against the door frames at a higher level. This both reduces the step over the base of the PVC frame, which are pretty bulky, and also gives extra protection from any water getting inside.

The windows will sit on top of these outside tiles. The inside floor level needs to be higher to create a lip.

Day 118 – and finally we have tiles going down. Very exciting because it is the final step in the big construction items before we move to the more fun fitout stages. Covering the ugly concrete floor starts to make the place feel like the final product and gives us the best idea to date of what we’re getting for the money.

A single tiler. He is very particular and is taking a lot of care to get it right. I am impressed.

This was the day we also finalised the kitchen design and placed an order with Global House. A 50% deposit was required with a 15 day delivery time. We have been dealing with a young lady called Jen in their kitchen area and she has been great. Everything promised has come through and she is efficient and good to work with. In fact Global House in Nong Bua Lamphu is a real credit to the company. We always get excellent service and always in a friendly way. I could almost invite the staff over for the housewarming!

The kitchen plan from left to right across three walls in a U shape.

Ordering the kitchen was another very positive moment. It is a pivotal step in finishing the house. In my mind it goes tiling finished, kitchen installed, granite benchtop measured and ordered, electrical fitout, doors and bathrooms done and windows installed. A three week timeline starting about now.
The kitchen ended up costing close to 115,000 THB or A$4,600.

The week finished with more tiling, which will be the theme for next week too, all being well.

The edging tiles cut ready for the more detailed work to start in Week 18.

The thing I am happiest with is just how cool the house is. We are now getting 35 degrees during the day as we move out of what passes as winter here, although the nights are still very comfortable. In that 35 degrees the family home upstairs is 40 degrees and unlivable but the house is only 28 even though we have no windows. I have postponed the installation of air conditioning in the living areas until I assess how well the house performs during the hot season we are currently slipping into. We have overhead fans as well as portable ones and I am hoping that will be enough once we can shut the house up during the day.

As the house is the coolest place to be during the day we have semi-moved in. A couple of chairs, a fan and a drinks box with ice and life is looking quite comfortable.

Week 18 starts slowly as the death of one of the villagers shuts everything down for the day for his funeral and then a village festival stops work the next day, which you can read about on my blog. However I am writing this post on Monday and things are on the move again. I am looking forward to seeing some positive progress once we return from Bangkok on Wednesday.

There are heaps more photos and the up to date expenditure spreadsheet on my blog
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby pipoz » Sat Apr 04, 2015 3:29 pm

Thaipom26 wrote:Sorry Pipoz. This reply is probably way past being useful. I am just about to update having been so focussed on finishing the build and came across your question.

On Route 2 heading to Nong Khai go past Do Home, on the right, and maybe 2 km down that road on the left you will see their sign.

Snap 2015-04-04 at 14.49.12.jpg

Snap 2015-04-04 at 14.51.42.jpg

Just out of interest we ended up ordering from the guy close to the new Global House that I also mentioned in that post.


Thanks Tony

Re. Just out of interest we ended up ordering from the guy close to the new Global House that I also mentioned in that

I have been trying to get a hold of that guy. I sent the shop two email and phoned his wife (presume it was the wife that answered), but she doesn't speak English. I had popped into that Shop (next to my favorite local Hardware Store) near the new Global House, twice and spoke to a Thai Gentlemen who has hear perfect English.

I don't suppose that you have his Name (the Thai man who speaks English) and or Phone Number and or his Email Address. I could really use it as it doesn't look like the wife is passing the message on to him or my email to their shop



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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 3:50 pm

Week 18

28 February – 6 March, a week of more tiling, details about our trip to Pattaya to look at DeKu the window/door manufacturer and the start of Barney’s home.

The week started slowly as the death in the village of the guy who looked after a small herd of buffalo brought everything to a stop on Saturday while the cremation ceremony and party took place. I had only taken a photograph of the buffalo and their herdsman a few days before when we drove into town to use in my series Isaan the Small Stories, the last post of which you can find on my blog if interested.

Everybody was back on the Monday however and the steady progress of covering up the concrete floor continued.

On Tuesday, build day 122, Gaun and I left early for Udon Thani airport to catch our flight to Bangkok. My tasks at the Australian embassy quickly completed we caught a taxi to Pattaya and moved an appointment to meet Peter, the CEO to DeKu German Windows, from the previously arranged Wednesday morning to that afternoon.

The DeKu showroom is super easy to find. Turning left at the freeway T junction at Pattaya, it is in the first group of office buildings on the left hand side.

A decent set-up inside.

Peter met us there and we finalised the order. The windows/doors should be constructed within two weeks and installation sometime in the third, which is a pretty good outcome if it happens. A 20th of March window install completion is what I am planning for and will report how close we get. For those of you who have been through the building process you might remember how you suddenly have a real house once the place is sealed from the outside. Until then it is like a big open sala.

