Archive for June, 2011

Our Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, Inches Towards Completion With One Wooden Wall Finished

The Thai New Builder Turns Around The Construction Of Our Retirement House – Featured: Photos Thai Style Traditional Style of Wooden Walls

Kanyah is delighted as the house build starts to take shape once again – at a rapid pace. This new builder is really fast and Kanyah is now talking about 3 to 6 weeks to complete the house construction. She originally said it would take 3 months as advised by the new Thai builder.

Below are some photos taken just a few days ago and they show the wooden walls patterned after the traditional Thai house construction. Also to be seen is the vast improvement on the finish of the concrete columns as the new builder’s labor carefully applies the cement render.

Image of New Builder Wood Wall On Neighbour Noi Side

Completed Wood Wall On Neighbour Noi's Side

Above, at last, on one side of the house the external wooden wall is complete.

Image of Close Up of New Builder Wood Wall On Neighbour Noi Side

Completed Wood Wall On Neighbour Noi's Side - Close Up

Above, a close-up photo of the first traditional Thai style wooden wall completed.

Can you see how the color of the wooden planks changes at the top-left of the wall, just over the ventilation louvres?

As I explained in Thailand Retiring Plans Trashed? Post, I tried on my last visit to Thailand in April 2011, to ensure uniformity of wooden planks by selecting an “Official Standard Plank” because about 30% of the planks I had seen in the wood merchants were below that standard even though they were in the same batch. The most common reason for these planks not meeting “The Standard” was because they were light color.

Presumably, Kanyah has not been buying wooden planks that conform to the “Official Standard Plank”. Here is the photo of it:-

Image of Pakchong House Floorboards Sample 1

Pakchong House Floorboards Sample 1

Above, although this wood is labled as ‘floorboard’ wood, the same criteria regarding colour uniformity (and other criteria like straightness of the wood) should still apply to the wood for the walls.

Image of New Builder Half Completed Wood Wall On The Road Side

Half Completed Wood Wall On The Road Side

Above, you can see one bay of the wooden wall complete and the second bay half complete. This is a view of the house from the road side.

Also complete is the rendering to the bathroom walls – note the two window frames.

Image of Close-up of Half Completed Wood Wall On The Road Side

Close-up of Half Completed Wood Wall On The Road Side

Above, notice how smooth the concrete column is in the corner, compare to previous photos when the first builder left it.

Why Isn’t Kanyah Having The Concrete Columns Painted Before Putting Back The Wood Walls?

I thought that one of the reasons Kanyah sacked the previous builder was that she wanted to have the concrete columns fully rendered and painted before erecting the wooden walls. The logic for this is that the paint should be continuous under the wood. It will be difficult – at least time consuming – to paint close up to the wood without getting paint on the wood if the painting is done after the wooden walls are placed in situ.

But here she is allowing the wooden walls to go up before the concrete rendering is painted.

Answering my own question (which I have not put to Kanyah yet) I can think of several reasons:-

  • The paint should only be applied to dry cement not to wet cement. It is likely that due to the speed the new builder is progressing that some of the cement render may till not be thoroughly dry before it’s time to install the wooden walls.
  • She’s so excited about the progress that she has forgotten about the painting.
  • She has forgotten about the need to paint the cement rendering completely because many Thai houses are not painted where they are rendered.
  • She wants the progress to go fast without slowing up to do the painting.

I wonder what answer I’ll get if I get the opportunity to ask her?

While I’m puzzled, I’ll show you another photo that puzzles me:-

Image of Rendering The Beams On The Ground Floor

Rendering The Beams On The Ground Floor

Above, it looks like the cement rendering on the ground floor beams is being completed. Certainly this photo is taken at ground floor level in the Workshop looking up at the second floor floorboards.

What puzzles me is the colour of the render – it’s white whereas cement is grey. In fact it looks like the type of gypsum plaster we use in the UK to finish internal walls. The junction of the beam on the left with the floorboards is a bit rough. Hope they intend to actually will clean it up.

By the way, notice that light coloured floorboard? Who’s not been checking against the “Official Standard Plank”?

