Here’s The Story Why Work On Building Our House In Pakchong Stopped – Twice!

Construction Of Our Retirement House In Pakchong Restarts – In Fits And Starts

In the previous post but one “Roof Tiles On – But Problems Are Arising” I mentioned the fact that work had stopped on the construction of our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong) and I’m pleased to be able to report that work has now commenced again – kind of…

Big Problems Building Our Retirement House in Pakchong (Pak Chong)

I reported in a previous post Roof Tiles On – But Problems Are Arising how all construction work ceased on our retirement house build project in Pakchong (Pak Chong) as the builder and all the labor disappeared from site on 30th March, 2011.

In that post I mentioned that a couple of issued had arisen on site and that I would explain them to you and why the builder had left the site as soon as I had got to the bottom of it, so here goes…

Big Roof – Big Roof Problem

This issue came up when I looked more carefully at the photos received from Kanyah on the Steel Roof Rafters Installed Post.

This is the photo that made me think something was amiss:-

Image of House Frame Roof Side View 1

House Frame Roof Side View 1

Above, the photo that made me worry and gave me a couple of sleepless nights. Can you spot what is wrong?

Hint, look at the roof rafters and the ridge girder compared to the roof concrete ring-beam.

Next look at this 3D rendering of our house produced by our Thai architect at concept stage:-

Image of Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable Concept at Stage

Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable Concept at Stage

Above, now you can see what appears to be missing from the steel rafter progress photo above. In the above concept drawing it’s clear that the roof extends beyond the house. It overhangs (called a ‘cantilever’ in building terms) the house. The steel rafter progress photo above does not show the ridge girder and the rafters for the roof overhang.

This omission I marked on the next photo, below.

Image Steel Roof Rafters Showing Missing Rafters

Steel Roof Rafters Showing Missing Rafters

I sent that marked-up photo to the builder and to Kanyah to find out what was going on and why the builder was (apparently) not following the Thai Architects roof plans.

The answer came back “don’t worry, the roof is not finished yet”.

Big Roof  - Big Roof Problem Gets Bigger…

Then I realised something else that really had me worried.

Those concrete beams at roof level should not be there! I was looking again at the photo above “Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable Concept at Stage” and I couldn’t see any concrete extending (cantilevering) from the end of the house. This is clear in the next marked-up rendering produced by our Thai Architect at concept stage:-

Image of Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011 - Annotated

Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011 - Annotated

The photo below (not our house) shows a properly cantilevered roof. No ugly cantilevered concrete beams.

Image of Cantilevered Roof - How It Should Look

Cantilevered Roof - How It Should Look

Next I looked at the cross sectional drawing produced by our Thai Architect as part of the construction drawings. No cantilevered roof beams were shown:-

Image of Architects Section Drawing At Roof Level

Architects Section Drawing At Roof Level

Above, see that red box? I marked that and it is what the builder has constructed, but it is not shown on the Thai Architects original construction drawing as you can see.

I pondered what to no next. I wanted a cantilevered roof, but not cantilevered concrete roof beams which I thought would be unsightly.

Perhaps the concrete cantilevered beams could be cut off using diamond cutting technology?

I need to know if those ‘concrete ears’ have any structural purpose.

If not I was suggesting that they be cut off. This should be easy using some kind of diamond cutting:-

http://www.diamonddriller.co.uk/services/sawing.htm

http://www.cuttingtechnologies.com/services_wire_sawing.html

So I started sending emails to Kanyah, our builder and to the original Thai Architect, with pictures like the ones above and these:-

Image of Concrete Roof Beams to Cut

Concrete Roof Beams to Cut

Image of Detail Cut Concrete Ears

Detail Cut Concrete Ears

Above, I was planning to cut off these cantilevered roof beams (or ‘ears’ as i had started to call them) using a diamond saw. Pretty drastic surgery!

As you can imagine, by this time I was pretty anxious because I had two big problems with the roof and was getting little information from Thailand.

Then our Thai Architect started to reply to my cries for help. Firstly he pointed out that my marked up drawing, above “Architects Section Drawing At Roof Level” being a section through the building would not have shown the ‘ears’. Also, he pointed out that the ‘ears’ were shown on the structural plans as you can see in the picture below.

Image of Structural Drawing At Roof Level - Annotated 2

Structural Drawing At Roof Level - Annotated 2

He also explained that the rendered drawing he had produced at concept stage (see “Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011 – Annotated” above) was just that – a concept rendered drawing – and that the roof beams were added in the detail design phase and therefore did not show in the rendered drawing.

Knowing that I was concerned about the visual appearance of the cantilevered beams (the ‘ears’) he produced and emailed to me an updated version of the rendered drawing including the beams. As you can see in the picture below, the cantilevered beams are inconspicuous and not ugly.

Image of Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011

Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011

O.K. I surrendered on that one. Then I had an email from Kanyah showing that the ‘missing’ rafters and ridge beam had been installed. (You have probably seen these pictures but if not, just wait until you see the “How To Tile A Roof In Thailand” Post.)

Now I don’t know why the rafters weren’t all delivered and lifted into place at the same time. I assume a crane was used to lift the rafters and by lifting the ‘missing’ rafters on a second visit would have incurred additional hire costs for the crane.

Also I don’t know how they managed to extend the ridge beam where it wasn’t long enough at each end. I hope they didn’t (but suspect they did) simply weld an extension beam to the existing ridge beam. you can bet I’m going to take a good look at that when I go out to Thailand next week!

So it seemed that this problem was solved…

… and that

… Then came along “Little Roof Big Problem”

Little Roof – Another Big Problem

It took some investigation work by our Thai Architect in Bangkok to get to the bottom of what all this was about.

