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Water Heaters - Small Instantaneous Units


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If a moderator is reading this, he might suggest to George that we start a new section in the forum for "Home Improvement" or the like.

Yes, please, George (or other mod.). Then we could share our experiences of plumbers, electricians or even architects and builders. Even my little problem with not having a U-bend in the waste water pipe might help future readers - there's nothing better than a recommendation from someone with personal experience. Please, George: DIY and Tradesmen Forum.

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HEY!...I started this thread and I demand that any new forum subject dealing with home improvement be titled 'The Tutsiwarrior Memorial Compendium of home improvement advice'

(sh1t, ain't no one got no respect, grumble, grumble...)

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We have five at various points in the house. The one I like best is the one we got last year from Robinson's in Udon. It is a Sharp WH-535. It has plastic-covered buttons to raise or lower the temperature in one centigrade degree steps. The range is from ambient (usually about 32 degreesC) to 48 degrees C.

I usually step it up to 39 degrees C, as I find 38 is a tad cool and 40 is a tad warm. I don't reckon I am a softie, having often washed in glacier-melt at the foot of Everest, but I reckon on taking any comfort I can when it is going. And the Sharp WH-535 was comparable in price to the other units that Robinson's had.

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Pro Thai Expats suggestion of a "Beware of......when you are building" thread could be very helpful to newcomers. Actually, Pro Thai Expat, I reckon you are a very brave man if you built here (or elsewhere in the world, come to that) with only two site visits every day.

We do a construction job every year as my wife catches 'mansion-expansion fever' every dry season, when there are local rice-farmers looking for work. Amongst them there are some excellent craftsmen who have "served their time" abroad as young migrant workers in house and hotel construction. But my wife still watches over them almost continuously. She jollies them along by partaking of all the local gossip, so they accept her presence.

Here are a few paras from my last 'round robin' letter to family and friends in UK:

"Engaging builders is an interesting process. Thong contacts a leader who she knows, or has heard well of. He comes to assess the job. Over two or three hours, Thong tells him what she wants done and answers his questions. He goes off and talks with craftsmen and labourers in whom he has confidence and finds who are interested in taking part. Then the whole team comes and it is all talked through again. They go away, and a couple of days later the leader comes back and gives their price for doing the work. It is a ‘labour only’ contract; Thong has to arrange the purchase and delivery of all the materials and fittings. My role is to drive her to various builders’ supplies merchants---at some of which I am directed to park out of sight and read my book whilst she negotiates. These are the ones (usually Chinese) who are suspected of raising their prices if they know a Westerner is paying!.

It has all turned out very well. With opening windows on three sides, the sitting-room extension gets the breeze coming through it very nicely. As the main windows go down to knee level one gets a very pleasant awareness of the garden---almost like being on a verandah. People are amazed that Thong does all the design, and the daily supervision of the workmanship herself. But she has the sense of proportion and of ‘line’ to get the dimensions just right so that the new blends in with the old. And she works hard on all the detail. Her four big jobs (car-port +garden shed and toilet, the visitors’ bungalow, the replacement and enlargement of the kitchen/dining room, and now the downstairs-living suite) have all been great successes. In fact, I have seen much less successful house extensions designed and overseen by professional architects. And it is all done without any architectural drawings or other paperwork (other than Delivery Notes). Probably because primary schooling some thirty years ago couldn't afford pens and paper.

Thong has some scheme of construction growing in her mind for next year. I don’t know what it is, and she won’t be drawn. But it is to go between the bungalow and the car port. A team of rice-granary movers were doing a job in the area and she took the opportunity to get our granary moved from there into a corner at the back of the garden.

I must get on with printing this, or it will be a mid-summer letter, not a New Year one. So how they moved the rice granary (containing about a ton of rice) will have to wait for next year’s letter (D.V.)."

One word of warning---Thai craftsmen can get very twitchy and uptight if they think the farang is critical of them. So I stay well out of the way all day. But, in the evening when they have gone, Thong shows me the day's progress and we discuss anything she wants to consult me about. Her team last year told her that I was a 'good farang' and regaled her with tales of how they had built hidden scew-ups into a house they were employed to build in Udon for a 'know it all' American who was giving them a lot of aggro. Just like some Western builders of my former acquaintance!!

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Pro Thai Expats suggestion of a "Beware of......when you are building" thread could be very helpful to newcomers. Actually, Pro Thai Expat, I reckon you are a very brave man if you built here (or elsewhere in the world, come to that) with only two site visits every day.

What an interesting post and what a lucky man you are! I think anyone who has had a house built - like my neighbour two doors down - is very brave. There are a lot of posts in these forums about the pitfalls in owning land and building a house and I am sure many readers would love to know on what basis you - and anyone else - got your land and house. I guess what I am looking for is an indication of the proportion of expats who own land through their wife or through a company or what?

I have seen some beautiful houses, farang owned, with immaculate lawns, trees and flowers and would love to know just how the old guy, happily sitting in his reclining chair on the porch, did it! Is it in his wifes name? His company? Any worries about the future?

