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  1. #1
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    looking for a builder in Mahasarakham (Isaan)

    Hi everybody. Yep, another falang with a Thai wife.

    Short version of the post - her house has rising damp below (slab / block walls) and termites in the timber second level so the plan is to knock it over and rebuild on a sand pad raised a metre.
    So I'm hoping that someone may be able to suggest or recommend a builder in Mahasarakham which is a small city ESE of Khon Kaen in Isaan.

    I'm a sparky who's owner-built in Australia before so I know a thing or two about what's required.

    Long version - went to Phuket last July and really liked the people. Didn't do tourist stuff but wandered around the other areas.
    Decided to go back in January and thought I'd do the creepy guy thing and organise a holiday girlfriend before I arrived, so I joined a Thai dating site in November and was completely upfront about not being interested in marriage (had a couiple of goes at that).
    Got deluged by responses. Some scammers of course but the rest were decent women looking for a decent man to marry.

    Whilst surfing around a profile caught my eye repeatedly so I contacted her despite her saying she wanted a husband.
    Talked by LINE and it was great. I thought I'd slip over to Isaan from Phuket in January and meet her. I was going to Europe in December but got really keen and went to Isaan to meet her before that trip. We had a great time and I was very impressed. Went to Europe, thought 'what am I doing here ?" and left early and returned to Isaan in January. Never made it back to Phuket.

    At the end of that visit I thought there was no way I'm not marrying this one so she came to my home in April for a look around and we married then. We've been back and forth to Thailand and Australia while waiting for a partner visa (and every time she applies for a visitor visa she has to travel to Bangkok to be photographed and fingerprinted again and they don't seem to isssue multiple-entry visas ...).

    I want her to have a house in Thailand (hers was her parents') and since it needs replacing that's what's going to happen.
    My role is to earn the money and she's been looking for a builder, but building is the same everywhere and and it's important to get the right team on the job.

    So if anyone can help I'd be most appreciative.

  2. #2
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    Neverna's Avatar
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    I can't help with your builder but I'd just like to say what a nice story yours is. I hope it's still all going well.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    I know a few good builders in Roiet province. Not far from Sarakham. Will talk to them to see if interested. General idea of what you have in mind would help.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    I can't help with your builder but I'd just like to say what a nice story yours is. I hope it's still all going well.
    Awww thank ye very much.

    She's now resident on Oz on a temporary visa (309) which will become a permanent (100) visa as long as she doesn't rob too many banks.
    Then the citizenship process.
    The visa was granted after the usual drama / falang husband mild hissy fit directed at the embassy (has to be finessed to have an impact without producing stonewalling of course ....).

    At present she's doing an English course at the local college and is the star pupil despite starting late because her English is pretty good.

    She's met a few Thai ladies in the area which is good.

    Now, the house.
    Demolished it and put a couple of feet of sand on the block (flood-prone area).
    Waiting for the sand to compact and for Santa Claus to come up with a million baht for a build whilst watching the Baht / $AUD rate get more unpleasant.
    Should have the cash by the end of the year.

    The eternal problems are 1) finding a decent builder 2) getting the time to supervise the build and 3) finding a decent tenant.

    Ho hum.

    She'll be right mate.

  6. #6
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    (Elvis voice ) thank you, thank you very much.

  7. #7
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    Update - have found a builder.
    Will update if he does a good job. Or if he doesn't.

  8. #8
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    Good luck post some pix

    I stayed around to supervise my build a decade ago. If you space a one storey Queenslander influenced with shaded terraces was my choice

    If using Supeblock/ Qcon welcome to contact me, though sounds like your ex-eriencedd on that side

    Your wife may help explain the endless holidays, pittis and resons why I would not rush , weather, supplies etc esp in remote areas.Penalty clauses are not usual here so I offered a bomus as I wanted home ready for rainy season , it was, luckily less skilled labour was very cheap , main costs after land, 5 tonnes steel in tiled roof as earthquake zone, Tiles and Marble and Kitchen of course if you don't pam live there immediately can do it a bit at a time or sublet, I'm sure there will be relatives happy to squat , but that's another story ....


