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  1. #26
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    Solex project-img_20180505_125137-jpg


    I was not keen on having two windows either side of the rear of the bed. Light percolating through in the morning was a distraction. But heh! At least we did not have an air-con unit dripping on us this time. We had gotten used to having a big bedroom. It was a bit of a climb-down upon moving in, but we soon got used to it. One good thing about having a small bedroom where we spent 9–10 hours every day was that it was cheaper to cool. I don’t like small rooms, but there is a benefit there when they are constantly occupied with air-con on.

    Solex project-img_20180602_135803-jpg


    That large living room / kitchen area was big, and it had 2x 30,000-BTU units to keep it cool. I made a point of checking the juice it consumed before giving the missus the green light for habitual operation, and they failed the ‘reasonable power consumption’ test. I cannot remember what the numbers were now, but it was ridiculous. My trick, once again, was to leave the office door open and let that little 9,000-BTU unit drain the house air of all the moisture, so it was tolerable. And we rarely turned them units on. But worst of all, written into the contract was that I had to service the units every six months. And I had to provide receipts. The 9,000 unit cost B400 to service; second bedroom unit was 12,000 BTU for B500 service; the 18,000 BTU was B700 to service; but each of these 30,000-BTU units cost B1,200 to service! Note to self… not only do they cost a lot to buy; wait till they need servicing!

  2. #27
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    I hope all of the above did not sound too much like a moan. You probably noticed that as time went on, I took more pictures. I started to notice things more in the houses I stayed in. I became a bit more fussy. When things broke, I wanted to know why; how they worked, what materials they were made of.

    Now, I know what you are thinking, so I will say it anyway: you are never going to be completely happy with where you live. Nothing is ever perfect, even when you are planning to build your dream home. But I do believe in learning from mistakes; not just mine, but other people's – and anticipating them. During this build, things are going to go wrong and items will have imperfections. C'est la vie.

    I am going to be busy now for the next few days as I have a lot of work on. Believe me, there are loads of notes and pictures to bring you up to speed with where we are. A lot has gone on, and a lot of tales need telling – and not one brick has been laid yet!

    For the time being, though, this wraps up the tour of a selection of my previous rented houses.

    More to follow in the coming days, and weeks, and months – but please don't be years! I will give up and move back to MCR if that's the case!

    Manc

  3. #28
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    One neighbour had a petite little dog (I am useless at breeds, dunno sorry!)
    Pomeranian maybe?

    I bet armstrong will know and is an expert on runty dog breeds.

  4. #29
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    PVC covered chipboard fittings is definitely a no no in Thailand. Or anywhere, really.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Note to self… not only do they cost a lot to buy; wait till they need servicing!
    I remember this servicing from Thailand

    I've had two units running here in Denmark for 6 years now (mostly winter), and I asked the guy who installed them, if he would "service" them. He just gave me a stare and said: "You can clean those filters yourself", (you lazy c..t)

    Doesn't take 5 min a piece (maybe once a year or every.....2 years )

    The units will also shot down if you doesn't clean (something mysterious inside them detects excessive electrical flow )


    Good luck with it all

  6. #31
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    Solex project-ae3011f0-cb93-4ce7-8b0d-accade3bd1df-jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    By the way: what do you mean by a "lean to sala"?
    The structure is basic tubular metal because it is cheaper and much easier to maintain. The roof is steel sheeting, covered by straw matting. I have added some planting to soften the outline, but the driver for construction was a large Jackfruit tree that regularly deposits large fruit during the season. My gazebo has a ‘hard hat’.
    I also had a solar light for ease of use at night.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Solex project-96189d15-7547-4c62-a7f1-9741da0d8305-jpeg  
    Last edited by Switch; 13-07-2021 at 07:12 AM.

  7. #32
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    Absolutely love all the details on good and bad of various places you lived Manc.
    Many here keep arguing that Thai construction crews have no skills, no pride in their work, etc. causing this kind of shoddy work.
    In my view, the house-owner and its expectations are in many cases at least partly to blame.
    Typically, they all want their house look big and this and that. To reach that, they save on construction cost.
    Making things worse is that they don't have a clue about construction and even less about maintenance.
    So there's no incentive for construction crews to deliver anything better than that.

