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  1. #1
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    Deck Ape's Big Gringo House -- 10 years later

    Hi Gents. I built my house roughly 10 years ago. I thought it would be useful to look at what worked, what didn't etc. I will be taking a few pictures for demonstration. It was a big, expensive, time consuming project that I would do again in a heartbeat.

    The original build thread -- http://teakdoor.com/building-in-thai...ngo-house.html (Deck Ape's Big Gringo House)

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    The best design decisions I made--

    20CM Q-Con AAC blocks--This is a product I really believe in. In the 3 rooms that have air con, the performance is amazing. We can turn on the air-con and in a matter of minutes the room is cool...also the air-con units seem to stay on top of it very easily. Generally the house is very cool. Q-Con is a must!

    3.5M ceilings and 5M post spacing--The high ceilings and 5X5 minimum room size really give the house an airy feel. Combined with the open floor plan in the common space it is pretty awesome.

    Open floor plan-- I was never a big believer in cross breeze, but there is another thing happening with an open floor plan and adequate ceiling/roof venting. There doesn't really need to be a breeze for cooler air to be constantly entering the house.

    Single level house + sensible raise in grade-- A personal preference, but I don't like stairs. The front stairs to the house were kept to a minimum (maybe 40cm total?) and no second story.

    Front and back screened porches-- Did not plan on this feature, but it was easy to do after construction was completed. Our front and back porches weren't being used much because of the mosquitos and dogs...now that they are screened in they are a beautiful living space.

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    What went right during construction-- I drew a basic floor plan on a sheet of paper. Had blueprints drawn up (maybe 5,000 baht.) Since this house was built with cash and I am not wealthy it had to be built in stages stretching out over about 2 years. The guy who built our 200M perimeter wall was dependable and skilled, so we contracted with him to do the labor on a per job basis for the whole house. I bought all building materials, personally going to builder's supply store. The roof tiles were installed by a C-Pac factory crew.

    I'm very happy with how this method worked. I got exactly the house I wanted, with the materials I wanted. I did have problems with the speed of construction in the middle of the build, but it got ironed out. We still have a great relationship with the builder Na Nai, and in the last 10 years he has been our go to guy for other builds (extra garage, kids playhouse etc.)

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    One more note about Na Nai, our builder. He is a rough looking Thai country builder. During our build he did not have a pickup truck, only a Tuk-Tuk. I have never seen him wear a shirt with a collar.

    At the same time he is an extremely skilled builder who owns every tool there is. Also he's very honest and Jai Yen. I think the involvement of a local skilled builder was the single most important factor in this project.

    At no time was did we have a contract for his labor...for the various phases he would write his estimate on the side of an empty cement bag. This arrangement worked perfectly.

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    Deck Ape, Good follow up and I planned on doing one at 3, 5 and maybe 10 figuring like you that it might be beneficial for others albeit the construction by foreigners seems to be all but gone or people are not posting.

    Some Comments to your mentions;

    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    20CM Q-Con AAC blocks--This is a product I really believe in. In the 3 rooms that have air con, the performance is amazing. We can turn on the air-con and in a matter of minutes the room is cool...also the air-con units seem to stay on top of it very easily. Generally the house is very cool. Q-Con is a must!
    I was, and still am, on the fence about the Q con blocks being that much better. Our house is red brick with air gap sections strategically through out and I seldom ever use my AC's. Not saying by any means they aren't beneficial but I think house design, roof design, floor plan, location and tree shade around the house is probably the largest driving factor on whether to use or not. BTW, how big is your house?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    Single level house + sensible raise in grade-- A personal preference, but I don't like stairs. The front stairs to the house were kept to a minimum (maybe 40cm total?) and no second story.
    Personal preference I completely understand. We having the living space stilted and its a single floor. However underneath is all open air and is incredibly cool virtually all the time. We like this feature as it keeps us outside and social versus having to stay in house to keep cool in the house. Plus it keeps people from entering our house as we have a full bath downstairs. We always party and socialize underneath where it is so convenient and cool. Again though I understand personal preference, we have no issues with stairs.


