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August 2004, editor.  Things, in hindsight, which I would have done differently -- if I was doing this cool thai house building project again.  This project was to construct a quality, but budget constrained house in Pattaya, Thailand.

If I knew now what I knew then.  These oh so common words with regards to building here.  So what would I have done differently?  Keeping in mind that the house turned out very well, yet even so these are things that if I was starting over I would consider...

With respect to the plan, I would have done a more thorough job.  There are a number of books sold at the bookstores here, which have 100's of house designs in them.  I would try to find a nice design suitable for the shape of the land, and have the architect do the plan as close to the book plan as possible.  I would then take the plan and hand design out the exact features required in the bathrooms and kitchen.  This would include pre-selecting components, such as toilets and bathtubs to get an exact idea of there dimensions.  I would hand design out the electrical, or if it was a more expensive project, get a electrical plan professionally made.  After the detail layouts were complete I would decide where to place the clear lighting glass blocks and other layout details such as this.  Note; the typical plan as shown to the left comes with 16 different pages, each page a different aspect of the house. 

As stated in the blurb in good building ideas, I like the idea of using double regular block construction.  This could also be modified to have one row of red brick in combination with one row of the regular cement block.  This would increase building costs little percentage wise, since it would require only a slight increase in labor and inexpensive materials (regular cement block and cement).  I would like to try either using this double block construction, or investigate using the heavy cement block as an alternative.

Having the thicker wall would necessitate using aluminum windows, but these I would now select in all cases, even if I was using the regular cement block.  It is becoming the window of choice and with good reason.  Easy maintenance, it doesn't degrade due to weather or direct sunlight.  It looks modern.  The screen used can be slid open.  One notable downside is that normally the security metal needs to be mounted on the outside which looks ugly.  In any event, this would be my window of choice on subsequent projects.


As far as the building process, I would try to do better management of materials.  If you buy materials too soon, packaging gets damaged, things get misplaced and by the time it gets tried, it is too late for a return.  If stuff is not purchased soon enough the workers run out of material and have to stop and wait.  On future projects I will organize, stockpile and inventory materials better, and have a process to check at one time in the day for materials needed.  For low cost materials I'll use a petty cash system that lets the boss go buy materials when needed.  It is amazing how much junk assembles during a building project!

Another thing, I would bid the project a bit different.  I would select the primary builder to bid labor for the house, not including the ceiling, roof, electrical or windows (which would be aluminum).  These areas I would reserve for specialists.  As far as the ceiling, I would have a specialty company do a multi-level ceiling, which looks really nice and doesn't much as far as expenses.


Now, on to things that were just plain boo boos. 

The bathroom base should have been laid out 10 centimeters below the base of the rest of the house.   (13-Mar-04)
Inadequate flashing in the roof valley led to a lot of fix-up later.  As far as the roof, in future projects I'll use a specialty company.  (22-Mar-04)
This door lock caused a lot of problems.  I would, in the future, go for a more easy to install model.  (26-Jun-04)
The sink is laid in towards the wall too far.  You need to really lean over to wash your face.  (06-Jul-04)
These glass bricks were poorly placed.  This goes along with the point about spending more time in the planning phase.  When the door is opened, the glass bricks are covered (which defeats their purpose of allowing natural light to filter in.  (23-Aug-04)
Here is something you wouldn't (or at least I wouldn't) think of.  A toothbrush holder where the holes are too small to hold a toothbrush.  (26-Aug-04)
This is another case where most expensive is not necessarily best.  These Grohe bottom washers are super heavy duty but somehow constrict the water flow, meaning that the emitted water is low pressure.  A low cost standard washer has not problem with pressure.  I know it is these washer since I had two installed and they both had the same problem.  Later I replace on with a 'cheapy' and that one works great.
There's got to be more of these, but I can't think of any others now.....

OK, I just thought of another small one.  Grounds control, by which I mean monitoring all of the liter, building supply fragments, etc. which end up filling the ground surrounding the house.  Some is unavoidable, but in this project I waited until the end to get on this and there was just too much small fragments of tile, roofing material, etc. all around.

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