Posts Tagged ‘Architects’

The Construction Of Our Retirement House In Pak Chong, Thailand, Is Nearly Complete

Photos Of Our Retirement House Construction Page 1

These photos arrived 15th August 2011 but until now I have not had time to post them to the website. Kanyah sent me 71 photos all at once in one email! I have sorted out the best ones to show you and they will be posted on the website over about 4 posts.

Pakchong House Nearly Finished Page 1

Our retiring in Thailand dreams are coming tue as our retirment house build project in in Pak Chong nears completion.

The Paralysing Fear Of Feeling That You’re Being Criticized

Nobody likes criticism and the Thais are very sensitive to it. I think this is why Kanyah has not been sending me the photos every weeks like she used to.

My idea was that she should send my the photos as the work progresses so that I could do a quality check and tell her what’s wrong – if anything – so that she could get the builder to correct it.

But when I started pointing out the mistakes, and there were some very serious ones, they didn’t like it. (‘They’ means Kanyah, Jalan our now deposed ‘inspector’ and the builder.) I think that’s why she is very reluctant to send me photos. She keeps telling me to ‘wait until it’s finished’. She just wants to send me photos of the finished article so that I can say how nice it looks and she can feel proud. Nothing wrong with that but by her own admission she knows nothing about building (or didn’t until she took over this house-build project herself) and in her position i would have appreciate some technical support.

Anyway I think this is why she isn’t sending me regular in-progress photos.

Even on these latest photos there are mistakes – or things done wrongly or at least not to the Thai Architects drawings. I will point thenm out to you on the website but (with one exception – and that caused an upset) I have not mentioned them to Kanyah.

The Stresses Of Running This Project Are Starting To Show In Kanyah

Kanyah used to phone me daily but now its not daily. More like avery three days. But on those days she’ll call me perhaps three times to tell me her problems and how tired and lonely she feels.

It’s a bit strange that she should complain about being lonely. She is Thai living in her own beloved Thailand – and she feels lonely!

All the time we have been married – and any farang married to aThai will resonate with this – I kept hearing the matra “I want to go back to Thailand”. Used to drive me mad.

Now she wants to come to England to stay with me but she can’t because she in locked into that house building project in Pakchong.

Anyone contemplating building their retirement house in Thailand should consider the stresses it can put on individuals and their relationships and whether the people concerned are liable to overcome the difficulties or suffer from them.

Here Is The First Batch Of Photos Of The Retirement House In Pak Chong Nearing Completion

All these photos are of the exterior of the house showing off the lovely wooden walls and the feature created by the exposed cement-rendered structural concrete.

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand View From Roadside

Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand View From Roadside

Above, the house from the roadside. Looks nice but also look at that lush green vegetation on the right. Apart from the blue neighbours house on the left, not another building in site.

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Closer View From Roadside

Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Closer View From Roadside

Above, a close-up of our retirement house in Pak Chong, Thailand. Left-to-right on the first floor (Thais call that the second floor) you can see the bedroom with the lovely brown coloured wooden walls, the the bathroom and shower room behind the white-painted rendered-brick waal, and another bedroom on the right.

All rooms are 3.5 m x 3.5 m so the house is 10 x 10 m = 100 m2 floor area per floor x 2 = 200 m2. (About 2,000 square feet)

On the ground floor, left-to-right is the car port which can be converted to accommodation if necessary, then my huge workshop where I will be making live-steam models.

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Close Up View From Roadside

Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Close Up View From Roadside

Above, closer up you can see the huge car port. Kanyah is having the whole of the ground floor laid with marble. That blue vertical line are the water pipes. these will be boxed in and invisible when complete.

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand View From Neighbour's Side

Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand View From Neighbour's Side

From this view you can clearly see the size of the balcony and the balcony roof.

Left-to-right on the second floor you can see one bedroom and the lounge. On the ground floor my workshop takes up two bays and the area under the balcony will be paved with marble. (Kanyah tells me)

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Balcony View From Front

Retirement House Pak Chong Balcony View From Front

Above the view from the front. (Our house is built back-to-front with the front of the house facing the rear garden and the rear of the house facing the main road.)

You can see the huge balcony, access steps and the handrail.  The handrail is supposed to be wood as shown on the Thai Architect’s drawings and in keeping wit the rustic nature of the house.

