Just found this site today

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Just found this site today

Postby PNGeo » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:45 pm

Hi all. I am an Aussie and I just discovered this site today while trawling the net for some clues on availability of fixtures. I hope I am not seen as an impostor here, as I'm not actually in Thailand... I am in Laos. But I do most of my shopping for building materials, tools, fittings, appliances, etc in Thailand because there is very little by way of reasonable to good quality goods available here; and what is available is horrendously expensive due to the high import duties. My Lao wife and I have a house and some properties in Vientiane in addition to several farm (coffee) blocks down south near Paksong, on the Bolaven Plateau, which is about 50km east of Pakse.

If in Vientiane, my shopping destinations are Nong Khai or Udon, and if I am down south, I go to Ubon. I am pleased to see the ever-increasing range and availability of good quality building products and fixtures in Thailand. Indeed, every time I cross the border, I find something available that I didn't know about previously! I have brought a large cache of tools and fittings back from Australia over the last few years, so it is welcoming indeed to know that my excess baggage costs are disappearing fast!

My main reason for joining up was to request help in locating some items (I'll follow the rules and ask elsewhere) for the house I am building in Paksong. I am doing most of the work myself, simply because the local builders are hopelessly incapable of achieving a "square" room, laying tiles in straight lines, laying a level concrete slab, installing plumbing that doesn't leak, installing electrics neatly and safely, getting a shower floor to drain TOWARD the outlet etc, etc. It would be much easier and faster to get someone else to build the house but I know that in this case, I would take delivery of a very unsatisfactory house and spend a sizable chunk of the rest of my life ripping the house apart to fix all the errors and do it properly.

My house under construction is just a simple two bedroom, two bathroom cottage, which is all we need, but I have designed it in a manner that can be expanded easily if we ever require it. It is steel framed and raised off the ground on steel posts, primarily to minimise termite infestation. I plan it to look pseudo-traditional on the exterior but have the feel of a modern apartment inside (well... as modern as possible with what is available locally).

I'll say no more here & I'll do a trawl for the answers to my questions before I ask them...
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Re: Just found this site today

Postby fredlk » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:58 pm

Hello and welcome.
PNGeo wrote:It is steel framed and raised off the ground on steel posts

I'd be very interested to hear and see more as I don't think we have a steel-framed house on this forum as yet.
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Re: Just found this site today

Postby pipoz » Sun Aug 31, 2014 5:02 pm

Welcome PNGeo and a quick question.

When you buy your building materials in Thailand (say in Nong Khai or Udon Thani) and take them back across the Laos border (presumably at Nong Khai) do you have to pay some sort of import tax at the border crossing and if so what type of documents do you have to produce? Sorry its a quick question from my side, but may you more take time to answer.

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Re: Just found this site today

Postby PNGeo » Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:18 pm

In response to fredlk, my approach so far has been:
- 100mm box section for the lower (ground to floor) posts,
- 100 x 50mm box section for the main floor frame,
- Alternating 100 x 50mm box section and 100 x 50mm C-section for the floor joists (except the balcony, which has timber joists),
- 75 x 75mm box for the upper (floor to roof) posts and main roof trusses,
- Alternating 75 x 35mm box and 75 x 35mm C-section for the rafter structure with 25 x 25mm box for the purlins,
- Ceiling joists will be mostly 75 x 35mm C section (have not started installing ceilings yet).