Concrete Columns Cement Now Rendered to A Smooth Finish

Now for some photos of the rendering of the concrete columns. Remember this was one of the main reasons that Kanyah sacked the previous builder – he wasn’t doing it. ( See It’s Clear Why She Sacked The Builder)

Just to bring this issue to mind, look at a photo of this column left by the previous builder:-

Image Showing How Rough The Concrete Columns Are Before Rendering

Showing How Rough The Concrete Columns Are Before Rendering

Above, the incompleted work left by the first builder.

Compare the finish on the column with that in the picture below:-

Image of New Builder Column Rendered Smooth

New Builder Column Rendered Smooth

Above, this is the same column as the un-rendered colunm in the previous picture.

Image of New Builder Column Rendered Smooth - Close Up

New Builder Column Rendered Smooth - Close Up

Above is a close up of the properly rendered column.

Now I’m not sure if the wooden walls have been removed to allow the column to be rendered. Kanyah seemed to indicate that they were.

Doing some investigation work, I can see that in both photos there are six wooden wall planks installed to I’m a bit on the ‘planks not removed’ side. On the other hand, if you look closely, you will see that the colour of the planks are different in each photo.

Anyway, the columns are smooth and that’s the main thing. Why aren’t they painted though? Huh!

Next few photos…

This is another puzzler.

Kanyah says that this bathroom wall had been knocked down and rebuilt by the new builder. It looks exactly the same as the previous builder’s wall to me.

Image of New Builder Red Brick Bathroom Wall

Above, I’d swear that was the previous builders wall. Look at the continuation below.

Image of Close Up of the New Builder Red Brick Bathroom Wall(Alan's comments)

Above, the continuation of the red brick wall (around the window frames) is much neater than the wall below, which makes me doubt whether the wall below is by the new builder – as Kanyah says it is.

Thai Retirement House Construction Leaps Ahead Again With New Thai Builder

House Build Starts Again In Earnest Under New Builder – A Report From A Happy Project Manager

Kanyah just phoned me from Pakchong (Pak Chong) in Thailand where she is now supervising the new Thai builder as the construction work on our retirement house starts up again. She is now the Project Manager and the Procurement Manager for the house build project.

On the ‘phone, Kanyah was laughing and sounded very happy as she told me that she was delighted with the new builder and that his work was 20 times better than the previous builder.

Purchasing Materials For The House Construction In The Pakchong (Pak Chong) Area

There are four labourers on the site and Kanyah is very busy purchasing the construction materials.

These are some of the house construction materials she has purchased or taken delivery of today:-

Nails, Teak wooden door for my workshop, two large wooden doors for the second floor, red bricks for the bathroom walls.

She buys most of the materials from the large industrial outlets that lie on the Mittraphap Road in Pak Chong in the direction of Bangkok. There is also a Home Pro warehouse in Pakchong, but it’s more aligned to providing house fit-out materials and fittings such as lights and sanitary ware, rather than heavy building materials.

Kanyah hasn’t sent me any photographs yet so I can’t post any details of the materials she has purchased nor of the construction works on the website just yet. I was puzzled when she said that she had bought two large doors for the second floor. The main doors are supposed to be folding doors, as specified by myself and detailed on the Thai Architect’s construction drawings. I don’t have any idea if Kanyah is looking at the house plans or not as the new builder progresses the construction works. It seems that the builder tells her what to buy, so I hope that he is looking at the drawings and not making changes to the design and specification like the previous Thai builder did.

It is very worrying that I don’t know what she is doing out there in Thailand on the building site in Pakchong. (Pak Chong)

Taking Control Of The Costs Of Building The House

Kanyah did say that she had read my last two emails, one of them being the the email I posted on the last post “Thai Retirement House Build Project Starts to Get Finished Under A New Thai Builderabout several issues and the construction program. She just told me “don’t worry” and I have no way to know what action she is taking from the emails.

She asked me to send her 100,000 Baht because she is spending so much on materials. She has already paid the new Thai builder the first 10,000 Baht progress payment.

The other email I sent to Kanyah a few days ago was to explain to her that we had to get control of the money we were spending on the house build and I gave her some examples of how she should be recording the costs by making a list of all expenditures I also asked her to send the list of invoices to me every two weeks. She didn’t mention that she would do that and as soon as she told me what she wanted to she closed the call, as usual.

Progress With The Construction On The Building Site

On the construction side she tells me that the red brick walls to the bathroom built by the previous Thai builder have been knocked down (the new Thai builder told her that he couldn’t work with the rubbish bricklaying left by the previous builder) and a new wall is half built already. No photos to show that, unfortunately.