A few weeks ago Kanyah phoned me up to ask if she could change the handrails from wood to stainless steel like the gate. Of course I said “No, we must keep the rustic look of the house. Stainless steel would be out of place”. I had already complained about the stainless steel gate.

And what do we have? Stainless steel handrails! I must admid, though that they do look noce. Wait until the next (or next after next) post when I show you some close-up photos.

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Showing Carport

Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Showing Carport

Above, just another photo of the car port.

Image of Imagine Retiring In This House In Pakchong, Thailand

Imagine Retiring In This House In Pakchong, Thailand

Above, a good shot showing the Bamboo mat ceiling to the balcony roof. Also you can appreciate the clean lines of the house – and the way the concrete structure and wooden walls contrast. Not sure if I like those white stripes above and below the windows though. They aren’t on the thai Architect’s house plans. I think Kanyah called them “Kiew” or something like that. “Kiew” in Thai means “Eyebrow”:-

Image of Thai Language Translate Eybrow

Image of Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Lush Foliage

Retirement House Pak Chong Thailand Lush Foliage

Above look at the lush green vegetation to the right of the photo. In the middle, the blue vertical line comprises the incoming water pipes.

What To Look Forward To In The Next Posts

  • Some Internal Shots and The Teak Wood Doors
  • The Beautiful Stainless Steel Handrails and Lovely Stairs
  • The Bathrrom and Shower Room
  • The Hidden Steel Gutters

What More Can They Get Wrong With This Thai House Build Project?

How They Covered Up The Ugly Electrical Wiring By Trashing The Concept For The Vaulted Ceiling

What are those idiots up to? They have a set of construction drawings produced my our Thai Architect in Bangkok which they are supposed to be following. But – yet again – they choose to ignore the drawings and do what they feel like. At the expense of the lovely high and open feel the house would have had if it had been contructed as designed and also at the expense of thousands of additional Baht for the wood they used which is not needed by the design.

How The Ceiling Should Look

If you are a regular here, you will know the picture below which is the design concept for the house ceiling (i.e. there isn’t one):-

Bamboo Wall Mat Between The Rafters Of Our Thai House

Concept For The Vaulted Ceiling

Above, the concept for the vaulted ceiling in our retirement house under construction in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

You can see what a lovely ‘airy’ feeling you will get as you walk into the room. It’s beautiful.

And They Have Ruined It

Look at the same picture below, where I have marked up what they have done with the ceiling:-

Image of Where They Put A Flat Bamboo Mat Ceiling

Where They Put A Flat Bamboo Mat Ceiling

All that lovely high level space thrown away. And the detail of the vaulted ceiling (like the above photo) was clearly shown on the Thai Architects house plans we commissioned.

Extracts From The Thai Architect’s House Plans Clearly Showing The Vaulted Ceiling With Bamboo Mat

Below is one of our Thai Architect’s house plans for the retirement house now being built in Pakchong (Pak Chong). This drawing is actually a cross section through the house and I have marked a rectangle in red colour that is shown in close-up in the next image.

Image of Thai Architectural Drawing - Check Out The Detail Indicated On The Next Image

Thai Architectural Drawing - Check Out The Detail Indicated On The Next Image

Below is the close-up taken from the construction drawing above and you can clearly see the text “4mm Thk. Plywood finish with bamboo mat” together with an arrow from the note to the ‘herring-bone’ cross-hatching that represents the bamboo mat in the vaulted ceiling.

This is a clear description of the requirement for the house to have a vaulted ceiling and not a flat ceiling as the builder has now installed.

Image of Thai Architectural Drawing Clearly Showing Bamboo Mat on 4 mm Plywood

Thai Architectural Drawing Clearly Showing Bamboo Mat on 4 mm Plywood

In case you are thinking that the above note is only in the English language and perhaps the builder can’t read English (which is true, but Kanyah can) I’ll refer you to a Thai language note on another construction drawing made as part of the set by our Thai Architect in Bangkok:-

Image of Thai Thai Language In Bamboo Mat Architectural Drawing

Thai Language In Bamboo Mat Architectural Drawing

In the image above (an extract from the Thai house plans made by our Thai architect), note the Thai language note circled in red colour and the arrow clearly pointing to the ‘herring-bone’ cross-hatching that represents the bamboo mat in the vaulted ceiling.

