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  1. #1
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    Baanpong House Build

    Located about 25kms out of Chiang Mai, Baanpong is a very small village at the foot of some lovely forested hills, with 200 degrees of 'mountain' views, at the end of a long valley at the head of which is a reservoir named Huay Lan.

    There are quite a few visitors to this small place, owing to an easy drive SE from the city, including it seems quite a few fellow farang, who have (along with their other-halves) decided to settle in this valley.. I am the latest addition to this motley crew.

    So, back in April I acquired Just over 2 rai of ex-rice land, with red Chanote title, with a view to creating a large garden with a small(ish) house in it. The land has no power or water in and only 'paper' road access via a dirt track that stops short of the actual plot of land, what could possibly go wrong?!



    Last edited by jonnyenglish; 03-10-2016 at 10:06 PM.

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    Another photo of the land, which is shaped like an elongated capital letter 'D', the red arrows are roughly where the edges of the plot lies, POV is from one corner where one of the survey markers and a rather large cobra was found.



  3. #3
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    Good stuff Jonny, keep it coming.

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    Thailand Expat cyrille's Avatar
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    Cracking view.

  5. #5
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    Obviously, as it's all rice fields here, I have had to raise the land, but first things first, getting access to the plot sorted out was the primary job at hand... get the village head and land office honcho over with all and sundry, lots of pointing and flapping of paper.


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    Obviously, as all this sort of stuff is boring, I didn't mention aforesaid snake to these fellas (apart from the complexities of pronouncing 'ngoo'), in the hope that it's re-appearance would form some sort of entertainment...
    Last edited by jonnyenglish; 03-10-2016 at 10:08 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyenglish
    Obviously, as all this sort of stuff is boring
    Not at all, mate. Keep it going.

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat cyrille's Avatar
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    We looked at some 'ex-rice field' land a couple of months ago.

    A fact that should have been obvious to me was brought home forcefully: no tree cover = farkin hot.

    And no, your thread isn't boring. These threads are interesting partly because of the potential...not necessarily just what you are posting now.

    If you see what I mean.

  9. #9
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    I like home with mountain view...How long will use for building you house?

  10. #10
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    The fact that all these semi-official dudes seemed to know about my plans already, plus they had all the relevant maps and whatnot, and all were in agreement as to the proposed location and APPROVED LEGALITY of the access road was a great relief to say the least!

    It turned out that most of the discussion was regarding the fact that the access road had to cut across an existing klong that is used to irrigate the nearby rice paddies, so the deal was I have had to put in concrete culverts under the road, with access via concrete manholes and reinstate the klong. Hey, no problem so long as I'm not doing the digging!

    I have heard horrible stories about people buying land that had 'access' on paper, only to find out that this was private land and the owner either wouldn't allow a road to be put in or were looking to purchase a gin palace to be moored in Phuket for the permission

    So, with one potentially huge cock-up avoided, next day, in with the machines (Moo Moo inspecting the access to culverts...) :


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    We looked at some 'ex-rice field' land a couple of months ago.

    A fact that should have been obvious to me was brought home forcefully: no tree cover = farkin hot.

    And no, your thread isn't boring. These threads are interesting partly because of the potential...not necessarily just what you are posting now.

    If you see what I mean.
    I do indeed see your point, other friends of mine have bought land that on the face of it looked more shady as they have Mango, Lam Yai and Longan trees on already, however, they face different issues: One then has to cut trees down to build, plus those trees aren't really going to help shade your house much, they aren't tall enough. Plus fruit trees have lots of ants and other insects and houses built near them get infested constantly.

    I'll use flat and boring as a blank canvas, it was the view from this plot that attracted me (although I am aware that someone could come along and put a high-rise hotel on the plot next door).

    I have a very good friend who built his own house in this village (visiting him was the reason why I found this location) and his garden already looks mature after only 4 years.. big shady trees all over.

    Anyhow, I have a cunning plan with regards to flat and hot no-shade rice land... stay tuned
    Last edited by jonnyenglish; 03-10-2016 at 10:09 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyenglish
    The fact that all these semi-official dudes seemed to know about my plans already, plus they had all the relevant maps and whatnot, and all were in agreement as to the proposed location and APPROVED LEGALITY of the access road was a great relief to say the least!
    Absolutely crucial to keep the powers that be on side. We had some minor issues when we did our place but getting the head honchos in and chatting with them at the beginning meant we never had a problem thereafter. They seemed pleased to be involved and respected the fact that we consulted with them.
    Hey JJ,

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    OK, so now this was in that crazy hot season we had earlier in the year, it was very difficult to imagine enough water to create a puddle, let alone planning landscaping with flood management, but getting the land raised by 80cms to a metre is what was needed on ex-rice paddy land that is next to other rice paddy.

    Time to bring in the boss (cue action shot of er-indoors):



    Edit: Note that the houses in the background along the main village road are not particularly elevated, apparently this area isn't prone to floods, but still, it's a garden I'm after not a frog-infested swamp.