I know it's a cheek, but I'm asking anyway - how did you do it?

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No, it is not a cheek. This forum is for sharing our experiences in LOS, so it is reasonable to assume that members who put up posts will reply. But thanks for your tact (and your kind remarks).

In our case, my wife already owned the basic house when we met and married. She had had it built on one rai of land that she had bought on the edge of the Amphur nearest to her family's village. She was widowed, with two small boys who would be changing from the village school to the Secondary School in the Amphur. Also she was hoping to send them to college in due course, so it made sense to live where they would have buses direct to Khon Kaen and Udon. I guess, everywhere in the world, parents who have missed out on education in their own early lives, and had an extra hard struggle as a result, are keen for their kids to get as much schooling as possible.

Looking round the Amphur, she saw that the northeast sector was getting people like schoolteachers and senior police officers who were buying bigger plots than in the other three sectors. Over the years, as in-between plots have been bought up, those sectors have become quite crowded, but ours has retained a more spacious feeling. I notice other townships often have a similar 'emergent middle-class' sector.

First, she did a very wise thing that everybody should do. She spent a bit extra and had enough soil tipped to bring up the level well, well above the roadside ditch. So we didn't suffer waterlogging when the Highways people got around to laying more roadbed and putting the thick concrete pad on top of it. (Around here we can get loads of soil that must weigh about 5 tons for 450 baht (delivered) when contractors are excavating fish-and-irrigation ponds for farmers. In Britain or America I doubt if a trucker would even climb into his cab for that!.)

Up to then she had no experience of the building trade, so she looked around in Udon and saw a development going up which included some houses of a design that she liked. She did a deal with the building firm to build her one to that design. Others had told her tales of the perfidies of small building teams. So she visited the site several times a day and thought about what she saw. She even went Udon and measured the cross-section and metal-thickness of the roof support members when what was delivered to her site looked a bit flimsy. The samples she brought back proved she was on the verge of being cheated. That was where it was helpful that a neighbour was a senior Police Officer. He dropped in on his way home from work, and had words about how his subordinates could give a real load of hassle to cowboys from the city who tried to rip off the people in their Amphur. That worked, more or less, but she had to have lots of little rows about slipshod workmanship and not buying-in Grade A materials and fittings, as promised. She says she was well frazzled by the time she saw the back of them.

That's why she now employs locals. She knows some people in each little village around, and local craftsmen don't want their neighbours told that they do the sort of city-cowboy things.

And she prefers 'labour only', so we go and buy the quality of stuff that we want and there are no arguments.

Also the teams like 'labour only'. There is less risk to them of dropping a clanger in the price they quote, and then losing money on the job.

Some jobs have turned out more time-consuming than was expected and we have offered more money in return for them taking the time to do a good job.

This is important in the late stages, especially with tiling.

A tiler who is rushing won't do half as good a job as he would if he wasn't rushed. We found that the hard way. The 'bathroom' in last year's kitchen-dining extension annoys me every time I sit attending to the needs of nature. Just a bit longer taken over the tiling would have done a much better job. And once I have noticed an imperfection, I can never unnotice it. But the tiling of the floor in the 'bathroom' of this year's extension is superb to behold.

Another good thing my wife did was to put the house well back from the road, and nearly in a corner of the site. Not quite in the corner, so there has been room at the side and back for extensions and dog kennels and extra water tanks etc. And room for other buildings on the site. And we get minimum dust from passing traffic.

I hope these experiences help someone a bit.

P.S. There are a couple of phots on our website, www.thaihomestay.co.uk

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Martin,

Excellent, and informative, post. Gives further credence to Pro's suggestion for starting a separate section on home construction. And yes Tutsi, if such a section gets going, we'll have memorials to you each and every time a house falls down, a toilet rips out, or one of us is scalded in the shower :o .

(Martin, is that you holding the snake? I like the idea your website represents -- how's business?)

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Martin: Your approach to building a house appears the "way to do it" in Thailand and your posts are very welcome in this precursor to our hoped for home improvemnt topic.

Since most farang are not luck enough to have a wife who already owns a house and with the local contacts she has, we are in a far less advantageous position.

Have rebuilt many houses in the U.S. both for personal use and for speculation, I thought I was up to the task of applying my knowledge to relatively good effect in Thailand. I was only partly correct.

Of course I surveyed Chiang Mai for the area I wished to live in (I am a licensed Real Estate Broker in California, among other things) and chose a "development" hoping the developers expertise, established work force and demonstrated competence, exampled through about 100 houses alread built, would carry me over the expected bumps. The developers also spoke excellent English and my Thai was always available as well to talk to workers.

Suffice to say, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, despite lengthy specifications written in English and translated by the developer, very excellent construction plans, etc.

I mean like "coming to the site at 10am and finding the master bedroom without any windows whatever when the plan showed sliding glass doors to the view." They built the brick walls in the supposed glass door openings from 3pm the day before and the time I got there at 10am the next day. They were happy to tear down and rebuild, only took a day or so, but this went on regularily.