    Good luck if you have the money and you may ever live there in hot period I'd spend the xtra for Superblock the faster build and coooler , quieter home was a no brainer


    Superblock Public Company Limited

    Qcon is same material different brand

    They will train your masons on the fix in a couple of hours Supeblock delivered free on time and sent 3 to teach my builder free for half a day, I think they fancied a country weekend
    I visited office in Klontoey great English speakimg staff and the factory and opted for the largest thickness standard bocks 60x20x20 once rendered walls are about 22cm thick giving a cool interior without aircon 11 months a year with a fan perhaps 2-3 hours from April until August.I cannot recommend it highly enough and will use it again on a new project next year

    Good luck

    This is the brand in Oz I'm sure you know it
    https://hebel.com.au/product/powerblock-plus/
    I used to have a job at a calendar factory.
    I got the sack because
    I took a couple of days off.

  9. #9
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    Good luck with the build!! Wife has a builder in northern issan but I won’t recommend him (see below).
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    ^What a mess!

  11. #11
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    If speed and no ugly pipe conduits for water air tv net and electric the 20 cm superblock is chaseable.

    They sell a tool that scapes a channel for about 700 baht well worth it for a big project or a good chisel to cut a channel for the pipes before plaster and decorations.

    You can also build walls fisrts and do not ee cm precisoon corners as you shutter and pour the columns lintelsPS of course you need rebar in the slab and corners FIRST , will try to find my fotos seem to be delted from new laptop

    So sequence is bury pipes for toilets , drains etc , pour foundation slab with rebar set in for any columns and under the walls for extra strenght we had 3 minio quakes during construction and big one at V Saen which damaged ancient temples,maybe geology different in your area, If I lived in a high earthquake zone might go for a teak designlike locals or big bamboo

    The non load bearing walls up to 8m , if its under stress might want a column every 2-5 -3 metres
    I have an upper deck so at 3m high I did a concrte ring with rebar to tie it all together and a strong firm fixing for a 3cm concrete slab floor.I bought Makkan and teak but used no soft woods in house for look ease of maintainance and less insect rot etc, each to their own plenty of nautal material in the garden.

  12. #12
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    Thanks David and others.

    My wife had a look at some of the builder's jobs and clients and sent photos and they looked okay and he seems like a straight guy.
    He's a relative on her father's side and lives in the same village.

    I'd post the house plans but I can't attach to posts (yet - newbie).

    My intention was to have a steel roof on the house but the builder's advice was that tiles are better because holes can get punched in steel roofs by descending rockets in rocket festival season .....

    The original intention was to live locally while the build was on so it could be supervised, but my wife now lives in Straya and I have to keep my nose pressed to the grindstone to pay for the build so I guess I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed.

    It's about 100 m˛ and the quote is 870 000 baht. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

  13. #13
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    It's been a while. Here's what's been happening. Or not happening.

    So my wife went back to Thailand in August and found a builder. Looked at some jobs under construction and talked with previous customers. Seemed okay.
    He took her shopping for bathroom tiles etc. which seemed a bit strange to me at this stage but I'm not Thai. Suspected a ploy to get the juices going and get some enthusiasm for contract signing.
    Then there was the process of getting plans drawn and then altered. Plus the engineering of the design. Plus the local government permission.

    Before she left she asked the builder to build a very high fence on one side of the block adjacent to an apartment full of poky student bedsits. He drew up this enormous roofing steel-on-posts structure which was solidly anchored at a reasonable price.
    So she paid him to get the house plans drawn and get the fence started.
    Then it was 'we have to wait for the rain to stop' then 'we have to wait for the local government permission' then 'it would be better to build the house first'.

    Hmm ....

    Now the background to this is that my wife is suspicious of tradie game-playing and attempts to take down customers (and as a single woman she would have had the neighbours muttering if a plumber was in the house and she was the only other person there - a bit medieval).