I had also requested to see DeKu’s factory just to get a better idea of the type of operation they were running. To this point everything had been done via the internet and I didn’t even know whether there was a company producing windows at the other end. As I was going to be handing over 200,000 THB I wanted to confirm that this was a legitimate business.


I am pleased to say that DeKu do look as though they build windows and doors, which is good news for my build!

The product itself looked and felt very solid and I was happy with the double glazing glass 6-9-5 profile, which is ordered in and not built by DeKu. 6mm green tinted, 9mm space and 5mm plain glass, a total thickness of 20mm.

I was less impressed with my first look at the insect screens which felt a bit flimsy and didn’t slide as smoothly as I would have liked. I am basing this on my Australian experience, where of course all windows and doors have them fitted and mostly use small wheels at the bottom to provide effortless opening. I will reserve judgement until the DeKu ones are installed.

We flew back to Isaan on the Wednesday afternoon and got home before it got dark to check out the progress that had been made on the tiling the two days we had been away.

The kitchen nearly finished.

The main bedroom finished.

My step-daughter's bedroom. I was worried this room would end up looking too dark early on in the build. No such problem now and you will see the finished look in Week 19.

Friday also marked the start of building the pond at the front of the house, which will become the home for Barney the turtle, once he/she makes an appearance in the wet season, and some Koi fish.

Lud, me and Ming standing in what will be the pond. Everything done by hand of course.

With Ming down to one worker who was busy helping the tiler, one of my brother-in-laws who happened to be passing at the wrong time was called into action for a couple of days to do some of the heavy work digging and concreting the pond. Sorry Lud. He was paid so not just a labour of love.

The pond will be about 5 meters long and about 2 meters wide. If you think it is rather close to the front door you are right. There will be a bridge, or saphan in Thai, crossing from one side to the other just to give a bit of added interest to the entrance. A no fishing sign will be added in English and Thai!

The view from the outside sitting area across what will be the pond to what will be the garden!

Earlier in the day we had called into Global House in Nong Bua Lamphu and spend 116,000 THB in some of the final fitout items such as doors and plastic skirting boards plus some of the furniture that will be going into the house. It was a pleasure to be spending money on some of the items that will make this a home rather than just on construction costs. It gives me hope that before too long we will be moved in rather than camping out there during the day.

Plastic skirting boards sounds awful but actually they look fine and don’t require painting, which is a bonus. 265 THB for 2.9 mtrs.

Week 19 will see the finish of the internal tiling, more work on the pond and probably the arrival of the kitchen. We are heading into Udon Thani on Monday to look at lounge suites and to get a cost for building wardrobes for the two bedrooms so it will be worth checking back on progress next weekend.

My weekly expenses spreadsheets plus lots more photos are on my blog The first one includes costs for items that fall outside core building expenses such as furniture, garden and pond. I have excluded them from the “Total Expenses to Date” spreadsheet for those of you using this blog for your own build. Mixing discretionary spending with the construction costs wouldn’t be useful for you.
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:13 pm

Week 19

7 – 13 March, a week of yet more tiling, the start of landscaping, progress on the pond, doors and fixtures.

We still only have three workers on the site, two on tiling and Ming who has started the week building the walls for the feature pond in front of the house.

Ming building the side walls to the Koi pond.

The pond will be tiled in a light green, which will blend peacefully into the garden. I hope Barney the soon to be resident turtle likes the choice.

The two guys working on the tiling are great. They both turn up early in the morning and just get on with it. Jack, who is employed by Ming, mixes the cement and cuts tiles and the other man, who both Gaun and I call “the small man” – Thais aren’t strong on using names, lays the tiles. It is a smooth running operation and the results are excellent.

Peng’s bedroom now finished. Looking towards the work area and ensuite.

A day was spent on Peng’s ensuite floor using the elusive white non-slip floor tiles I wrote about previously, although the outcome is still more grey than white.

Sunday build day 128, the furniture we had ordered turned up and was packed into the family home’s carport. We had bought two bed bases and mattresses, bedside tables, a display cabinet and a couple of desks with matching chairs. All made from timber and good quality.

Quickly filling up mama’s house.

By Tuesday day 130 of the build Ming was still working on the pond and had added the saphan or bridge that would lead to the front door. At this stage I spoke with Ming via the family and asked that more emphasis be placed inside. The pond and anything else outside could be done later but my priority was to get the house ready to live in. We had bought all the doors and associated hardware at the weekend so Ming moved to getting the doors hung and once again got my brother-in-law Lud to help him out.

Main bedroom on the left, the pantry and the second bedroom on the right.

