House building tips
With these tips, I would like to pass on my years of collected experience. In lots of areas it is unfortunately necessary to be vigilant and mistrusting about the working ways of the hand workers and to keep an eye on them. Their expertise can generally not be counted on, as hand workers in Thailand hardly have to take an exam or have their work tested in order to practice their job. Please consider the following tips to be suggestions.
Is the position of the land in a place where no disturbances are expected to take place, even in the future? Are there really no plans for the building of any work shops, industrial plants, agricultural factories or major roads in the surrounding area? Is the area of land safe from flooding if it rains heavily?
A slightly higher position than a street or drain is an advantage.
Building a house
If at all possible, and unlike in Europe, you should try not to face a terrace or living room to the south. In a warm and sunny country such as Thailand, you should definitely protect yourself from direct sun rays. Even a few trees which provide enough shade can greatly increase the level of living comfort.
In the tropics, the standard building bricks generally lead to the extreme heating
up of the walls during the day. The heat which is stored in the bricks is slowly released during the evening hours. This means that even in the evening, a comfortable temperature should not be expected. The required room temperature can be easily achieved with large air conditioning machines, however these are very uneconomical and unhealthy. It is better to insulate your building accordingly.
The simplest way to achieve these results is through choosing suitable building materials and by using extra insulation measures. The most effective way to insulate the walls is by using concrete blocks (Yutong, lever, etc.), which are now also available to buy in Thailand in building supplies stores http://www.qcon.co.th/profiles/company_pro-e.php. As an alternative, use of the standard double walls has
the disadvantage that vermin get into the gaps and set up residence. The ceiling in the loft can be effectively insulated with a 10 cm thick layer of fibre glass.
The first choice when installing windows and exterior doors in Thailand should be plastics or aluminium. Plastic (PVC) windows frames are however still very expensive in Thailand. It is recommended that you at least install a PVC window
frame in the bedroom, as these windows are installed with isolating glass and offer an excellent sound proofing as well as warmth isolation. This characteristic cannot be rated highly enough, especially in Thailand. You own night’s peace should be worth it alone. Wooden window frames have the disadvantage that they often expand and are very difficult to open and close.
Before plastering the walls, I would suggest that document the positions of all
cables. The easiest way to do this is with photos. If an installation defect needs to be eliminated at a later date, such photos are a valuable help. In order to assist in estimating the size, you should take photos with a measuring tape for a comparison.
The effectiveness of bars on the windows should not be overestimated as a security measure against break ins. Unfortunately the materials used and the
screws used do not usually pose such a difficult problem. The fixing screws should at least be welded onto the bars so that any thieves cannot simply unscrew the bars. Apart from the optical disadvantages of bars, they also hinder window cleaning and birds who sit on the bars leave a nasty mess on the windows, which is almost impossible to remove. An alarm system or a dog can be an alternative to bars.
In Thailand, you should reckon with a termite infestation at all times and in all areas. If you decide to exterminate the problem with poison, there is the serious disadvantage that you yourself are exposed to the poison. It is advisable to try and do without any wood materials as far as possible. Flooring strips and skirting boards can easily be replaced by ceramic tiles. Today the roofing beams are made from steel instead of wood and are therefore safe from termite attacks. Should
you becomes infested, there are various companies at your disposal to fight the problem. Lots of these companies apply the poison very liberally. You should definitely be very critical. With a termite infestation in the home, holes are drilled into the floor which are pumped with poison and then refilled. Such measures are surely not aesthetically pleasing in the home. However this is a very effective way of fighting termites.
Electrical installation [more]
If no connection to the public water supply is available, a private well is an alternative. Choosing the correct position for a well requires intuition and experience. Due to hygienic reasons the position of a well should obviously be as far as possible away from any toilet/waste dumps. The experiences of your
neighbours should be able to tell you if a simple well, which is made by digging a hole 10m deep and held in place with concrete rings, is sufficient. A normal industrial water pump is sufficient to pump water out of a well which is up to 12m deep. A valve is to be found at the vacuum end of the water pipe in the well. Before the first use, the water pipe must be filled with water using the pump because the pump can deliver water but not air.
