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Thread: Roobarb's patch

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    Roobarb's patch

    Now, I have an admission to make at the outset.

    You see I have this dirty little secret that I've not been letting on to any of you about, and it's this:

    All the while (well, the six months) that I have been a member of TD and posting largely irrelevant drivel about the machinations of life in the subcontinent I have in fact been, somewhat accidentally it has to be said, constructing a house up in Isaan.

    When I say I have been constructing a house it's not actually me that's been doing it, and therefore here was the first issue: I've been holed up in Delhi earning the wherewithal to pay for the thing whist all this has been happening. With no idea as to whether I would get enough photos I was a bit wary of starting what could turn into a rather dull and wordy thread.

    Before anyone leaps on this, yes, it will still be dull and wordy, but it will have pictures so you can ignore the words if you want.

    Here's the second issue: I was honestly rather unsure how this was all going to pan out, and given some of the problems that folks have faced with building in Thailand in the past, despite their detailed research and planning beforehand, there was a good chance that with the little forethought I did on building our place, the whole thing would quite rapidly turn to, um, custard as it were (i.e. be a complete disaster).

    As we enter the final furlong of the build these two issues seem to have been resolved, which just then leaves me with a third, and it is this:

    As I look through the photographs that I have they are somewhat limited both in quality (many were taken with a phone and MMSed) and also content. Some glaring omissions that could upset the harder-core readers of the construction threads are:

    - Action shots of the construction crew eating their lunch, or sleeping it off afterwards.
    - Any form of in-depth study of the building site's health and safety measures.

    For this I would ask that you use your imagination. Suffice to say we did not try to influence the crew from what they would naturally do in any way whatsoever so, in this regard, your imagination won't have to wander too far from the well beaten path.

    Not having been on site to take photos is a little frustrating as the pictures I have show the work, but in an odd sort of way way don't really tell the tale. There are however many members have walked in these particular shoes before and produced some cracking reads, and no doubt more will follow afterwards. Having gained a lot of pleasure out of reading of the experiences of others, I feel it's only right to chip something back in as best I can.

    One thing to mention - I'll update this thread as and when time permits, but there will probably be some long gaps simply because, rather like the building works, I am too lazy to approach it in anything approaching a disciplined fashion.

    So, metaphorically hammering the first marker peg into the ground, here then is (or will eventually be) the tale of Roobarb's patch:

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    Where do we go from here? Umm, a bit of background perhaps.

    Over the years we've made regular sorties back to see the in-laws, and as our family has grown so various nieces and nephews have also appeared on the scene. The long and the short of it is that the in-laws family house has become a bit of a squeeze and as a result the amount of time that we spend with them is becoming shorter and shorter each year.

    Now, this may seem an ideal situation to some, but it is a shame as I enjoy the trips up there. In addition, a few weeks of Thai language immersion each year is good for the kids.

    The folks live somewhere between Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen, but closer to Chaiyaphum. Unlike much of Isaan it's up in the hills and so stays a few degrees cooler than on the plateau, and there is generally a breeze blowing.



    Forgive the slightly ratty pictures, I don't seem to be able to find any that were taken on a clear day



    All in all there's not a great deal to do up here, but as a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life then it takes some beating.


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    There are two reservoirs nearby. This one is just five minutes from the in-laws' house and has several restaurants near to the water's edge



    It's a great place to while away a couple of hours in the afternoon over a beer or two...



    ... ahem, or three or four beers heading into the evening


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    And so several years back we decided to look for some land to build a holiday house on.

    Quite sensibly I was told to keep well away for two main reasons. Firstly I do tend to get a bit over excited about things like buying land, and am liable to buy the first thing I see. The other reason was that negotiating a reasonable price for some land would be made considerably more difficult if there was a farang in view.

    With that in mind I was left at home. The only two requests I had were that the land overlooked some water, and was at least two rai to give me plenty of space to potter about in.

    Now, the in-laws had done a great job of asking around and there were five plots identified. The first four were not right - either the water they overlooked was not much more than a muddy pond:



    Or they looked over the reservoir but were too big - This piece of land had a great view but was 45 rai, and the owner knew it was worth a bit too.



    45 rai would take a lot of pottering and we really would be getting out of a 'holiday house' budget - or put another way, all we would ever be able to afford to put on the land would be a small tent.