Now here is one of those useful tips that I wish I had picked up on in before. If you buy a standard door frame from Global House and probably the other hardware places, it comes ready to fit a 3.5 cm thick door, which is the standard in Australian and possibly elsewhere. However just to be different and cheap if you buy the standard Thai door it is a thin 3.0 cm. This leaves you with a door that doesn’t fill the frame, makes is very hard to fit a Western standard lock, which is designed for the thicker door and generally leaves you with an inferior job. Needless to say I bought doors thinking about height and width, not thickness.

This was one of the few disappointments on the build even though only very minor in the scheme of things. I have bought everything on the basis of being high quality and I have slipped up right at the end.

In the meantime we were busy moving 10 meters of gravel to three sides of the house to cover up the clay, which is sticky and deadly slippery in the wet, and to stop dirty splashback onto the surrounding tiles and the walls as we don’t have gutters. It was also a chance to clean up the builder’s yard look with leftover things scattered everywhere. A real statement about our intention to move in shortly.

The land was cut away to allow the water to run off into next door!

Just on the topic of gutters. I originally had them included in the budget and then took them out, partly to save 30,000 THB but also because I decided to spread the effect of rainfall across the house area rather than concentrate it at wherever the downpipes were situated. The curtain effect of rain off the roof is really tropical in feel and now that we have the gravel down and the land sloping away from the house there will be no movement of soil or possible flooding. For those who are interested the local off the back of a pick-up price, they will supply and install large tropical rainfall sized guttering for 280 THB a meter. You'd get them down in price. It was the thicker of the two versions they had on offer, the thinner one would bend if you looked at it.

Work on tiling mostly done inside, except for one ensuite and the spaces which will be filled in once the sliding doors are installed, the effort moved outside.

The outside lounge area getting towards completion.

The family got involved in moving gravel and also digging a shallow trench for the pipe that will supply two taps situated on either side of the land halfway down the garden. No money was accepted even though they took time out of their own work on the farm. Absolutely typical of the support I get from them.

Gaun, her younger sister Yuan and brother-in-law Lud.

On the Wednesday we made the final payment on the kitchen at Global House and arranged for it to be delivered on Friday. I had expected it to be flat packed, even though it was a full timber affair, requiring assembly at the house. I was very happy to find that it comes already built and all we have to do is put it in place and screw the components together.

We tried to buy everything for the electrical fitout – power points, light switches etc from Global House Nong Bua Lamphu. Unfortunately I wanted a farang style Panasonic range and they didn’t have the quantities I needed. I am hopeful of getting everything when we visit Udon Thani next week as there are more farang there and the supply may be more plentiful.

The kitchen turned up the next day as they had a slack delivery schedule and it was stored in the family carport along with the furniture:

I am delaying putting the kitchen in in the hope that the windows and sliding doors arrive in Week 20 and I can lock the place up. I do want it installed as I need to order the granite benchtop and that can only be measured up once the cupboards are in place.

I had picked out a small shop adjoining Thai Watsadu in Nong Bua Lamphu as a likely supplier of our curtains and blinds. We called in there this week with a budget of 30,000 THB for the curtains and 16,000 for the venetian blinds. I had expected only to be able to finance the bedrooms, being the priority, and doing the living areas later. However the quote given us for some good quality curtains with backing, giving a 95% blockout, and blinds for the kitchen and the two windows at the back of both bedrooms was the 39,000 THB. This is for over 30 m2 of curtains and 8 m2 of venetian blinds. This includes fitting and the curtain rails.

In the budget you will notice we paid a 9,000 THB deposit and they can be made and installed in a week once we give the word.

Week 20 is huge so don’t miss it. It includes the house blessing ceremony, the arrival of the windows and doors from DeKu in Pattaya, the building of our car accommodation and the installation of the kitchen. We are heading towards a completed house by the end of March and I can't tell you how exciting that is.

You can find more information, photos and the expenses spreadsheet in my post
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Re: Building in Si Bun Ruang, Isaan

Postby Thaipom26 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:38 pm

Week 20

13 – 20 March, a huge week of happenings which have really turned a concrete box into the potential for becoming a home. Windows, car accommodation, kitchen, tiling and more covered this time.

The major event of Week 20 was the installation of the windows and sliding doors we had ordered from a company based in Pattaya called DeKu. Because this was such an important occasion I have covered it in a separate post which you can find on my blog here and I will shortly add it to the "Windows and Doors" topic on

This post is shorter as Week 20 is described in a combination of the two.

The end result of three days of work installing the windows was a house we could finally shut up, which meant the inside was able to be worked on.

An enclosed house.

Along with the windows the tiling was also finished with the ensuites and the walkway around the house under the eves completed. A total of 260 m2 of tiles going laid. The floor tiles cost 80 THB/m2 to lay while the slower wall and floor tiles in the bathrooms were costed out at 250 THB m2.

