Progress Photographs – Ground Floor Ring Beams, Ground Floor Slab & Posts Finished

These photos uploaded January 31st 2011, were taken on site on January 21st, 2011. 

Photo 1 Compacting The Sand Under The Cround Floor Slab:-

Image of Building Thai House Compacting Under Slab Sand

Compacting Under-Slab Sand


It is not always that the builder properly compacts the soil (sand in this case) under concrete slabs or foundations. This is being done by our builder as you can see in the picture above before the concrete slabe is poured and is a good sign of a professional and competent builder. 

Why is compacting the soil or sand necessary? The strongest soil is undisturbed soil that has not been disturbed since it was formed thousands or millions of years ago. Where this has been dug out and replaced with fill, or simply had soil placed on it to raise the level, the filling material will be ‘loose’ and liable to be compressed when any weight is put on it. Therefore it cannot offer much support to foundations or in the case above the concrete ground floor slab that will be poured over it. 

The solution is fill in with soil in many thin layers, (say 100 mm each time) and compact each layer with a heavy roller or vibratory compactor as you see above. usually the soil (or san) is also watered to make it compact more easily. The objective is to make the fill material as dense as possible. 

Naturally this is a time consuming process and that’s whay many builder often don’t bother to do it… plus of course perhaps they don’t realise the importance of doing it!

Photo 2 Under-Slab Anti Termite System:-


Termites. I Hate Them

I had a friend, David, who married a Filipino girl and he spent his life’s savings to build a wooden house in the Phillipines for them and their daughter to eventually retire to. They didn’t live in it for a year because he was working in Saudi Arabia accompanied by his wife. When he went back to the Phillipines for a holiday the house was completely destroyed by termite He was devastated. 

I guess everybody has their termite story. My wife, Kanyah does. Her niece in Phitsanulok had a huge house built courtesy of her Japanese husband. Luckily it’s mostly concrete and brick but the entire second floor is wood and is riddled with termites. One day she will have to drop it down and replace it. The same goes for the kitchen which is entirely wood, walls and floor. It will have to be replaced. 

My termite story is different and I hope it stays that way. The entire house above second floor level (except for the roof) will be wood. Aware of the damage that termites can do I did some research on the Internet and came across this quote:- 

“Facts: worldwide termites seriously harm more than 100,000,000 homes a year. On average these vicious insects do more damage than all natural disasters put together.” 

I found that on a website specialising in the kind of termite control system that I have in our house. You can learn more on the Pest Control Thailand website which describes the system. Here is another company offering termite control services

I should add that it was our builder who suggested this kind of termite control system. I only found the above website during the house foundations construction trying to see what it was that he was recommending because he gave me no details, just mentioned it when we were negotiating the contract. Nothing was written down in the Specification, BOQ or contract, but it was installed! Another sign of a good builder you can trust. 

Photo 3 Ground Floor Rebar and Termite Pegs?:-

Image of Building Thai House Steel Fixing Floor Slab

Steel Fixing Ground Floor Slab


You can see that they are putting steel reinforcement in both directions within the ground floor slab. Contrast that with the photo on Steve W’s house build where they only placed it in one direction and at far too wide spacing. 

Those wooden pegs worry me. (If that’s what they are). 

I read on a Thai forum that one guy had an under-slab anti termite pipe system installed (similar to ours). But the poison injection points were holes in the slab bunged up with wooden plugs. The plugs were removed, the bug poison poured in and the bungs replaced. What to termites eat? Wood of course. The system was proving the little buggers with a whole array of front doors to invite them into his house. 

I really must find out what those are. 

Photo 4 Waterproof Membrane:-

Image of Building Thai House Pouring Floor Slab

Pouring The Ground Floor Slab Concrete


My friend Steve W (See photos of Steve’s self-build Thai house in Si Khiu Korat which is going on in parallel with my house construction but a lot faster on the Si Khiu Korat House 1
page) tipped me off about this one. Essential to keep the ground floor dry in the rainy season. Water soaking through concrete (it does!) will attach the reinforcement steel and weaken the structure. Rusting steel reinforcement also expands bursting the concrete and exposing itself. Very nasty. The waterproof membrane helps to keep the concrete dry. 

Now I don’t know whether this was in the (Structural) specification, which is entirely in Thai language and I didn’t bother to get a translation,  or not. It certainly isn’t in the BOQ. 

Again, like the termite control system i wanted to send a message to Kanyah to make sure it was included when they made the floor slab but she told me the slab was complete before I had chance to do that. Luckily the membrane (as you can see in the photo below was already installed). Another sign of a good builder. 

An Important Lesson To Learn If You Are Not On Site

The above events have taught me some important lessons that anyone contemplating having a house built in Thailand should pay close attention to if they are not on site everyday (and you will here this over and over in the Thai forums):- 

  • House construction in Thailand goes extremely quickly.
  • You need to be on the ball and have an excellent system of communication with your on-site Inspector (Agent or Project Manager)
  • Make sure that you have a good set of detailed construction drawings showing exactly what you want.
  • And, it goes without saying, find a good builder, cheapest is not always the best.