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    And then...



    A couple of rai on the edge of the in-law's village. It's a sort of triangular shaped bit of land poking out into a lake



    Now the owner was a decent chap and went to great lengths to say that it does flood sometimes, but hell, I could see that from the top picture, it was just at the end of the rainy season. How much worse can it get? Nothing that a few truckloads of soil won't sort out.

    Perfect. From the pictures this was just what we're after. FIL was placed in his best negotiating wellies and dispatched that evening clutching six bottles of Chang to have a chat with the owner.

    The long and the short of it was that the deal was done by about the fourth bottle.

    The money changed hands a few days later. We now had somewhere to build a house whenever we decided to get around to it.

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    I rather hoped this thread would be about a Rooney style weave...

    Nonetheless, everyone loves a photothread, and everyone loves a building thread, so you're onto a winner. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettyboo View Post
    I rather hoped this thread would be about a Rooney style weave...

    Nonetheless, everyone loves a photothread, and everyone loves a building thread, so you're onto a winner. Good luck.
    Cheers Betty. Oddly enough thatching was a consideration. Ultimately we dismissed the idea as, not unlike the Rooney barnet, thatch seems to thin out and need replacing every few years...

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    Cheers, Roobarb...Sounds like a winner...

    Thought maybe a rhubarb garden with pie...heh...

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    A photo thread and building thread coupled with some witty descriptions. What's not to love ?

    Looking forward to following this one Roobarb !!

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    Looks like a nice bit of land there! Keep those pictures coming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BaitongBoy
    Thought maybe a rhubarb garden with pie...heh...
    Ha, yes, I'm wondering if I should have named the thread 'Roobarb's crumble' instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevefarang View Post
    A photo thread and building thread coupled with some witty descriptions. What's not to love ?

    Looking forward to following this one Roobarb !!
    Quote Originally Posted by Loombucket View Post
    Looks like a nice bit of land there! Keep those pictures coming.
    Thanks guys. Oddly enough both of your building threads were inspirations for me to try to knock this one together.

    Loombucket - 'the nice bit of land there' comment: Photos don't always tell the full tale. More on that shortly...

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    Having procured this wonderful meadow I was itching to hop on a plane and come and have a look. As often seems to be the case with this sort of thing though, our life elsewhere managed to get in the way of jaunts to Thailand and so it was nearly a year until we found our way back.

    I know it was nearly a year as when we returned it was the middle of the rainy season and it had been, apparently, an especially wet one.

    I think it's fair to say that the first trip to see the land did prove to be something of a disappointment. In fact, 'seeing' the land could be considered to have been an overstatement:



    It even had little waves developing on the water surface, this water was deeper than your average puddle.

    In fairness the seller had pointed out that flooding was a bit of an issue, but in my enthusiasm I'd rather assumed this referred to the small damp patch on the field in the photo I had seen and not what now appeared to be of more Altantis-like concern.

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    Happily though it transpired that all was not lost. Swept away with the excitement of buying the land I had not really been listening to what it actually was that we had bought, and it was only going to look at the place that things became clearer.

    The land is roughly triangular shaped with one surface of the triangle running east/west and the other two pointing southwards into the lake.

    It is split into two parts. The pictures that I had seen (and have posted above) were of about 10 rai of agricultural land that formed the southern section of the triangle. FIL had got this thrown in with the deal when we had bought the 5 rai of land along the northern edge of the triangle.

    The 5 rai of land had been raised and was about a metre or so above the water level. The photo below is taken facing roughly north towards the raised 5 rai (the bit behind the fence posts):



    The only slight flies in this particular ointment were that the 5 rai of land had been raised by digging out two huge fish ponds, one running along the south side and the other along the east side, and unfortunately these were the two sides of the land with the best views.

    Standing near the south west corner facing east: Fish pond 1



    Standing at the south west corner facing North East: Fish pond 2



    As an added issue, the central part of the land behind the ponds had not been raised, and as such had become a sort of bog:



    The land had been astonishingly cheap, and I was beginning to see why...

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    Now, having expected to find some gently agricultural parkland that was ready to build on, it was clear that we would actually need to do a lot of work to get it to a reasonable state.