I found out that the developer subcontracted out to crews the building of the foundation, walls and floors, each crew headed by a boss whose expertise and quality varied from crew to crew. I drew a bad crew, I guess. The model homes had far superior finish work than I received.

On balance, I got the house I wanted, lacking the finish work I wanted, for the price agreed on. So I guess I am lucky. My contract with the developer clearly stated that my house was to be built to the development "standard" and I would pay for any "extras". They came up with 250k extras. However, since my house was larger than the standard by 75%, and I paid a per sq. meter cost, I got the "extras" at no additional cost. Example, standard house had three bedrooms, my house had two, 1.89 of the standard house had more than five bedrooms, so electic points for the five bedrooms covered my extras when costed out, etc.

It goes on and on, as you know. This thread consoled me when I found another kindred soul with the same water heating system disaster as I had.

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To Jim Gant: yes, that is me with the snake.

There are also 3 photos of Thong on the website, but they aren't easy to find. You have to click on 'Staying With Us', then on 'about us', then on the right-pointing arrow, and then again on the next right-pointing arrow.

I apologise that www.thaihomestay.co.uk is such a crappilly-designed site.

Having a website built is like having a house built in one way ---the blind get the blind. I knew nothing about IT and the web and gave the job to the first man I saw who had a shop selling computers and was advertising that he did website design. I now know that he had had little experience, so it was the nearly-blind cowboy leading the totally-blind client.

The homestay business has been excellent in quality and pathetic in quantity.

The few people who have found their way to the website and then come to us from UK, California, Canada, and Australia have all been really nice folk to have as guests and take around.

One Canadian couple have booked to come again next year. After that they will be retiring and are planning on having a house built here for them to come to each winter.

The snag I found was that it costs more to adverise in the quality travel press than results from the ads. So I packed in advertising.

Fortunately, I had been advised by an experienced farang "In Thailand, no farang should invest more than he can afford to walk away from". So we didn't build the bungalow till I had earned the money (by going to UK and doing Supply Teaching in some of its worst schools for three months one autumn and three months the following summer). So, mae pen lai, and bo peng yang, karp.

I am conscious that we are way off topic, and tutsiwarrior must be reserving grave-turning slots for the time when he is interred beneath his memorial. So I have put up a topic on "Pros and cons of farang-life in cities and rural areas". There we can range far and deep and never be 'off topic'.

One 'Pro' for living in the city is that you can hassle the Robinson's manager every day to get you the model of instantaneous water heater that you want. S/he can get one sent over from another store, if s/he has sold out the local stock, when s/he realises that that is less hassle than you keeping coming to her/him.

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The hard mount toilet was mounted too close to the tile wall so the tank lid doesn't fit all the way on the tank.

Same here - and what's worse, it means that the seat - the bit with the hole in - is very delicately balanced when up, because it hits the protruding tank lid and doesn't quite go back far enough to be stable. So when you're taking a leak, you have to be very careful not to "rock the boat" as it'll all come crashing down, requiring - as a minimum - a clean up exercise, or worse.... :o

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RDN: A small amount of self adhering white velcro might just give you additional "safety" without being too unsightly.

One of the great benefits for me in building my own, was the installation of a very modern looking urinal at the right height. Picture a old farang , stumbling into the dark bathroom half asleep and just walking until encountering the urinal surrouonds that virtually fit the body. Look Mom, no hands, no eyes, no splash, no cleanup. Heaven for those who make that run three or four times a night.

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Look Mom, no hands, no eyes, no splash, no cleanup. Heaven for those who make that run three or four times a night.

You obviously don't use local bought PJ's or you buy at Central as the market veriety don't have an escape hole (although those sold in Lotus have a fake one). :o

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lopburi3: Perhaps this is "too much information" but I haven't ever worn "PJs" and in borading school and the military only wore shorts, yes they had a "fly", but have slept in the "buff now for 30 years and use the top sheet for "insulation" when my "other" generates too much heat for cuddling.

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  • 2 weeks later...
The one I like best is the one we got last year from Robinson's in Udon. It is a Sharp WH-535. It has plastic-covered buttons to raise or lower the temperature in one centigrade degree steps. The range is from ambient (usually about 32 degreesC) to 48 degrees C.

I usually step it up to 39 degrees C, as I find 38 is a tad cool and 40 is a tad warm. I don't reckon I am a softie, having often washed in glacier-melt at the foot of Everest, but I reckon on taking any comfort I can when it is going. And the Sharp WH-535 was comparable in price to the other units that Robinson's had.

:D Thanks for the tip Martin! Today I fitted my nice new Sharp WH-535 (that I, too, bought from a Robinsons store). It is excellent :D ! Perfectly cool, warm or hot water and any temperature in between. I'll keep the old Steibel Eltron as a backup in case the Sharp goes wrong :o .

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Glad to hear that this topic has come to a successful conclusion.

Is George going to set up a "Building, Builders and DIY" section on this Forum?.

I have come across a couple of bits that might help some people, but they are off this topic and off the 'Pros and Cons of City and Rural Life' topic.

So I am holding them, awaiting George's response to Pro's suggestion of a section about home construction.

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