In addition, there is the possibility of digging a well up to 80m deep. These types of wells are drilled with a drilling machine similar to those used for digging for oil but a smaller version. The well is then drilled or rammed. The price is worked out according the depth drilled. Neighbours of mine introduced this type of well for around 100 000 Baht (complete price). A pump is pushed down into the well pipe. The pumps in deep wells are therefore at the bottom end of the drilled hole.
If water is available from the town’s water supply and you do not therefore require a well, it makes sense to use a water tank. The water suppliers are unfortunately not very reliable. With a water tank, you can bridge a few hours or even one full day if there is no supply available. In an emergency, you can order some water for delivery by a tank lorry.
House water pump
House water pumps are simple and robust and provide a service for many years without any problems. The performance of these pumps is measured in litre/minute. You should choose the size required for your own needs. A pump with 30 litres per minute would therefore be able to fill a bucket of water within one minute at three different taps. This should be enough for a normal household. In practice, these measurements are usually not achieved as the water connection
has not been measured while taking water from three taps at the same time. It would be correct to run the cable past the bathroom. Kitchen etc. according the wire cross-section given on the pump. Then only the outlets would be tapered in the cross-section. In this way, the cable leading to the pump should have the largest possible cross-section to the tank in order to allow the best possible performance.
Drainpipes and water installations are generally made from PVC in Thailand. The dealers sell these pipes (blue) in all possible profiles and in two strengths of plastic. You should try to use the stronger plastic wherever possible, as they are much more robust against the elements.
The warm water connections in Thailand are generally made from hot zinc galvanised pipes. The quality of the zinc process is usually terrible. This leads to rusting of the pipes after a few years use.
Unfortunately the thought of using an alternative, i.e. the copper pipes which are used for water pipes in Europe, seems to be very impractical. In order to use of copper pipes, the
PH value of the water must be more than 7,4. If this is achievable with the drinking water here, remains to be a large question mark.
I measured the temperature of water passing through a water heater (6 kw) and the highest temperature measured was 55°C. I assume that this temperature does not have a damaging effect on PVC water pipes and therefore used them for installing the warm water pipes in my house. Only time will tell if this option is
suitable in the long term. I therefore make this suggestion with reservation and do not accept any responsibility.
Wall fixing sections (the fittings) onto which the pipes are screwed, are available with brass threads. At first sight, these fittings seemed to be a higher quality version. In practice, these brass threads they have loosened themselves from the PVC over time and are therefore no longer water tight. The simple plastic fittings
are probably a better choice.
Nowadays, prefabricated special plastic containers with several chambers and an overflow serve as a water closet pit. Fats and larger amounts of cleaning agents should not be poured into the toilet.
The gutters for rainwater can become a race track for rats if they are connected to
the sewers. It is really possible for these animals to run with great speed up and down a vertical pipe. Simple gutter protectors (like small sieves) set inside the guttering can stop this problem. This does, however, mean that leaves can block and gutters and must be regularly cleared. The drainpipes should have a diameter of at least 100 mm. Rainwater does not run through the drainpipe like through normal pipes, but down the sides of the pipe. In extreme rainfall, which can be
normal at some times of the year, the drainpipes are quickly full and have reached their limit. The plumbers are able to offer relatively inexpensive pipes made from stainless steel. In the long-term this is a long lasting option which is superior to the zinc rain gutters. If you do choose zinc rain gutters, you should make sure that they are not made from zinc plated sheet iron as this rusts relatively quickly.
The gas bottles in Thailand are filled with an high value butane gas, which has a very high flammability level. If you bring a gas cooker with you from Europe you will probably have to change the nozzles. You will recognise this from the colour of the flame. A cleanly burning gas flame should always be blue. If the flame happens to be a reddish colour, the wrong nozzles are built into your gas cooker. The cookers from Europe usually have nozzles built in for the different gas types.