Below is  a close-up of the Thai language note:-

Image of Thai Language In Bamboo Mat Architectural Drawing

Thai Thai Language In Bamboo Mat Architectural Drawing

Above, I think this refers to the bamboo mat in the vaulted ceiling. I’ll get it translated and put the English language translation here.

Now For Some Photographs Of  How The Bamboo Mat Ceilings And Bamboo Mat Walls Were  Actually Installed On Site In Our Pakchong (Pak Chong) Retirement House

The first photo (below) is a photo of the bamboo mat flat ceiling I drew attention to in the marked-up photo above.

Image of Bamboo Mat Ceiling 08

Bamboo Mat Ceiling 08

Above, I must admit that the bamboo mat installation is very neat and clean. I like the wooden trim in the corner between the wall and ceiling. What a pity they didn’t follow the vaulted ceiling concept.

This Is How They Hid Away The Ugly Domestic Electrical Wiring

In the Post “Don’t Let Them Wire Your House In Thailand Like This I showed photographs of how the builder’s electricians had installed the domestic electrical wiring and electrical conduit in areas where it would be visible. I complained of this to Kanyah and after talking to the builder she gave me a list of reasons why “I was talking rubbish and the Thai builders know best” or words to that effect.

Well now I know why they weren’t concerned about the wiring being visible. Look at the photo above or below and behind that flat bamboo mat ceiling lies hidden the ugly electrical wiring.

Next is a photo showing the bamboo mat ceiling and bamboo mat walls.

Image of Bamboo Mat Ceiling and Walls

Bamboo Mat Ceiling and Walls

Above, this is a view inside the house in the Kitchen looking out onto the Balcony. In the corner the concrete column is exposed. This was supposed to have been painted before the bamboo mat was installed and failure to do this was one of the reasons why Kanyah sacked the previous builder!

Next picture shows the bamboo mat walls and the wooden floor.

Image of Bamboo Mat Ceiling Walls And Wooden Floor

Bamboo Mat Ceiling Walls And Wooden Floor

In the photo above you can see the bamboo mat walls and the wooden floor. At high level are the wooden joists to support the flat bamboo mat ceiling. Also visible is the unpainted concrete column in the corner of the room.

More detail on the wooden frame to support the bamboo mat ceiling in the photo below.

Image of Wooden Support Frame For Bamboo Mat Ceiling 01

Wooden Support Frame For Bamboo Mat Ceiling 01

In the photo above you can see the wooden frame they have installed to support the flat bamboo mat ceiling.

This was never intended, never in the design and never in my budget. I have had to pay the full cost of this wood on top of the cost of the original house just to get something I don’t want!

One thing to notice is the white concrete beam running left to right above the ceiling. With the vaulted ceiling this would have been visible. Perhaps that’s why Kanyah decided to go for the flat ceiling – to hide this beam.

I should add that the provision and position of this beam was an oversight by the original Thai Architect, in my view. (He would no doubt have a different view)

The beam is not shown on the Architect’s house plans, but is shown on the structural engineering drawings. Of course, I checked the Architectural drawings quite carefully, but paid less attention to the structural drawings expecting them to be in harmony with the Architect’s Drawings. Big mistake.

Don’t Expect The Thai Architect To Check The Work Of His Sub-Specialists!

By sub-specialists I mean the other engineering disciplines who contribute their expertise to the overall house design and these are mainly the structural engineer and the electrical and mechanical services engineer.

There are several instances where our Thai Architect did not show or check the detail of the structural engineers drawings and these were not spotted either by myself or by the previous builder. Also, there were items in the electrical and plumbing drawings that were incorrect and had to be put right by the builder.

I’ll not go into the detail here – this page is about the bamboo mat ceiling and walls – but maybe make a feature page of all the design errors separately.

Next, a view looking towards the bathroom doors from the Dining Area.

Image of Red Brick Bathroom Walls 02

Red Brick Bathroom Walls 02

In the above photograph above the two white rectangles are the door frames to the two bathrooms.

In the foreground where the worker is standing, this is the Dining Area. Again, you can see the flat bamboo mat ceiling instead of the vaulted ceiling.