I bought the steel locally and have since realised that Vietnamese steel is MUCH lower quality than Aussie steel that I have used previously (back in Oz). There are a few subtle bends appearing in the floor structure between lower posts as I add internal structure, so I have started installing some extra bracing and some extra lower posts. I didn't plan for this initially but it has become a necessity. The internal wall studs and other structures are timber. I wanted to clad the exterior with timber weatherboard but the quality of local timber is just rubbish - poorly cut, poorly milled, poorly finished and usually warped & twisted. I have temporarily clad the exterior with fibro sheeting while I decide what else to do. I have seen an equivalent to Hardiplank in Pakse, so may follow this route, as I have used this on a shed in Australia and it looked very neat when painted. Whilst on one hand I love timber, the termite issue scares me, so I am trying to keep external timber to a minimum. I have floored my balcony with 75 x 15mm timber that I milled myself from some of the timber that I originally bought to be the weatherboard cladding - the finish isn't 100% but I think it will look OK once I have finished it with a few coats of Sikkens. I have had aluminium framed casement windows (plus a few sliding windows for the bathrooms) made in Vientiane and whilst these are not up to Western standard, they were finished better than I expected. Since it is only a small cottage, I plan to save some internal space by using cavity doors. I have laid the timber floor in one room (underlain with fibro sheeting to prevent any winter drafts coming through) and although it is not yet sanded and epoxied, am disappointed with the finish, so I am considering alternatives - I recently came across a local producer of fairly nicely finished tongue-and-groove eucalypt floorboards so may go this way. I hate nails so everything is drilled and screwed. I will be using only Jotun paints for the exterior, since it is the only international brand available in the region that I trust to last a decade or more.

In answer to pipoz, I have bought all the large and bulky supplies (timber, steel, roof tiles, PVC pipes, etc) locally, so what I have purchased in Thailand are tools & accessories, bolts & screws, some paints and painting supplies, bathroom & kitchen fittings, electrical cable, fixtures & lighting, some plumbing fittings, some small appliances, etc. In other words, everything I have bought so far has been easy to bury or disguise under a pile of groceries. Not that it is really necessary, as the Lao customs officials at the border crossings are uniformly nonchalant and unless they can see a large, expensive item that obviously attracts import duty (such as a large format TV), they usually don't care. In any case, my wife just batts her eyelids and flirts with them as we pass through the checkpoint and like 99.99% of Asian men, their attention is immediately transferred southward and we have never had more than a cursory glance at what is in the vehicle.
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Re: Just found this site today

Postby pipoz » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:50 pm

Hi PNGeo,

You should start a post under "Your Building Story" with a few picture.

If you are looking for any type of tools, I find buying at Thaiwatsadu in Udon Thani is as good as any, they have a great range and good prices. I posted some pictures and prices of some of their range of tools etc. under my build post "Udon Thani Happy House" on pages 4, 5 & 6. If you are looking for any specific tools just ask and next time I am in Udon I will take some photos of what's available or what I can find and the prices, for you. If you are looking for any specific materials, I can look around for them too.

When I do back to Oz (and I try not to), I just stuff my bag full of Cherry Ripes & Jaffas. I will be presumptuous and assume you were once an AFL and or NRL supporter. I followed Port Power and the Broncos. Still look at the odd match, especially the State of Origin

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Re: Just found this site today

Postby Mike Judd » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:44 am

When laying wood flooring it is usually best practice to cut and lay it upside down first ,so as to have a working surface in each room ,but mainly to allow the timber to reach it's moisture content for it's present environment ( assuming the roof is on first) Then after as long as you can manage ,you turn the boards over face up ,clamp them and nail(Or screw if that is your preference) That way you don't get a floor that has gaps as it shrinks over time,or in the other extreme where the boards absolve moisture and expand which results in cupping . All this is also depending on the timber, how seasoned it is of course.
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Re: Just found this site today

Postby PNGeo » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:56 pm

If you are looking for any type of tools, I find buying at Thaiwatsadu in Udon Thani is as good as any, they have a great range and good prices. I posted some pictures and prices of some of their range of tools etc. under my build post "Udon Thani Happy House" on pages 4, 5 & 6. If you are looking for any specific tools just ask and next time I am in Udon I will take some photos of what's available or what I can find and the prices, for you. If you are looking for any specific materials, I can look around for them too


Thanks mate. That is very generous of you.

When I do back to Oz (and I try not to), I just stuff my bag full of Cherry Ripes & Jaffas.