Also, she says that he columns are painted already. Whether she means ‘painted with cement’ i.e. rendered or painted with paint (which should only be done after the cement rendering is complete) I don’t know.

Are We Getting Back On Track to Retiring In Thailand In Our Own Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong)?

However, on a good note, after all the problems we have had with our previous builder it seems that our dream of retiring to Thailand in our own house has started to come true once again.

The New Thai House Builder Starts Tomorrow As Jalan Is Sacked

Will Construction Of Our Retirement House Re-Start With The Appearance Of The New Thai Builder?

Kanyah has called me just this minute (1230 hours GMT Monday 20 June, 2011) and advised me that the new Thai builder will certainly start on site tomorrow to finish off the construction of our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

Thailand truly is a “Land Of Miracles”!

She has agreed the price with the builder which will be 260,000 Baht to finish the house build project on a “Labor Only” Contract. (When I say ‘Contract’ this will at best be a payment schedule adding up to 260,000 Baht, or more likely knowing Kanyah, just a verbal agreement.

(The ‘Contract’ with the previous builder was simply a payment schedule and a BOQ (Bills of Quantity) document both adding up to the total contract value. Both documents were in the Thai and English languages but the English version was produced using Google Translate so was not very accurate!)

Kanyah told me that the payment schedule for the house build will be 10,000 Baht as soon as the scaffolding has been erected followed by 5 payments of 50,000 Baht. (I hope those are fortnighly payments and not monthly payments!)

Now It’s Jalan’s Turn To Be Sacked!

Yes, now Kanyah has sacked Jalan, our ‘inspector’ and sent him packing back to his own house at Kamphaeng Phet.

In case you aren’t aware, Jalan is Kanyah’s nephew and we were paying him to help her by acting as an inspector and check the builder’s works. As I complained heavily to Kanyah when I was in Thailand last April Jalan was completley innefective. he was just watching the builder, not checking what the quality was against the drawings or even common sense.

Just look at the mess he has left us with while he stood by and let the builder get away with it. Wouldn’t be surprised if the builder was paying him to keep quiet.

I was having a good rant and rave in Thailand last April (see the “Thailand Retirement House Build Plans Dashed” post)  and was completley dismayed by Kanyah’s attitude that she swallowed the builder’s line of ‘It’s not finished yet and it will be fine when it is’. I told her then to get rid of Jalan, but nothing happened until now.

Perhaps My Rant And Rave Had Some Effect

Perhaps my ranting last April in Pakchong (Pak Chong) has had a delayed affect on Kanyah. She is certainly taking a great interest in the retirement house building project right now.

I do concern, though, how she will manage the technical aspects of the build. Admittedly Jalan was useless but now she will be completely alone. I will try to monitor the construction works from here by email but Kanyah is not forthcoming with sending me photos in a timely manner and in the past has often ignored my emails.

Here is a typical quality control scenario:-

Wood Wall Frames to Be Replaced

Kanyah told me by phone that the wooden frames supporting the planks forming the the house walls were wrongly constructed by the previous builder and have to be repaired or replaced. (I don’t know which).

I checked the photos she sent me against the Thai Architect’s Construction Drawings and they looked OK to me. I have marked up the photo and written about the issue which I’ll send to Kanyah by email. As I said before, though, I’m not sure how she will react to the email.

It’s very difficult trying to communicate like this. It would be easier if Kanyah had her own computer and knew how to access the Internet and Google Mail, I could then send her videos explaining what I am meaning, and we could converse on Skype. As it is our communication comprises of a short two or three minute story from Kanyah by mobile phone and as soon as she has told me what she wants me to hear, she closes the call.

I rarely get the opportuinty to explain anything. At the best I am able to refer her to an email I have sent.

So on the subject of the Wooden Frame for the Wooden Walls and other topics relating to starting the retirement house build again under the new Thai builder in Pakchong (Pak Chong), I have just sent her an email, the detail of which you can see below.

Here Is The Email I Have Just Sent To Kanyah In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

Other Things
20 June 2011

Red Colour means that you should look at another document for the detail. I will send this later.

1. Frame For the Wood Walls

A) You said that the wooden frame for the wood walls was wrong and had to be taken down.

