Archive for September, 2011

Photos Inside Our Retirement House In Thailand

At last I can find a few spare minutes to update the website with more photos of our retirement house in Packchong (Pak Chong) as the building phase nears completion.

Most of the pictures this time are of the interior of the house.

Starting off with the place where we intend to spend all our time relaxing… The Balcony

Image of Retirement House Thailand Balcony Stainless Steel Handrails 2

The Balcony Showing The Stainless Steel Handrails

Above, showing the wooden floor balcony and the stainless steel handrails hand made in Pakchong (Pac Chong).

Do You Like The Stainless Steel Handrails?

At first when Kanyah asked me if she could have stainless steel handrails I was in a mind to say “No”. Quite clearly (in my mind) the house is intended to be modelled after a traditional rustic Thai house and the handrails should, of course, be made from natural wood. Stainless steel would be completely out of character, I thought.

That was back in the dark days of the project when I was backing off telling Kanyah what to do. At that time she told me that stainless steel balustrades would be cheaper than wood and that really struck the right chord with me! So I said OK but regretted that immediately afterwards.

Anyway, we now have stainless steel handrails and i quite like it. there’s no doubting that the quality of the product is really superb and I do think they add a bit of a wow factor to the house, particularly at the stairs.

Look at the photos below, make your own mind up and please tell me what you think.

Image of Retirement House Thailand Balcony Stainless Steel Handrails 3

Wooden Balcony And Stainless Steel Handrails

Above, another phot of the balcony and you can see the underside of the balcony roof with the exposed rafters and bamboo mat lining.

Image of Retirement House Thailand Balcony Stainless Steel Handrails Stairs 1

Steps To Balcony With Stainless Steel Handrails

In the photo above the posts supporting the landing and the stringers look like they are made from wood, but in fact they are steel. The treads are real wood, though as shown in the next photos.

Also note that the stainless steel balustrade on the landing in the first bay (where that person is on the stairs) is purely decorative and serves no other function. This is also clear in the photos below.

Image of Retirement House Thailand Balcony Stainless Steel Handrails Stairs

View From Balcony Of Stainless Steel Handrails To The Wooden Stairs

Above, looking from the balcony down the stairs.

Image of Looking Down The Second Flight Of Wooden Stairs From The Balcony

Looking Down The Second Flight Of Wooden Stairs From The Balcony

Two things to note from the photo above:-
1. The stainless steel handrails at balcony level are for appearance sake only. You can see that the wooden balcony does not reach that far.
2. The treads of the stairs are natural wood.
The next photo shows the view from the bottom of the stairs.
Image of The Lower Part Of The Steps And A Good View Of The Stainless Steel Handrails

The First Flight Of Steps And The Stainless Steel Handrails

Above, the last of the stainless steel handrail photos.

Now on so some interior views of our retirement house and on the way we’ll pass through the real Teak wood doors.

Image of Teak Doors To First Floor Kitchen

Teak Doors To First Floor Kitchen

Above, the folding doors into the kitchen from the dining area. mow let me tell you something…

I Don’t Know Why These Doors Are Here!

The original Thai house plans as drawn up by our Thai Architect based on my own concept house layout drawings never had any doors into the Kitchen as you can see in the extract from the construction drawings below:-

Image of Second Floor Doors Layout From our Retirement House Thailand Construction House Plans

Second Floor External Doors Layout

The image above is taken from the Thai house construction drawings made by our Thai Architect. As you can see there are no doors between the Dining Area and the Kitchen.

My concept of the folding doors is for the Living Room doors to open for the full width of the room and for there to be similar wide doors leading out on to the balcony thus creating a huge open-plan space with an outside feeling even if you are inside.

Why Kanyah has decided to put doors leading into the Kitchen beats me. A total waste of money!

And….

There’s a big And here. And I don’t like it… as explained below under the heading “The Big Problem With Folding Doors”.

To introduce that topic, here’s a photo looking into the Kitchen from the Dining Area:-

image of Teak Doors Opening Into The First Floor Kitchen
Teak Doors Opening Into The First Floor Kitchen

The Big Problem With Folding Doors

One thing I want to mention is the lower door runner on the floor.  These are a major issue with me and I ranted about them on the post Wood Floors, Folding Doors where you can learn all about how (not to) fit folding doors into your house.

Take a look at the marked up photo below:-

Image of Lower Door Runner Kitchen Teak Door

Lower Door Runner to The Kitchen Teak Door

In the photo above, see the lower door runner? Each of the leaves of the folding doors has a ‘peg’ (in modern-style doors this is usually a wheel) that runs in a floor guide to keep the lower part of the door in place when it is being folded open or closed. In the case above the ‘pegs’ run in a slot in the lower door guide.

This ‘peg’ also acts as a bolt to secure the door when it is shut and locked. Without the ‘pegs’ and lower door runner the door would be floppy at the base and easy for an intruder to push in and gain access to the room.

I Did Not Want That Lower Door Runner

My concept (as I described above) for the living, kitchen and dining areas was to have them as a large open-plan area with no visible or physical barriers between them. In particular I knew that the Dining Area was really not long enough to take a reasonable sized dining table and chairs. I wanted to have the ability for the Dining Area to expand into the Kitchen unimpeded if necessary.

Now, that lower door runner sticks up above the floor and divides up the space between the two areas. It also creates a trip hazard and a place where you can’t sit on the floor or put table or chair legs.

In short it destroys my open-plan concept.

But that’s not the end of it – there’s worse to come… much worse.

Enough of those doors, let’s look at the main doors into the Dining Area from the Balcony.