    Back in 2006-2007 we where looking at some off plan houses. It was next to our current village (been living there since 2006).
    Looked all perfect, show houses as well. It's a large development, with hundreds of detached houses. (Maneerin, PP is the developer).
    We're 15 years down the road, and you go there now.. those houses are going for less than what they cost newly build.
    Single brick walls, no isolation at all, no maintenance done, shoddy workmanship and cutting cost on materials by the developer.. recipe for disaster.

  8. #33
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    On cleaning aircon units. Our aircon-guy has been doing the cleaning for as long as we've been here. Also does the my factory aircons, repairs, installs, etc.
    It's not only taking out the filter and cleaning that. He washes out the complete head-unit with a pressure washer, checks everything, including coolant pressure etc.
    Price about the same as mentioned above, 600-800 Baht or so p/unit.
    For me that's a very cheap price to pay for proper maintenance and getting rid of bacteria that accumulate.

    Agree on the 30k units.. energy slurping, costly to maintain, unsightly stuff.

  9. #34
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuimpge View Post
    Back in 2006-2007 we where looking at some off plan houses. It was next to our current village (been living there since 2006).
    Looked all perfect, show houses as well. It's a large development, with hundreds of detached houses. (Maneerin, PP is the developer).
    These things definitely scream 'Buyer Beware!' in Thailand.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    That is the look of those arches, isn't it.

    And I suppose they remind us of places like the Med rather than SE Asia for a reason.

    It's too humid/wet here.

    There's a risk of mould.

    The darkness also attracts mossies, which are in this part of the world in greater number.
    This is a great point. A location's / region's / country's architecture tells a story about the place, about its local climatic and environmental conditions. Buildings are a phenotype of their environment. Cultures hone their architecture over centuries. If the Thais haven't employed it, there must be a reason why.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post

    The structure is basic tubular metal because it is cheaper and much easier to maintain. The roof is steel sheeting, covered by straw matting. I have added some planting to soften the outline, but the driver for construction was a large Jackfruit tree that regularly deposits large fruit during the season. My gazebo has a ‘hard hat’.
    I also had a solar light for ease of use at night.
    That garden area looks nice. Plenty of shade there from the tree as well. I have been wondering about that straw matting. I have seen a few salas and garden bars over here with that on top or even dangling down suspended from the ceiling. It is a nice touch.

    I just had to look up where Sanur is. I have never been to Bali, so I unfamiliar with the place names.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuimpge View Post
    Absolutely love all the details on good and bad of various places you lived Manc.
    Many here keep arguing that Thai construction crews have no skills, no pride in their work, etc. causing this kind of shoddy work.
    In my view, the house-owner and its expectations are in many cases at least partly to blame.
    Typically, they all want their house look big and this and that. To reach that, they save on construction cost.
    Making things worse is that they don't have a clue about construction and even less about maintenance.
    So there's no incentive for construction crews to deliver anything better than that.

    Back in 2006-2007 we where looking at some off plan houses. It was next to our current village (been living there since 2006).
    Looked all perfect, show houses as well. It's a large development, with hundreds of detached houses. (Maneerin, PP is the developer).
    We're 15 years down the road, and you go there now.. those houses are going for less than what they cost newly build.
    Single brick walls, no isolation at all, no maintenance done, shoddy workmanship and cutting cost on materials by the developer.. recipe for disaster.
    This applies to so many here things here.

    The shoddy construction is because, like you say, they are trying to build something that 'looks like' a house, so they can sell it, rather than it being a well-conceived structure for many years of trouble-free and practical habitation. In other words, an actual house.

    I noticed something interesting when I used to hand my laundry over to laundry businesses in Phuket. I wanted the fabrics returned clean. But sometimes the clothes would come back with stains still on them. Or, in the case of some brand new, pure white bed linen I had bought, brownish in colour, because they were too lazy to use clean water and used old water instead. Infuriating! That's when I realised, I wasn't paying for my clothes to be cleaned. Instead, I was paying for my clothes to undergo a cleaning process at the end of which, my fabrics may, or indeed my not, be clean. The state of being clean was intriguingly immaterial.

    Look at schools over here. I went to a school. I know that, because schools are where you learn things, and I learned a lot at school. I could speak three foreign languages by the time I was 17 – solely from what I had learned in school. The daughter-in-law says she goes to a school. But she doesn't; she doesn't learn anything. She reproduces stuff by rote. I wouldn't call them schools. I would call them what they are: kid warehouses.

    And I could go on, and on … ad nauseam ad infinitum

  13. #38
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    Lol.. Thai logic and habits are amazing.. Actually, I think we should all be grateful for this.. I mean, what else could you possibly do to keep you busy being retired (I'm not yet.. but still)..?