    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    Front and back screened porches-- Did not plan on this feature, but it was easy to do after construction was completed. Our front and back porches weren't being used much because of the mosquitos and dogs...now that they are screened in they are a beautiful living space.
    The living space upstairs is all screen as is the upstairs Sala area. We have sliding screened doors behind our wood double doors and I insisted on screens through out to allow windows to remain open. We do not having any burning around us so its quite nice and we always have a breeze around here.

    in the spirit of helping others in addition to your comments I will add these;

    I think its paramount one finds a reputable contractor and there are very specific renderings of everything for the build, plumbing, electrical, door location etc.

    I recommend that one plots the the sun rise and set and consider that before bedrooms are finalized. I had our MB on the sun rise side versus the sunset. Our room is always incredibly cool as the afternoon sun is longer and far hotter. Also, I highly encourage folks considering to build to plan on large shade trees around the property. Honestly one can have very large trees moved in for minimal cost and they will shield the house from sun all day. We have trees growing around the entire house and they offer shade on all 3 room walls. The front remains open but never sees the sun much.

    Only thing I would have done different is on the tile under the house. I would not have used such a light color and so rough. Its gets dirty very fast, we may change this all out soon.

    Western kitchen or not to western kitchen. We built a western style kitchen area in the house that we seldom ever use. Wife bakes, but all cooking is in the downstairs outside kitchen area which is far more convenient especially with guests and parties.

    We are at the near 4 year mark and house has been stellar.

    Again though I still stand that location is everything when considering a build. We are up North.

  6. #6
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    Deck Ape, Any pictures of the house now as it is now? Be nice to see

    Cheers

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    Few Pics

    I just took a few pics of the place to give an idea on house setting, trees etc.



    This side is entry to house upstairs and Master Bedroom size. Has not had any sun on the walls or underneath since about 10am this morning. Outside temp right now is 34c, room temp no AC, no Fan is 27. windows are open and we have a slight breeze.



    Other side of house where sun is setting. That side is warmer clearly. Guest bedroom is 29 again No AC, No fan, just double sliding doors slightly opened



    Front of house. It was 3:47 pm when I took pics. Carpark and shop are no sun in front and back side has a very long extended eave so its actually comfortable but a fan in shop is required.



    This is our full Kitchen or "Outside" kitchen as many call it. My wife loves it. She has a big ass fan on the wall that blows out the window on the side she cooks on. the side facing the sun has a long eave. The kitchen isn't even red brick. Its that standard ol grey sinter block stuff. So is Car park and shop.

    Anyway these pics hopefully will offer some ideas to others considering a build.

    Cheers

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    ไม่อยู่ใต้กะลามะพร้า ว HuangLao's Avatar
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    ^
    2-3 rai, mate?

    Lovely.
    Nice placement of the property.

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    Fresh Seaman CaptainNemo's Avatar
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    That is one of the nicest builds I've seen on this site; 't would be good to see the inside, it seems tastefully restrained yet sturdy and capacious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuangLao View Post
    2-3 rai, mate?

    Lovely.
    Nice placement of the property
    Thanks HL

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainNemo View Post
    That is one of the nicest builds I've seen on this site
    Also Thanks CN. A lot of thought and planning went into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainNemo View Post
    t would be good to see the inside, it seems tastefully restrained yet sturdy and capacious
    I do not want to hijack Deck Apes thread with pics of my deal. I posted some pics to illustrate house placement, use of trees to reduce house heat etc.

    I really miss house build threads by posters. There were some outstanding builds and lots of great ideas and input.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPPR2 View Post
    I just took a few pics of the place to give an idea on house setting, trees etc.



    This side is entry to house upstairs and Master Bedroom size. Has not had any sun on the walls or underneath since about 10am this morning. Outside temp right now is 34c, room temp no AC, no Fan is 27. windows are open and we have a slight breeze.



    Other side of house where sun is setting. That side is warmer clearly. Guest bedroom is 29 again No AC, No fan, just double sliding doors slightly opened



    Front of house. It was 3:47 pm when I took pics. Carpark and shop are no sun in front and back side has a very long extended eave so its actually comfortable but a fan in shop is required.



    This is our full Kitchen or "Outside" kitchen as many call it. My wife loves it. She has a big ass fan on the wall that blows out the window on the side she cooks on. the side facing the sun has a long eave. The kitchen isn't even red brick. Its that standard ol grey sinter block stuff. So is Car park and shop.

    Anyway these pics hopefully will offer some ideas to others considering a build.