    She enlisted the help of a cousin's husband (who'd been the village headman in the past) to be de facto project overseer after she returned to Australia. So the implication is that the builder will have more respect for the job now that this guy's involved.

    I asked that aircell or reflective foil go under the tiles but the builder didn't like that idea as it would make it hard to spot roof leaks. Really ? Is that the assumption ? That the roof's going to leak ? Well sure it could but I'd rather have some heat control in place.

    As an experienced builder I can sympathise with the builder's position - my wife is perhaps a bit suspicious and as a tradie I know that customers can be challenging. She is a smart woman with good practical understanding and skills but is perhaps a little anxious. I'm a bit anxious that the money I earn should be spent well. But I don't speak Thai and the builder's English is very basic. I should go with her to Thailand next week but I can't really get away from work.

    Anyhoo. If I were the builder and was hoping that a customer would sign a contract I'd get that fence up asap so that the customer thinks I'm onto it. But Thailand's different. And he's got a heap of jobs on and a crew of 25 or so.

    The auspicious day for the build to start according to the local wise people is November 16th but I doubt it will start then if at all.
    She's off on Saturday so I'll post more as I know.

  14. #14
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by docmartin View Post
    I'm a bit anxious that the money I earn should be spent well
    As well you should be. From what your post indicates, walk away now. The land is not going anywhere. Make a deal when you have time to be there for a couple weeks.

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    Yes indeed. That’s where our thoughts are heading.
    Fence yes, house no. Just getting plans is a good start.

    I haven’t been home for two weeks so that I can pull in truckloads of coin for the build.
    Not a good way to live at my age.
    Home Friday night, drive 200 km to airport Saturday morning, drive home again, fix garden water circuits, do washing and repack, spend hours on work paperwork, drive another 200 kays on Sunday, work all week, back home for five seconds (another list of jobs to do), back to airport, fly to site, work a week, fly, drive etc etc. Wash, rinse, repeat.
    It never ends.
    Last edited by docmartin; 08-11-2018 at 01:40 PM.

  16. #16
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    So the fence is progressing.
    When my wife said that she wanted to raise the existing wall on one side I thought she meant a couple of feet or a metre.
    Nup.
    She has had a long-standing mutual dislike with a neighbour that has a block of poky student bedsits and that’s the side she wanted to block out a bit. The tenants have a history of throwing rubbish out the windows ....

    So when the fence plans appeared I had a good chuckle - 20m long and 5m high !
    The Great Wall of Isaan. As long as wind doesn’t cause havoc.


    The RHS tube will be welded onto the posts and then roofing sheets screwed onto them.

  17. #17
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    The saga continues .....
    Should be keeping Mexicans out any day soon.
    The appalled neighbour had a hissy fit at the builder and cracked a sad, so the long-suffering sod is retrofitting some more concrete around the posts.
    Doesn’t extend down to the footings - just to ground level - so it’s worth about two knobs of nannygoat’s poo in terms of strengthening.
    But it looks impressive to some I guess.
    Gotta love Thai building stories.

    Attached Images Attached Images

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    At least it can be viewed as cheap entertainment.
    40k baht is what some would spend on essentials on a night out - hookers, coke, booze etc.
    My poor wife got a bit stressed about it a few times being onsite and all, but her evil husband has seen the dark side of building before so the outlook switch is set to either ‘phlegmatic’ or ‘sanguine’.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by docmartin View Post
    At least it can be viewed as cheap entertainment.
    40k baht is what some would spend on essentials on a night out - hookers, coke, booze etc.
    My poor wife got a bit stressed about it a few times being onsite and all, but her evil husband has seen the dark side of building before so the outlook switch is set to either ‘phlegmatic’ or ‘sanguine’.
    Good for you. Hopefully, you'll have retained those same ^ character traits, 5-years (at least) after you've settled into your new house...Good luck!