    Wandering around I reckoned that we had three options:

    1) We do nothing with the land, the in-laws can farm it and we sell it on if someone offers us a silly price at some stage in the future

    2) We try to sell it on right away and buy a smaller, ready to build, plot somewhere else

    3) We bite the bullet and get the 5 rai filled and levelled.

    It was a near run thing, the weather was miserable which did nothing to sell me on the merits of the land, but we decided to go with option 3. If nothing else, should we sort it out then it would be easier to sell on at a later stage if we chose to do so.

    A local soil filling man came to have a look, and after a few beers a price was agreed.

    We left Thailand now a reasonably substantial chunk of money down and I was less than convinced that this was all going to work out happily.

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    Spool it on another year and we're back in Thailand.

    The land has been filled and the sun is out. What a transformation...

    Looking in from the gate at the north east corner:



    Fish pond 1 has now been transformed into a sort of Isaan take on a Parisian avenue:



    Fish pond 2 has also disappeared, the car being parked in what was the middle of it:



    There was still a bit of filling needed to raise the central bit:



    And the view to the south east was pretty good. Made it well worth filling the ponds.



    We were back on track - albeit we didn't actually have a track but nonetheless things were moving forwards.

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    ^Expensive to do?...

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    About Baht 300K I think. It was a few years back so the memory is a bit hazy on the exact numbers. Seemed quite a bit at the time but when I saw the results it was well worth it.

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    Looks pretty nice, for sure...

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    Roobarb,
    Why not keep a fish pond ?

    We dug a U-shaped fish pond on our second lot and have some fish in there. I think my wife was going to have some of her family grow and sell them. Hasn't exactly worked out that way. I want to raise that lot, as it's just a rice paddy, so it still tends to flood (so fish were able to get in & out). We haven't decided if we'll keep the fish pond as is, shorten it or just fill it back in. I do want to put my "man-cave" on that lot and adjust the layout for the chickens, ducks & geese so they aren't wading in water when it's rainy season.
    I like your broad Parisian style avenue, looks so chic !

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    Thanks, I was pretty pleased at how it had all turned out. More luck than judgement I have to say...

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevefarang
    Why not keep a fish pond ?
    I'm sure the next one will show up soon...

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevefarang View Post
    Roobarb,
    Why not keep a fish pond ?

    We dug a U-shaped fish pond on our second lot and have some fish in there. I think my wife was going to have some of her family grow and sell them. Hasn't exactly worked out that way. I want to raise that lot, as it's just a rice paddy, so it still tends to flood (so fish were able to get in & out). We haven't decided if we'll keep the fish pond as is, shorten it or just fill it back in. I do want to put my "man-cave" on that lot and adjust the layout for the chickens, ducks & geese so they aren't wading in water when it's rainy season.
    I like your broad Parisian style avenue, looks so chic !
    Yup, good question Steve.

    A hole in the ground is a useful thing (fish pond, swimming pool etc) and I did think about either keeping one of the ponds or partially filling them both

    The thing is that as we are not planning on living permanently here we will probably end up getting our fish from Big C rather than try to catch them in our own pond (assuming that the locals wouldn't have nicked them all beforehand).

    The other bit that worried me was that with small kids running around the steep-sided fish ponds would be a constant concern.

    The 'Man Cave' was also an important consideration. Whilst it's not yet on the approved plans as far as my wife is concerned, I know exactly where its going (up at the end behind the car in the picture above) which is on an area where one of the ponds were.

    The final piece in the decision was that not being there to advise what we wanted there would be a good chance that the wrong bits would be filled. All in all it was easier just to fill and level the whole lot.

    The (much) longer term plan is that we may dig a fish pond in the 10 rai, mainly as it would give us some free soil to fill the rest of it a bit so that it doesn't flood quite so easily. That's a while off though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loombucket
    Looks like a nice bit of land there....
    ..and even better now! Ok, so the ponds were a bit of an issue, but the avenue looks great and you can always plan a pond around the garden! So much depends on the view from the balcony anyway.

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    ^ Thanks Loombucket. Your right on building the house first, it's pretty much how things have panned out.

    When we filled the land we still were not too sure what we wanted to do with it. It's only having now started building the house that thoughts on what to do with the rest of the place are beginning to surface.

    Ultimately planning and creating the garden will become my sort of 'pottering around' project to keep me occupied over the coming years whenever I'm up there.

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