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    Here's a glorious action shot of a truck dumping the first of the loads of soil to raise the land.. the dust on the access track was so fine and deep during this hauling process that it felt wet and spilled over into your shoes... lots of Chang was consumed during this time to counter the effects of parching.



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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyenglish View Post
    I didn't mention aforesaid snake...
    That's a great view, but the 2nd thing that came to mind when I saw your pic was snakes. I'd be shitting myself 24/7 wondering what was likely to crawl into the house, given the location.

  16. #16
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    And finally, a shot of what 748 X 3m2 truck loads of levelled soil looks like...



    At this point I was beginning to wonder if I should just scrap the house idea and keep camels as a petting zoo attraction instead.

  17. #17
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Good luck jonny. Keep us posted. You have a good start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hallelujah View Post

    That's a great view, but the 2nd thing that came to mind when I saw your pic was snakes. I'd be shitting myself 24/7 wondering what was likely to crawl into the house, given the location.
    The cobras slithered off sharpish once all the trampling of feet and moving of machinery started... have seen a banded krait up the road near to a header pond (part of the irrigation system), these are docile by day, but another story completely by night. (google the name and read at your peril!)

    Have no fear, I have a cunning plan regarding snakey fellas and houses, plus having a couple of dogs in your garden (one of which should be a Jack Russell Terrier) will also deter most things that slither.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyenglish
    one of which should be a Jack Russell Terrie
    I'd get two. They work well together. We had 3 and the snake problem was resolved.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyenglish View Post

    The cobras slithered off sharpish once all the trampling of feet and moving of machinery started...
    Years ago I had a house in Aranyaprathet with endless rice paddies to the rear of the house. Cobra spottings (and they've got some HUGE ones down there) were a daily event. They do love those paddies.

    Nice thread - look forward to following along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicethaiza View Post
    I like home with mountain view...How long will use for building you house?
    It's hard to say...

    From buying the land and getting it prepared, so far it's taken 6 months, but this includes delays through waiting on local government offices and other things like broken down machinery, missing-in-action drivers with hangovers.

    I estimate and additional 4-6 months as a build time for the main house. This will not be constantly under construction as workers take holidays, plus there will be unspecified down-time owing to delays in deliveries, mistakes, and the usual unforeseen bits.

  22. #22
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    I'm not to fussed about snakes, seen lots of them all over during my years of living in Thailand and I have yet to meet anyone who knows of or know of anyone who has actually been bitten by one, let alone killed.. Far more likely to come a cropper on the roads here than worrying about legless lizards IMO.

  23. #23
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    OK, so after a couple of weeks of pissing off some of the locals who were complaining about the hundreds of trucks driving through the village, (the ones who complained weren't the ones who had sold me their topsoil.. go figure!), finally the news of the disgruntledness filtered down to me... oops. Time to pay reparations in the form of a couple of parties, much moo yang and 'tiger dance' lao kao... a few chats here and there about what we were up to, how they could benefit, some sweets for the kids, smiles all around and problem solved.

    Besides, the trucks had pretty much stopped by then.. time to think of water again, this time pertinent to the arid conditions we were facing down on the land, so back to baanpong sahara.. this time construction of a watering hole:



    Note the level of the natural water table at the bottom of the hole.. this is in the driest part of the year during the hottest period on record for 60 years... still the water is there and not too far down. That said, with climate change and all that, one can only plan for worse. The cow in the background is looking on approvingly as it think we are building it a swimming pool.
    Last edited by jonnyenglish; 03-10-2016 at 10:13 PM.

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    And then it rained:



    The chap with the excavator had gone off on a bender somewhere with some cash I had given him, so we never got to finish the construction of the pond before it rained and it all started to slump and cave in.

    I looked awful and I consider this to be my first "almost disaster".

    When he did get back, he had to re-define the pond shape and structure, which is a bit of an experiment on my part, but I think will work just fine.

  25. #25
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    I think ponds/lakes are important for many reasons, including;

    Tradition. Ponds are common in gardens in Thailand, as you can keep fish in there to eat (and frogs, insects, eels, tadpoles, and a whole bunch of other stuff all on the menu). Water on your property is also seen as good luck. Additionally I like to embrace and re-interpret the positive aspects of Thai culture wherever possible, so having a pond is a must.

    Environment. Water is a cooling element in a garden, and although Chiang Mai has cool winters, as we have just experienced, the summers can be brutal. To sit in a sala next to a pond, sip on a beer.. ahhh

    Design. A pond or standing water feature is a focal point to a garden, all things radiate out from it and is a very good starting point for a house plan, this is why I keep saying that I am making a garden with a house in it.Many plants only grow in or very near water, having a water feature will allow me to create a lushly planted oasis that I can plonk a house next to.

    Functionality. If the water gets rationed (as it did in April), having a pond to fall back on as an alternative supply even if it's just to flush the loo or water the odd pot plant, it's better than now't!

    I have looked at all sorts of ponds and lakes here in Thailand, some lined, some not, some look like industrial holding tanks, others look like they belong on a crazy golf putting course.

    So here's my experimental pond design, I'm going for a controlled natural look:

    Last edited by jonnyenglish; 03-10-2016 at 10:15 PM.

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