    Another example.. My wife.. Covid is a serious matter.. She's putting on a mask and having a bottle of alcohol spray at the ready when there's a delivery service at the door.
    Preferably, she'll keep the gate locked, accept the package over the gate, then spray vigorously with alcohol and subsequently, going inside to wash her hands 2 times.

    Very good. Absolutely love it.. I'm safe, kids safe.. great stuff.

    But then in the late afternoon her friends start arriving.. all congregate in the kitchen, sharing their food, talking, drinking, some staying overnight, others returning the next day around lunch..
    1 Friend runs a clothes shop in the next door market. The other one has a hairdresser shop and the last one runs a shop in another market as far as I know.

    Trying to explain to her the risks of the package vs the risk of her friends is just a waste of time.
    She is more concerned about me going to work every day..sigh

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuimpge View Post
    Trying to explain to her the risks of the package vs the risk of her friends is just a waste of time.
    You are not alone

    They are so fucking..........different

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuimpge View Post
    Trying to explain to her the risks of the package vs the risk of her friends is just a waste of time.
    She is more concerned about me going to work every day..sigh

  16. #41
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    Concepts

    In addition to my experience with houses over here, I was intrigued as to whether there were any concepts or ideas I could make use of from specialist/academic literature. I am an academic at heart and am keen on reading and researching and understanding theoretical concepts. As other Thailand-based bibliophiles will note, this part of the world is an intellectual desert, and so any literature I find would have to be online. Luckily, I found a few books that were interesting. But there was one in particular that was not excessively laden with meta language so as to be inaccessible and also very appropriate to my (our!) circumstances.

    Solex project-bioclimatic-housing_front-page-jpg


    Bioclimatic Housing: Innovative designs for warm climates, Richard Hyde (ed.), Earthscan, 2008

    Whenever I chat to my parents on Skype, they are always interested in the temperature. “Is it hot? What temperature is it?”. The notion that the temperature is the sole indicator of how hot it feels is quaint. I barely notice the temperature. 25°C? 30°C? 33°C? It all feels the same. The key determiner between a day being tolerably hot and miserably hot is the humidity. Visitors will fixate on the temperature, like a magic number; expats will understand the monsoon and humidity. And this book gets it. It is split into different chapters focussing on different types of hot: Mediterranean: cool temperate; Adelaide: warm continental; Tehran: hot arid; Tokyo: warm temperate; Brisbane: subtropical. And the final example is the one that most closely resembles our climate: Kuala Lumpur: hot humid. I derived a tremendous amount of pleasure reading through that chapter; vigorously nodding my head as my experiences were confirmed by these researchers.

    Solex project-img_20200103_132152-jpg


    I lived on Phuket for five years. There is a great little museum in Phuket Town chronicling the history of the Chinese diaspora there. It showed me how the Chinese settled in a few places on the Thai/Malay peninsula – notably Phuket and Penang – and the houses in the towns there were largely built by the Chinese. This book highlighted something to me that had completely passed me by when I was wandering through the old town and admiring the Sino-Portuguese architecture there on holiday back in January 2020. Those buildings are designed to manipulate the climate.

    Solex project-img_20200103_132659_-jpg
    Solex project-phuket-stack-well2-jpg
    Solex project-phuket-stack-well-jpg


    Those roads are long and full of terraced houses. We walked into one of the shops for a bite to eat. While we were sat there eating kao man gai, I noticed there was a large open space in the centre of the building leading up to a hole in the roof. The book states this set-up is optimum for drawing hot air up and out from the downstairs area. A natural cycle is produced, harnessing breeze and wind flow at street level. The book refers to this as an air well. I have seen something similar be referred to previously as a ‘stack effect’. The book also states that the terrace house configuration is commonly arranged so the sides are facing east and west. There are no windows on those sides, so direct solar gain is prevented. I just had a look at Phuket Town on Google Maps, and this was the view of the area we had been in:

    Solex project-terrace-jpg


    For this particular climate, the book advises having few or no windows on the eastern and western sides; the walls on these sides are reflective and well-insulated. Low-thermal mass materials are used to minimise heat storage. Double-banking of rooms is avoided wherever possible. Elevated constructions are used to improve wind exposure. If in a single building, long façades to face north and south. Orientation should take account of solar gain and breeze potential, but where there is a conflict between the two, solar gain should always be avoided as a priority.