Although Kanyah had told me there was a problem with the small roof (the balcony roof) she didn’t tell me what he problem was. Perhaps with her not being a technical person she didn’t know. She also told me that the builder had ‘fixed’ it but again she didn’t tell me how. And I received no emails or communication from the builder.

I did have a guess at what the problem might be and a little later I received an email from our Architect who had been talking by phone to the builder and to Jalan, Kanyah’s nephew who was supervising the build for us. The email confirmed my suspicion as to what was wrong…

Don’t Allow Shallow-Sloping Roofs In Thailand!

The Problem Started With My Choice Of Thai House Design Concept Plans

If you go right back to the beginning of the design process for our retirement house in Thailand all as recorded on this website you will know that it all started with Thai house plans for a small traditional Thai house downloaded for free from the Thai government website.

This is described on the Free Thai House Plans page where you can see pictures and drawings of the concept house that we started with and also get all the links to the websites where you can download free Thai house plans. Here is a sample from one of the drawings that formed the inspiration for our house:-

Image of Inspiration for Our House - Roof Slopes

Inspiration for Our House - Roof Slopes

Above, this is where started our house design. A traditional Thai house plan downloaded from the Thai government website.

You can see that I have added the roof slopes, 45 deg for the main roof and 10 deg for the balcony roof.

The final construction drawings for our house, as drawn by our Thai Architect were 35 deg for the main roof and 10 deg for the balcony roof.

It seems that our builder, when he got to the point of laying the roof tiles, realized that the angle of slope of the balcony was too shallow, particularly as there was no gutter between the main roof and the balcony roof. All the water from the main roof would cascade onto the balcony roof. The deep depth of water on the balcony roof would force water between the tiles and the roof would leak.

This is roughly how our Thai Architect explained it after talking to our builder:-

  • The “Inspiration for Our House – Roof Slopes” drawing with the 10 deg balcony roof slope would have been OK because the specification for the roof material was for concrete sheets which can have a large over-lap and therefore safe for deep water.
  • I changed the roof type from concrete sheets to concrete tiles which are much smaller and have much less overlap.
  • Concrete tile roofs typically need a minimum slope of 20 deg. (I would have said 35 deg minimum, but lets go with 20 deg for now)
  • Our Thai Architect added a roof gutter to collect the water from the main roof and preventing it from cascading onto the balcony roof.
  • I told out builder not to provide that gutter to save money. (I have since asked the builder to provide the gutter)
  • According to our Thai Architect, our builder has taken two mitigation measures (but nobody told me):-
    • The 10 deg slope was increased to 12 – 15 deg.
    • The lap of the tiles was increased.
  • Our Thai Architect has proposed various other solutions to prevent the balcony roof from leaking.

My decision is (apart from adding back the main-roof gutter) to leave everything as it is for now and see what happens during a heavy rainfall. If some additional measure is required then deal with it at that time.

Accusations And Bad Feelings?

These problems have led to accusations and bad feelings all round but the basic problem has been lack of clear communication:-

  • The builder blames the design by the Architect
  • The Thai Architect blames the builder for:-
    • blindly crashing on with the build without producing shop drawings
    • not raising issues with the Architect and discussing them before continuing
  • At first I blamed the builder for not building to the Architect’s drawings (I later apologized for that when I realized he had followed the drawings)
  • I blamed everybody on site, that means the builder and Kanyah for not informing me about issues
  • I blamed the builder for making changes to the Architect’s design without authority
  • I blamed Kanyah and Jalan for not checking properly
  • I blamed myself for a load of things:-
    • Not picking up on the shallow angle balcony roof issue at concept stage. (I knew the issues relating to shallow roofs and potential for leakage. I am a building design professional  and have been in meetings with Architects in the U.K. where the roof slope has been a matter of discussion and deliberation for hours. Check me out on the Alan’s Construction Industry Bio page.)
    • Not checking the original Architects Structural drawings well enough to make sure I understood the roof beam design.
    • Jumping to conclusions about the provision of the ‘ears’ based on an early concept stage Architects rendering drawings instead of checking the structural drawings more carefully.

So you can imagine that tempers were getting frayed, and that’s probably a contributing factor to Kanyah not phoning me and sending me photographs for a couple of weeks.

At this stage the Architect visited site.

The Next Day The Builder And The Construction Workers Were Nowhere To Be Seen

The next day the builder and the construction workers were nowhere to be seen and he didn’t answer his phone for days.

I was worried that he had been upset by all the criticism that may have been flying round and decide to call it quits. But what came next?

Sweltering Summer Turns To Freezing Winter As Freak Weather Storms Create Turmoil In Thailand

Blasts of icy wind from China wreck havoc on Thailand plunging what a few days ago was a blistering hot summer  into a winter monsoon season overnight!

The temperature plummeted faster than a bungee jumper on his downward fall and vast areas of souther Thailand were suddenly flooded meters deep.

Image of Koh Samui Thailand Floods 1

Koh Samui Thailand Floods 1

More on Thailand’s  freak weather, earthquakes, over a million people to be stranded, floods, freezing temperatures and unseasonal tropical downpours.

The Reason For The Builder Leaving Site (For The First Time ) And All Constuction Stopping

At last we get to it. it wasn’t the roof problems that caused our Thai builder and all his labor to stop the building work on our retirement home in Pakchong (Pak Chong). it was the bad weather!

Quite simply, the freak weather reached as far as Pakchong (Pak Chong) and the torrential downpour for three days meant that no construction work could continue.


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