B) Also you said that the wooden frame for the walls was bending.

C) And you said there was something wrong with the windows.

I don’t understand what you mean. Can you please explain to me?

I checked the Architect’s drawings and the photo you sent to me. It looks like what the builder has installed is OK. Please ask the builder to check that the wood is 1 1/2” X 3”.

What do you want the new builder to do? Here is the Architect’s Specification from our house plans Drawing Sheet A-02:-

Image of Specification Details Wooden Wall Frame

Specification Details of the Wooden Frame to Support the Walls

The wood frame for the walls looks OK:-

Image of the Wooden Frame to Support the Walls

Photo of the Wooden Frame to Support the Wood Plank Walls

Above, the wooden support frame for the wood walls is the same as the Thai Architect’s Specification.

2. Leave The Small Roofs To The End

We don’t need to do the small roofs yet. Let’s wait until the end when all the house is finished.

How much will it cost to add these? I think we have some tiles left from the other builder?

Can the new builder check how many tiles we have and how many more we must buy, if any?

I want to know how much it will cost to put these roofs on.

Image of Leave These Small Roofs To The End

Small Roofs to Be Left Until The End Of The House Build

3. Construction Sequence (What To Build First)

You should get the main building finished first before starting the fit-out inside. The bamboo mat is the last thing to do!

The other builder’s program was wrong.

Discuss this with your new builder and ask him to make a program. This is how it should be done:-

Step 1- The Main House Structure.
Step 2 – Internal (Inside) Works.
Step 3 – External (Outside) Works.

Step 1- The Main House Structure

1. Remove wood walls
2. Cement plaster all columns (posts) and beams. [*Protect the wood and concrete floors*]
3. Paint columns (posts). (Maybe paint the beams as well. [*Protect the wood floors*]
4. Paint the wood planksfor the walls on all 4 sides!
5. Put back the wood walls. Fix the ventilation louvres.
6. Paint wood walls again.Finish the roof works that the old builder didn’t do:-
7. Wood under roof tiles at the eves (outside)
8. Roof Eve Fillers

9. Finish the concrete block walls to the Workshop.
10. Clean all the concrete droppings from the ground floor. [*Do not damage the workshop concrete floor*]
11. Fix the Workshop door and second floor main folding doors.
12. Fix the windows and shutters.
13. Fix the gutter and rain water drain pipes. [Add one more gutter to the back of the house – total 3 gutters]
14. Fix the balustrade (Balcony handrails)
15. Fix the stairs.

Now the main house is finished.

Step 2 and 3 can be done at the same time. (Almost)

Step 2 – Internal (Inside) Works.

1. Finish Brick Bathroom walls
2. Main Drainage pipes
3. Floor tiles in bathroom
4. Bathroom fittings (bath, basins etc)
5. Kitchen counter and sink
6. Hot, cold water and drainage
7. Conduit for all electrical cables
8. Tiles on bathroom walls
9. Wood Frame for Internal walls
10. Electrial wiring
11. Add rafters to suit Bamboo Mat
12. Bamboo Mat
13. Light fittings and power outlets
14. Finish wood floors
15. Inside Now Complete

Step 3 – External (Outside) Works.

This is all the outside work, water supplies and drainage. No need to detail it here.

That’s gone to Kanyah in Pakchong tonight. Let’s see what response we get.

I’m guessing but I can imagine that she’s so excited about the new builder starting to complete the Thai retirement house construction project she will be spending all her time on the site and ‘won’t have time’ to go check her emails.

How To Improve Communications With A Thai Builder Who Can’t Speak Or Read English

Although I have sent the email to Kanyah, it is really the builder who can provide the answers. The new builder can’t speak or read english and Kanyah would be struggling to translate the email and to explain it to the builder.

So I’m going to get it translated into Thai and send the Thai version to her. I know an excellent translation service in Thailand and I can simply send an email to them and get the translation.

Still No Building Going On - Four Weeks Later And Lost 355,401 Baht (Not 200,000 Baht)

It’s Way Past The 5 days When The New Builder Should Start On Our Half- Finished Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

My House Build Project Out Of The Doldrums? post where I reported that Kanyah had said the the new Thai builder would be able to start completing the building of our retirement house  in 5 days time was posted on 9th June 2011. It’s now 19th June i.e. 10 days later and there is no sign of the builder on the construction site.