A tip for those planning to build and use floor tiles. When choosing the dimensions for the house I went for a nice neat 1 meter concrete surround extending out from the walls. No reason not to so I thought. Well if you are planning spaces that are to be tiled you need to be thinking of tile sizes well in advance. In most instances for floor tiles you will be buying either a 30 cm or 60 cm tile, neither of which cleanly divides into 100 cm! By having a 1 meter surround my tiler had to cut 66 meters of my 30 cm tiles to make up the 10 cm strip left after laying the three tiles from the walls. It took longer and doesn’t look as good as a series of full tiles would have. Go 90 cm or 120 cm.

The kitchen was the first thing to be brought across from the family home where it had been delivered a few days previously. Bought from Global House for 116,000 THB it is one of the major fitout items in the house. I have to confess that it is also one of the few “for show” aspects in the house.

All unpacked. Once the benchtop goes in it will sit just under the windows which helps the flow inside/outside.

For those of you who have seen Thais in cooking action you know that they can produce a meal for twenty people in 30 minutes using a charcoal fire and a wok. The practical need for a full Western kitchen is debatable but it is an aspect I have found hard to give up. The kitchen has always been the central point of a functioning home and given the chance we in the West spend as much as we can to install one. Having said that it will be a real treat to have a sink again with running water rather than a plastic bucket on the ground, which is what the family use.

We have chosen a black granite benchtop with a gold fleck and hopefully it will be measured up in the next few days because we can’t finalise the kitchen until it is installed. It will complement the cupboards nicely. There will be white venetian blinds at the two windows.

If you thought the construction phase was over you’d be wrong. I decided to go ahead with a small carport on the left of the house as you look at it. Originally envisaged for the right side I changed the position to ensure the minimum space was taken up with boring driveway and also the carport would have restricted the view across the garden from the large lounge window.

The rear wall of the carport will make the left side of the house private from the road.

I called the A Team, a group of four guys who can do just about anything in super efficient time, and negotiated a 7,000 THB or A$250 labour price for what would be four days work.

The roofing of this structure is a 3 mm non-Colorbond sheet, ordered in the morning and delivered in the afternoon. Considerably cheaper but a poorer quality. Great colour though. Almost identical to the Colorbond I chose. It wasn’t available when I was looking originally. Had it been around then I might have gone for it and saved a heap of money.

You can see how private it has made this side of the house. That is the final little bit of waste Colorbond on top of the wall. I designed the carport so we could use it up for old times sake.

Leaving the carport I’d like to give you an example of the pitfalls of not being on site all the time. We had gone to Udon Thani to organise some things and found this when we came back.

The bathroom windows installed inside out!

Most windows in Thailand have the insect screens on the inside. The windows I chose for the two bathrooms, because of their design with that lever opening you can see in the photo, had them on the outside. Putting brain into neutral the builder just did what he would always do and put the insect screens inside, which meant you had to go outside to open the window :-) You do wonder. All corrected now.

We spent a day in Udon Thani, our closest major city, with a list of things to achieve. We were on the hunt for a couple of lounges for the main sitting room, two smaller sofas, one for the family room and one for the main bedroom, an entertainment unit, all the electrical fitout items such as switches, power and switch covers and light bulbs, re-visiting the granite place that would be doing the kitchen and ordering a dining setting for inside.

The choice of Western style furniture, that is it is comfortable to use and not butt ugly, is very limited here. The place with the best choice is Living Index on the Ring Road and it was here we ordered a total of four lounges and the entertainment unit, all to be delivered the following week. The granite guy was booked to measure up in a couple of days time and the dining table and six chairs ordered, also to be delivered in a week. All covered in my Week 21 report.

Late afternoon on the Friday, the last day of Week 20, the A Team finished the carport, although it still has to be painted once the render dries.


They then moved moved straight into connecting the wiring to switches and power points. I have a total of 97 of them, somewhat different from the average Thai house where a few fluorescent tubes and two power points does the trick.

The recessed ceiling lights going in. The centre wire for a large fan. I do recommend the Mitsubishi Electric fans from Global House. Three times the cost of the cheapies but three times the weight too with a quality motor, four speeds and super quiet on low, which is what they are on most of the time.

It was lovely to see them go in and know that we would finally have power and lighting. A modern house really doesn't take life until it is powered up.

All the lights have LED globes, mostly 5W but a few at 8W. It will be very interesting to see what the first power bill looks like. Luckily we received the previous one the day after we moved in so the next one will be an exact one month of us in the house. I will report back. Just out of interest the power bill is delivered by an old guy on a pushbike who sits down, has a bit of a chat and waits for you to come up with the cash! 267 THB in our case or A$10.00 for last month. Only for building work obviously this time although Gaun does water the garden twice a day which draws on the bore and the house pressure pumps.

As usual more information, photos and an undated expenses spreadsheet here

So a great week of progress with me pushing to move in Week 21. Check with the blog to see how we went.
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