    Cheers
    Wow. you're house is AMAZING!

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    I was, and still am, on the fence about the Q con blocks being that much better. Our house is red brick with air gap sections strategically through out
    The red brick walls are unsuited for this climate. They are very high thermal mass and turn your house into a heat sink in hot weather. Shade trees and "air gap sections" won't change this fact.

    Q-Con (Hebel Blocks, AAC Block) is a high thermal performance product. There are now knock off brands availablle, and smaller widths. The cost of a Q-Con wall is actually similar to a red brick wall -- much less mortar and labor needed.

    Here is a pretty good resource for building a cool house. Some of the Passivehaus building materials aren't available here, but the techniques are still valid.

    https://www.passipedia.org/

    A quick Google search gave me this page about AAC vs red brick walls.

    https://gharpedia.com/aac-blocks-vs-red-bricks/
    Last edited by Deck Ape; 20-11-2017 at 11:52 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    Wow. you're house is AMAZING!
    Thanks. It was a fun project and I spent many hours tweaking the floor plan and lay out and still missed things. Such a life..no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    The red brick walls are unsuited for this climate.
    I wouldn't say "Unsuitable", I would state there are other options that might work for people looking to reduce the internal heat. If one wants to spend the money and can find a builder comfortable in building with Q con then it might be money well spent. I asked our General Contractor at time of build and he could do either. However the price increase was nearly 15% material wise.

    There are so many variables to consider, such as;



    • Location
    • House style and design
    • Eave length
    • Roof color
    • Floor plan
    • Roofing and attic ventilation
    • Insulation


    I guess what I am driving at is, you can spend the extra money as a default but there are ways to avoid the cost if that is a driving factor.

    If I was going to build a 2 story McMansion with exposed walls in Isaan with no tree landscape, then Q con would be an absolute must even if the gain is 10% temp reduction over red brick. If you used red brick that house would be like a dutch oven and your electric bill would be outrageous to avoid burning up.

    Single story home is a go either way. Just depends on individual

    A small, 2 bedroom house use Q con,

    Few more things to consider;

    1) I would highly discourage putting cement around the property. That becomes a huge heat sink and reflects heat at the house making it worse. Plants grass and do it at least 4 meters out.

    2) Building a house and adding/attaching a cheap car park overhang will draw in heat and worse yet the hot air trapped underneath will keep it warmer, longer.

    3) While most believe the reason houses are stilted here is to avoid flooding and keep nature out, that is not all of it. Having the floor plan elevated allows air flow underneath cooling the living upstairs.


    Cheers all

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    Well, I am a "cool house nut" and it pleases me that this thread has turned that way. I think there should be a Thai Passive House masterthread here or a website. Oh well, I won't do it. Anyways, I do live in Isaan and it is hot as balls here and I think thermal performance should be at the top of a home designer's priorities.

    Out of all the cool house variables...location, floor plan, etc, I think attention should be paid to all of them. In my humble opinion roof material and design is the most important.

    My biggest design mistake/regret is using the CPAC Monier roof tiles. They are expensive and heavy, and added a lot to the cost of roof trusses. They are high mass and don't perform as well as a white Colorbond roof. The wife won the "roof" argument and I regret it.

    Q-Con is a fantastic product, and I will say without hesitation that no matter what your structure looks like...if you are building in Thailand the modest extra cost is well worth it. I won't put a number on how much better it performs thermally because I'm not a professional, and any R-Values or U-Values are just numbers. Frigging manufacturers lie about their product's performance all the time. (Insulated Concrete Forms do not perform as well as advertised, for example)