Cherry Ripes... mmmmm. I try to get back every Christmas to spend a few weeks catching up with family and friends, but I don't miss Oz any more. I find that Australia has become over-regulated, over-taxed and over-priced. Worse (and I never thought I would say this about my fellow countrymen) I find that there is a very unpleasant and obnoxious ignorance developing among Australians (especially among young Aussies) who seem to have some weird and undeserved superiority complex that manifests itself in a very ugly manner. I enjoy going back for a visit but I am well and truly over any desire to live there again. I usually bring back some food items that I cannot get locally, but most of my baggage is stuffed with books and supplies from Bunnings.

I will be presumptuous and assume you were once an AFL and or NRL supporter. I followed Port Power and the Broncos. Still look at the odd match, especially the State of Origin


I was born and grew up in Brisbane, then lived the first 15 years of my working life in northern and central Queensland, so I am a Maroon supporter at State of Origin time. Otherwise, I don't follow much sport, simply because my work usually has me in areas where there is no TV (or no English language TV), no English language newspapers and usually little or no internet. At the risk of sounding like a recluse, I have pretty much lost interest in what is going on in the outside world... I think the relaxed, blithe and carefree Lao attitude has won me over!

When laying wood flooring it is usually best practice to cut and lay it upside down first ,so as to have a working surface in each room ,but mainly to allow the timber to reach it's moisture content for it's present environment ( assuming the roof is on first) Then after as long as you can manage ,you turn the boards over face up ,clamp them and nail(Or screw if that is your preference) That way you don't get a floor that has gaps as it shrinks over time,or in the other extreme where the boards absolve moisture and expand which results in cupping . All this is also depending on the timber, how seasoned it is of course.


Mike, that is exactly what I did. The floor boards had been cut and stored in the shed for more than two years before I used them. I had them overturned and temporarily in position for about six months. I laid the floor in the first room just before Xmas last year, then went away to Australia. It was about 6-7 weeks before I managed to get back to the construction and was shocked to see 1-2mm gaps between each board on my return, where there were no gaps previously! I was sure the timber would have dried sufficiently after almost 3 years but I suppose the moist mountain climate has had a bigger effect than I expected? Perhaps bringing it into the house introduced it to a slightly drier climate than where it was stored in the shed? Or maybe using the fibro sheeting underlay (to stop drafts during winter) sucked more moisture out of the timber? Either way, I have learned a lesson and will make the flooring one of the last jobs I do. Regarding the room with the gaps... I haven't decided yet whether to just live with the gaps, try to bog them up with putty, hope that the epoxy coating fills them and makes them less visible, or rip it up and start again. It is not a critical room - just the room that I had planned to be a home office/book reading room, so I may just live with it as a testament to the learning curve! That room will probably have a large rug on the floor anyway, so that will hide most of the boo-boo.
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Re: Just found this site today

Postby pipoz » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:47 pm

PNGeo wrote:
If you are looking for any type of tools, I find buying at Thaiwatsadu in Udon Thani is as good as any, they have a great range and good prices. I posted some pictures and prices of some of their range of tools etc. under my build post "Udon Thani Happy House" on pages 4, 5 & 6. If you are looking for any specific tools just ask and next time I am in Udon I will take some photos of what's available or what I can find and the prices, for you. If you are looking for any specific materials, I can look around for them too


I usually bring back some food items that I cannot get locally, but most of my baggage is stuffed with books and supplies from Bunnings.


I too used to take some items from Bunnings and the local Hardware Store here in Qatar, to Thailand each visit, but the more I looked around Udon Thani, the more I found everything that I needed for the day to day Handyman & Building needs. Its normally there if you rummage through Thaiwatsadu, Global House, Home Mart, Homepro, Do Home, Tool Pro Plus and a few others. The more I compare there prices in these stores to Outside, the more I find Thailand is cheaper for the same or similar quality item.

Because few Thais in these stores understand or speak good English, I just take pictures on my phone, show them the picture and its much easier to then find it. I gave up trying to explain in English and sign language to the store assistants after to many "We no have"

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Re: Just found this site today

Postby Mike Judd » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:00 am

I don't know how the Thai's put flooring down , do they have flooring clamps that really get them up tight before nailing ,or some other Thai method.? With the gaps in your floor laid, a putty or filler with colour is the only way I can think of now. Cheers Mike.
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