Next, a  close-up of the bathrooms.

Image of Red Brick Bathroom Walls 01

Red Brick Bathroom Walls 01

In the above photo, you can see my shower room where the worker is standing and Kanyah’s bathroom to the right.

Notice the grey coloured vertical strip to the right of the picture in the red brickwork and then look at the photo below.

Image of Hidden Electrical Wiring Near The Red Brick Bathroom Walls

Hidden Electrical Wiring Near The Red Brick Bathroom Walls

Above, the grey coloured strip is where they have cut into the red brick wall of the bathroom to bury the yellow conduit for the electrical wiring.

At the top you can see the yellow conduit rising past the concrete beam. As it happens, I had agreed with the previous builder that this half of the house could have flat ceilings (as a cost saving measure – but obviously now its costing me more than the vaulted ceiling if they are putting in the flat bamboo mat ceiling requiring the wooden support frame).

How The Flat Ceilings Were Supposed To Save Me Money

The vaulted ceiling concept was originally applied to every room in the retirement house except for the bathrooms and the small lobby outside of the bathrooms. These were to be flat ceilings made from gypsum board suspended on steel wires.

The original builder’s quotation was above our budget and so before we signed the construction contract with him we went through a ‘Value engineering’ (VE) exercise to get the cost down. (VE – AKA Cost Cutting)

The original builder offered a considerable cost saving if the bedrooms could also be flat ceilings made from gypsum board suspended on steel wires.

I don’t think that Kanyah was up to speed with this, although the previous builder was supposed to mark up the original drawings to show all changes agreed as part of the VE exercise.

So we might have flat bamboo mat ceilings in the bedrooms with the expensive wooden support rafters that you have seen in the photos above.

By the way, strange that Kanyah has not sent me any photos of the bedroom areas. Wonder what she’s up to in there….

In The Next Post We Move To Photos Of The Outside Of The House

I have today received a whole stack of photographs of the external of the house, and oh boy has it moved on. Now you really can see the end in sight.

The photos include:-

  • Massive beautiful (and expensive) Teak double doors to the ground floor workshop (another change I wasn’t asked about)
  • Bamboo mat applied to the underside of the balcony roof. (Despite me telling Kanyah I didn’t agree to the builders price she did it anyway)
  • External views showing the finished wood walls – and how nice it looks.
  • The steps up to the balcony (including a departure they made  from my very detailed design that they should not have made)

And of course you get my usual complementary (not complimentary) commentary!

Don’t Miss it.

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.

Finding Builders in Thailand To Build Our Retirement House In Pakchong

Just A Quick Update On Our Thai House-Build Project. 5 October, 2010

Now Kanyah is back at Pakchong with the Thai House Plans (construction issue) and is looking again for builders to build our retirement house. But just as it was difficult to find a builder last year when we only had the house drawings that I made (not those produced by our Thai Architect which we have now), so this time it is not so easy also.

You maybe be wondering why we did not ask Kensington to build our home. I did ask in the beginning but unfortunately the location of our land is too far out for them to build. It is a shame as it is so difficult to find good reliable builders that do a professional job.

Kensington can build homes of all sizes, shapes and styles in many locations but Thailand is a big country and they cannot build everywhere.

It is always best to ask them and let them know your location as they can build in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok, Hua Hin, Ko Samui and many other areas. A lot depends on the project and the location.

However even if they cannot build your home I am sure one of their excellent architects can design it.

Anyway, Kanyah phoned me yesterday (I am still in the U.K., working) and gave me the following update.

Building Permit Application in Thailand

Kanyah has visited the Or Bor Tor office, which she says is close to our plot of building land in Pakchong and they have told here what documents are required to apply for the building permit. There are some documents she does not have at the moment and these are:-

A) The Signed Construction Drawings And Calculations

Although the construction drawings are finished and Kanyah has printed off a few sets we don’t have the sets signed off by the Thai Architect and the engineer together with the calculations. I have asked the Architect when she can receive them and he replied that since I had just issued some comments on the constrution drawings he would wait until any necessary changes had been made to the drawings and then issue the signed set. That may take a week or so.