    Those terraced buildings were obviously built over a hundred years ago, before active cooling systems. Every nook and cranny of our house will be hermetically sealed, to prevent rain and critter/insect ingress. So, there is no prospect of us utilising some kind of air well or stack effect. We will be using solely active cooling systems (air-con, basically).

    The general take-away from the Richard Hyde book is that in subtropical climates, architectural concepts can harness passive cooling systems to largely neutralise the worst aspects of the sun and heat. But in Southeast Asia, there is only so much you can do. There are no passive systems / architectural fixes for dealing with humidity. We all know that, of course, but it is nice to hear an academic tell me. For a Thai-house-building newbie like myself, it is nice to have confirmed to me what is realistic.

    One thing that jumps out at me from these prescriptions is how limited we will subsequently be in terms of harnessing the utility of sunlight. There appear to be limits placed on the size and positioning of windows. We can choose a design that will keep us cool, but how are we going to see inside this house? I don’t want to be using active lighting systems (i.e. light bulbs) the whole time. I would like to make use of natural light.

    We are currently staying in a house provided by the wife's family just outside Chonburi city. No rent is being charged to help us save with the house investment, so I am not complaining but … we have a large patio outside covered by a roof. Despite having numerous windows around the building envelope, the first thing I have to do in the morning is turn the light bulbs on in the main room. And they stay on all day. Despite living in what is renowned for being a bright and sunny place.

    Solex project-img_20200114_114447-jpg


    It was a similar thing in my south-facing office in Huay Yai. One sliver of a window on a couple of sides. The light bulb was turned on in the morning and off in the evening. Every. Day.

    We clearly have a bit of a dilemma: we need the sun for its natural light during the daytime to obviate power usage for light bulbs, but we also don’t want to live in an oven.

    Solex project-architecture-light-jpg


    The Architecture of Light, Second Edition, Sage Russell, 2012, Conceptnine, La Jolla

    I managed to find this book online. This book does not cater specifically for solutions to our climatic issues here in Southeast Asia, but it was interesting and did offer some ideas and names for them so I could look them up online. One of the most useful things in this book was a presentation of the different types of windows. Obviously, the ones preventing direct solar gain are the most applicable for our case.

    Solex project-architecture-light2-jpg


    I am quite happy to incorporate small windows above head height but below the roof overhang to capture diffuse light, particularly on walls where there should be no or few windows; e.g. the southern wall.

    Solex project-solar-map-jpg


    During my reading I was prompted to look up our location on a solar map, which was very instructive. I had intuitively thought about the sun mostly hitting the eastern and western walls, due to rising and setting in those areas. But what is clear is that it is the southern walls (especially the lower parts) that will also get hit. The summer solstice will not hit the northern walls during the midday sun due to roof overhang, so the northern side is dandy. Got me thinking: full glazing on the northern side to make use of diffuse light?

  17. #42
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    Solex project-family-plot-jpg


    This is a Google Maps image of the family's plot of land. The FiL told me from day one: you can build a house here; it’s up to you where you want to put it. There is an entrance road to the family plot coming from the south-west corner. You then have the FiL’s house (with the blue roof) and to the north slightly you have the brother-in-law’s house. A bit further north east are some shanty shacks where some Laotian tenants have set up shop. But apart from that, we got to take our pick. There is a road to the east, with a kind of lay-by area, where 10-wheeler trucks like to park. To the west are some neighbours houses, with whom the family is friendly. And to the north is basically a lake.

    Solex project-img_20200825_182859-jpg


    One thing that is not noticeable on the Google maps pictures is that there is a small stream that runs along the eastern and northern border of the family’s plot of land. The plot is also on the foot of a mountain, and there is a slope. The southern side is highest and the northern side is lowest. There must be like 1.5–2m difference in height between the entrance road in the south-eastern corner to bank of the stream in the northern tip of the family plot. The FiL has always insisted that the northern section does not flood. We have seen large puddles after heavy rain, but puddles can be found up in the higher-laying land on the family’s plot immediately after rain.

    Solex project-img_20210428_101841-jpg
    Solex project-img_20210428_101835-jpg


    We quite liked the idea of having a northern-facing building with lots of glazing to capture all the diffuse light, with the eastern and western side walls as short as possible so as not to attract too much solar radiation. And with the northern side having no neighbours, we could enjoy views of a garden facing the greenery in front. The plans have been through many iterations, but this is the general concept.