    3) While most believe the reason houses are stilted here is to avoid flooding and keep nature out, that is not all of it. Having the floor plan elevated allows air flow underneath cooling the living upstairs.
    Sorry but that is just plain wrong. The coolest house on earth is an Australian dugout house. It's cool because the ambient temperature underground is so cool, and dirt (earth) is a fantastic capacitor. A house on stilts does nothing to cool "the living upstairs" it cools the living under the house...you have made a little cave. However, the house that you have raised up into the air has just lost the cooling capacity of the earth. It will be hotter than one that is on (or in) the earth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    In my humble opinion roof material and design is the most important.
    I absolutely agree Deck Ape, especially design. I tried to explain attic ventilation until I was blue in the face. I won the battle with vents and some ducting at the high points. I added solar vent fans at the ends of each roof area. I wanted to add the industrial galvanized deals to pull air out all the time. wife said NO WAY, they look ugly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    My biggest design mistake/regret is using the CPAC Monier roof tiles
    I used CPAC Premiere roof tiles. Heavy indeed. I had galvanized roof trusses installed made in Aus. They were pre-fab'd and were worth every penny. Light weight, stronger then a Thai angle iron, steel, spot arc welded, paintbrush/aerosol can painted set ups typically used. Those are suspect and rust. I think the CPAC roof tiles are an overkill. Look Nice...Yes, Heavy Yes, Better.....I do not know. I will say though we have gone through some pretty good sheeting rain storms with high winds and no roof leaks so I am glad I used them where as neighbors had roof sections of various material come blowing off or their roof leaked terribly.



    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    Well, I am a "cool house nut" and it pleases me that this thread has turned that way. I think there should be a Thai Passive House masterthread here or a website. Oh well, I won't do it
    Poster "Wasp" had a picture thread going some time back when there were many posters building homes. I had lurked on numerous sites reading and gathering input and took many ideas from trials and tribulations of others. It was quite informative and helped in many decisions. Like you I hope to add to it

    Quote Originally Posted by Deck Ape View Post
    I do live in Isaan and it is hot as balls here and I think thermal performance should be at the top of a home designer's priorities.
    Yes as has been stated, location is everything and should be the #1 driving factor in all build decisions. Once a location has been decided on for the build, one should:


    • Go online and do a temperature review for past 5 years
    • Same would be for rainfall (being there are micro climates throughout Thailand)
    • House level based on flood locations (Help to decided if land should be raised before build)
    • Decide what level of heat you can stand. Thailand is hot there is no hiding from it.But there are ways to design in things versus adding monster AC units and staying in the house all the time.



    Building a home to your likings is a fun process if your wife (or partner) is open to doing the research. I have met many where they built it saying it was cheap and then numerous issues with plumbing, electrical etc. They also have HUGE electric bills, the house floods, or the roof leaks. It wasn't so cheap afterall.

    My current electric bill averages 1650 bht a month (I track it, well actually wife does). Highest has been 2480 bht. Lowest has been 783bht. I have 4 AC units. I also have ceiling fans through out the house and use them regularly. My FIL who lives with us will not use the ceiling fan, he is afraid it will fall and cut his head off. It makes me laugh. He uses the Hatari fan. I showed him but he still will not. In fact when he uses the AC he sets temp at 28C and it usually never comes on or runs very little. He also has a water heater in his bathroom and still uses ambient temp water.

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    Those are all good points. I'm sure your house stays cool even with the A/C off! That's the way to be.

    It really boggles the mind the way native Thais and Farang alike build their cement boxes. The way they seal the roofs off is madness, explained away by fear of leaks and critters. The old style bamboo pole with palm roof houses had giant gable vents as part of their design. The wife says no one cares because "it's only hot during the day when nobody is home".

    I even caught some flack by the very well to do (and presumably well educated and worldly) owner of the building supply store. When I bought the rolls of screen for the porches he said "the screens will lock the breeze". Good lord.

    I was considering getting some kind of training to evaluate buildings and do passive cooling retrofits. Then I realized no one (Farang or Thai) would care enough to hire me or do the work.

    The Passive Haus movement is definitely on the right track. The only thing they care about is home performance (vs LEEDS, which is more concerned with materials and toilets and stuff). If my Big Bet on the stock market pays off I will build a certified Passive house in the USA.

  17. #17
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    Deck Ape,

    Very interested in your thoughts about what has really worked. Very helpful.

    Any pictures of the house today?

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    ^ I have been trying to think of a way to say much the same thing.

    I am designing a narrow house on a slab to be built perpendicular to the prevailing winds, and wonder is it going to help or will we just be taking refuge in the air-conditioned part of the house most of the time. I am also very interested to hear your thoughts on what really worked.

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    Hello Deck Ape, nice tread, very interesting to read your view on project 10 years after.. Im just about to finish my built, it have been a maraton... soon 1 year.

    Nikki
    Last edited by Pink; 28-11-2017 at 09:00 PM.

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    Hi Deck Ape, quick question , are your exterior walls single or double with cavity ? thanx

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