B) The Thai House Registration Papers

Every Thai person should be registered at a house in Thailand and have their name entered on the house registration papers. The Thai house registration papers record the births, deaths, marriages and names of all people who are in residence at that address.

Kanyah’s name is registered at a friend’s house in Bangkok and she has asked her friend to send a copy to her in Pakchong. that should take a few days.

Once all these documents are received Kanyah will apply at the or Bor tor office for the Thai house Building Permit.

Finding Builders To Build Our Retirement House

As of today, Kanyah has given sets of the construction drawings to two builders in Pakchong. She is looking for more builders.

Small Builders And Labour Only Construction Contracts In Thailand

It seems, she says, that the local builders in Pakchong do not have the capital to make all the purchases of the materials when they build a house. (i.e. they can’t afford to buy the materials) Instead the Client (in this case us, or more accurately Kanyah) would have to purchase all materials.

This means that the build would be via a labour only contract. This has advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantages Of A Labour Only Construction Contract In Thailand

1. Lowest Material Costs

Assuming for a moment that the Client is a Thai national, like Kanyah, then by purchasing direct the Client can avoid mark-ups on prices put on by a builder if he does the procurement. Also Kanyah is good at negotiating when shopping and always manages to get a discount of some sort. So if we go the labour only route then we can be sure that we get the lowest materials costs.

2. Quality Control

By making the purchases directly, Kanyah is able to ensure that she gets the quality of materials that she wants. Unless every item in the build is specified beforehand a builder making the purchases would often be liable to locate the cheapest materials available, not necessarily of the right quality.

The Disadvantages Of A Labour Only Construction Contract In Thailand

1. No Idea Of Final Cost

If the builder is buying the materials he will include tha total cost when he submits his tender. We will know the final cost of the project before we start building.

If the cost is outside our budget we would be able make changes to the building and/or the quality of the finishes to reduce the cost.

If we are purchasing the materials ourselves, unless we spend weeks getting quotations for everything before we start, we will not know the final build cost until the house in fully constructed.

2. No Experience Of Procurement For Construction Material

Although Kanyah does know what concrete and re-bar is she does not have a detailed knowledge of building materials and the construction process both of which are needed by anyone undertaking the procurement of all the materials themselves.

3. Time, Effort And Management Systems

If Kanyah is procuring all the materials, she will have to spend all the time and effort necessary to do so. On a live construction project with a fixed construction programme this can be a stressful job, especially for a novice.

Also, strict management systems are needed to record all the purchase transaction, chase and check deliveries and control the costs. As a minimum computers skills and ability to use spreadsheets and understand Bills of Quantity. All this extra work on top of controlling the quality of the works is just too much extra effort for Kanyah and she does not have the necessary computer skills.

4. Responsibility For the Programme (Construction Schedule)

The purchase of the materials must be made in a timely fashion if the project is not put on hold awaiting for materials to arrive. If the project is halted awaiting material deliveries, then there will be extra costs of paying the builder for standing costs. By this I mean that the labour is not working but still has to be paid.

Turn-Key Building Contract

Having written all the above pros and cons of a labour only building contract it becomes clear to me that unless I go to Thailand to oversee the build then a labour only contract is nor suitable for us.

I need to explain all the above to Kanyah and then she needs to find a builder capable of making the materials purchases. In other words we need a turn-key building contract where all e do is pay the builder in stages for the completed work.

Bills Of Quantity (BOQ)

If you don’t know what a BOQ is then let me explain.

A Bills Of Quantity (BOQ) document is a list of all the different types of materials and components used in the construction of the building. Each item in the list is called a Line Item.

There are columns where for each Line Item in the BOQ the following information is entered:-

The Quantity. This may be m3 of concrete, square metres of roof tiles, or number of windows.

The Rate. This would be the cost that the builder would charge per unit of the materials. For example, X Baht/m3 for concrete Y Baht/m2 for roof tiles and Baht per window. It would include the cost of supplying and installing the item. (but see below)

The cost of each line item is then calculated by multiplying the rate by the quantity. The sum of all the costs gives the final cost of the project.

Sometimes the cost of installing or fixing the materials is shown separately from the supply only cost of the materials.

In this case there would be additional columns for labour cost per unit, total labour cost and final labour cost for each line item.