  18. #43
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    Interesting read Manc.
    The air well is something. Ever been to Hanoi then you'll see a glass 'tower' on every house with one of those round turning ventilation balls on top.
    That's just genius, same principle, but it actively pulls out air from the vent and in case it's not too hot, and no wind, the sun would heat the air in the glass tower and that would keep the process going, meaning that there's never stale air staying inside the house.

    I really liked the concept, to the point that I build one myself on my shophouse here in Thailand during the renovation.
    Last edited by Schuimpge; 20-07-2021 at 09:36 PM.

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    Solex project-img_1009-jpg

    here it is, next to the solar water heater

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    Oh and that stream shows clearly on Google Maps pictures you provided.. Vegetation shows where it runs...
    Might not be 'listed' on the map, but you can see there's a gap between the trees...
    Nice spot to build a house..

  21. #46
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    Light and ventilation is a very interesting topic in Asia. Most regional architecture will have been influenced by European settlements during times of empire. The French, Dutch and Portuguese occupation has left its mark on the tropical areas of Asia.
    More than just architectural style is evident, but adapting to local influences with older buildings from that era. Many have survived for more than aesthetic reasons, because the occupying forces were smart enough to use durable materials, and more practical orientation.
    A good landscape study is essential to appreciate why things are the way they are today, when settlements formed in previous eras hold the logical answers.

    Natural landscapes hold clues to the where and why, when you include them in your consideration.

    The choices are not always positive ones. Look at the Indonesian decision to relocate the capital city, and consider some of the historical influences responsible for the Thai history of capital cities.
    Most of the worlds capital cities are based on the side or confluence of great rivers. Today that makes them more vulnerable to the impending ravages of climate.
    Last edited by Switch; 21-07-2021 at 07:38 AM.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuimpge View Post
    the sun would heat the air in the glass tower and that would keep the process going, meaning that there's never stale air staying inside the house.
    That is amazing! And so simple, too.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    That is amazing! And so simple, too.
    You might be the second one then (after me) to build one in Thailand..lol..

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    Nice thread.

    I am here because I am looking for alternatives to wall-mounted AC units in each room for cooling and humidity control.

    We built a large house and used walls with an insulating layer, insulating double glazing windows (and insect screens) and roof insulation. We will have some blackout curtains installed later. Maybe shutters outside too.

    As we discovered, keeping the windows closed does make a big difference. In fact, shutting the sun-facing windows and opening the other windows helps with air movement. The place will never be hermetically sealed.

    But, like even the best refrigerator, you need to eventually use energy to manage temperature and humidity.

    I don't want to put an AC unit in each room in the standard way. Is it too late to install under floor heating?

    In my simple mind's eye, I envisage a pair of ducts in each room. One pulls warm air from the ceiling, which travels through the roof space to a central unit, with an energy recovery device, and cooled, conditioned air is returned to the second vent. Each room's circulation can be turned on or off separately.

    I am happy to pay more up front to save on electricity costs in the long run.

  25. #50
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    Land division

    Land division
    Rather than just blindly follow the FiL’s suggestion by picking a spot and just building on the land, I decided to be more circumspect about who owns the land. I began asking questions about land ownership. The family have always been great with me; and I trust them. But family dynamics can change quickly; and what is hunky-dory now may become a nightmare in the future. The first thing I set about demanding was that my missus should be the owner of the land upon which our house is built. The family were accommodating in this regard, but I don’t think they quite understood the motivation on my part for creating loads of work for everybody in terms of visits to the land office and splitting up the chanote into several chanotes. What I mean by “loads of work” I will attempt to convey as simply as possible below…

    Solex project-limpakdee-plot_-jpg



    That big Tutankhamun-head-shaped plot of land was actually mostly in the FiL’s name and one of the missus’ aunties. In total it is 5 rai, 1 ngan, 201 square wah, which in English means 9,205 sqm. That little diamond-shaped plot at the bottom is no longer part of the family land; they sold it. In the centre of the land is a family house with four rooms, built by the FiL. There are four aunties in total. If we add the FiL, then we have five siblings who jointly were to inherit the land of their mother and father, who passed away a while ago. Well, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.