I have some changes I want to make to our house as specified. These are minor changes like changing the ground floor door from wood to steel (Anti termite and also security). I know I must get these changes into the builders hands in good time otherwise in a few weeks time I will be too late. Maybe he has already ordered the doors? 

Photo 5 The Concrete Car Port Slab:-

Image of Building Thai House Car Port Slab

Ground Floor Concrete Car Port Slab


Although it’s called a Car Port and that’s what we intend to use it for in the beginning, this area (as can the Workshop) can be developed into accommodation area in future if necessary. 

I have noticed that in houses like ours with all the living accommodation on the second floor and having a large open area under the house, like our Car Port area, the Thai occupants tend to ‘live’ in the open area on the ground floor during the day time. This is presumably because it is well shaded and cooler that the second floor. In our case I hope to have provided sufficient open and shaded area on the second floor so that we can stay there in daytime and enjoy the views of the surrounding rolling hills that typify the beautiful Pakchong (Pak Chong) area. 

The car Port slab is a goof few cm above the surrounding ground floor area. It was designed as 10 cm (100 mm) above the ground floor level but that changed on site due to:- 

  • It was raised (at my request) to be the same level as the floor slab of our neighbour’s (blue) house. I wanted the slab well above any flood water levels.
  • Kanyah has had about 12 trucks of soil placed on the land in front of the house to make the land level. (There was a half-meter fall from road level).

So at the moment I don’t know the relationship of the Car Port slab level to that of the front garden. All will become clear (?) in the next few days after she sends me some photos of the new soil. 

I should add that the original intention was not to leave the Car Port area finished in concrete but to have it paved with some nice looking stone. 

Photo 6 The Concrete Workshop Slab:-

Image of Building Thai House Workshop Floor Slab

Ground Floor Concrete Workshop Floor Slab


The level of Workshop slab is 100 mm above the level of the Car Port slab to keep any flood water out. 

You will immediately notice the red color of the concrete. I’m not exactly sure since I’m not on site but I suspect from my own construction experiance that is a concrete additive (called ‘Dry Shake’) that will harden the surface and prevent it from “dusting”. That means it will have a smooth hard finish that does not creat dust, especially when brushed, as plain concrete would. 

‘Dry-shake’ color hardeners come as powders that are spread by hand onto the freshly placed concrete and then worked into the surface with a float or trowel. Unlike integral pigments, which color the entire concrete matrix, hardeners color only the top surface layer. 

Again, this was briefly touched on when i was negotiating the contract. I remember I did not specifically request dry shake but asked for a “red colored anti-dust” finish. Nothing in the contract, nothing on the drawings and nothing in the BOQ about this. But our builder has provided it for us. The confidence I have in, and respect for, our builder, is rapidly building. 

Photo 7 The Concrete Workshop Slab 2:-

Image of Building Thai House Workshop Slab 2

Another Photo of The ground Floor Concrete Workshop Slab


The floor area of this room looks vast. Perhaps it will look smaller when the walls are built. 

Steve W (a very knowledgeable and interesting guy) told me when we went to see his farm and house build project at Si Khiu Korat that he was pleased to see the workshop on my Thai house construction drawings. He said that he had seen so many Farangs spend money on a house in Thailand for himself and his Thai wife and then never spend more than a few days there. Many of them , he said, just couldn’t stand living in Thailand outside of the holiday resorts. So “you need something to do” he said, and seeing my workshop he was pleased that I planned to ‘do something’. 

Well I’m not getting too deeply into that here, this is about building the house, but in a separate place on the website I will describe my ‘big plans’ for retiring in Thailand. Suffice to say at this stage that my hobby (when not building houses and websites) is to make real working models of steam engines and the like. That’s what the workshop is for and why it’s so big. 

Photo 8 Steel Re-Usable Formwork And Proper Access Equipment

Image of Building Thai House Column Formwork

Steel Re-usable Formwork (Or Shuttering) For the Columns


Many (most?) times – and I’m sure you have noticed the same – when I see buildings under construction in Thailand the formwork (or shuttering) for the concrete is made from wood nailed together. That is both expensive (wood is not cheap), not accurate, not strong and does not give a good finish. 

In the West, re-usable shuttering – as seen in the photo above – has been in use for many years but rarely have I seen it in Thailand. Sure, they may use it on huge shopping malls and hotels in Bangkok, but on up country small projects? So I was pleasantly surprised to see them being used on our house build. The sign of a modern-style builder. 

Also the common form of access platforms on up country small projects used to be (and still too often is) wooden platforms knocked-up on site by the labor. 

In the photo above you can see that they are using a proper steel access platform. When will hard hats and safety shoes come in, I wonder? 

Joking apart, my hat goes off to our builder for using modern and safe access equipment. 

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