Obtaining A Bill Of Quantities (BOQ)

I want to get a BOQ made for our Pakchong house that Kanyah can give to the builders preparing quotations for us and I am in discussion with the Kensington Company to have that done. The person making the BOQs is called a Quantity Surveyor. (QS)

If I have a BOQ with quantities measured by the QS from the construction drawings and I issue to the builder without the quantities I can use my version to check what the builder is offering when he submits his completed BOQ.

It will take a couple of weeks to get the BOQ made by Kensington’s QS in Bangkok, so that will delay the obtaining of quotations from builders for a bit. Also I have to explain all this to Kanyah.

That’s all for this update, see you in the next post where hopefully I can report on some real progress on finding builders in Thailand.

We Are Moving Closer to Our Dream Of Retiring In Thailand

The last week has been really busy and we have moved forward a couple of steps towards our dream of finally retiring in our dream house in Thailand.

We have received a set of 19 almost complete drawings from our Thai architect to review and Kanyah has booked her air ticket to visit Thailand on 23 September 2010.

Thai Architect’s House Plans Received For Review

As you know from the Post “A Thai Architect In Bangkok Is Making Our Retirement House Plans“, we have employed an archtiectural company from Bangkok to design our retirement house in Pakchong, Thailand. I have even posted images of some of the preliminary drawings they have produced for us on the Post “House Plans For Our Retirement House Produced By A Thai Architect“.

Now, we have received 19 construction drawings that are 90% complete for our review. I estimate there are about another five or six drawings to make, bringing us to a total of around 25 drawings. That is a LOT of drawings. I’ll be uploading them to a web page when I have time. If you want me to let you know when they are ready to view online please join the Announcement List and I’ll send you an email when they are uploaded.

The architect has said that he expects these to be complete before the end of the month. So, at the end of September 2010 we will have a set of drawings that we can use to:-

  • Submit to the Or Bor Tor Office to get the Building Permit.
  • Issue to Thai builders to get quotations to build our retirement house in Pakchong, Thailand.
  • Form as part on a contract with our selected builder to construct the house.
  • Build the house from.

All that’s very exciting but nothing in Thailand will happen while we are here in U.K. That’s why my Thai wife, Kanyah, is going to Thailand in a weeks time.

Kanyah Is Going To Thailand to Build The House

Kanyah has her air ticket booked for the evening flight from London Heathrow to Bangkok on Thursday 23 September 2010.

In Thailand she will have a lot to do to get the house-build started. Our original target was to have the house plans finished by the end of August, start building in September and have the house finished in time for me to stay in on my Christmas visit. That has all been put back now, not only because the house plans aren’t finished yet, but also because we are beging to realise the difficulties we will be facing.

The difficulties in building our retirement house in Thailand mostly lie in Kanyah’s lack of knowledge about construction and project management. Therefore she will need my help to:-

  • Review the builders’ quotations
  • Explain to the builder any changes we want to make from the Tender drawings
  • Negociate and agree the details of the contract with the builder
  • Obtain and finalise a contract with the builder

So, because she has so much to do before we even get to that stage, we have agreed that the construction will not start until my planned visit to Thailand on 19th December 2010.

Until then she has plenty to do including:-

  • Collecting our new Toyota Pickup from her daughter’s house in Bangkok and driving to Pakchong.
  • Finding some reasonable accommodation in Pakchong. Most likely to be “The Mansion”.
  • Receive the hard copy version of the final Construction drawings from the architect.
  • Decide on all the finishes and fitting fopr the house. things like floor and wall tile patterns and colors, wood floor type and color, bathroom fittings etc.
  • Submit the Construction Drawings to the Or Bor Tor Office and receive the Building Permit.
  • Arrange temporary electrical and water supplies for the construction.
  • Get the land cleared of vegitation ready for construction to commence.
  • Make multiple copies of the Construction Drawings.
  • Locate some Thai building companies and give them a pack of Construction Drawings so that they can prepare a price to build the house.
  • Receive the prices to build the house from the builders.
  • Learn to use email so that we can exchange information over the Internet. Yes, she has no idea how to use a computer and has never sent an email in her life.

In addition she has to get a Thai driving license and renew her Thai passport.

Quite a lot of things for her to do, before I arrrive in December to help her get the house build under way.

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