  20. #20
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    I'm impressed by the idea of building a 5 metre high wall. 555


  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TuskegeeBen View Post
    Good for you. Hopefully, you'll have retained those same ^ character traits, 5-years (at least) after you've settled into your new house...Good luck!
    I don’t intend to live there. Nice country but too hot.
    We live in the Democratic Republic of Australia. The projected house is for her (dead) parents’ spirits to inhabit and as a bolthole should she ever label me despicable.
    If it were complete tomorrow there would be the problem of finding and managing tenants so I’m happy that she’s changed her mind about building ...
    There is of course the minuscule chance that her mind could change again ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    I'm impressed by the idea of building a 5 metre high wall. 555

    Me too. She’s nearly as crazy as me. I love her more every day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docmartin View Post
    The saga continues .....

    The appalled neighbour had a hissy fit at the builder and cracked a sad, so the long-suffering sod is retrofitting some more concrete around the posts.
    Doesn’t extend down to the footings - just to ground level - so it’s worth about two knobs of nannygoat’s poo in terms of strengthening.

    docmartin

    The concrete he has placed may not add strength per se but it will strength the joint between the end of the steel pole and the top of the 'post' it sits on by not allowing it to flex at that point. The flex point of the steel post will now be at the top of the extra concrete he added. Over time those joints would have to withstand a lot of stress so I think what has been done is as good as if he had gone all the way down to the foundation.

    Being 20m x 5m that "wall" will take a lot of wind pressure if the wind is blowing directly onto it. Not sure the effect of any tunnelling along the next door building will have on the "wall".
    You might have to end up putting some cable stays on it and tie them back to some concrete blocks in the ground.

    I am always amazed at what is done in this country.
    If it were back in Aussie the neighbour would be taken to court and fined for allowing her tenants to throw rubbish out the windows onto the neighbours land.
    Then if you were to build that wall in Aussie the neighbour would sue you for blocking her view and the local council would sue you because it wasn't approved and you would have to take it down.

    Make sure you post a picture of the finished product it will be awesome.

    Cheers

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    Agreed re strength.

    When the neighbour whinged at my wife the reply was 'well if you don't like it, talk to the local guvvy that approved it' knowing that the bedsit block next door was never approved for construction.

    It's not just rubbish from next door either. When the house was demolished and the slab removed it was discovered that water (grey / black / other) was leaking from next door onto her block under the block wall and through the soil.
    So we went to the local guvvy which was a hotbed of vigorous efficient action and instant response as you can imagine.
    Result = zero.

    I got a surprise when the old slab was removed. There was an older slab under that was separated by about 400 mm of fill.
    Apparently after the house was built (in the late seventies) the road was 'improved' Thai style which means just building another road on top of the old one instead of digging down to put a new road bed in.
    Therefore rain ran off the road and down into the house hence the new floor level. Hence the windows that seemed rather low in the walls.

    Because the block was going to have a couple of feet of fill added to it after the old house was gone I marked the new levels on the perimeter block wall using a hose full of water.
    When the fill contractor visited the site to quote the fill her hubby was astonished at how the levels were marked - he'd never seen that method before.
    When the fill quantity was being calculated I was astonished. The block is a rectangle with a slight dog leg. The contractor was taking forever to calculate the volume (complicated by varying depths) to about twelvety million decimal places which I found unsatisfactory.
    So I did my own calculation. Ignored the dog leg, averaged the depth by reasonable guesstimation and came up with a figure that matched the later reality when the trucks started dumping.
    She arrived at a slightly lower figure. I would've thought that my rough calculation plus 15 % for under-estimating allowance plus 15 % for rich falang tax allowance would've been the go.
    Last edited by docmartin; 15-12-2018 at 06:27 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ootai View Post

    Being 20m x 5m that "wall" will take a lot of wind pressure if the wind is blowing directly onto it. Not sure the effect of any tunnelling along the next door building will have on the "wall".
    You might have to end up putting some cable stays on it and tie them back to some concrete blocks in the ground.
    As a sailor I had a chuckle at my wife's fence plan.
    Of course the first thought was 'That'll do about 12 knots on a reach and last about two seconds in a gale' but I also thought 'yes but this is Thailand, so it'll be interesting to see what happens'.

    I think I've been pleasantly corrupted by the LOS.

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