Please consider, when purchasing an oven, that gas ovens are more difficult to control and do not have an optimal upper heating level. You will need a certain level of experience to be able to bake a cake recipe with a gas oven. Electric ovens are certainly easier to handle with reference to the above.
You can refill your gas bottles at garages/petrol stations with gas pumps. This is a
lot less expensive than exchanging the gas bottles, which are rarely full to the top. The gas stations charges for the exact amount which is filled into the bottle.
The ideal storage place for gas bottles should be protected from sun and rain. A storage place within the home can lead to an explosion. Outside of the home, you will probably need to build a little stand for the bottle. In addition it can be very
tiresome having to run in and out to open and shut the gas bottle valve. Personally I have chosen to house my gas bottle in a kitchen cupboard. An electronic gas detector gives me the safety that no gas leaks out unnoticed.
Air conditioning units
In order to save energy, the external units (compressor) of the air conditioning units should always be mounted in the shade and on the north side of the house
wherever possible. Air conditioning units with inverter technology are now on offer. These units are more expensive but more economical and quieter than the common technology. The inverter technology controls the compressor progressively according to the necessary cooling power. Once the required room temperature has been achieved, the compressor only requires low power levels to maintain the temperature. The noise made when the compressor continually starts up is therefore eliminated.
Before you paint a wall, you should use a so-called primer to prime the surface. This primer should be produced by the same supplier as the paint you intend to use. If you choose to ignore this, it can lead to mishaps involving a chemical reaction between primer and paint because the ingredients are not suited to each other. If you follow the instructions and apply the primer and the paint well, the
result can last for years without the paint flaking off. In the world of paints, the cheapest are always the most expensive at the end of the day. They usually have a lesser covering quality and must therefore be applied in layers in order to cover the areas evenly. The life span of a cheaper product also does not usually match up to the better quality paints.
By using fibre glass wall papers you can permanently cover up any small cracks in the plaster. Fibre glass wallpapers are very hard to rip and withstand small cracks permanently.
Tilers often preferred to lay tiles in a cement bed. The application of tiles with a serrated trowel and tiling adhesive is less common. With small mosaic tiles, this often leads to unattractive ripples. The important thing is that the full surface
areas of the tiles are always fully laid and there are no areas without contact to the surface. Otherwise, there is the danger is that a tile can break when pressure is applied to one corner. These types of tiles are often laid fairly close to each other so that hardly any grout is required. You should avoid using the standard plastic edge mouldings because they age very quickly and look unattractive after a few years. In outside areas they are quickly destroyed by the UV rays from the
When laying floor tiles in wet rooms or outside of the house, you should pay attention to how slippery the tiles can become when moist. The floor surface can quickly become dangerously slippery depending upon the glazing of the tile. There is also the option of using non-glazed tiling in outside areas. These are completely slip-proof even when moist but provide a very rustic-style look. They therefore cannot be used everywhere.
As you have to reckon with a poisonous snake in your garden in Thailand, you should not allow your garden to become a jungle. You should always be able to see through the bushes and plants. For this same reason, garden paths offer a certain level of security. Snakes do not hunt people and they are not lying in wait. A snake bite should therefore really be seen as an accident. On paths and public greens you should always keep an eye out for snakes. This makes an accident of
this type a lot less likely.
A dog does not really seem to fit into this section, however the dog does have an effective use in connection to the above. A dog lets you know about persons in the surrounding area and is useful for securing your property. He will also sense any snakes in the area which you haven’t noticed and will warn you. A peaceful
companion is therefore suitable for this type of protection. A dog will warn you about trespassers on your property and make you aware of any snakes on the property. However, a dog is also a higher life form and should therefore not be seen as just a replacement alarm system. Just like all higher life forms, he requires social engagement. However, any affection you give is given back in return.