These are the main entrance doors into the house. Again, like the Kitchen they are hand-made from Teak wood. All these doors are not off-the-shelf doors from Home-Pro. No, they are bespoke craftsman-made doors built by hand from scratch in natural Teak wood in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

Image of First Floor Exterior Teak Doors Leading To The Dining Area

First Floor Exterior Teak Doors Leading To The Dining Area

Above the doors leading from the Balcony into the Dining Area.

Perhaps you can see the lower door runners at the bottom of the photo? The picture and narrative below let’s me repeat my rant of an earlier post when the stupid builder (the one Kanyah sacked, not the current one) ruined my split-level concept. Look at this photo of the teak doors with the lower door runner highlighted:-

Image of Lower Door Runner Dining Teak Door

Lower Door Runner Dining room Teak Door

As I mentioned above, the lower door runner protruding from the flat floor makes a trip hazard.

It’s small enough to not be easily seen, but high enough for people to trip up on, particularly when there is a party going on!

Put that’s not the main fault here. The main fault – and this is really serious – is that the door runner is not high enough to prevent the rain from pouring in under the doors driven by the winds.

The problem is not with the doors, nor with the design of the house.

The problem is cause by our first builder whom Kanyah sacked for incompetency and blatant fraud.

The design of the house, as shown on both my concept drawings and our Thai Architect’s drawings puts the Dining Area 150 mm higher than the Balcony. Also, the Bedrooms and Living Room were 50 mm higher than the Dining Area for the same reason – to stop wind-driven rain entering the house.

But the first builder put all the floors on the same level!

All the gory details are explained on the “Thailand Retirement House Build Plans Dashed” Post. Just go to that Post and scroll down until you come to “Later On I Realise Some New Blunders By Our Builder“.

If you’re skipping that invitation for now  let’s continue the house tour by looking out towards the Balcony from the Dining Area:-

Image of Looking Out From The Dining Area To The Balcony Through The Teak Doors

Looking Out From The Dining Area To The Balcony Through The Teak Doors

The next photo, below shows the view from the Dining Area looking into the Kitchen and out to the Balcony.

Image of Retiring Thailand House Teak Doors First Floor To Kitchen

Teak Doors First Floor To Kitchen

Enough of doors, but before we move on to the bathrooms I have a question.

Why are there no photos showing the light fittings?

I was very specific and prescriptive about the lights in the rooms lined with bamboo mat. They were all to be wall-mounted uplighters to highlight the bamboo mat and capture the warm colour. See the  Now They Have Trashed The Vaulted Ceiling Concept post for a beautiful photograph of the effect I wanted.

My guess is that she has changed to ceiling lights and isn’t taking photos because she doesn’t want to hear me complaining!

And while I’m complaining the tiles she has chosen for the bathrooms are so boring and ordinary.

Judge for yourself, this is Kanyah’s bathroom:-

Close-up Photo of Kanyah's Bathroom

Close-up Photo of Kanyah's Bathroom

And the hand wash basin in Kanyah’s bathroom:-

Photo of Thai House Pakchong Kanyahs Bathroom

Kanyah's Bathroom - Wash Hand Basin

Below is the same pattern of hand wash basin in my shower room. but notice the black hole in the wall tile with wires hanging out? That is for some kind of electrical device. Shaver socket?

I don’t know but perhaps I was premature to suspect Kanyah of changing the wall-lights in my comments above. Perhaps there are no photos of light fittings because they have not been installed yet.

Image of Hand Wash Basin In My Shower Room.

Hand Wash Basin In My Shower Room.

Below, my shower room.

Image of View Of My Shower Room

View Of My Shower Room

Enough of bathrooms, a couple more photos of the Balcony and the Balcony ceiling:-

Photo of Underside Of The Balcony Roof Showing Exposed Rafters And Bamboo Mat

Close-Up Photo Of The Underside Of The Balcony Roof

Above, I just love the combination of the exposed rafters and Bamboo mat. That is the look I specified for the Living Accommodation. But she changed it. Just to rub it in, there is a photo of the how our rooms were supposed to look on the Now They Have Trashed The Vaulted Ceiling Concept post.

Another photo I love is this view from the Dining Area out to the Balcony:-

Photo of the View From The Dining Area To The Balcony

The View From The Dining Area To The Balcony

Next a dead boring photo just showing the water pipes entering the house. I have no idea why there is more then one pipe and why it (they) are so small. These will be covered over by brick and render as you will see in a later Post.

I just mentioned that about the water pipes to prepare you for the best and most exhilarating photos on the website! Just scroll down a little.

Image of The Blue Water Pipes Comimg Into The House

The Blue Water Pipes Comimg Into The House

I Have Saved The Best Photos For The Last!

These net couple of photos are quintessential Thai.

The Thais are without doubt the world’s finest creators of hand-crafted precision holes in the soil!

Image Of A Septic Tank Installed In A New House Being Built In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

One Of The Two Plastic Septic Tanks

Above one of the two beautiful septic tanks.

Photo Of Two Septic Tanks Installed At A Thai House

Two Septic Tanks Installed In The Garden

Above, just look at how snugly these septic tanks fit in their holes. Barely 10 cm to spare. Truly a work of art, those holes in the ground. I can imagine the rush of pride in the digger when the tanks are lowered in and they fit perfectly with not an ounce of energy wasted in the dig.

If the builders can get this right so why are there so many other cock-ups in the house build?

Wait! Did I say they got this right? Let’s look at the design drawing made by our Thai Architect:-

Image of Thai House Pakchong Construction Drawings Septic Tank

Septic Tank As Drawn On Our Pakchong House Plans

As you can see in the above drawing, our Thai Architect has only shown one septic tank. So why have they installed two on site?

Well, I could get into all kinds of discussion on that but life’s too short. You’ve been waiting long enough for me to finish this Post so this is where I’ll wrap it up and get on with uploading more photos on the next post for you.

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