    For many years since the grandparents died, nobody in the family cared too much about the land. Once news started to emerge that a farang with lots of money was going to be building a house and wanted the land-division process to cascade down to his wife, this precipitated a bit of interest and perhaps a little bit of anxiety about whether or not the siblings and their progeny would get their fair share. Allow me to introduce you to the family:

    Name Children
    FiL Dtong
    Taew
    A1 -
    A2 Ryu
    A3 Ball
    A4 Bus



    If the land were to be split up evenly, then each sibling would have roughly one rai of land each. The alert amongst you may already have noticed that I am unfortunate in that the missus’ father has had two kids. That means, that one rai needs to be split into two. 1 ngan = 400 sqm; 4 ngan = 1 rai = 1,600 sqm. Split into two, that means that the wife and I notionally have 800 sqm (half a rai). This is a lot more than most farangs get to play with when building a house in Thailand; particularly those who live in urban / semi-urban areas outside of cities. But when you consider what my instructions were from the family initially (i.e.: “just build what you want, where you want”, I am glad that I was more circumspect about this and anticipated that this could upset certain siblings and their progeny in the future.

    The FiL is the eldest of the siblings. As is apparently often the case in Thailand, the other, younger siblings show deference towards him. Decision-making regarding family matters is deferred to the elder of the siblings depending upon whom is present. The FiL lives in the house built on the centre of the plot of land. His two kids are my wife and Dtong, who lives in a house just next to the main family house on the land with his wife and two school-age lads. This is important, because my demands mean we have to split up the land, but because the brother-in-law’s (Dtong’s) house is already built on a particular spot, we already have some provisos in place for the splitting (i.e. Dtong’s land portion that he inherits has to be where his house is). Initially, Dtong lived in the main family house, but when he got married, A1 was not keen on having him and his wife in the house, and so A1 built a modest house there for him. This house was a gift to him. Dtong works as an engineer, but finds it tough to make ends meet, so he has a second job collecting plastic and scrap metal. Unfortunately, this means that the area around his house is used as a bit of a dump where refuse is sorted. It is not a total disaster area, but it is a bit of an eyesore, and will be mentioned later on.

    Auntie 1 is the next eldest sibling. She owns a local shop down the road from the family land plot and lives there in a large unit with basic rooms that she rents out. Everybody in the village knows her and even have their post delivered to her store room (as we do) because everybody (the local postmen) know who she is. If a local family is a bit tight on cash, lines of credit at the shop are extended. She commands sizeable respect from people around here and is a bit of a matriarch. A1 has no issue and so has no land to pass on. She appears to be financially independent.

    Auntie 2 is a professional; the head of accounts at a local factory. She owns the unit down the road that we are currently living in now and I think a couple of other land plots / houses. She owns a house of her own opposite the A1’s shop. Very close knit. She is married to a senior engineer at BMW down in Rayong, and sends her child Ryu to a decent boarding school in Bangkok. Ryu speaks very good English, the best of all the family, and will be at university soon. The second he gets an opportunity, Ryu will probably leave Thailand.

    Auntie 3 rents a shophouse in the centre of Chonburi city, in the old Chinese quarter. She moved out to start her own business because she wanted independence from the matriarch (A1). She has a son, Ball, who is married to Noy, and they have a lad, Best. They all live together in the town centre.

    Auntie 4 is the youngest of the aunties and works in the shop owned and managed by A1. She is very much the junior in all respects. A4 bore a child to a senior family member as a teenager in an illicit liaison, resulting in the birth of a boy, Bus, who is now of working age. As is usually the result of interfamilial sexual relations, Bus is not the full baht. He collects corpses for one of those traffic accident rescue charities, that we are familiar with as ambulances in the West. All Thais are petrified of ghosts; only those people not afraid of ghosts (or in Bus’ case, unaware of them) would do such a job. Bus’ mere existence is a source of shame for the family, and I gather that the decision has always been (mainly from the FiL and A1) that A4 will not receive much in the way of land inheritance. The reason for this appears not merely to be a form of punishment for A4 personally, but also as a precaution in the future. The idea being that Bus would be easy to manipulate by an individual without too many scruples, who would deviously appropriate the land to which Bus is entitled, thus allowing somebody from outside of the family to get at the family land. Then the remaining family members would end up with an unknown or hostile neighbour. A4 and Bus both live in the main house on the family land.