How can she believe a builder who is already delayed by double what he promised before he even starts on site?

4 Weeks With No Building Works Taking Place

It was 25th May when Kanyah Terminated The Previous Thai Builder And All Construction Work Stopped – that just about spot on 4 weeks with nobody working on the house construction.

She Doesn’t Want Another Thai Builder Either

A friend of mine, Patch, who contacted me through this blog and also had a House Built In Pakchong kindly gave me the name and phone number of his Thai builder in Pakchong. I asked Kanyah if she wanted to try this other builder and she told me in short shrift “No”.

When I pressed her she bluntly told me to ‘shut up’ and “This is the Thai way – you don’t know the Thai way”.

Well, Kanyah, I do know the Thai way – your Thai way at least – and that’s to be hot tempered and abrupt.

If you would explain to me how ‘the Thai way’ prevents you from talking to another builder I would be most enlightened…

… on the other hand, don’t bother, just ask me to send you more money to throw away.

Kanyah Disputes the 355,401 Baht We Lost To The Old Thai Builder!

Also on the House Build Project Out Of The Doldrums? post I reported that I expected that I had lost over 200,000 Baht when Kanyah sacked the Thai builder.

That previous quick estimate now proves to be a bit on the low side when I add up what we overpaid the builder and what we have to pay to redo work . I have now calculated my loss to be 355,401 Baht.

I sent the calculations to Kanyah for checking and she says “It’s only 300,000 Baht, not 355,401″!

Yeh, great Kanyah, you just saved me 55,401 Baht.

If I can summon up the enthusiasm I’ll post the calculations here later.

Wood Walls To Be Removed – Cement Dropping To Be Cleaned Up

I was wrong in the previous Post “House Build Project Out Of The Doldrums?when I doubted that Kanyah would send me photos today, because here they are… below.

Heh! Who knows with a run of good luck like this maybe the new builder will start in five days as Kanyah said?

Maybe in Thailand there are such things as miracles. And Yaks!

These phots show the progress on the retirement house immediatley after the first builder had left site. Note that the builder has taken away all the wooden scaffolding allowing a clear view of the house.

All the wood walls that you can see have to be removed to allow the columns to be cement rendered and painted. Then the wood walls will be reinstated.

Image of Pakchong House Wood Walls Rear 01

Image of Pakchong House Wood Walls Rear 01

Image of Pakchong House Wood Walls Rear 02

Pakchong House Wood Walls Rear 02

Image of Pakchong House Wood Walls Side 01

Pakchong House Wood Walls Side 01

The next photos show the mess the builder has made allowing cement dropping from the rendering process to fall onto the unprotected concerte floors.

I dread to think how the second floor wooden floors would have suffered as rendering of the upper columns and beams was finished off had the first builder had been allowed to continue.

Image of Pakchong House Workshop Concrete Floor Spoilt 01

Pakchong House Workshop Concrete Floor Spoilt 01

Above, a general view of the Workshop conrete floor covered with cement droppings. Can you see a slight pink tint to the concrete. That is beacuse the concrete to the Workshop was specially treated with a red finish to make it hard and dust free. The treatment is called “dry shake” and involves spreading a special material onto the surface of the concrete when it is wet.

You can see the original concrete floor in the photo below.

Image of Building Thai House Workshop Slab 2

Another Photo of The ground Floor Concrete Workshop Slab

Above, this is the concrete Workshop floor when it was originally cast. You can clearly see the red finish – now obscured by the concrete droppings. Notice what a smooth finish it is.

Image of Pakchong House Workshop Concrete Floor Spoilt 02

Pakchong House Workshop Concrete Floor Spoilt 02

Above, another view of the concrete in the Workshop. compare that with the original finish shown in the photo above.

Image of Pakchong House External Concrete Floor Spoilt

Pakchong House External Concrete Floor Spoilt

 Above, it is not just the Workshop floor that has been spolt. This is one of the external concrete floors.

Image of Pakchong House Close-Up of External Concrete Floor Spoilt

Pakchong House Close-Up of External Concrete Floor Spoilt

 Above, a close-up of the cement droppings on the external concrete floor. Another reason that Kanyah terminated the builder’s contract.

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