    The above is a lot to digest, but bear in mind the messages from A1 and FiL: “Just build a house where you want it; don’t worry about the land ownership thing. We’ll sort something out in the future.” I think the main reason being that they know I am the only person with any money to do anything decent with the land and we plan to have kids. But, obviously, this kind of reasoning does not hold for any sensible person. There are a lot of competing interests there. While I very much agree that the family are reasonable and tight-knit, they are now. But what about in the future? The missus and I hope possibly to have a child. In the future, it may be that our child does not get on very well with Dtong’s kids. It may be that Best or Ryu want to sell their land because they are not interested in it. And then how does the lay of the land look? In sum, it is diligent to anticipate problems in the future well before they happen.

    The first step we had to take when getting the missus her plot of land was dividing the land up between the first generation of siblings; i.e. the FiL and the aunties. As I am a foreigner and have no rights in this regard, I explained roughly what the missus and I wanted, and I left it to the family to go to the land office and have the overall family plot divided up so that we could then split off our plots in the next step. I bitterly regret not being more hands on in this process; I should have chaperoned the surveyor who came from the land office, because he just split up the land in a way which was most convenient to him. Because nobody in the family can read a map, everybody just blithely accepted the division suggested by the surveyor. And this was the result…


    Solex project-img_20210302_160544_-jpg



    Plot 1 is in A3’s name and is just over 1 rai. Plot 2 is in A2’s name. A2 got lucky, because her plot is slightly larger at over 1 rai and 1 ngan. Plot 4 is just over 1 rai and includes the land upon which the main house is built, and is in the names of FiL, A1, A2 and A3. Plot no. 3 is just over 2 rai and is in the name of A1 and the FiL. It covers the land upon which Dtong’s house is built. Note that A4 has not inherited anything at this point. She was excluded from this process entirely. The plot has access to a public road on the western side in the middle. Emanating out from that point, you can see that the overall family plot has a line running into the middle where it stops. This is a road which ensures that all four plots get access to the main road.





    Solex project-img_20210302_160235-2_-jpg


    ^ Chanote for plot 3


    Solex project-original-plot-jpg


    ^ Google Maps image of plot 3


    The initial plan was to build our house so we were at the top, enjoying greenery and a border with the stream across the north edge. I had already developed plans for a house (as you can see in my posts above) which would have necessitated land of about 3 ngan (0.75 rai, or 1,200 sqm) at a minimum. However, if the land was to be split evenly, then from this plot 3 of 2 rai, A1 would have 1 rai and the FiL would have 1 rai. Split down further between FiL’s two children, and we are now looking at a rather measly 2 ngan (800 sqm) each. While the house itself is only around 250 sqm, the idea was to have a garden area to the north facing the stream; not to mention some kind of access road.

    Solex project-2-ngan-outline-jpg



    Quite plainly, 2 ngan was not going to be enough for us to implement our plan. What we need is 3 ngan:


    Solex project-taew-alternative_-jpg



    After having said I could build what I wanted, it was disappointing to have A1 now refuse to give up some land to let us realise our project. She could not fathom why somebody would need more than 2 ngan. I think her idea for us was to build a very small, Thai-style house. On several occasions, I tried to show her my plans, but she could not understand them, and nor did she have the patience to listen. I was right to be circumspect about the land division. I had anticipated problems way down the line in future generations, but I also felt once the aunties understood the scale of the plan, they would become hostile even now. Clearly the A1 was concerned about fight back from the other aunties and their children: why was my missus being given an extra 1 ngan, say? What about everybody else? And I totally understand that concern. But, if that’s the case, why say “just build” in the first place?


    Solex project-dtong-plot-jpg



    The other thing that should become clear is that Dtong’s land has to be on his house. And with just 2 ngan as well, it is going to be a bit tight. From this picture above, you can see that if we incorporate the area used by Dtong for his scrap storage site, then he also is at more than 2 ngan (+800 sqm). Plainly, something has to give.

    Solex project-anon-alternative-jpg



    Then another thing sticks out: if we take the top land plot and Dtong takes the area around his house, and A1 wants to keep the land area to which she is entitled, then the area left for A1 is actually split into two sections: one underneath us, between us and Dtong, and a small triangle at the entrance to the overall family plot at the bottom.

    Solex project-dtong-2-ngan_1-jpg


    Jeez, what a mess! And it is all down to me not having been there on the day to guide the surveyor from the land office. My excuse to the missus was: “It’s not my land, it’s not my family; it’s not my issue”. But of course now it is. I am the only one who can read a map. The missus said next time, I should take control; don’t worry about the elder family members; they will trust in my judgement. Will there be a next time, and will they trust my judgement?

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